Summer 2020 interns and volunteers

Alexa Lawhorn

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This summer, she hopes to continue her historical research and work on studying Primitive Baptist responses.  Alexa lives in Springboro, Ohio, and enjoys listening to Taylor Swift, baking, and reading.



Athena Williams


Athena Williams is a senior International Studies and Comparative Religion major with a minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Miami University. Athena has done previous research work on the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas with the Empathy and the Religious “Enemy” project as well as co-leading a workshop concerning Bhutanese and Somali student populations in Central Ohio with the Pious Dress in Public Schools initiative.

She has recent experience in social media management, data collection and analyzation, public outreach material creation and is an intermediate Arabic language learner. She will be focusing on Jihadi-Salafist responses to the coronavirus pandemic. Athena is working from her home in Columbus, Ohio.


Bryanna Renuart

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She is excited to see how religious themes could be related to other aspects of the country’s response to the virus. She hopes that one day this information could be used to conduct an economic study. Bryanna will be located in Oxford Ohio, where she will be training with Miami’s swim team this summer.



Gustavo Arruda

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Within PGV, he hopes to both help expand the archive to Latin American sources and also to identify political and nationalist Evangelical rhetorics about the pandemic.




Hope Hansee

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She is excited to work with Preaching Goes Viral to build from research she completed for her senior anthropology course during this past spring semester looking at US churches operational responses to COVID-19.  She hopes to further this by comparing how Christian churches and Islamic mosques responded during significant religious holidays occurring during the pandemic, namely Easter and Ramadan.  She is excited for the opportunity to be a part of the PGV initiative and collaborate with the other interns this summer.  Currently, Hope is working from home with her family in Cincinnati, OH.


Kambrie Riddle
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She has previous experience studying medical procedures as rituals, Jihadi-Salafi medical tactics, and Islamic bioethics. In conjunction with over 900 hours spent medical-scribing in various hospitals, her experience in Religious Studies allows for a deeper understanding of her future patients, to which she aspires to bring the most holistic care possible. As a part of the PGV team, Kambrie is determined to obtain insight into further bioethical dilemmas amid the Pandemic. She currently resides in Dayton, Ohio, where she greatly appreciates bird-watching, singing, and reading non-fiction.


Karan Gupta

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Karan has been working on a project to analyze the responses from a regional Cincinnati based survey on how to get back to normal during the covid-19 pandemic. Karan is excited to work on this project and gain some insights from the data we scrape.




Kathryn Peters

Kathryn Peters is a 4th year Philosophy and Economics double-major at the University of Chicago.  She is currently working on her BA thesis on the intersection of ethics and microeconomics and studying for the LSAT. 


Her work with PGV will focus mainly on the Christian Science response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  She is especially interested in the conflicting duties of faith and social responsibility, as she is considering a similar conflict of duties between moral mandates and economic efficiency in her thesis work. 


Kathryn will be working from the west coast, where she is making the best of the pandemic and the opportunity to spend quality time with her family.


Maya Wasserman
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Some of her recent research interests include Holocaust tourism in Poland and the role of the college chapel in institutional identity. She is also passionate about public outreach and scholarship, and looks forward to helping creatively communicate some of the PGV findings to a wider audience.

For her research with PGV, Maya is excited to focus on religious responses to the pandemic in Maine, especially in the Lewiston-Auburn area. She lives in Massachusetts, where she enjoys making art, cooking, and hiking.

Nastassya Ferns


Nastassya Ferns is a student in the Department of Sociology at University of California Davis, who will be graduating in June 2020. Her main focus has been in Jewish Studies, and how technology is used to facilitate commemoration, memorialization, and faith in both historical and modern contexts.

She has worked on a number of diverse research projects, including (but not limited to!) motivational meme usage and its effects on physical activity, the role of Santa Claus in the United States, Hollerith census machines in the Holocaust, and the use of Holocaust survivor holograms in memory institutions.

For her role in Preaching Goes Viral, she hopes to explore the use of technology in Catholic High Schools, and how rituals such as mass and confession are being transmitted to a digital audience during quarantine. She lives in Davis, California and enjoys travelling, fashion, and shopping.


Sarah Capriglione

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With regards to the PGV project, Sarah plans to utilize linguistic analysis to gain new insights into how preachers and other religious leaders respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. Specifically, she plans to look for indicators of a shift in empathetic understanding among religious peoples.

Sarah will spend her free time this summer taking Biology and spending as much time outdoors as possible.

Sarah Naiman


Sarah Naiman is a sophomore at Oberlin College, where she is pursuing a Politics major with a Jewish studies and History double minor. At school, Sarah is a member of the Chabad student leadership team and hosts a radio show.

She is very interested in the intersectionality of Judaism and politics and hopes to gain more knowledge on the subject through her work with PVG. For this project, she plans to examine the responses of Orthodox and non-Orthodox sects of the Columbus Jewish community. Additionally, she hopes to use sources from non-worship spaces, including community centers, camps, and day schools.

Sarah lives in Columbus, Ohio, where she enjoys baking, reading, and watching The West Wing. She cannot wait to contribute to PGV’s mission and learn a great deal along the way.


Theodore Miller


Theodore Miller (he/him) is a rising sophomore at the University of Rochester studying biomedical engineering. Within his major, he has focused on researching how to restore speech to disabled individuals.

He hopes to record how bioethics has tied into religious responses to COVID-19, and if different religions display different bioethical trends. Additionally, he would like to study how LGBTQ+ leaders have responded to the pandemic. He has several research experiences, including quantum electrodynamics, the development of a brain-computer interface for disabled/neurodivergent individuals, and the effect of different frequencies on the body.

He is excited to study the intersection of science and religion and even more excited to be a part of PGV! Theodore lives in Tonawanda, New York and loves baking, reading, and gardening. 


Veronika Domke


Veronika Domke (she/her) is an incoming junior at Miami University studying Biology with a co-major in Pre-Medical studies. She has done previous research on the Westboro Baptist Church and the Preaching Goes Viral Initiative.

Her role in this internship will focus primarily on redesigning future Religion 101 courses at Miami and continuing her research with the Primitive and Westboro Baptist churches.

As a member of the PGV team, she is excited to see the database expand to show the different religious perspectives surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Veronika currently resides in Akron, Ohio where she enjoys baking, hiking, and gardening.


Victoria Choi


Victoria Choi (she/her) is an incoming junior at Amherst College in Western Massachusetts majoring in Religion with a focus in Christianity and Classical Civilizations with a focus in the ancient Attic/Koine Greek language.

She is interested in studying Asian American evangelical responses to COVID-19.  She has engaged with deconstructing and reconstructing her personal faith through the courses she has taken and discussions she has had with her peers at Amherst, and she is excited to see how being a member of the PGV team with further challenge her perspectives and learn more about engaging with religion and religious groups in an academic manner.

Victoria lives in Los Angeles, California and loves to play guitar, play around with graphic design, binge Doctor Who, and make art.


Zoe Kruse


Zoe Kruse (she/her) recently completed her first year at Smith College, where she works in a neuroscience lab studying peer relationships and the role of reward in voles.

She has done ethnographic work on the Polish National Catholic Church through a first year seminar in the Religion department. She is more broadly interested in lived religion and religious identity.

Zoe resides in Evanston, Illinois, where she is training to bike a century (100 miles) and drinks lots of tea. She is super excited to be a part of this initiative and hopes to find a range of perspectives while learning a lot along the way!

Zeeshan Desai


Zeeshan Desai is a Fall 2019 graduate student in the University of Texas pursuing a MS in Business Analytics with a prime focus on the data science & machine learning track.

He hopes to use data science tools to extract insights from the religious responses to COVID-19 and use data scraping tools to contribute to the existing data repository. He is excited to work with such a large amount of text data!



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