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Ph.D. Students

Matt Egbert

Matt is a doctoral candidate in History with a specialization in North African Christianity, martyrdom, and sainthood from the 4th to 7th centuries. His dissertation emphasizes the North African Christian community’s unique perspective on death, which developed due to the region’s liminal position between the Mediterranean and Trans-Saharan trade networks. He received his M.A. degree in Ancient History from King’s College London in 2013, with his thesis tracing the agonistici branch of the Donatist Church and its role as both a religious and socio-economic movement. Prior to his graduate work, Matt obtained his B.A. from Campbellsville University in History and English.

Brooks Hudson

Brooks is a studying American history, specializing in the transformation of law, culture, and medicine from the Gilded Age to the Great Depression. His dissertation traces the evolution of America’s first opiate crisis and the reaction to it. He highlights how this period was pivotal in solidifying a criminal justice approach regarding addiction and narcotic use, and more importantly, the ways it expanded law enforcements’ ability to surveil and police personal behavior. He received his B.A. from Murray State University, winning the Beasley Award for outstanding undergraduate. He completed his M.A. at MSU in 2017.

Özge Kulak

Özge Kulak is a PhD student specializing in Historical Studies, with a primary research focus on minority and identity in Turkey, political Islam and Turkish political history. Her current research endeavors revolve around an in-depth examination of the Alevi-Bektashi community during the transformative late Ottoman and republican eras.

Before commencing her PhD journey, Özge completed her bachelor's degree in International Relations at Middle East Technical University in Turkey, with a minor in German language. In 2019, she successfully completed her Master's degree at the same university, presenting a thesis titled "Protection of Historical and Cultural Artifacts of Minorities under International Law: The Case of Turkey's Alevi Cultural Heritage." Throughout her research, Özge conducted extensive fieldwork, including visits to significant historical sites associated with the Alevi community, as well as engaging in insightful interviews with prominent figures within the community.

In recognition of her scholarly achievements, Özge was awarded the prestigious Stanley Zucker Prize in the 2021-2022 academic year for her paper, "Critical Mass Theory and Participation in Social Movements: The Case of Gezi Protests in Turkey." Her work was also published in 2023, receiving attention and making a valuable contribution to the ongoing academic discourse in the field.

Her most recent publication is Kulak, Ö. (2023). Critical Mass Theory and Participation in Social Movements: The Case of Gezi Protests in Turkey. TAM Akademi Dergisi, 2(3), 160-169. Retrieved from

Antonio Salazar

Antonio Salazar

Antonio (He/him) is a Graduate Assistant and Instructor of Record pursuing his PhD in Historical Studies. He is the 2022 recipient of the David P. Werlich Scholarship for Latino Studies research. He is a Graduate Dean’s Fellow and the recipient of the 2020 History Department Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. His field examination topics focus on Modern Latin American History, Modern Middle Eastern History, and Modern American History, with research tools in Spanish and German language translation and Postcolonial Theory. He is also completing Graduate Certificates in Africana Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The aim of his dissertation research focuses on an analysis of the archives located at Mexican Consulates along the Mexican/American border, centering on the investigation of lives, underscoring the negotiated spaces of resistance which served as connections between gender and culture, breaking down obstacles to membership in the American family, who engaged in the court cases brought by American citizens of Mexican descent during the Mexican repatriation of the 1930’s. He earned an M.A. in History (2020) from Southern Illinois University, where his research, “Women’s Resistance and Consequence in the Struggle for Chimeric Space in Post-Revolutionary Iran,” illustrated the locative spaces created by women to counteract impositions from dual patriarchally prone nationalistic identities. In 2009, Antonio earned a B.S. in History and an Illinois Professional Educator’s License from Northern Illinois University. He has served in numerous elected positions in the community, at the Varsity Center for the Arts and the Jackson County Stage Company, and at the school, in Graduate Assistants United and the History Graduate Student Association. He is part of the editorial staff for Legacy, the journal of undergraduate student research, has assisted the Center for Teaching Excellence with the Presidential Election Research Project, and is the Coordinator for the annual Illinois Southern Regional History Day Contest."

Emine Turkmen

Emine Turkmen

Emine Turkmen (she/her/hers) is a doctoral student and Graduate Assistant at Historical Studies specializing in twentieth-century Middle Eastern and American history and politics. She received her B.A. in History from Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, and her M.A. in American Studies at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. She briefly attended Bilkent University Department of History (American History Track) and Latin and North American Studies at Middle East Technical University for a master's degree. She completed several internships at non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Istanbul. She is vice president of the History Graduate Student Association (HGSA) at SIUC. Her research interests are nineteenth-century Ottoman-American relations, Turkish-American Relations, Turkish History, Cold War History, and American politics in the Middle East.