Class of 2016 Grad Student Bios

Here are the student biographies of the full-time M.A. students in American Studies.

David Loeffler mugDavid Loeffler was born and raised in a small town just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He received his BA in English and history from Washington & Jefferson College, situated in southwestern Pennsylvania, in 2014. David’s research interests center on race, ethnicity, and culture, specifically how and where they are constructed. He is especially focused on the relationship between Euro-Americans and Native Americans, paying close attention to visual, historical, and literary representations. Outside of academia, David enjoys relaxing with his family and friends. He also appreciates a good cup of coffee and the latest issue of The New York Times.

Maggie Mullen mug

Maggie Mullen is a fourth-generation Wyomingite, coming from a family of educators and craftswomen and men. She earned a BA in English and French from the University of Wyoming, where she also studied abroad at the Université de Caen Basse-Normandie. Since then, Maggie has lived in San Francisco and worked for 826 Valencia as a creative writing tutor in secondary schools in the Bay Area. Her research interests are extensive but all seem to involve different forms of storytelling and the narrative — oral history, person-centered ethnography, folklore, southern foodways, cinema and television studies, in addition to interdisciplinary approaches to education. When not occupied with a book or Vogue, Maggie enjoys writing short fiction and poetry, cooking for friends and family, bicycling, thrifting, traveling by car or plane, and daydreaming about the day she will finally be able to own a puppy dog.

Kyle Byron mug

Kyle Byron is originally from Kalamazoo, MI, where he attended Western Michigan University and received a BA in Philosophy and Comparative Religion and an MA in Comparative Religion, focusing on religion in the Americas. Kyle came to the University of Wyoming with his trusty cat Pippin to develop an understanding of religion in the contemporary United States through the lens of sensory and material culture studies. He is currently doing fieldwork in Wyoming and Colorado for a thesis that seeks to understand the practices of street preachers as they relate to public audiences and the built urban environment.

Chuck Adams mug

Chuck Adams is from Astoria, Oregon. He has BA’s in Art & Design and English & Writing from Southern Oregon University. Since graduating in 2006, he has worked for three years as an arts and culture editor at the Eugene Weekly, led youth conservation crews for several seasons in the Pacific Northwest and North Dakota, coached high school cross country and track, taught English at a TV station in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, WWOOF’ed on a farm in New Zealand, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer for two years in Kaffa, “the birthplace of coffee,” in southwest Ethiopia. To date he has visited over 20 countries, poorly comprehends five different languages, and continues to seek international experiences that enrich his American perspective. His thesis, “Where Are You Go: The Isolation / Oscillation of the Peace Corps Volunteer,” interweaves memoir, travelogue, cultural geography, and ethnography to explore a select group of Peace Corps volunteers’ relationships to their physical, social, and cultural landscapes. Email:

Maxine Vandevarst mug crop

Maxine Vande Vaarst is a proud second-year graduate student in American Studies. She has traveled 1,766 miles of I-80 roadway to come to Laramie from the great(est) state of New Jersey, with interim stops in Indiana and Colorado. She holds a BA in history and English from Purdue University and her primary academic passions include regional ethnography, spatial identity, Americana and the study of communal folk narrative. In addition to these classroom pursuits, Maxine is a writer of short fiction and the founding editor of the quarterly online arts journal Buffalo Almanack. She loves her football, her family and her wife, but maybe not in that order.

Evan Townsend mug

Evan Townsend was born n’ raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee and earned his BFA concentrating in sculpture from East Tennessee State University in 2011. Since then, he has lived in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Ohio,  North Carolina, Montana, and now Wyoming! Through his travels, he worked with conservation corps, professional trail crews, and environmental education centers. Because of an interest in art, history, conservation, environmental education and service learning, Evan is pursuing a double MA in American Studies and Environment and Natural Resources. These interests have led him to a thesis exploring the history of civic tree planting in southern Wyoming. When he is not reading and writing, Evan is off exploring the West’s mountains, rivers, canyons, and deserts or…cleaning his cat’s’ litter box. Email: