Religion & Nature

Kristina Haselier (M.A. student, 2016) – khaselier@ufl.edu

Kristina earned Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Biology and a minor in Religion from Florida Southern College.  She then completed her MS in Forest Resources & Conservation with a focus on community planning to promote nature-based recreation.  Her current research focus includes the development and implementation of environmentally responsible ethical systems.   She is also interested in the conservation of the cultural and biological resources in the Amazonian region, and how these shamanistic cultures promote environmentally responsible behavior (balance).

Aya Cockram (M.A. student, 2016) – ayac2889@ufl.edu 

IMG_3947BA in Religious Studies from Kalamazoo College. Her undergraduate thesis examined Islam as vehicle through which to disseminate environmental ideas and encourage environmental behavior in Senegal.  The paper received honors from her department, was presented at the Western Michigan Research Symposium and the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature & Culture conference in 2012.  She plans to complete her MA in the Religion and Nature department, continuing to pursue her interests in Islam and its potential to catalyze environmental movements in West Africa, while studying Arabic and Wolof.

Religions of Asia

Dustin Francesco-Biel (M.A. student, 2015) — dustin.shane.h@ufl.edu
Summa Cum Laude alum from Youngstown State University with a BA in Religious studies and minor in Linguistics. Past work includes an undergraduate thesis exploring language and agency in India during British Colonialism and an award winning piece on transgenderism within Buddhism. Current work includes a Master’s thesis on Medieval Indian poetry, particularly Tulsidas’ Rāmacaritamānas, which synthesizes textual, historical, and sacred geographical analyses, exercising a novel, hermeneutical argument for Tulsidas’ poetical devices; and attaining a SLAT (Second Language Acquisition and Teaching) certificate. Interests include: Sanskrit studies; gender and sexuality constructions within religious traditions; religious theory/philosophy; and religion and violence. Future plans are to pursue a PhD. in classical Indic studies (with a focus on Sanskrit acquisition, grammar, and literature) and remain in the academy as a professor of Sanskrit and Hindu traditions.


Richard Batchelor (M.A. student, 2015) – rbatchelor@ufl.edu

Graduated cum laude from the University of Florida, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Religion. As an undergraduate, he won the University of Florida Department of Religion’s Russell Lowell Jaberg Award for Academic Excellence for his paper, “The Kapalikas: Sect or Style?” The primary area of his graduate research is the historical interaction between Western Esotericism and South Asian religion, with a special focus on British occultist Aleister Crowley and his successors’ adaptation of Indian philosophy and technic. In addition to this emphasis, he is interested in Hindu and Buddhist yoga and tantra, Sanskrit studies, and critical theory, particularly deconstruction, post-structuralism, and post-colonialism. Richard has also served as an instructor of academic research and technical writing classes at the University of Florida for the past two years. Academia.edu page.

Josh McKinley (M.A. student, 2016) — joshmckinley@ufl.edu

Received a B.A. from Mississippi State as a Philosophy & Religion major.  During his time as an undergraduate he focused his studies on classical Hindu traditions and figures, with a particular focus on the Vaishnava tradition as well as the Sanskrit language.  He was able to present three papers for the Shackouls Honors College Research Symposium at Mississippi State that dealt with these traditions and figures. He plans to complete his M.A. with the Department of Religion at the University of Florida with the goal of later pursuing a PhD.

Global Islam

Zachary Faircloth (M.A. student 2018) — zfaircloth@ufl.edu

Zachary earned a Bachelor’s degree in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies with a concentration in Arabic and a minor in religion at Duke University. Current research interests include contemporary debates concerning Islamism and transnationalism, Islamist political thought, and Salafism in the Levant.