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New Faculty Setting Stage for AU’s Future

Terry Davidson, professor of psychology and director of AU’s new Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, is one of AU’s new tenure-line faculty appointments for the 2012-2013 academic year. Photo courtesy of Purdue University.

Do bilingual people learn languages differently than do people who only speak one language? Do artificial sweeteners and fats help, or hinder weight loss? What do dental plaque and infections by potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria, such as MRSA, have in common? How does land use impact water quality?

These questions relate to the research and teaching interests of some of American University’s new tenure-line faculty appointments for the 2012-2013 academic year. While not all of the new appointments are focused on the sciences, quite a few of them are—and strategically so, according to Phyllis Peres, senior vice provost and dean of academic affairs.

“Several of our new faculty members are focused on our growing strengths in the sciences, particularly behavioral neuroscience, public health, and environmental science and studies,” said Peres.

Other new faculty members’ research and teaching interests are relevant to AU’s well-established strengths in the arts, international affairs, business, and law. In addition, the School of Public Affairs, the School of Communication, and the School of Professional and Extended Studies each have new dean appointments with Barbara Romzek, Jeffrey Rutenbeck, and Carola Weil, respectively.

While the Office of the Provost is continuing to develop its “AU Project 2030” through which the university will pinpoint specific research areas in which it will become an internationally and nationally known innovator, Peres says the 2012–2013 new faculty appointments are already setting the stage.

“The new faculty hires of today determine what American University will look like in the future,” she said.

2012–2013 new faculty members (alpha order/by school/college or unit):

College of Arts and Sciences

Jimi Adams, assistant professor of sociology. Formerly assistant professor of sociology at the University of Arizona. Research and teaching interests are diffusion of information, inter-/intra-organizational networks, mixed methods, sociology of science, network epidemiology, HIV/AIDS, Sub-Saharan Africa, simulation modeling, and religion.

Stefano Costanzi, assistant professor of chemistry. Formerly a staff scientist of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Research and teaching interests are experimental biology, synthetic medicinal chemistry, and computational chemistry.

Terry Davidson, professor of psychology and director of AU’s new Center for Behavioral Neuroscience. Formerly professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University. Research and teaching interests are learning and memory, experimental psychology, effects of high fat, high carbohydrate food consumption on brain regions that underlie memory function.

Yaniv Dinur, assistant professor of performing arts. Formerly guest lecturer at Concordia University. Research and teaching interests are conducting and music education and community engagement.

Anton Fedyashin, assistant professor of history. Formerly temporary assistant professor and associate director of AU’s Initiative for Russian Culture. Research and teaching interests are modernization in late imperial Russia, Russian and European history, and Russian conservatism.

Chip Gerfen, professor of world languages and cultures. Formerly associate professor and chair of the department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese at Pennsylvania State University. Research and teaching interests are linguistics, creative writing with a specialization in poetry, and Spanish.

Boris Gershman, assistant professor of economics. Formerly doctorate student at Brown University. Research and teaching interests are economic growth and development, macroeconomics, social economics, and inequality.

Naima Hachad, assistant professor of world languages and cultures. Formerly assistant professor of foreign languages at McDaniel College. Research and teaching interests are North African and Caribbean Francophone literatures, Orientalism, and North African Diaspora in French.

Nathaniel Herr, assistant professor of psychology. Formerly clinical associate in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center. Research and teaching interests are severe psychopathology, etiology and the effects of interpersonal dysfunction among adults or emerging adults with borderline personality disorder.

Jeffrey Kaplan, associate professor of biology. Formerly associate professor of oral biology at the New Jersey Dental School. Research and teaching interests are oral biology, microbiology and immunology, and molecular biology.

Karen Knee, assistant professor of environmental science. Formerly a Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Research Center. Research and teaching interests are hydrology and chemical oceanography and the relationship between land use and water quality.

Pedram Partovi, assistant professor of history. Formerly visiting professor with Lehigh University’s Center for Global Islamic Studies. Research and teaching interests are the history of the Islamic world and modern social and political change in the Middle East and South Asia.

Gautham Rao, assistant professor of history. Formerly assistant professor of history at Rutgers University–Newark and the New Jersey Technical Institute. Research and teaching interests are legal and political history, the history of the American state, and the public foundations of American slavery.

Michael Robinson, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics. Formerly a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. Research and teaching interests are theoretical and practical tools for advanced signal processing techniques and topological methods for signal processing and systems analysis.

E. Andrew Taylor, assistant professor of arts management. Formerly director of the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Bolz Center for Arts Administration. Research and teaching interests are professional leadership in the arts and cultural policy.

Li Wong, assistant professor of literature. Formerly doctorate student at the University of California–Santa Barbara. Research and teaching interests are Chinese literature and media, engaging race and representation, and gender and sexuality.

Kogod School of Business

Yujin Jeong, assistant professor of international business. Formerly assistant professor of international business at HEC Montreal. Research and teaching interests are interactions between states and businesses in global markets and firms’ strategic decisions in response to external environments.

Gopal Krishnan, professor of accounting. Formerly professor of accounting at Lehigh University. Research and teaching interests are the audit market, earnings management, capital markets, and corporate governance.

School of Communication

Jeffrey Rutenbeck, dean, School of Communication. Formerly dean of the Division of Communication and Media at Champlain College. Research and teaching interests are digital media and literacy, social and cultural change, the relationships expressed by and formed through technology, and the disruptive impacts of digitization.

School of International Service

Augustina Giraudy, assistant professor of comparative and regional studies. Formerly an academy scholar at Harvard University. Research and teaching interests are variation in subnational politics in national settings and examining authoritarianism in those contexts.

Malini Ranganathan, assistant professor of global environmental politics. Formerly a postdoctoral fellow with the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign’s Beckman Institute. Research and teaching interests are global metropolitan governance, political ecology, critical ethnographies of environmental policymaking, citizenship and political mobilization, climate change, adaptation and vulnerability, and social theory.

School of Professional and Extended Studies

Carola Weil, dean, School of Professional and Extended Studies. Formerly the director for international and strategic partnerships for the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism’s East Coast office in Washington, D.C. Research and teaching interests are international affairs, conflict, and human security.

School of Public Affairs

Barbara Romzek, dean, School of Public Affairs. Formerly professor of public affairs and administration at the University of Kansas. Research and teaching interests are public management and accountability, government reform, contracting, and network service delivery.

University Library

Olivia Ivey, assistant librarian. Formerly law librarian at the U.S. Department of Labor and part-time reference librarian at the Washington College of Law. Professional interests are information on administrative law, labor issues, and legislative history.

Washington College of Law

Jorge Contreras, associate professor of law. Formerly visiting associate professor of law at the Washington College of Law. Research and teaching interest is the effects of intellectual property structures on the dissemination of scientific and technological innovation and information.

N. Jeremi Duru, professor of law. Formerly professor of law at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law. Research and teaching interests are sports law, employment discrimination, and civil procedure.

Andrew Taslitz, professor of law. Formerly professor of law at Howard University’s School of Law. Research and teaching interests are criminal justice, the Fourth Amendment, rape law, criminal culpability, prosecutorial ethics, and race and criminal justice.