CUSE Team

Jeffrey Thibert, Paul and Maureen Stefanick Director

Thibert Headshot

Dr. Thibert joined the CUSE team in July 2013 and became Director in August 2017. His primary role is to oversee CUSE operations. He also advises students who are preparing applications for the Rhodes, Mitchell, Knight Hennessy, and Schwarzman Scholarships.

After earning the B.S. in Cognitive Science at Carnegie Mellon University, he earned the M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of South Florida and the Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. When not working, his favorite activity is taking long walks with his wife, son, daughter, and two dogs.

View Dr. Thibert's Curriculum Vitae (PDF)


Kathleen Schuler, Assistant Director for Student Engagement

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Kathleen joined the CUSE team in August of 2013 as the Staff Assistant, and began work as the Administrative Coordinator in August 2015. She took on the role of Student Programming Coordinator in August of 2017, when she began working specifically as the coordinator of the Sorin Scholar Program, and then became Assistant Director for Student Engagement in August 2019. She also provides advising and support to students participating in undergraduate research grants, coordinates the office marketing and communications, and manages office data initiatives. A native of Illinois, Kathleen earned her Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Illinois State University (2009) and her Master of Science in Communication from Purdue University (2019). Before coming to Notre Dame, Kathleen worked at both Illinois State University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Elise Rudt, National Fellowships Coordinator

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Elise joined the CUSE team in June 2017. As National Fellowships Program Coordinator, Elise advises students applying for global and political awards and has worked with 57 fellowship winners across the awards in her portfolio. While completing her B.A. in Global Studies and minor in Psychology, Elise won a $10,000 France-Merrick Fellowship for Service and Leadership. Elise then earned a University of Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) at the International House in Barcelona, Spain. She then got accepted to an AmeriCorps year at a non-profit Citizenship Program in Baltimore teaching, and helping them win Federal grants of over $36,000 to maintain operations. She looks forward to helping you best represent yourself on paper for your next fellowship application.


Jenny Claire Smith, Undergraduate Research Advisor 

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Jenny joined CUSE in August 2018 where she specializes in undergraduate research and research-based fellowships. Jenny holds one-on-one grant consultations with students on writing and revising grant proposals, writes material for and runs regular workshops related to undergraduate research and professional development, and works with faculty and deans to support undergraduate research among departments and colleges across campus. 

Jenny works with seniors and alumni applying to graduate school through the Gates Cambridge, Churchill, NSF, Beinecke, Lilly, and Yenching fellowships as well as applicants for Fulbright Study/Research awards. She also advises sophomores and juniors applying to the Goldwater Scholarship. In addition, she serves as an instructor in the Moreau First Year Experience course. 

Jenny holds an M.A. in History from Notre Dame. She enjoys classical ballet, having taken lessons for 21 years and performed for 18 years. She also teaches a weekly catechism class for third, fourth, and fifth graders at her church.


James Cotton, Postdoctoral Fellow

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James has helped numerous Notre Dame students win grants and fellowships.  He is a College of Arts & Letters 5+1 Postdoctoral Fellow. He received his Ph.D. in Literature from Notre Dame in August 2019, and he will be working with CUSE during the 2019–20 academic year. His primary responsibilities within CUSE are (1) advising undergraduates on scholarly discernment and applications for grant funding and (2) supporting the Center's grant funding program.


Evan Gage, Undergraduate Research Assistant

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Evan earned the Master of Theological Studies from Notre Dame in 2019. His interests—the history of Christianity in Asia Minor, Eastern Christian thought in the twentieth century, and dinner parties—were formed by the learning experiences he enjoyed through scholarships from the Fulbright Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Critical Language Scholarship. Evan looks forward to helping Notre Dame undergraduates develop and pursue their own research interests. Evan graduated from Hillsdale College with a B.A. in English and History and taught in Tokat, Turkey and St. Paul, Minnesota before coming to Notre Dame.