PhD student profiles

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

University of Waterloo:

Zabeen Khamisa

Picture of Zabeen 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

Doaa Shalabi

Picture of Doaa

PhD Candidate

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

Ben Szoller

Picture of Ben Szoller

PhD Candidate

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​

Wilfrid Laurier University:

Mukucha Kathemo

PhD Student

Education (TBA)

Research interests (TBA)

Supervisor: Ashley Lebner

Sahver Kuzucuoglu

S kuzucoglu

PhD Candidate

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: Meena Sharify-Funk

Kate McCartney

Kate Mccartney

PhD Student

Honours BA., 2013 (Religion and Culture; English, Wilfrid Laurier University & Philipps-Universität Marburg); Post Graduate Diploma in Education, 2015 (The University of the West of Scotland); MEd., 2018 (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Research interests: Religious conversion, Christianity, Islam, Interfaith dialogue, lived religion. Kate’s research focuses on complex experiences of religious conversion and lived religious experiences of those who have chosen to convert from Protestant Christianity to Islam. Currently, Kate is looking forward to beginning fieldwork across Canada in the fall of 2021 to study how former Protestant Christians who converted to Islam navigate and negotiate their faith, identity, and social relationships while living in Canada.

Supervisor: Meena Sharify-Funk

Xochiquetzal 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, 2018); M.A. (Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia); B.A. (Communication Sciences, Monterrey Technological Institute, Mexico).

Xochiquetzal’s research interest pays attention to the constantly evolving intertwine between media and religion. Specifically, her work examines social, cultural and political discourses in Mexico City and Moscow that allow journalists to make visible Catholic faith-based organizations in traditional media or their online version.

Supervisor: Edmund Pries 

Gustavo H. P. Moura

PhD Student

G Moura

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 has traditional and academic training in Sanskrit, Yoga, Vedanta, and the Bhakti traditions. The focus of his PhD research is Kirtan, the practice of chanting mantras and devotional songs. In its most concise formulation, the leading question for his current project is ‘how is kirtan adopted and adapted in the Americas?’. A transcultural approach is key for this understanding on how people of various ethnic backgrounds engage with Eastern ideas and practices such as yoga, meditation, and kirtan.

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