See also: SMR Alumni and Pets of SMR.


Lydia Bangura (bangura@umich.edu), Music Theory

Lydia Bangura is a pre-candidate in music theory.


AJ Banta (ajbanta@umich.edu), Historical Musicology

AJ Banta (they/them) is a historical musicology pre-candidate. They hold a BA in music and theatre from Muhlenberg College, with respective concentrations in vocal performance and performance studies. Their research focuses on gender, sexuality, and race in American vocal music and musical theatre, as well as the construction of the gendered voice. Outside of the academic sphere, they enjoy singing in choral ensembles, engaging in devised theatre and performance art practices, and getting lost in a good novel.


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.


Clay Conley (ctconley@umich.edu), Ethnomusicology

Clay Conley is a pre-candidate in ethnomusicology.


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

Joshua DeVries wears many hats as a musician, working as a theorist, cellist, and publisher. As a cellist, he has been working closely with composers for his entire career, and is currently recording a debut solo album titled “An Ecology of Caring.” Upcoming concerts include a debut with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and violinist Matt Albert. He is currently a PhD candidate in music theory at the University of Michigan and is writing a dissertation on George Crumb’s Black Angels. Josh also recently founded Just a Theory Press, an independent publisher for contemporary music, although perhaps his most famous moment was winning the “Bluff the Listener” game on NPR’s news quiz show Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! In his spare time, Josh volunteers with regional animal rescues and plays with his dogs and cats. He can be heard playing Carlos Simon’s Lickety Split on the album “My Ancestor’s Gift,” available on all streaming platforms.


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

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.


Cecilia Hiros (chiros@umich.edu), Music Theory Photo

Cecilia is a pre-candidate in Music Theory. She completed two bachelor’s degrees in Harp Performance and Music Theory from the University of Michigan. Her interests include contemporary performance and music studies for the deaf community.


Kelly Hoppenjans (kellyhop@umich.edu), Historical Musicology Photo

Kelly Hoppenjans (she/her) is a PhD pre-candidate in musicology. She completed her BM in Musical Theatre at Northwestern University and her MM in Commercial Music at Belmont University, where she has taught commercial voice for the past four years. Her research interests are pop and rock music, virtual and real world music scenes, singer-songwriters, and voice and gender identity. Kelly is also a singer-songwriter; her debut full-length album OK, I Feel Better Now was featured on NPR, The Alternative, Ghettoblaster, American Songwriter, and more. In her free time, she enjoys singing, playing guitar, sewing, knitting, and listening to too many podcasts.



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

Cody Jones is a doctoral candidate in musicology studying the intersections of music, race, and history in the United States. He is originally from Vine Grove, Kentucky. Jones received his B.A. in Music from the College of William & Mary in 2017, where he completed a senior honors thesis on the music of German-American composer Ingolf Dahl. He also currently works as a Research Associate on the interdisciplinary research project “Singing Justice: Recovering the African American Voice in Song.” He presented at the 2018 and 2021 conferences of the Society for American Music and the 2017 spring meeting of the Capital Chapter of the American Musicological Society, at which he received the Irving Lowens Award for Student Research.


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 Photo

Yiqing Ma is a pre-candidate student in music theory. She 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 Japanese post-Millennial rock music. Her recent presentation at the conference of the Psychonomic society focuses on the lyrics’ influences on emotion in songs. Outside of academics, Mitty enjoys hiking, film photography, cooking Hunanese cuisine, watching Ghibli movies, hanging out with her cat, Cereal, and playing carillon. She recently received the Ronald Barnes Memorial Fund from the Guild of Carillonneurs in North American to support her study of Bianzhong’s (Chinese chime-bells) repertoire and adapting it to the carillon.


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 PhD candidate in music theory. Her research interests include music and narrative, film music theory, 19th-century music, form, and musical phenomenology and aesthetics. Her dissertation explores musical experience through the constructs of narrative space and place, introducing a theory of the musical spatial frame as a new perspective/approach to musical analysis. Dorian has presented her work at conferences in both the U.S. and abroad, including at SMT, Music and the Moving Image, and at the International Conference on Music Theory and Analysis in Belgrade, Serbia. Dorian holds an M.A. in Music Theory from Penn State University and a B.A. in Mathematics from Rutgers University. In her free time, she enjoys walking, hiking, swimming, traveling, practicing piano and violin, baking, drinking lots of coffee, and hanging out with her two cats, Luna and Squeaky.


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

Anna Rose Nelson (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in the music theory department at the University of Michigan. 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). In her dissertation, “Fragment, Miniatures & Microludes: Analyzing the Modernist Aphoristic Aesthetic,” she examines what she calls the “modernist aphoristic aesthetic” in Brian Ferneyhough’s “fragment forms”, György Kurtág’s “microludes,” Luigi Nono’s “fragments,” and Anton Webern’s “miniatures” through sketch study, musical and terminological analysis, and a constellation of related concepts culled from the writings of Theodor W. Adorno. More generally, she studies music theoretical terminology, modernist music (particularly string quartets), grunge and psychedelic rock aesthetics and history, and critical theory. In her free time, Anna enjoys playing viola in contemporary music ensembles, working as a steward for the campus graduate-student union (GEO 3550), 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 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.


Deirdre Rose Wolf (deird@umich.edu), Music Theory

Deirdre Rose Wolf (she/her) is a pre-candidate in music theory. Originally from Austin, Texas, and Tom’s River, New Jersey, she holds a B.A. in Music from the University of North Texas. Her research interests include musical form, women, and Jews in punk and hardcore, motifs in electronica/techno, and music theory pedagogy.


ChuYi Zhu (chuyizhu@umich.edu), Ethnomusicology

Chuyi Zhu is a candidate in ethnomusicology from Changsha, China. She holds a B.A. with a double major in music and economics. Her research interests include women’s lamentation, cultural tourism, and intangible cultural heritage. She is also pursuing a certificate in museum studies at the U of M. During her free time, she enjoys eating, watching movies, and swimming.