Anna’s contributions to the IU and Bloomington communities could fill a book. Faculty in units ranging across Geography, English, Journalism, and Religious Studies (to mention a few) sing Anna’s praises and routinely put her name forward for any and all nominations for awards and honors that cross their desks. She has added much to the vibrancy of the IU and Bloomington communities through her editorial work at Bloom Magazine and her competent oversight of many aspects of “First Thursdays,” a monthly festival that showcases the arts and humanities at IU and in the larger community. I believe that I first met Anna when, in her leadership capacity for the Undergraduate Religious Studies Association (URSA), she invited a group of Religious Studies faculty to participate in a discussion with students about the ins and outs of book writing and publishing. The fact that Anna, early in her undergraduate career, was so interested in the process of writing and publishing books says a lot about her seriousness as a scholar. Anna became a leader in URSA, organizing events, lectures, movie nights, and other activities that bring students together and, on occasion, bring students and faculty together as well.
I really got to know Anna in my graduate/undergraduate seminar called “The God Species: Ethics in the Anthropocene.” The semester culminated in a conference I organized on the same theme. The conference attracted national and international speakers, and featured prominent keynote scholars. But an especially well-attended and widely discussed panel featured Anna and two other students from the seminar. The audience was riveted. The scholarship she presented—which focused on the potentially problematic implications and impacts of unfettered human creativity for the natural world--continues to shape my own current research on what it means to be human at a moment when our species is transforming an entire planet. I’ve been honored and thrilled to work with Anna over the past year on her award-winning senior thesis, focused on the Zero Waste environmental movement as a modern form of asceticism led by a cadre of female practitioners (a fuller description is available here). Anna needed little guidance; she understands almost intuitively how to master a large and complicated body research, distill it into a novel and creative thesis, and present it with her trademark writerly flair. Her work embodies all the virtues of a rigorous liberal arts education and the fruits of a genuinely curious mind. For all her seriousness as a thinker and writer, Anna is a delightful person with an infectious and disarming sense of humor, and a feel for the absurd. She has left an indelible impression on the Religious Studies faculty and Indiana University. We all look forward to the next phase of Anna’s life and career.
– Professor Lisa Sideris