Graduate Student Spotlight

Jennifer Binczewski completes her PhD

Jennifer Binczewski received her doctoral degree in December 2017 after successfully defending her dissertation, Solitary Sparrows: Widowhood and the Catholic Community in Post-Reformation England, 1580–1630, in November.

Binczewski with graduate faculty advisor Dr. Jesse Spohnholz

Jennifer received several awards during her time at WSU.

  • 2014 David Rogers Research Award from the Catholic Record Society.
  • 2015 Honorable Mention for the Founders’ Dissertation Fellowship from the Western Association of Women Historians,
  • 2016 John Tracy Ellis Dissertation Award from the American Catholic Historical Association
  • 2017 Carl S. Meyer Prize from the Sixteenth Century Society & Conference.

She just welcomed her second daughter on April 6, so her immediate future plan is to enjoy motherhood with two wonderful girls. In addition, in November, she will present in a panel she organized for the Sixteenth Century Society Conference in New Mexico. She also is currently working on a journal article manuscript that examines international networks facilitated by Catholic widows’ households in England.

Graduate Student Highlights

Ryan Booth prepares for NEH Institute and celebrates a year full of honorable mentions and presentations

Ryan Booth, a PhD student working under the guidance of Professor Peter Boag, has spent the 2017-18 academic year presenting his scholarly research, applying for and receiving fellowship awards, and preparing to attend a summer institution in Walla Walla, Washington.

In October, Booth was invited to speak at the Gonzaga University event, “They Are Always at the Front: Native American Soldiers in the Great War.” A busy and very successful spring semester followed! Spring welcomed a published book review in H-Net, as well as his selection to receive the James H. Bradley Fellowship from the Montana historical Society. He also was awarded a Russel F. Weigley Graduate Student Travel Grant for his research in military history.

This summer Ryan and Professor Katy Fry will attend a two-week institute, “The Native American West: A Case Study of the Columbia Plateau” at Whitman College in Walla Walla.


Taylor Hermsen spotlighted on WSU Insider and awarded a fellowship due to subject of research



Taylor Hermsen is a PhD student studying with Professor Jeff Sanders. Hermsen’s research focuses on the development of the Washington wine industry, particularly in eastern Washington, over the last 80 years.

“Four years ago, on his way home to Walla Walla from school in Arizona, Taylor Hermsen was thumbing through an in-flight magazine when he was struck by an idea for his doctoral research”

The above excerpt comes straight from the WSU Insider article that was published to the Cougs Life, “Food and Agriculture” section this March. Article author, Will Ferguson, truly captured Hermsen’s passion for the topic and included the mention of Hermsen’s Boeing Graduate Fellowship in Environmental Studies, quoted below.

“The Boeing Graduate Fellowship in Environmental Studies supports the multidisciplinary study of environmental issues and is made possible by a generous endowment from The Boeing Company.  More than two dozen students have received the Boeing fellowship since it was established in 1994.”

Karl Krotke-Crandall receives an award for his dissertation


Karl Krotke-Crandall applied for the Stephen F. Cohen-Robert C. Tucker Dissertation Research Fellowship in the fall of 2017 and his dissertation, “The Holocaust in Russian Life: New Perspectives on Soviet Jewish Memory,” was chosen to receive this very prestigious award sponsored by the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.

The Cohen-Tucker Fellowship sponsors U.S. students to travel abroad to Russia to participate in one year’s worth of doctoral research during the final stages of their doctoral program. This fellowship, established in 2015, offers up to $22,000 of support for Karl as he wraps up his research in the months ahead. Learn more about the Stephen F. Cohen-Robert C. Tucker Dissertation Research Fellowship and the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies here!


JT Menard and Claire Thornton see previous work published during 2017-2018 academic year


John Tappan Menard’s History 469 research project, which he wrote in the Spring of 2014 (faculty mentor Dr. David Stratton)  The Civilian Conservation Corps: A Case Study of the Fort George Wright District and Camp F-188
Was published as “Roosevelt’s Grand Experiment: The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Northwest,” Columbia: The Magazine of Northwest History, Vol 30, no 3. (2016): 13-20.

The article is also hosted in full on the department website here! Although this work was completed as an undergraduate student, John Tappan Menard is now pursuing his MA degree in History.

Claire Thornton’s paper The GI’s of Washington State College originated in a History 300 class in 2014. She turned it into an Honors Thesis project The GI Bill at WSC: An Understanding Through Oral Histories (faculty mentor Dr. Lydia Gerber). It was published last August as “The GI Bill at WSC” in the Bunchgrass Historian, Volume 43, Number 2, 2017, 14-27.

Claire is currently finishing an MA in Education here at WSU with a period of student teaching at Clarkston Highschool.