A native of Stillwater, Oklahoma, CASPAR Director Andrea Bradley Hearn came to Nashville in 2001 to pursue a Ph.D. in English at Vanderbilt specializing in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature. A senior lecturer in the Department of English, she teaches British literature surveys as well as Jane Austen seminars for first-year students. She is a Big Sister and a regional co-coordinator of the Jane Austen Society of North America. She likes to walk the dog with her husband, listen to birdsong, and read mysteries, gardening memoirs, and nineteenth-century novels--the bigger the better. Her favorite food is her mother’s chicken-fried steak.
A native of Natchez, Mississippi, CASPAR Assistant Director Anna Catesby Yant is a Southern belle who doesn’t mind getting a little dirty. She completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology at Vanderbilt, and her research focuses on the relationship between architecture, power, and social change. She is a Maya archaeologist and no, she is not at all like Indiana Jones. During the fall, she loves to watch LSU football, and in the spring, it’s “crawfish time.” In her spare time, she can usually be found chasing around two small children, her husband, and their dog.
Laura Birdsall grew up in Los Angeles County, where she received her B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA in 2009. She worked at a museum in Ohio, then ran a used bookstore, then lived in Rabat for a while. She is the editor of an anthology of writing by inmates on Tennessee's Death Row, a workshop for whom she taught with other volunteers when she arrived in Nashville. In 2016, she received her MFA in Fiction from Vanderbilt. She has a mid-range mutt named Tuba. Tuba is a good dog.
Born and raised in Connecticut, Lauren Campbell came to Nashville in 2007 to pursue graduate studies in Physics and Astronomy. She earned her M.A. from Fisk University, then completed her Ph.D. at Vanderbilt in 2015. Interested in the structure and formation of galaxies like our Milky Way, she combines computer models with large datasets like the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to look for stars traveling with unexpected orbits. While at Vanderbilt, she became actively engaged at the Center for Teaching and helped develop online teaching tools for science educators. Outside of the office she enjoys reading, playing board games, and spending time at the park with her son and husband.
Born and raised in California's Central Valley, Tizoc Chavez came to Nashville in 2010 to pursue a Ph.D. in History at Vanderbilt specializing in U.S. foreign relations. His research focuses on the diplomacy of the American presidency and how White House occupants have strategically sought to forge personal relationships with other world leaders in order to advance their foreign policy agendas. Though a historian by training, his research and teaching interests are interdisciplinary. He has taught a variety of courses in both the History and Political Science departments at Vanderbilt. In his spare time, he can be found reading massive presidential biographies, following his beloved San Francisco Giants, and going to Vandy football and basketball games.
A native Hoosier, Brad Daugherty came to Nashville by way of Boston, where he completed an M.Div. at Boston University. While in Boston he came to love many things about New England, including its rich history and beautiful autumns, but definitely not its football team. He completed a Ph.D. in Religion at Vanderbilt and a postdoc in Digital Humanities and now teaches in the Department of Religious Studies. A historian of religion, his research focuses on the practice of Christianity in Roman North Africa. When not at work he is likely spending time with his wife and their two children, cooking, playing the occasional board game, and dreaming about their next trip.
Stephanie Higgs grew up in Colorado Springs, CO, a fervent reader with dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer or a pastry chef. She attended Washington University in St. Louis, double majoring in English and French. Wooed by the challenges and rewards of literary analysis, she moved to Nashville in 2009 to pursue a PhD in English at Vanderbilt, specializing in 19th-century British and American literature. Her research focused on the cotton industry, exploring how Victorians on both sides of the Atlantic mitigated or suppressed their awareness of race- and class-based exploitation in order to justify participation in consumer culture. Having successfully defended her dissertation, Stephanie received a rare opportunity to revisit her childhood dream and work as a pastry cook at several of Nashville’s top restaurants. She’s now thrilled to return to the academic fold, but this by no means spells an end to her elaborate baking experiments.
Born in Annapolis, Maryland, Adam Miller has now held residence in six of the fifty states (Florida, Washington, Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee). He earned a bachelor’s degree from The College of William and Mary before matriculating at Vanderbilt, where he wrote a bunch of stuff in exchange for a doctorate in English Literature. He now writes about the long eighteenth century, specializing in its histories of science and technology. He is also a magician, by the way, and promises that if you turn in your materials on time, he will tell you how the trick is done.
Aurora Romero is a native of Southern California, where she learned to appreciate dry heat and ocean breezes. Upon graduating high school she decided not to go to college and instead attended a technical school. Aurora worked as a drafter-detailer in the trade show industry before growing bored and enrolling in community college. After attempting everything from the violin to the steel drums, she discovered that she was, alas, not a musician but rather had a knack for foreign languages, especially German. She later transferred to UC-Irvine where she majored in both Spanish and German and minored in Jewish Studies (stopping to learn Yiddish in New York along the way). In 2009 Aurora moved to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt, bringing with her nothing but her car, a broken ankle, several pet birds, and the burning desire to study German literature. Her research interests include poetry (in many languages) and poetic identity, fairy tales and their adaptations, and German-Jewish literature from the nineteenth century onward. In her spare time, Aurora enjoys playing with the cutest birds in the world, Coco and Baby, making soup, and dabbling in even more foreign languages.
Anna Silverstein hails from Boston, though you would never know it from her superb driving skills. She traded New England winters for equally cold and snowy Ohio winters, earning a B.A. in Creative Writing at Oberlin College. After graduating in 2008, she volunteered for a women’s textile cooperative in Peru. She then returned to her Boston roots and worked for the youth mentoring nonprofit, Big Brothers Big Sisters. She came to Nashville in 2013 and earned an M.F.A. in fiction from Vanderbilt University. Here in Nashville, she leads a creative writing workshop for immigrants and refugees. She also volunteers on an organic farm, where she learned that a boron deficiency in the soil turns cauliflower purple (but it still tastes good).
Wietske Smeele grew up in the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park in northern England. In 2001, she traded in the heather-covered barrens for the tree-swathed hills of New York’s Hudson Valley, where she received a B.A. in English, German, and creative writing from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She came to Vanderbilt in 2013 to pursue a Ph.D. in English, where she spent five years reading and writing about science, technology, and medicine in nineteenth-century Britain. She teaches courses that bridge the gap between the humanities and the sciences, especially courses that explore how literature helps us comprehend developments in science and biomedical ethics. In her spare time, she paints the landscapes of her Yorkshire childhood, plays board games, and teaches her golden retriever Maya new tricks.