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Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Research in Religious Studies

Research Achievements

Senior Thesis Project

  • Symantha Gregorash

    Faculty Advisor: Erin Darby
    Thesis: “Examining Impacts of Cultural Competency Curriculum among Study Abroad Students,” May 2020

College Scholars Thesis

  • Peyton White
    Faculty advisor: David Kline, Faculty co-advisor: Randy Hepner
    “Making Meaning in the Dark: A Heritage of Black Disavowal, Incarceration, and Religious Conversion,” May 2020

CHP Thesis

  • Austin Hoffarth
    Faculty advisor: Rosalind Hackett
    A Study of Physician Preparedness in relation to Religious Diversification: Examination of Policy, Education, Training, and Experience,” May 2020

REST Research Presentations

Regional Research Presentations

    • Carl Weinstein
      Faculty advisor: Erin Darby
      “Herem as Contaminant in Joshua 6 and 7: Is Achan ‘Sinner Zero?’”
    • Shannon Dugger
      Faculty advisor: Erin Darby
      “Deification or Demonization: Jesus’ Post-resurrection Body in Luke 24:36-40”
    • Ashley Cornell
      Faculty advisor: Tina Shepardson
      As Below, So Above: Early Christian Women as Veiled Expressions of Power and Difference”
    • Nick Pittinger
      Faculty advisor: Megan Bryon
      “The Commercialization of Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation”
  • Nexus Interdisciplinary Conference - March 7, 2020
    • Symantha Gregorash
      Faculty advisor: Erin Darb
      “Examining Impacts of Cultural Competency Curriculum Among Study Abroad Students.”
  • Feminism and Classics Conference, Wake Forest University
    • Andrew Swann
      Faculty advisor: Tina Shepardson
      Nature, Speech-Acts, and the Performed Other: A Historical-Methodological Analysis of John of Ephesus and ‘Christian Womanhood’”

Research Related Awards

  • UT Undergraduate Research Travel Awards
    • Carl Weinstein
    • Shannon Dugger
    • Ashley Cornell
  • Eureca Awards
    • Symantha Gregorash: Award of Excellence, Social Science Division. College of Arts and Sciences, Silver Award, Office of Undergraduate Research, University of Tennessee
  • Department of Religious Studies Undergraduate Research Award
    • Andrew Swann
  • 1794 Scholar of the Year
    • Helene Sinnreich’s 1794 student, Morgan McGinn, won 1794 scholar of the year for his work with the public health in the ghettos project (2nd year in a row for Helene).
  • Publication
    • Shannon Dugger's piece, “Deification or Demonization: Jesus’ Post-resurrection Body in Luke 24:36-40” was accepted for publication in Pursuit, the peer-reviewed UG research journal at UT.

2015 Recipients of the  Lusby and Hodges Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research

Robert Cremins,  Kirby Trovillo, and Felipe Oliveira were the 2015 recipients of the  Lusby and Hodges Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research.  All three students presented their research at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion.


Department of Religious Studies Undergraduate Research Award

Majors and minors in Religious Studies are invited to submit their research for the department's Undergraduate Research Award, which includes a $200 prize. The research should be from the past three semesters (no earlier than Spring 2015) and may consist of essays, poster presentations, or other research projects done for a Religious Studies course or under the supervision of Religious Studies faculty. Research papers should be at least seven double-spaced pages. Other research projects should be accompanied by a narrative of at least two double-spaced pages. The deadline for submissions is March 15.  Submit applications to  

Entries will be evaluated by a committee of three Religious Studies faculty from different regional specializations that will rotate its members annually on a regular basis. Each entry will be evaluated by two faculty members, and faculty will recuse themselves from evaluating their own students' work. Submissions will be evaluated on the quality and originality of research and their contributions to the field of Religious Studies. The winner will be announced at the annual department awards ceremony in late April.

Research Travel Support

The Department has two funds that it can use to support travel and expenses related to research, whether locally, nationally, or internationally.  Awards cannot exceed $500.

  1. The Undergraduate Research and Travel Fund
  2. The SCOUT Fund (Service and Community Outreach at UT)

Students are also advised to visit or consult the Center for International Education, especially the McClure Scholarship Fund

Research Opportunities

For more information on Undergraduate Research at UT (such as working with a faculty member over the summer), click here or consult a faculty member.

For service-learning projects, consult the Office of Service-Learning as well as your faculty mentor.


Taylor Thomas ’16 talks about her successes, opportunities, and travels as an undergraduate researcher in Religious Studies. Note: this video originally formed part of the department’s VOLstarter campaign to raise funds for the new Undergraduate Research and Travel Fund in fall 2016.

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