Graduate Students

Graduate Student Affiliates (GSA)


Jesse Drian

Jesse Drian

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Jesse was born and raised in Goshen, New York. He received a B.A. in East Asian Studies with high honors from Haverford College, and then continued his studies, receiving an M.A. in the Regional Studies: East Asia department at Harvard University. Jesse is interested in the intersections between Buddhism, literature, and material/visual culture in premodern Japan, particularly through the lens of ritual and performance. Jesse is also interested in issues related to representation, and the ways in which people connect themselves and others with Buddhist deities and sacred texts. His primary research interests are premodern Japanese Buddhism, literature, and material/visual culture.


Nadia Kanagawa

Nadia Kanagawa

Department of History

Born in San Diego, and raised in St. Louis, Nadia graduated from Yale with a B.A. in History. She then received a Richard U. Light Fellowship and moved to Yokohama, Japan to study at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies for 10 months. After completing the IUC program, Nadia moved to Tokyo and worked at Google in Japan for three years before returning to the US and to academia in the fall of 2011. Her research interests include early state formation in Japan, immigration from the Korean peninsula to Japan in the 6th and 7th centuries, and archaeology.


Sachiko Kawai

Sachiko Kawai

Department of History

Sachiko grew up in the city of Matsuyama in Ehime Prefecture, Japan, and received a B.A. from Tsuru University in Yamanashi Prefecture. She received an M.A. in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at Cal State Los Angeles and two M.A.s (in East Asian Languages & Cultures and in History) at USC, before becoming a Ph.D. student in the Department of History at USC. She is currently studying as a foreign researcher at the University of Tokyo. Her research interests include the history of women and gender in premodern Japan.


Nicolette Lee

Nicolette Lee

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Nicolette Lee grew up in a very small town in northern New Jersey, and received her B.A. in East Asian Studies from Bryn Mawr College. She spent a year in Yokohama, Japan and studied at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies. After this program, she continued on to earn her master’s degree at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver with an interest in nuns and convents of the early modern period. She joined the Ph.D. program in East Asian Languages and Cultures at USC in the fall of 2013. Her research interests include premodern Japanese Buddhism, social history, and women’s agency.


Victoria Rose Montrose

Victoria Rose Montrose

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Victoria Rose Montrose (formerly Victoria Rose Pinto) grew up in Southern California and attended UC San Diego for her undergraduate degree, majoring in political science with a minor in history. In her senior year, she studied abroad in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa with a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. After graduating, Tori spent two years in Kumamoto City, Japan as a Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme participant. In 2011 she received her M.A. from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Her Master’s thesis, “Shinnyo-en: An Early History,” was completed with honors. She joined the Ph.D. program at the USC’s East Asian Languages and Cultures Department in the fall of 2011. Her primary research interests include contemporary Japanese Buddhism, new religious movements, and the sociology of religion.


Dan Sherer

Dan Sherer

Department of History

Dan received his B.A. and M.A. from the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at USC, before becoming a Ph.D. student in the Department of History.


Kevin Wilson

Kevin Wilson

Department of History

Kevin was raised in Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada, before moving to Calgary, Alberta for University. He left the University of Calgary because he had the opportunity to represent Canada for several years by competing on the World Cup Sport Climbing circuit in Europe. Kevin climbed with his twin brother and while competing they attended L'Universite d'Aix-Marseille III in France. Kevin then returned to the University of Calgary where he received a B.A. in French and another B.A. in East Asian Studies. He came to USC in 2005 in order to pursue a Ph.D. in Premodern Japanese History. His primary research interests are in Japanese Buddhist, social, and political history.


Former Graduate Student Affiliates


Alexandrina Agloro

Alexandrina Agloro

USC Center for Japanese Religions and Culture Andrew W. Mellon Foundation John E. Sawyer Seminars on "Critical Mixed-Race Studies: A Transpacific Approach"
Dissertation Fellow, 2013-2014

Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Ph.D. candidate

Alexandrina Agloro is a Ph.D. candidate in Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California and holds an MA in Ethnic Studies (Critical Race and Resistance Studies) from the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University.  She is interested in the possibilities of the decolonial imaginary using digital media as an emancipatory tool.  Her research interests include technological access and agency in communities of color, digital racial formation, critical media pedagogy, and mixed race studies. 


Kristina Buhrman

Kristina Buhrman

Department of History
Ph.D. 2012

Kristina grew up in upstate New York, and has always been interested in how individuals comprehend and communicate about the world. In undergraduate studies, this led her to a B.A. in Linguistics and Cognitive Science at Cornell University. At USC, this has led her to research the histories of science, religion and the environment in Japan. Her dissertation "The Stars and the State: Astronomy, Astrology, and the Politics of Natural Knowledge in Early Medieval Japan" covers how the desire for reliable information about the world drove not only the development of an independent tradition of Onmyōdō in Heian-period Japan, but also ironically created doubt about the reliability of interpretations of the cosmos.

Current Affiliation:  Assistant Professor of Religion, Florida State University (Fall 2013 ~ present)


Mike Dillon

Mike Dillon

Critical Studies, School of Cinematic Arts
Ph.D. 2014

Mike Dillon was raised in Kumamoto, and later Tokyo, Japan.  He received his BA in East Asian Area Studies and Critical Studies at the School of Cinematic Arts, both at USC.  He continued with Critical Studies for his MA and Ph.D. studies.  He was a Japan Foundation fellow in 2011-2012 and spent a year conducting research in Tokyo.  His dissertation addresses how various entertainment genres, such as yakuza and espionage films, engage contemporary social and political issues in Japan, such as illegal immigration and national security.

Current Affiliation: Lecturer, California State University, Fullerton (Spring 2014 ~ present)


Ana Paulina Lee

Ana Paulina Lee

USC Center for Japanese Religions and Culture Andrew W. Mellon Foundation John E. Sawyer Seminars on "Critical Mixed-Race Studies: A Transpacific Approach"
Dissertation Fellow, 2013-2014

Department of Comparative Literature
Ph.D. 2014

Ana Paulina Lee received her Ph.D. in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California in May 2014 and holds an MA from New York University in Hispanic Literatures and Cultures. Her research focuses primarily on the Chinese diaspora and coolie labor migrations to Brazil and Cuba during the 18th and 19th centuries and the influence of that presence on literary canons and in visual culture. She is also interested in how these economic and social transitions affected the imperial aesthetics of the Portuguese and Spanish Empires in the Americas.

Current Affiliation: Assistant Professor of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, Columbia University (from Fall 2014)