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

Kathleen Schuler Small

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

Elise Rudt 2

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 61 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. She then earned a CELTA certificate to teach English as a New Language to adults and got accepted to an AmeriCorps year at a non-profit Citizenship Program in Baltimore. There, she taught classes, and assisted the program coordinator win grants 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 

Jenny For Website

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.

Emily Hunt, Student Engagement Program Coordinator


Emily joined CUSE in March 2020. She specializes in scholarly engagement activities related to research and graduate study beyond Notre Dame. These include Fulbright Study grants, NSF REUs and other summer research programs, STEM graduate fellowships like the NSF GRFP and Churchill Scholarship, the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program, the Yenching Academy, and the Michel David-Weill Scholarship at Sciences Po.

Prior to joining the CUSE team, Emily worked for the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, supporting student and visiting fellows programs. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Pitzer College in Claremont, California. Outside of work, Emily enjoys hiking, running, and spending time with her husband and son.

James Cotton, Postdoctoral Fellow


James received his Ph.D. in Literature from Notre Dame in August 2019.  At CUSE, he advises students on scholarly discernment, national fellowships, and statements for graduate school. Currently, he is coordinating Knight-Hennessy, Fulbright, and NSF-GRFP.  Students he has advised have won numerous awards including Fulbright, NSF-GRFP, CLS, GEM, and many others.  James also maintains CUSE's social media presence and develops grant-writing workshops and informational sessions.  He has taught Italian, Writing and Rhetoric, and Literature classes at Notre Dame.  Meeting with students is the highlight of his day.

Evan Gage, Undergraduate Research Assistant


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.