Sharisa Aidukaitis is a fifth-year PhD candidate in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Virginia, where she holds the William K. Polk Jr. Jefferson Fellowship. She loves teaching Russian language and engaging with students to help them master new skills. She is currently writing her dissertation on the poetic geographies of Lina Kostenko and Anna Akhmatova. She is interested in the digital humanities, and has created a comprehensive map illustrating the geographic locations mentioned in the poetic works of Kostenko and Akhmatova. Her love of Russian language and culture extends beyond the classroom, as she is currently teaching Russian to her two young sons.
Anna Gomboeva is a second-year PhD student in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Virginia. She completed her undergraduate studies at the Presidential Academy in Novosibirsk, Russia. Anna’s interests include postcolonial studies in the former Soviet Union with primary focus on the literatures of indigenous Siberian writers. She is also investigating the history of colonizing traditions in Russian academia, their function in the Soviet system of knowledge production and the impact it has had on contemporary Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian studies.
Connor Joslin is studying in the 4+1 Masters Program in Slavic Languages and Literatures. Connor is interested in the structure of the Russian language, as well as in the history, culture, and politics of the region. How these topics intersect is of particular interest to him, specifically in the area of translation in diplomacy.
Hilary (Hilly) McCandless-Beard is a first-year graduate student in Slavic Languages and Literatures. She earned her BA in Russian and Eurasian Studies from Colorado College in 2019. Her undergraduate research focused on traditional Russian rye bread and Soviet cuisine. Hilary is currently pursuing graduate studies both as an MA student at the Middlebury Language Schools Davis School of Russian (beginning summer 2019), and as a PhD student in the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Virginia, where she teaches introductory Russian language. Her research interests include: twentieth-century literature; Soviet culture; Andrei Platonov; Mikhail Zoshchenko; food, hunger and famine in Russia and the Soviet Union.
Liam Murphy is a 4+1 MA student in Slavic Languages and Literatures. He received his BA in Slavic and Math in August, 2019, also at the University of Virginia. He is primarily interested in 19th century Russian literature, especially Tolstoy and the evolving role of violence in his fiction.
Aaron Thompson is a second-year PhD student in SLL and the president of the Society of Slavic Graduate Students for the 2019-2020 academic year. Aaron received a dual B.A. in Russian and anthropology from the University of Arizona in 2015, and then lived in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he worked for an education consultancy. He takes an interdisciplinary approach to study primarily how Russian literature from 1850-1950 created, supported, and deconstructed ideology, especially ideologies of religious institutions. He is most interested in the ways through which writers and poets sought to answer existential questions Russia faced on the nature of the connection between the individual self and the whole community. Aaron is also a candidate for the Digital Humanities certificate and a founding member of the Russian Natural Language Processing research group. In his spare time Aaron enjoys exploring Virginian nature on and off his motorcycle and cooking foods from around the world with his cat, Lev.
Valentina Zabrovskaya is a 4+1 Masters student in the Slavic Department at the University of Virginia, working toward her degree in Russian Contemporary Studies. In 2019 Valentina received her BA, also at the University of Virginia, in Environmental Thought and Practice and Russian Language and Literature. Her research focuses on the evolution of environmental thought in Slavic countries, specifically through a religious lens. Outside of her studies, she participates in local community service through her co-ed fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and spends most of her free time hanging out with her dog, Dasha.
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