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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

16 New Faculty Members Welcomed to Knox for 2022-2023 Academic Year

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Knox College is excited to welcome 16 new faculty members to campus this academic year. Here are the new members of the Knox College faculty. 

Jennifer Andrella

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Digital Humanities

Jennifer Andrella

Andrella received a Ph.D. in history with a graduate certificate in digital humanities at Michigan State University and a B.A. in history and writing at the University of Toledo. 

Andrella’s research interests focus on U.S. history, Native American history, and the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. Her work in the field of digital humanities involves digital mapping, text analysis, data visualizations, and digital history. She is currently working on a book manuscript that examines the national scale of post-Civil War Reconstruction through territorial expansion in the West.

Since my first visit to Knox, I was struck by the widespread interest in digital humanities across campus, and I can't wait to collaborate with classes on projects that implement digital tools and methods as part of the curriculum,” Andrella said. 

Aaron Beek

Visiting Assistant Professor of History

Aaron Beek

Beek received a Ph.D. in classical and Near Eastern studies from the University of Minnesota, an M.A. in ancient culture, religion, and ethnicity from the University of British Columbia, and a B.A. in classics and history from Macalester College.

Beek’s research focuses on pirates. More generally, he looks at outsiders, outcasts, and criminals in the ancient world. He also works on the histories of North Africa, early Christianity, and its relationship with Judaism and naval history.  

“I'm really excited to teach at a liberal-arts college for the first time,” Beek said. “Most of my teaching experience has been at huge state universities, and it's a lot harder to get to know students and colleagues in that environment.”  

Merideth Bucher

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Meredith Bucher

Bucher received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Purdue University, an M.A. in clinical psychology from Ball State University, and a B.A. in psychology with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience from Manchester University.

Bucher’s research primarily involves the improvement of assessment and treatment of mental health disorders, with an emphasis on personality pathology. Her teaching centers around courses related to psychopathology, personality, assessment, and psychotherapy. 

“I have always enjoyed mentoring and teaching undergraduate students, and I can't wait to give back to the students here at Knox to set them up for the best success possible,” Bucher said.

Emily Burrell

Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Jennifer Andrella

Burrell received both a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry and a B.S. in chemistry from Brigham Young University.

Bucher’s teaching interests are primarily in chemistry—specifically general chemistry, physical chemistry, analytical chemistry, and atmospheric chemistry. She says she enjoys learning about a wide range of topics, including ancient Egyptian history and green energy.

“I am so excited to teach at Knox College; I've been impressed by the undergraduate programs and the unique education many of the students are given and I look forward to adding my experiences to their education,” Burrell said.

Christopher Dabbs

Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology

Christopher Dabbs

Dabbs received a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Oklahoma State University, an M.A. in clinical mental health counseling from Valparaiso University, and a B.A. in psychology and religion from Wabash College. He is also a mental health counselor associate in Indiana and holds a nationally certified counselor credential.

Dabbs’s teaching interests are related to mental health, counseling, and health service psychology. He has a significant interest in teaching, training, and supervising the next generation of clinicians and others who want to apply psychological counseling principles to their future or current work.

“As professional arenas become less specialized and require more diverse skill sets, the strength of liberal arts education continues to shine. I'm excited to be back in a place with such a strong liberal arts philosophy,” Dabbs said.

Ely Fair

Visiting Instructor of Economics

Ely Fair

Fair received an M.A. in labour policy and globalization from the University of Kasse, Germany, and a B.A. in political economy from Evergreen State College. He is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, studying economics.

Fair’s research is focused on urban economics. He is particularly interested in the ways that the United States housing environment creates social stability, or conversely, intense harm. 

“I am excited to dive back into a small midwestern town and for the coming winter,” Fair said.

Natsumi Hayashi

Visiting Instructor of Japanese

Natsumi Hayashi

Hayashi received an M.A. in East Asian languages and cultures from Florida State University and a B.A. in Japanese pedagogy from Ryukoku University in Japan.

Her teaching uses media, educational technology, and a variety of cultural and sociolinguistic topics to ensure that her students acquire the tools to maintain their passion for learning Japanese and exploring Japanese culture even after they complete the formal Japanese program.

I am looking forward to teaching in the warm atmosphere of Knox College,” Hayashi said. “I want to meet each student individually and expand their future possibilities. I would be happy if I could nurture students who can become a bridge between the U.S. and Japan.”

Maria Kaoutzani

Visiting Instructor of Music

Natsumi Hayashi

Kaoutzani received an M.M. in theory and composition from New York University and a B.A. in music from the University of York, United Kingdom. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in music composition at the University of Chicago.

Kaoutzani teaches composition, orchestration, and music appreciation. She spends much of her time seeking new sounds for her works. She is inspired by Greek music, which is the music she grew up with and loves exploring different types of music from around the world.

“I look forward to forming strong personal, professional, and artistic relationships with people here,” Kaoutzani said.

Ming Lei

Assistant Professor of Educational Studies

Lei received a Ph.D. in educational psychology and educational technology from Michigan State University and a B.S. in education from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Lei’s research focuses on the intersection of emerging technologies with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in K-12 and higher education learning environments. His teaching interests focus on culturally sustaining pedagogy and research methods by teaching a wide range of topics including brain development, theories of motivation, and positive behavioral interventions and supports.

“I am looking forward to collaborating with the Knox faculty to create engaging learning experiences that encourage our students to think big and create innovative solutions for contemporary issues in society,” Lei said.

Alyssa Mathias

Visiting Assistant Professor of Music

Alysaa Mathias

Mathias received a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology and an M.A. in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a B.A. in music from the University of Chicago. She spent the 2021-2022 academic year as a postdoctoral scholar in the interdisciplinary Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA.

Mathias’s teaching interests focus on music as an integral part of the human experience. Her classes include lessons on music history, social science, and listening. She also teaches about global popular and traditional music, sound studies, music and conflict, ethnographic methods, and areas in the Middle East and post-Soviet Eurasia.

I’ve already had the opportunity to meet a number of students who impressed me with their creativity and initiative. I’m looking forward to small classes, interdisciplinary collaborations, and great campus resources like the library and Green Oaks,” Mathias said.

Chirasree Mukherjee

Visiting Assistant Professor of International Relations/ASIANetwork, Luce Foundation Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow

Chirasree Mukherjee

Mukherjee received a Ph.D. in political science from Arizona State University, an M.Phil. in foreign policy studies from the University of Calcutta, India, an M.A. in international relations and a B.A. in political science from Jadavpur University, India. 

Mukherjee has several years of teaching experience in both the United States and India. His teaching and research interests include international relations, war and conflict, and Foreign Policy with an interest in Asian Politics, especially South Asia.

“Knox College’s nationally ranked liberal arts setting, its vibrant intellectual community, and multicultural environment excite me the most about joining Knox. I believe that at Knox I will get the opportunity to encourage and mentor a diverse body of students to think critically and independently, both inside and outside the classroom,” Mukherjee said.

Erin Newton

Visiting Instructor of History

Erin Newton

Newton received an M.A. in Asian studies from the University of Texas at Austin, an M.A. in history from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in international affairs and Japanese language and literature from George Washington University. She is a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Chicago.

Newton teaches the history of medicine and the history of Japan, often incorporating literature into her courses. Her historical research observes the history of medicine, science, and technology with a focus on Japan and how touch was medically reframed in the twentieth century.

“What excites me most about joining Knox is the obvious close-knit nature of the community and being a part of this diverse and caring group of people,” Newton said. “I have heard nothing but good things about the Knox experience from alumni and former professors, and I hope to be able to contribute to this community with my own passions and experience.”

Gonzalo Pinilla

Visiting Assistant Professor of Art

Gonzalo Pinilla

Pinilla received an M.F.A. in printmaking from the University of Iowa and a B.F.A. in art history and printmaking from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Pinilla is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Latin American art history program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Pinilla teaches the principles of visual communication through art. He bases his teaching strategies on a combination of art foundations skills, contemporary digital processes and ideas, the use of relevant contemporary references, and the promotion of research and criticism in class.

“I think Knox College offers more freedom in the curriculum and more flexibility with topics and teaching approaches, which means classes and programs can often be tailored to better fit the needs of students,” Pinilla said. 

Greg Toppo

Visiting Journalist-in-Residence

Greg Toppo

Toppo has over 25 years of journalist experience, mainly covering education. He received certification in elementary education from the University of New Mexico, was a Spencer Fellow in 2010-2011 at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and received a B.A. in liberal arts from St. John’s College. 

Toppo’s teaching interests focus on helping students understand the journalism landscape and produce coverage that's high-quality, creative, and transparent. He firmly believes that, though traditional news organizations are suffering, there's never been a better time to be a journalist.

“I'm only now meeting my students, but am really excited about their seriousness and their willingness to jump right in,” Toppo said.

Ameesh Upadhyay

Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics

Ameesh Upadhyay

Upadhyay received a Ph.D. in economics and an M.A. in economics from American University in Washington, D.C., and a B.A. in economics and mathematics from Franklin and Marshall College. He is originally from Kathmandu, Nepal. 

Upadhyay teaches introductory and intermediate microeconomics. His main research interests involve empirical analysis of the political economy of development, with a focus on inequality, ethnic divisions, and civil war.

“I am excited to teach in a liberal arts setting, and to be a part of an intellectually diverse community at Knox,” Upadhyay said. 

Brandy Wilcox

Visiting Instructor of Modern Languages (German)

Brandy Wilcox

Wilcox received an M.A. in German from the University of Wisconsin and a B.A. in French and German from Truman State University. She is currently finishing her dissertation with the German, Nordic, and Slavic+ department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Wilcox’s teaching interests include the German language, literature, and culture, as well as folklore, fairy tales, and migration. She enjoys teaching with the students at the center of the conversation, developing class time activities with the students’ interests motivating the direction of the study.

When I visited, I was so impressed with how invested Knox students (and faculty!) are in their studies and I think I am most excited to collaborate with the campus community in connecting what we learn in the classroom with the big picture. Also, Flunk Day sounds like so much fun,” Wilcox said.

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Printed on Tuesday, December 6, 2022