For each conference, a small number of Emerging Scholar Awards are given to outstanding graduate students and emerging scholars who have an active research interest in the conference themes. Emerging Scholars perform a critical role in the conference by chairing the parallel sessions, providing technical assistance in the sessions, and presenting their own research papers. The 2021 Emerging Scholar Award Recipients are as follows:
David Krantz is a U.S. National Science Foundation IGERT doctoral researcher at the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, where he studies the intersection of environmental issues and culture, often through the lens of religion. He has published on environmental media, faith-based environmentalism and environmental activism. He is also a member of the board of directors of Interfaith Moral Action on Climate; a co-founder of Interfaith Oceans; and the president and co-founder of Aytzim: Ecological Judaism, an all-volunteer Jewish-environmental nonprofit.
Bartholomew Konechni is a graduate student in sociology at Sciences Po Paris. His work focuses on the intersections between political, urban and religious life, and how religious narratives come to frame political choices. He has spent time both at Sciences Po and Bocconi, has conducted fieldwork in the south of London, and is currently working on the religious response to coronavirus.
Antonio Montañés Jimenez is a PhD student in social anthropology and sociology at the University of St. Andrews (UK) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB-ISOR). His doctoral work on Christianity and Gitanos in Spain has been the recipient of the Marian Madison Young Scholars' Prize in Romani Studies, the Society for the Anthropology of Europe Graduate Student Paper Prize (awarded by the American Anthropological Association) and The David Riches Medal for Postgraduate Research (awarded by the University of St. Andrews).
Kaitlin Wynia Baluk is a PhD candidate at McMaster University in the Department of Health, Aging, and Society in Hamilton, ON, Canada. Kaitlin’s doctoral research uses a case study of artist Timothy Schmalz’ bronze sculpture entitled “Homeless Jesus” to examine the relationship between public religious art, public dialogues, and public perceptions of social issues. Involved in several research projects on public libraries and their community services and resources, Kaitlin is also interested in social infrastructure that promotes community wellbeing. Prior to commencing her PhD, Kaitlin received a master of arts in family studies and gerontology from Mount Saint Vincent University.
He is a faculty member of the Theology and Philosophy Area of the School Multidisciplinary Studies of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, Manila, Philippines. He is the president of the Religious Educators Association of the Philippines. He is taking up his PhD in philosophy at the University of the Philippines-Diliman and is writing a dissertation titled “Aquinas’s Position on the Doctrine of Creation in STh I, q. 22: The Providence-Evolution Problem in Thomistic Scholarship”. He has read papers in conferences locally and abroad; and has a number of published papers and articles. His research interests are in the areas of theology, philosophy, and religious education.
Sezai Doruk Soyata completed his BA degree in sociology at Yeditepe University and his MA degree in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at SOAS, University of London. He is currently PhD student, and research & teaching assistant in the department of sociology at Koc University. His interests include sociology of the Middle East, sociology of religion and ecology, more specifically secularization, religiosity, and the leisure and consumption culture of the Islamic bourgeoisie under the influence of capitalism and globalization.
Betül Sarı received her bachelor’s degree in psychology (with a minor in sociology) from Uludag University. She completed her master’s degree in the Department of Cultural Studies at Sabancı University. Upon the completion of her MA, she has worked in Sabancı University Gender and Women’s Studies Center. Sarı is currently a PhD student and research & teaching assistant at Koç University in the Department of Sociology. Her research interests include gender, literature, education, and ecology.
Zahra Naghshband was born in 1992 in Iran. She has a bachelor's degree in Persian literature and a master's degree in sociology from the University of Tehran. She is currently a PhD candidate in sociology at Al-Zahra University in Tehran. She also teaches Iranian history and social studies to teenagers at the Talented School in Iran. Her research interests are the sociology of religion and culture. Her current researches focus on "currents of globalization of religion in the Middle East,” "emerging religious movements in Iran," and “inequality and modern pedagogy in the Middle East.”
In April 2021, Victoria received her PhD in Religion from the University of Florida, specializing in Religion & Nature and Religion in the Americas. Prior to pursuing her PhD, Victoria worked as an environmental organizer, which helped lay the groundwork for her ethnographic study of environmental activist groups. Her research explores the religion and spirituality behind Florida’s present-day environmental movement and how such ideas are changing how people understand natural resources, specifically water. More specifically, she is interested in state and local water issues, environmental justice, and the underlying values that promote social change. While at UF, Victoria taught a range of undergraduate courses including Religion in Florida, a course she created, in addition to Religion & Food, Religion & Society, and various first-year writing courses. Victoria also holds a certificate in Environmental Communication & Education.
A Rumi specialist and researcher who graduated from the University of Manchester, UK. His research interest is reading Sufi/mystical texts and poetry through deconstruction. He is the author of "Reading Jalal al-Din Rumi through Deconstruction" (Common Ground Publishing, 2016), and some articles on the study of religion and deconstruction.
Being an Emerging Scholar allowed me to participate in both the front end and behind the scenes workings of the conference, which gave me a balanced perspective on what goes into putting on such an event."
I think this conference really gave me a sense of what interfaith dialogue actually looks like when it is natural. It gave me the chance to refine my own skills in learning and teaching amongst very diverse people."