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Current Student Bios

Taylor Burby is a second-year M.A. student in Folklore and Public Culture. She obtained her B.A. in Linguistics and a minor in sociology from the University of Nevada, Reno. Various periods of travel have prompted her interest in the intersections between indigeneity, new religious movements, ritual, and the consumption of entheogens. Her current ethnographic research looks at cacao and its trajectory from a staple in Mesoamerican spiritual, economic, and medicinal practices to the centerpiece, known as Mama Cacao, in New Age rituals of self-renewal. Additional interests include surviving 2020 with her Coven (cohort), contemplating the connection between k-12 lore and white supremacy, documenting chunky squirrels around UO’s campus, and bouldering.

Jenna Ehlinger is a first-year M.S. student in Folklore and Public Culture. She obtained her B.S. in Anthropology from Wisconsin Lutheran College with a double emphasis in archaeological and cultural anthropology. While her interests are far-reaching, her heart belongs to Celtic folklore, Native American studies, and museum work. After studying folklore at University College Cork in Ireland, her research interest in Celtic folklore flourished. She looks forward to furthering her knowledge and experience at the University of Oregon.

Ariel Lutnesky is a first-year M.A. student in Folklore and Public Culture. She earned her B.A. in English with a minor in journalism and mass communication from the University of New Mexico and has recently worked as a print journalist. As someone who loves to dance herself, Ariel is interested in learning about how people use recreational dance as a way to interact with culture, build identity, and make sense of the world. While she is curious about many kinds of dancing, she is currently focused on Latin dancing in urban populations in the United States. Her other interests include Victorian novels, aquatic mammals, and sweets.

Kathryn O’Conaill is a first-year M.A. student in Folklore and Public Culture. She obtained two B.S. degrees in Computer Science and Anthropology from Oregon State University. In 2018, she contributed to the Torn Apart / Separados Project, which deployed Digital Humanities and Library and Information Science techniques to map the family separation crisis in the United States. She recently obtained her M.L.I.S. through the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She took a storytelling class as part of that program, which cemented that the best place for her interdisciplinary interests is in folklore. She is particularly interested in the intersection of decoloniality, folklore, and migration, and will always have a special place in her heart for anything related to Ireland.

Rebecca Pace is a second-year M.A. student in Folklore and Public Culture. Originally from Los Angeles, Rebecca earned her B.A. of Theatre and Cinema Studies; and minor in Psychology from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. She returns to the west coast after residing in Washington, D.C. for five years – working in various industries such as public policy non-profits, communications, financial, and insurance, resulting in becoming a certified Associate Project Manager. She is excited to learn many areas of folklore that the program has to offer. Her interests include video games, true crime, drawing, running, and wine.

Madeline Ruzak is a second-year M.A. student in Folklore and Public Culture.

Iryna Stavynska is a first-year M.A. student in Folklore and Public Culture. She obtained her B.A. in Japanese from Kyiv National Linguistic University in Ukraine, and later went to study to Osaka University, Japan, where she took courses on Japanese folklore and worked as a miko – Shinto shrine priestess. Later, she served the Department of Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Japan in Ukraine, worked as a Kyiv tour guide and conducted research on folkloric motifs in modern Japanese animation and the will-of-the-wisp phenomenon in various mythological traditions. She is extremely excited to finally have the chance to focus on studying Folklore as a master’s student at UO.

Rachel Steiner is a second-year M.A. student in Folklore and Public Culture. Originally from Wisconsin, she received her B.A. in English and a minor in Biology from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona, MN. She is excited to learn about the many areas of folklore that the program has to offer. She is particularly interested in the folklore of the British Isles. A published writer, she often uses folklore to inspire her works of original fiction.

Iris Teeuwen is a third-year M.A. student. She received a B.S. from Portland State University with a major in Anthropology and a minor in Philosophy. She is the first to graduate from college in her family. Her research interests are on holiday myths and how they relate to current cultural mindsets. Specifically on Sinterklaas, a holiday celebrated in the Netherlands, and the current debate surrounding Zwarte Piet and how it should be changed. This research interest relates to her Dutch upbringing and desire to learn more about her cultural heritage. Her other interests include photography, movies, crafts, and taking her dog to the beach.

Benjamin Travers is a first-year M.A. student in Folklore and Public Culture. He received his B.M. at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studied classical guitar under Marc Teicholz. His research at present focuses on the cultural product as a commodity and the development of intellectual property law for the protection of folklore from misappropriation, particularly in media. His other interests within folkloristics include narratology, ethnomusicology of early 20th century America, occupational folklore and comparative mythology. He has spent the past two years working as a substitute teacher and paraprofessional in local public schools. His hobbies include playing music, screenwriting and film.



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