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Conyers Scholars

Jay Beavers is very proud of his Virginia roots and has lived there most of his life. He earned his BA in English and History from Grove City College in 1997 and an MA in Renaissance English from the University of Richmond in 2002. After teaching high school English for seven years, he decided to go for the terminal degree. He moved here two years ago with his lovely wife and daughter to pursue a doctorate in English, focusing on the prophetic elements in modern American literature. When he's not reading and writing, he enjoys playing with his daughter, video games, and watching the director's commentary of his favorite movies.

Melinda Creech, originally from Houston, Texas, now resides at University House, North Village Residential Community, Baylor University, with her husband, Dr. Robert Creech, who teaches at Truett Seminary and is faculty-in-residence at University House. Melinda earned a BA from Houston Baptist University (1974) and an MA from University of Houston Clear Lake (2010). For the years between her BA and MA Melinda was a stay-at-home Mom and homeschooled her daughter. Robert and Melinda have three children and four grandchildren. Currently in her third year of Ph.D. work in English/Religion here at Baylor, she hopes to do a digital edition of Hopkins' Homer for her dissertation, focusing on his marginalia in the Iliad. She works as a graduate assistant at the Armstrong Browning Library and loves it. Melinda is a master naturalist, papercut artist, sometimes poet, gardener, and an aspiring farmer.

Tim Grundmeier is a second year Ph.D. student in history. He grew up in Houston, Texas, but prior to Baylor received all of his higher education in Minnesota. There he earned a B.A. from Martin Luther College, an M.Div. from Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, and an M.A. in history from Minnesota State University, Mankato. His research interests center on the intersection of ethnicity and religion in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States, particularly among Lutherans. He has published articles in Minnesota History and Lutheran Forum. In addition to his studies, he enjoys playing board games with his wife Erika, playing hide-and-seek with his two-year-old daughter Emma, and playing peek-a-boo with his infant son Ryan.

Xiaozhen Han is from Anhui Province, China. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry Education from Huangshan University, she went on to pursue a Master's Degree in Organic Chemistry from Nankai University. In 2012, she graduated from Nankai University with a published paper titled "A Thermodynamic and Kinetic Study of Hydride Transfer of a Caffeine Derivative" in the Journal of Organic Chemistry. Xiaozhen spent a year as a visiting scholar in Utah State University in 2012-2013 investigating the mechanism of fundamental organic reactions. Now, she is a PhD student in the Department of Chemistry and Bio-chemistry at Baylor University with an emphasis in inorganic chemistry. Her research focuses on the reactivity of HNO with antioxidant flavonols. In the future, she hopes to teach at a university and help organize a Bible study fellowship group for Chinese college students.

In 2012, Jeremy Larson and his wife (Kara) and daughter (Kate) moved to Waco from Charleston, SC, for him to begin work on a Ph.D. in English with a concentration in religion and literature. Almost a decade ago, he earned a B.A. in creative writing and an M.A. in English, both from Bob Jones University. Since his first round of graduate work, he has stayed productive by wrangling middle school students, prying class discussion out of high school students, presenting workshops for secondary educators, coaching varsity soccer, working as a university adjunct, teaching trumpet lessons, publishing graduate papers in minor journals, and not watching any of the Harry Potter movies. His research activities include trying to understand Milton's poetry, exploring the impact of the Reformation on English literature, not understanding Milton's poetry, and clicking on hyperlinks on Wikipedia pages until he can't remember why he was there in the first place. His wife works full-time as a physician assistant, and his family attends Redeemer Presbyterian Church, along with a teeming horde of other English graduate students.

The Rev. Nathaniel Jung-Chul Lee came to Baylor in 2011 by way of Duke University, where he completed a Master of Theology. While at Duke, "Nate" was also the Research Associate to Professor Stanley Hauerwas, and helped edit two books: Working with Words and War and the American Difference. Nate's own publication credits include Political Theology, The Living Church, The Other Journal, and The Trinity Journal. Prior to Duke, Nate completed a Master of Divinity at Trinity School for Ministry, and was ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church in February 2011. His M.Div. thesis – Second City: A Theopolitical Reimaging – won the Baker Book Award for Systematic Theology. As an undergraduate at Wheaton College, Nate was a starter on the football team, and helped the "Thunder" win three conference championships. For leisure, Nate likes to write and play music. His research interests involve the intersection of theology and social theory.

Courtney Bailey Parker is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her BA in English Literature from Mercer University in 2010 and her MA from Baylor in 2012. As a PhD student in the Department of English (16th and 17th century literature, especially Renaissance Drama), Courtney holds as appointment as a Teacher of Record in the First-Year Composition Program. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she works for the Baylor Graduate School as Coordinator of International Student Enrichment. Her publications have appeared in Cahiers Élisabéthains, Literature and Belief, The Dictionary of Literary Biography, The Sigma Tau Delta Review, as well as a chapter in a forthcoming edited collection on the graduate school experience. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, thrifting, keeping good company, and spending time with her husband, B. J. Parker.

Christine Pyle earned BA degrees in English and French (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in 2011 from Louisiana State University in her hometown of Baton Rouge. While at LSU, she explored the French Alps with a cultural exchange program, completed an Honors thesis about self-examination in New England Puritan literature, and founded an interdisciplinary reading group to explore the nature and purpose of higher education. Before coming to Baylor, she managed academic and student journalism programs for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in Wilmington, Delaware. A second-year PhD candidate in English, Christine intends to focus her studies on seventeenth-century meditative poetry. Her varied interests include handwritten letters, outdoor adventures, and all things Francophone, but she delights most in the interesting people who populate this world.

Katie Robbins is from Chesapeake, Virginia. She attended the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she earned her BS in Marine Biology, with honors. She was a resident assistant for three years in her undergraduate career, and her deep commitment to her career, campus, and community culminated in earning the Senior Medallion, the most prestigious award given by the university. Katie also participated in a REU internship with the National Science Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska, which ultimately led her to pursue her Ph.D. in Biology at Baylor. Currently in her second year, Katie is researching the developmental dynamics of various fatty acids and proteins in northern elephant seals. Katie enjoys traveling, SCUBA diving, backpacking, running, reading, and good coffee. She hopes to participate in an international mission in the near future, and looks forward to further integrating her love for Christ, physiology, and teaching to benefit the global community.

Iwan Njoto Sandjaja is a third year international Ph.D. student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor University. He is originally from Indonesia. He earned his bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering in 2002 from Petra Christian University, Indonesia and his Master degree in Computer Science from De La Salle University, the Philippines in 2008. He began his career as a lecturer at his alma mater (Petra Christian University) in 2003 and has dedicated his life to education there ever since. All his struggles and life experiences have boiled down to his vision and mission statement: integration of intelligence and faith, integrity of life, and interaction through fellowship and discipleship to know God through the Gospel and for the glory of God. His research interests are computational intelligence, information theory, intelligent design, machine learning, and data mining. For leisure, Iwan likes swimming, reading great literature, playing mind games, drawing, as well as cooking together with his beloved wife, Metta.

Ryan West began his doctoral studies in the philosophy department at Baylor in 2011. He received a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Biola University, and an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics from Talbot School of Theology. After completing his M.A. and before coming to Baylor, Ryan spent seven years serving as a church music minister in Colorado and Washington. His current research interests include moral psychology (especially virtues and emotions) and philosophy of religion (especially the nature of faith). He and his wife, Karla, have been married for 11 years, and have three children: Ella (6), Greyson (3), and Maxwell (1). When he isn't studying, Ryan enjoys playing guitar, playing tennis, and playing with his kids.