Alumni and Emeritus Faculty


SANAA AHMED (2014) is a Planning Staff Member in the Glass Business Planning Department at the Tokyo headquarters of Central Glass. 

ZEBA AHMED (2014) is a Coordinator for Northside Leadership Conference in Pittsburgh, PA.

REIKO ATSUMI  (1975) is Professor Emeritus at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.
NYRI BAKKALIAN (2017), completed her PhD in the History Department, Supervised by Evelyn S. Rawski (History). Dissertation Title: "The Sparrow's Dream: The Meiji Revolution and Local Self-Assertion in Northeastern Japan"
SHALMIT BEJARANO (2010) recieved a PhD in History of Art and Architecture. Supervised by Karen M. Gerhart. Lecturer at Hebrew Univesity and Tel Aviv University.
BLAINE CONNOR (2010) is Associate Service Fellow (Behavioral Scientist) in the Human Factors Branch, Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
DEBORAH CORDERO FIEDLER (1996) is a Professional Midwife.
WENDE DIKEC (1989) is an award winning author of Young Adult Fiction and Adult Romance. Her most recent novel Saying Goodbye Part One (2016) has been dedicated to the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh.


MIKIKO HIRAYAMA (2001) is Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies at the University of Cincinnati.
GEOFREY HOLLINGER (2017) received his BA in Marketing and Japanese.
DAVID JORTNER (2003) is Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre Arts at Baylor University.
OLIVER JIA (2019) majored in Japanese with a minor in Creative Writing and certificate in Asian Studies. In 2016, he was awarded the SEALS Full Tuition Remission Scholarship which was used towards Pitt's Summer Intensive Japanese program. In 2017, Oliver succesfully interviewed for and completed a summer internship with Central Glass in Ube, Yamgauchi Prefecture while also receiving the Mitsubishi Undergradute Study in Japan Scholarship which was applied towards tuition at Konan University during Pitt's Year in Japan studying abroad program in Kobe. From 2015 to 2017, he was a student intern of the Asian Studies Center and worked in the NCTA Japan Studies office from 2018 to 2019. Oliver is now a graduate student at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto studying international relations on the MEXT scholarship.
SATSUKI KAWANO (1997) is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
KAORU O. KENDIS (1979) is formerly of the Japanese American Museum of Los Angeles. 
MASATO KIKUCHI, (1995). Associate Professor, School of Modern Languages, Georgia Institute of Technology. 


GABRIELLE LEE (2017) received her BA in Japanese Language and Literature with a minor in Classics and in 2018 received a Master's in Library and Information Science from the School of Computing and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently a Japanese cataloger at The Ohio State University Library.

JUNGEUN LEE, (2017). PhD in History of Art & Architecture. Supervised by Karen M. Gerhart (History of Art & Architecture). Dissertation Title: “Formal Decoration and Display at Ashikaga Shogunal Residences" Currently a Visiting Professor, Hongik University, Seoul, Korea.
ABBY RACHAEL MARGOLIS (2002) is in Marketing research in Barcelona, Spain.
ROBERT MARRA (1986) is Former Executive Director & President of the National Association of Japan-America Societies.  Now a business consultant. 
ROBERT C. MARSHALL (1981) is Professor Emeritus and former Chair, Department of Anthropology at Western Washington University.
NAOKO GUNJI (2007) recieved a PhD in History of Art and Architecture. Supervised by Karen M. Gerhart. An Assistant Professor, Art History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
YUKI MORIMASA (2013) recieved a PhD in History of Art and Architecture. Supervised by Karen M. Gerhart. Currently the Assistant Curator of Japanese Art at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.
MARGARET (LISA) MURPHY (2006) is assistant to the Provost at the University of Pittsburgh.
PAUL NOGUCHI (1977) is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and former Head, Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bucknell University.
CHIMUANYA OSUOHA (2017) is a researched assistant at William and Mary Law School. She majored in Japanese and Psychology and receieved a Foreign Language and Area Studies Scholarship for the 2016-2017 academic year from the Asian Studies Center. She also received a Summer Foreign Language and Area Studies Scholarship for study abroad in Yokohama, Japan. 
SUSAN ZITTERBART (2005) (Deceased) recieved her PhD in History of Art and Architecture. Supervised by Karen M. Gerhart.
TAMIKO ORTEGA NOLL (2004) is an instructor in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
BENJAMIN J. PACHTER (2013) is now the Executive Director of the Japan-America Society of Central Ohio. He completed his PhD in Ethnomusicology and is a taiko drum specialist. 

BENEDICT PERRINO (1977) is personnel officer of a California bank.

LINDA L. PERRY (1976) is a retired Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Pennsylvania State University. 
AMANDA ROBINSON (2017), Supervised by Gabriella Lukacs (Anthropology), completed her dissertation on the booming healing business in contemporary Japan. She has done extensive fieldwork in cat cafes that she analyzes as responses to the shifting place of youth in a deregulated labor market.
ALISON SABOLCIK (2017) double majored in Japanese and Italian and was awarded a Japan Summer Fellowship from the Asian Studies Center in summer 2016 to to study with IES Abroad in Tokyo. 
RAKA SARKAR (2018) received a double major in Art History and Japanese, a double minor in Museum Studies and Classics, and an Asian Studies Certificate. In 2015, she was awarded the Honors College's Research Fellowship in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, where she began preliminary work examining premodern Japanese handscrolls. She was then awarded the Honors College's Spring Brackenridge Award to pursue an independent project examining the evolution of tengu in Japanese Art. The summer of 2017, she was awarded the Summer Foreign Language and Area Studies Award to pursue intensive language study at the KCJS Summer Program in Kyoto. She is currently purusing her masters degree at the University of Chicago.
ERIC C. SHINER (1994) is the Artistic Director of White Cube Gallery in New York as of fall 2018. He was formerly the Senior Vice President of Private Sales for Sotheby's Fine Art Division. He is also the former Director of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA.

MARK TANKOSICH (1991) is Assistant Professor at the Hiroshima University of Economics.

JOHN W. TRAPHAGAN (1997) is Associate Chair and Professor of Religious Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, where he also is a professor in the Human Dimensions of Organizations program.
GEORGE (KEN) VICKERY (2005) is Director of External Fellowships at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
HIDEO WATANABE (2000) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages and Cultures at William Patterson University.
KEVIN J. WETMORE (1997) is Professor and Chair of Theatre Arts at Loyola Marymount University.
JEROME WHITE (JERO) (2003) is an enka singer in Japan. He won the Best New Artist Award in the 50th Japan Record Awards in 2008.
LESLIE WILLIAMS (1997), (deceased) was formerly Director of the East Asian Program and Associate Professor of Japanese, Department of Languages at Clemson University, in Clemson, South Carolina
MITSUHIRO YOSHIDA (1997) is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Research Institute of Japanese Studies, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan.
SARA SUMPTER (2016) has a PhD in History of Art and Architecture. Supervised by Karen M. Gerhart. Dissertation title: "The Socio-Political Function of  Japanese 'Vengeful Spirit' Handscrolls, 1150-1230." Currently an Editor, Translator, & Independent Scholar. 
ELIZABETH SELF (2017) PhD in History of Art and Architecture. Supervised by Karen M. Gerhart (History of Art & Architecture). Dissertation Title: “Creating Women's Identities in a Turbulent Era: The Art and Architecture of the Asai Sisters in Early Modern Japan ”
PEMARATANA SOORAKKULAME (2017) is currently chief abbot of the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center, offering workshops on meditation and providing spiritual counseling.
JUNG HUI KIM (2018) PhD in History of Art & Architecture. Supervised by Karen Gerhart. Currently a Lecturer, Art History, Seoul National University, Korea  
ELIZABETH MORRISSEY (2018) PhD in History of Art & Architecture. Supervised by Karen Gerhart.
AMANDA ROBINSON (2018) PhD in Anthropology. Supervised by Gabriella Lukacs.
IEVA TRETJUKA (2018) PhD in Anthropology. Supervised by Gabriella Lukacs.
LAUREN SEALY KRISHNAMURTI (2019) PhD in Anthropology. Supervised by Gabriella Lukacs and Tomas Matza.
ANDREA RADZIMINSKI (2020) received her BA from Pitt in Japanese and History, along with her Interdisciplinary Master of Arts in East Asian Studies. 
CAROLYN WARGULA (2020) PhD in History of Art & Architecture. Supervised by Karen Gerhart. Dissertation: "Embodying the Buddha: The Presence of Women in Japanese Buddhist Hair Embroideries, 1200-1700". Currently a visiting assistant professor at Williams College in Massachusetts.



Emeritus Faculty

L. KEITH BROWN (Professor of Anthropology and UCIS Research Professor Emeritus): McDonalds opened a store in 1997 in Mizusawa,, a provincial town of 60,000 people in the Tohoku region of Japan 300 miles north of Tokyo, or two hours thirty-two minutes by the latest bullet train.  Rather than being a harbinger of the destruction of local culture and a dehumanizing of the society as the book The McDonaldization of Society and much of the neoliberal literature would suggest, my research spanning 54 years of nearly annual visits to Mizusawa reveals an unabated continuation of the basic culture and a persistence of the patterns of social interactions and relations that I observed when I first arrived in Mizusawa in the fall of 1961.  Though the life styles have dramatically changed, in large measure because of the pervasive nature of car culture and wage labor, the religious, family, and community concerns that were important to the Mizusawa people in 1961 remain important to them today.  My current project consists of a controlled comparison of a farming community, a merchant neighborhood, and a “salaryman” neighborhood, all within the confines of Mizusawa.  The differences of those three neighborhoods are predictable in terms of household composition and community life, even though their basic culture in terms of values, symbols and meanings is shared.
KAREN M. GERHART (Professor Emerita, History of Art & Architecture): I research and teach on a wide range of topics in the history of art and architecture in pre-modern Japan. My research interests are in the relationship between art and social function, and art and ritual. I am working on reconstructing the death practices and associated visual culture of women in medieval Japan. Recent book publications include The Material Culture of Death in Medieval Japan (2009) and The Eyes of Power: Art and Early Tokugawa Authority (1999) and articles on the influence of Chinese iconography, issues of patronage and travel, and the use of images in ritual context. I teach both undergraduate courses and topically organized graduate seminars.
AKIKO HASHIMOTO (Professor Emerita, Sociology): My areas of interest are cultural sociology, comparative and global sociology, collective memory and national identity, generational and cultural change, family and education, aging and social policy, East Asia, Western Europe, and North America. My published books are Imagined Families, Lived Families: Culture and kinship in contemporary Japan (SUNY Press, 2008),  The Gift of Generations: Japanese and American Perspectives on Aging and the Social Contract (Cambridge University Press, 1996), and Family Support for the Elderly: The International Experience (Oxford University Press, 1992). The Long Defeat: Cultural Trauma, Memory, and Identity in Japan will be published in 2015.
ANN B. JANNETTA (Professor Emerita, History): She is the author of Epidemics and Morality in Tokugawa Japan: 1600-1868 (Princeton University Press,1983), The Vaccinators: Smallpox, Medical Knowledge, and the "Opening" of Japan ( Stanford University Press, 2007)  and many other publications concerning Japan's history of medicine and disease as well as Japan's demographic history. 
J. THOMAS RIMER (Professor Emeritus, East Asian Languages and Literatures): I came to Japanese studies in what would be these days a rather usual way. I had been an English major in college back in the 1950s and had had no contact with the Far East at all until I was drafted into the Army after the Korean War and sent to Sapporo in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. Talk about extended culture shock—and I assure you that I remain as fascinated, and surprised, by Japan now as I was fifty years ago. Because I lived and worked there, I began to pursue the same interests I had back at home—I loved music and the theatre, and literature as well. It was only after what might be called this “practical exposure” that I decided to go to graduate school and actually take up the formal study of Japanese culture. It was a very exciting surprise to discover the high quality of artistic and cultural life in Japan, which I learned to appreciate even more as I learned the language and studied literature and history, and it has been a pleasure for me to explore those avenues of understanding for several decades now. I’ve published a good deal on a variety of topics, and now I’m working with a colleague to put together an anthology of modern Japanese literature, the first volume of which should appear next year from Columbia University Press. I’m also working on a biography on one of Japanese’s most creative twentieth-century stage directors, Senda Koreya. So much to do and so little time!
MAE J. SMETHURST (Professor Emerita, Classics): Mae J. Smethurst was Professor of Classics. She was a Junior Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C., where she began her work on the comparison of Greek tragedy and Japanese noh.

In 1989 she published her book, The Artistry of Aeschylus and Zeami: A Comparative Study of Greek Tragedy and Noh, which has received the AAUP Arisawa Memorial Award. She has published articles as well on the subject of Greek tragedy and the comparison of tragedy and noh. She published the book, Dramatic Representations of Filial Piety, in 2000, and was awarded a Japan-United States Friendship Commission Prize by Columbia University's Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture.  In 2003 she edited a book entitled The Noh Ominameshi: A Flower Viewed From Many Directions. Her main interests are ancient literary theory, drama, lyric poetry and comparative theatre. In 2019, she authored an essay entitled, "Greek Tragedy Produced in Japan," for the program of Satoshi Miyagi's Antigone, produced at the Park Avenue Armory in New York from September 26 to October 6, 2019.

RICHARD J. SMETHURST (Professor Emeritus, History): I am studying the origins of Japan’s World War II in Asia. This was the subject of my recent conference, Japan’s War in Asia: 70 Years Later. Why did Japan go to war in 1937 with a country with a population seven times its, and when that war was not won, attack a country with an industrial capacity nine times its?

I have begun a project to study the modern history of the nô theatre in modern Japan. How did a theatre form that was closely associated with the feudal order before the Meiji Restoration, revive itself in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries?  My study will look into such subjects as the relationship of the leading schools of nô actors to the imperial family and the new Japanese nationalism, their finances, their internal politics, and their dealings with the international theatre and art world. As part of this project, I have headed a team at the University of Pittsburgh to create a website of the woodblock prints of Tsukioka Kogyo (1869-1927) of noh theatre subjects. The website can be accessed through the following web address:

I am also studying the Japanese industrial policy debate of 1884-6. I am particularly interested in the developmental ideas of Maeda Masana, who advocated growing the economy by modernizing traditional industries that produced consumer goods for export and domestic consumption, and by depending on local, not central initiatives and planning. If his ideas had prevailed and Japan had developed from the bottom up rather than from the top down with an emphasis on building military power, might prewar Japan have developed in a more democratic way and avoided World War II?