A&S Welcomes New Faculty
John McDonald joins the college as an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies after serving as a faculty member in the Department of Classics and Humanities at San Diego State University. He earned a PhD in classics from Cornell University and served as a visiting scholar at Harvard University during his doctoral studies. His research focus is classical languages such as Greek and Latin.
Maria Sarais is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies. She earned her PhD in classical studies at the University of Missouri in 2016. Her academic interests include Greek and Roman drama, mythology, epic, gender studies, and Italian language and culture.
Michael Stanton is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. His research interests include environmental social science, sustainable agriculture and food systems, political ecology, and qualitative GIS. Stanton earned his PhD at Oregon State University in environmental science and most recently was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Oklahoma.
R. Keith Slotkin joins Arts and Science as an associate professor in the Division of Biological Sciences. He most recently served as an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics at The Ohio State University. His areas of expertise include epigenetics, transposable elements, and small RNAs. Slotkin earned his PhD at the University of California Berkeley in 2005.
Kurt Brorsen is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, with an emphasis on theoretical and physical chemistry. The Brorsen research group is a computational/theoretical group that seeks to apply and develop new quantum mechanical methods for a better understanding of nuclear quantum effects and dynamical systems, such as systems undergoing a chemical reaction. He earned his PhD at Iowa State University in 2014.
Andrea Figueroa-Caballero is an assistant professor in the communication department. Her research interests include examining the portrayals of racial and ethnic minorities in the media from an intergroup perspective. She earned her PhD at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Phong Ngyuen has been hired as a professor and the Miller Family Endowed Chair of Writing in the Department of English. His focus is creative writing (fiction) and 19th-century American literature. Nguyen is the author of a novel, The Adventures of Joe Harper (Outpost19, 2016) and two story collections: Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History (Queen's Ferry Press, 2014) and Memory Sickness and Other Stories (Elixir Press, 2011). He earned his PhD in 2007 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Tandis Bidgoli is an assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences. She joins the college after serving as a structural geologist and thermochronologist with the Energy Research section of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas. She earned her PhD in geology at the University of Kansas in 2014.
Irina Sadovina is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of German and Russian Studies. She is a PhD student at the University of Tartu, Estonia, and previously taught Russian in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto.
Alyssa Reichardt joins the college as an assistant professor of history, where her focus is on early America, indigenous history, and early modern empires. Reichardt joins the MU history department after a year as a junior visiting fellow at the Center for Humanities and Information at Pennsylvania State University. She earned her PhD at Yale University.
Petros Valettsas joins the mathematics department at MU as an assistant professor and a postdoctoral fellow in the department. Valettas previously served as a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics at Texas A & M University. He earned his PhD in mathematics at the University of Athens, in Greece in 2012.
Mary Kathryn Brewer joins the School of Music as an assistant professor of voice. Brewer received her doctor of arts degree in voice performance with a secondary emphasis in speech-language pathology from Ball State University in 2016. She is working on publishing her dissertation, A Comprehensive Guide to Verdi’s Art Songs with Applications for Teaching and Performing with Edwin Mellen Press.
By exploring the merging of music and visuals, Argentinian composer Carolina Heredia’s current research is invested in the production of interactive audiovisual works. A 2015 Fromm Commission recipient, her compositions have been commissioned and performed in the United States and South America. In 2017, Heredia completed her doctorate in music composition from the University of Michigan and was a 2017-18 postdoctoral fellow at the University of Missouri School of Music. Starting in this fall, she will begin her appointment as an assistant professor in music composition and assistant director of the New Music Initiative at the University of Missouri, Columbia.
Troy Hall is a visiting assistant professor of philosophy. He recently passed the oral defense of his dissertation, Three Studies in the Philosophy of Jazz.
Marta Heckel has joined the Department of Philosophy as an assistant professor. Her specialization is ancient western philosophy, especially Plato. She earned her PhD in 2017 at Cornell University and served there as the philosophical review visiting lecturer during 2017–18.
Se Kwon Kim is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy who specializes in spintronics, condensed matter, magnetism, and super fluidity. Kim most recently was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UCLA after matriculating at Johns Hopkins University.
Heather Ba is an assistant professor of political science with an emphasis on international relations. She earned her PhD in political science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2017. Ba previously was a postdoctoral fellow at The White House Transition Project, housed by the Baker Institute at Rice University.
Andrea Benjamin also joins the Department of Political Science this semester as an assistant professor. She previously served as an assistant professor of political science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and as a postdoctoral research scholar at Princeton University. Benjamin earned her PhD in political science at the University of Michigan in 2010.
Jordan Booker is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences whose research focuses broadly on aspects of emotional competence, identity, and personal character as they relate to well-being and resilience across late childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. Booker was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Emory University in Atlanta. He earned his PhD in psychology, developmental science, at Virginia Tech in 2015.
Nicole Jones joins the college as an assistant professor of sociology, whose research and teaching interests include race and ethnicity, quantitative methods, and social stratification and inequality. Jones earned her PhD in sociology at Texas A&M University in 2017.
Shih-Kang Chao is an assistant professor in the Department of Statistics. Chao received his PhD from Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, and previously worked as a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Statistics, Purdue University.
Joy Powell is a new assistant teaching professor in the Department of Theatre, having served as an associate professor of theater arts at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis the past 15 years. Powell earned her PhD in theater at MU in 2015.
Assistant Professor Oded Gurantz is one of three new faculty members joining the Truman School of Public Affairs this semester. Gurantz was an Institute of Education Sciences fellow in the Stanford Graduate School of Education and will complete his PhD in educational policy in 2018. His research focuses on gaps in college enrollment and completion between students from historically underserved groups and their more-privileged peers.
Sarah Kitch joins the Truman School as an assistant professor after a stint as a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Northern Illinois University. Her area of expertise is in political theory and American political thought, with articles in the American Journal of Political Science and the Journal of Church and State. Kitch, who earned her PhD at Louisiana State University, was the 2016–17 Thomas W. Smith Postdoctoral Research Associate in the politics department at Princeton University.
David Switzer is a political scientist and public administration scholar whose work focuses on environmental policy. He joins the Truman School this fall as an assistant professor after serving as an assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University. He received his PhD in political science from Texas A&M University. Switzer’s major research focus is on how political and administrative variables shape the implementation and development of environmental policy at the local level in the United States.
Artemis Anastasiadou is a visiting assistant professor in the School of Visual Studies. She is a professional film and TV editor from Athens, Greece, and the editor of award-winning documentaries, short films, and TV series commissioned by major Greek and European TV channels. She holds a BFA in drama and theater studies from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and attended courses at the University of Glasgow and the European Film College in Denmark. She is completing her MFA in the radio-television-film program at the University of Texas–Austin, where she is focusing on women’s narratives.
Fidencio Martinez Perez joins the School of Visual Studies this fall as an assistant professor. Martinez Perez was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, but was raised in the U.S. after his family immigrated. His current work examines the debate over borders, edges, and the people who must traverse through them. In his work, Martinez Perez manipulates paper surfaces and maps to refer to the crafts and customs taught to him as a toddler in Oaxaca—ones used to celebrate festivals and to mourn the dead. He received his BFA from Memphis College of Art and an MA and an MFA from the University of Iowa.