Note: The following list represents a portion of the graduate students in our joint Laurier-Waterloo PhD program in Religious Studies.

University of Waterloo:

Picture of BhimBhim Lal Aryal

PhD Student

B.A. 1993 (Tribhuban University, Nepal); M.A., 2014 (English Literature, Thibhuban University); M.A., 2018 (Religion, Culture, and Global Justice, Wilfrid Laurier University) 

Bhim's research investigates how Hindu religious practices interact with North American value system and in what ways temples as sacred space mediate both value systems. Her further examines the dialogic space between first and second generation regarding the continuity and change in the backdrop of western value system.

Supervisor: Doris Jakobsh


Picture of Lisa's cat Lisa Duggan

PhD Student

Honours B.A., 2010 (History, McMaster University); Honours B.A., 2016 (Religious Studies, McMaster University); M.A., 2017 (Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University)

Lisa’s research interests are New Religious Movements and popular culture specifically movies and television. The NRMs she focus on are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter-day Saints, Scientology, and Modern Pagans. “If I can put a pop culture reference into a paper, tutorial, or lecture I will,” says Lisa.

Supervisor: Douglas E. Cowan


Picture of Elizabeth GuthrieElizabeth Guthrie

PhD Student

B.A. (Pacific and Asian Studies; Religious Studies, University of Victoria); M.A. (Religious Studies, Queen's University)

Elizabeth’s research interests are focused on the interplay and dynamics between sacred and secular space in Canada as explored through the lens of tourism. For her PhD dissertation, Elizabeth will be continuing and expanding the research she did on the Cham Shan Buddhist temples in Ontario.

Supervisor: Jeff Wilson


Picture of Zabeen KhamisaZabeen Khamisa

PhD Candidate

Honours B.A. (Religion and Culture; Muslim Studies Option, Wilfrid Laurier University); M.A. (Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University)​

Zabeen is interested in the lived religious experiences and practices of millennial activists as they engage the social, political, and economic spheres. Her dissertation is an interdisciplinary investigation of the ways in which young Sikhs are creatively integrating their religious principles in the social innovation and entrepreneurship movement in Canada. Zabeen is currently a 2017/2018 Ian H. Stewart Graduate Fellow at the Centre For Studies in Religion and Society at University of Victoria.

Supervisor: Doris Jakobsh


Picture of Chris MillerChris Miller

PhD Candidate

Honours B.A. (Religion and History, University of Toronto); M.A. (Religious Studies, St. Mary's University)

Chris' research is geared towards New Religious Movements. Specifically, the contested nature of this boundary (i.e. does Mormonism still constitute an NRM?); these groups’ quest to escape marginalization (and how this functions in scholarship and popular culture); and the role scholars play in the identity construction process of religious groups.

Supervisor: Douglas E. Cowan


Kathleen RiddellKathleen Ann Riddell

PhD Candidate

B.A., Honours, (Carleton University); M.A., (McMaster University)

Kathleen's research considers how fans of dead celebrities negotiate emotion, action, and identity in relation to the celebrity as a sacred figure. According to Kathleen's data (participant observation and interviews), fans understand the celebrity as a sacred orientation, guiding them to the realization of their identity.

Supervisor: Douglas E. Cowan​


Picture of DoaaDoaa Shalabi

PhD Student

B.A., 2009 (Semitic Languages and English, Ain Shams University); M.A., 2011 (Semitic Languages, Ain Shams University); M.A., 2017 (Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University)

Doaa’s research focuses on faith-based institutions and minority integration in Canada. For her PhD, Doaa is examining the relationship between Muslim schools and the integration of Muslim youth in Canadian society to showcase the complex relationship between religious identity, education policies, and social integration in multicultural societies.

Supervisor: David Seljak


Picture of Ben SzollerBen Szoller

PhD Student 

B.F.A. (Art Education; Theological Studies, Concordia University); B.Ed. (Intermediate-Senior, University of Western Ontario); M.T.S. (Specialization in Theology and Ecology, University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto)

Intrigued by how faith and sense of place inform agricultural practices, Ben is looking forward to engaging Christian farming communities in Southwestern Ontario to explore how religious communities and associations are responding to current political and environmental changes and their impact on agriculture and animal ethics.

Supervisor: David Seljak​


Picture of Doug WilsonDoug Wilson

PhD Candidate

B.A., 2013 (Psychology, University of Windsor); B.A., 2015 (Religious Studies, University of Waterloo); M.A., 2016 (Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University)

Currently, Doug is interested in the struggle between liberal and conservative Christian (or that of other religions) thought, especially as it pertains to Faith Development and Transformative Learning. Doug is also interested in how people make meaning from various sources in popular and or niche culture.

Supervisor: David Seljak


Wilfrid Laurier University:

Picture of BrandiBrandi May 

PhD Student 

Double Honours B.A, 2015 (Religion and Culture, and Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University); M.A., 2018 (Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University)

Brandi's research interests relate to the intersection of psychology and mysticism. Specifically, she explores how the use of entheogens may act as a catalyst to procure mystical connection with the Divine. 

Supervisor: Meena Sharify-Funk


Picture of Xochiquetzal Luna MoralesXochiquetzal Luna Morales

PhD Student

Candidate of Sciences (Philological Sciences with specialty in Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia); M.A. (Religion, Culture, and Global Justice, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada, to be granted in the Fall 2018); M.A. (Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia); B.A. (Communication Sciences, Monterrey Technological Institute, Mexico).

Xochiquetzal’s research interest focuses on the intersection of mass media and religion in the public sphere. Specifically, her work will examine how the presence, or not, of Catholic organizations in Canadian and Russian stream media, advances or hinders peace processes, or conflict resolutions in which these organizations are involved.

Supervisor: Edmund Pries 


TannerPicture of Tanner Morrison Morrison

PhD Candidate

Honours B.A., 2015 (Wilfrid Laurier University); B.Ed., 2015 (Nipissing University); M.A. (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Tanner works mainly on the sociology of evangelical megachurches in North America and the theoretical relationship between religious studies and geopolitics. Specifically, Tanner considers the consequences of religious diffusion as they pertain to everyday practice-oriented spirituality, as well as the implications generic evangelicalism has on the decentralization of institutional Christianity.

Supervisor: Paul Freston


Picture of Gustavo Moura Gustavo H. P. Moura

PhD Student

B.A. (Military Sciences, Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras, Brazil); B.A. (Theology and Religious Studies: University of Chester, UK); M.A. (Religious Studies: Universidade Federal da Paraiba (UFPB), Brazil)

Gustavo's research interests include Hinduism, Vaishnavism, Vedanta, religious pluralism, education and philosophical/theological issues in religion. His PhD research is developing along the lines of "Dharma Education in America", probably including considerations on multiculturalism and transcultural experiences.

Supervisor: Jason Neelis 


Elijah Smith

PhD Candidate

Honours B.A., 2015 (History and History of Religions, University of Toronto); M.A., 2016 (Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University)

From Lady Gaga to Moonlight to YouTube-comment cultures, Elijah’s research focuses on intersections of religion and sexuality in popular media.

Supervisor: Carol Duncan


Picture of Jason SparkesJason Sparkes

PhD Candidate

B.A. (Religion; Arabic, Concordia University); M.A. (Religious Studies, Université de Montréal)

Jason’s primary academic interest is Islam, with a focus on Sufism, in the lands West of Mecca—from North Africa to North America. His secondary academic interest is the decolonial world-systems analysis.

Supervisor: Meena Sharify-Funk​


Picture of Sahver KuzucuogluSahver Kuzucuoglu

PhD Student

B.Sc. (University of Waterloo); M.A. (Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University); M.A. (Cultural Analysis and Social Theory, Wilfrid Laurier University)

Sahver has worked for many years as Interpreter/Translator in the settlement of new Canadians in Southern Ontario fueled by her passion for volunteerism, community, decoloniality, pluraversality. and intercultural dialogue. Her current research areas include Turkish Cultural Studies, Sufism, Biopolitics and identity negotiation as a ‘minority within a minority.’

Supervisor: Jasmin Zine