Wesleyan Welcomes 56 New Faculty Members for 2023-24 Academic Year

Editorial StaffSeptember 6, 2023102min
Faculty Group Photo

Wesleyan welcomes 56 new faculty members for the 2023-24 academic year. The group contains 19 new visiting faculty members, 16 assistant professors, three Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral fellows, three associate professors of the practice, three postdoctoral fellows, two university professors, two Distinguished Writers in Residence, two coaches and adjunct professors, one assistant professor of the practice, one distinguished professor, one professor, one associate professor, one Artist-in-Residence, and one teaching fellow.

This group is comprised of experts in African American studies, American studies, biology, computer science, dance, Design & Engineering Studies, Earth and Environmental Studies, East Asian studies, economics, education, English, film, government, history, language, mathematics, media, music, Neuroscience and Behavior, physical education, physics, psychology, religion, sociology, and writing and criticism.

Bios of the new faculty are below:

African American Studies

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Amanda Anderson.

Amanda Anderson joins African American Studies as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow. She earned her Ph.D. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Emory University. Her current book project, Is My Blackness Getting on You, examines the political appeal to empathy as a mode of racial repair. She has developed the concept of “porousness” to explore how the relationship between mutuality and power registers black psychic lives following legacies of racial slavery and black people’s ongoing and particular vulnerability to multiple forms of gendered and sexualized harm. Anderson is the recipient of fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Laney Graduate School at Emory University. She has published work on black feminist pedagogy in Feminist Formations. She will be teaching a course entitled “Feeling Black Feminism” in the Fall semester.

BA Brandeis University
PHD Emory University

African American Studies

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Liana DeMarco.

Liana DeMarco joins African American Studies as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow.  She received her doctorate from the Program in the History of Science and Medicine at Yale University. In 2022-2023, she was a postdoctoral researcher for the Yale School of Medicine and Slavery Project.  Her writing on the history of medicine, race, labor, and capitalism in the Black Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the United States can be found in the Journal of Southern History, the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied SciencesSlavery & Abolition, and Labor and Enterprise & Society. She will be teaching a course entitled “Medicine and Healing in the Black Atlantic” in the Fall semester. Her current book project, Sick Time: Medicine and Management under Slavery, examines the management of enslaved people’s health and the medicalization of their productivity in nineteenth-century Louisiana and Cuba. In her work, she explores how people of African descent generated and transmitted medical knowledge and sought out places beyond the plantation where they could heal.

Ph.D., Yale University

American Studies

Antonina Griecci Woodsum is a historian and interdisciplinary scholar of Indigenous politics, labor, and American capitalism from the 19th century to the present day. She completed her Ph.D. in History from Columbia University in 2022. Her current research examines US settler colonialism and carcerality, specifically the surveillance and policing of Southern California Native peoples, their lands, and social relations with settlers and im/migrants during the region’s early 20th century economic development. Nina previously taught at California State University, Long Beach and Occidental College. She has held fellowships at the Autry Museum of the American West, the Huntington Library, and the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. Nina earned a Bachelor of Art in History and Master of Science in Labor Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (her hometown). She has worked with labor unions such as the UAW, UNITE HERE!, and the New York State Nurses Association. Before pursuing her doctorate, she was a research assistant and copyeditor for Palestinian scholars at Mada al-Carmel–Arab Center for Applied Social Research in Haifa, Israel/Palestine.

BA University of Massachusetts Amherst
MS University of Massachusetts Amherst
PHD Columbia University


Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology Amanda Cass.

Amanda Cass received her AB from Mount Holyoke College, where her undergraduate research on the origin of flatfishes sparked an interest in the origin of novel anatomies. After a Fulbright Fellowship to Australia to study larval fish anatomy, she completed her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University, and postdoctoral training at North Carolina State University, investigating the genetic and developmental basis of morphological novelty in fishes. Dr. Cass has held visiting faculty positions at Kennesaw State University and James Madison University where she maintained an active research presence studying appendage development in the American paddlefish. During this time, she became increasingly interested in course design and curriculum development and was intensively involved in the development of course-associated undergraduate research experiences associated with high enrollment introductory biology courses. Dr. Cass joined Wesleyan in Spring 2023, when she taught Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy. Dr. Cass looks forward to continuing to teach within her specialties of evolutionary developmental biology and anatomy, as well as contributing to the introductory biology curriculum. We are delighted to have her in the Biology Department!

A.B., Mount Holyoke
Ph.D., Cornell University


Assistant Professor of Biology Ni Feng.

Ni Feng received her B.S. from UCLA, where she became fascinated with hormones and animal behavior after studying the dancing courtship display of a neotropical bird. Dr. Feng received a Ph.D. in Neurobiology and Behavior from Cornell University, where she worked with Dr. Andy Bass to study circadian and hormone regulation of courtship singing behavior in the plainfin midshipman fish. Dr. Feng went on to do her post-doctoral training in Dr. Elena Gracheva’s laboratory at Yale, where she examined changes in the fluid homeostasis pathway during hibernation in the thirteen-lined ground squirrels. In recognition of her post-doctoral work, Dr. Feng received the Warren Alpert Distinguished Scholars Award that allowed her to adapt modern neuroscience tools in a non-traditional model species. Dr. Feng joined Wesleyan in January 2023, and is excited to continue her research on the neurobiology of hibernation with the wonderful students at Wes. We couldn’t be happier to have her in our ranks!

BS University of California, Los Angeles
PHD Cornell University

Center for the Humanities

Visiting Associate Professor of Humanities Hassan Almohammed.

Hassan Almohammed is a Visiting Associate Professor of the Humanities and a Visiting Research Fellow this year at the Center for the Humanities (where he previously held a fellowship in 2016-17, and is returning as part of the Wesleyan Scholars at Risk program). He specializes in French and Francophone Studies, Visual, Media, and Inter-Cultural Studies of the Middle East, Politics in the Arab world, and Ecocriticism.  Almohammad received his PhD in French civilization and literature in 2009 at the Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand in France with a dissertation on the “Premonition of Death in French “Meteor” Poets of the 20th century (1945-1992).”  He is currently affiliated with CELIS (Centre de Recherches sur les littératures et la sociopoétique) at Université Blaise Pascal and is an Editorial Board member of the journal Al Manassah.  Formerly a Professor of French Literature at Aleppo University, he has also held visiting positions at UC Santa Barbara, Brandeis, and Wesleyan University. In 2019, he was a Visiting Professor of French at Sivas Cumhuriyet Üniversitesi in Turkey, and in 2022, he was a Mellon Fellow at Columbia University’s Global Center in Amman, Jordan.  In Spring 2023 he taught courses on the Arab Spring and Political Art at the Center for Conflict Studies at Marburg University in Germany. He is working on a book project titled “Poetic Meteorology and Eco-writing: Analysis of Double Climate in Contemporary Francophone Literature.” In addition to his academic publications, his journalism has appeared in newspapers such as Al Arabi and Al Jazeera, and he has delivered international talks in France, Tunisia, the United States, Italy, Algeria, the UK, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Romania, Ukraine, and Germany.  He is also a documentary filmmaker who is working on a film currently in postproduction on Syrian child refugees in Turkey.

MA University Blaise Pascal
PHD University Blaise Pascal

College of Design & Engineering Studies

Visiting Assistant Professor of Design & Engineering Studies Gordana Herning.

Gordana Herning received both her B.S. and M.S. in Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and her PhD in Structural Engineering from Princeton University. At Princeton, her dissertation focused on reliability-based evaluation of seismic design and performance of steel self-centering moment resisting frames.  Dr. Herning has been a Colorado Registered Professional Engineer since 2001, is an active member of the International Association of Spatial Structures (IASS) and has taught as a lecturer in the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department at MIT.  At MIT, she has taught structural mechanics courses, advised engineering theses, and guided studio courses emphasizing student teamwork, learning by making, and applying engineering theory in interdisciplinary design studies. In her teaching and research, Dr. Herning aspires to relate the principles of engineering with studies of design, society, nature, and art. Basic tenets in her work include combining analytical skills with creative inquiry, developing an intuition for theoretical models through hands-on activities, and conveying scientific principles as a language for analyzing practical problems.  The College of Design and Engineering Studies (CoDES) is thrilled to welcome Gordana Herning to Wesleyan and we look forward to her contributions to the college.

B.S., M.S., University of Colorado, Boulder
PHD, Princeton University

College of East Asian Studies

Visiting Instructor of Chinese Chongyi Liang.

Chongyi Liang received her B.A. in Chinese Literature and M.A. in Comparative Literature from Peking University. She also studied as a visiting fellow at the Harvard-Yenching Institute, where she conducted research on the Beat Poets through the lens of ecocriticism and their engagement with Chinese literature. Before coming to Wesleyan University, she taught Chinese at the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies at Tsinghua University and Middlebury Chinese Language School including courses from elementary to advanced levels as well as Academic and Business Chinese. Her current research interests lie in developing pedagogical techniques to address the nuances between colloquial and written Chinese and to promote opportunities for interactive and individualized learning in advanced settings. She is also a published novelist and enjoys translating literature into Chinese.

BA Peking University
MA Peking University

College of East Asian Studies

Visiting Assistant Professor of Korean Jahyon Park.

Jahyon Park Jahyon Park is a specialist in modern and contemporary Korean literature, media, and cinema. Her research centers on the portrayal and reception of gender images and minority groups within contemporary Korean media, with a particular emphasis on the reception of new media webtoons and their transmedia content. Her work delves into novel theories regarding genre logic and reception theory. She has contributed chapters to publications, including “Webtoon and Intimacy: Reception of North Korean Defectors’ Survival Narratives” in South Korean Popular Culture and North Korea, as well as “Crying Men Watching Webtoons: Misaeng and Korean Male Audiences” in the volume Here Comes the Flood: Perspectives of Gender, Sexuality, and Stereotype in the Korean Wave. Currently, she is engaged in the writing of her forthcoming book titled Webtoons and Masculinity: Melodrama and Sympathetic Imagination in Contemporary Korean Digital Media. Dr. Park received her B.A. from Columbia University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University.

BA, Columbia University
MA, PHD Cornell University

College of Education Studies

Assistant Professor of Education Studies Alisha Butler.

Alisha Butler joins the tenure-track faculty as an Assistant Professor in the College of Education Studies. She completed her Ph.D. in Education Policy Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. After completing her doctoral work, Dr. Butler joined the College of Education Studies as the Provost’s Equity Fellow. Her dissertation and expertise center on the connections between schools and the neighborhoods. Focusing on urban contexts, Dr. Butler considers the relationship between school and neighborhood development, the significance of place and space for understanding educational equity, and how school-family-community partnerships can strengthen schools. Dr. Butler’s current projects include an investigation of school gentrification in Detroit, Michigan, and public engagement in education policy in Washington, DC. She teaches courses in the foundations of education, the politics of education, urban education policy and reform, and qualitative research methods. Before completing her doctoral studies, Dr. Butler evaluated a broad range of education programs and policies as a senior research associate at Policy Studies Associates in Washington, DC. She holds a BA in Political Science from Yale University and an MA in Education Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park.

BA Yale University
MA University of Maryland College Park
PHD University of Maryland, College Park

College of Education Studies

Associate Professor of the Practice in Education Studies Rachel Besharat Mann.

Rachel Besharat Mann is moving from a Visiting Assistant Professor role to an Associate Professor of the Practice in the College of Education Studies. Dr. Besharat Mann holds a Master’s in Literacy Development and a Ph.D. in Contemporary Learning and Interdisciplinary Research from Fordham University in New York, as well as a Bachelor’s of Science in secondary education focusing on US History and Political Science. Prior to her appointment at Wesleyan, she served as an adjunct professor of educational psychology and curriculum and teaching at Fordham University.  Her current work evaluates the multifaceted definition of literacy in contemporary culture and the implications for classroom practice, including exploration of factors that may contribute to variations in literacy development. Prior work has focused on media interaction with literacy development, including a specific concentration on the impact of social media practices on literacy and adolescent identity development. Her current teaching focus centers on the connection between social media and adolescent development, literacy development in K-12 settings, and variances in learning in pedagogical settings.

BSE St John’s University
MS Fordham University
PHD Fordham University

College of Education Studies

Visiting Assistant Professor of Education Studies Sam Stiegler.

Sam Stiegler, a new Visiting Assistant Professor in the College of Education Studies, comes to Wesleyan from Colgate University where he was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Educational Studies. He also served as a Hunt-Simes Visiting Junior Chair in Sexuality Studies at the University of Sydney. He is the author of the book “Going Along with Trans, Queer, and Non-Binary Youth” which is being published by SUNY Press in March 2024. His research and teaching focus on gender and sexuality studies in education, critical youth studies, and innovative qualitative methodologies. He received his PhD in Curriculum Studies from the University of British Columbia and holds a MA in Teaching and a BA in History from Tufts University.

BA, MA, Tufts University
PhD, University of British Columbia

College of the Environment

Assistant Professor of the Practice in the College of the Environment Christine Caruso.

Christine Caruso is a public health/environmental psychologist and community-based researcher, with expertise in food systems, school climate, environmental justice, participatory process, and health equity.  Christine is Professor of the Practice in the College of the Environment, at Wesleyan University. She also has an Affiliate Faculty appointment in the Department of Public Health Sciences, at the UConn School of Medicine. She earned her PhD in Environmental Psychology, with a concentration in Food Studies from The Graduate School of the City University of New York.  Christine also holds an MPH in Community Health from Boston University, as well as an MA in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. Christine has over 20 years of experience in community health and food systems work. She began focusing on institutional food in 2016, while serving as Research Fellow for School Food Focus/FoodCorps, where she was co-investigator for a study exploring values-based procurement practices in school food programs across the US. She currently serves on the Network Advisory Committee for Farm to Institution New England, as well as being a long-time member of the Connecticut Farm to School Collaborative.

BA Fordham University
MA Columbia University
MPH Boston University
PHD CUNY The Graduate Center

College of the Environment

Distinguished Professor of the College of the Environment and Environmental Studies Helen Poulos.

Helen Poulos studies the impacts of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on ecosystem community assembly and function. Specifically, she examines 1) how forested ecosystems are responding to global change agents in the Anthropocene, and 2) the effectiveness of forest management for promoting fire and drought resilient forests. Her research integrates diverse methodologies and analytical approaches including field measurements, dendrochronology, ecophysiology, multivariate statistical modeling, geographic information systems, and remote sensing to quantify how plant abundances and distributions are impacted by contemporary disturbances. Poulos’ work is both empirical and applied; She works directly with land managers and conservation practitioners, both in quantifying contemporary forest changes and in developing decision support tools for sustainable forest management. She holds undergraduate degrees in biology and Spanish from Pepperdine University, a master’s degree in geography from The Penn State University, and a PhD in environmental studies from the Yale School of the Environment.  Helen is author over 50 peer-reviewed papers. Through her research, teaching and applied science, she contributes to scholarship in areas of forest ecology, fire ecology, adaptive land management, and climate change science.

BS Pepperdine University
MPHIL Yale University
MS Pennsylvania State University
PHD Yale University

College of Film and the Moving Image

Kevin Ball is an interdisciplinary scholar who specializes in race across film and media, including music videos and videogames. He blends methodologies from film and media studies with game studies and social and cultural history. His dissertation “Sonic Motion and Heaviness in Black Media” focuses on images of flight and weightlessness in Black music videos as embodied responses to antiblackness. His current project begins from a study of a 19th century Black chess master to probe the intersections of cognitive play and Black lived experiences in an antiblack culture. He is also on the editorial board of Film Criticism. Kevin earned his B.A. in English and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Film and Media Studies from Wayne State University. Previously he was Visiting Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Oakland University and has taught at the College for Creative Studies and Wayne State University. He will join us in January and teach courses in film and media studies.

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Wayne State University

College of Film and the Moving Image

Joseph Cacaci has been working professionally as a writer, director and producer for over thirty years. He has been executive producer (show runner) for prime-time dramatic series, directed independent feature films and short films, and has written and directed numerous television movies and pilots. He is also a produced playwright, both commercial in New York and Los Angeles and at major regional theaters. Joe was the founder and artistic or producing director of three non-profit theater companies, including Berkshire Playwrights Lab in Great Barrington, MA. He recently directed the world premiere of James Tyler’s Some Old Black Man, then directed and co-produced the NY premiere, featuring Wendell Pierce and Tony winner, Roger Robinson. This summer he directed the R&D production of Carol Schneider’s Clerc’s Inferno, at the National Theater Studio in London. He earned his B.A. from Manhattan College and his M.A. from Emerson. He has taught television writing at the Columbia University School of the Arts Graduate Program and at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts undergraduate program.  Joe came to Wesleyan’s Film Studies program in 2013 as a per-course visitor and became a visiting professor in 2017. He teaches introductory television writing and advanced television and feature writing.

BA Manhattan College
MA Emerson College

College of Film and the Moving Image

University Professor of Film Studies and Co-Director of the Wesleyan Documentary Project Randall MacLowry.

Randall MacLowry, University Professor of Film Studies and Co-Director of the Wesleyan Documentary Project,is a documentarian who has written, produced, and/or directed 19 films, many of them appearing on PBS’s American Experience. He is co-founder with Tracy Strain of Film Posse, a production company based in Middletown. His work has been supported by grants from the Ford Foundation, the NEH, LEF Foundation, ITVS, and Filmmakers Collaborative. He has received the Peabody Award, the Erik Barnouw Award from the Organization of American Historians, two WGA awards, the Alfred I. duPont Columbia award, and three Emmy  nominations.  His most recent film as a producer, Zora Neal Hurston: Claiming a Space  premiered on American Experience earlier this year and he is currently developing an independent documentary entitled John Henry: Man, Myth & Music. He earned his B.A. from Wesleyan and returned to join the faculty as an Assistant Professor of the Practice in 2019. With his partner Tracy Strain, Randy directs the Wesleyan Documentary Project, now WesDocs. He teaches courses in documentary directing and advanced documentary filmmaking and he coordinates the internship program with Film Posse for Wesleyan students.

BA Wesleyan University

College of Film and the Moving Image

Assistant Professor of the Practice in Film Studies Alejandro Salinas-Albrecht.

Alejandro Salinas-Albrecht, Assistant Professor of the Practice in Film Studies, is a successful cinematographer and editor who has shot features, short films, documentaries, and commercial videos in Mexico City, Kobe, Los Angeles, and New York. His work has been recognized by 8 film festival awards and his clients include Variety Inc., the Skimm, Rolling Stone, and Condé Nast. Alex earned an M.F.A. from UCLA and he co-owns and runs the Blue Pine Lodge production company. He joined us last year as a visitor and will teach courses in digital filmmaking and serve as Technical Director for the CFILM shooting facilities.

BA California State University, Northridge
MFA University of California, Los Angeles

College of Film and the Moving Image

Assistant Professor of Film Studies Yaya Simakov.

Yaya Simakov, Assistant Professor of Film Studies,  is a Russian-American screenwriter and director. Keep It Quiet, Yaya’s directing debut, won Best Live Action Short at the Warsaw Film Festival (Oscar-qualifying), was nominated for Best U.S. Short at the Palm Springs ShortFest, and selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick after its online premiere on Short of the Week and Directors’ Library. Yaya has a background in lighting and cinematography and experience in producing and editing. Currently, Yaya is finishing post-production on a new short film, co-produced with Stereotactic. Yaya earned an M.F.A. from Temple University, was previously an Associate Professor of Film Studies at Saint Cloud State University, and was a visitor last year at Wesleyan. Yaya will teach directing, advanced filmmaking and screenwriting.

BA Connecticut College
MFA Temple University

College of Letters

Hadel Jarada,  comes to Wesleyan from a postdoctoral fellowship at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, having received her Ph.D. in the History and Culture of the Islamic World from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University in 2021. Dr. Jarada is writing a ground-breaking book on the neglected history of Muslim theological discussions of free will, the first to bring the texts and thinkers in the Islamic intellectual tradition into this important field in historical philosophy and intellectual history. By showing the novel ways in which these premodern thinkers resolved the tension between human freedom and divine omnipotence, and placing their ideas within the material determinants that defined their engagement with the topic, The Creation of Human Acts: A History of Islamic Theology 900-1350 shows how the context of medieval Islamdom spurred conceptual competition and facilitated the circulation of ideas. An expert in Arabic and Persian with extensive experience reading medieval manuscripts in those traditions, Dr. Jarada joins the College of Letters with broad interdisciplinary interests in the formation, transmission, and exchange of ideas in specific historical contexts within and across the Islamic world. This Fall, she will be teaching Bodies and Sexualities in Medieval Islam, and in the Spring, she teaches Islamic Ethics: Past and Present and co-teaches the College of Letters’ Medieval Colloquium.

BA University of California, Berkeley
PHD Harvard University


Associate Professor of the Practice in Dance Douglas Elkins.

Douglas Elkins is the Hero with a Thousand Faces of modern dance. A Promethean figure, Elkins brings the heat of laughter and the fire of joy into the precincts of a sedate art form.  Elkins burst onto the scene twenty years ago, with choreography that was light years ahead of the curve in its embrace of globalization and polyglot sources. Bill T. Jones called Elkins a “cultural cuisinart” for his thick savory gumbo of a choreographic style that seemed to contain the entire world in each tangibly seasoned phrase. Elkins not only brought the remarkable discoveries of hip hop into his concert choreography, but he also treated it with the same respect and pride of place that he gave to ballet and modern dance. But Elkins didn’t stop there. He made all styles of dance of every provenance fodder for his choreography. Elkins attended art school at SUNY Purchase but found himself spending most of his time in the dance department. adding ballet and modern dance to a movement vocabulary that was already chockablock with vernacular forms. With the admonition that hip hop was not the artistic equal of concert dance, however, his conservatory teachers tried to discourage him from bringing his b-boying into his choreography.  Elkins was awarded a 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship.

BFA SUNY Purchase
MFA Hollins College

Earth and Environmental Sciences

Visiting Assistant Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences Gabriel Eggers.

Gabriel Eggers is a planetary scientist who uses remote sensing to investigate volcanological phenomena. He comes to Wesleyan from a postdoctoral fellowship at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, TX, and he previously earned his Bachelor’s degree at Princeton University and Ph.D. at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research spans across the solar system from studying the occurrence and formation of feldspathic material on Mars to cataloguing analogues of lavas on Mercury to modeling the growth and development of the Laguna del Maule magmatic system on our own Earth. This work incorporates multidisciplinary techniques, including spectroscopy, geophysics, and numerical modeling. Most recently, Dr. Eggers is investigating the petrology and spectroscopy of Venus analogue materials at venusian conditions, focusing on alteration of the surface mineralogy and how it might be used to gauge proposed recent volcanism on our sister planet. This work will provide important context for interpreting data from future NASA and ESA missions to Venus.

BA Princeton University
PHD Georgia Tech

Earth and Environmental Sciences

Visiting Assistant Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences Gebremedhin Haile.

Gebremedhin Haile, Visiting Assistant Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences, studied Physical Geography at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (China) for his Ph.D., where his doctoral work focuses on historical and future drought patterns over the East African region. He studied M.Sc. in Irrigation Engineering and a B.Sc. in Soil and Water Engineering and Management from Haramaya University in Ethiopia. Dr. Haile’s career has been conducting research, and teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students and community services. He has taught hydrology, irrigation, GIS, drainage engineering, water resource management, soil and water conservation, and watershed management courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Dr. Haile’s research results led to over 30 peer-reviewed publications in journals such as Earth-Science Reviews, Science of the Total Environment, Earth’s Future, Agricultural Water Management, and WIREs Water (for details see Google Scholar and/or ResearchGate) and a couple of book chapters for Cambridge University Press. He has extensive research experience in hydrology, irrigation, soil and water conservation, and climate change. He is interested in conducting research on understanding how the hydrological process changes under varying climate conditions at different spatial resolutions (local, regional, and global). He also focuses on ongoing regional and global water resources changes due to climate variability and anthropogenic activities. His current research works include drought-flood underlying alterations, global hailstorm impacts, irrigation, urbanization, and climate change tripartite impacts on global water resources.  In 2017 he was awarded CAS-TWAS President’s Fellowship. He was awarded an Excellent International Student (2019) and Excellent International Graduate (2020) by the University Chinese Academy of Sciences. As PI and Co-PI, he has also been awarded close to one million USD for his research works. Additionally, he is familiar with some computer software skills such as ArcGIS, OriginPro, R, and GenStat, hydrological models including WetSpa, WetSpass, and SWAT, and the SDSM climate model, and drought indices such as SPI and SPEI. He has worked and attended various training programs in Ethiopia, China, Sweden, and the United States. Sponsored by Wesleyan University and IIE-Scholar Rescue Fund, he is currently working as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Wesleyan University. Prior to his enrollment at Wesleyan University, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China.

B.Sc., M.Sc., Haramay University, Ethiopia

PHD Chinese Academy of Science


Assistant Professor of Economics Wesley Howden.

Wesley Howden joins the Economics Department as an Assistant Professor. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago with majors in mathematics, economics, and political science. He then received his PhD in Economics from the University of California at San Diego before a two-year postdoctoral research position at University of Arizona in Tucson. Wesley is a microeconomist with research interests in environment and energy, applied microeconomics, and development. His research has examined adaptations to weather shocks and household beliefs on climate, and the global impacts of climate change on risk preferences. This year Wesley will be teaching our core microeconomic theory course, Econ 301, as well as an environmental economics course.

AB University of Chicago
PHD University of California, San Diego


Visiting Instructor of Economics Luigi Pollio.

Luigi Pollio joins the Economics Department as a Visiting Instructor of Economics. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Salerno in Italy in economics and finance, and then received masters in economics from the University of Salerno and then a second from the University of Naples. Luigi then went to Boston College where he got a master’s in economics, and expects to receive his doctorate this December. His research interests are in macroeconomics with a focus on firm dynamics, corporate finance, and monetary policy. His dissertation is at the intersection of these topics. This year Luigi will teach corporate finance principles and money and banking electives both semesters. In the fall he will also teach a topic in macroeconomics elective.

BA, MA, University of Salerno

MA University of Naples

MA, PhD [expected], Boston College 


Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics Tyler Porter.

Tyler Porter joins the Economics Department as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics. He received his undergraduate degree in math and economics at Kent State University before earning his masters and doctorate degrees in economics at Cornell University. Tyler then spent two years at Amherst College as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics. His research interests are game theory, mathematical and computational economics, industrial organization, and networks. He will be teaching our new half semester courses designed to get students into our introductory economics classes faster – a course covering select topics in calculus and also a course covering the basics of probability and statistics. In the fall he will also teach an elective on economics networks.

BA Kent State University
MA Cornell University
PHD Cornell University


Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics Amrita Sanyal.

Amrita Sanyal joins the Economics Department as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics. Amrita received her undergraduate degree in economics from University of Calcutta, and then received a masters in economics from Jadavpur University, also in Kolkata, India. She then came to Purdue University where she received her masters in economics and then her PhD in economics earlier this year. Her fields of interest are labor economics, applied econometrics, economics of gender, and economics of education. Amrita will be with us for two years, and she will teach labor economics, public economics, and economics of discrimination.

BS University of Calcutta
MA Jadavpur University
MS Purdue University


Assistant Professor of Economics Francois Seyler.

François Seyler joins the Economics Department as an Assistant Professor of Economics. He received his BBA in economics and political science from HEC Montreal and spent an exchange year at Rikkyo University in Tokyo. He then received his MSc in applied economics from HEC Montreal before receiving a Masters in analysis and policy in economics from Paris School of Economics. He then went to Université Laval for his PhD in economics, and he spent a year as a visiting student at Vancouver School of Economics. His research interests are in development economics, political economy, labor economics, economic history, and applied econometrics. Francois will teach our gateway empirical methodology course Econ 300, renamed as of this fall to be “Introductory Econometrics”, and will offer “Law and Economics” in the spring.

BBA, MSc, HEC, Montreal

M.A., Paris School of Economics

Ph.D., Université Laval 


Assistant Professor of Economics Xiaoxue Zhao.

Xiaoxue Zhao joins the Economics Department as an Assistant Professor of Economics. She was previously a Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics at Wesleyan from 2018-23, and also a Postdoctoral Associate before that at Yale and Duke Universities. She is also an associate editor for China Economic Review.  Xiaoxue has already published numerous articles in leading journals such as Journal of Development Economics, Journal of International Economics, and Journal of Comparative Economics. Her research interests include development economics, political economy, and applied microeconomics. This year she will be teaching introduction to economic theory, Econ 110; Microfoundations of Growth in China; and Advanced Game Theory.

BA Yale University
PHD Yale University


Assistant Professor of English Sierra Eckert.

Sierra Eckert received her B.A. in English Literature at Swarthmore College and her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. Her research focuses on nineteenth-century British and Anglophone literature, disciplinary history, critical and social theory, and the digital humanities. Her book manuscript, The Research Aesthetic: Information and the Form of the Nineteenth-Century Novel, argues that key formal features of British fiction emerged through attempts to grapple with new techniques for recording, sorting, and storing factual data. She joins Wesleyan after a postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton University, where she was a Perkins Fellow and Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Center for Digital Humanities. In fall 2023, Sierra will be teaching Victorian Fictions of Research and a methods and theory seminar, “Close, Distant, Archival, Experimental: New Methods of Literary Study;” in spring 2024, she will teach Literatures of Empire and the English gateway to the major course, Ways of Reading.

BA Swarthmore College
MA Columbia University
MPHIL Columbia University
PHD Columbia University


Associate Professor of English Douglas Martin.

Douglas Martin is a writer and thinker whose books span fiction and nonfiction, traversing poetry and prose. Their works have been translated into Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish. They are the author of ten books, including early poetry, and most recently Wolf, a queer intervention into and mediation upon true crime subjects. Other titles include: Once You Go Back, a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in Gay Memoir/Biography; Branwell, a finalist for the Publishing Triangle’s Ferro-Grumley Award; a triptych of novellas, Your Body Figured, detailing aspects of the lives of painters Balthus and Francis Bacon and poet Hart Crane; and a book-length lyric study, Acker, praised and reviewed widely. They are a co-author of The Haiku Year—a durational project—and co-editor of Kathy Acker: The Last Interview and Other Conversations. They are currently composing a cross-culture and across languages study of Nobel Laureate Elfriede Jelinek. Born in Virginia and raised in Georgia before moving to New York City, they have taught at Wesleyan University in Visiting and POP positions for over a decade and assisted in directing Creative Writing. They teach classes in all genres.

BA University of Georgia Athens
MFA The New School
PHD CUNY The Graduate Center


Maaza Mengiste is the author of the novel, The Shadow King, which was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, and was a 2020 LA Times Book Prize Fiction finalist. Her debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, was selected by the Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books. Her story, “Dust, Ash, Flight,” which appeared in Addis Ababa Noir, edited by Maaza, was awarded a 2021 Edgar Award for Best Short Story. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts Award, and the Creative Capital, among other places. She is at work on her third novel, A Brief Portrait of Small Deaths, set during the interwar years in Berlin.

BA University of Michigan
MFA New York University

German Studies

Teaching Fellow in German Studies Petra Sertic.

Petra Sertic is a new teaching fellow in German Studies. She comes to Wesleyan from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she successfully defended her dissertation, this past May. Her research in modern and contemporary German culture focuses on critical practices emerging at the intersection of visual art, music, and various textual genres, including poetic and novelistic, autobiographical, and auto-fictional writing, as well as journalistic publishing formats. Her dissertation, “Looking Through Eighties Spex: Pop Journalism Between Theory and Emotion” details the transition of an autonomous post-punk pop magazine that became a center for theoretical, literary, and artistic debates that continue to shape academic discussions and cultural institutions today. Before pursuing her Ph.D. in German Studies, Petra received an M.A. in Art History and Museum Studies from the University of Denver. She has curated and organized exhibitions by national and internationally recognized artists at contemporary art institutions, including the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. 

BA Metropolitan State College
MA University of Denver
Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder


Assistant Professor of Government Kolby Hanson.

Kolby Hanson studies the politics of war, peace, and armed organizations. He earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University and B.A. from Stanford University, both in political science. His book project focuses on militant recruitment and ceasefires, featuring extensive survey experiments and interviews inside four separatist insurgencies in South Asia. His research also includes surveys exploring American public and military attitudes toward domestic deployment of the military, a field experiment on the effects of migration (from India to the Gulf region) on migrants’ political attitudes, and a project documenting militaries’ use of foreign recruits worldwide. Kolby is coming most recently from the U.S. Naval War College, where he taught courses on strategy and politics. At Wesleyan, he will be teaching courses on international relations, civil wars and armed organizations, and the intuitions of game theory for politics.

B.A., Stanford University
Ph.D., Columbia University


Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital and Visual Storytelling Marianna Hovhannisyan.

The History Department is also pleased to welcome Dr. Marianna Hovhannisyan as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital and Visual Storytelling. Dr. Hovhannisyan comes to us from Brown University, where she was the 2022–23 Carol G. Lederer Postdoctoral Fellow. She received her BA from the Armenian Open University, participated in the International Curatorial Training Program at L’Ecole du Magasin in Grenoble, France, and received her MA in Global Arts from the University of London and PhD in Art History, Theory, and Criticism from the University of California, San Diego. She has received numerous honors and awards, published a large number of pieces in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. While at Wesleyan she will be teaching courses related to digital and visual storytelling, including “On Evidence: Archives, Museums, and Prisons” in the fall semester.

MA Goldsmith, University of London
PHD UC- San Diego


Visiting Assistant Professor of History Hasan Karatas.

The History Department is pleased to welcome Prof. Hasan Karatas as a Visiting Assistant Professor of History with a specialization in Middle Eastern history. Hasan comes to us from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Istanbul Technical University where he is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department and Director of the Center for Research in Science in Society. Before that he was Assistant Professor of History at the University of Saint Thomas, Minnesota and a Lecturer at New York University. He received his BA from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, and his MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the social history of knowledge in the Early Modern period, Sufism and science in the Islamicate world, and provincial urban networks in the Ottoman Empire. He has published a significant number of works on several topics in Middle Eastern history, and while at Wesleyan he will be teaching a range of courses on both the premodern and modern history of the Middle East.

BA Bogazici University
MA University of California, Berkeley
PHD University of California, Berkeley


Assistant Professor of History Joseph Slaughter.

The Department of History is pleased to welcome, once again, Joseph Slaughter. Some of you already know Joe since he’s been at Wesleyan the past four years, first as a Visiting Assistant Professor of History and Chamberlain Project Fellow and last year as a Professor of the Practice in Religion. This year, he joins us as an Assistant Professor of History. He received his Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of Maryland in 2017, and his research and teaching focuses on North American Christianity, capitalism, and war. Since arriving at Wesleyan in 2019, he has published articles in the Seattle University Law Review, Enterprise & Society, and the Journal of the Early Republic, while Columbia University Press should release his current book project, Faith in Markets: Christian Capitalism in the Early Republic, next fall. Previously, he was a pilot in the U.S. Navy who landed large, two-engine cargo airplanes on aircraft carriers, and he later taught U.S. and world history at Annapolis. Joe will continue to serve as Associate Director for Wesleyan’s new Center for the Study of Guns and Society.

BS U.S. Naval Academy
MA University of Maryland College Park
MA U.S. Naval War College
PHD University of Maryland College Park

Mathematics and Computer Science

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Sonia Roberts.

The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science is delighted to welcome Sonia Roberts as Assistant Professor of Computer Science.   Sonia received her Ph.D. in Electrical and System Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 2021 under the supervision of Daniel Koditschek.   Between her time at Penn and arriving at Wesleyan, Sonia was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Northeastern University.  Sonia’s research focuses on the morphological design and control of robots, and is informed by ongoing collaborations with philosophers, biologists, and paleontologists.   For her dissertation she developed a reactive controller to reduce the energy cost of robots running on sand.   Her current projects include work on knitted fabric sensors that can be used to build economical soft robots.    Sonia is active in community engagement and outreach, serving as an associate editor of the Journal of Science Policy and Governance and as the education chair for Women in Robotics.

BA Vassar College
PHD University of Pennsylvania

Mathematics and Computer Science

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Iris Yoon.

The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science is delighted to welcome Iris Yoon as Assistant Professor of Mathematics. Iris received her Ph.D. in applied mathematics and computational science from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018 under the guidance of Robert Ghrist.   After receiving her degree she spent time as a visiting assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania and at the University of Delaware. Immediately prior to coming to Wesleyan, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford (UK).    Iris’ main research area is topological data analysis.  She develops novel applications of tools from algebraic topology, network theory, and machine learning to data science.   She has developed powerful computational techniques and applied those techniques to real world biological problems including studying RNA structure, tumors, and neural organization. Additionally Iris has used her expertise in data science to further social justice causes, including working with the Philadelphia Bail Fund, and she has served as a mentor for FGLI and underrepresented students.

BA Swarthmore College
PHD University of Pennsylvania


Assistant Professor of the Practice in Music James Praznik.

James Praznik joins Wesleyan as an assistant Professor of the Practice and the Music Department’s inaugural Technical Director.  James holds degrees in composition and theory from Brandeis University (Ph.D), Cleveland State University (M.M.), and The University of Akron (B.Mus), where he also studied piano under virtuoso Canadian pianist, Philip Thomson.  While at Brandeis, James served as Music Technologist for the Music Department, a role he originated, designing and implementing the concert production infrastructure of Slosberg Recital Hall, and producing thousands of concerts and recording sessions. Professor Praznik is an artist and music technologist with a passionate dedication to exploring the limits of his imagination, coupled with a fervent desire to help realize the creative visions of others. An avid artistic collaborator and multimedia specialist, James often connects his musical background to his passion for filmmaking, interactive game design, and improvisation. As co-artistic director of the No Exit New Music Ensemble, James has facilitated the commissioning and performance of over 300 new works. In this role he regularly serves as a conductor, pianist and technologist for the core ensemble, as well as for No Exit’s many guest artists and collaborators. Recently he completed a surrealist composition where Tristan Tzara’s “The First Celestial Adventure of Mr. Antipyrine” (“La Première aventure céleste de Monsieur Antipyrine”) informs a blisteringly fast rendition of “Clair de lune” sung backwards.

B. Mus., University of Akron
M.M., Cleveland State University
Ph.D., Brandeis University


Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Dylan Principi.

Dylan Principi joins the Music Department as a Visiting Assistant Professors specializing in Music Theory.  Dylan received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and a Master of Music in Music Theory from Temple University.  In 2022 he received a PhD from Princeton University with a dissertation on musical hermeneutics.   His teaching draws on this diverse training, his work as a professional musician and his experience as a High School teacher to design courses with a stylistically agnostic approach that draw on musical examples ranging from Tchaikovsky to Coltrane to Beyoncé to demonstrate how a music theoretic perspective can provide insight into art, jazz and popular music. Professor Principi’s research interests center on the role of language as a medium of music-theoretical knowledge. This focus also enters into his teaching which incorporates writing as a central element of course work.  Students are asked both to explain the musical logic underlying their notated work in order to advance both their musicianship and their critical thinking.  The department looks forward to his contributions to the theory curriculum.

B. Music, M. Music, Temple University
MA Princeton University
PHD Princeton University

Neuroscience and Behavior

Visiting Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Behavior Clarissa Fantin Cavarsan Muller.

Clarissa Fantin Cavarsan Muller received her B.S. in Biomedicine from Universidade Federal de São Paulo in Brazil in 2004 and went on to receive her Ph.D. in Neuroscience/Neurology at the same university in 2010 studying epilepsy and epileptogenesis.  She continued her interest in epilepsy in a postdoctoral position at Texas A&M studying epilepsy in rat models of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). She then moved to the NIH-NINDS where she the studied neuroplasticity and activity of multi-neuronal assemblies using optogenetics and electrophysiology. After returning to her native Brazil, she worked in industry for a few years before returning to academic research at the Universidade Federal do Paraná where she studied Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in Parkinsons Disease. In 2019 she came back to the US as a postdoctoral associate at the University of Rhode Island first studying spinal degeneration and later mitochondrial dysfunction in Alzheimer’s Disease. She has authored 19 peer-reviewed studies and reviews, and has diverse research experience in behavior, electrophysiology, systems neuroscience, as well as cellular and molecular neuroscience in a variety of animal models. The NS&B faculty are pleased to welcome Dr Cavarsan, and are excited for the five courses she will be offering our students this year on Neuroplasticity, Neurodevelopment, Aging, Glia and a Lab course in Neurobiology.

BA Universidade Federal De Sao Paulo

PHD Universidade Federal De Sao Paulo

Physical Education

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Head Coach of Men’s and Women’s Golf Jon Wilson.

Jon Wilson the first-ever head coach of the Wesleyan women’s golf program, has been elevated to Director of Golf starting in the upcoming 2023-24 season.  The newly established position at Wesleyan is responsible for the overall management of the men’s and women’s golf programs including coaching, recruitment, fundraising, scheduling, and budget management. Wilson brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Cardinals. A PGA Class A Professional at Lyman Orchards since 2013, he’s also served as an assistant women’s golf coach at Yale University from 1983-to-1987 and as the head coach of the Daniel Hand High School girls’ team in Madison, CT. Additionally, Wilson has been the owner and director of the Sound Approach Golf Academy and Studio in Madison since 2004 and is the former PGA Head Golf Professional at Oronoque Country Club in Stratford, the Laurel View Country Club in Hamden, and the Alling Memorial Golf Course in New Haven. In 1999, he was named the National Golf Professional of the Year by the Arnold Palmer Golf Management Company.

Physical Education

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Head Coach of Swimming and Diving Vanessa Williamson.

Vanessa Williamson No stranger to the NESCAC, Williamson graduated from Bates in 2005 and has spent the last 11 years coaching at her alma mater. She joined the Bobcats’ coaching staff as an assistant in 2012 after coaching at the high school and club levels for five years in California and in April 2016 she was promoted to associate head coach.  A decorated swimmer in her own right, Williamson is one of the best to ever swim at Bates as she totaled eight All-American honors in her swimming career from 2001-05. She was a two-time NCAA runner-up in the 200 butterfly while she placed third in the 100 fly twice. Williamson is a three-time NESCAC Champion, winning the 200 fly in 2003 and 2004 while she captured the 100 fly title in 2005 after finishing runner-up in the event in 2004. In her 11 seasons coaching at Bates, Williamson helped transform the program into an annual contender at both the NESCAC and national level. The Bates women finished top five and no worse than sixth in the NESCAC eight times in 10 championship meets during her tenure while the men finished fourth through sixth nine straight seasons starting in 2014. She oversaw a NESCAC runner-up finish for the women in 2014 and a team record 1345 points in 2015 while the Bates men finished a program-best fourth in 2020 while the Bobcats racked up a team record 997.5 points in 2017.  In Williamson’s 11 seasons at Bates, the Bobcats accumulated 231 total All-American awards (173 women, 58 men), a staggering total considering there are 273 combined All-American awards in school history for the men’s and women’s programs.

BA, Bates College


Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics Arkady Kurnosov.

Arkady Kurnosov earned his PhD from Tulane University (New Orleans, Louisiana) in 2016. As a graduate student he conducted theoretical research on vibrational transport in polymers, including band-selective ballistic energy transport in oligomers and ultrafast electronic torsional sound in atomic chains. During his time as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Houston (2016-2019), he focused on the theoretical study of thermally activated electrical transport in amorphous chalcogenides. From 2020 to 2023, Arkady was an integral part of the Wave Transport in Complex Systems group at Wesleyan University, serving as a postdoctoral research associate. His involvement encompassed various projects, such as effects of exceptional point degeneracies in elastodynamics, nonlinear optomechanical engines driven by self-induced nonconservative forces, nonlinear wavepacket dynamics in proximity to a stationary inflections point in periodic structures, and tackling other problems related to energy transport at the mesoscopic scale.

Ph.D., Tulane University


Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology Christine Curley.

The Department of Psychology is delighted to welcome Christine Curley to the Wesleyan community. Dr. Curley’s area of expertise is social psychology, and her research focuses on individual and community-level factors influencing health and well-being, including how sexuality is associated with attitudes, social norms, stereotypes, and stigma. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut and completed a J.D degree from Hofstra University. She was the recipient of a T32 NIH predoctoral fellowship focusing on the social processes of HIV/AIDS and she currently publishes in journals at the intersection of health and social psychology.  She has taught courses at Rhode Island College and the University of Connecticut. This fall Dr. Curley will be teaching Research Methods in Social Psychology and a seminar on the Psychology of Human Sexuality. In the spring she will be teaching Research Methods in Social Psychology and a section of Foundations of Contemporary Psychology.

J.D., Hofstra University

Ph.D., University of Connecticut


Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion Kellie Cavagnaro.

The Religion Department is thrilled to welcome Kellie Cavagnaro as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion. Dr. Cavagnaro holds a dual Ph.D. in Anthropology and Comparative Media Analysis and Practice from Vanderbilt University. Her Master’s in Global Studies and Bachelor’s in Spanish are from Wake Forest University, where she has recently taught ethnography. Kellie’s Fulbright, SSRC and Mellon-funded research examines the social dynamics of ecology, mineral extraction and indigenous spiritual practices in the Lake Titicaca region of Peru. Her recent publications and dissertation contextualize the relationship between South American pan-indigenous media networks and Aymara and Quechua activism amid the ongoing Peruvian National Political Crisis, looking from the vantage point of ecologically fragile Andean communities. Her prior ethnographic fieldwork focused on Zapatista communities of the Highlands of Chiapas and their engagement with Maya Aj’qijab, who are healers and keepers of the calendar. From 2012- 2013, she documented ritual celebrations and indigenous and Zapatista sociopolitical understandings of the Changing of the Baktun, or Maya Long-Count Calendar, which took place on December 21, 2012. Cavagnaro’s upcoming research persists at these interstices of ritual and ecology, interrogating the commonalities among diverse but cogently pro-social and pro-environmental lifeways. As a hopeful opening toward scholarly collaboration here at Wesleyan, she offers this provocation: Under what circumstances do we successfully co-create a communitas that inspires us to self-regulate the ecologically destructive practices of our late-stage capitalism?

B.A., Master’s, Wake Forest University

Ph.D. [dual], Vanderbilt University

Romance Languages and Literatures

Tommaso Manfredini received his Ph.D. from the Department of French and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University in 2020, where he taught and served as Director of Undergraduate Studies for the past three years. His research develops at the intersection of migration, translation, law, and literature, with a focus on the history and construction of categories of “illegality”, ideas of borders, and practices of citizenship primarily in the Central Mediterranean and in its main languages — French, Italian, and Arabic. His current book project studies the figure of the stowaway as a foundational category of autonomous — and therefore dangerous — mobility that contributed decisively to the current thinking of the ‘illegal Other’ at the borders of the West. In the fall Tommaso is teaching Intermediate French II and a seminar on the literatures and cultures of Francophone West Africa. In the spring, in addition to Intermediate French II, he will be teaching a seminar on the illegalization of migration in the Francophone world.

BA Universita Ca’ Foscari
MPHIL Columbia University
PHD Columbia University

Romance Languages and Literatures

Visiting Associate Professor of Spanish and Creative Writing Guillermo Severiche.

Guillermo Severiche is Visiting Associate Professor of Spanish and Creative Writing. Born in Mendoza (Argentina), he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. In 2016, he received a grant to complete an M.F.A. in Creative Writing in Spanish at New York University.  His academic research focuses on the politics of physical sensations and the representations of bodies in contemporary Latin American cinema. As a writer, he has published short stories and essays in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Spain, and Chile. His first novel, El agua viene de noche, was published by GG Editora in Argentina in 2021. His plays have received staged readings in New York, Orlando, and Madrid. He has obtained grants from Queens Council on the Arts, Flushing Town Hall, and the New York Foundation for the Arts to fund and direct EN CONSTRUCCIÓN, a reading series that showcases new work by NYC-based Latin American writers. He also works as Literary Manager at IATI Theater, a Latinx bilingual company in the East Village.

BA Universidad Nacional de Cuyo
MA Louisiana State University
MFA New York University
PHD Louisiana State University

Shapiro Writing Center

Shapiro-Silverberg University Professor of Creative Writing and Criticism Merve Emre.

Merve Gül Emre was born in Adana, Türkiye. She earned a BA from Harvard and a PhD from Yale. She is the author of Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), The Ferrante Letters (New York: Columbia University Press, 2019, winner of the PROSE Award for Literature), and The Personality Brokers (Doubleday: New York, 2018), which was selected as one of the best books of 2018 by the New York Times, the Economist, NPR, CBC, and the Spectator, and was adapted by CNN/HBO Max as the documentary feature film Persona. She is the editor of Once and Future Feminist (Cambridge: MIT, 2018), The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway (New York: Liveright, 2021), The Norton Modern Library Mrs. Dalloway (New York: Norton, 2021), and has authored introductions to books by Virginia Woolf, Djuna Barnes, Susan Sontag, John A. Williams, and John Guillory. She is finishing two books: Post-Discipline: Two Futures for Literary Study (University of Chicago Press) and Love and Other Useless Pursuits (Doubleday US / Harper Collins UK), which is based on the course she taught at Wesleyan University last fall. She is a contributing writer at The New Yorker. Her essays, criticism, and interviews have appeared in publications ranging from The New York Review of Books, Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and the London Review of Books to New Literary History, American Literature, American Literary History, PMLA, andModernism/modernity. In 2019, she was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize. In 2021, she was awarded the Robert B. Silvers Prize for Literary Criticism and the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing by the National Book Critics Circle. Her work has been supported by the Whiting Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Leverhulme Trust, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Quebec, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin, where she was a fellow from 2021-22. In 2022, she served as one of the judges of the International Booker Prize. She serves on the boards of Words Without Borders and the Hawthornden Foundation.

BA, Harvard

PhD, Yale

Shapiro Writing Center

Distinguished Writer in Residence Chigozie Obioma.

Chigoze Obioma was born in Akure, Nigeria. His two novels, The Fishermen (2015) and An Orchestra of Minorities (2019) were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His novels have been translated into more than 30 languages. They have won awards including the LA Times Book Prize, the FT/Oppenheimer Award for Fiction, the NAACP Image Award, the Internationaler Literaturpreis, and have been nominated for more than 20 prizes. The Fishermen was adapted into an award-winning stage play by Gbolahan Obisesan that played in the UK and South Africa between 2018-2019. Obioma was named one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2015. He is the Program Director for the OXBELLY Writers Retreat in Messenia, Greece. He is the James E. Ryan Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and divides his time between the US and Nigeria.

BA Cyprus International University

MFA University of Michigan

Shapiro Writing Center

Distinguished Writer in Residence Damion Searls.

Damion Searls is the translator of more than fifty books from German, Norwegian, French, and Dutch and a writer in English. He has a Ph.D. in English from the University of California-Berkeley and has received Guggenheim, Cullman Center, and two NEA fellowships, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize for Uwe Johnson’s four-volume Anniversaries, the PEN Center USA Translation Award, and the Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize twice; his translation of Jon Fosse’s A New Name was a finalist for the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and International Booker Prize. In English, he has edited a one-volume abridgment of Henry David Thoreau’s Journal; his own writing includes poetry, fiction, criticism, The Inkblots (a history of the Rorschach Test and biography of its creator, Hermann Rorschach, translated into ten languages), and The Philosophy of Translation, forthcoming from Yale University Press.

AB Harvard University
PHD University of California, Berkeley


Assistant Professor of Science in Society Benjamin Haber.

Benjamin Haber is joining the Department of Sociology Assistant Professor after four years as a visitor here at Wesleyan. A proud product of the public education system, Benjamin received his PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center and his BA from New College of Florida, an experimental liberal arts college now being dismantled and reconstituted through Governor Ron DeSantis’s “war on woke.” Benjamin’s research is focused on digital culture, queer theory, death and the apocalyptic imagination, boredom & domestication, and affect, care & kinship. Benjamin has been published in a variety of journals and edited collections, including Media, Culture & Society, WSQ, and Women & Performance.

BA New College of Florida
MPHIL CUNY The Graduate Center
PHD CUNY The Graduate Center

Wesleyan Media Project

Postdoctoral Research Fellow Fukhan Cakmak.

Furkan Cakmak is a Postdoctoral fellow at Wesleyan Media Project. He received his B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from Bogazici University and his Ph.D. in Political Science from Washington State University. His research centers around political psychology and political communication within the American political context. His dissertation focuses on the relationship between media choice and affective polarization and the role of emotions within that relation. He also has experience in utilizing supervised machine learning models to analyze unstructured data such as text and visual. In addition to joining the Wesleyan Media Project as a researcher, Dr. Cakmak will also be teaching a course on Machine Learning Methods for Audio and Video Analysis at the Quantitative Analysis Center.

BA Bogazici University

MA, PhD, Washington State University

Wesleyan Media Project

Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Wesleyan Media Project Natália de Paula Moreira.

Natália de Paula Moreira is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Wesleyan Media Project. Dr. Moreira received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of São Paulo in 2021. She also holds a master’s degree in political science and a B.A. in social science. Her primary fields of interest are public policy, public opinion, and political methodology. In her dissertation, Dr. Moreira primarily focused on the study of elections and economic voting in comparative politics. She investigated the relationship between the decline in party loyalty and the advantage held by incumbent candidates in U.S. House elections over time. She also adopted a comparative research approach to examine the gender gap in the approval ratings of the presidents in Brazil and the United States during the different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2017 to 2018, Moreira was a visiting student at the political science department at Texas A&M University. In addition to her work as a research fellow, she will also be teaching a course on Survey Design and Analysis at the Quantitative Analysis Center.

Ph.D., University of São Paulo

Wesleyan Media Project

Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Wesleyan Media Project Meiquing Zhang.

Meiquing Zhang is completing her Ph.D. in Communication at the Annenberg School of the University of Southern California, where she also received an M.Sc. in Computer Science from the Viterbi School of Engineering. Her doctoral research focused on the evolution of political values and attitudes that correspond to ideological, cognitive and affective polarization respectively in the U.S. political context through a variety of text-based approaches. Her research interests fall into political communication and computational social science. She has published works that contribute to the understanding of the role of social media in political polarization. She will conduct research on cross-platform, multimodal political advertising at Wesleyan Media Project and teach a course on Machine Learning Methods for Audio and Video Analysis at the Quantitative Analysis Center

M.Sc., Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California
Ph.D., Annenberg School, University of Southern California