The Harris Center for Judaic Studies has just begun its graduate affiliate program. University of Nebraska graduate students working on research related to Jewish Studies, broadly conceived, are welcome to contact the Center about becoming an affiliate at

Mikal Brotnov

Mikal BrotnovPh.D. Student, History

Mikal Brotnov's work focuses on two marginalized groups: Jews and Native Americans on the Great Plains, 1863-1910. This work examines how geography shaped interactions between these two groups in both rural and urban spaces. He has delivered two conference papers: "Locating Lemkin: Historiography, Concepts and the Problem of Genocide," and "Through the Lemkin Lens: Squatter Imperialism in Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) Country."

Mikal interned at the National Museum of the American Indian-Smithsonian in the Education Department in 2009 and worked as a research assistant for Professor Deborah Dwork, creating digital images of 3,000 original letters written by children and their parents separated during the Holocaust. He currently works under Dr. Margaret Jacobs as a Graduate Research Assistant focusing on issues stemming from indigenous adoption. He is a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholar, a Jack Kent Cooke Continuing Graduate Scholar, a Steinbrecher Fellow, a Belfer Fund for Scholars of Holocaust Studies recipient, and a Rosenberg-Ibarra scholar from the Pride Foundation. In addition, he is the recipient of the 2012 Center for Judaic Studies Graduate Research Grant.

Brian Gribben

Brian GribbenPh.D. Student, History

Brian Gribben is specializing in Modern Germany and Holocaust Studies after a brief dalliance studying agrarian populist movements on the Great Plains. His research interests include the denazification and reconstruction in the western zones of occupation in postwar Germany. He received his B.A. in political science in 2000, his B.A. in history in 2008, and his M.A. in 2010 from Fort Hays State University.

Brian’s Master’s thesis, “Weighted Scales: American Newspaper Coverage of the Trial of the Major War Criminals at Nuremberg,” examines the first Nuremberg trial’s depiction in the American press and identifies biases reflective of each publication’s ideological affiliation. The thesis received the 2010-2011 Award for Outstanding Thesis/Field Study from Fort Hays State University Graduate School.

Brian Igoe

Brian IgoeM.A. Student, History

Brian Igoe is studying the Holocaust under Dr. Gerald Steinacher. Currently he is conducting research for his thesis, which will deal with the German administrators of factories that used slave labor from concentration camps during World War II. He intends to explore issues of legal versus moral guilt, the day-to-day actions of civilian administrators at such a factory and how they interacted with the concentration camp administration, and the role of the United States in both prosecuting war criminals and using German scientists after the war who were involved in slave labor during the war. Brian interned at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the Museum Services Department and served as a tour guide for the special exhibition "State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda.”

Robie J. Sprouse

Robie J. SprouseM.A. Student, Political Science

Robie Sprouse's areas of focus are in Political Theory and Comparative Politics. His research interests include immigration and education policy in the United States. Robie is currently working on an interdisciplinary social study project related to the Holocaust and how it is taught in schools. This project involves faculty from the Education, History, and Political Science Departments.

Robie completed his Bachelors in 2010 at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. His undergraduate thesis was on the psychological effects of standardized tests on fourth and fifth graders in Florida. When not studying for classes he enjoys studying South African History, the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, and the Holocaust. As with everything, he is particularly fascinated by the roles of immigration and education policy within these subjects.

Shayla Swift

Shayla SwiftPh.D. Student, History

Shayla Swift's primary research interests include the Holocaust and its impact on Jewish participation in the US Civil Rights movement and South Africa's anti-Apartheid movement. She has previously done work in the fields of Modern Europe and Comparative World history. More specifically, she worked on the Holocaust and the politics of memory, including the impact of decolonization and the Cold War on the development of Holocaust consciousness. In addition, after receiving her B.A. she worked in the office of Survivor Affairs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

In her doctoral research, Shayla explores the way in which Atlanta's Jewish community responded to the civil rights movement as compared with Cape Town's community response to the struggle against Apartheid. As well, she is looking at the influence of the politics of memory and international pressures (like the UN, human rights, and Israel) on those responses. In both the United States and South Africa, Jews are a minority population, and yet, in both of these social justice movements Jews accounted for the majority of white participation. That is not to say that the entire Jewish populations of Atlanta and Cape Town were activists. An equal percent actively opposed equality as supported it, of course, and most of the community remained neutral. However, given the frequency with which both movements rhetorically drew on the memory of the Holocaust, even those Jews who remained caught up in their own affairs were dragged into the struggles at least tangentially.