Current Students

Nick Allen

Headshot of Nick Allen

Masters Student, Concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture
HHIVE Lab Research Assistant
HHIVE Website Designer and Communicator  

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.

Mary Carol Barks

Headshot of Mary Carol Barks

Masters Student, Concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture

Mary Carol Barks holds a B.A. from Auburn University where she studied English Literature with an interest in the medical humanities and multidisciplinary research. While doing coursework at UNC Chapel Hill, Mary Carol is an Associate in Research at Duke University’s Margolis Center for Health Policy where she studies doctor-patient communication and shared decision-making, particularly when patients experience life-threatening illness. Mary Carol hopes to continue this line of research, helping clinicians guide their patients through challenging treatment decisions that effectively coincide with each patient’s values, goals, and life as a whole.

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.

Kaylyn Pogson

Picture of Kaylyn Pogson posing with a dogMasters Student, Concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture

Kaylyn moved to the Triangle from South Africa, completing her undergraduate career at UNC with Biology and English majors. While at UNC, she focused heavily on the medical humanities, with her study culminating in a lengthy honors thesis on breast cancer narratives at different points in time and through various genres. She used her thesis to examine why women afflicted by breast cancer seem to possess an unusual drive to write about their experiences, as well as their perceptions of the unique threats on femininity that breast cancer imposes with an emphasis on the effects of different timepoints and genres on the illness experience and its narrative, respectively.

As an M.A. student, Kaylyn is continuing to study breast cancer illness narratives with a greater emphasis on their theoretical frameworks, and is particularly interested in the question of how different and developing genres are used to address the question of how to most effectively convey the illness experience. Kaylyn is taking advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of the program with classes in English, biology, medicine, and public health. She plans to use her medical humanities training as a physician focused on humanism in patient-centered care.

Sarah Singer

Sarah Singer

PhD Student, English and Comparative Literature
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 worked 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.

Kym Weed

PhD Candidate, English and Comparative Literature

Headshot of Kym WeedKym 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.


Headshot of Sam WeeksSam Weeks

Masters Student, Concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture

A native of the mountains of Western North Carolina, Sam moved to Chapel Hill to start his undergraduate career in 2013. He has Bachelors degrees in Biology and English with a minor in Chemistry from UNC. He spent two years of his adolescence living with his family in Nairobi, Kenya, an experience that opened him to the realities of injustice and poverty and set him on a trajectory of pursuing a career of medicine. Sam’s love of literature and preference for people over science textbooks led him to the field of Health Humanities, and he directed some of his undergraduate studies in the Department of English and Comparative Literature towards that field. As a student in what is now ENGL 695, he and two other students conducted a study examining the effects of live musical performance in hospital waiting room environments. You can find out more about that project here (link to the Music Study page here).

Sam is currently a candidate for the M.A. in Literature, Medicine, and Culture and works as the HHIVE’s volunteer coordinator. His interests include Early Modern literature (particularly John Milton and John Donne), the doctor-patient relationship, and conceptions of morality in illness. He hopes to pursue a career in medicine in the coming years.

A sample of Sam’s undergraduate work with the lab may be found here.



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.”

Andrew ZavaletaHeadshot of Andrew Zavaleta

Double Major in Political Science and Global Studies

He hopes to pursue a J.D./MPH dual degree program at the Georgetown University School of Law and the Johns Hopkins University-Bloomberg School of Public Health.

CFryar headshot

Caroline Fryar 

Alumna 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.

Headshot of Emily LongEmily Long

Double Major in Biology and English

Double Minor in Chemistry and Medicine, Literature, and Culture

I am interested in the research and intellectual growth that I see happening in HHIVE. I am excited to join a community of people who are passionate about studying and discussing the intersection of medicine and the humanities, and I hope to learn to further develop my own research in the field. I am looking forward to learning more about the patient-centered mindset of the health humanities because I think this knowledge will help me to become a better physician in the future”

Cruz_Portrait 2x2

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.”

Headshot of Katie HuberKatie Huber

Anthropology and Medical Humanities Double Major

Minor in Biology

I first heard about the HHIVE Lab during my sophomore year and I’ve been volunteering ever since. I assisted with the Falls Study, where I transcribed interviews, compiled an annotated bibliography, and designed graphics. Now, I’m working on my honors thesis and am looking forward to being involved in future HHIVE projects!

Find a sample of Katie’s HHIVE work here.


Manisha MishraPhoto of Manisha Mishra at the old well

Biology and Interdisciplinary Studies: Medical Humanities Double Major

Chemistry Minor

Frustrated with the monotonous pre-medical experience she was receiving, Manisha decided to branch out and take a literature and medicine course which ultimately was the gateway for her love for Medical Humanities. Since then she has become a huge advocate for this interdisciplinary field as it has helped bring in a new refreshing perspective to her education. She is particularly interested in the variation of rhetoric in narratives that results from one’s experience with illness. She was awarded the 2017 Burch Fellowship, allowing her to conduct research in London with the program Performing Medicine regarding the role of arts-based pedagogy in medical training for clinical empathy development. This set the foundation for her honors thesis which is focused on theory and practices of clinical empathy. She is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Health Humanities Journal of UNC-CH and was student researcher in the Falls Narrative Study. After her undergraduate career, Manisha hopes to complete a graduate program in Medical Humanities before applying to medical school. In her free time, she can be found practicing yoga, rereading her favorite novels The Goldfinch and The Namesake, and going on random adventures. 



Sumiyah Enayet

Major in Interdisciplinary Studies – Medical Humanities
Minor in Chemistry & Broadcast Journalism




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
Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 11.26.06 AM
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
Version 2
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
Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 11.22.35 AM
Lauren Howland
Undergraduate Student
Global Studies and Philosophy