See also: SMR Alumni and Pets of SMR.


Jake Arthur (jakeart@umich.edu), Music Theory

Jake Arthur is a candidate in music theory. Originally from Central Massachusetts, he holds an M.A. in Music Theory from the University of Minnesota. Some of his research interests include the music of Tom Waits and music and place. Jake is the founding member of several one-members societies.


Casper Chan (casperyh@umich.edu), Ethnomusicology

Casper Chan is a pre-candidate in ethnomusicology from Hong Kong. He holds a B.A. in music from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His research interest includes Han-Chinese traditional instrumental ensembles and soundscapes in modern China. He also explores current Internet subcultures as well as Japanese popular music as secondary areas of interest. In his free time, he browses for/makes memes, rides the hoverboard, and watches animes.


Nee Chucherdwatanasak (neechu@umich.edu), Historical Musicology Photo

Nee Chucherdwatanasak is a candidate in historical musicology. She specializes in post-1945 Western-European and American classical music, with an emphasis on the current new-music scene in the United States. Her secondary research interest is contemporary classical music in Southeast Asia. In her master’s thesis at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, she discusses cross-cultural approaches in the orchestral music of Thai composer Narong Prangcharoen. Consequently, she has become interested in more in-depth interdisciplinary understandings of her native region and is now also pursuing a Graduate Certificate Program in Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Michigan.


Josh DeVries (joshdev@umich.edu), Music Theory

Josh DeVries wears many hats as a musician, working as a theorist, cellist, composer, and arranger. Currently a pre-candidate in music theory, his research focuses on the compositional processes of George Crumb. His recent talks at the conferences of the Society for Music Theory and Society for Music Analysis have concentrated on archival research of Crumb’s Black Angels and included excerpts of new interviews with the composer. Outside of academia, Joshua has toured as a solo cellist in China and the Virgin Islands, and upcoming performances include solo debuts with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and the University of Michigan Concert Band. As a composer and arranger, his works have been performed by the 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic and ensembles at the Juilliard School. In his spare time, he runs Ann Arbor Music Services (a full-service score engraving, preparation, and printing shop), plays with his blind dog, and breeds rare tropical fish.


Piper Foulon (pfoulon@umich.edu), Historical Musicology

Piper Foulon is a PhD pre-candidate in historical musicology. She holds bachelor degrees in history and music from Pacific Lutheran University, where she completed thesis projects on the incidental music of The Bedbug by Dmitri Shostakovich, and on architectural conservation during the Siege of Leningrad. Her current research focuses on Soviet stage works produced in the 1920s.


Michaela Franzen (mjudkins@umich.edu), Historical Musicology

Michaela Franzen is a pre-candidate in historical musicology. She completed her undergraduate work at Oakland University, receiving degrees in music education and vocal performance. Her research interests are 20th-century Russian music, politics and music, Prokofiev’s Soviet period, and the reception of Western music in China.


Cody Jones (codymj@umich.edu), Historical Musicology Photo

Cody Jones is a pre-candidate in historical musicology. He is originally from Vine Grove, Kentucky, and he received his B.A. in Music from the College of William & Mary in 2017. His primary research interest is the music of the early- and mid-twentieth century. Previously, he presented at the 2018 national meeting of the Society for American Music, and he received the 2017 Lowens Award for Student Research from the Capital Chapter of the American Musicological Society.


Meredith Juergens (mereannj@umich.edu), Historical Musicology

Meredith Juergens is a candidate in historical musicology. Her dissertation focuses on the performance of race and more generally, American identity, in works for the stage during the first half of the twentieth century. This interdisciplinary project draws upon Meredith’s interest and previous work in the fields of dance, performance studies, and visual culture. She has presented papers at annual meetings of the Society for American Music as well as the American Musicological Society. Her work has also been published in the Society for American Music Bulletin and Music Research Forum. In her free time, Meredith enjoys cooking (with an emphasis on carrots), working out in her living room, attending live performance events, obsessively watching animal videos, and tending to her prized and adored houseplants.


Joshua Kerobo (kerobo@umich.edu), Ethnomusicology Photo

Joshua Kerobo is a pre-candidate in ethnomusicology, hailing from Edo State, Nigeria and Cincinnati, Ohio. He holds both a B.A. in international studies and music from the American University in Washington D.C. As the American-born son of Nigerian immigrants, his academic interests and research aspirations have naturally centered around the histories, religions, and cultures of Nigeria and Ghana, as well as their connections to the larger Black Atlantic community. His unique subjectivity has been the exigence of his current research interests, such as music as an indicator of Muslim subjectivity, Islamic soundscape studies in Northern Nigeria as an indicator of the influence of judicial and extrajudicial Islamic fundamentalists in the region, and “Black Organic Intellectualism,” a revolutionary reframing of the traditionally Gramscian “Organic Intellectual” in the context of cross-cultural black/African communication and liberation. In his free time, Joshua enjoys playing the saxophone, composing music, playing and watching soccer, and cooking.


Sunhong Kim (ksunhong@umich.edu), Ethnomusicology Photo

Sunhong Kim is a Ph.D. student in ethnomusicology. She earned B.M. and M.M. in Korean Music from Ewha Womans University in South Korea. Her research topic is North Korean Masked Dance Drama, immigration, music and minorities. The Intangible Cultural Heritage system and Korean royal processional music are also one of her interests. In her free time, she enjoys surfing the internet, swimming and traveling.




Kája Lill (lill@umich.edu), Music Theory

Kája Lill is a candidate in music theory and concurrently pursuing an M.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies. Originally from Grand Haven, Michigan, he holds a M.A. in Music Theory from the University of North Texas. Some of his research interests include 20th-century Czech music and the history of music theory in Central Europe. Kája enjoys learning foreign languages and playing bass in improvisation ensembles.


Yiqing Mitty Ma (yqm@umich.edu), Music Theory

Yiqing Ma is a pre-candidate student in music theory. Originally from Changsha, Hunan, China, Mitty holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Minnesota, and an M.M. in music theory from Louisiana State University. Her research interests generally explore the phenomenology of music forms—as a process of our cognitive perception—from Schubert’s piano sonatas to Leonard Bernstein’s symphonic works, and Japanese post-Millennial rock music. Her recent presentation at the conference of Society for Music Perception and Cognition focuses on the lyrics’ influences on emotion in songs. She is also a co-author of Basic Music Technology: An Introduction by Springer. Outside of academics, Mitty enjoys hiking, swimming, dancing, iPhone photography, cooking Hunanese cuisine, watching Ghibli movies, occasionally drowning in existential crisis, and hanging out with her cat, Cereal.


Ryan McCulloch (ryangav@umich.edu), Music Theory Photo

Ryan McCulloch is pursuing a PhD in music theory and a concurrent master’s in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies. His interests in music include the intersection of Soviet music and music theory, history of music theory, and intellectual history with an emphasis in sociology. He has conducted research in several Moscow archives on the music of Shostakovich and Boleslav Yavorsky’s Theory of Modal Rhythm. He holds a BM in Composition from Berklee College of Music and an MM in composition from Carnegie Mellon. He continues to perform and teach regularly as a guitarist.


Elizabeth McLain (eamclain@umich.edu), Historical Musicology

Elizabeth McLain is a doctoral candidate in historical musicology. Her research interests include music and spirituality from the late nineteenth through the twentieth century, the music of France, the organist-composer tradition, disability studies, Russian music, and diversifying music history pedagogy. As a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion ambassador, she works to make SMTD a more inclusive place for disabled students while simultaneously learning how to support other marginalized groups. Her dissertation “Catholic, Nonconformist, Surrealist, Artist: Olivier Messiaen’s Intellectual World and Aesthetic Agenda in the 1930s” situates Messiaen’s early works at the intersection of the composer-organist-improviser tradition, Ressourcement theology, Nonconformist political ideology, and Surrealist aesthetics. She has presented at conferences in the United States and abroad, and her published work includes a chapter in Mystic Modern: The Music, Thought, and Legacy of Charles Tournemire and a forthcoming article for the Journal of Musicological Research. Before coming to Michigan, she earned a BA in History and a BA in Music Performance at Virginia Tech. When not teaching, writing, or engaging in advocacy work, Elizabeth reads voraciously, spends too much time discussing Star Wars, and enjoys the company of her beloved cat Misha.


Dorian Mueller (mdorian@umich.edu), Music Theory Photo

Dorian Mueller is a candidate in music theory. Her research interests include music and narrative, film music theory, nineteenth-century music, musical form, and musical phenomenology. Her dissertation, explores connections between musical narrative and perspectives in literary theory and film theory/film music theory. In particular, she is interested in examining music through the constructs of narrative space, diegetic space, and story/discourse in light of how these notions are conceptualized in both literature and film. Dorian has presented her work at conferences in both the U.S. and abroad. Dorian holds an M.A. in Music Theory from Penn State University (2014) and a B.A. in Mathematics from Rutgers University (2008). In her free time, she enjoys wandering, hiking, swimming, traveling, baking, coffee-ing, and hanging out with her two cats, Luna and Squeaky.


Anna Rose Nelson (arnels@umich.edu), Music Theory Photo

Anna Rose Nelson is a candidate in music theory. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Theory/Composition from St. Olaf College (2012) and a Master of Arts in Music Theory from the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities (2015). Her dissertation explores the intersection of the use of small, aphoristic forms in the modernist string quartets of Brian Ferneyhough, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Anton Webern and the writings of critical theorists Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno through sketch study and close, terminological analysis. In her free time, Anna enjoys playing viola in contemporary music ensembles, working as SMTD’s steward for the campus graduate-student union (GEO), and playing with her cat, Edie.


Rhianna Nissen (rnissen@umich.edu), Historical Musicology Photo

Rhianna is a Ph.D. Candidate in Historical Musicology. Her dissertation “Singing for a New Nation: Liberalism and Identity in Oratorios of the Vormärz” (tentative title) explores the political discourse in amateur choral singing and repertoire in Germany before 1848. In addition to 19th century German music, Rhianna is interested in music and politics more broadly, serving on the editorial team of the Music and Politics: In the Moment online publication, which focuses on music and political issues of the current day. An avid choral singer, Rhianna has sung with choirs such as the University of Michigan Chamber Choir, Washington Master Chorale, and University Musical Society’s Choral Union. She holds a BM in Vocal Performance (magna cum laude) from the Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, VA, and an MM in Music History from the University of Cincinnati—College Conservatory of Music. In her free time, she enjoys sailing, cooking, and doting on her puppy, Ilsa.


Carlos Pérez Tabares (pereztc@umich.edu), Music Theory

Carlos Pérez Tabares is a pre-candidate in music theory. Originally from Venezuela, he holds a BM in Composition and an MM in Music Theory from the Mannes School of Music. His research interests include music cognition, semiotics, and jazz theory.


Christopher Sherwood-Gabrielson (cdsg@umich.edu), Music Theory and Composition

Christopher Sherwood-Gabrielson is a candidate in music theory and composition.


Conner Singh VanderBeek (csv@umich.edu), Ethnomusicology Photo

Conner Singh VanderBeek is a pre-candidate in ethnomusicology from Salida, California. He holds a BA in South Asian Studies and a BM in Music Composition and Musicology from Northwestern University. His research focuses on media cultures of the Punjabi-Sikh diaspora, and on experimental and electronic artists in urban India. VanderBeek also works on Sikh religious music, Sikh political history, and music in US celebrity culture. In his spare time, he composes music, films and edits videos, sews stuffed animals, and watches cartoons.


Richard Smith (rijsmith@umich.edu), Ethnomusicology Photo

Richard Smith (they/them) is a candidate in ethnomusicology. Their dissertation explores what it means to be queer and Arab in Israel, and how music may negotiate these identities. As a 2020 Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellow Richard will soon return to Israel for 12 months where they will examine further the complexities that non-binary and trans* identities reveal within a binary society. Richard’s work draws upon their interests in drag, the use of language, social media, creative networks. They have presented their research in the United States and abroad. Outside the university, Richard enjoys live-streaming atmospheric horror, and other story-based video games, performing and creating drag, and working as a professional drag and burlesque photographer.


Sylvie Tran (sytran@umich.edu), Music Theory

Sylvie Tran is a pre-candidate in music theory. Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sylvie holds a B.M. in flute performance from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Some of her research has involved analysis of performances of chamber music for wind instruments, exploring questions of embodiment, and, more broadly, the politics of arrangement and reorchestration. Also interested in questions of music and place in the United States, Sylvie studies musical portrayals of the American West and their intersections with race, gender, and the environment. In her free time, Sylvie enjoys hiking and running, cooking spicy food, and solving Rubik’s cubes.


Mayna Tyrrell (tyrrellm@umich.edu), Ethnomusicology

Mayna Tyrrell is a pre-candidate in ethnomusicology.


William van Geest (vangeest@umich.edu), Music Theory Photo

William van Geest is a candidate in music theory. He holds a B.A. from Calvin College (majors in philosophy, music history, and piano performance), Master’s degrees from the University of Ottawa (piano performance) and McGill University (music theory), and a certificate in Medieval and Early Modern Studies from U-M. His areas of research interest are the history of music theory, medieval grammar, rhythm and meter, and early-20th-century music. William has presented papers at several national and international conferences, including those of SMT, EuroMAC, the SMA UK, MusCan, and SysMus. William’s dissertation examines the appropriation by music theorists of the chorale and the history of this practice. William’s work is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. William enjoys running, swimming, and eating fine food made by the culinarily-gifted members of SMR.


Alyssa Wells (abwells@umich.edu), Historical Musicology Photo

Alyssa Wells is a candidate in historical musicology and Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan. Her dissertation articulates how marching bands in the United States function as forces of social influence through theories of whiteness, masculinity, and militarism. Alyssa’s secondary research area focuses on composer Hanns Eisler and music festivals in the German Democratic Republic. She completed master’s degrees at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Musicology (M.M.) and German and Scandinavian Studies (M.A.), where her work on Eisler received funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). In her free time, she enjoys camping, cooking, telling terrible jokes, and making annoying puns.


Kai West (kaiwest@umich.edu), Historical Musicology Photo

Kai West (he/him/his) is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at the University of Michigan with interests in American popular music, musical instrument studies, critical race studies, feminist theory, media studies, and opera. His dissertation on the solid-body electric guitar explores social, cultural, and technological transformations across the instrument’s 70-year history, theorizing the impact of guitar technologies on musical practice and identity. He has presented research at the annual meetings of the American Musicological Society, Society for American Music, and the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. A writer with wide-ranging interests, he contributed a chapter on jazz drumming to a 2021 Routledge volume on music in Twin Peaks, and his article on the role of whiteness in the opera Porgy and Bess is forthcoming in the Journal of the American Musicological Society. Before studying musicology, Kai worked as a classical double bassist, performing internationally with ensembles including the London Symphony Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, and San Francisco Symphony, and he holds performance degrees from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the University of Michigan. He enjoys building and repairing guitars, cooking with his wife Alex, and playing with his dog Ruby.


ChuYi Zhu (chuyizhu@umich.edu), Ethnomusicology

ChuYi Zhu is a candidate in ethnomusicology from Hunan, China. She holds a B.A. with a double major in music and economics. Her research interest includes women’s lament and cultural tourism. Chuyi also works on Korean popular music as well as karaoke culture as her second field. During her free time, she enjoys watching movies, swimming, and enthusiastically discussing personality psychology.