Fellowship Recipients

Fellowship Recipients

Recipients of Tianzhu Fellowships in Buddhist Studies.

Period: 2018-2019

Sarah Fink

Masters Fellowship Sarah completed her BA in Religious Studies at Davidson College in 2018. Her undergraduate research focused on changing religious climates and the increasing presence of Tibetan Buddhism in Mainland China and the United States. This year long thesis project began while studying abroad in Nepal upon discovering the large number of Chinese tourists visiting the monasteries within a Tibetan refugee community. She is more broadly interested in the impact politics, economics and social issues have on religious change in China.

Frank Clements

Postdoctoral Fellowship Frank completed his PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. His research focuses on the Japanese tradition of Shugendō mountain asceticism, which synthesizes esoteric Buddhist practices, Daoist immortality beliefs, and the worship of indigenous deities. More specifically, he concentrates on the activities of households of ascetics affiliated with Mt. Haguro in northern Japan during the Tokugawa and early Meiji periods. His current project explores how these households were embedded in the economic, social, and political contexts of the village community and Haguro’s transregional administrative networks. Elite households used strategies of document production and exchange to develop and defend a household identity that was vital to Haguro Shugendō. His broader research interests include the religious and folk cultures of northern Japan, the relationship between asceticism, magic, and supernatural entities, and the development and structure of sacred mountain-based religious communities across East Asia.     

Maggie Mitchell’s Fellowship was renewed for this academic year.

Xiao’an Shi’s Fellowship was renewed for this academic year.



Period: 2017-2018

Maggie Mitchell
Masters Fellowship Maggie completed her BA in Religious Studies at Mount Allison University in 2016. Her undergraduate research examined a contemporary account of rebuilding of a Chinese Buddhist temple on Wutaishan, looking at the role of both lineage and academia in this practice. She is interested in how Buddhist noncanonical sources from medieval China are used in reconstructing sites in China today. She is also interested more generally in sacred space, East Asian death practices, and using digital sources in the study of religion.

Xian’ao Shi
Doctoral Fellowship Xian’ao received her BEc in Finance from Renmin University of China, and MA in Anthropology from Minzu University of China and MA in Buddhist Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She is finishing her MA in Buddhist Studies from SOAS, University of London, which is expected to be conferred later this year. Currently she is pursuing a PhD in Asian Studies, focusing on Chinese Buddhism. Her project is to examine the modern transformation of Chinese Buddhism and to rethink the categories of tradition and modernity of Buddhism in an increasingly globalized age.

Heawon Choi‘s Fellowship was renewed for this academic year.

Period: 2016-2017

Heawon Choi

Postdoctoral Fellowship Heawon Choi is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Asian Studies. Her research interests include, but are not limited to, Buddhist traditions in East Asia and the intellectual and cultural history of Chinese religions with a special focus on the early to medieval era. She is particularly interested in the Chinese reception of Buddhism and the interaction and conflicts between Buddhism and native traditions. Similarly, her research interests concern the Buddhist influence on indigenous Chinese worldviews and further, on the religious/spiritual life of Chinese people. She intends to expand her research on the relationship between Buddhism and native traditions to include other East Asian countries, such as Korea and Japan, and beyond, utilizing a cross-cultural and comparative view. One of her current research projects deals with religious syncretism and pluralism in ancient China based on medieval Chinese Buddhist and secular texts. She attempts to approach the topic by employing various modern theories of religious/philosophical syncretism and pluralism. As a native Korean, she has studied at Yonsei University, Seoul (BA and MA), Northwestern University, IL (MA), and Stanford University, CA (PhD).