My research clusters around three general areas, which often overlap: the history of religion and culture in the United States, African American studies, and the intersection of race and religion in American history. I am trained as a historian of American history and culture, with additional specialties in world history and African history. I often find rich interplay between my teaching and research, so I try to read widely in multiple fields: American history, American religious history, African American history, and world history.
As a graduate student from 2000 to 2009, I received funding for and recognition of my research as an Academic Affairs Scholar and Arts and Sciences Scholar (at Sam Houston State University). At the University of Houston I received an Outstanding Graduate Student award and received a Murray Miller Dissertation Fellowship. In addition, I participated in a Colonial Society of Massachusetts Graduate Student Forum and won two writing awards: the Zeta Kappa Award, Phi Alpha Theta Graduate Essay Contest for “Islam in Africa: Intersections, Negotiations, and Mystical Spaces in Sufism” and the World History Association/Phi Alpha Theta Student Paper in World History Prize, “Navigating the Indian Ocean: Exploring the Textures of an African Diaspora.” I wrote both papers in graduate seminars on African history with the University of Houston's Kairn Klieman.
As a history professor, outside of annual travel funds, three Lily Endowment-funded seminars greatly enhanced my research. In 2010, I participated in a Calvin College Seminar titled “The Power of Race in American Religion” led by Michael Emerson, who was then affiliated with Rice University. In 2011, I participated in another Calvin College Seminar titled “Congregations and Social Change” led by Gerardo Marti of Davidson College. In addition, In 2016, I participated in "Bodies of Christ: Visualizing Jesus Then and Now," a Calvin College Seminar led by San Diego State University's Edward Blum. I also received a 2013 Scholar in Residence fellowship at the African American Library at Houston's Gregory School. In 2017 and 2018, I received a Mary Jo Small Fellowship from The Society for Values in Higher Education. I received a Conference Travel Grant from The Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline in 2018 to attend and speak at the Du Bois/King Symposium at Clark Atlanta University. In 2018-19, I am a W. E. B. Du Bois Visiting Scholar at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
I have published articles and essays on religion and world history, American religion, race and religion in America, and teaching history. At present I am working on several projects related to W. E. B. Du Bois, along with a short biography of James Baldwin for Rowman & Littlefield's Library of African-American Biography. I continue to actively research and prepare publications on American religious history and the history of Christianity in the United States, along with work on African American cultural and intellectual history.