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Current Student Bios

Nicole Constant is a first year M.A. student from Florida. She received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Anthropology from the University of South Florida. Her research interests include the influence of mythology and fairy tales on pop culture and the culture of cult classic movie followings, particularly the following of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She completed her undergraduate thesis on the classical allusions of the character names in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series. Her other passions include choral music, theater, costuming, tabletop gaming, and Halloween.

Maxie Cox is a second year M.A. student from Tallahassee, Florida. A Seminole since birth, Maxie attended Florida State for her undergraduate work, receiving two B.A.s in Art History and Religion and Classics. She is spellbound by the incorporation and application of myth and the supernatural in popular culture, and she gravitates strongly toward her Irish roots, primarily researching medieval Celtic folklore and society. An aspiring expat and writer, Maxie’s outside interests include anything British, reading voraciously, and taking lengthy, mind-refreshing walks in the closest forest she can find!

Nikki Cox is both a second year Master’s student in the Folklore Program and a Doctoral student in the Anthropology Department. For her Master’s thesis she will be investigating the experience of women hikers. This will contribute to her larger dissertation project which investigates non-religious pilgrimage on the John Muir Trail in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. Her Master’s thesis in Anthropology explored the Los Angeles Wisdom Tree, a site of secular pilgrimage. Past research also includes a project on community building in improvisational comedy and a case study of representation of gender in American Horror Story: Murder House. Broadly, Nikki is interested in folklore, community, non-religious spirituality, nature, gender and performance.

Sean Dixon is a fourth year Master’s student. He graduated with a B.A. in European History from American University in Washington, DC. Currently his research interests include Scandinavian and Germanic mythology, and the ways in which folktales and mythology have been utilized to convey and reevaluate changing cultural beliefs and folkways over the centuries.

Sarah Fisher is a second year Master’s student in the Folklore Program. She graduated in 2015 from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in English and History. Prior to that, she graduated in 2012 from Penn State with an A.S. in Business Administration. She is fascinated with mythology in literature and society, especially in regards to connections between myths and cultures. Her research goals center on cultural anthropological approaches towards literature and history, specifically in the areas of countercultures and ethnomusicology. Her favorite areas of research include Ancient Greek myths, Celtic literature, and the fascinating Beat Generation.

Jennie Flinspach is a second year Master’s student in the Folklore program. After graduating from Simpson College with a B.A. in English and Theatre, she taught high school English in Iowa for several years. In addition to her classes, she enjoyed writing for and directing the school’s competitive theatre and forensics team. While her research interests are varied, she is particularly focused on Celtic and British mythology and the folklore of Medieval England and France with an emphasis on the evolution of the ballad form. Other passions include musical and theatrical performance and direction, costume design and construction, storytelling and mime, and the American musical theatre tradition.

Jules Helweg-Larsen is a third year Master’s student in folklore. Recently graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland, she is a Canadian citizen who happened to grow up in North Carolina. Inspired by her B.A. in Folklore and a minor in Classics, Jules’ research interests include the reciprocal relationship between folk and popular culture and its representation in material culture, differential identity, and the interplay between vernacular belief and social media. Other passions include tattoos, the outdoors, circus arts, the supernatural, and collecting books.

Alicia Kristen is a third year Master’s student pursuing concurrent degrees in Folklore and Environmental Studies, inspired by her B.A. in Anthropology, English, and Creative Writing. Her interests include communities of practice, summer camp culture (those focused on “primitive skills”), gender, and public programming. For her graduate project she is designing a game that connects young people with their local ecological and cultural communities.

Tamara LeRoy is a first year Master’s student in Public Folklore. She graduated in 2016 from UO with a B.S. in Anthropology, and is interested in using qualitative methods as a tool for revealing quantitative data that can be used to identify, address, and communicate issues of structural inequity. She has served as Project Coordinator for the Latino Roots Project for two years, and intends to continue her work with the project indefinitely. Outside of academia, Tamara works as a farm hand, stage manager, and musician, but is most frequently externally identified as “Mom, mom, mom” by her three children.

Alina Mansfield is a second year Master’s student in Folklore. She graduated from UC Berkeley, where she designed her own Folklore and Mythology major. She is currently researching Mardi Gras traditions in Mobile, Alabama and Biloxi, Mississippi. She is an avid collector of supernatural memorates and is fascinated by contemporary legends, the occurrence of traditional tale types and motifs in television, the folklore of dreaming, and divination practices. She is also a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Women’s Folklore and Folklife.

Brad McMullen is a second year Master’s student in the Folklore Program. After earning a B.A. in Folklore & Mythology from Harvard University, he went to Wales for a year where he researched Welsh tall tales at the University of Cardiff. His other research interests include Celtic folklore in general, Nordic folklore, international tall tale traditions, the relationship between folklore and modern media, oral history, and the presentation of folklore and folk materials to the public.

Talia Nudell is a second year Master’s student in the Folklore program. She graduated from Brandeis University with a B.A. in English and American Literature. Her main research interests are in Jewish folklore, as well as superstitions and naming traditions (both Jewish and otherwise). She is also interested in ethnomusicology, mythology, and fortune telling traditions and practices.

Kelly Nulty is a third year Master’s student in the Folklore program. She has a B.F.A. in Photography and a B.A. in Philosophy & Religious Studies from State University of New York at New Paltz. A driving passion to understand the inexplicable, she focuses her interests on belief and the effects of true faith. As an artist, the subjects of many of her pieces explore her ties to philosophy and conceptualization of the unconscious mind. From history to possible futures, her artwork can be seen on her portfolio website at

Jacob Ochs is a second year Master’s student in the Folklore Program. He graduated from Mercyhurst University in 2015 with a B.A. in English. His interests are primarily focused on the connections between children’s literature and modern folklore, Nordic folklore’s continuation and mutation through Christianization, and the growing field of Digital Folklore, especially horror narratives. Some personal interests include video-game culture and narrative as well as South and South-East Asian folklore and legends.

Deb Parker is in the English Ph.D. program with a structured emphasis in Folklore. She is interested in expressions of illness and suffering, healing practices, healing communities, and structural factors that influence health and healing.

Kirk Peterson is a first year M.A. student in the Folklore Program. He grew up on the Allegheny Plateau in Western Pennsylvania and Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley immersed in the folklore and folkways of his family and neighbors. After graduating with a B.F.A in Film and Television from Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, he lived and worked in New York City and Portland, Oregon. At Portland State University he studied Anthropology and World Literature, focusing on ethnographic method and narratology. His current areas of interest involve the dynamic nature of folklore diffusion techniques and how they interact with contemporary media forms.

Nikki Silvestrini is a third year Master’s student. Originally from Minnesota, she graduated with distinction from Indiana University with a B.A. in Folklore and Ethnomusicology, minoring in Rock and Roll history. She presented her undergraduate thesis “Ganglines: The Ties that Bind the Sled-Dog Community” at the OSU/IU Student Folklore Conference in 2010. The past four years she’s worked at indie bookstores and volunteered as both a wildlife rehabilitator and canine behavior rehabilitator. Her research interests include verbal folklore with emphasis on storytelling and narratology as well as youth culture, performance, and contemporary music history. She is specifically interested in studying the role of animals in human communities and how that defines cultural identity. Fall term 2016, Nikki will be serving as a GTF in the Anthropology Dept.

Rachael Steineckert is a first year Folklore master’s student. She has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and a minor in Religious Studies from Utah State University. Growing up amongst the religious communities of Salt Lake Valley shaped her endless fascination with gender in myth, sacred texts, and ritual. Her research focuses on women’s folklore and thealogy, with interest in subversive healing practices, oral histories as modern forms of ancestor worship, and dreaming in religious experience. She has lived in California and the Caribbean and is looking forward to her time in Eugene.

Hillary Tully is a first year M.A. student from Tallahassee, Florida. She received her B.A.s in English and in International Affairs and has been working for the past few years in public health. She is interested in the relationships between people, place, and ecology, and the traditions surrounding them. Her most important life experiences include growing up in the South and in the Pentecostal church, bike-riding across the country, studying abroad in Peru, and spying on wild animals.

Christy Vrtis is pursuing a Ph.D. in English with a structured emphasis in Folklore. Her research interests include contemporary African diasporan women’s literature and folklore, Pacific Island literature and culture, ritual theory, new media and storytelling. Christy received her M.A. in Folklore from the University of Oregon in June 2010 upon completion of a master’s thesis entitled “‘Death is the Only Reality’: Notions of Death and Funerary Ritual in Contemporary Caribbean Women’s Literature.”

Sarah Wyer is a third year Master’s student in Folklore, which she is pursuing concurrently with Arts Administration. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Folklore from the University of Oregon and hails from San Diego, California. Sarah has traveled extensively, including backpacking solo in Southern Mexico to explore ruins of the ancient Maya and participating in an archaeological excavation of the medieval site, Thornton Abbey, in England. Her folkloric interests are myriad, including the relationship between gender and popular culture, dissecting the idea and implications of “authenticity,” and how identity formation is impacted by unofficial folk culture and pop culture.

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