Advance Your Education at Iowa

Graduate Education in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

As a comprehensive liberal arts college at the heart of a major research university, CLAS offers plentiful opportunities for interdisciplinary study and collaboration in research and creative production, as well as opportunities for developing teaching skills.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) is the home of approximately 1,900 graduate students at the University of Iowa. As the largest of the 10 UI colleges offering advanced degrees through the Graduate College, CLAS supports cutting-edge research, scholarship, and creative work through nearly 50 graduate and professional degree programs in the arts, humanities, and sciences.

To learn more about our degree programs, admission to them, and opportunities for funding and professional development, please visit the Graduate College at and browse our departmental pages at

We invite you to explore these quick links to individual items on the Graduate College website:

Meet Graduate Student Researchers in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Aiden BettineAiden Bettine, History

Aiden Bettine spent two years working alongside others (including Grinnell College Visiting Assistant Professor AJ Lewis) to plan the LGBTQ Iowa Archives and Library, but he didn’t expect a pandemic to provide the final push they needed to bring it to life. As COVID-19 spread in 2020, Aiden and his co-founders recognized that the queer community was in an especially precarious position due to many queer community members’ roles as essential workers and LGBTQ folks’ often fraught relationships with health institutions, among other factors. If ever there were a time to preserve intergenerational knowledge and queer Iowans’ histories, it was now. If anyone would be in a position to identify the value of community archives, it would be Aiden. Read more . . . 

Abylay ZhexembayAbylay Zhexembay, Actuarial Science

Abylay Zhexembay has been drawn to math since middle school, but actuarial science was nowhere on his radar. He first learned about the field as he left his hometown in Kazakhstan to pursue his bachelor’s degree in the United States. While he had little exposure to actuarial science growing up, his experiences with the field in college have led him to study it on an advanced level in his program now at Iowa. Read more . . .

Ariana ShahnaziAriana Shahnazi, Communication Studies

After someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, they can face countless hurdles to treat their disease. Even after treatment is complete, however, survivors are many times left with lasting and unexpected symptoms and changes to their bodies. Many breast cancer survivors experience debilitating fatigue, severe fear of cancer recurrence, depression, anxiety, and a now unfamiliar body, amongst other setbacks in the transition.

Recognizing these adversities, Ariana Shahnazi focused her dissertation on analyzing the various challenges survivors face and the types of support that can help them better cope with these challenges. Read more . . .

Alaine Reschke-Hernández Alaine Reschke-Hernández, Music Therapy

People with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) face a range of issues related to changes in memory and thinking. These may limit their functionality in many other aspects of life. While there is no magic cure to reverse cognitive decline, one treatment option has the potential to facilitate social engagement and emotion regulation in these patients: music therapy.

Alaine Reschke-Hernández has been recognized with the Graduate College’s 2020 D.C. Spriestersbach Dissertation Prize in the Social Sciences. She focused her time at Iowa on research establishing an effective model of music therapy for patients with ADRD. Read more. . .

Brett BahleBrett Bahle, Psychology

As the old saying goes, many people see the eyes as windows to the soul. One young scholar in psychology, however, views them as windows to the brain.

Dr. Brett Bahle’s research examines how we focus our attention on objects within the visual field. The eyes are one of the primary ways we gather sensory information about the world – we move them about three times per second on average – so understanding the factors behind eye movements could provide more knowledge on sensory processing and attention.

“Some of the most important tasks that can be life or death in our society are actually visual search tasks,” says Bahle. “You can think of radiologists looking for dangerous things like cancer in medical images – that’s a visual search task. If we can better understand how people natively conduct visual search tasks and their visual search behavior in general, then we can use that information to better train them in catching mistakes.” Read more . . .

Serena (Banu) Gumusoglu Serena (Banu) Gumusoglu, Neuroscience

Research has shown that preeclampsia in mothers is correlated with increased risk for children to be born with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, learning deficits, and other cognitive dysfunctions.

While pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Iowa, Serena (Banu) Gumusoglu and her lab colleagues hypothesized that developmental disorders could be traced to inflammation and dysfunction in pregnancy. They studied the embryonic brains of mice to gain a molecular understanding of what disrupts mechanisms in preeclampsia and other inflammatory exposures during pregnancy to result in developmental brain disorders and psychiatric conditions in offspring.

“I think it's really important to look at things during the prenatal period because it sets the stage for the rest of development,” Gumusoglu says. “If you're able to interact with the developing child in a proactive way, you can prevent some of these long-term effects that are really costly both emotionally for families and financially for health systems.” Read more . . .