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I have been working for Tennessee State Parks as a seasonal interpretive ranger for the past three summers. My friend Josh introduced me to the job during my gap year between undergraduate and graduate school. I applied because I loved the idea of working a summer with my best friend. As I got into the flow of the things, though, I discovered that I really enjoy crafting and delivering historical programs. It’s the perfect mix of educating and entertaining. 

As a seasonal at Fort Loudoun State Historic Park, my job focused on their living history programs. Since Fort Loudon was built by the British in 1756 at the height of the French and Indian War, that meant wearing a lot of wool and learning old trades. In addition to marching and musketry, I also learned how to blacksmith and bake bread in a brick oven. I love these types of programs for two reasons. Not only does the audience get a show and tangible product, but the programmer can talk about anything while doing it: society, culture, religion, migration, and labor history. For me, though, those skills are fascinating enough on their own. We see a blacksmith in a movie make a sword in a few moments so that it builds drama. The first time I tried making a single nail, it took me over 12 minutes. Connecting that popular scene with the realities of the work gave me a healthy respect for those who did it, not to mention a great fun fact to introduce myself with at the next dinner party!

Dr. Ed Gray is a historian specializing in early American history. He received his AB from University of Chicago in 1988 and PhD from Brown University in 1996. He joined FSU in 1998 and has been the chair of the History Department since 2013.

What is your research interest?

I'm a historian of early America. My work covers European contact with early America in the latter part of the 16th century through the early 19th century. I teach mostly colonial and revolutionary era US history. I'm currently writing a book on the history of the Mason-Dixon Line. It ends with the Civil War, so I'm moving a bit further into the modern era.

How did you decide which field to focus on in graduate school?

In college, I didn't focus on early America. Among the books I read as an undergraduate, one stood out: The Creation of the American Republic by Gordon Wood. I found it unbelievably interesting, and it drew me to early American history. The book was about the ideological foundation of the American form of government. That really captured my interest: the history of politics, political thoughts, and the origin of democratic republican government. When I applied to grad school, I applied to institutions with scholars focusing on the American revolution. I ended up going to where Gordon Wood was a professor, and he became my graduate advisor.

Hi there – I am Taylor Rivers, and I graduated from FSU with a major in History in December 2020. Since March 2021, I have been teaching with EPIK (English Program in Korea). I live in Daejeon, Korea’s 5th largest city with a population of 1.6 million people and the hub of Korea’s high speed rail network. I teach at two very different high schools. One high school is for advanced students in math and science, and it is co-ed.  Many of its students are from well-to-do backgrounds, and some have even lived abroad. The other high school I teach at is an all-boys vocational school. Most of these students are from working-class backgrounds and are often less motivated to learn English. I like teaching in both schools. Each has its own quirks. That is what makes my job interesting.

Over the past year, Eric Feely, a senior majoring in Middle Eastern Studies, with concentrations in History, Arabic, and Public Administration, has had the opportunity to participate in several virtual internships in the Washington D.C. area. A winner of the Ada Belle Winthrop-King Scholarship and David L. Boren Scholarship, both funding overseas language study, Eric has tried to make the most of his time during the pandemic by gaining relevant work experience while awaiting permission to travel abroad.

In fall 2020, Eric was selected as a National Security and Intelligence Analysis intern on the Syria Team at the Institute for the Study of War. In this role, Eric conducted open-source intelligence to collect, process, analyze, and synthesize intelligence from native language sources in Syria. Eric focused most of his research on tactical, operational, and strategic objectives of states like Russia, Turkey, Iran, Israel and the Syrian regime and non-state actors or proxies like ISIL, Jabhat al Nusra, Hayat Tahrir al Sham, and other opposition groups.

Using proprietary software programs, he and other interns on the team typically spent the first half of the day collecting data from news articles. Relevant information in these articles was then processed into events called SIGACTs or “significant activity.” SIGACTs are created to convey “someone or -thing did something to someone or -thing else in X place in Y province in Z country.” Each SIGACT is then located geographically using the Military Grid Reference System.

Dr. Sarah Eyerly is the Curtis Mayes Orpheus associate professor at the Department of Musicology. She is also the director of the Early Music program and coordinator of Musicology. She received a BA in music from Pennsylvania State University in 1996, as well as a MM in historical performance from Mannes College of Music in 1999. Dr. Eyerly obtained a graduate certificate in historical performances from the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague, the Netherlands. She graduated with both her MA and PhD in musicology and criticism from the University of California, Davis in 2004 and 2007, respectively.

How do you describe yourself as a scholar?

I struggle to define what my area is. My research interest stretches into many academic fields. Technically, I’m a music historian in the Department of Musicology. But I also identify with the academic community of early Americanists, ethnohistory, Native American, and indigenous studies, as well as sound studies and geo-humanity studies. I work with geographers; a lot of my work falls into the field of geography.

Dr. Paul Renfro is an assistant professor of US history. He earned his B.A. from Trinity University in 2010 and his MA. from University from Alabama in 2012. He received his PhD from the University of Iowa in 2016 and joined FSU in 2018.

What is your academic area?

I am an historian of the United States, specifically the twentieth century, even more specifically, the post-1945 U.S., and I have thematic interests in gender and sexuality, and childhood and family, and also the carceral state.

When did you receive your degree?

I earned the PhD in 2016, after six years of graduate school. I don’t think any graduate career is completely smooth as we all face setbacks and challenges in either the application process, or research, or one of the other facets of graduate life. But I have only good things to say about my time in graduate school.

What made you want to study history?

I have long been fascinated by politics. I majored in political science in college, but halfway through, I realized I wasn’t interested in the quantitative stuff, which was at the heart of the discipline. I was more interested in political culture and history. So, I gradually moved over to history and things clicked. I admired my professors, and I decided that this was what I wanted to be. When I applied to grad school, right around the time of the great recession in 2010, I knew I wanted to become a professor, even though I was aware of the barriers and challenges.

Dr. Joseph Gabriel has a dual appointment in the Department of History and the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine at the College of Medicine. He received his BA in Philosophy in 1992, his MA in History in 1999, both from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He earned his PhD at Rutgers University in 2006 and joined the History Department at FSU in 2016.

What is your area of research?

I’m a historian of medicine primarily, mostly 19th to 20th century United States. My focus is the pharmaceutical industry and its relationship to scientific medicine. I have a dual appointment in the History Department and the Medical School.

I received my PhD in 2006 from Rutgers University. It took me six years. I was able to finish quickly because I had two years during which I did not have to teach and could work exclusively on my dissertation. That was extremely fortunate for me.

At the undergraduate level in the FSU History department, I teach a class called Medicine and Society. It covers the medical history of the U.S. from the colonial period to the present. We focus a lot on how race and gender influence clinical decision making. At the medical school, I teach clinical interviewing skills, history of medicine, and topics dealing with ethics.

What was your university career like?

Dr. Annika A. Culver is an associate professor of East Asian history in the Department of History. She received her BA from Vassar College in 1997, MA from Harvard University in 2000, and PhD from University of Chicago in 2007. Her doctoral dissertation title was “Between Distant Realities:” The Japanese Avant-Garde, Surrealism, and the Colonies, 1924-1943. She joined FSU in 2013.

What questions have driven your research?

My career interest has evolved quite a bit over time. I think I am constantly fascinated by how individuals interact with political, cultural, and social environments. Much of my work centers on cultural production but looks at the politics as well.

I was always very interested in French history and literature, and especially Surrealism was fascinating to me as an art and literary movement. In the Japanese context, the impact of colonialism was very important on the avant-gardes, who were cosmopolitan and moved between Europe (Paris), Tokyo, and Japan's colonies, especially Manchuria. No one had written about both the literary and artistic incarnations of the truly global Surrealist movement as it was expressed in Japan.

How did your grad school life unfold?

Dr. Ben Dodds is an associate professor in the Department of History, specializing in the history of late medieval England. He received his BA, MA, and PhD from Durham University (2002) and taught there from 2003 to 2017. Dr. Dodds joined FSU in 2017.

How many years did you spend in graduate school?

I spent four years in grad school. Graduate programs in the UK tend to the shorter than they are in the US because UK undergraduate degree programs are very specialized. As an undergraduate, I only took History classes and so was able to specialize in preparation for grad school. That is because undergrad pathways are very specialized. While there are some combined degrees, most students apply to university to study only one subject. In my case that was history. All my courses were in history. It allowed me to go into great depth in the topics I was interested in. By the time I started grad school, I had taken a lot of history classes.

Why did you want to be a historian? Did you ever consider other careers?

I had a very enthusiastic history teacher in high school, who had studied medieval history. He inspired me to do it. I was aware that the academic job market was unpredictable, and that much depended on getting the right opportunity. I was very interested in teaching history at high school, and I assumed that that would be my career. I spent a lot of time as a graduate student teaching in schools in addition to doing my research. I was quite fortunate that there were jobs to apply for when I came out of the PhD program.

When D J Kinney defended his PhD dissertation in the fall of 2018, he decided not to seek an academic job straight away. Instead, he set out to share his passion for the Cold War era with a broader audience. “I love telling stories and making podcasts about the Cold War was a natural extension for me.” Thus, The Cold War Vault was born.

Kinney had been fascinated by the Cold War from a young age onward. In one of the earliest podcast episodes, he narrates how he was drawn to the topic. ‘The Last of the Cold War Kids’ delves into his entanglement with the film ‘Threads’ (1984) as a youngster and relates his elation at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Most of the material for his series is based on his ongoing engagement with the Cold War era. Only rarely does Kinney draw on his PhD dissertation, ‘Nuclear Spaces: Simulations of Nuclear Warfare In Film, by the Numbers, and on the Atomic Battlefield.’

It took Kinney three months to get ready for his first audio recording. “Since I wanted to make successful podcasts, I realized that I needed professional equipment, a dedicated workspace, and a reliable distributor. It was very important for me to start the way I wanted to continue. You should not do most of the learning on the job.” For this project, Kinney combined the skills he had acquired from undergraduate film-making courses at University of Florida with the knowledge he had gained from the PhD program in history at FSU.