Graduate Students

Jake Calhoun studies the history of emancipation and is advised by Professor Justene Hill Edwards. He is originally from Alabama and received his B.A. from Loyola University New Orleans. He received his M.A. from the University of Maryland where he undertook a thesis project that explored how early emancipation in the sugar parishes of Louisiana shaped the ensuing political contests in the region.


Kevin Caprice studies the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Gilded Age under the direction of Professor Caroline E. Janney, with a focus on the role Union veterans played in American politics. His master's thesis looks at disunity among Union veterans after the war and into the 20th century. Originally from New Jersey, he graduated from the College of New Jersey with a BA in history and education, and received his MA in history from Virginia Tech.


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. 


Jesse George-Nichol is a PhD candidate advised by Elizabeth Varon, Gary Gallagher, and Caroline Janney.  Her dissertation, Nativism and Conciliation: Border South Unionism and the Road to Civil War, examines the attempts of former Whigs in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia to rally a conservative party against the forces of radicalism in the years before the Civil War.  She is originally from North Carolina and has a B.A. from Princeton University.


Ian Iverson is a PhD candidate studying under Professor Elizabeth Varon. Originally from Northfield, Minnesota, he received his bachelor’s in history from Princeton University in 2018 and his master's in history from UVA in 2020. While at UVA, he has taught courses on early American political and military history and has co-authored an article on the history of pro-slavery thought at UVA. His dissertation, titled Moderate Men and Conservative Influences: Illinois and the Politics of Union, 1854-1861, examines how rival political parties appealed to self-identified "conservative" voters. 


Brianna Kirk studies the Civil War and Reconstruction, with a focus on the immediate post-war period and Civil War memory, under the direction of Elizabeth Varon. Her master's thesis examines the Norfolk race riot in April 1866 and its implications for the course of Reconstruction. Originally from Philadelphia, she graduated from Gettysburg College in 2015 and worked at the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia, for two years before beginning the graduate program at UVA.


Stefan Lund is a doctoral candidate studying free speech and censorship in the Civil War North and occupied areas. His Master’s thesis investigated mob attacks on newspaper offices by Union soldiers during the Civil War, and their coverage in the Democratic press. Originally from Minneapolis, he graduated from Oberlin College in 2016 with a B.A. in History and Economics and moved back to Minnesota where he worked as a senior research assistant digitizing nineteenth-century court records. He began the graduate program at the University of Virginia in 2017, where he studies under Elizabeth Varon. Along with Professor Varon he co-edited Sources for Armies of Deliverance, a collection of primary sources for classroom use which was published by Oxford University Press in 2020.


Jeremy Nelson is studying American populist movements and environmental history in the second half of the nineteenth century, 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.


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. 


Chloe Celeste Porche is a doctoral candidate studying the emancipationist tradition of Civil War memory and its connection to the Black Freedom Struggle Movement. Working with Professors Elizabeth Varon and Kevin Gaines, her dissertation uses a gendered examination of the emancipationist tradition to examine a range of black female and male activists’ myriad approaches to remembering the demise of slavery and to mobilizing those memories toward political and social ends. Originally from southern California, Chloe graduated from California State University, Northridge in 2014 with a Bachelor’s in History and minors in Dance and German Language.  Before joining the program, Chloe taught K-12 in Yangsan, South Korea for a year and also worked at Moorpark Community College in the Teaching and Learning Center for three years.


Destinee Sparks studies slavery, capitalism, and the law in 19th Century America and is advised by Professor Justene Hill Edwards. Originally from Southern California, she graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 2020 with a Bachelor’s in History.  


Daniel Sunshine studies nineteenth-century political culture with a focus on Union and race.  He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2014 after completing a Distinguished Majors Thesis under Gary W. Gallagher.  After a two-year stint working at a corporate law firm, he returned to the University to pursue a PhD with Elizabeth Varon.  His master’s research examines the competing interpretations of Union at play in the West Virginia statehood movement.