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Nick Allen

Headshot of Nick Allen

Alumnus of English MA concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture (2019)
Former HHIVE Lab Coordinator &  Website Designer and Communicator  

Nick came to Carolina 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. At UNC, Nick explored other aspects of the aging experience and how we might confront these inevitable challenges with grace and sagacity. Read Kate Capitano’s alumni spotlight blog post about Nick here.

Mary Carol Barks

Headshot of Mary Carol Barks

Alumna of English MA concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture (2019)

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. 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.

Molly Brewer

Molly Claire Brewer

Alumna of Master’s Program in Occupational Therapy

Molly graduated from the UNC program for Occupational Therapy, was a study coordinator for the HHIVE Lab, and a member of the Literature, Medicine, and Culture Colloquium. She studies in the intersection of healthcare and humanities and her research and involvement with the HHIVE focused on how humanities can inform health care practices and the patient experience. For example, Molly took a course on technology and medicine focused around the adaptive and assistive devices used by individuals who have physical disabilities, cognitive impairment, low vision, hearing impairment, and intellectual and developmental disabilities. The course asks how accommodations can be made to allow patients to access their environment more easily.

As the study coordinator for the Falls study, Molly facilitated the group’s journey through the IRB process and continues to support the principle investigators through recruiting. After graduate school, Molly plans to become an occupational therapist and is interested in working with older adults, specifically older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as co-morbid Alzheimer’s and other dementia related diseases.

Kaitlin Cruz

Cruz_Portrait 2x2

Undergraduate Alumna

Clinical Laboratory Science/Nursing Major
Minor in Literature, Medicine, and Culture

Kaitlin first heard about the HHIVE Lab at an interest session about the Literature, Medicine, and Culture minor. She already knew she wanted to go into medicine, but the idea of examining the field through a lens other than science never really occurred to her. She was 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. She wanted to be part of a team that helped expand this new field and improved the way people look at health and wellbeing. Besides that, the interdisciplinary work HHIVE is carrying out fit well with her personal interest in the arts and humanities. The blending of fields she cared about while being able to learn more about and possibly improve healthcare are why she enjoyed working in the HHIVE Lab.

See some of Kaitlin’s work here and here.

Hannah Doksansky 

Undergraduate Alumna

Interdisciplinary Studies in Health Communication

Falls Narrative Study


Pragnya Dontu

Headshot of Pragnya DontuUndergraduate Alumna

Double Major in Chemistry and Biophysics
Minor in Neuroscience

Dance & Diabetes Study

“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.”

Sumiyah Enayet

1470286_651840891532626_1796612826_n(1)Undergraduate Alumna

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

Falls Narrative Study




Caroline Fryar 

CFryar headshot

Medical Student at UNC School of Medicine
Undergraduate Alumna

Double Major in Classics and German
Minor in Chemistry

When Caroline joined the lab, she was looking to find a community of people who wanted to discuss health care in an interdisciplinary, challenging, interesting way, something that she believed can get lost in the day-­to-­day of providing patient care. Prior to HHIVE, she had never worked in humanities research before. She wanted to learn new methodologies and approaches to research other than the empirical/quantitative work she was already used to. 

Caroline is currently at UNC’s Medical School.

Lauren Howland 

Undergraduate Alumna

Global Studies

Falls Narrative Study


Katie Huber

Headshot of Katie Huber

Master’s Student in UNC Gillings School of Public Health
Undergraduate Alumna

Double Major in Anthropology and Medical Humanities
Minor in Biology

Katie first heard about the HHIVE Lab during her sophomore year at UNC and was involved with the lab since. She assisted with the Falls Study, where she transcribed interviews, compiled and annotated bibliography, and designed graphics. After she completed her honors thesis and her undergraduate studies, Katie was accepted into the M.A. program at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health.

Find a sample of Katie’s HHIVE work here.

Rabab Husain

Alumna of English MA concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture (2020)

Rabab holds a B.S in Psychology from UNC Chapel Hill, where she also studied English Literature and completed pre-med courses. While writing papers on the impact of literature on empathy and Theory of Mind for her psychology courses, she found herself interested in the application of the humanities towards the medical field. As an M.A student, Rabab researched the intersection of religion, culture, and medicine via the narratives of Muslims and South Asians involved in medical humanitarianism. She hopes this research and the skills from the program will support her in becoming a more knowledgeable and effective physician in the future.

Emily Long

Medical Student at UNC School of Medicine
Alumna of English MA concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture (2020)
Undergraduate Alumna (2019)

Former HHIVE Grand Rounds Coordinator

Emily holds a B.S. in Biology with a second major in English with Highest Honors and a minor in Medicine, Literature, and Culture from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As an undergraduate, Emily conducted research within the medical humanities by spending a summer studying access to health care in rural communities using both qualitative and quantitative methods. She also composed a senior English honors thesis under the direction of Dr. Eliza Richards in which she used a psychosocial framework to consider how works of gothic fiction portrayed women’s mental health. Her MA research focused on pre-trauma theory in nineteenth-century American literature.

Maebelle Matthew

UntitledUndergraduate Alumna (2019)

Major in Biochemistry
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, including the Dance & Diabetes study, here.

Lorena Millo

Lorena Millo headshotMedical Student at UNC School of Medicine 
Undergraduate Alumna 

English Literature
Business Administration
Chemistry Minor

Falls Narrative Study

As an undergraduate, Lorena was a dual English and Business Administration major and student researcher for the Falls Narrative Study. Her Honors Thesis about representations of organ transplantation was awarded the James L. Whitfield Jr. Memorial Prize by the Department of English. After graduating in 2017, she went on to complete a post-baccalaureate premed program at Goucher College and then worked as a Research Associate in the Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University. She is now a medical student at UNC.

Manisha Mishra 

Photo of Manisha Mishra at the old well

Research Coordinator in Emergency Medicine at NYU Langone Health

M.A. in Medicine, Health and Society from Vanderbilt University (2019)
Undergraduate Alumna (2018)

Double major in Biology and Interdisciplinary Studies: Medical Humanities
Minor in Chemistry

Manisha Mishra is a 2018 UNC graduate from Mooresville, North Carolina who majored in Biology (B.S.) and Interdisciplinary Studies: Medical Humanities (B.A.) and minored in Chemistry. Frustrated with the monotonous pre-medical experience she was receiving, she decided to branch out and take a literature and medicine course which ultimately was the gateway for her love for Medical Humanities. Since then, Manisha 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 result 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 focused on theory and practices of clinical empathy. She was also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Health Humanities Journal of UNC-CH and was a student researcher in the Falls Narrative Study. 

Manisha recently graduated from the Medicine, Health, and Society M.A. program at Vanderbilt University and will host the International Health Humanities Consortium conference in Nashville in March 2020. Currently, she is a Research Coordinator in Emergency Medicine at NYU Langone Health. In her free time, she can be found practicing yoga, rereading her favorite novels The Goldfinch and The Namesake, and going on random adventures. 

Calvin Olsen


PhD Student in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media (CRDM) at NCSU
Alumnus of English MA 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.

Izzy Pinheiro

Izzy PinheiroUndergraduate Alumna

Interdisciplinary Studies in Health Humanities



Kaylyn Pogson

Picture of Kaylyn Pogson posing with a dogMedical Student at UNC School of Medicine
Alumna of English MA concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture
Undergraduate alumna

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 continued to study breast cancer illness narratives with a greater emphasis on their theoretical frameworks, and was 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 took 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. Kaylyn is now enrolled at the UNC Medical School.

Brandon Rogers


PhD Student in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media (CRDM) at NCSU
Alumnus of English MA concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture

As a student who graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a B.S. in Biological Physics and a double minor in Interdisciplinary Studies and Creative Writing, Brandon has always taken a “left-brain/right-brain” approach to his studies. However, it wasn’t until he enrolled in a literature and medicine course that he realized how the humanities could shape his research interests in science, virtual reality, and medicine. At UNC, Brandon was part of the first cohort of the Literature, Medicine and Culture master’s program.

Additionally, Brandon was Community Resources Manager for HHIVE and organized volunteers, coordinated outreach events, and connected with scholars in neighboring programs at Duke University and North Carolina State University. His research includes critical making processes (how the act of making can also function as a critique of the object in itself, such as a technological piece that also critiques the society for which it is developed for) and game studies. When he is not playing games you can find him running half marathons and practicing studio art. Currently, he’s looking at master’s programs in neuroengineering and electrical engineering, as well as PhD programs in communication and Science and Technology Studies (STS). He aspires to go into either academia or industry, but ideally both.

Nakisa Sadeghi

Nakisa SadeghiMedical Student at UNC School of Medicine
Undergraduate HHIVE Alumna

French and Francophone Studies
Business Administration
Chemistry Pre-med Track

Nakisa Sadeghi is currently in her third year of medical school, but she has not forgotten the lessons taught to her by the health humanities. While at UNC, Nakisa was a part of Professor Thrailkill & Professor Jack’s inaugural ENGL 690 (now ENGL 695) class, which gave students hands-on experience developing research projects in health humanities. Along with Izzy Pinheiro and Sam Weeks, Nakisa designed and implemented the Music Study to measure the impact of live music in waiting rooms. The class had a lasting impact on how Nakisa understands physician-patient relationships and patient communication.

During the 2018-2019 academic year, Nakisa was presented with an exciting opportunity: she took a leave of absence from her medical program to pursue a fellowship in health policy. One of her former associates had recently become the president of Planned Parenthood and Nakisa was awarded a fellowship to work as their Special Assistant. Once there, she worked at the Planned Parenthood national office to advance a vision of reproductive healthcare as healthcare and led and contributed to various initiatives to help depoliticize reproductive healthcare. The fellowship also allowed Nakisa to work at the George Washington University’s School of Public Health as a Visiting Scholar, researching and writing on various issues in public health from maternal mortality and opioid addiction to the emergency response to coronavirus, and then as a Senior Fellow at the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation where she researched medical care for immigrant children and families.

Shatakshi Shekhar

Shekhar_Shatakshi HHIVE Writing Diabetes Volunteer

Undergraduate Alumna

Major in Global Studies
Minor in Hindi and Neuroscience

Dance & Diabetes Study

“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.”

Sarah Singer, PhD

Sarah Singer

Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida
Alumna of English & Comparative Literature PhD Program
Originally from Maryland, Sarah moved to North Carolina for graduate school in 2013.  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 completed a dissertation project about the visual and textual rhetorics of Lyme Disease. Her 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. While at UNC, she taught 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.

Audrey Ward

Audrey Ward headshotFormer PhD student

English and Comparative Literature

Falls Narrative Study



Kym Weed, PhD

Teaching Assistant Professor of English & Comparative Literature at UNC
Alumna of English & Comparative Literature PhD Program (2018)

Headshot of Kym WeedIn 2019, Kym returned to UNC as a Teaching Assistant Professor of English & Comparative Literature and as Co-Director of HHIVE and Associate Director of the English MA concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture.

Kym was appointed Senior Lecturer and Assistant Director of Graduate Studies in the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University after completing her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature at UNC in August 2018. At Vanderbilt, she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in health humanities and mentored master’s students in independent thesis research and practicum projects.

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. While a PhD student at UNC, Kym joined an energized community of scholars interested in Literature, Medicine, and Culture. She studied American literature from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, which was an exciting and formative period in science and medicine. Her dissertation research investigated how bacteriologists and authors in this time period understood microbes, and she considered how this new view of the world impacted human relations with one another and the world.

While a graduate student at UNC, Kym was 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. She also taught First Year Writing, Narratives of Contagion, and Introduction to American Literature: Protest & Dissent. In the medical school, Kym led critical incident discussion sections and assisted with the pilot RICE course that is now part of the third year curriculum. In HHIVE, Kym was the Founding Assistant Director, the Study Coordinator for the Fall Narrative Study, and enrolled in the inaugural ENGL695 class.

Sam Weeks

Headshot of Sam WeeksUndergraduate Alumnus

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 worked 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.

Andrew Zavaleta

Headshot of Andrew Zavaleta

Undergraduate Alumnus

Double Major in Political Science and Global Studies

Andrew 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.