KU Student Receives Prestigious Doctoral Dissertation Award

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas history of art doctoral candidate Rachel Quist has received the prestigious Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Award.

The U.S. Department of Education granted $55,214 to Quist, from Brookline, Massachusetts, to conduct research in Japan for 12 months. Quist was one of 142  fellows in the U.S. received the award from the Department of Education’s Fulbright-Hays International Education programs.

Rachel Quist

“The opportunity to view the icons and architecture of Daigoji in person will have an immensely positive impact on my research."

Rachel Quist
Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Fellow


The Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship Program provides opportunities to doctoral candidates to engage in full-time dissertation research abroad in modern foreign languages and area studies. The program is designed to contribute to the development and improvement of the study of modern foreign languages and area studies in the United States.

“I am thrilled to see Rachel Quist selected for this highly competitive and prestigious award. Her research will shed light on an important and understudied area of Buddhist imagery, and I am confident she will be an outstanding representative for KU in Japan,” said Rachel Sherman Johnson, KU director of internationalization and partnerships.

In January 2022, Quist plans to travel to Japan, where she has been accepted as a visiting researcher at Osaka University and will conduct research for her dissertation.

Quist’s dissertation explores the relationship between the Japanese imperial family and the temple Daigoji between the 10th and 12th centuries. Daigoji, a Buddhist temple in the mountains bordering Kyoto, was originally founded in 876 as a private hermitage. Through the patronage of the Emperor Daigo (reign 897–930) and his successors, it became a major Buddhist worship site and, as Quist argues, a family temple through which the imperial lineage solidified power and influence.

Quist’s research investigates Daigoji’s icons and monuments to illustrate the centrality of Buddhist imagery to the Japanese court. Her dissertation examines major icons and worship halls created in relation to the imperial lineage and explores the worship of these images and their developing use in imperial rituals throughout the following centuries.

The Fulbright award will allow Quist to visit Daigoji regularly to conduct fieldwork and attend rites and festivals on the temple grounds.

“The opportunity to view the icons and architecture of Daigoji in person will have an immensely positive impact on my research,” Quist said. “This funding will also allow me to gather research materials and visit other temples that are significant to Daigoji’s history throughout Japan.”

Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad grants are part of the larger competitive Fulbright-Hays Program, which dates to 1961 when the late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright sponsored legislation for several programs that aim to increase mutual understanding between America and the rest of the world. Since the broader Fulbright program’s inception in 1946, 485 KU students, including Quist, have been awarded Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays grants.