SMR Member Bios

To contact a student at their University of Michigan e-mail address, follow their uniqname (in parentheses) with

Jake Arthur (jakeart) is a pre-candidate in music theory. Originally from Central Massachusetts, he holds an MA 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) 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) is a candidate in historical musicology at the University of Michigan. 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.

Kristen Clough (cloughk) is a candidate in historical musicology.

Lisa Decenteceo (lddece) is a candidate in ethnomusicology.

Josh DeVries (joshdev) 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.

John Edwartowski (jedwart) is a candidate in music theory. His dissertation research looks at textual change in Guys & Dolls. John holds a Bachelor’s degree in music and Master’s degree in music theory from Wayne State University. Prior to graduate studies, John spent more than a decade as the musical director for the improvisation and sketch comedy The Second City (Detroit), where he composed songs and incidental music for sketch comedy revues and where he extemporized soundtracks for nightly improvisations. He has written and produced several musicals, most notably Cancer! The Musical, which has received performances on both American coasts as well as in the Metro Detroit Area. John spends his spare time being a husband and father.


Jessica Grimmer (jhgrimm) is a candidate in historical musicology specializing in late 19th and 20th century French music, musical institutions, and political discourse. Her dissertation, “Ideological Battlefields in the Music Conservatoires of the French Provinces under the Nazi Occupation and Vichy Regime, (1940–1944)” examines the wartime histories of state-sponsored music education caught in the crossfire of war and politics. Jessica has also engaged in research on musical representations of trauma in reaction to the Holocaust and the political contexts of the femme fatale figure in late 19th century French opera. She has presented her research at several chapter meetings of the American Musicological Society, the International Conference on Trauma and the Humanities, the International 19th Century Conference, and the Michigan Graduate Student Symposium. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Music in Oboe Performance and Music History and a Master of Music in Music History, both from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, and remains an active chamber musician.


Anne Heminger (akhem) is a candidate in historical musicology, also pursuing a graduate certificate in Medieval and Early Modern Studies. She holds a BA in Music from the University of Chicago and an MPhil in Musicology from the University of Cambridge (Clare College), where she was a Gates Scholar. Her research interests include early print culture, liturgy, music as ritual, sixteenth-century England and Livonia, and early modern sensory theory, with a specific focus on musical practice and religious belief. Her dissertation, titled “Confession Carried Aloft: Music, Sound, and Religious Identity in London c.1540–1560,” investigates the intersections between music, officially sanctioned orthodoxy, and the religious heterodoxy that marked sixteenth-century English life. She has presented her research at national and international conferences, including the general meeting of the American Musicological Society, and her work has been published in Early Music History. Anne is also a co-coordinator for MMF, a San Francisco native, and an avid cook.

Derek Jackson (jaderek) is a pre-candidate in ethnomusicology.


Cody Jones (codymj) 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.

Michaela Judkins (mjudkins) 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.

Meredith Juergens (mereannj) 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 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.

Ho-Chak Law (hclaw) is a candidate in ethnomusicology. He is currently finishing a dissertation titled “Cinematizing Chinese Opera, Performing Chinese Identities, 1945-1971.”

Lena Leson (lleson) is a candidate in historical musicology. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in vocal performance from The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University and the San Francisco Conservatory, where she received the Graduate Prize in Music History and Literature. Her research interests include 20th-century music for dance in the United States, Europe, and Russia; the ballets of George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky; and the intersection of music and politics, particularly in the Cold War period. Lena is currently serving as the musicology department student-faculty representative. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and the company of her English Springer Spaniel.


Stephen Lett (slett) is a Ph.D. candidate in music theory. His dissertation, “The Psychedelic Listener,” throws the values of the contemporary discipline of music theory into sharp relief by exploring practices with music that developed out of 1950s and 60s experiments in psychedelic psychotherapy. He has presented his research at conferences including the Society for Music Theory, Music Theory Midwest, Feminist Theory and Music, RMA’s Music and Philosophy Study Group, the Association for Music and Imagery, AMS-NYSSL, and the Association for the Study of Esotericism.

Kája Lill (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.


Vivian Luong (luongv) is a candidate in music theory. Her research interests include embodiment and Schenkerian theory, gender and sexuality studies, and ethnography. Her dissertation, “Rethinking Music-Analytic Loving,” weaves together these research interests to contemplate music analysis as a loving, ethical practice. Vivian has presented portions of this project at meetings of the American Musicological Society, Society for Music Theory, Feminist Theory and Music, and Music Theory Midwest. Her article titled “Rethinking Music Loving” was published in Music Theory Online in 2017. Her research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan (IRWG). Vivian currently serves as co-chair the Society for Music Theory’s Queer Resource Group.

Ryan McCulloch (ryangav) 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) is a doctoral candidate in historical musicology at the University of Michigan.  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.

Jimmy bio photo

James McNally (jemcnal) is a candidate in ethnomusicology. His research investigates popular and experimental music in Brazil and the United States, with theoretical focuses on questions of race and ethnicity, collaborative creativity, alternative and digital media, gender and sexuality, and urban geography. His dissertation, “São Paulo Underground: Creativity, Collaboration, and Cultural Production in a Multi-Stylistic Experimental Music Scene,” examines these issues in the context of an independent experimental music scene in São Paulo, Brazil. He has published articles in Popular Music and Society and the Journal for the Society of American Music, and has presented his research at national and international conferences including the general meetings of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Society for American Music, and the International Council for Traditional Music. His research has received support from a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Fulbright-Hays Award, and Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship. As a musician, he performs with the University of Michigan Vencedores Samba Bateria and Javanese Gamelan Ensemble and enjoys making hardware-hacked instruments in his spare time. Before beginning his PhD, he received a B.A. in Music from Amherst College and spent five years working as a public school music teacher in New York City.

Patricia Josette Moss (patjmoss) is a candidate in historical musicology.

Dorian Mueller (mdorian) is a doctoral candidate in music theory. Her research interests include topics in music and narrative, film music theory, nineteenth-century music, musical form, and musical aesthetics. She has presented her work at Music and the Moving Image and at the London Film and Media Conference. Dorian holds an M.A. in Music Theory from Pennsylvania State University (2014) and a B.A. in Mathematics from Rutgers University (2008). In her free time, she enjoys going for walks, hiking, swimming, traveling, baking, coffee-ing, and hanging out with her two cats, Luna and Squeaky.

Anna Rose Nelson

Anna Rose Nelson (arnels) is a PhD 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 research focuses on Brian Ferneyhough’s theoretical writings, 20th- and 21st-century string quartets, and Theodor W. Adorno’s writings on analysis and aesthetics. She recently presented a paper at SMT South-Central on Ferneyhough’s “figure” and its relevance to an analysis of his Second String Quartet (1980), and her paper for her candidacy exam was titled “Adorno’s ‘Truth Content’ and Musical Analysis.” In her free time, Anna enjoys playing viola in contemporary music ensembles, working as a steward for SMTD with the campus graduate-student union (GEO), bartending on weekends, and playing with her cat, Edie.


Rhianna Nissen (rnissen) is pre-candidate in Historical Musicology who hails from Washington D.C. She holds an MM in Music History from the University of Cincinnati and a BM in voice performance from Shenandoah Conservatory. Her research interests are broad, but especially focus on German music and politics in the nineteenth century. Her master’s thesis dealt with Catholic and German identities in the music of Josef Rheinberger. In her spare time, Rhianna enjoys binge-watching Shondaland and serving at the altar of her dog.

Michael Schachter (bigaum) is a candidate in music theory and composition, and the Mary Fair Croushore Graduate Fellow at the UM Institute for the Humanities.

Christopher Sherwood-Gabrielson (cdsg) is a pre-candidate in music theory and composition.


Richard Smith (rijsmith) is a pre-candidate student in ethnomusicology. Prior to entering U-M’s ethnomusicology program, Richard completed a BA in music at SUNY Stony Brook University, and an MMus in (historical) musicology at Northwestern University. His honor’s work into Reformation-era German sacred music and witchcraft helped him earn a Presser Award at the former. Richard’s current area of study is centered on 21st-century popular music in the Middle East, primarily Tel Aviv and Israel-Palestine. He actively engages with conceptions of sexuality and gender, the use of language, performativity, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and music and social media. Outside of academic life, Richard enjoys live-streaming atmospheric horror, and other story-based video games.


Austin Stewart (ajstewar) is a candidate in historical musicology, and is pursuing a professional development certificate in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion through the Rackham Graduate School. He researches opera and civic identity in the American West during the nineteenth century, with an emphasis on the theatres, performances, and artists encountered by the citizens of Denver. His dissertation,  “Opera, Democracy, Race, and Civic Boosterism in Denver, 1864–1893,” is advised by Prof. Mark Clague.


Conner Singh VanderBeek (csv) 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.

Sylvie Tran (sytran) is a pre-candidate in theory. Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sylvie holds a B.M. in flute performance from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Some of her areas of interest include early-eighteenth-century counterpoint and figured bass, performance and analysis, and chamber music for wind instruments. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading and watching murder mysteries, and solving Rubik’s cubes.


William van Geest (vangeest) 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) is a candidate in historical musicology and Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include: labor union and industry bands, protest music, the politics of sound and space, and communist and socialist composers. Before coming to the University of Michigan, she completed master’s degrees at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Musicology (M.M.) and German and Scandinavian Studies (M.A.). While at UMass, her research on Hanns Eisler and music festivals in the German Democratic Republic received funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Alyssa also holds a B.A. in Music (trombone) and German Studies from Western Michigan University. In her free time, she enjoys running, cooking, telling terrible jokes, and making annoying puns.

Kai West (kaiwest) is a pre-candidate in historical musicology from San Luis Obispo, CA.  He holds a B.A. in double bass performance from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and an M.M. in the same from the University of Michigan, and has worked extensively as a classical bassist, performing with ensembles such as the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, and San Francisco Symphony. Kai’s research interests include American and British popular music, the works of George Gershwin, and nineteenth-century opera, and he currently works as an editorial assistant for the George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition at U-M. In his free time, Kai enjoys cooking food and drinking wine, losing often at chess, and collecting stringed instruments.

ChuYi Zhu (chuyizhu) 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.