Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages
Home > Degree Programs > German > Graduate Studies > Graduate Students

4e0c14c8a609b5e5c7aed1fbb94674a7_f576.jpgMelissa Elliot


Melissa Elliot is a Ph.D. candidate in German Studies, currently working on her dissertation “Forgotten Notes: Narrative Film Music in East German Cinema”, which explores the role of music in DEFA cinema as a means of expression in East Germany. She obtained a B.A. with a double major in Vocal Performance and German in 2008 from Calvin College. In 2011, she received her M.A. in German Studies from Wayne State University in Detroit. During her Master's program, she spent one year studying abroad at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany. Along with writing her dissertation, Melissa also teaches German language and culture at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. In Spring 2018, she taught a course on German cinema. She is also interested in how music functions in film adaptations of novels to comment upon and further interpret the source text, which she addresses in her recently published article, “No Need for Words: The Role of Music in Volker Schlöndorff's Der junge Törleß in Literature/Film Quarterly. In her free time, Melissa enjoys spending time with her son, singing in the Calvin Alumni Choir, hiking, and traveling anywhere and anywhere. 


Leonie.JPGLeonie Hintze


Leonie Hintze is in her second year in the PhD program. She is originally from Germany, where she completed her Staatsexamen (MA equivalent) and gained extensive experience teaching at the elementary school level and in school administration. Her primary research interest is in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching Methods. She will present her work at the 2018 Michigan World Languages Conference and the 2019 Central States Conference for the Teaching of Foreign Languages. In her free time she loves to spend time with her family and friends. She also likes to be active (triathlons, gym), cook, craft, read, and sing.


titi2.jpgTianyi Kou


Tianyi Kou is in her second year of the PhD program. She completed a BA and MA in German Studies in China, with a year of study at the Universität Erfurt. She is particularly interested in the intersection of sports and culture, an interest that had its origins when she was called upon to be an interpreter for the German national soccer team in Beijing. Since her arrival at MSU, she has begun to explore the possibilities of DH methods for her research, and this past summer attended the Digital Humanities Summer Institute on text processing. She is a current recipient of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowship, where she works with various digital tools (website design, web mapping, text analysis, etc.) and applies them to her own research project: Visualization of the German National Soccer Team. In November she will assist in leading a workshop introducing Regular Expressions for Digital Humanities at Michigan State University. 


Lesoski.jpgCarly Lesoski


Carly Lesoski is a PhD Candidate in German Studies, and is currently completing a dissertation focusing on students' identity and investment during a telecollaboration project in an upper-level German course. She is currently employed full-time as a subject matter expert for Michigan Virtual, where she is developing 1st and 2nd year German online high school curricula. Her core research interests lie in the area of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), but she is also interested in depictions of women, women's bodies, and refugee experiences in German comics and graphic novels. Carly has taught German students of various proficiency levels and ages, including multiple stints in the German for Kids and German for Teens offerings at MSU’s Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA). She has also served as graduate representative to the German Program, and to the College of Arts and Letters Curriculum Committee. When she isn't teaching or writing, she can be found playing with her son, spending time with her husband, going to the zoo, and tweeting her life away.


ChristianOlias.jpgChristian Olias


Christian Olias completed his German teaching degree (1. Staatsexamen) in the field of history and Latin with a minor in archaeology at the University of Freiburg, before he joined the German Studies program at MSU as a MA student in 2017. Originally being interested in sociopolitical perceptions of physical borders in ancient times and its interplay with mental borders, he is currently gaining theoretical and practical experience in teaching German as a foreign language and exploring ways how language learning can transcend constructed boundaries at the same time. In addition, Christian's research interest focuses on the application of Comics and Graphic Novels in teaching both language and culture as an alternative to using textbooks as on the various opportunities that lie in the field of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL).

Santos.jpgKrsna Santos


Following his completion of the MA at Michigan State with a thesis entitled: "From Ghetto to Goethe: German Rappers of Color Claiming Their Space in the Nation," Krsna Santos has transitioned into a focus on curatorial work in museums. Being of multinational background himself, both Brazilian and American, he is interested in transnational identity and immigrant communities in the German-speaking world. He has earned a Museum Studies graduate certificate and interned at MSU's Eli & Edythe Broad Museum while working on a PhD in German. He is currently interested in pursuing a career in museum work.

Abigail-Schmid 2.jpgAbigail Schmid


Abigail Schmid is a first-year student in the MA program. She graduated in 2019 from MSU with BAs in Arts & Humanities and German, and a minor in Fiction Filmmaking. During her undergraduate studies, Abigail enjoyed several study abroad opportunities including a semester at the Friedrich Schiller Universität in Jena, and a summer in London and Edinburgh with the MSU film program. She enjoys the creative freedom offered by the German program and looks for new opportunities to integrate her other artistic passions. During the summer, when she is not abroad, Abigail enjoys working as a counselor for her high school's choir camp. She loves the communicative powers that the arts have and enjoys sharing them with others. Abigail is currently a Teaching Assistant with the Undergraduate German Program.

Amelia Stieren


Amelia Stieren is a first-year student in the MA program. She graduated in 2017 from Hillsdale College with a major in German and a minor in Classical Education, after which she accepted a position as an English teaching assistant with the Fulbright Teaching Program in Austria.

Recent PhD Graduates

Anne von Petersdorff (2018) completed her degree with a focus on film and Digital Humanities. Her hybrid dissertation project integrates a written diessertation--"Unexpected Journeys: At the Crossroads of Collaborative Filmmaking and Feminist Scholarship"--with Wanderlust: cuerpos en tránsito, a feature-length, collaborative documentary film with theoretical and historical treatment of German feminist filmmaking. She is currently traveling with the film to various borderlands and entering into new discussions about human mobility and the use of technology, and establishing a home base for her next creative and scholarly projects in Europe.

Susan Hojnacki (2018) teaches German, Language Acquisition/Teaching, and Educational Technology at Aquinas College. Her research interests revolve around the role of technology in second language acquisition, the effect of oral output on learner proficiency in second language learning, the influence of linguistic tendencies on online speech in German, and curriculum development in modern language programs. Her dissertation, "The Flipped Classroom in Introductory Foreign Language Learning," was based on data collected in her own teaching practice.

Matthew Sikarskie (2014) has taught courses at Western Michigan University and at MSU; he is currently Adjunct Professor of German at Grand Rapids Community College (Diss.: "Bored With Boredom: Engaging Modernity in Wilhelmine Wandervogel and West German Punk Subcultures").

Magelone Bollen (2013) has worked as Research Associate at MSU and taught German courses at both Hillsdale College and MSU (Diss.: "„Urtheil und ein schönes Lied”: Das Armesünderblatt (1750-1820)").

Stephen Naumann (2012) is Assistant Professor at Hillsdale College (Diss.: "In Sight but out of Mind: The Construction of Memory at Three Once Stigmatized Sites in Berlin and Poznan").

Theresa Schenker (2012) is Senior Lector and Language Program Director of German at Yale University. She is also currently co-editor of Die Unterrichtspraxis, the leading journal of German language and culture pedagogy in the US (Diss.: "The Effects of a Virtual Exchange on Language Skills and Intercultural Competence").

Recent MA Graduates

Several of our recent MA students, including Kathryn Roche (2015), Adam Orange (2014), Scott Casey (2013), and Emily Thomas (2012), are teaching in a variety of school settings; others are pursuing advanced degrees at other institutions: Kate Schaller (2015) is currently pursuing a PhD in German Studies at Vanderbilt University; Matt Sherman (2011) is matriculated in the German PhD program at the University of Texas, Austin; Chad Bousley (2016) has completed an MA in TESOL at Michigan State and is currently teaching in the Czech Republic; Dan Walter (2011) completed a PhD in Second Language Acquisition at Carnegie Mellon University and is currently teaching at Emory University's Oxford College.

Yet others are employed in non-teaching positions in institutions of higher ed: Kelsey Fedewa (2014) is International Student Coordinator in the Office of International Programs at Kettering University; Kathryn Klimczak (2013) is Administrative Coordinator at Fraunhofer USA at Michigan State University. Kylia Kelley (2011) works as a translator for the auto industry in the Greater Detroit area. Following a stint as manager of Moosejaw Mountaineering in Boulder, CO, where she enjoyed serving many German tourist clients, Hanna O'Neill (2013) currently works as a buyer for Moosejaw at the corporate level in Madison Heights, MI.