Strong A(s) F(eminist) Scholars
Meet the scholars who have organized this Strong A(s) F(eminist) conference. Feel free to contact the scholars to discuss their research.
Noelle Brigden, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
Social Media Handles: IG: lahormiga777
Preferred Sport: Powerlifting Sport Has Always Wanted to Try But Hasn't: Competitive Rock Climbing or Mountaineering What She is Most Excited for with the Strong A(s) F(eminist) Conference: Strengthening an intersectional feminist community that bridges academic discussion and the practice of sports. Biography: Dr Brigden's research and teaching interests include human security, international relations, borders, transnational migration, criminal and political violence, gender, the politics of the body, fieldwork ethics, and political ethnography. Her book, The Migrant Passage: Clandestine Journeys from Central America (Cornell University Press 2018), winner of the Yale Ferguson Award, explores violence and survival strategies along Central American migratory routes crossing Mexico, and their implications for the nation-state. Her work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, International Studies Perspectives, International Studies Review, Mobilities, Antipode, Migration Studies, International Journal for Migration and Border Studies, and Geopolitics. Dr. Brigden is the president of a 501c3, called Pesas y Poder, that promotes gender equity, community empowerment, and collective healing from trauma through the practice of strength sports in El Salvador. Finally, she partnered with the Milwaukee Turners to pioneer embodied empowerment programs for Milwaukee women with friends and family currently in prison or jail. This trauma-informed project, called Restorative Justice in Movement, addresses the intersections of gendered and racial oppression in the body, as well as the family and community impact of mass incarceration.
Alison Efford, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of History
Social Media Handles: Twitter: @alison_efford
Preferred Sport: I don't want to claim any...just yet Sport Has Always Wanted to Try But Hasn't: Climbing What She is Most Excited for with the Strong A(s) F(eminist) Conference: The challenge of locating the connections between embodied experiences and the history of power. Biography: I am a historian of immigration to the United States who has previously published on on the connections between white immigration and US race politics. Researching my first book, German Immigrants, Race, and Citizenship in the Civil War Era led me to explore questions of immigrant emotions and the connections between mind and body. I have just co-edited (with Viktorija Bilic) a volume documenting a passionate, cohabiting romantic friendship between two women, a German American feminist and a Yankee abolitionist. My main project at the moment focuses on exploring suicide and immigrant emotions around 1900. As a board member for the Milwaukee Turners, I am interested re-interpreting the history of an athletic organization previously dominated by by German American men to serve a wider range of people. Working with a team including Milwaukee Turners and Noelle Bridgen, I am exploring embodied empowerment. I have plans to involve high schoolers and community members in the task of interpreting the history of women and African Americans in the physical culture of the Turners and their downtown Milwaukee neighborhood.
Social Media Handles: upandup.andup
Preferred Sport: Powerlifting Sport Has Always Wanted to Try But Hasn't: Acrobatics What She is Most Excited for with the Strong A(s) F(eminist) Conference: To lift with strong af women Biography: I fell in love with powerlifting in 2016, using the lessons I learned from the barbell to help navigate my transition out of academia and start my own business as a writer, editor and book coach. Five years later, it's become a way for me to strengthen my mind-body connection, allowing me to deepen my relationship with my friends, family, clients & with nature.
Melissa Forbis, PhD
Department of Anthropology
Social Media Handles: IG: @lamaliciabkln
Preferred Sport: Powerlifting and soccer Sport Has Always Wanted to Try But Hasn't: Biathlon. It's such a strange combination of sports -- skiing and shooting. Archery is a close second. What She is Most Excited for with the Strong A(s) F(eminist) Conference: I'm looking forward to connecting with other scholars who see sports as an important area for feminist research, and for the installation where we get to talk theory as we actually lift some weights with attendees! Biography: I am a cultural anthropologist with a research focus on social movements, gender, race, indigenous autonomy, and state violence primarily in Mexico and Latin America. I have a deep interest in theorizing and developing engaged and collaborative research methodologies. My interest in sports studies grew out of my work and research with the Zapatista movement in Mexico and the intersection of transnational soccer networks for social justice and solidarity activism there. I’m interested in how sports practices can open spaces for developing community and creating social change. My work has been published in the US, Mexico, Chile and Korea. My decades-long community work includes issues such as sexual and gender violence and immigrant rights. I’m also a strength coach and interested in developing programs to use sports for community organizing.
Katie Rose Hejtmanek, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
Social Media Handles: IG: @maxesandprs
Academic Website and Barbend
Preferred Sport: Weightlifting Sport Has Always Wanted to Try But Hasn't: Equestrian sports! I love that they include interspecies athleticism! I so enjoyed watching them during Tokyo 2020 What She is Most Excited for with the Strong A(s) F(eminist) Conference: I'm most excited about the installation where we will move through our analytic frameworks. Biography: I am a cultural anthropologist with a research focus on cultural processes of self-cultivation, embodiment, racialization, and power. My research has taken me to a mental institution for children, CrossFit gyms, strength sports collectives and teams, and, most recently, communities of optimization and anti-aging medicine. I'm interested in how daily practices, thoughts, and emotions, cultural frameworks and ideology, and structures of power shape one another. I've done research in the USA, India, Australia, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Alessia Mastrorillo, PhD Candidate
PhD Candidate, Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies
University of Ottawa
Social Media Handles: IG: @alessismore, Twitter: @lessmastrorillo
Preferred Sport: CrossFit Sport Has Always Wanted to Try But Hasn't: Rugby What She is Most Excited for with the Strong A(s) F(eminist) Conference: To collaborate with scholars who have a mutual desire to discover the potential sport holds for feminist and political theorizing. Biography: I am a PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa at the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies. My doctoral work examines the relationship between trauma and subjectivity at the loci of healing practices and survivorship for queer childhood trauma survivors. Using a queer phenomenological and critical disability studies lens, my project seeks to recalibrate the pathologizing links between childhood trauma and queer identity to make queerness and trauma intelligible as sites of possibility. My broader research interests are feminist trauma studies, queer theory, femme theory, sociology of sport, feminist and cultural theories of emotion, and critical madness studies. Beyond my academic work, I spend my time exercising and coaching part-time at my local CrossFit box, CrossFit NCR, writing spoken-word poetry, and listening to 2000s pop-punk. I am passionate about early bedtimes, emotional vulnerability, and hand-written notes.
Val Moyer, PhD Candidate
PhD Candidate, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Stony Brook University, SUNY
Social Media Handles: Twitter: @Val_moyer
Preferred Sport: Distance running, sprint triathlons, lifting (for training purposes!), surfing (for fun!) Sport Has Always Wanted to Try But Hasn't: Beach Volleyball What She is Most Excited for with the Strong A(s) F(eminist) Conference: I'm excited to collaborate in person with so many feminist scholars working on strength sports! I'm also stoked for demonstrations and lifting together! Biography: I’m a PhD candidate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Stony Brook University. My dissertation analyzes recent policies regulating women’s testosterone levels in elite track and field. Using feminist surveillance studies, sciences studies, and disability studies frameworks, I critically analyze the Olympic, Paralympic, and World Athletics testing procedures and recent policy decisions, arguing for a gender expansive and inclusive future in women’s athletics. My chapter in Strong A(s) F(eminist) extends this critique to trans exclusive rules in the world of strength sports, arguing against the idea that trans women’s muscularity is a “threat” to women’s competitive lifting. I am also a former NCAA division I distance runner – and, I’m excited to be lifting more (and better) than I ever did during my collegiate athletic career!
Monica Nelson, Incoming PhD Candidate
Incoming PhD Candidate, Te Huataki Waiora School of Health
University of Waikato
Social Media Handles: Twitter: @mcmoniker
Preferred Sport: Olympic Weightlifting Sport Has Always Wanted to Try But Hasn't: Indoor climbing - looks terrifying but sounds fun! What She is Most Excited for with the Strong A(s) F(eminist) Conference: I cannot wait to spend time with a group of strong, brilliant women who think strength sports are just as interesting as I do! Biography: Monica Nelson (M.A. Kinesiology, University of Maryland) is an incoming doctoral student to the University of Waikato Te Huataki Waiora School of Health. Reflecting her long-term and multifaceted involvement in Olympic Weightlifting—as an athlete, coach, and a member of international media—her research interests are centered around critical cultural examination of strength sports, with a special focus on gender. As a Masters student, Monica’s research explored the sociocultural construction of athletic bodies in Olympic Weightlifting. Through in-depth interviews about the weight-class choices of competitive weightlifters, she analyzed how strength athletes manipulate the physiological principles behind bodyweight and strength to balance contradictory athletic and aesthetic goals. Her analysis of the gendered and cultured dynamics of strength athletes’ weight classes will be published in the edited volume Strong A(s) F(eminist) and the academic journal Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. In her forthcoming doctoral research, Monica plans to build upon her previous work by utilizing a transdisciplinary approach to examine the physiological impact of sociocultural pressures on female strength athletes' athletic development.
Cara Ocobock, PhD
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Affiliated Faculty in Gender Studies
University of Notre Dame
Social Media Handles: Twitter: @caraocobock
Preferred Sport: Powerlifting, and starting archery, played Rugby in grad school Sport Has Always Wanted to Try But Hasn't: The Highland Games What She is Most Excited for with the Strong A(s) F(eminist) Conference: I cannot wait to spend time with a group of strong, brilliant women who think strength sports are just as interesting as I do! Biography: Ocobock's research focuses on how humans physiologically and behaviorally acclimatize and adapt to extremes of physical activity and environment. My work has taken me from the Rocky Mountains to the Arctic Circle where I have worked with outdoor enthusiasts, runners taking part in a cross-country foot race, and reindeer herders in Finland. I am an avid powerlifter who loves bringing anthropology to sport and sport to anthropology. I have also organized and participated in numerous science outreach efforts. Her field work in Finland among reindeer herders focuses on modern human biocultural adaptations to cold climates and the physical work of herding reindeer. She has also conducted research among marathoners, cross country runners, and hockey players as well as writing several pieces for Sapiens on sexism in sports. She has organized and participated in countless science outreach efforts, and in her spare time, is an avid powerlifter.
Social Media Handles: @storiesnotselfies , @lift4life_worldwid
Preferred Sport: Powerlifting Sport Has Always Wanted to Try But Hasn't: Surfing What She is Most Excited for with the Strong A(s) F(eminist) Conference: I've been away from the University setting playing more a practitioner role for the past 4 years, so I'm excited to be back in an academic setting. Being surrounded by curious, passionate, and intelligent people (who also happen to be super strong!) is pure awesome. Biography: Hi! My name is Nicola, and I’m a 26 year old 57kg powerlifter that’s had the opportunity to represented Team Canada around the world. Beyond my passion for lifting big weights, I hold a dual-Masters Degree in International Humanitarian Action and Peace & Conflict studies and I’m passionate about using strength sports within the humanitarian field. My research includes studying grassroots gyms in Zimbabwe and powerlifting’s space within the humanitarian context. From nutrition and health, employment and livelihood opportunities, addressing crime and substance abuse, and more, I believe strength training is a powerful tool to build stronger communities. Since 2017 I’ve been putting my research into action as a practitioner, and I currently lead the charity Lift4Life Worldwide. To date in partnership with local communities we have locally built and established 6 community gym spaces, and continuously offer free grassroots strength training programming to address community identified needs. COVID-19 was a unique opportunity to use the gym space to address more immediate needs with gym projects expanding to include chicken farms and community gardens. I’m forever looking to learn, share, and get stronger (in both brains and under the barbell!), and connect with other curious strength enthusiasts.
Lorin Shellenberger, PhD
Preferred Sport: former collegiate track and field athlete (100 meter hurdles); currently lift (for fun), ride horses, play volleyball, and stand up paddleboard (SUP) Sport Has Always Wanted to Try But Hasn't: Water skiing? I always wished I had tried the heptathlon in college, thought that's technically not a new *sport* for me. What She is Most Excited for with the Strong A(s) F(eminist) Conference: Talking about new issues in sport like the the NCAA's NIL rule and discussing how we continue to negotiate issues of sport and gender! And, let's be honest, getting away from my kids for a little while! :) Biography: I earned my Ph.D in Rhetoric and Writing from Virginia Tech, where I taught first year composition and served as the editorial assistant for the Minnesota review. My research interests include embodied rhetorics, sports studies, feminist theory, classical rhetoric, and Kenneth Burke, and my work is featured in Keywords in Writing Studies, Textual Overtures, Peitho, and Women's Ways of Making. I currently teach sports media communication, communication studies, and first year writing. Recent projects include “Imagining an Embodied Ethos: Serena Williams’ Black Ethe,” “Building an Embodied Ethos: Performances of Ethos in Elite Female Athletes,” and “Fit to Mother: Risk and Self-Care in the Pregnant Strength Athlete.” I'm also a former collegiate track and field athlete.