Rachelle will be joining the Department for the Study of Religion as a PhD student in the fall of 2014. Her background includes an MA in International Relations with a concentration in Political Culture and Society in Southeast Asia (Waseda University) and more recently an MA in Religious Studies from Lancaster University. Her research interests are within the realm of Burmese Theravada Buddhism and include the topics of gender and Buddhism, monasticism, Abhidhamma, and Burmese Buddhism in the US. Her projected dissertation will examine how Pali and Buddhist teachings are perceived and experienced by Burmese Buddhist nuns.
Born in the Badlands of Alberta, Tony insists there are few phenomena more fascinating in the evolution of life on Earth than the emergence of human religious systems. With a literature degree and philosophy degree both at the University of Calgary, Tony also worked as a science educator at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. As a result of this mix, he entered the Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Hong Kong in 2011. At the CBS Tony focused his Master’s work on Buddhist moral-philosophical, linguistic and textual traditions in South and Southeast Asia. After reading the novel Journey to the West, after training in mindfulness and insight meditation techniques, and after marrying his beautiful wife Yumi, Tony has been accepted into the Ph.D. program in the Department for the Study of Religion, where he will work on principles of Buddhist thought, authoritative commentaries in Pali as well as on vernacular translations and expositions in Burma—all with an aim to qualify the dynamic between religious tenets and the civilizational superstructures within which they survive.