Eakin Fellowships

Eakin Fellowships

Mrs. Frances Eakin established the Frank E. Eakin Jr. Fund in 2021 to honor her husband’s six-decade career at the University of Richmond, his contributions to the Department of Religious Studies, his passion for teaching, and his dedication to students. The fund supports the Frank E. Eakin Jr. Fellowships program, which provides financial support for UR students engaged in research, fieldwork, travel, and other experiences that enhance their coursework in the academic study of religion.

Photo of 3 students smiling in front of Religious Studies sign

2024-2025 Eakin Fellows Announced!

The Department of Religious Studies is pleased to announce our second cohort of Eakin Fellows! Congratulations to Isabella Castillo, Chase Cristella, and Gurbani Makar!

Gurbani plans to enrich her study of Islam by further exploring concepts she learned in religious studies courses such as Islam and Film and Devil in the Details, while she travels to historic, religious, and architectural Muslim sites in New Delhi, India.

Isabella and Chase plan to pair their Eakin Fellowships with their upcoming study abroad experiences in Europe. By visiting a variety of historical and religious sites in Europe, they aim to build upon the topics explored in religious courses such as Introduction to the New Testament and Heretics, Liars, and Deviants. 

Eakin Fellowship Reflections

At UR, I study religious studies and Russian studies. As a result, I have become interested in Eastern Orthodoxy, and the Eakin Fellowship was one of my first opportunities to pursue this interest. Through the Eakin Fellowship, I was able to further study the historical context of Eastern Orthodoxy's development and actually visit the countries/sites where these historical events were taking place. I even met the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church! Lillian Tzanev, '24

I had the amazing opportunity to go to New Orleans, Louisiana and study the unique material culture of death in the New Orleans cemeteries. I learned how the land of New Orleans affects their culture of death, resulting in an "above-ground" burial process unique to the area. They created familial tombs to store their dead away from the danger of rising water levels. With the climate so warm in the summer, these tombs effectively worked as a form of "natural cremation," where the bodies decompose quickly under the intense heat. Coupled with the popularized Voodoo religion, this unique culture of death has permeated throughout the city with many locals claiming "mystic" and "spiritual" powers. As someone who has lived and studied in Richmond for my entire life, it was fascinating to see a city and culture so differently than mine. It highlighted how integrated religion is to the popular culture of a space and people, how slight changes in religiosity can result in massive differences. Most importantly though, my experience in New Orleans expressed the necessity of understanding and appreciating distinct cultures, something I learned first in the Religious Studies Department at UR. I'm so grateful for the many opportunities this Department has given me and am so proud to be an inaugural Eakin Fellow! Matt Rooney, '23

I went to Chisor Mountain in Takeo province, Cambodia. The main thing I learned is the fact that the bas-reliefs are more connected than I thought they were. It was interesting to see the fact that the temples in Takeo province have similarities to other temples in different provinces. It sparked this other question in me; how did they communicate across provinces in the 11th century? Or was there a phenomenon or did the gods and goddesses in those bas-reliefs exist back then? The Eakin Fellowship is a wonderful opportunity for me to enhance my knowledge and desire to learn religious studies. Dalin Sao, '26

Applying for an Eakin Fellowship

Eakin Fellows will receive special funding to pursue the academic study of religion beyond the classroom through research, travel, fieldwork, internships, conferences, and other educational experiences.

Applications will be accepted in the spring semester. Eligible students will have completed a minimum of two classes with the Department of Religious Studies and will be asked to submit a short proposal of how the Eakin Fellowship can enrich their study of religion. 

Want to brainstorm some ideas? We’d love to talk!

Stephanie Cobb

Jane Geaney

Rhiannon Graybill

Mimi Hanaoka

Doug Winiarski

  • Examples

    Interested but not sure where to start? We have created some examples of how a student might enrich their study of religion through becoming an Eakin Scholar. Click through these examples for inspiration!


  • Research Archives
    Fascinated by the non-binary Publick Universal Friend after taking Sex & Salvation in Nineteenth-Century America (RELG 210)? Conduct research at the Yates County History Center, which preserves the Friend’s portrait, wide-brimmed hat, carriage, and a wide range of historical manuscripts documenting their communal settlement in Upstate New York.
  • Fieldwork
    Interested in learning more about biblical history in context? Join an archaeological dig!
  • Academic Conferences
    Come watch scholars at work at the 2023 Society of Biblical Literature/ American Academy of Religion (AAR) Conference in San Antonio.
  • Fellowship Projects & Internships
  • Study Abroad
    • Captivated by J. R. R. Tolkien & the Medieval Imagination (FYS 100)? Schedule visits to Bodleian Library and The Tolkien Society in Oxford while studying abroad in England, tour iconic LOTR film locations in New Zealand, or head out to Marquette University once you return to the U.S.

    • Intrigued by Body/Sex in World Religious Literature (RELG 205)? See the prehistoric masterpieces in the caves at Lascaux in France that inspired Georges Bataille’s theories about the origins of religion.
  • Museums & Religious Sites
    • Studied Islam in America (RELG 294)? Explore Muhammad Ali’s journey and his experience with Islam at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, KY.
    • Interested in learning more about Native American Religions (RELG 257)? Plan a spring break camping trip to the Great Gallery in Utah, the most astonishing indigenous rock art site in North America!
Dr. Frank E. Eakin Jr.

Dr. Frank Eakin

A graduate of the University of Richmond (’58), Dr. Eakin joined the Department of Religious Studies in 1966 after receiving his Ph.D. from Duke University. He published five books and numerous articles in leading academic journals during his distinguished career. Under his steady leadership and forward-looking vision as chair, the Department of Religious Studies shifted from an emphasis on Christian theological studies to focus on the academic study of religion as a humanistic discipline. Dr. Eakin was a legendary professor, beloved by countless students for his caring teaching style, effective mentorship, and unswerving commitment to respectful interreligious dialogue. He remains the longest-tenured faculty member in the University’s history.

To make a gift online, click the button to the side, enter “Eakin” in the Search Funds field and select The Frank E. Eakin Jr. Fund in the drop down menu.