Alumni Profiles

Giulio Agostini took his first degree (Laurea) in Classics in Milan, where he also started studying Sanskrit and Pali. He came to Berkeley to specialize in Indian Buddhism; in addition to his work on Sanskrit and Pali materials he acquired facility in Classical Chinese and Tibetan. He completed his dissertation, entitled "Precepts and Upasaka Status: Indian Views of the Buddhist Laity," in May, 2002. He now continues to pursue his research and publishing in the areas Vinaya and Hinayana literature in general, and lay Buddhism in ancient India in particular, while teaching Latin and Italian in a secondary school in Milan.

JUHN AHN (University of Toronto)
Juhn Ahn received both his B.A. (Asian Studies and Studies in Religion) and M.A. (Buddhist Studies) from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor under the supervision of Prof. Robert Sharf. He has just completed his dissetation on the topic of "Zen illness" with a special emphasis on the works of Dahui Zonggao (1089-1163), Chin'gak Hyesim (1178-1234), Wuyi Yuanlai (1575-1639), and Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769). Juhn Ahn does research in Japanese, Chinese and Korean Buddhist literature. He holds a joint appointment with the Department for the Study of Religion and the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto.

PRAPOD ASSAVAVIRULHAKARN (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok)
Prapod Assavavirulhakarn is Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, where he is also the Thai Director of the Confucius Institute. He is a member of the Governing Board of Nalanda International University. He is a contributor to Past Lives of the Buddha: Wat Si Chum and the Art of Sukhothai (ed. P. Skilling, Bangkok: River Books, 2008) and author of The Ascendancy of Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia (Chiangmai: Silkworm Books, 2011).

CARL BIELEFELDT (Stanford University)
Professor Carl Bielefeldt, specializes in East Asian Buddhism, with particular emphasis on the intellectual history of the Zen traditon. He is the author of Dôgen's Manuals of Zen Meditation and other works on early Japanese Zen, and serves as editor of the Soto Zen Text Project. Co-director of the Stanford Center for Buddhist Studies and the Asian Religion and Cultures Initiative.

MARK BLUM (UC Berkeley)
Mark Blum, Professor and Shinjo Ito Distinguished Chair in Japanese Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, received his M.A. in Japanese Literature from UCLA and his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies in 1990 from the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in Pure Land Buddhism throughout East Asia, with a focus on the Japanese medieval period. He also works in the area of Japanese Buddhist reponses to modernism, Buddhist conceptions of death in China and Japan, historical consciousness in Buddhist thought, and the impact of the Nirvana Sutra (Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra) in East Asian Buddhism. He is the author of The Origins and Development of Pure Land Buddhism (2002), and co-editor of Rennyo and the Roots of Modern Japanese Buddhism (2005) and Cultivating Spirituality (2011), and his translation from Chinese of The Nirvana Sutra: Volume 1 (2013). He is currently working on completing Think Buddha, Say Buddha: a history of nenbutsu thought, practice, and culture.

Robert Buswell earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985. Before returning to academe, he spent seven years as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Hong Kong, and Korea, which served as the basis of his book The Zen Monastic Experience: Buddhist Practice in Contemporary Korea (Princeton University Press, 1992). He is now a professor of Chinese and Korean Buddhist studies, and chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, at the University of California, Los Angeles. He founded UCLA's Center for Buddhist Studies in 2000, and was the initial faculty director of the Center for Korean Studies from 1992 to 2001.

Buswell specializes in the Son (Zen) tradition of Korean Buddhism. In addition to The Zen Monastic Experience he is author of The Korean Approach to Zen: The Collected Works of Chinul (University of Hawaii Press, 1983), reprinted as Tracing Back the Radiance: Chinul's Korean Way of Zen (University of Hawaii Press, 1991); and The Formation of Ch'an Ideology in China and Korea: The Vajrasamadhi-Sutra, A Buddhist Apocryphon (Princeton University Press, 1989). He is also editor of Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha (University of Hawaii Press, 1990); Paths to Liberation: The Marga and Its Transformations in Buddhist Thought, Robert Buswell and Robert M. Gimello, coeditors (University of Hawaii Press, 1992); and Abhidharma Buddhism to 150 A.D. Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, vol. 7, Karl H. Potter, editor; Robert Buswell, P. S. Jaini and Noble Ross Reat, coeditors (Delhi: Motilal Barnarsidass, 1996). Buswell has also authored some forty articles concerning the Korean, Chinese, and Indian Buddhist traditions.

[UCLA Asia Institute acticle]

EUN-SU CHO (Seoul National University)
Eun-su Cho is a professor of Buddhist Philosophy at Seoul National University in Korea, and currently the director of the Institute of Philosophical Research. She received her Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from the University of California and was an assistant professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include Indian Abhidharma Buddhism, Korean Buddhist thought, and women in Buddhism. She has written numerous articles and book chapters, including "Wŏnch'ŭk's Place in the East Asian Buddhist Tradition," "From Buddha's Speech to Buddha's Essence: Philosophical Discussions of Buddha-vacana in India and China," "Re-thinking Late 19thCentury Chosŏn Buddhist Society," and "The Uses and Abuses of Wŏnhyo and the 'T'ong Pulgyo' Narrative." She co-translated the Jikji simgyeong into English, and edited a volume Korean Buddhist Nuns and Laywomen ­ Hidden Histories and Enduring Vitality (SUNY press, 2011). She was the founding director of the International Center for Korean Studies at SNU in 2007-2008, and had also served as the chair of the Editorial Subcommittee of the MOWCAP (Asia/Pacific Regional Committee for the Memory of the World Program) of UNESCO in 2007-2009.

SUNG TAEK CHO (Korea University)

RAE DACHILLE (University of Arizona)
Rae Erin Dachille received her B.A. in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College (1999) and an M.A. in Asian Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2005). In 2008, she completed a Masters thesis on modes of representation in Tibetan medical paintings and earned an M.A. in the Languages and Cultures of Asia at UW-Madison. Her research interests include visual and literary representations of the body in Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhist and medical traditions.

RONALD DAVIDSON (Fairfield University)
Ronald Davidson earned his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies in 1985, specializing in Indian Yogacara philosophical problems. He is Professor of Religious Studies. His primary area of research is in the domain of tantric Buddhism (Vajrayana, Mantrayana, Mantranaya), especially in medieval India and early Tibet. His books include Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), Tibetan Renaissance: Tantric Buddhism in the Rebirth of Tibetan Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005); Ronald M. Davidson and Christian K. Wedemeyer, eds. Tibetan Buddhist Literature and Praxis: Studies in its Formative Period, 900-1400 (Leiden: Brill Academic, 2005); Steven D. Goodman and Ronald M. Davidson, eds. Tibetan Buddhism: Reason and Revelation (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992); and Ronald M. Davidson, ed. Wind Horse: Proceedings of the North American Tibetological Society (Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 1981).

His current research is on the issue of secrecy in Indian tantric Buddhism, which will be examined in Secrecy and Revelation in Indian Esoteric Buddhism, to be completed shortly. Concurrently, he is also compiling on a Sanskrit edition and annotated English translation of Padmavajra's Guhyasiddhi (The Secret Accomplishment), a ninth century work proposing an extreme version of esoteric praxis, one that calls into question the apologetic ideology that such behaviors were symbolically coded rather than physically enacted. Beyond these, he has a monograph on the siddha Virupa in preparation.

AMANDA GOODMAN (University of Toronto)
Amanda Goodman received a B.A. in Chinese and Comparative Literature from Indiana University, an M.A. in Buddhist Studies from the University of Michigan, and her Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley (2013). Herdissertation focused on Tang-Song Chinese Esoteric Buddhism and centers on a number of recovered Dunhuang manuscripts, specifically a number of lineage texts that appear to relate the early Chan school with the Chinese Esoteric tradition.

ERIC GREENE (Yale University)
Eric Greene is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Yale. He completed his Ph.D. in 2012, under the supervision of Robert Sharf. He specializes in the history of medieval Chinese Buddhism. Much of his recent research has focused on Buddhist meditation practices, including the history of the transmission on Indian meditation practices to China, the development of distinctly Chinese forms of Buddhist meditation, and Buddhist rituals of confession and atonement. He is currently writing a book on the uses of meditative visionary experience as evidence of sanctity within early Chinese Buddhism. In addition to these topics, he has published articles on the early history of Chan (Zen), Buddhist paintings from the Silk Roads, the influence of modern psychological terminology on the Western interpretation of Buddhism, and Buddhist vegetarianism in China. He is also presently working on a long-term project on the translation practices of An Shigao, the first translator of Indian Buddhist texts into Chinese.

JANET GYATSO (Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies, Harvard University)
Janet Gyatso is a specialist in Buddhist studies with concentration on Tibetan and South Asian religious culture. She studied primarily with Professors Jaini and Lancaster during her years at Berkeley, where she received her Ph.D. In 1981. She is currently Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies at Harvard University, in the Divinity School. She taught at Amherst College, the University of Michigan, and Wesleyan University before going to the Divinity School, Harvard University. Her books include Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary; In the Mirror of Memory: Reflections on Mindfulness and Remembrance in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism; and Women of Tibet. Her current book project is on traditional medical science in Tibet, its relation to modernity, and its relation to Buddhism. She has also been writing on conceptions of sex and gender in Buddhist monasticism and in Tibetan medicine. Previous topics of her scholarship have included visionary revelation in Buddhism; issues concerning lineage, memory, and authorship; philosophical questions on the status of experience; and autobiographical writing in Tibet.

DAVID A. HALL (Montgomery College, MD)
David Hall earned his Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley in 1990 specializing in East Asian Esoteric Buddhism and military history. Trained as a Navy Hospital Corpsman in the late 1960s, David Hall was attached to Third Marine Division during the Vietnam War Era. Ordained as a Tendai Buddhist priest (1978), he integrated his religious training in Japan with graduate research at U.C. Berkeley. He has published The Buddhist Goddess Marishiten: A Study of the Evolution and Impact of Her Cult on the Japanese Warrior(Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic / Global Oriental, 2014). This work provides an in-depth exploration of the Buddhist cult of the warrior goddess Mārīcī and its efficacy as experienced by the Japanese warrior class. In examining the psychological effects of these rituals, this volume moves beyond a narrowly focused examination of a religious cult to illustrate how these rituals not only prepared the warrior for combat, but also acted as an antidote for the toxicity of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when the warrior returned from the battlefield. Hall has also published the Encyclopedia of Japanese Martial Arts(New York: Kodansha USA, 2012). This work contains around 4,000 Japanese entries with bilingual entry headings and concise definitions covering numerous martial arts in Japan. Following the main portion of the work are several Appendices (Traditional East Asian Numbering Systems and Ancient Period Military Organization), as well as a Selected Bibliography, a Character Index of approximately 6,000 terms with additional indices in Chinese, Sanskrit, and English.

Hall is currently Professor of Information Technology at Montgomery College. In addition to holding posts as Chairman and Acting Dean of the Information Technology Institute, he was MC Director and Co-PI of CyberWatch, a National Science Foundation funded consortium of colleges and universities developing cybersecurity curriculum and programs from 2003 until 2013.

ROBERT KRITZER (Kyoto Notre Dame University)
Robert Kritzer is Professor at Kyoto Notre Dame University. He specializes in abhidharma and early Yogācāra, and is the author of two books, Rebirth and Causation in the Yogācāra Abhidharma (Wiener Studien zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde 44. Wien: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, Universität Wien, 1999) and Vasubandhu and the Yogācārabhūmi: Yogācāra Elements in the Abhidharmako śabhāṣya (Studia Philologica Buddhica Monograph Series 12. Tokyo: The International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 2005). He has written on the intermediate existence (antarābhava) and accounts of childbirth in Indian Buddhism, as well as on the meaning of the term Sautrāntika. Other interests include the relation between Buddhism and the Indian medical tradition and the traditional study of the Abhidharmakośa in Japan. He has been invited to McGill University for the winter term of 2006 as a Numata visiting professor.

JINWOL Y. H. LEE (Dongguk University, Korea)
Dr. Jinwol Y. H. Lee is a Buddhist Monk and Zen Master. He belongs to Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, the major traditional Mahayana Buddhism in Korea, and serves as the President's Special Adivisor for International Affairs. He has been the President of URI Korea Multiple Cooperation Circle and a trustee of the URI Global Council, elected in the Asian Region since 2002. Formerly a professor of Buddhist Studies at the Seoul Graduate School of Buddhism and the Dean of Religious Affairs of Dongguk University in Seoul, Jinwol is now a professor teaching Buddhist meditation and culture at the Department of Seon (Chan/Zen) Studies of Dongguk University, Gyeongju Campus, a thousand old capital city of Silla Dynasty. He is working as a Vice President of WFB, the oldest and largest Buddhist global organization around the world. He was a member of the Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development in South Korea. Having taken modern scholarship in 1984, he graduated from Dongguk, a Buddhist University then from Sogang, a Jesuit University in 1986. In 1990, he earned a masters degree (M.A. in Religious Studies) from the Graduate School of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In 1998, he obtained a Ph.D from the University of California at Berkeley.

Nancy Lin (M.A., Columbia University; Ph.D., UC Berkeley) specializes in Buddhist traditions of Tibet and the Himalaya. Her research focuses on courtly Buddhist culture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, especially the production of poetry, visual objects, and personae. Her current questions largely cluster around the dynamics of worldliness and renunciation, aesthetics and ethos, and wisdom and eloquence. Other interests include rebirth lineages and narratives, Tibetan engagement with Indic Buddhist and literary traditions, and cross-cultural interactions with Inner Asia and the Qing court. She was previously an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Dartmouth College, and has held faculty positions at UC Santa Cruz and Vanderbilt University.

MATTHEW McMULLEN (Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, Nanzan University)
Matthew McMullen completed his Ph.D. in 2016. He is an Assistant Professor of Humanities and Permanent Fellow at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture (http://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/en/) at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, where he serves as the editor of the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies (http://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/en/publications/jjrs/). His other academic positions include Network Editor for the H-Buddhism Network (https://networks.h-net.org/h-buddhism) and Assistant Editor for the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (http://www.buddhism-dict.net/ddb/). Matthew specializes in medieval Japanese esoteric Buddhism, particularly the esoteric Tendai tradition. He is currently preparing to publish a book focusing on Tendai critiques of Kūkai's doctrinal writings.

CHANGHWAN PARK (Geumgang University, Korea)
Changhwan Park is a Research Professor at the Geumgang Center for Buddhist Studies, Geumgang University, Chungnam, South Korea. He received his B.A in Philosophy and M.A in Oriental Philosophy from Seoul National University. He is interested in the historical formulations of doctrinal concepts and their philosophical implications in Indian Buddhism. He completed his dissertation entitled "The Sautrantika Theory of Seeds (bija) Revisited: With Special Reference to the Ideological Continuity between Vasubandhu's Theory of Seeds and its Srilata/Darstantika Precursors" in 2007 and is currently revising it into a book, which will be published in the Wiener Studien Zur Tibetologie Und Buddhistmuskunde series in 2010.


William Powell is Associate Professor of Chinese Religions and Buddhist Studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, and the Department of Religious Studies, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was trained in the philological methods of Buddhist studies, which was the basis for his translation and study of the prominent 9th century Chan (Zen) monk, Dongshan. This is to be followed by a study of Dongshan's disciple, Caoshan. His present work focuses on the relationship between Chinese Buddhism, pilgrimage and sacred space, particularly mountains.

JENLANG SHIH (Huafan University, Taipei)

DANIEL STUART (University of South Carolina)
Daniel Stuart received his Ph.D. in 2012, under the supervision of Alexander von Rospatt. His dissertation, entitled A Less Traveled Path: Meditation and Textual Practice in the Saddharmasmṛtyupasthāna(sūtra), deals with the history of Buddhist meditation in Northwest India during the first half of the first millennium CE. Over the years, Daniel has worked extensively on Buddhist sūtra literature and Buddhist manuscripts in various Asian languages and scripts. He works primarily with Sanskrit and Pāli materials, but also works with Indic literature translated into Chinese and Tibetan. He is particularly interested in the interrelationships between Buddhist practice traditions, theories of mind, and scriptural production in premodern India. His current project is a historical and ethnographic study of the modern insight (vipassanā) meditation tradition that focuses on the interplay of textual authority, charismatic authority, and meditative experience in the historical formation of a transnational religious movement. Daniel received a BA in interdisciplinary Asian Studies from Long Island University and an MA in Sanskrit Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. He has been appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of South Carolina beginning in the summer of 2013.

KENNETH TANAKA (Musashino University, Tokyo)
He taught at the Institute of Buddhist Studies of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California before being appointed professor of Buddhist Studies at Musashino University, Tokyo in 1998. He currently serves as President of the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies, and had been an active member of the International Buddhist-Christian Theological Encounter sessions centered at Purdue University. His publications include, 1) The Dawn of Chinese Pure Land Buddhist Doctrine: Ching-ying Hui-yuan's Commentary to the Visualization Sutra. (The State University of New York, 1990); 2) Ocean: An Introduction to Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in America.(Wisdom Ocean Publication, 1997); 3) The Faces of Buddhism in America (co-editor) (The University of California Press, 1998); 4) Pure Land Buddhism: Historical Development and Contemporary Manifestation. (Dharmaram College, Bangalore, India, 2004). He recently produced and appeared in a weekly year-long Buddhist T.V. program, sponsored by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai. This program was aired in Los Angeles on Sundays in 2005; its DVDs are being distributed to religious and educational institutions throughout the world.

KYOKO TOKUNO (University of Washington)

TRENT WALKER (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok)
Trent Walker is a Khyentse Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow based at the Department of Thai Language, Chulalongkorn University (October 2018–September 2020). His dissertation, Unfolding Buddhism: Communal Scripts, Localized Translations, and the Work of the Dying in Cambodian Chanted Leporellos, was completed under the supervision of Alexander von Rospatt in 2018. He is currently pursuing two projects emerging out of his PhD research. The first concerns Cambodian leporello manuscripts that transmit chanted poems and paratextual instructions for deathbed rituals in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. The second focuses on the translation techniques and aesthetics found in Lao, Lanna, and Siamese bilingual Pali-vernacular palm-leaf manuscripts from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. While in Thailand, Trent will be working on collaborative projects with Peter Skilling and Santi Pakdeekham on Pali inscriptions, chronicles, and liturgies. Prior to coming to Berkeley, Trent received a BA from Stanford University in 2010, where his thesis engaged the textual and musical dimensions of contemporary Cambodian Dharma songs. 


Professor Shaffer Yamada (b. 1949) studied both classical Chinese and Sanskrit languages as an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she received a bachelor's degree in Asian Studies before moving on to the University of California, Berkeley. There she continued her studies in classical Asian languages, adding Tibetan and modern Japanese, in order to pursue a comparative philological analysis of classical texts. From 1979-1986, she lived in Tokyo, Japan, where she studied in the departments of Indian and Buddhist Philosophy (University of Tokyo) and Buddhist Studies (Komazawa University), while working as a consultant for "The Japan Times" book division and NHK, Japan's public television network. In 1985, she received a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, and in 1986 returned to her hometown, Los Angeles, with her son, Yuzo (b. 1984).

During the mid-1990s, she also began to study Khmer language and literature, and to archive the cultural history of the Cambodian community in Long Beach. She has recently edited the first anthology of Southeast Asian short fiction in English — Virtual Lotus: Modern Fiction of Southeast Asia — a seven year project. Currently, she is editing a companion volume, The History and Cultural Significance of Modern Southeast Asian Fiction. As of summer 2002, she has organized the "Nou Hach Literary Journal," devoted to modern Cambodian literature and cultural studies. Its electronic version is found on the web site http://members.freespeech.org/southeast-asian-literature. In 2003 funding for this project was received from the Toyota Foundation for 2003-5. It enables a daily radio spot foregrounding Khmer poetry, creative writing workshops, and the publication of the Nou Hach Journal. The Journal is scheduled for publication in Fall 2004. This will be the first literary journal to be published in Cambodia since the 1970s (b. 1984). [home page]