Skip to main content
Academics / Graduate Program / New PhD Students

New PhD Students


2023-24 Entering Cohort

  • Kara Christiansen  I was born in Arcadia, California but largely grew up in Maui, Hawaii and Bozeman, Montana. I graduated from Montana State University (MSU) with a dual-BA in Philosophy and Liberal Studies. I was also in the McNair Scholars Program at MSU. My McNair research was centered on the philosophy of video games and critical race theory. I presented my paper, Grand Theft Auto and the Subversion of Racism, at the 2022 UCLA MCNair Scholars Conference and the McNair Scholars Research Symposium at MSU, winter 2021. I also expanded on this paper for my senior philosophy honor’s thesis. My philosophical passions are eclectic but most recently I have been interested in 20th and 21st Century Continental philosophy and critical theory, philosophy of race, aesthetic philosophy, particularly concerning digital media and video games, philosophy of the mind/animal minds and feminist philosophy. In my free time, I play guitar/keys in a touring rock band and enjoy playing video games, running, and spending time with my dogs.


  • Byriah Loper I was raised in southern New Jersey, moved to northern New Hampshire at the age of 13 (at which point I designed and helped build the house which I lived in with my family), and moved to Wilmore, Kentucky at the age of 17. During high school, I received a contract to write my first book, which was published in 2016. I am currently in the process of completing editing for a second book, which is scheduled to be released in Fall 2023. I attended Asbury University, where I earned BA’s in History and Latin, and then attended Asbury Theological Seminary, where I earned a MA in Theology, Philosophy, and Apologetics. My philosophical interests stem primarily from the analytic tradition, and include philosophies of mind/theories of consciousness, epistemology, meta-ethical theory, theodicy, ontology, logic, and the philosophies of science, history and religion. I have especially focused on analyses of modern theories of emergence and the mereological implications of higher order living sciences on epistemology and philosophies of religion, specifically evaluating supervenience relations and nonreductive physicalism. Outside of the above topics, I am a master modular origamist who has designed hundreds of original three-dimensional geometric artworks which have been exhibited throughout the world. Several of these have also been featured in the Wall Street Journal or sold as commissioned artworks. At the intersection of mathematics and art, this work is the subject of the aforementioned books, and has prompted my further work in developing a conceptual design process I refer to as Sphere Theory, which synthesizes components of art, mathematics, and concepts from the philosophies of the natural sciences.


  • Olivia Paulson  I was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. I graduated from the University of Kentucky with a B.A. in Philosophy and Sociology as well as a minor in Criminology. My philosophical interest mainly lies in ancient philosophy, but more specifically in ethics. I am particularly interested in determining how ancient philosophy can inform ethical and moral matters in the modern day world. Although this may be my interest now, I am excited to explore other avenues of philosophy as well. Outside of school I enjoy spending time with my two cats, Maki and Mai, as well as at the local Humane Society. I also love reading, true crime documentaries, and music.

2022-23 Cohort

  • Michael Agrella I was born in Santa Clara, California and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. I received my BA from Belmont University in philosophy with a French minor. I am interested primarily in 20th and 21st century (particularly French) Continental Philosophy such as phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and critical theory. I have also been interested in German Idealism and Marxism. At the moment I am particularly intrigued by the connections between psychoanalysis, German Idealism, Marxism, and the natural sciences.

  • Hyomeen Keem  I am an international student and earned my B.A. and M.A. in Philosophy at Jeonbuk National University in South Korea. I first became interested in the process of logic and the topics of metaphysics, so I decided to study more deeply about existence itself. I was drawn to the fact that things can be identical or different depending on how we define existence. So, I thought I should deal with the concept of identity first, and I wrote my master’s thesis about identity. After receiving my M.A., I became interested in emerging social issues in Korean society, so I decided to enter a Ph.D. program to analyze the phenomena with philosophical approaches. Looking at this issue, I realized men and women have different ideas or notions about feminism, and each gender has different ideas about the existence of women and men. Of course, men and women literally exist on this earth, but, looking at the gender conflict in Korea now, I have felt that the ‘way’ of that existence is different. The main goal of my research is to explain the ‘way’ of existence by studying philosophy about existence with Gender and Women's Studies.

  • Nash Meade I was born just south of Cincinnati and lived there until I was thirteen, at which point my family moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which is just south of Nashville. I got a double-major B.A. in English and philosophy at Middle Tennessee State University. My philosophical interests thread the line between my two disciplines. I am primarily interested in what I have taken to calling the "philosophy of narrative," which encompasses how different narrative forms teach us and how we interact with various narrative forms. Specifically, I am interested in the philosophy of games and games as an emerging philosophical space. In keeping with the theme, I am interested in connecting the above ideas to both ancient and existential notions of "life as play." When I am not doing academics, I enjoy gaming for pleasure (instead of for school), reading and writing poetry, and hiking.

  • Paradise Stanford Detroit, Michigan is my home but I have spent the past 7 years in Kentucky. During which time I attended Georgetown College where I earned a dual BA in English Literature and Philosophy. As a junior, I studied classical Greek and Roman mythology while studying abroad in Rome, Italy. I am also the recipient of UK’s 2022 Cralle Fellowship. My philosophical inspiration is W.E.B. Du Bois and as such, I understand myself to be a proto-critical theorist. My critiques of society are meant to turn theories into practice by referring to the past to improve upon the present and bring about a better future. Accordingly, my studies are centered around social and political philosophy, American Pragmatism, and critical theory, as well as philosophy of race, law, and embodied cognition. When I am not studying ways to bring about economic justice and social change, I enjoy spending time with my family, spoken word poetry, and crime documentaries.

  • Tara Toth I was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania (the home of little league), but I resided in Pittsburgh for the past four years where I attended Duquesne University’s Honors College. Throughout my time there I earned two BAs in Philosophy and Communication Studies with minors in Psychology and Intercultural Engagement. I was also the 2022 recipient of the Excellence in Philosophy Award and nominated for the Liberal Arts General Excellence Award for my philosophical honors thesis on Camus’ Absurdism. My philosophical areas of interest are rooted in the continental tradition, but I am interested in exploring additional areas outside of my comfort zone. I came here focused on the ancient areas of death, eschatology, ethics, and the pedagogical value of the Socratic elenctic process along with the phenomenological areas of ontology and alterity. Though over the summer I have seriously taken up media ecology and the philosophy of technology which I gave a conference paper on back in June as well as ecophilosophy and the philosophy of trauma as it relates to women experiences of sexual harassment and assault. I also find myself increasingly interested in theodicy, eugenics, and temporality. When I don’t have my face shoved between the pages of a book, I enjoy being outdoors whether its playing with my two pits Tank and Kisses, hiking, camping, or grilling out back. Other hobbies of mine include sports, music, poetry, and travel (something I don’t get to do enough of).