Core Team

Jessica DeSpain

Jessica DeSpain

Primary Investigator and Director, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Jessica DeSpain is Professor of English at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is the co-director of SIUE's IRIS Center. She is the author of Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Reprinting and the Embodied Book (2014) and editor of The Wide, Wide World Digital Edition, an exploration of the reprints of Susan Warner's bestselling nineteenth-century novel. DeSpain co-edited the collection Teaching with Digital Humanities (2018). She has directed several projects introducing digital humanities methods to middle and high school students. She leads SIUE’s Community-Oriented Digital Engagement Scholars program, an interdisciplinary general education innovation that uses digital humanities practices to address local manifestations of global problems; the project was funded by an NEH Humanities Connection Planning Grant.
Melissa Homestead

Melissa Homestead

Co-Investigator and Content Specialist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Melissa J. Homestead, Professor of English and program faculty in Women’s & Gender Studies and Director of the Cather Project at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, focuses her teaching and scholarship on American women’s writing and authorship from the early republic through the early twentieth century. She is the author of American Women Authors and Literary Property, 1822-1869 (2005) and The Creative Partnership of Willa Cather and Edith Lewis (2021) and is co-editor of Clarence: A Tale of Our Own Times (1830) by Catharine Sedgwick (2011) and E.D.E.N Southworth: Recovering a Popular Novelist (2012). She also serves as Associate Editor of the ongoing NEH-funded digital scholarly edition The Complete Letters of Willa Cather.
Emily Rau

Emily Rau

Co-Investigator and Director of Cultivated Projects, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Emily J. Rau is the managing editor of the Willa Cather Archive and a Fellow in the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She serves as the assistant editor and managing director of the NEH-funded digital scholarly edition The Complete Letters of Willa Cather. Rau is a doctoral candidate in the English Department at UNL and a graduate fellow in the Center for Great Plains Studies. Her dissertation, “Uncovering the Tracks: The Railroad in American Literature,” explores the intervention of the transcontinental railroad in American literature, tracing how it transformed conceptions of space, place, identity, and community.
Kristen Lillvis

Kristen Lillvis

Co-Investigator and Director of Pedagogical Initiatives, St. Catherine University
Kristen Lillvis is Mary Alice Muellerleile Endowed Chair in English at St. Catherine University. She is the author of Posthuman Blackness and the Black Female Imagination (2017) and the co-editor of Community Boundaries and Border Crossings: Critical Essays on Ethnic Women Writers (2016). Her research and teaching examine diverse identities in electronic literature. Her community mapping project, Movable: Narratives of Recovery and Place, has received over $200,000 in grant funding to support students and community leaders in digitally mapping nonfiction, poetry, interviews, and multimedia art on the topic of recovery in Appalachia and beyond.
Karin Dalziel

Karin Dalziel

Co-Investigator and Director of Editorial Environment
Karin Dalziel is the Digital Resources Designer & Developer in the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities (CDRH) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. As the manager of the CDRH development team, Dalziel leads the technical aspects of most CDRH projects, and specializes in design, web standards, encoding systems, XSLT, and creating attractive, accessible, and usable websites. Presentations include topics such as web development, web design, and digital humanities at venues such as Digital Humanities, the Nebraska Library Association, and Open Repositories. Dalziel was the co-Director of the NEH funded project Revitalizing & Enhancing the Open Source 3D WebGIS of MayaArch3D and has been a major contributor to many other grants, including the Walt Whitman Archive Infrastructure Revitalization grant and Keeping Data Alive. During their time at the CDRH, Dalziel has directed the creation of a publication system that is data driven, which they presented at Digital Humanities 2018. Dalziel oversaw the creation and publication of many data sets for the CDRH and continues to push for more open access to data wherever possible. Dalziel received a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Master’s in Library Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Margaret Smith

Margaret Smith

Co-Investigator and Director of Consultation
Margaret Smith is Research Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities in the IRIS Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and a historian of medieval and early modern Ireland. She contributes to the Center’s projects in a number of capacities, including digital humanities teaching and training, project development, grant-writing, and community engagement. Prior to joining SIUE, she worked in digitization at the Barack Obama Presidential Library (2019-2021), where she served as the local lead for the Social Networks and Archival Contexts project. In addition to publications on medieval and early modern Irish history, she has also written instructional materials for SNAC and written and presented on digital humanities tools and projects.