PhD Students

Michael Randall Barnes

Social & Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, Applied Ethics (esp. Bioethics)
BEd University of Toronto
MA Carleton University
BA York University

Michael Barnes is a PhD candidate in the philosophy department. He is primarily interested in injustice and its lived-reality. This has led to a focus on concepts like oppression, domination, and exploitation, and he is currently writing a dissertation on subordinating speech. Since coming to Georgetown, Michael has become increasingly interested in bioethics, and is the current Managing Editor for the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal.

Born in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, Michael has demonstrated a clear passion for moving to capital cities for school. Having completed degrees in both Toronto and Ottawa, Michael is excited to continue this habit at Georgetown. 

Paul Berghaus

Ethics, History of Philosophy
BS United States Military Academy
MDiv  Mid-America Reformed Seminary
MA  Texas A&M University 

Paul began the doctoral program in the fall of 2016. His research interests include ethics, history of philosophy (ancient and early modern), and philosophy of religion. He comes to the study of philosophy by way of teaching professional ethics in the military. Before enrolling at Georgetown, he spent close to twenty years on active duty in the Army first as a combat arms officer and later a chaplain. Outside of his studies, Paul enjoys making the most of the time he has with his wife Mary and their five children.

MaryKate Brueck

marykate profile photo

Ethics, Bioethics, Social Epistemology
BA Loyola University Chicago (new window)

MaryKate is a first-year doctoral student with interests in ethics, bioethics, political philosophy and social epistemology. She received her B.A. in Philosophy from Loyola University Chicago and is excited to continue her study at a fellow Jesuit University. Outside of philosophy, MaryKate enjoys coaching dance, traveling, and playing intramural sports. Originally from Iowa, she is excited to explore the east coast and enjoy everything D.C. has to offer.

Megan Dean

megan dean profile photo

Bioethics, Feminist Philosophy, 20th-Century European Philosophy, Philosophy of Science
BAH University of King’s College and Dalhousie University
MA University of Alberta

Megan is a PhD candidate working in bioethics, feminist philosophy, 20th-century European philosophy (especially Foucault and phenomenology), and philosophy of science. Her dissertation, entitled “Eating, Agency, and Healthism,” offers an account of eating as a self-shaping activity: how we understand and practice eating shape not only our experiences, but our agency, affects, capacities, values, and other important aspects of the self. She argues that current bioethical critiques of “healthism” about eating–roughly, the idea that good eating is healthy eating, and good eaters eat for health–do not account for these self-shaping effects and so lack a complete analysis of the ethical and epistemic impacts of healthism. Megan is the founder and former coordinator of Diversifying Syllabi (, and hails from Nova Scotia, Canada.

Clark R. Donley

Clark Donley

Ethics, Metaethics, History of Ethics (Aristotle & Kant)
BSFS (Culture & Politics) Georgetown University
MA (Latin American Studies) Georgetown University
MA (Philosophy) Tufts University

Clark is a third-year student in the PhD program. His current work focuses on ethics and metaethics, with particular attention the significance of the social nature of agency. This involves looking at both the relevant contemporary literature as well as select perspectives from the history of philosophy, such as Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel. Clark also maintains interests in Latin American philosophy, bioethics, and social and political philosophy. Outside of philosophy, he enjoys spending time in the outdoors, reading literature, and doing nerdy stuff with open source software.

Madeline Eller

Contemporary Feminist Philosophy (esp. Feminist Epistemology, Theories of Autonomy, and Embodiment)
MA Syracuse University

Madeline is a first-year doctoral student at Georgetown after previously completing her MPhil in philosophy at Syracuse University. She has a background in analytic metaphysics and philosophy of mind, but her current research interests are in contemporary feminist philosophy, particularly feminist epistemology, theories of autonomy, and embodiment, and has previously published work on body shape and oppression.

Madeline currently serves as a member of Georgetown’s MAP (Minorities and Philosophy) program, as well as working with PIKSI (Philosophy in an Inclusive Key) in the past. She enjoys exploring the DMV and can sometimes be found at the 9:30 Club or Black Cat on a Friday night when she isn’t working.

Jason Farr

Ethics, Philosophy of Language, Pragmatism
BA University of Virginia
MA Northern Illinois University

Jason is a second year PhD student with primary interests in pragmatist/expressivist/anti-representational approaches to understanding normativity, objectivity, and discursive practice. He swoons for works by Brandom, Wittgenstein, Sellars, Carnap, Dewey, Thomasson, Price, etc. Other philosophical interests of Jason’s include: truth (esp. prosententialism and other deflationary views), normative ethics, and environmental and animal ethics.

Outside of philosophy, Jason enjoys hiking, identifying plants and plant communities, playing music, pondering about various personalities and their corresponding motivational structures, and eating all of the bread.

Quentin Fisher

Quentin profile photo

Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Action, Philosophy of Law
BA College of Wooster
MA Georgetown University

Quentin is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Philosophy. His research is focused primarily on the philosophy of language and early analytic philosophy (especially Frege and Wittgenstein). He also dabbles in other areas including the philosophy of law and bioethics.

In the Fall of 2018, Quentin will be a visiting fellow at the Forschungskolleg Analytic German Idealism at the University of Leipzig, Germany. In the past, Quentin served as a visiting researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Law School as well as an assistant to the Social and Political Thought course at the School of Foreign Service (Georgetown).

Ashli Godfrey

ashli godfrey photo

Feminist Philosophy, Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy
BS, Ball State University

Ashli is interested in feminist philosophy, ethics, and social epistemology. Her dissertation seeks to develop an account of the epistemic, expressive, and motivational features of moral anger. Ashli grew up in small town Indiana and attended Ball State University, where she earned a double major in Philosophy and Psychology. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and snuggling with her three pets.

Genevieve Hayman

genevieve hayman profile photo

Phenomenology, Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Mind, Metaphysics (Temporality), Feminist Philosophy
MA University College Dublin
BA University of Redlands

Genevieve is a second-year doctoral student with interests in phenomenology, cognitive science, and temporality. She completed her M.A. in philosophy through the Consciousness and Embodiment Programme at University College Dublin. Prior to this, she graduated from the University of Redlands where she designed her B.A. degree: The Tangible and Intangible Aspects of Personhood. Genevieve enjoys hiking, dancing, and playing music (drums and guitar), all of which influence her interest in embodied cognition.  She is happy to be geographically between her two families in Las Vegas and Dublin, Ireland.

McKay Holland


Moral Psychology, Social & Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind
B.A. Westminster College
M.A. Brandeis University (new window)

McKay is a fourth-year doctoral student sketching a dissertation about the social bases of agency and self-respect. He’s specifically interested in the interplay between relational conceptions of autonomy and social and environmental niche construction. He also has interests in environmental ethics, the relation between emotion and rationality, friendship, social ontology, and Spinoza.

Since 2014 McKay has served as Managing Editor of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal (KIEJ), and will continue with the journal in a support role through 2016.

McKay is a native of Salt Lake City, where he worked in politics, public education, and doing finish carpentry before relocating to the east coast. He likes to bike, run, rock climb, and when he can, waterski.

Hailey Huget

Hailey Huget

Moral / Political Philosophy
BA (Philosophy and Middle Eastern Studies), Wellesley College

Hailey is interested in moral and political philosophy, bioethics, and moral psychology. Her dissertation seeks to develop a theory of moral community. She also has interests in feminist philosophy and ancient philosophy, especially Aristotle.

Before coming to Georgetown, Hailey lived in New York and DC, working in various paralegal-type capacities. Hailey enjoys watching campy ‘80s sci-fi movies, making sushi, and eating her mistakes.

Joey Jebari

Joey Jebari

Cognitive Science, Cognitive Neuroscience, Moral Psychology, Metaethics
BA UMass Boston

Joey’s research is highly interdisciplinary. His primary focus is on figuring out how cognitive and neuroscientific research on cooperation and decision-making can inform issues in philosophy and, in particular, in ethics. As such, his research covers a relatively wide scope—ranging from the metaphysics of mind to our obligations to animals and from formal models of human evolution to experiments investigating the behavior of toddlers. Nevertheless, he swears it all hangs together somehow.

Joey also has a long-standing love of Kantian philosophy. For this reason, Kant’s insights are never far from his mind. Indeed, he considers it a win whenever he discovers that empirical research can plausibly be construed as corroborating a broadly Kantian picture, which happens surprisingly often.

Chris Kochevar

Bioethics, Legal Philosophy, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind & Language, Critical Theory
BS Yale
Chris came to Georgetown after six years of living in D.C. and working at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an attorney in the Office of the Chief Counsel, where he focused on tobacco products, controlled substances, and drug safety. He holds a J.D. from New York University and a B.S. from Yale University. He is interested in linking his prior work in public health and law to bioethics and legal and political philosophy. He’s also interested in metaphysics, philosophy of mind and language, and critical theory. He moonlights as DJ JoAnn Fabrixx.

Sara Kolmes

sara kolmes profile photo

 Bioethics, Ethics, Metaethics
BA Gonzaga University
MA Florida State University

Sara is a first year doctoral student working at the intersection of bioethics and meta-ethics. She is interested in the ways in which meta-ethical issues can impact the outcomes of real-world bioethical cases. Before coming to Georgetown, Sara did her masters coursework at Florida State University, and attended Gonzaga University as an undergraduate

Outside of philosophy, Sara enjoys science fiction, concerts, and hiking.

Elisa Reverman

Clinical ethics, bioethics, and feminist philosophy

Elisa is a PhD student interested in clinical ethics, bioethics, and feminist philosophy. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, and worked in biomedical engineering until diverting her interests to philosophy. Outside of her academic interests, she spends her time rock climbing, drawing and painting, learning ballet, and reading.

Joseph Rees

Joseph Rees

Social and Political Philosophy, European Philosophy, Moral Psychology
BA American University

Joseph’s research lies at the intersection of social and political philosophy, European philosophy, and moral psychology.  Currently, Joseph is writing a dissertation on the pragmatics of recognitive exchanges.  Specifically, he seeks to uncover and critically assess the impact of the Romantic worldview on the norms governing the bestowal of recognition as well as its solicitation in self-presentation.  This project draws from an eclectic group of sources, including theories of recognition from both historical and contemporary philosophers, speech act theory, theories of second-personal engagement, and the autobiographical writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  In the department, Joseph serves as the head of the Georgetown Philosophy Pedagogy Initiative and is also the winner of the Graduate Student Organization’s award for teaching excellence. Joseph also serves as an Editorial Assistant for the journal Ethics. In the past, he has served as the Graduate Philosophy Student Organization Representative, as the coordinator of the European Philosophy Workshop, and as an assistant to the Political & Social Thought course.  During the 2016-2017 academic year, Joseph will be serving as a Normative Orders Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Frankfurt in Germany.

Nanette Ryan

Moral and political philosophy, Metaethics
BA(Honors) Monash University
MA University of Western Ontario

Nanette is a second year doctoral student primarily interested in moral and political philosophy, and metaethics. Before coming to Georgetown she earned a Masters in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, and a Bachelor of Arts, graduating with first-class honours, from Monash University, Australia. When not consumed by philosophy Nanette enjoys exploring the world, eating good food (especially if it is made by Lorraine Ryan), and sleeping in.

Karen Rice

karen rice profile photo

Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy, Moral Psychology, Bioethics
BA (summa cum laude) William Jewell College

Karen began her graduate studies at Georgetown in 2014 and has developed interests in ethics, social and political philosophy, 20th Century European philosophy, and bioethics. She is currently shaping a dissertation project, attempting to get a critical grasp on the exit conditions of relationships, in particular focusing on the ends of conversations as a microcosm of their larger dynamics. It is important to her that her work be only, say, four steps away from affecting people’s lives, rather than 15, and she especially cares about the ways that group social identity and oppression condition the personal dimensions and interactions in our lives.

She participates with the Georgetown Philosophy MAP group, the Pedagogy Group, the Twentieth Century Europhil Workshop, and the Grad Student Coalition for Gender Diversity in Philosophy. She is also the ​editorial assistant for Faith and Philosophy, which is housed at Georgetown.

Outside of philosophy, Karen is very involved in community organizing with the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN), watches a lot of TV, overthinks everything, and tries to keep her co-parented plant babies alive.

Melayna Haley Schiff

melayna schiff photo

Social Ontology, Social Epistemology, Clinical Psychology, and 19th and 20th Century European Philosophy
BA New College of Florida

Melayna started the doctoral program in philosophy at Georgetown in August of 2016. Her research interests bridge social ontology, social epistemology, and clinical psychology, and she has a tendency to draw inspiration from figures in 19th and 20th century European philosophy. Besides her research, she is committed to her two dogs Suki and Misha who, like her, enjoy long walks in the woods and cookies.

Keyvan Shafiei

Social Ontology, Philosophy of Culture, Social Epistemology, Social and Political Philosophy
BA University of California, San Diego
MA Georgetown University

Keyvan (they/them) are a fifth-year doctoral student whose interests primarily lie at the intersection of philosophy of culture, social ontology, and political philosophy. Within this framework, Keyvan is interested in a host of issues surrounding the culture of criminal justice in the United States. They are currently developing a dissertation project that explores the cultural underpinnings of mass incarceration, and the ways in which cultures and persons epistemically and ontologically interact. More specifically, this project tackles questions about how persons are interpellated into cultures, are fundamentally made (qua persons) therein, and are possibly unmade in cases of systemic and culturally-produced disenfranchisement.

In addition to these interests, Keyvan firmly believes that hip-hop and R&B are treasure troves of philosophical insights, and they often listen to rap for philosophical clarity and inspiration. In line with these interests, they taught a course called Hip-Hop and Philosophy in 2017 at Georgetown.

Keyvan is also an International Organizer for Minorities and Philosophy (MAP), which currently has over 120 chapters worldwide, and the producer and host of the new MAP Podcast, Mapping the Gap.

Jeremy Sheehan

 Ethics, Ancient Philosophy, 19th-Century German Philosophy
BA University of Maryland, College Park

Jeremy is a first-year PhD student. He is interested in the ancient and Kantian approaches to ethics, with special interest in moral motivation – why should we care about being good people? – and the roles of reason and emotion in moral decision-making. Jeremy loves Kant and his German progeny, and he also has a soft spot for Catholic moral theology.

Outside the ivory tower, Jeremy spends his time reading Russian literature and shaking his head in disappointment at his beloved Baltimore Ravens.

Matthew Shields

Matt Shields

Philosophy of Language, Epistemology
BA Yale University

Matthew is a PhD candidate who works primarily in philosophy of language and epistemology. He also has research interests in the history of 20th-century Continental philosophy, pragmatism, philosophy of science, and Jewish and feminist philosophy. His dissertation addresses the epistemological puzzle of whether speakers can rationally resolve disagreements about concepts that play a fundamental role in how they make sense of the world. To solve this puzzle, he argues that we first need to confront the question of what speakers are doing when they defend or articulate an understanding of a concept – what kind of speech act they are performing. He argues that speakers are carrying out acts of stipulation, a speech act to which philosophers and linguists have paid little attention. He proposes a detailed account of the pragmatics of stipulation and argues that with the pragmatic structure of stipulation clarified, we can defuse the apparent epistemological worries that arise in cases of seemingly intractable, conceptual disagreement.

Matthew received his BA from Yale University magna cum laude and with distinction.

Omar Talhouk

omar talhouk bio photo

19th Century German Philosophy, Classical American Pragmatism, Epistemology, and Metaphysics
BA/MA American University of Beirut

Omar is a first-year PhD student with primary interests in 19th century German philosophy, classical American pragmatism, Epistemology, and Metaphysics. He also has a budding interest in the philosophy of law and social philosophy. Before coming to Georgetown, Omar was a part-time lecturer at his alma mater, the American University of Beirut, from which he has received both a B.A. and an M.A. in philosophy. Academic pursuits aside, Omar insists on maintaining a pseudo-career in acting, writing, and directing (for both theatre and film).

Gerald Taylor

gerald profile photo

Philosophy of Action (esp. free will, moral responsibility, and reasons),
Moral Psychology, Ethics

BA Ohio State University
MA Georgia State University

Gerald is a fourth-year doctoral student, and his current research interests lie in the philosophy of action. He hopes to write a dissertation exploring the pragmatic underpinnings of action, agency, and reasons. He has secondary interests in free will, moral psychology, ethics, and social & political philosophy.

When he isn’t philosophizing, Gerald enjoys exercising, playing and listening to music, playing a good game of chess, dancing, trying new craft beers, getting the most out of his Netflix subscription, and eating tacos.

Daniel Threet

Daniel Threet

Political Philosophy, Ethics
BA College of Charleston
MA University of Houston

Dan is a Ph.D. candidate who works primarily in social and political philosophy. His current research focuses on egalitarianism and informal social life. His dissertation explores how relational egalitarians should respond to the prospect of unintended, emergent social inequalities—disparities in power, status, and influence that may arise through informal social networks, patterns of association, and categories of esteem. He also has research interests in other areas of political, legal, and social philosophy, interpersonal ethics, and public policy. He regularly teaches political philosophy, philosophy of law, privacy, and bioethics. In his spare time, he is a very slow, very stubborn runner.

Katherine Ward

Katherine Ward 2

Phenomenology, 20th Century European Philosophy, Heidegger
BM Loyola University New Orleans
MA San Francisco State University

Katherine specializes in Phenomenology and 20th century continental thought and is particularly interested in connecting these traditions to contemporary debates in ethics and epistemology. Her current research develops a methodology called standpoint phenomenology, which explores how and why experiences from non-dominant or marginal social positions provide unique and especially rich starting points for phenomenological analysis.

In the past she has served as the coordinator of Georgetown’s 20th Century European Philosophy Workshop as well as the Graduate Philosophy Publishing Workshop. She has also been a contributing member of the Diversifying Syllabi group since its founding.

Ari Watson

Ethics, Mental Illness, Gender Philosophy, Philosophy of Race
BA Dickinson College, Philosophy
Ari is a first year PhD candidate whose central interest is currently in social philosophy. Ari has a passion for ethics and is specifically interested in de facto moral status in the United States as it relates to identity markers. This interest spans various aspects of identity including mental illness and gender.

They have a sustained interest in the philosophy of race and blossoming interests in metaphysics, bioethics, and social epistemology.

Molly Wilder

Molly Wilder2

Philosophy of Law, Ethics, Social & Political Philosophy
BA  Swarthmore College, Linguistics
MA Tufts University, Philosophy
JD Georgetown University Law Center

Molly received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 2016 and is currently working on a dissertation that brings together the professional ethics of lawyers, neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics, and feminist theories of relational autonomy. She wants to know, how can lawyers promote the autonomy of their clients, and what does autonomy mean in that context? Beyond her dissertation, Molly has varied philosophical interests, mostly in the intersection between law and ethics, including: philosophy of tort law, children’s rights, privacy law, and ethical communication. When not philosophizing, Molly enjoys reading and writing children’s fantasy, finding places to eat great vegan food, and bad puns.