Graduate Students

The graduate students at the Department of Religion are a diverse group of intellectuals. Many of them come into the program with bachelor's degrees in Religion or Religious Studies, but others have done their previous academic training in related disciplines, such as Philosophy or International Studies. In addition to their formal classroom time, graduate students at the Department often spend a great deal of their free time in social settings together, where they continue to learn from one another. Our small department of graduate students is an optimal environment for friendships to blossom out of a common interest in studying world religions.

Jane Au
BA, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (Religion, 2015)

Jane is currently studying Hawaiian Religion, conducting research on the major Hawaiian oceanic deity, Kanaloa. Using Hawaiian language resources and an indigenous methodology, she hopes to rediscover important elements of Kanaloa, his forms, functions, and overall role in ancestral Hawaiian beliefs. Jane is from Haleʻiwa Oʻahu and hopes that her research will lead to a more complete understanding of both the deity Kanaloa as well as the vast ocean he embodies.


Tami_ColeTami Cole
BS, Trinity University of San Antonio, TX (Biology, 1998)

Tami is studying Indian Religions with a focus on medieval yoga traditions, specifically Hatha yoga as exemplified in the Hatha Yoga Pradipikia. The focus of her research will attempt to draw links between the psychological and physiological implications of this yogic philosophy and how it relates to contemporary yoga practice. She is studying Sanskrit to aid in a more comprehensive understanding of the sutras.



Richard Crum
BA, Manhattanville College, NY
(World Religions & Music Performance-Jazz Guitar, 2014)

Ricky is studying Shintoism as part of the "Green," ecologically focused new religious movement, and how it has reshaped itself outside of Japan. His thesis will also encompass the perception of Shinto values in Japanese art, particularly the films of Hayao Miyazaki.


Allen Freese
BA, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (Chinese Language, 2014)

Allen has been working as a translator and editor for a Taiwanese Buddhist-based non-profit organization that focuses on charity and relief work. He will be studying Sanskrit this semester, and hopes to pair it with his background in Chinese language to study the transition of Buddhism from India to China. Specifically, he wants to research the development of the focus on altruism in the Chinese Mahayana tradition.

Zachary Ludwig
BA, Loyola University Chicago, IL
(Religious Studies & History, 2017)

Zach is studying the Pure Land tradition in Mahayana Buddhism. In particular he is focusing on perceptions about emotions and norms about how emotions should be handled in religious contexts. He will be studying Japanese language this semester, and hopes to use his prior experience with Chinese to consider both traditions.


Laura_RitterLaura Ritter
MES, The Evergreen State College (Environmental Studies, 2006)
BA, University of Washington (Women's Studies, 2001)

Laura's research interests include Religion and Environmentalism, Buddhism in North America, and Women in Zen. She intends to study the role of power and empowerment within the formation of new religious movements. Laura recently completed 4 units of Clinical Pastoral Education and works as a chaplain in Honolulu.


Hannah Stoltenberg
BA, Belhaven University, MS (Biblical Studies, 2014)

Hannah’s research interests include the academic study of Asian religions with a focus on Hinduism and Islam in South Asia. She is interested in examining the role of religion in society, the relationship of differing religions in the same community, and the influence of religion on art and common culture.