I am a doctoral candidate in History at the University of Florida. My dissertation, titled Negotiation Through Sport: Navigating Everyday Life in Socialist Hungary, 1948-1989, examines the changes in policies, social relations, and cultural norms in the elite sport community. More specifically, I examine how the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and mass defection of hundreds of athletes following the Revolution gradually influenced sport leaders and elite athletes that cooperating with one another enabled both groups to achieve their respective goals of gold medals and material prosperity. My research also explores the improving relations between Hungarian sport leaders and the International Olympic Committee, and how their relations impacted policies domestically and within the IOC. In sum, my research is a history of the politics of cooperation during the Cold War, through the lens of elite sport.

My research has been awarded numerous prestigious grants, including the Olympic Studies Centre’s PhD Research Grant, the North American Society for sport History Dissertation Travel Grant, and a Fulbright Grant. I have also received several Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships to study Hungary.

My research consists of archival materials from the National Archives and State Security Services Archives in Hungary, the Olympic Studies Centre’s archival holdings on the IOC in Switzerland, and over thirty oral histories that I have conducted with former top athletes, coaches, and sport leaders.


Ph.D., History, University of Florida, expected Summer 2018

Dissertation Title: Negotiation Through Sport: Navigating Everyday Life in Socialist           Hungary, 1948-1989

Dissertation Adviser: Dr. Alice Freifeld

Fields: Modern Europe, Communist History, Sport History

M.A., History, University of Florida, 2012

B.A., History, College of Charleston, 2008, cum laude


“From Defectors to Cooperators: The Impact of 1956 on Athletes, Sport Leaders, and Sport Policy in Socialist Hungary.” Contemporary European History. (Submitted)

“Beyond Politics: Hungarian Defectors and the Realities of American Cold War Sport Policies on the Ground Level.” Journal of Sport History. (Submitted)

Review of The Olympic Games, the Soviet Sports Bureaucracy, and the Cold War: Red Sport, Red Tape by Jenifer Parks, Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies (Accepted).                                                               

Review of Playing for Equality: Oral Histories of Women Leaders in the Early Years of Title IX by Diane LeBlanc and Allys Swanson, Sport History Review (forthcoming).

Review of Between the States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea During World War II by Holly Case, Alpata: Journal of History, Vol. VIII (Spring 2011), 112-113.


Co-authored proposal with Dr. Toby Rider for the Junior Intramural Grant at California State University, Fullerton, for the oral history project titled, “Cold War Athlete-Refugees in CA Project.” Summer 2017-2018. Dr. Rider and I are using the grant to conduct interviews with athlete-defectors from Eastern Europe during the Cold War, for transcriptions to be done by CSUF’s Center for Oral and Public History, and for the collection to be deposited in the archives at the LA84 Foundation.

Co-authored proposal for Hungary Initiatives Foundation grant “1956 – Sixty Years Later” with the Center for European studies, titled, “Freedom’s Fury: The 1956 Hungarian Revolution as Reflected in Sport,” Fall 2016. Selected and invited guest speaker, helped organize the events, and throughout 2017 will be conducting oral histories with Hungarian-Americans who settled in Florida after fleeing in 1956. The collection will be archived at the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.


Graduate Coordinator, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, University of Florida, Spring-Fall 2016. Led the Undergraduate Oral History Internship, taught introduction to oral history methods, developed two new collections titled “Sport at UF” and “Craft Beer in Sunshine State,” organized public talks and managed projects with staff members.


Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies

North American Society for Sport History

Oral History Association

American Historical Association

Hungarian Studies Association

Memory Studies Association

Réseau D’Études des Relations Internationales Sportives

American-Hungarian Educators Association

Johanna Mellis

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