Hixson-Lied Graduate Fellows

Hixson-Lied Graduate Fellows

These fellowships, funded by the Hixson-Lied Endowment, are given to a select number of graduate students in each academic unit of the College. Applications undergo rigorous evaluation by members of the graduate faculty, who look for evidence of outstanding past achievement and the potential for excellence in scholarship and creative activity at the highest level.

  • The award level varies by School and is in addition to the graduate assistant stipends already provided by the university.
  • Individual academic units set additional threshold admissions criteria beyond those that are normally required for graduate assistantships.
  • The Hixson-Lied Fellowship can continue for a maximum of three successive years.
  • Students must be pursuing one of the graduate degrees offered by the College.

For information about other fellowships (Departmental and University-wide), contact the respective department within the college and the Office of Graduate Studies.

Current recipients of the Hixson-Lied Fellowships for 2022-2023:

School of Art, Art History & Design

Carlie Jo Antes

Carlie Jo Antes earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with an emphasis in ceramics and was offered the opportunity to return to UNL in the fall of 2020 where she began pursuing her Master of Fine Art in sculpture.

Carlie uses a variety of materials—including wire, seeds, hair, wool, beads, fabric and other found materials—that are indicative of her life spent primarily in rural Nebraska. Her work addresses the wavering sense of security that textiles, fencing, walls and other physical, emotional, and metaphorical boundaries/barriers are often charged with providing. Carlie employs these concepts and materials using a systematic and ordered approach that allows her to a maintain a sense of control while confronting, what can often be, chaotic and dynamic interpersonal relationships.

Since beginning her career at UNL, Carlie has received the Francis William Vreeland Scholarship Award (2017), is a two-time recipient of Jean R. Faulkner Memorial Art Exhibition Awards (2017, 2020), and was granted the 2020 Dan & Barbara Howard Creative Achievement Award. In 2019, Carlie was selected to attend the 2020 ASPN Residency at the Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana—but was deterred due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Carlie is also the 2021-2022 studio art representative for the Graduate Student Assembly.

Andy Bissonnette

Andy Bissonnette is a potter and teacher currently pursuing his Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His background in graphic design is evident in his work, which can be seen through his use of grids, pattern, hierarchy and repetition.

Andy first began making pots as a senior in high school and continued experimenting with clay while pursuing his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design. He spent nearly a decade in the advertising industry as a production designer before deciding to pursue his passion for clay and applying to graduate school.

Casey Beck

Casey Beck

Casey Beck is currently a second year Master of Fine Arts candidate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he is studying ceramics. His current research focuses on the process of soda firing, which utilizes soda ash, or sodium carbonate, and its volatilization inside the nearly 2300°F gas-fired kiln to glaze his wares. The wares he makes are utilitarian in nature and encourage a dialogue between user, process, material and self. 

After completion of his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in ceramics at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 2019, Beck spent two years living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. During this time, he worked as a studio potter, researching soda firing, worked in the Sales Gallery at Northern Clay Center (NCC) in Minneapolis and taught classes. 

Beck has been a resident artist at the Cub Creek Foundation in rural Virginia and was awarded the 2020 Jerome Ceramic Artist Project Grant through NCC. Outside of the studio, Beck enjoys discovering new and sometimes old music, camping, thinking about the studio, and using pottery made by his friends, peers and other folks he has only known through the wonderful world of the internet.


Jewelya Coffey

Jewelya Coffey was raised in Aurora, Missouri, and later in South Carolina. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, in 2015, and worked as an illustrator and product designer for several years. Throughout this time, she continued pursuing her own artistic goals, which eventually led her to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing.

Jewelya’s work is informed by memory, religion, trauma, childhood and life in the rural South, among many others. Her paintings have a symbolic, often dream-like quality to them, melding these disparate influences into a single, unique aesthetic.

She is a firm believer in the ability of the arts and education to empower, heal and promote empathy; upon completion of her degree, she will begin a new career as an art professor.

Matthew Meyer

Matthew Meyer is a contemporary creator from Illinois who investigates ideas of the human experience, specifically that of Black people and the minority of America. By drawing from social issues and blissful moments of life, he creates with the intent to inform, educate and inspire. He engages viewers of all kinds by having his practice be of works that seem sort of ambiguous.

His work has been shown across the United States and in other countries, where he has earned multiple awards in both 2D and 3D areas. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is currently on track to obtain his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Glenn Korff School of Music

David Pira Florez

David Pira Florez

David Pira Flores is a cellist from Bogotá, Colombia, currently pursuing a DMA in cello performance under the tutelage of Dr. Karen Becker in the Glenn Korff School of Music. He recently received his Master of Arts degree in cello from Ball State University where he studied with Dr. Peter B. Opie, and in 2017 he also received his Master of Music degree in Missouri State University, where he took lessons with Dr. Michael Murray.

Pira attended the National University of Colombia’s Conservatory of Music, where he received his undergraduate degree in cello performance. At the same time, he attended the MARGUZ Academy of Chamber Music and Cello Performance where he expanded the art of Chamber Music and the mastery of an effortless and natural cello technique with the guidance of Gabriel Guzmán and Adriana Marin, the latter former student of Christopher Bunting. As a teacher, Pira expanded his studio in Springfield, Missouri, coaching students from diverse ages and backgrounds, and in the STARS Foundation in Cabool, Missouri, where he contributed to the expansion of self-efficacy teachings and the enhancement of cello performance through Orchestral, Solo and Cello Chamber ensembles. 

As a performer, Pira participated in several orchestras such as the Colombian National Symphony, Springfield Symphony, Kokomo Symphony and the Muncie Symphony, performing in several international venues such as Barcelona, Lima, Pereira, and several areas from the United States. Additionally, he had the opportunity to participate in several masterclasses with Edgar Moreau, Ismar Gomez, Thomas Loewenheim, Laura Ospina, Crispin Campbell, Santiago Cañón, Álvaro Bitrán, Nicholas Finch, Phillip Borter, Aldo Mata, Michael Hell and Peter Schmid.

As an award recipient, Pira was a winner of the William T. White Scholarship in Missouri State, the Ball State Cello Graduate Assistantship, and recently he is the recipient of the GTA Assistantship and the Hixson-Lied Fellowship, where he will develop his duties for the Theory Area, Chamber Ensembles and Cello coachings. As a contribution to the Glenn Korff School of Music, Pira—with the assistance of Dr. Becker—designed a Cello Technique Handbook for the Cello studio with the purpose of support the mastering of technical skills through mindful performance.

Natalie Francel-Stone

Natalie Francel-Stone is a bassoonist currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in the Glenn Korff School of Music, under the instruction of Dr. Nathan Koch. Originally from Wichita, Kansas, Francel-Stone earned her Master of Music from Wichita State University, and her Bachelor of Music from Kansas State University.

As a Bobbie Bastian Musical Arts Fellow, a Mary Wurth Foundation Performance Arts Fellow, and a Lillian Graduate Performance Fellow, she has also served on the music faculty at Southwestern College and Union College.

An avid chamber performer, Francel-Stone was an integral member in the formation of the Valley Chamber Ensembles, a grant-winning Los Angeles based non-profit chamber ensemble, and was a member of artistic advisory board. Additionally, she has served as Principal Bassoon in the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra, Delano Chamber Players and Crown Uptown Music Theater Orchestra. She went on to participate in the formation of numerous chamber ensembles and chamber events in the Great Plains and Chicago areas, including Stix Bassoon Society, The Wichita Salon Series and the N*Cinq Wind Quintet.

Francel-Stone is a published author and gallery artist who has been featured in multiple national juried exhibitions and has served as an ongoing mentor artist for the National Arthritis Foundation, and she ardently strives to explore the complex relationship between a spectrum of arts disciplines to enhance the musical experience for both listener and performer. She believes in blurring the lines between audience and performer through interactive performances, unconventional settings and community outreach, to bring music out of the concert hall and to the people.

Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth (Ellie) Johnson has been a music educator in Nebraska since 2015. She received her B.A. in vocal music education from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she toured and recorded as an alto with The Concordia Choir under the direction of Dr. Rene Clausen and Michael Smith. She received her M.M. in music education from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Ellie has her Orff Level 1 certification through UNL and is eager to pursue further certification to complete Orff and Kodaly training through Nebraska universities. 

In her time teaching in the public school system, Ellie has worked primarily with middle school students in both general music and choral settings. She has directed youth musical theater productions, provided small group and solo instruction, and directed and choreographed competitive show choir. Ellie is a staff member at SNJ Studios in Millard, and sings as a mezzo with Omaha's professional chorus, Resonance, under the direction of Barron Breland and in frequent collaboration with the Omaha Symphony. She serves as soprano/alto section leader and librarian for Resonance. 

Ellie is excited to continue her work at UNL as a Ph.D. student focusing on music education and is grateful for opportunities like the Hixson-Lied Fellowship that allow her to pursue a doctoral degree while supporting her family in Omaha.

Sanda Mašić

Sanda Mašić earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Faculty of Music Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, under professor Miomir Simonović and a Chamber Music Certificate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she worked as a graduate teaching assistant under Dr. Jennifer Clippert.

She performed throughout Europe and the U.S. and appeared as a soloist with the UWM Symphony Orchestra and String Orchestra Orfej. As an orchestral musician, Mašić participated in many orchestral tours including a tour of Romania (Piatra Neamt), Italy (Trieste, Milan) and California (Los Angeles), US. Mašić was awarded by The Ministry of Youth and Sports of Republic of Serbia with the Dositeja diploma for special achievements on domestic and international competitions, she was a Laureate at the International Flute Festival in Valjevo 2016, a full scholarship award recipient for The Forum Flute Piano in Luxembourg 2018, the winner of UWM Concerto and Aria Competition 2019 and she participated in many masterclasses, workshops and concerts in Serbia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg and the U.S.

Mašić is currently enrolled as a DMA student and graduate teaching assistant and fellow studying with Dr. John Bailey in the Glenn Korff School of Music.

Andrew Mell

Andrew Mell is a bassist, composer and music educator based in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he is currently working towards his doctorate in Jazz Performance.

Before recently moving to Lincoln, Mell spent the last seven years in Oregon, where he became a regular in the jazz and pop music scenes around the state. He performed at an array of different venues such as Jimmy Mac’s and the 1905 in Portland and the Jazz Station in Eugene, with several different local and touring groups.

Mell has also been an active private and classroom teacher in the Eugene and Salem communities. At the University of Oregon, he had many teaching roles such as leading a weekly jam session for jazz studies students, and leading composing clinics at the Oregon Jazz Festival. More recently, he served as the Bass and Combo instructor at Willamette University.

Aside from extensive work in the jazz and pop world, Mell has also been an active musician in the classical music scene in Eugene. While in school, he was the Principal Bassist of the University of Oregon Symphony, and has performed with other professional groups such as Orchestra Next.

Javier Barreto Olaya

Javier Barreto Olaya

Javier Barreto Olava is a double bass player born in Honda, Colombia. He earned a bachelor's in music education from the Conservatorio del Tolima (Colombia) studying with Edgar Alarcón, and his master's in music performance degree from the University of Southern Mississippi under Dr. Marcos Machado. Currently, he is pursuing a D.M.A. degree at the University of Nebraska with Dr. Hans Sturm, where he is recipient of a GTA and fellowship.

He has participated in different music festivals in Colombia, Brazil and the United States, receiving master classes with Catalin Rotaru, Thierry Barbé, Gabriele Ragghianti, Alex Hanna, Jeremy McCoy.

Also, he was part of the OAcademy 2022, in the studio of Dominic Seldis, awarded with a graduate certificate in music performance and digital creation. 

Joshua Pitt

Joshua Pitt is a baritone from Racine, Wisconsin, who is currently pursuing his Master of Music in vocal  performance at the Glenn Korff School of Music. He recently graduated from Western Illinois University where he received his Bachelor's in vocal performance. 

While working on his undergraduate degree, Pitt would compete and place in several vocal  competitions. These include  being awarded first and second place in both the National and  Regional NATS Vocal Competitions in the Classical, Musical Theatre and Spiritual categories. Pitt also won the 2022 WIU Concerto Aria Competition and the 2020 Racine Symphony Orchestra Competition. 

Last Spring, Pitt debuted the lead role of Krakamiche in Pauline Viardot’s “The Last Sorcerer.” This  was the first time this rarely performed opera has been performed by a college opera program in the  United States.

Elisa Ramon

Elisa Ramon is a native Italian soprano, voice teacher and diction coach. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in vocal pedagogy at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where she serves as a graduate teaching assistant. Additionally, she is completing coursework for a Certificate in Vocology at the National Center for Voice & Speech in Salt Lake City, Utah. Elisa holds a Diploma in voice and an M.Mus. in Music Education from the Cesare Pollini Conservatory of Padua (Italy) and a B.A. in Musicology from the University of Padua (Italy). She is certified in Levels I, II, III of Somatic Voicework™ for CCM, and she is a licensed teacher of Italian (CEDILS). Prior to moving to Nebraska, she taught applied voice and diction classes at the University of North Texas and the PennWest Edinboro University.

As a scholar, Ramon researches Italian diction and its application to improve legato singing. Combining her vocal and musical expertise with a profound technical and aesthetical knowledge of the Italian language, diction and phonetics, she has been researching and developing techniques to specifically support anglophone singers in achieving vocal comfort while singing in Italian. She is also the creator of The Italian IPA Project, a free online video repository of audio sync IPA transcriptions. Likewise, she actively performs and researches Ibero-Latin music, promoting the application of Spanish in developing vocal technique. 

Ramon has been primarily active as soloist and recitalist, with performances in such venues as St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, St. Francis' Basilica in Assisi, St. Anthony's Basilica in Padua, and the Basilica of Frari in Venice. 

In the last decade, Ramon has been primarily engaged in chamber music, with a strong emphasis on Italian and Spanish art songs from the 19th and 20th century. Together with the Italian classical guitarist and musicologist Alessio Olivieri, she established the Operaperta Duo, performing extensively throughout Italy, Australia, New Zealand and the United States and premiering works by such composers as Mark Delpriora. The duo published a CD (Operaperta Duo: Spanish Popular Songs, Venetian Boat Songs, Neapolitan Songs, 2012), a survey of songs from Italy and Spain, including the world premiere recording of some Venetian Boat Songs from the 18th century.


Ian Rutherford

Ian Rutherford

Ian Rutherford is currently attending UNL as a D.M.A. graduate teaching assistant in trombone. He teaches History of Rock and the low brass sections of the skills course, as well as minor and non-major trombone students. 

Ian completed his B.M.E. at Augustana University where he studied with Vance Shoemaker. During his undergraduate studies, he was a featured soloist multiple times with the Northlanders Jazz Band and a winner of the Concerto/Aria Competition. Following his undergraduate studies, he was the 5-12 Band Director at West Sioux Public Schools in Hawarden, Iowa, for two years. 

Ian completed his Masters degree in trombone performance under the tutelage of Dr. Scott Anderson at UNL in 2020. Ian is an active freelance trombone player and clinician in the Midwest.  He has performed with the Des Moines Symphony, Sioux City Symphony, Lincoln’s Symphony, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra and the University of Nebraska Faculty Brass Quintet. Ian has shared the stage with John Faddis, Chris Vadala, Second City, Mason Bates, Sasha Cooke, Evelyn Glennie, Michael Daugherty, Aaron Diehl, Mark O’Connor, Vince DiMartino, Keith Lockhart, John Luther Adams, Keith Brion, among others. He has also performed in masterclasses for Mark Lawrence, Douglas Yeo, Joseph Alessi, Matthew Vaughan and Marshall Gilkes.

Brandy Trucke

Brandy Trucke is an oboist who is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts in oboe performance at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln under the instruction of Dr. William McMullen. She recently completed her Master of Music, also at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln where she has served, and is continuing to serve, as a graduate assistant in the music theory department, as well as teaching the oboe portion of the undergraduate music education program. Prior to her studies in Lincoln, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis in oboe, piano, and voice from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa.

Trucke has enjoyed an active freelance career during her time as a university student performing with various groups throughout the Midwest; most recently with the Nebraska Chamber Players and the Great Plains Wind Quintet. She also held the position of principal oboe with the Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra (NISO) for their 2017-2018 concert season. 

Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film

Trinity Ellison

Trinity Ellison

Trinity Ellison is a theatrical designer from Houston, Texas, and earned their Bachelor of Science in Theater from Texas A&M University-Commerce, with an emphasis in technical theater and design.

Trinity has completed several years of classical music training, sculpture work and productions on and off the theatrical stage. In their time as an undergraduate, they specialized in scenic design and scenic painting and earned a certification in Live Entertainment Technology from Lone Star College-Montgomery.

Trinity is currently working toward their Master of Fine Arts in scenic design in the Johnny Carson School of Theater and Film.

Francisco Hermosillo, III

Francisco Hermosillo, III, is a lighting designer from Los Angeles, California, who is currently a second-year Master of Fine Arts candidate in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, studying under Michelle Harvey. Prior to his studies in Lincoln, he received a Bachelor of Arts in music composition from California Lutheran University and also studied under Michael Schelle.

Hermosillo has enjoyed an active freelance career as an electrician in regional theatre and universities across the country, such as Rubicon Theatre Company, Barrington Stage Company and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Brad LaMotte

Brad LaMotte

Originally hailing from Temple, Texas, Brad LaMotte is pursuing his M.F.A. in technical production and scenic design from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, and earned his B.F.A. in theatre design & technology from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He is a second-year graduate student.

Brad’s experience includes working for the Nebraska Repertory Theatre, Baylor University, Illumination Fireworks and numerous community theatres in Central Texas. Some of his favorite projects have included planning construction of the puppet screen for The Way to the Way for Nebraska Repertory Theatrescenic designer of Crazy for You at Baylor University, scenic designer of Steel Magnolias at Waco Civic Theatre, and several seasons of pyrotechnics at Baylor Football games.

Brad is happily married to his high school sweetheart, Alexandra LaMotte, and together they have two beautiful daughters: Charlotte and Penelope. 


Camille Lerner

Camille Lerner

Camille Lerner is a costume designer pursuing her M.F.A. at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. While most graduate programs take three years, Camille had a late-in-life discovery and found a love of scenic design, and so decided to take a fourth year and become a scenographer. 

Prior to attending UNL, Camille worked as a seamstress creating and altering gowns for beauty pageant queens, and her work has been seen on televisions across the globe. She has also worked in theaters across the country, though mostly keeping to the East Coast. 

She has a bachelor’s degree from Emerson College in Visual and Media Arts and is very excited to be finishing her academic career at UNL.

Paige Moeller

Paige Moeller is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in Design and Technical Production in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. She is from Wisner, Nebraska. She received an A.A. from Northeast Community College and her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC).

Hunter Rock

Hunter Rock

Hunter Rock is pursuing his Master of Fine Arts degree in design and technical production in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. He is from Wilmington, North Carolina. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington (UNCW). 

In addition to his studies, Rock has worked as wardrobe and stage crew at the Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, North Carolina.


Stephanie Schlosser

Stephanie Schlosser is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Stage Design with an emphasis in Technical Production. She spent most of her life bouncing between Oregon, Guam and South Carolina before eventually settling in Greenville, South Carolina.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a master’s degree in theatre arts, both from Bob Jones University. Her background in criminal justice and security translates into an emphasis on safety in theater. She hopes one day to teach technical direction and possess a Certified Emergency Manager certification from the International Association of Emergency Managers. She is currently a member of the Event Safety Alliance. 

Abbey Lynn Smith

Abbey Lynn Smith is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree in lighting design at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. She graduated from the University of Kansas in 2018 with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre design.

At Kansas, she designed the lighting for two black box productions for the University Theatre and a couple of smaller projects. In 2017, she worked for Interlochen Center for the Arts as a lighting technician where she received more design opportunities. Before returning to school for her graduate degree, she spent two years in New Jersey working as a lighting technician. She is very excited to explore her craft and learn all that she can during her time at UNL.

Taylor Walters-Riggsbee

Taylor Walters-Riggsbee is pursuing her MFA of Fine Arts in scenic design at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in theatre design and technology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Spring of 2020.

While an undergraduate, Walters-Riggsbee designed and realized the sets of six shows, two of which were on the main stage at UNCW. She is excited to see where her journey as a Graduate Teaching Assistant will take her as she develops her skills.

Kennedy Wilcher

Kennedy Wilcher

Kennedy Wilcher is a Louisiana native currently in her second year as a Master of Fine Arts candidate in lighting design at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. She received a Bachelor of Arts, Honors in Theatre as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a focus on International Affairs at Centenary College of Louisiana. 

She recently spent her summer at Hangar Theatre Company in Ithaca, New York, as the Assistant Lighting Supervisor and the Head Electrician for KIDSHOWS. She avidly enjoys reading, painting, and hammocking. Wilcher looks forward to this upcoming school year working with Lincoln Community Playhouse and Nebraska Repertory Theatre.