Graduate Students

Daniele Celano studies legal history and the Civil War era with Professors Elizabeth Varon and Cynthia Nicoletti. Her current research focuses on the repeal of the fugitive slave laws in connection with larger Constitutional issues of military emancipation and federal war powers. She is originally from New Jersey and graduated from Purdue University with a BA in 2018. 

Matt Grace studies slavery and capitalism and is advised by Professors Christa Dieksheide and Justense Hill Edwards. Originally from Michigan, he received his B.A. from Grand Valley State University in 2017, an M.A. from Rutgers-Camden University in 2019, and an additional M.A. from the University of Virginia in 2021. His current research focuses on industrial slavery and the political economy of antebellum Virginia.

Matt LaRoche studies Civil War veterans and the role veteran status played in the political and cultural negotiations that accompanied Reconstruction. His research applies a comparative and global approach to both the emigration of Civil War veterans and the evolution of American paramilitarism. Matt earned his B.A. at Gettysburg College in 2017, and in 2023 he completed an M.A. in 19th century U.S. and African American history, and an MLIS concentrating on digital humanities, at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Jeremy Nelson studies environmental history with a focus on the Civil War Era, guided by Professor Caroline E. Janney. With roots in Hampton Roads, he graduated from Princeton University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in history, completing a pair of independent research projects on Virginia's Readjuster Party and on American meteorological disasters. His master’s thesis argues that the human devastation of the Civil War allowed a brief but significant recovery of ecosystems, especially in the Upper South.

Carrington OBrion studies race, culture and performance and is advised by Professor Justene Hill Edwards. Originally from Virginia, she holds a B.A. in American Studies from Wellesley College, and an M.Phil. in American History from the University of Cambridge. At Cambridge, her research focused on conceptions of Shakespeare’s Othello in mid-nineteenth century America. 

Cathryn Perini studies enslaved women with Professor Justene Hill Edwards. She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a BA in History in 2020 and from the University of Reading with her MA in History in 2021. Her master's thesis looked at the capitalistic market of hiring out enslaved labor, how enslaved wet nurses might have experienced forcible relocation for bodily exploitation, and how archival silences impact the ways that historians might navigate intentional speculation within their research. 

Presley McKalyn Ramey studies 19th century U.S. women's history, specifically focusing on sex work in the South, and is advised by Drs. Caroline Janney and Elizabeth Varon. She received her bachelor's degrees in History and Anthropology with minors in World Religion and International Studies from the University of Kentucky and her master's degree in Public History with a concentration in Historic Preservation from the University of South Carolina. Her master's thesis analyzed the relationship between Columbia, South Carolina's red-light district to the larger city from 1860 to 1880. 

Katie Wu studies notions of repair in post-Civil War America, focusing on intergenerational memory and land redistribution during Reconstruction with Professors Caroline E. Janney and Grace Hale. She is originally from Newton, Massachusetts, and received her bachelor's degree from Harvard in 2017. Prior to coming to UVA, Katie worked as the Project Manager of Exhibits for the Equal Justice Initiative's Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration expansion in Montgomery, Alabama, and conducted field work on the memory of slavery in rural parts of the state.