Ph.D. Students


Constantine Lignos


Field: Tibetan and Chinese History
Advisors: Gray Tuttle and Jacob Dalton (UC Berkeley)
Email: cjl2212@columbia.edu

Constantine is a PhD student on the History-East Asia track. His research focuses on constructing an historical narrative of Tibetan public ritual performance in Inner and East Asia, particularly for the monastic masked dance called ‘chams. He is interested in the role of monastic fairs and festivals associated with these public rituals and their effect on economic activity in the region. He received an MA in Performance Studies from NYU Tisch where he focused his thesis on the agency of “thought-forms” in Tibetan meditative ritual, particularly gcod. Most recently, he received an MA in Tibetan Studies from EALAC at Columbia. His thesis explored the Mongolian and Manchu adoption of the ‘chams ritual during the time of the Qing empire.

Tenzin Yewong Dongchung


Field: Tibetan and Chinese History
Advisor: Gray Tuttle
Email: tyd2102@columbia.edu

Tenzin Yewong Dongchung is a Ph.D. student in the East Asia-History Program. Her academic interests include history of material culture, mobility, and borderlands in Tibetan speaking regions of contemporary China, India and Nepal. In her M.A. thesis, she translated and analyzed an autobiography of a 20th-century monastery architect and a woodcarver. By demonstrating the incorporation of a local artisan outside of Tibetan state’s (Ganden Podrang) original jurisdiction, she first substantiates the
centralizing influence of the state in ordinary people’s lives in early 20th-century century. She then highlights renovation of monasteries as an overlooked Tibetan state-building measure. By engaging with material culturescholarship from other disciplines and geographies, she aims to broaden her study of artisans to include questions of gender, labor, epistemology and technology in future research. Tenzin completed her B.A. from Wellesley College (2013) where she first started her Chinese history and language study. Her M.A. training at Columbia University (2015) was in Tibetan and
Chinese history.

Cameron Foltz


Field: Tibetan and Chinese History
Advisor: Gray Tuttle
Email: c.foltz@columbia.edu

Cameron Foltz is a doctoral student in Sino-Tibetan history whose research focuses on social organization and administration in the Sino-Tibetan borderlands from the 17th century into the present. In particular, his work focuses on a type of Tibetan social group called tsowa (ཚོ་བ་). Before beginning the PhD program, he completed his MA at Florida State University.

Palden Gyal


Field: Tibetan Buddhism and Sino-Tibetan History
Advisor: Gray Tuttle
Email: palden.gyal@columbia.edu

Palden Gyal is a doctoral student in Sino-Tibetan history and Tibetan Buddhism. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Duke University (NC) and an M.A. in philosophy of religion and Buddhist studies from Harvard Divinity School (MA). Palden’s research interests lie broadly at the intersections of religion, ethics, and political philosophy. His dissertation project focuses on the practices of governance, the political and institutional history of Tibetan communities in the Sino-Tibetan borderlands from the 18th to the 20th century.

Ling-wei Kung


Field: Tibetan and Chinese History
Advisors: Gray Tuttle & Madeleine Zelin
Email: lk2627@columbia.edu

Ling-wei Kung is a Ph.D. student in Chinese and Tibetan history. His research interests center on international legal practices and global economic exchanges between modern China and Inner Asia during the 18th-20th centuries. He is also more broadly interested in the roles of Inner Asian peoples, especially Tibetans, Mongolians and Uyghurs, in the competitions between the Qing, British and Russian Empires. His research project discusses the intertwinement of “tributary system” and “international law” in Qing China, and its influences on the commercial activities between modern China and Inner Asia. In so doing, he primarily works with Manchu, Mongolian, and Tibetan documents, along with Chinese materials. In addition to the fields of his specialty, he is learning Persian and Turkish languages as a novice. Ling-Wei received a B.A. in History from National Taiwan University (2012), and his M.A. in Tibetan Studies from Columbia University (2015). Before coming to New York City, he stayed in Beijing, where he studied Chinese and Inner Asian history, as well as Manchu, Mongolian and Tibetan at Renmin and Peking Universities for two years.

Qichen (Barton) Qian


Field: Tibetan and Chinese History
Advisors: Gray Tuttle and Zhaohua Yang
Email: qq2109@columbia.edu

Qichen (Barton) Qian is a doctoral student of Sino-Tibetan history and esoteric Buddhism from the 17th to 20th centuries. His research incorporates military and economic history of the Tibetan Ganden Podrang regime (1642–1959) and the Qing empire (1644–1912), as well as violence in Buddhism and material culture of firearms. Barton received his B.A. in Political Science/Math with a minor in Economics from Emory University and his M.A. in Tibetan and Chinese history from Columbia University.

Elizabeth Reynolds


Field: Tibetan and Chinese History
Advisor: Gray Tuttle and Madeleine Zelin
Email: er2370@columbia.edu

Elizabeth Reynolds is a PhD candidate in the History-East Asia Program focusing on Tibetan and Chinese History. Her research interests include economic and social history of Tibet from the 19th to 20th centuries with particular focus on monastic economies, currency, taxation, labor systems, and trade networks in Tibet and East Asia. Her dissertation, tentatively entitled “Economies of the High Plateau: Monasteries, Merchants, and Ulak Transportation in Tibet, 1904-1959”, delves into the world of Kham, a Tibetan region at the epicenter of Chinese and Tibetan political struggles of the 20th century. Supported by a SSRC-IDRF fellowship, Elizabeth conducted field and archival research across China, Taiwan, and India from 2016 to 2017. She is currently finishing her dissertation under the auspices of a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. Elizabeth received her BA from Barnard College in 2011, and prior to joining Columbia University in 2013, she studied Tibetan language and Buddhist scroll painting at Qinghai Nationalities University as a Fulbright scholar.

Riga Shakya


Field: Sino-Tibetan History
Advisor: Gray Tuttle
Email: rts2131@columbia.edu

I am a Ph.D candidate in late Imperial Chinese and Tibetan history at the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALAC) at Columbia University. I am broadly interested in Tibetan social and intellectual history, and the history of Sino-Tibetan relations during the Qing dynasty.

My dissertation research probes the relationship between literary text, selfhood and the metropole/periphery relationship by exploring the role of Tibetan lay autobiographical practice and kavya literature in Qing imperial expansion into Inner Asia in the 18th century. Other projects include a longue durée history of the Ganden Podrang’s (1642-1959) management of environmental disaster and a study of Tibetan language standardization and print culture at PRC minority publishing houses (minzu chubanshe) between 1953 and 1966.

My writing can be found in the Asian Review of Books, Comparative Literature Studies at Penn State University and Himalaya: The Journal of the Association of Nepal and Himalayan Studies. I am founding editor of Waxing Moon: Journal for Tibetan and Himalayan Studies supported by the Centre for Digital Research and Scholarship, Columbia Libraries. I also have long running interests in contemporary Chinese and Tibetan film and literature. Film projects I have worked on have shown as part of the Busan, Toronto and Kavrlovy-Vary international film festivals.

Tracy (Howard) Stilerman


Field: Tibetan Buddhism
Advisor: Gray Tuttle
Email: t.stilerman@columbia.edu

Tracy (Howard) Stilerman is a PhD candidate in Tibetan Buddhism whose research focuses on the history of Buddhist sites and Tibetan engagement with the landscape in the 17th to 20th centuries. Before beginning the PhD program she received a BA in Tibetan Studies from Columbia University, worked as a translator and interpreter of Tibetan language in the US and Tibet, and spent one year at Waseda University in Tokyo as an exchange researcher.

Sonam Tsering


Field: East Asian Religion
Advisor: Gray Tuttle
Email: st2855@columbia.edu

Sonam Tsering received his Master of Arts in Buddhist Studies from Central University for Tibetan Studies and Master in Theological Studies from Harvard University. He has served as managing editor of Tibet Journal for several years and worked on various translation projects. Having completed his Master of Philosophy at Columbia University, Sonam is currently studying the role of texts in the formation of the Gelukpa School of Buddhist thought in Tibet during the fourteenth-fifteenth centuries for his doctoral dissertation. His latest publication is a critically annotated translation titled Arya Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland: Buddhist Polity on Life and Liberation (LTWA 2014). Sonam is also working on a project on Tibetan history during the seventh and eighth centuries.