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Shanaz Deen

she/her/hers | (347) 631-3945 | sd3543@utsnyc.edu

research areas

Migration; Race, Religion, and Society; Postcolonial Studies; Political Theology; Liberation Theology; Cultural Memory


Union Theological Seminary

M.A. in Islam and Interreligious Engagement

Expected: May 2023

Thesis: “Martyrdom in the Palestinian Liberation Movement” [forthcoming]

Princeton University

A.B. in Chemistry, magna cum laude (GPA 3.787)

Minor in Global Health and Health Policy

Conferred: May 2021

Thesis: “Finding Sacred Reciprocity in Scientism: Meditations for the Psychedelic Renaissance

Advisor: Michael Hecht, Ph. D.

Description: Integrated a biochemical analysis of psychedelic drugs and forty semi-structured interviews with recreational users and key informants of the field to understand how the psychedelic renaissance may radically transform conceptions of health or exacerbate structural harm. Findings support broader epistemological frameworks that uplift indigenous ways of knowing and community-based healing modalities.

Bethpage High School

High School Diploma, Valedictorian (GPA 107.52)

Conferred: June 2017

research experience

Religion and Forced Migration Initiative

Oral Historian, Researcher | April 2019 – Present

Funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, the Religion and Forced Migration Initiative seeks to better understand and respond to the role religion plays in the lives of forced migrants and refugees. As an oral historian and researcher, I conducted, transcribed, and analyzed dozens of oral histories. With two other peers, I developed “An Oral History-Based Curriculum: Lived Religion and Catholic Social Teaching,” a five-day lesson plan that encourages high school students to explore the intersections of oral history, migration, and spirituality.

Princeton Asylum Project

Team Leader, Research Assistant | Sept 2019 – May 2021

Collaborated with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York to research and prepare country condition indices, which elucidate the political, social, and economic conditions of a region, thereby helping lawyers to prepare affidavits for active asylum cases.

Junior Independent Work

Optimizing the de novo codon sequence and characterizing the biochemical function of SynGltA

Advisor: Michael Hecht, Ph.D. | Spring 2020

As an independent research project submitted to Princeton’s Department of Chemistry, I proposed genetic mutations to augment expression and biochemical assays to understand SynGltA’s role in rescuing the citric-acid cycle in ∆gltA auxotrophic strains. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was completed remotely.

work and leadership experience

Shanaz Deen Photography, LLC

Founder, Photographer | Jan 2022 – Pressent

Shanaz Deen Photography, LLC builds upon a lifelong passion for visual art and storytelling. By specializing in portraits, street photography, and photojournalism, I aim to document unique perspectives in and around the NYC area. Forthcoming projects will highlight intersections of spirituality, migration, and political opinion.

International Rescue Committee

Humanitarian Aid and Policy Fellow | Summer 2022

As graduate fellow, I supported IRC’s preparation and efforts to localize aid in the 2022 Grand Bargain Caucus. Additionally, I conducted independent research on humanitarian aid effectiveness and reform, new policy developments, and ongoing crisis; this project culminated in a substantial research paper, “Humanitarian Reset: Exploring frameworks and funding models,” that was presented to the Policy & Advocacy department.

Burke Library

Student Library Assistant | Sept 2021 – May 2022

As a student worker, I assist the Public Services Librarian in running one of the largest theological libraries in the United States through several administrative tasks. I also help library patrons with research and utilizing campus and library resources, thereby developing skills in research and organization.

UN Women Faith and Gender Justice Fellowship

Project Leader | Sept 2019 – May 2021

Collaborated with Princeton’s Office of Religious Life and UN Women’s Civil Society Division to lead a group of twelve students in exploring the intersection of interfaith organizations, faith communities, and social justice. Conversations with guest speakers were supplemented with peer conversations and independent research, helping each member develop their own interest and passion for gender justice.

Office of Campus Engagement

Student Engagement Specialist | March 2020 – May 2021

Promoted the establishment of Princeton University’s inaugural “Wintersession,” a two-week learning experience between the fall and spring semesters the encourage faculty, staff, and students to host workshops that highlight their unique passions and skills. Tasks included inviting keynote speakers, managing registration through CampusGroups, creating and editing social media content, and providing live support during evening events.

Pace Council for Civic Values

Co-Chair, Training and Curriculum Chair | Sept 2018 – Dec 2020

Working under the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, I participated and later led a year-long fellowship that trains students to connect and participate in public service projects through regular meetings, campus projects, and public events.

UN Women

Youth and Faith Engagement Intern | Summer 2020

Researched partnerships between young activists, local faith organizations, and UN Women regional offices to organize the “Young women leading in times of COVID” webinar alongside the Berkeley Center of Georgetown University. Coordinated, transcribed, and edited a chapter of “A Decade of Daring,” an online publication celebrating UN Women’s accomplishments in gender justice across ten years.

Hearts and Homes for Refugees

Intern | Summer 2019

Assisted founder and president of Hearts and Homes for Refugees in administrative tasks, such as responding to emails, sending postcards, and drafting proposals. Contributed to the growth of the organization’s network by mapping regional government offices and directly advocated for the co-sponsorship model of refugee resettlement at community venues.


Software: R; Adobe Suite; Fiji; MAXQDA; Endnote; WordPress

Languages: English (native); Spanish (working proficiency); Arabic (beginner)

Service Experience: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (100+ hours); Community House and Afterschool Enrichment; Kindred Hospice; Princeton Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness; Challah for Hunger; NEXT Distro

Community Involvement: Interfaith Justice Caucus; Neo-abolitionist Group; Recognizing Inequities and Standing for Equality; Princeton Yoga and Meditation Fellowship; Princeton Tutoring; Orientation Leader at Princeton University; Princeton Tutoring

Certifications: Yoga Instructor (RYT 200 – Yoga Alliance)

professional membership

American Photographic Artists, Contributor

Society of Sigma Xi, Member

American Academy of Religion, Member

Rose Castle Foundation, Affiliate

awards and honors

Union Tuition Scholarship — June 2021- May 2023

Kenneth Christopher Harris ’65 Memorial Award — May 2021

National AP Scholar — June 2017

Advanced Regents Diploma with Master’s in Science and Math — June 2017