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American Studies|College of Arts and Sciences

Current Graduate Students

Class of 2015

Ryan Reynolds grew up in Deer Trail, Colorado, where the deer and the antelope play. The University of Wyoming is the seventh university he has attended on a tour of the great learning institutions of the Western United States. After a two-year church mission to the Philippines, he received his BA in Speech Communication from Colorado State University in 2006. He met his wife, Kara, while attending CSU. They moved to Salt Lake City where she completed her graduate degree in Genetic Counseling in 2010 at the University of Utah. Ryan and Kara have two sons, Sam and Ben, who are soon to be joined by Amelia, their first sister! Ryan’s academic interests are in the ethnic identity and cultural space of historic and modern Mormonism.

Kayla Sullivan is in the second year of her quest to earn a dual MA in American Studies and Environment and Natural Resources. She graduated in 2009 from Colorado State University with a BS in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism with a concentration in Environmental Communications, and spent the following four years working seasonally for Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado. Her passion for history and cultural resources brought her to the University of Wyoming where she is continuing her study of National Park Service history and its role in the narrative history and outdoor culture of the United States. This past summer Kayla had the opportunity to work with the Western Center for Historic Preservation at Grand Teton National Park. This experience has broadened her interests in the National Park Service even further and is helping to inform her thesis work. When she isn't found delving into the history of the people and places that formed the early National Park Service, Kayla is often writing stories or spending time outdoors in the Medicine Bow National Forest. 

Jenniffer Blaylock is from Laramie, WY, and earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary social studies education in 1998 from the University of Wyoming. She has taught everything from US History to sociology at public schools in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming. Her primary academic interests are American identity formation and the 1.5 generation, particularly undocumented immigrants. Over the summer of 2014, she worked with the "Art of the Hunt" exhibit. She spent the summer learning about the process of opening a new museum exhibit and how to build educational materials for a population that is more diverse than a mostly homogeneous classroom of seventh graders.

Brienna Fleming's hometown is Erie, PA, and she's been living in Laramie since the summer of 2009. In 2011, she graduated with a Master's in English Literature from the University of Wyoming. Her focus was contemporary Western fiction, specifically Annie Proulx's Close Range: Wyoming Stories. Brienna is currently a second year graduate student in American Studies. Now, she's focusing her research on what she's been doing most of her life: waitressing. After graduation, she would like to buy a one-way ticket, travel, and continue to waitress until the next big adventure.

Susan Clements is originally from Goochland, Virginia, but considers West Virginia home. She completed her BS in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Aquatic Science at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV. After working for five years in a water chemistry lab at a recirculating aquaculture research facility, she decided that science was not the best fit for her. She is now working on her MA in American Studies and Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming. Her thesis will be on the evolution of funeral practices in America and the rise of “green burial” as a nostalgic and environmental practice.

Sarah Gange is in her second year of the American Studies MA program. She has a BA in Comparative Studies and Russian Language and Literature from the Ohio State University in Columbus, OH. Before moving to Ohio for college, she grew up in Skillman, NJ. Sarah’s primary research interests are in tourism, urban history and identity. Among the primary sources she is using for her MA thesis is a collection of early 20th century postcards she inherited from her grandfather. In addition to her academic interests, Sarah is passionate about housing rights and education. She is also interested in museum studies and has a background in photography. Outside of the university, Sarah spends a great deal of her time dancing with Laramie’s Dance Studio B.

Robin Posniak is from Dover, England. Currently undertaking his second year in the graduate program, Robin came to the University of Wyoming after being presented with the British Association of American Studies' Peter Boyle Fellowship Award. Robin has worked for the Denver based historic preservation organization, HistoriCorps. Working on a joint project with the US Forest Service, his work contributed to an ongoing effort to preserve historic buildings under the Forest Service's stewardship by way of converting them to vacation rental properties.​

Glen Carpenter says it’s fun to study culture in a scholarly way. His interests consist primarily of popular and consumer culture, with a significant focus on the grotesque, satire, and horror media. In the summer of 2014, UWTV selected Glen to help film and edit an experimental documentary where artists and scientists worked together to produce works inspired by the landscape of northern Wyoming. Glen’s thesis is underway, examining the relationship between marketers and the adolescent consumption of horror-related artifacts during the postwar period.

Hanne Wolsgaard is from Odense in Denmark. She graduated with a BA in English and American Studies from the University of Southern Denmark in 2013. She is an exchange student doing her 9th semester of university at the University of Wyoming. Her main academic interest is in gender studies, young adult dystopian fiction, disaster studies, and trauma studies. Hanne will be writing her thesis for the American Studies program at the University of Southern Denmark while staying in Laramie in the Spring of 2015. In her spare time, Hanne enjoys traveling and discovering more areas of the USA.

Stine Poulsen, originally, from Kolding, Denmark is visiting University of Wyoming on exchange from the University of Southern Denmark for fall 2014. She earned her BA in International Business Communication with English and Media from University of Southern Denmark in Odense in 2013. Once Stine is finished at the University of Wyoming, she will return to the University of Southern Denmark and write her master’s thesis on how nature is anchored in American national identity. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, running, watching NFL and spending time outdoors with her friends.

Class of 2016

David Loeffler was born and raised in a small town just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He received his BA in English and history from Washington & Jefferson College, situated in southwestern Pennsylvania, in 2014. David’s research interests center on race, ethnicity, and culture, specifically how and where they are constructed. He is especially focused on the relationship between Euro-Americans and Native Americans, paying close attention to visual, historical, and literary representations. Outside of academia, David enjoys relaxing with his family and friends. He also appreciates a good cup of coffee and the latest issue of The New York Times.

Maggie Mullen is a fourth-generation Wyomingite, coming from a family of educators and craftswomen and men. She earned a BA in English and French from the University of Wyoming, where she also studied abroad at the Université de Caen Basse-Normandie. Since then, Maggie has lived in San Francisco and worked for 826 Valencia as a creative writing tutor in secondary schools in the Bay Area. Her research interests are extensive but all seem to involve different forms of storytelling and the narrative — oral history, person-centered ethnography, folklore, southern foodways, cinema and television studies, in addition to interdisciplinary approaches to education. When not occupied with a book or Vogue, Maggie enjoys writing short fiction and poetry, cooking for friends and family, bicycling, thrifting, traveling by car or plane, and daydreaming about the day she will finally be able to own a puppy dog.

Kyle Byron is originally from Kalamazoo, MI, where he attended Western Michigan University and received a BA in Philosophy and Comparative Religion and an MA in Comparative Religion, focusing on religion in the Americas. Here, his academic interests included new religious movements in the United States (particularly the Church of Scientology), as well as anthropological and sociological theories of religion. Kyle came to the University of Wyoming with his trusty cat Pippin to continue to study religion in America, focusing on developing an understanding of American religion within the larger field of American cultural studies, specifically American folklore.

Chuck Adams is from Astoria, Oregon. He has BA’s in Art & Design and English & Writing from Southern Oregon University. Since graduating in 2006, he has worked for three years as an arts and culture editor at the Eugene Weekly, led youth conservation crews for several seasons in the Pacific Northwest and North Dakota, coached high school cross country and track, taught English at a TV station in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, WWOOF’ed on a farm in New Zealand, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer for two years in Kaffa, “the birthplace of coffee,” in southwest Ethiopia. To date he has visited over 20 countries, poorly comprehends five different languages, and continues to seek international experiences that enrich his “American perspective,” even if that means bouts of amoebic dysentery. He has a strong passion for multimedia projects pertaining to landscape, memory, folklore and place, and hopes to research landscape preservation, narrative coordinates, and the folklore of far-flung Americans. Email:

Maxine Vande Vaarst is a proud first-year graduate student in American Studies. She has traveled 1,766 miles of I-80 roadway to come to Laramie from the great(est) state of New Jersey, with interim stops in Indiana and Colorado. She holds a BA in history and English from Purdue University and her primary academic passions include cultural landscapes, regional ethnography, spatial identity, and the study of communal folk narrative. In addition to these classroom pursuits, Max is a writer of short fiction and the founding editor of the quarterly online arts journal Buffalo Almanack. She loves her football, her family and her wife, but maybe not in that order. Email:

Evan Townsend was born n' raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee and earned his BFA concentrating in sculpture from East Tennessee State University in 2011. Since then, he has lived in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Montana, and now Wyoming! Through his travels, he worked with conservation corps, professional trail crews, and environmental education centers. Because of an interest in art, history, conservation, environmental education and service learning, Evan is pursuing a double MA in American Studies and Environment and Natural Resources. These interests have led him to exploring possibilities with the Wyoming Conservation Corps, environmental history, and investigating the American identity. When he is not reading and writing, Evan is off exploring the mountains, rivers, and canyons. Email:

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