Current Students

Calvin Olsen

Masters Student, Concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture


Calvin Olsen holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University, where he received a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship. His poetry and translations have appeared in The Missouri Review Online, Tar River Poetry, Poetry DailyColumbia, Salamander, and many other journals and anthologies. Recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Best New Poets anthology, Calvin is currently co-poetry editor of The Carolina Quarterly and is completing translations of Portuguese poet João Luís Barreto Guimarães’s newest book, Mediterrâneo, and the collected works of the late Alberto de Lacerda.


Kym Weed

PhD Candidate, English and Comparative Literature

Kym graduated from Lebanon Valley College with a B.S. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. After a few years of working in a pharmaceutical company doing product testing in a microbiology lab, Kym decided to return to graduate school to pursue an M.A. in English at the University of Maryland where she began to recognize the value of using literature in medical ethics, cultural studies, and science studies. As a PhD Candidate at UNC, Kym has joined an energized community of scholars interested in Literature, Medicine, and Culture. She studies American literature from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, which was an exciting and formative period in science and medicine. Kym investigates how bacteriologists and authors in this time period understood microbes, and she considers how this new view of the world impacted human relations with one another and the world.

At UNC, Kym has been a teaching assistant for the undergraduate Literature Medicine, and Culture course and served as the chair of the graduate student Literature, Medicine, and Culture Colloquium. In the medical school, Kym has lead critical incident discussion sections and assisted with the pilot RICE course that is now part of the third year curriculum. In HHIVE, Kym is the Assistant Director and has been the Study Coordinator for the Fall Narrative Study and enrolled in the inaugural ENGL695 class.

Rachel Warner

PhD Student, English and Comparative Literature

Rachel WarnerRachel graduated from Wesleyan University with a double major in English and psychology and a concentration in cognitive psychology. Frustrated with the biomedical model for understanding mental illness, Rachel looked for other ways to ground her research. Reflecting on her own background as a close reader of literary narratives, she soon realized that she could use a similar approach in literature to narratives of mental illness.

Rachel is currently a PhD student in English. Last year she enjoyed taking ENGL 690, in which she designed an interdisciplinary project on qualitative approaches to understanding aging and falling. She also took a Trauma Literature course at NC Central University that aims to teach how trauma can promote growth and resilience in people. When she is not at the HHIVE, she enjoys practicing yoga and cooking up healthy vegetarian/vegan dishes. This summer, she plans to travel, practice her Spanish, and become a certified yoga instructor.

Sarah Singer

PhD Student, English and Comparative Literature

Sarah Singer

Originally from Maryland, Sarah moved to North Carolina for graduate school in 2013.  She is about to finish her PhD exams and will soon be a PhD candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at UNC. Her experiences as a Lyme Disease patient and sexual health peer-educator when she was at the University of Maryland sparked her interest in health humanities. Both of these experiences taught her that health and medicine–language, experiences, treatments, and more– are constructed rhetorically, meaning that they are interpretive and that we can understand them in different ways through a humanistic lens.
In the HHIVE, Sarah works with Jordynn Jack and Jen Stockwell on the Writing Diabetes Project. Outside of the HHIVE, she is working on a dissertation project about the visual and textual rhetorics of Lyme Disease. Related research interests include the rhetoric of health and medicine; disability studies; visual ethnography and visual rhetoric; gender and sexuality; feminist historiography; and writing in the disciplines. She teaches ENGL 105 and ENGL 105i: Health and Medicine, and has been a teaching assistant for WMST 101, ENGL 611, and the UNC Warrior-Scholar Project.

Sam Weeks

Masters Student, Concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture

“I have felt a desire to use my life and my talents to help others for most of my life; for the past several years, I have been particularly drawn towards pursuing a career as a physician. As a pre-med student, I have experienced the huge emphasis placed by the majority of those interested in the field on the sciences. While I do find organic chemistry and cellular biology to be fascinating, I am not the most passionate about those subjects. I do not want to be a physician because I love chemistry, I want to be a physician because I love people and want to work towards healing their bodies. This is where the Medical Humanities step in in the form of the HHIVE lab. I helped to create the initial project on Experiencing Music in the Waiting Room Environment in ENGL 690 and am currently working on continuing that project in a new phase to further explore the ways in which the introduction of the arts into the clinical medical setting can affect both patients and caregivers in the hospital.”

Sam’s work with the lab may be found here.

Nick Allen

Masters Student, Concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture

Nick comes from Virginia Tech where he graduated with dual degrees in Professional & Technical Writing and Literature & Culture. Faculty members there sparked his interest in Health Humanities and lead him towards an honors thesis which considered three of Hemingway’s works as illness narratives, both to confront Hemingway through an alternative lens and to consider the value and applicability of his work to modern patients of chronic suffering, terminal illness, and aging. As an M.A. student at UNC, Nick plans to explore other aspects of the aging experience and how we might confront these inevitable challenges with grace and sagacity.

Nick is also a research assistant for the HHIVE Lab, helping design HHIVE website and communicating information about health humanities-related events within the organization and beyond.

Kaylyn Pogson

Masters Student, Concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture


Mary Carol Barks

Masters Student, Concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture


Past and Present Students in the Health and Humanities: Intensive Research Practice

Katharine Henry
Katharine Henry
PhD Student
English and Comparative Literature
Izzy Pinheiro
Izzy Pinheiro
Undergraduate Student
Interdisciplinary Studies in Health Humanities
Nakisa Sadeghi
Nakisa Sadeghi
Undergraduate student
French and Francophone Studies
Business Administration and Chemistry
Pre-Med track
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Hannah Doksansky
Undergraduate Student
Photojournalism and Interdisciplinary Studies:
Health Communication
Natalie Yosipovich
Natalie Yosipovitch
Undergraduate Student
Interdisciplinary Studies in Health Humanities
Lorena Millo
Lorena Millo
Undergraduate Student
English Literature and Business
Administration, Chemistry minor
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Grant Glass
PhD Student
English and Comparative Literature
Manisha Mishra
Manisha Mishra
Undergraduate Student
Biology and Chemistry
Interdisciplinary Studies in Health Humanities
Audrey Ward
Audrey Ward
PhD Student
English and Comparative Literature
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Lauren Howland
Undergraduate Student
Global Studies and Philosophy


Pragnya DontuHeadshot of Pragnya Dontu

Double Major in Chemistry and Biophysics

Minor in Neuroscience

“As someone who has always been passionate about science and medicine, I am really interested in delving deeper into the humanities side of healthcare. This field relies on so many factors in order to successfully treat patients, and I hope to gain a better understanding of the different subject that contribute to this successful experience through the HHIVE lab.”

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Caroline Fryar 

Alumuna Double Major in Classics and German

Minor in Chemistry

“I’m really interested in being a part of the work that’s going on in the lab. I’m looking to find a community of people who want to discuss health care in an interdisciplinary, challenging, interesting way, and that’s something that can get lost in the day-­to-­day of providing patient care. I haven’t worked in humanities research before, so I want to learn new methodologies and approaches to research other than the empirical/quantitative work I’m used to. I’d eventually like to pursue the MA in Literature, Medicine, and Culture alongside an MD at UNC.”

Click here for Caroline’s most recent article for the HHIVE.

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Kaitlin Cruz

Clinical Laboratory Science/Nursing Major

Minor Literature, Medicine, and Culture

“I first heard about the HHIVE Lab at an interest session about the Literature, Medicine, and Culture minor. I already knew I wanted to go into medicine, but the idea of examining the field through a lens other than science never really occurred to me. I’m very interested in delving into this subject, as healthcare is a major part of society that affects much more than just the wellbeing of a population. I would love to be part of a team that helps expand this new field and improves the way we look at health and wellbeing. Besides that, the interdisciplinary work HHIVE is carrying out fits well with my personal interest in the arts and humanities. The blending of fields I care about while being able to learn more about and possibly improve healthcare are why I look forward to working in the HHIVE Lab.”

See some of Kaitlin’s work here and here.


Maebelle Matthew

Biochemistry Major

Minor in Literature, Medicine, and Culture

“I have always had a passion for the humanities, but I never knew how I could incorporate it into my dream career in medicine and the sciences. I have always been looking for ways to connect the humanities and the sciences during my undergraduate career and beyond. When I found out about the HHIVE lab, I knew this was one way that I could form the connection I desired. Working at the HHIVE lab helps me look at medicine and diseases in a new perspective, which is very valuable when trying to fully understand a problem. I want to be able to view and understand the medical field in as many ways as possible, and the HHIVE lab helps me achieve this goal.”

See some of Maebelle’s work with the HHIVE Lab here.

Shekhar_Shatakshi HHIVE Writing Diabetes Volunteer

Shatakshi Shekhar

Global Studies Major

Minor in Hindi and Neuroscience

“HHIVE Lab combines two of my passions, humanities and medicine. I had done an internship at a gynecologist’s private practice my junior year of high school. One thing she said to me has stuck with me till this day: “Many people believe medicine is just science. People forget the people aspect of medicine.” By the people aspect, she was referring to the patient’s culture, religion and socio-economic status and seeing the relationship between how those two can affect the patient’s health. Some religions such as Islam forbid Muslims to eat Pork. Is there are correlation between Muslims and obesity or Muslims in heart disease? Are there lower rates of heart disease in Muslims since they are not eating that red meat? A Hindu diet has a tendency to be on the no red meat side and a more vegetarian side. Is that why Hindu’s may be deficient in protein (a source for 10 of the 20 amino acids)? These questions come to my mind and I believe that HHIVE lab is the best place to start discovering the answers to these questions.”

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Katie Huber

Anthropology and Medical Humanities Double Major

Minor in Biology

“I first heard about the HHIVE Lab when I attended an information session about the Medicine, Literature, and Culture program. I was fascinated by the idea of such an interdisciplinary approach to solving health problems. During my time at UNC, I have enjoyed taking classes in the biology and anthropology departments because I feel like they give me a more holistic perspective of health. I am passionate about the social sciences – particularly anthropology, the arts – particularly music, and the natural sciences – particularly biology. I am excited to have the opportunity to put the information I’ve learned to use by working at HHIVE where methods from all of these departments are utilized and to see the results be beneficial to others and to society as a whole.”

Find a sample of Katie’s HHIVE work here.

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Elijah Watson

Biostatistics Major

Minor in Literature, Medicine, and Culture & Biology

“I’m interested in the social aspects of public health and infectious disease, which is why the humanistic approach of the HHIVE Lab is exciting to me. I want to pursue a career in epidemiology and next year I plan to apply to the Biostatistics major in the School of Public Health. I believe that working in the HHIVE lab will greatly complement my public health coursework as well as broaden my perspective of health and illness.”


Sumiyah Enayet

Interdisciplinary Studies – Medical Humanities
Minor in Chemistry & Broadcast Journalism