Current and Future Postdoctoral Fellows

Cody Bahir (Sheng Yen Postdoctoral Fellow in Chinese Buddhism, 2017-2019)
Cody Bahir is the 2017-2019 Sheng Yen Postdoctoral Scholar of Chinese Buddhism. His research focuses on the magical and supernatural aspects of modern Chinese religiosity. He was awarded his PhD in Asian Studies from Leiden University in 2017. He additionally holds an MA in Philosophy and Religion focused on Chinese Buddhism from the California Institute of Integral Studies, and another in Jewish Studies from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). His MA thesis was on the medieval Kabbalistic understanding of the ‘evil eye.’ His BA in Jewish Studies is from American Jewish University (AJU). From 2011-2017, Cody lived in Southern Taiwan (Taichung, Kaohsiung, Tainan and Pingtung), conducting onsite fieldwork at various Buddhist and Daoist communities. Cody has taught at Fooyin University of Science and Technology in Kaohsiung, Skyline College in San Bruno, California, and HUC-JIR as well as AJU in Los Angeles. Academia.edu website: https://berkeley.academia.edu/CodyBahir

Jack Meng-Tat Chia (NUS-Overseas Postdoctoral Fellow, 2017-2019)
Jack Meng-Tat Chia is a National University of Singapore-Overseas Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Buddhist Studies, University of California, Berkeley. He is a historian of religions who studies Buddhism and Chinese popular religion in maritime Southeast Asia, with a focus on the transregional circulation of people, ideas and resources. Born and raised in Singapore, he received his B.A. (Hons) and M.A. from the National University of Singapore, his second M.A. from Harvard University, where he was a Harvard-Yenching Scholar, and his Ph.D. from Cornell University. He is currently working on his book manuscript tentatively titled “Diaspora’s Dharma: Buddhism and Modernity across the South China Sea.” This book seeks to contribute to our understanding of the history of Buddhism in inter-Asian contexts and the intersections between national and Buddhist institutional projects in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Chia is the co-editor of Living with Myths in Singapore (2017) and has published articles in journals such as Asian EthnologyChina QuarterlyDongnanya yanjiuJournal of Chinese ReligionsKyoto Review of Southeast AsiaMaterial ReligionNew Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, and SOJOURN. His next project is entitled “Beyond the Borobudur: Buddhism in Postcolonial Indonesia.” It explores the history and development of Buddhism in the world’s largest Muslim country since 1945.  

Oren Hanner (Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, 2018-2019)
Oren Hanner is a Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Buddhist Studies (2018-2019). His main areas of research are Buddhist and Cross-Cultural Philosophy, with a special interest in topics related to Ethics, Philosophy of Mind, and Social Theory. He studied Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv University, and Buddhist Studies at Hamburg University (Ph.D. thesis, 2016). His dissertation dealt with the problem of selfless agency in the Abhidharmakośabhāṣya of Vasubandhu, comparing Vasubandhu’s way of addressing the problem with contemporary works in Western Analytic philosophy. At Berkeley, Oren is working on the notions of collective agency and moral responsibility in the writings of Vasubandhu. He is also teaching courses on Buddhist Ethics and Action Theory (Fall 2018) and Socially Engaged Buddhism (Fall 2019).

Katarina Turpeinen (Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow in Buddhist Studies, 2017-19)
Katarina Turpeinen is a Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow in Buddhist Studies. She specializes in Indo-Tibetan Esoteric Buddhism, particularly the Tibetan Great Perfection tradition. Her dissertation analyzes and contextualizes an influential 14th century anthology, The Unimpeded Realization of Samantabhadra, revealed by Rindzin Gödem. During a four and half year period of doctoral research in India and Nepal, Katarina translated the anthology and studied the context of the Great Perfection while living in Tibetan monasteries. After Katarina received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia, she taught at U.Va as an Adjunct Professor and at Vanderbilt University as a Visiting Assistant Professor. Her other interests include Buddhist and Hindu philosophy, narratives and ritual. In the Spring of 2018, she is teaching a graduate seminar on translating Great Perfection texts.

Past Postdoctoral Fellows

Stefan Baums (Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow, 2010-11)
Stefan Baums was a Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley during the 2010-11 academic year and a Group in Buddhist Studies Visiting Professor during the 2011-12 academic year. He studied Indology, Tibetology and Linguistics at the Georg‐August‐Universität Göttingen; Sanskrit, Nepali and Buddhist Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; and South Asian and Buddhist Studies at the University of Washington. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 2009 for the edition and study of a first‐century Gāndhārī birch‐bark manuscript containing a commentary on a selection of early Buddhist verses. His research interests include Buddhist philology and epigraphy, the beginnings of written Buddhist literature, the interaction of written and oral modes of text transmission, the development of Buddhist hermeneutics, and the description of Gāndhārī language and literature. His current work focuses on the decipherment of two additional Gāndhārī verse commentaries, and on a comprehensive study of the historical background and exegetical principles of the group of verse commentaries and the related Gāndhārī Sangītisūtra commentary. He is the editor (with Andrew Glass) of the Dictionary of Gāndhārī.

Benjamin Bogin (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, 2005-07)
Benjamin Bogin was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at Berkeley for the 2005-2007 academic years. He received his B.A. (Intercultural Studies) from Simon's Rock College of Bard and his M.A. and Ph.D. (Buddhist Studies) from the University of Michigan. His primary interests are Tibetan Buddhist literature and history and his doctoral dissertation consists of a critical edition, translation, and study of the autobiography of the seventeenth-century Tibetan lama, Yolmo Tenzin Norbu. He is presently engaged in research on the artistic, literary, and ritual traditions surrounding the Tibetan Buddhist pure land known as the Glorious Copper-Colored Mountain.

Tzu-lung Chiu (Cheng Yen Postdoctoral Fellow in Chinese Buddhism, 2016-17)
Profile coming soon.

Xi He (Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, 2014-16)
Xi He is a Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, 2014-16. Her research interests include Buddhist narratives; the translation and transmission of Buddhist texts in Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese; and women and gender in Buddhism traditions. She received her Ph.D. in 2012 from the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation focused on the early Sanskrit Buddhist text, the Lalitavistara, exploring how Buddhist values and ideals are textualized in Buddhist narratives and the close relationship between Sanskrit literary culture and Buddhist emotions. During her stay at Berkeley, Xi will work on a book manuscript derived from her dissertation and deepen her research in early Sanskrit literary tradition and in the aesthetics, emotions, and communities of the mahāvaipulya literature.

Natasha Heller (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, 2006-08)
Natasha Heller is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, 2006-08. She specializes in the intellectual and religious history of China, with a particular focus on the intersection of Buddhism and literati culture. She received her Ph.D. (November 2005) from the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, with a dissertation on the Chan monk Zhongfeng Mingben (1263-1323) and his literati followers. Other research interests include religion and the state, material culture, and concepts of law and justice in imperial China.

Erez Joskovich (Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow in Japanese Buddhism, 2016-18)
Erez Joskovich is a Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow in Buddhist Studies (2016-). He specializes in the intellectual and religious history of Chan/Zen Buddhism, with a particular focus on the development of Japanese Zen since the 18th century to the present. His doctoral dissertation is a detailed study of the the development of lay Zen in modern Japan. While working on his dissertation he was awarded fellowships from the Japan Foundation and the Japanese Ministry of Education (MEXT). The fellowships enabled him to work as a visiting scholar at the University of Tokyo (2008-2012). He received his Ph.D. (June 2014) from the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Tel-Aviv University (in collaboration with the University of Tokyo). Other research interests include Buddhist ethnography, ritual, and performance studies. In Berkeley, Erez is teaching introductory courses to Japanese Buddhism (Spring 2017), and Religion in Japan (Fall 2017).

Stefan Larsson (Swedish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, 2010-12)
Stefan Larsson received his Ph.D. in History of Religions from Stockholm University 2009. His doctoral dissertation is a detailed study of the life stories of the “mad” Tibetan yogin Tsangnyon Heruka (1452-1507). While working on his dissertation he was awarded a fellowship from the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT). The fellowship enabled him to spend the spring semester 2007 as a visiting scholar at the University of Virginia. His research focuses upon the non-monastic and practice-oriented forms of Tibetan Buddhism. Moreover, he is interested in Buddhist biographies and songs. As a postdoctoral fellow he plans to investigate texts and aspects of Tsangnyon’s life that he did not study in his dissertation. Among other things, he aims at investigating Tsangnyon’s songs, the form of Buddhism he practiced, and the network of disciples and patrons around him.

Pei-Ying Lin (Sheng Yen Postdoctoral Fellow in Chinese Buddhism, 2015-17)
Pei-Ying Lin is the Sheng Yen Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Chinese Buddhism, 2015-2017. Her research interests are Chan Buddhism, ordination rituals, Bodhisattva precepts, and Buddhist discourse on cultural identity. She studied at National Taiwan University (BA in Political Science, 2002), Cambridge University (MPhil in Oriental Studies, 2006), and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (PhD in the Study of Religion, 2012). Her thesis brought together a wide range of documents from ninth-century China, Japan and Korea, and cross-culturally examined the relationship between patriarchal lineages versus textual transmission at the early stage of the history of Chan Buddhism. Before coming to Berkeley, she was a Research Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies, Oxford University, East Asian Studies Department, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and School of History, Tel Aviv University. During her stay at UC Berkeley, she has been working on a project involving a group of eighth-century precept manuals, analyzing the doctrinal and historical connections between Chan Buddhism and Esoteric Buddhism during the Tang dynasty, with a focus on the commonality of their key components of precepts and meditation.

Qian Lin (Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow in Buddhist Studies, 2015-17)
Qian Lin studied Buddhist philosophy, history, and languages at the University of Bristol, and the University of Washington, Seattle. He also worked as a research associate in the Early Buddhist Manuscript Project (EBMP) at the University of Washington. He received his Ph.D. in 2015 from the University of Washington with a thesis on the section of mind in the Chengshi Lun (成實論 *Tattvasiddhi), which is also an in-depth study on the formation and development of the Abhidharma concepts of “mental factor” (caitta or caitasika) and “association” (saṃprayoga), which are the key concepts in the Abhidharma models of the structure of mind. His main research interest is the textual and philological study of early Buddhist texts, doctrines, and history, as well as Buddhist Abhidharma philosophical systems. As a postdoctoral fellow in Berkeley Qian Lin will work on a book manuscript derived from his dissertation, and also a project on Buddhist philosophy of mind, which will investigate a Buddhist account of intentionality in early Buddhist texts.

Michaela Mross (Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow in Japanese Buddhism, 2014-16)
Michaela Mross is the Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow in Japanese Buddhism, 2014-2016. Her research interests are Zen Buddhism, Buddhist rituals, sacred music, and manuscript and print culture in premodern Japan. She completed her PhD in Japanese Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich in 2014 with a thesis on kōshiki (Buddhist ceremonials) in the Sōtō school after having conducted research at the Komazawa University and the Research Institute for Japanese Music Historiography of the Ueno Gakuen University from 2007-2013. Before coming to Berkeley, she was research associate (wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) at the Georg-August-University Goettingen. During her stay at UC Berkeley, she is working on a book manuscript about the development of kōshiki in the Sōtō school analyzing ritual changes, the relation of rituals to their institutional context as well as the role of music in Buddhist ceremonials. She is also writing an article on the transmission and vocalization of one of the most influential Buddhist ceremonials, the Shiza kōshiki composed by the Kegon-Shingon monk Myōe, for a special issue of the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies on kōshiki, which she will edit together with Barbara Ambros and Jay Ford.

Ryan Overbey (Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow, 2013-15)
Ryan Overbey studies the intellectual and ritual history of Buddhism, with particular focus on early medieval Buddhist spells and ritual manuals. He studied at Brown University (AB in Classics & Sanskrit and Religious Studies, 2001) and at Harvard University (PhD in the Study of Religion, 2010). He worked as an academic researcher for Prof. Dr. Lothar Ledderose’s project on Stone Sūtras at the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, and has also served as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the College of the Holy Cross. His dissertation explored the ideological and ritual construction of the “preacher of the dharma” (dharmabhāṇaka) in the Great Lamp of the Dharma Dhāraṇī Scripture, a massive text extant only in a single sixth-century Chinese translation. In addition to illuminating many details of Buddhist rhetoric and homiletics, the Great Lamp shows how seemingly arcane Buddhist theories of ritual and spellcraft could be brought down to earth and made relevant for the practical concerns of building Buddhist preachers and their communities. During his time at Berkeley, Ryan will work on a monographic study of Buddhist preachers in the early medieval period, drawing on more data about Buddhist pedagogy from Chinese imperial histories and Buddhist hagiography, as well as from documents about preachers found in the Dunhuang archives. Ryan will also pursue research on Buddhist spells and ritual manuals of the early centuries CE, such as the Great Peahen Queen of Spells and the Consecration Sūtra.

Jann Ronis (Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011-13)
Jann Ronis studied religion, Tibetan studies, Sinology, and the Tibetan and Chinese languages at the University of Virginia. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 2009 for a dissertation about developments in the monasteries of eastern Tibet, along the border between Tibet and China, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His dissertation focused on innovations in scholastics, liturgical practices, and administration spearheaded by the lamas of Katok Monastery and their widespread adoption in the region. The resulting network of monasteries represented the only significant alternative in Tibet to the model of monasticism prevalent in central Tibet and was the site of tremendous literary and artistic production. His research interests include the social histories of visionary cults, scholastic traditions, monastic reform movements, and sectarian conflicts; the philosophical and contemplative traditions of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism; and Sino-Tibetan cultural relations. During his year at Berkeley Jann is researching the twelfth and thirteenth century formation of an important ritual tradition in Tibetan Buddhism ­ the Kagye (bka' brgyad), or Eight Dispensations in an effort to better understand the domestication of Buddhism in Tibet. The Kagye is a compendium of eight heterogeneous deity cults including deities of Indic and Tibetan origins, and supramundane and mundane statuses ­ and Jann is exploring the innovations in narrative and ritual made by the Tibetan creators of this uniquely Tibetan pantheon.

Jessica Starling (Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow, 2012-2013)
Jessica Starling was the Shinjo Ito Postdoctoral Fellow in Japanese Buddhism for 2012-2013. She completed her PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia in 2012, after conducting research as a visiting scholar at Otani University in Kyoto from 2009-2011. Her dissertation concerned the history and contemporary experiences of temple wives, known as bomori, in the Jodo Shinshu or True Pure Land School of Buddhism in Japan. Forthcoming articles include a study of prescriptive accounts of temple wives from the Meiji through the prewar period, and an in-depth study of sermons for temple wives from the Edo period. Jessica is beginning work on a book about contemporary priests' wives in the Shinshu, and is interested in broader themes of women and gender in Pure Land Buddhism as well as the activities of Buddhist laywomen's associations, especially in the modern and early modern periods.