Alumni of Tibetan Studies at UVa


The University of Virginia has been producing alumni of its programs since 1973 through its graduate programs, undergraduate programs, study abroad programs, and summer language institute. As a whole, these programs have had a transformative and far-reaching impact on the field of Tibetan Studies in North America. In order to present this extensive and wide range of individuals, we list them below in terms of the major UVa study program in which they participated. Within each category, individuals are presented chronologically from the most recent onwards.

Alumni of the Doctoral Program

  • Rinchen Dorje (2018): Doctoral Dissertation: The Development of Buddhist Traditions in Northeastern Tibet: A New Religious History of Rebgong in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
  • Bill McGrath (2017): Visiting Assistant Professor, Religion, Coe College. Doctoral Dissertation: Buddhism and Medicine in Tibet: Origins, Ethics, and Tradition
  • Natasha Mikles (2017): Philosophy, Texas State University. Doctoral Dissertation: The Taming of the King: Nyingma Ethical Revitalization and the Gesar Epic in Early Modern Tibet
  • Eva Natanya (2017): Doctoral Dissertation: Sacred Illusion: On Purity and Creation in Je Tsongkhapa’s Philosophy of Tantra
  • Michael Schuman (2016): Doctoral Dissertation: Building Place and Shaping Lives: Nartang Monastery From the Twelfth Through Fifteenth Centuries
  • Gloria Chien (2015): Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Gonzaga University
  • Katarina Turpeinen (2015): Visiting Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Vanderbilt University. Doctoral Dissertation: Vision of Samantabhadra – the Dzokchen Anthology of Rindzin Godem
  • Christina Kilby Robinson (2015): Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, James Madison University. Doctoral Dissertation: Epistolary Buddhism: Letter Writing and the Growth of Geluk Buddhism in Early Modern Asia
  • Manuel Lopez (2015): Assistant Professor, Religion, New College of Florida. Doctoral Dissertation: Bringing Light Into the Darkness: An Intellectual History of Tibet’s Dark Age (842-978 CE)
  • Dominic Sur (2015): Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Utah State University. Doctoral Dissertation: A Study of Rongzom’s ‘Disclosing the Great Vehicle Approach’ in the History of Tibet’s Great Perfection Tradition.
  • Alison Melnick (2014): Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Bates College. Doctoral Dissertation: The Life and Times of Mingyur Peldron: Female Leadership in 18th Century Tibetan Buddhism
  • Jongbok Yi (2013): Assistant Professor, Philosophy and Religion Department, Stockton University
  • Jay Holt Valentine : Assistant Professor, Philosophy, Troy University. Doctoral Dissertation: The Lords of the Northern Treasures: The Development of the Institution of Rule by Successive Incarnations
  • Geoffrey Barstow (2013): Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Oregon State University. Doctoral Dissertation: Food of Sinful Demons: A History of Vegetarianism in Tibet.
  • Brenton Sullivan (2013): Assistant Professor, Religion, Colgate University. Doctoral Dissertation: The Mother of All Monasteries: Gonlung Jampa Ling and the Rise of Mega Monasteries in Northeastern Tibet
  • Christopher Bell : Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Stetson University. Doctoral Dissertation: Nechung: The Ritual History and Institutionalization of a Tibetan Buddhist Protector Deity
  • David Divalerio (2011): Associate Professor, History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Doctoral Dissertation: Subversive Sainthood and Tantric Fundamentalism: An Historical Study of Tibet’s Holy Madmen
  • Chris Hatchell (2009): Assistant Professor, Religion, Coe College. Doctoral Dissertation: Naked Seeing: The Great Perfection, the Wheel of Time, and Visionary Philosophy in Renaissance Tibet
  • Phil Stanley (2009): Professor, Religious Studies, Naropa University
  • Carl Yamamoto (2009): Associate Professor, Philosophy & Religious  Studies, Towson University
  • Kammie Takahashi (2009): Assistant Professor, Religion Studies, Muhlenberg College
  • Tsering Wangchuk (2009): Assistant Professor at the University of San Francisco
    Ph.D. on early Tibetan debates over Buddha-nature theory focusing on the famous Uttaratantra.
  • Cheney Shreve (2009): Ph.D
    Doctoral Dissertation on “Remote Analysis of Vegetation and Snow Dynamics in the Tibetan Plateau”
  • Jann M. Ronis (2008): Executive Director, Buddhist Digital Resource Center
    “Celibacy, Revelations, and Reincarnated Lamas: Contestation and Synthesis in the Growth of Monasticism at Katok Monastery from the 17th through 19th Centuries”
  • Yaroslav Komarovski (2007): Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (tenure-track)
    “Echoes of Empty Luminosity: Reevaluation and Unique Interpretation of Yogacara and Nihsvabhavavada Madhyamaka by the Fifteenth Century Tibetan Thinker Sakya Mchog Ldan”
  • Shuchen Chen (2007): University of Virginia (full-time)
    “Cultural Change of Indian Pure Land Buddhist Teaching in Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism”
  • Sarah H. Jacoby (2007): Assistant Professor at Northwestern University (tenure-track)
    “Consorts and Revelations in Eastern Tibet: The Auto/biographical Writings of the Treasure Revealer Sera Khandro (1892-1940)”
  • William M. Gorvine (2006): Assistant Professor at Hendrix College (tenure-track)
    “The Life of a Bönpo Luminary: Sainthood, Partisanship, and Literary Representation in a 20th Century Tibetan Biography”
  • Douglas S. Duckworth (2005): Assistant Professor at Eastern Tennessee State University (tenure-track)
    “Buddha-nature and a Dialectic of Presence and Absence in the Works of Mi-pham.”
  • Kevin A. Vose (2005): Assistant Professor at William and Mary (tenure-track)
    “The Birth of Prasangika: A Buddhist Movement in India and Tibet”
  • Frances M. Garrett (2004): Associate Professor at University of Toronto
    “Narratives of Embryology: Becoming Human in Tibetan Literature”
  • Nathaniel Grove (Nathaniel D. Garson) (2004): Research Assistant Professor in Religious Studies, UVA; technical director of THL and project manager of THL Literary Collections.
    “Penetrating the Secret Essence Tantra: Context and Philosophy in the Mahayoga System of rNying-ma Tantra”
  • Bryan Phillips (2004): teaches periodically at UVa.
    “Consummation and Compassion in Medieval Tibet: The Mani bka’-‘bum chen-mo of Guru Chos-kyi dbang-phyug”
  • Amy S. Miller (2004): Adjunct professor at Mary Baldwin College; also teaches periodically at UVa
    “Jeweled Dialogues: The Role of The Book in the Formation of the Kadam Tradition within Tibet”
  • David N. Need (2004): Duke University
    “Rendering the Body: Etherealization and Sense in Vedic and Early Buddhist Religiosity”
  • Gregory A. Hillis (2003): University of California at Santa Barbara (permanent faculty)
    “The Rhetoric of Naturalness: A Critical Study of the gNas lugs mdzod”
  • Derek F. Maher (2003): East Carolina University (tenure-track)
    “Knowledge and Authority in Tibetan Middle Way Schools of Buddhism: A Study of the Gelukba (dge lugs pa) Epistemology of Jamyang Shayba (‘jam dbyangs bzhad pa) in its Historical Context”
  • Steven N. Weinberger (2003): Research Assistant Professor at UVa (full-time) and manager of the Tibetan and Himalayan Library.
    “The Significance of Yoga Tantra and the Compendium of Principles (Tattvasamgraha tantra) within Tantric Buddhism in India and Tibet”
  • Robert Trent Pomplun (2002): Loyola College (tenure-track)
    “Spiritual Warfare: The Jesuits and the Dalai Lama 1716-1733”
  • Bryan J. Cuevas (2000): Florida State University (tenured)
    “The Hidden Treasures of Sgam-po-gdar Mountain: A History of the Zhi-kbro Revelations of Karma-gling-pa and the Making of the Tibetan Book of the Dead”
  • William A. Magee (1998): Dharma Drum Buddhist College, Taiwan
    “Tradition and Innovation in the Consequence School: Nature (rang bzhin, svabh?va/prakrti) in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism”
  • Jules B. Levinson (1994): Naropa University
    “The Metaphors of Liberation: A Study of Grounds and Paths According to the Middle Way Schools”
  • Leah J. Zahler (1994): deceased
    “The Concentrations and Formless Absorptions in Mahayana Buddhism: Ge-Luk Tibetan Interpretations”
  • Robert W. Clark (1994): Stanford University
    “Mara: Psychopathology and Evil in the Buddhism of India and Tibet”
  • Katherine M. Rogers (1992):
    “A Tibetan Manual of Logic: An Introduction to Reasoning in the Ge-luk-ba Monastic Educational System”
  • Georges Dreyfus (1991): Williams College (tenured)
    “Ontology, Philosophy of Language and Epistemology in Buddhist tradition: A Study of Dharmakirti’s Philosophy in the Light of its Reception in the Later Indo-Tibetan Tradition”
  • John Powers (1991): Australian National University (tenured)
    “The Concept of the Ultimate (don dam pa, paramartha) in the Samdhinirmocana-Sutra: Analysis, Translation and Notes”
  • Daniel Cozort (1990): Dickinson College (tenured)
    “Unique Tenets of the Middle Way Consequence School: The Systematization of the Philosophy of the Indian Buddhist Prasangika-Madhyamika School by the Tibetan Ge-luk-ba Scholastic Tradition”
  • Guy M. Newland (1988): Central Michigan University (tenured)
    “The Two Truths: A study of Madhyamika Philosophy as Presented in the Monastic Textbooks of the Ge-luk-ba Order of Tibetan Buddhism”
  • Elizabeth S. Napper (1985): Director of the Tibetan Nun’s Project; Part-time Lecturer at the University of Michigan
    “Dependent-Arising and Emptiness: A Tibetan Buddhist Interpretation of Madhyamika Philosophy Emphasizing the Compatibility of Emptiness and Conventional Phenomena”
  • Joe B. Wilson (1984): Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (tenured)
    “The Meaning of Mind in the Mahayana Buddhist philosophy of Mind-Only (cittamatra): A Study of a Presentation by the Tibetan Scholar Gung-tang Jam-bay-yang (Gung-thang-’Jam-pa’i-dbyangs) of Asanga’s Theory of Mind-Basis-of-All (alayavijñana) and Related Topics in Buddhist Theories of Personal Continuity, Epistemology, and Hermeneutics”
  • Daniel E. Perdue (1983): Virginia Commonwealth University
    “Practice and Theory of Philosophical Debate in Tibetan Buddhist Education”
  • John B. Buescher (1982): former Director of Voice of America Tibet Service
    “The Buddhist Doctrine of Two Truths in the Vaibhasika and Theravada School”
  • Donald S. Lopez (1982): Professor at the University of Michigan (tenured)
    “The Svatantrika-Madhamika School of Mahayana Buddhism”
  • Anne C. Klein (1981): Professor at Rice University (tenured)
    “Mind and Liberation: The Sautrantika Tenet System in Tibet—Perception, Naming, Positive and Negative Phenomena, Impermanence and the Two Truths in the Context of Buddhist Religious Insight as Presented in Ge-luk Literary and Oral Traditions”

Alumni of the Masters Program

  • Marah Litchford (2014)
  • Chelsea Hall (2008): Independent Scholar
  • Laura James (2008): Working for TRC Environmental, Chapel Hill, NC as Lithics Analyst/ Archaeologist
  • David Divalerio (2005): PhD from UVa
  • Jongbok Yi (2005): PhD from UVa
  • Willa Baker (2004): doctoral student at Harvard
  • Stephan Boyanton (2004): doctoral student in history of medicine
  • Manuel Lopez (2004): PhD from UVa
  • Matthew Spitzer (2004)
  • Tenzin Thosam (2004): Circulation Technician for University of Virginia Library system
  • James Gentry (2004): doctoral student at Harvard
  • Geoffrey Goble (2004): doctoral student at Indiana University
  • James Graves (2004): staff member in Video department of National Geographic Society (full-time)
  • Julian Green (2004): deceased
  • Tainsley Stewart (2003): Wisdom Publications for Tibetan Buddhism editorial post
  • Pamela Novak (2003): director of SIT programs for Tibet (tenure-track)
  • Suzanne Bessenger (2002)
  • Jennifer Lynn Carnahan (2002): went on to medical school
  • Andres Montano (2002): Technical Co-Director of the Tibetan and Himalayan Library
  • Caryn Strange (2002)
  • Chris Hatchell (2002)
  • Carl Yamamoto (2001)
  • David Horton (2000)
  • Garth Copenhaver (1999)
  • David Drewes (1999): Assistant Professor at University of Manitoba (tenure-track)
  • Kammie Takahashi (1999)
  • Alejandro Chaoul-Reich (1998): Earned Ph.D. in Tibetan Studies from Rice University (2006). Assistant Professor and Director of Education at the Integrative Medicine Program, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
  • Robert Kirk Moore (1998)
  • Alex Chapin (1997): Educational Technologist at Middlebury College (provides language instruction in Tibetan)
  • Susan Krafft (1997)
  • Tina Rodfung (1997)
  • Michael Lempert (1994): Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University (tenure-track)
  • Kathy Shine (1994)
  • Phil Stanley (1994): Naropa University (tenured)
  • Paul Hackett (1993): Earned Ph.D. in Tibetan Studies from Columbia University
  • David Remis (1993): went on to medical school and earned M.D.
  • Edward Strickler (1993)
  • Dennis Swaim (1993)
  • Robert Chilton (1991): Asian Classics Input Project
  • Mark Siebold (1989): Entered program with M.A. from Stanford University
  • Alan Cole (1988): Earned Ph.D. from University of Michigan. Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Lewis and Clark College (tenured)
  • Steven Daley (1980)
  • Horace Horton (1978)
  • Kim Sciaki (1978)