New Faculty: 2011-2012

To browse our 33 new tenure-line faculty by their field of research, click on a word in the word cloud below.

  • J. Jonas Anderson


    Washington College of Law
    JD, Harvard Law School

    Jonas Anderson specializes in patent law and intellectual property. He joins the American University Washington College of Law faculty from Berkeley Law School where he was the Microsoft Research Fellow. Prior to Berkeley, he clerked for Judge Alan Lourie on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. He also worked as an associate at Latham and Watkins, focusing primarily on patent litigation and transactions involving intellectual property. His current research focuses on trade secrets, patent litigation, and patent claim construction. He is drafting one of the first casebooks devoted to the law of trade secrecy along with Professors Peter Menell, Robert Merges, and Mark Lemley. Additionally, he is currently working on an empirical project evaluating the last 10 years of patent claim construction jurisprudence at the Federal Circuit.


  • Shalini Ayyagari


    College of Arts & Sciences, performing arts
    PhD, music, University of California-Berkeley

    In the desert region of Western Rajasthan, a group of folk musicians live in the borderland between India and Pakistan, in villages increasingly touched by globalization and the empowering influence of NGOs. Ethnomusicologist Shalini Ayyagari works closely with this group of Manganiyar — a Muslim caste literally translated as beggar — who traditionally play classical and folk music for Hindu life-cycle observances and holiday celebrations. Having been replaced by Bollywood sound tracks and boom boxes at these events, they’ve transitioned to the tourist circuit and now perform worldwide from Paris venues to the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Ayyagari documents the cultural shift in the Manganiyar’s lives and music as these largely illiterate villagers transition to a life of means influenced by cultural interactions with foreign tourists and their own travel as performers. Ayyagari herself toes a middle path between the disciplines of music and anthropology. For her Fulbright IIE–funded dissertation research on the Manganiyar community, Ayyagari filmed over 200 hundred hours of footage and is currently developing a full-length documentary. At the same time, Ayyagari, who learned the violin at age eight, also plays the Balinese gamelan and hopes to start a tabla ensemble at AU. She plans to immerse her students in ethnographic studies within Washington, D.C., itself, drawing upon the rich and diverse musical communities that comprise her new home.


  • Michael Bader


    College of Arts & Sciences, sociology
    PhD, sociology, University of Michigan

    Michael Bader’s always been fascinated by cities. But it wasn’t until he took his first undergrad sociology class that Bader’s intellectual curiosity broadened beyond buildings to the ways in which people interact within the built environment. “I always liked the study of architecture, but I began to wonder about the ways social and racial inequality are perpetuated in metropolitan areas,” he says. Bader’s scholarship centers on racial and economic segregation, neighborhood inequality, and health and nutrition disparities. He’s also interested in social science methodology. Bader collaborated with University of Michigan scholars to evaluate the effectiveness of Google Street View as an alternative to costly in-person neighborhood audits. Bader comes to AU from the University of Pennsylvania, where he’s worked as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundational Health and Society Scholar since 2009. The Derwood, Maryland, native is eager to return to Washington, where he’ll work with AU’s Center on Health, Risk, and Society. Formed last year by sociology chair Kim Blankenship, the interdisciplinary community of scholars looks beyond biomedical technology to examine the social dimensions of health.


  • Juliet Bellow


    College of Arts & Sciences, art history
    PhD, art history, University of Pennsylvania

    An undergraduate course titled Art Humanities sparked Juliet Bellow’s interest in art history. When the professor pointed out unconventional details in the decoration of an ancient Greek vase, Bellow realized that “different cultures develop ways to represent their world and communicate their values and ideals through the visual forms they adopt.” In graduate school she began studying the relationship between art and dance in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. While at work on a research paper about the Ballets Russes, she noted that Serge Diaghilev, the troupe’s leader, had commissioned costumes and sets from major artists working in Paris. It fascinated her that “so many painters had been so interested in dance that they were willing to move outside of their ‘comfort zone,’ ” to work in the performing arts, “a collaborative medium.” It also captivated her that “this entire phenomenon had been almost entirely ignored by mainstream art history.” Bellow’s forthcoming book Modernism on Stage: The Ballets Russes and the Parisian Avant-Garde, further explores this topic. Several new projects Bellow has slated for this year include an article on the sculptor Auguste Rodin and a book on the artist Sonia Delaunay. She also hopes the future will bring work on exhibitions at the AU Museum and in other museums in Washington, D.C.


  • David Bosco


    School of International Service, international politics
    JD, Harvard Law School

    David Bosco was a lawyer and journalist before he entered academia. His experiences working on and writing about refugee and humanitarian issues in the Balkans have helped shape his approach to scholarship and teaching. “I like being in this kind of environment where you have lawyers around, you’ve got political scientists, you’ve got anthropologists, you’ve got all these people with all these backgrounds,” said Bosco, who came to the School of International Service in 2007 and was appointed tenure-track this year. “I think that’s a great way to approach international relations.” Bosco was a senior editor at Foreign Policy magazine when he came to AU, primarily to work on a book about the United Nations Security Council. “Along the way [I was] asked to teach a class, and before I knew it I ended up teaching a full load,” he said. “I really enjoyed it. The classes were small, and it was a lot of fun interacting with the students. The students are incredibly aware of international issues and that’s a fantastic thing.” You can read Bosco’s views on international organizations like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on his Foreign Policy blog, The Multilateralist. He is currently working on a book about the International Criminal Court.


  • Laura DeNardis


    School of Communication, communication studies
    PhD, science and technology studies, Virginia Tech

    As a leading voice in the field of Internet governance scholarship, Laura DeNardis, an engineer and social scientist by training, asserts that Internet technical protocols are political. To DeNardis, the Internet is neither an untamed Wild West, nor is it, as some perceive, managed by the complete strictures of government or corporate control. Internet governance occurs through the combination of technical design decisions that determine how we move through cyberspace, by international Internet governing organizations, and private company policies (like Facebook’s ever-changing privacy rules). Her current research runs specifically to technologies of dissent — examining the future of free expression online through new technological forms of political expression and suppression by political activists, hackers like “Anonymous” and repressive governments. DeNardis most recently served as research scholar, lecturer, and executive director for the Yale Information Society Project at Yale Law School. During her first year at AU, DeNardis will be completing two books, Technologies of Dissent and Global Internet Governance, the latter for Yale University Press. She also serves as vice chair of the Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet), and spoke on topics of cybersecurity and Internet freedom at the 2011 SIS-hosted GigaNet conference. Dean Larry Kirkman is delighted that DeNardis is joining SOC. “Her research on global politics of information and communication technologies and her technoscience expertise will enrich scholarship, professional innovation and teaching at the School of Communication.”


  • Lewis Faulk


    School of Public Affairs, public administration and policy
    PhD, public policy, Georgia State University and Georgia Institute of Technology

    Lewis Faulk has long contributed to the nonprofit community, through volunteer service and, even as a teen, developing his own meals on wheels–type program. Throughout his first career as a public school teacher, he volunteered at nonprofits over summer breaks. Now, Faulk serves nonprofits and foundations at a more strategic level. His research offers nonprofit managers a window into a closed-doors process that directly impacts their bottom line — foundation grant-making. Faulk’s analysis, which draws upon Georgia’s philanthropic community as a sample, details grant decisions impacting small 501(c)(3)’s statewide and details the factors that attract or deter foundation investment. Many nonprofits — particularly rural ones based in impoverished communities that rely upon their services — spend considerable time and energy on foundation grant writing, which, Faulk finds, rarely pays off. Selected grant awardees are generally larger, efficient organizations with funds to invest in things like marketing. Younger and smaller-to-medium-sized organizations are often skipped over. Faulk’s research is also relevant to foundations aiming to broadly impact local communities — seeing that their funding selections are not diverse and funnel funds to the same, large, stable organizations. The next step in his research, which will take place at AU, looks to managers’ strategies and motives in grant application.


  • Deen Freelon


    School of Communication, public communication
    PhD, communication, University of Washington

    Deen Freelon is interested in the changing relationship of technology and politics. He analyzes blogs, Web forums, civic engagement Web sites, and other political mass media. Freelon’s interests also include quantitative research methods. This interest led to his developing the online intercoder reliability calculator ReCal. Freelon describes ReCal, which is available for access on his Web site, as an “online utility that computes intercoder–interrater reliability coefficients for nominal, ordinal, interval, or ratio-level data.” His publications include forthcoming work on digital media and youth engagement and on communicating citizenship online. Since 2005 he has maintained a blog on his research interests and contributes to the blog group Blackademics. The Durham, North Carolina, native graduated with a BA in psychology from Stanford University. After Stanford he worked for four years as technology trainer–Web designer–multimedia consultant for Duke University’s academic community.


  • Seth Gershenson


    School of Public Affairs, public administration and policy
    PhD, economics, Michigan State University

    Seth Gershenson’s experience as a substitute teacher before entering graduate school has profoundly impacted his work in applied microeconomics. He applies economic approaches to practical, policy-driven questions in public education and labor economics, in particular teacher behavior. For his work on the supply of substitute teachers, he received the Association for Education Finance and Policy’s 2010 Predoctoral New Scholar Award. That research became the first chapter of his dissertation. Gershenson is also studying the causal effect of commuting on labor supply and the response of teachers and schools to high-stakes testing in California. He will teach managerial economics and economics for policy analysis in the School of Public Affairs. “One of my goals in any class is to train students to think critically, ‘like an economist,’ about the decisions that they themselves and others around them make,” Gershenson said of his teaching philosophy. “Students are frequently amazed at how a seemingly strange or complicated phenomenon becomes sensible and even obvious when viewed through an economic lens.”


  • Garrett Graddy


    School of International Service, global environmental politics
    PhD, geography, University of Kentucky

    At a time when “peasant crops” and heirloom variety vegetables are plated as haute cuisine in gourmet restaurants from Lima to Washington, D.C., Garrett Graddy is working to understand how farmers can ensure access to more sustainable food sources. Graddy, the daughter of Kentucky farmers, studies agricultural biodiversity, community food security, and epistemology (with regard to traditional ecological knowledge) — from the scale of geopolitics and environmental ethics to the plight of the small farmer. Hers is research that tracks the interactions between traditional cuisines and globalization. With funding from the American Association for Geographers’ Latin American Studies Specialty Group Field Study Award, she studied the methods of indigenous Peruvian farmers attempting to reclaim small-scale agriculture. In a second case study, funded with a James S. Brown Graduate Student Research Award, she examined the attempts of Appalachian farmers in eastern Kentucky to use community gardens and small farms to fight local hunger. Graddy’s research demonstrates that in the global North and South alike, small farming communities are now dependent upon imports for many staples. Further, the rise of heirloom seed saving may be an antidote to a global crop-raising structure that often leads farmers to give primacy to engineered seeds lacking biodiversity, and a broader system of pressures that have created a debt treadmill for many small farmers.


  • Lindsey Green-Simms


    College of Arts & Sciences, literature
    PhD, comparative literature, University of Minnesota

    “I’ve always been interested in the types of stories people tell about their worlds,” says Lindsey Green-Simms. Literature is intriguing, she says, because it “allows the reader to discover how people think through problems and situations, how they cope with and adapt to challenges, and how they negotiate relationships.” Her interests in world literature, globalization, and gender studies were honed through further life experience. While studying abroad in Cameroon, Green-Simms saw the effects of underdevelopment and how individuals persevered. She began to study African film and literature in graduate school where she realized how much there was to learn about the vast continent. Gender studies grew as an interest when she saw “how integral gender was to culture, religion, philosophy, and especially, everyday life. Much of film and literature, no matter where it comes from, is concerned with questions about masculinity, femininity, and sexuality.” Green-Simms is excited to be part of AU’s politically and socially active community, especially since it “values the arts and humanities.” She sees Washington, D.C., as an ideal place to teach global literature and hopes to share her “passion for literature, film, traveling, and thinking with AU students.”


  • Bradley Hardy


    School of Public Affairs, public administration and policy
    PhD, economics, University of Kentucky

    A newly minted PhD, Bradley Hardy hopes to carve out a scholarly niche around intergenerational mobility: the change in social status that occurs from the parents’ to the children’s generation. “There’s a strong link between the income level of your parents and your predicted adult income,” explains the applied microeconomist and recent Kentucky graduate. Hardy, who worked at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities before returning to grad school, is also interested in labor economics, income volatility, and the economics of poverty. His research is especially concerned with family and child well-being. “As someone interested in economic policy, I can’t think of a better place to be than Washington,” says Hardy of the AU advantage. “There are lots of interesting avenues to share your research, and I’m excited to join such a highly respected, close-knit department.” Hardy’s also eager to get back into the classroom. “Graduate students here have such interesting work experience; I hope to learn as much from them as they’ll learn from me.”


  • Gregory Harry


    College of Arts & Sciences, physics
    PhD, experimental physics, University of Maryland

    Gregg Harry works to detect gravitational waves that may date back to the Big Bang, and in this way, is testing Einstein’s theory of gravity against Newton’s. An astrophysicist by trade, Harry explains that, in theory, any mass should make gravitational waves, but measurable waves would have to come from the universe’s giants — on the scale of black holes or neutron stars. Once detected, gravitational waves will give scientists a new way of studying the universe. Until now, astronomers have largely depended on light waves to measure and describe movement in the universe. Detecting gravitational waves would be like adding hearing to sight. For the past decade, Harry has worked on the National Science Foundation–funded Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) at MIT. As part of the international collaboration, Harry’s central research has been to refine optical precision and reduce thermal noise disruptions in three, 4 km long vacuums developed to measure oscillation — warped space caused by gravitational waves — between objects at either end. At AU, Harry will run experimental labs for advanced physics students. Harry says he was attracted to AU because he wants to teach top-notch students. The university’s growth and commitment to expanding research opportunities were also a draw. “It’s apparent that at American, growing the sciences and building a strong science program is a priority, and that’s impressive.”


  • Justin Jacobs


    College of Arts & Sciences, Chinese history
    PhD, modern Chinese history, University of California-San Diego

    Justin Jacobs got interested in China in junior high school playing a video game called Romance of the Three Kingdoms. His interest in China flowered in college, when as an English major he started taking Chinese language classes. An MA in international studies took him to Taiwan for a year. That led to interviews with the CIA and the State Department. He never became a spy or a diplomat, but now he finds himself back in Washington, D.C. China is one of the most watched, most talked about countries in the world right now, and I can’t imagine there’s any better place to be than the capital of the United States if you want to be involved in what the most current issues are,” Jacobs said. Jacobs specializes in the northwestern area of China, Xinjiang, a region that is mostly Muslim. “These are significant areas of geostrategic and ethnic importance in China today and they get short shrift in the general narrative,” he noted. “Most people don’t even know these places exist when they think of modern China.”


  • Itir Karaesmen-Aydin


    Kogod School of Business, information technology
    PhD, management science, Columbia University

    Itir Karaesmen-Aydin’s a quant wonk. “I’ve always been a quantitative person. That took me to engineering but, ultimately, I wanted something more related to people,” says the Turkish native. “AU has the right balance.” The Kogod professor is one of the math whizzes behind the complex algorithms that determine airline and hotel prices on Web sites like Expedia and Travelocity. “I’m interested in price forecasting, matching supply with demand to help companies maximize profitability,” she explains. Recently, she’s turned her attention from hotels to hospitals, studying supply chain issues associated with blood platelets, which have a shelf life of only six to seven days. It’s uncharted territory — something that excites Karaesmen-Aydin as a researcher. “You don’t need to make sophisticated changes to see big results,” says Karaesmen-Aydin, who plans to partner with the Red Cross and hospitals and blood banks across Washington. “It can be as easy as collecting blood on Wednesday, not on Thursday.” This is Karaesmen-Aydin’s second year at AU. She says the most rewarding thing about working with students is “seeing their eyes sparkle” when they grasp a difficult concept within production and operations management. “It’s great to see them excited about the material.”


  • David Kearns


    College of Arts & Sciences, psychology
    PhD, psychology, American University

    For more than a decade, AU alumnus David Kearns has worked with his mentor, psychology professor Stan Weiss, researching environmental stimuli that elicit cravings in drug users. The pair has studied drug-seeking behaviors in rats and tested treatments to curb their cocaine addiction. They’ve also examined how environmental conditions can influence the degree to which the rats will crave the drugs. Based on their work in the lab, for example, they’ve inferred that an addict might not need a fix until he sees a crack pipe or someone else shooting up. In 2009, Weiss and Kearns landed a prestigious, five-year, $300,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue their work. “In a sense, we’re the 100:1 long shot in the Kentucky Derby,” says Kearns of the R01 grant, which is frequently awarded to Ivy League universities and large research institutions. “We’re the stable with two horses, competing against all the big players.” Ultimately, the researchers hope to partner with clinicians and “translate” their research for human use. “There’s no effective treatment for cocaine — that says a lot about the power of addiction,” says Kearns. “Finding a treatment is sort of like the search for the Holy Grail.”


  • Daniel Kerr


    College of Arts & Sciences, history
    PhD, social history and policy, Case Western Reserve University

    An urban historian who’s made a career out of giving voice to the homeless, Daniel Kerr says “there’s a life’s work in D.C. When I see the work in a different way, I see a new way to engage in it,” says the Clevelander, who comes to AU by way of James Madison University. “D.C. is where I want to be.” Kerr says he was drawn to “the vibrancy of AU’s student body, and the ways in which professors engage with the community outside the university.” To that end, Kerr — who will serve as acting director for the public history program in Kathy Franz’s absence — is charged with developing partnerships with community organizations working on housing, poverty, and environmental issues. He will also help craft the undergraduate public history program. Kerr’s scholarship centers on Cleveland’s homeless population. His dissertation spawned the book Derelict Paradise, which chronicles the transformation of Cleveland’s downtown business district and the loss of affordable housing through the eyes of the city’s homeless, unemployed, and disenfranchised citizens. He’s currently working on a follow-up book, “To What End: The Cleveland Homeless Oral History Project,” which explores the ethical dilemmas that arise when working with people in extreme poverty.


  • Ji-Young Lee


    School of International Service, comparative and regional studies
    PhD, international relations, Georgetown University

    Ji-Young Lee holds the C.W. Lim and Korea Foundation Professorship of Korea Studies. She was most recently an Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow and visiting assistant professor in politics and East Asian studies at Oberlin College. She earned her PhD in international relations from Georgetown University. Her dissertation is titled “The Chinese System of International Relations in Early Modern East Asia: China at the Center in the Eyes of the Periphery.” Her research interests include international relations theory, East Asian security (Korea, Japan, and China), U.S. national security and foreign policy, international political economy, and international institutions. Her publications have appeared in Asia-Pacific Bulletin, Issues and Insights, and CSIS’s Comparative Connections. Lee has taught the following courses: Power Politics and Culture in East Asian Foreign Policy, East Asian Security, America’s Alliances in East Asia, East Asian Politics: the Cases of Japan and Korea and National Security Policy and History.


  • Amanda Leiter


    Washington College of Law
    JD, Harvard Law School

    Amanda Leiter’s love of the outdoors led her to the courtroom, then the classroom. A Washington native, Leiter has always enjoyed hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking. She originally thought her passion for the environment would lead to a career in science, but after graduate school, she switched paths and pursued the law. From 2003 to 2004 she clerked for then Supreme Court associate justice John Paul Stevens. “It was such a privilege,” she recalls. “He’s a wonderful man. Getting insight into how he thinks about legal issues was exciting. It’s such a great place to work that it’s sort of a pinnacle job for anybody in any career path.” Leiter spent two years as a litigator at the Natural Resources Defense Council, where she developed and pursued judicial challenges to EPA rules regulating industrial air pollution. After her fellowship ended, she took a visiting professor position at Georgetown, where she taught environmental law. “I saw academics as a way to combine my interests and encourage the next generation of environmental lawyers.” At the Washington College of Law, Leiter’s research will focus on government agencies' practices. “Agency operation is not always well suited to coping with environmental problems,” she says. “I’m looking at how to better structure agencies to address environmental problems, from a legal perspective but also how they regulate in the face of enormous risk and scientific uncertainty.”


  • Taryn Morrissey


    School of Public Affairs, public administration and policy
    PhD, developmental psychology, Cornell University

    Taryn Morrissey’s always been intellectually curious about “the factors that set children on certain trajectories in life.” Morrissey, who began her academic career as a child development major at Tufts, has produced innovative research on the impact of public policy on children’s development, examining everything from food security to childcare instability. Now in her second year at SPA, Morrissey made headlines with a surprising research finding: children’s body mass index (BMI) may rise the longer their mothers work. Along with colleagues from Cornell and the University of Chicago, Morrissey’s building on that research — published in January-February 2011 issue of Child Development — by examining the impact of fathers’ work schedules on childhood obesity. She’s also teamed up with AU professors Stacey Snelling, CAS, and Anusree Mitra, Kogod, to study front-of-the-package marketing at Safeway in Washington’s War 7: an area social scientists and policy makers have dubbed a “food desert.” The research is significant for two reasons: most studies of food packaging are conducted in high-income areas and research on food deserts focuses almost exclusively on corner stores. “Because I primarily do secondary data analysis, I could stare at a computer all day, Morrissey says. “I’m excited to get out into the community.”


  • Kyoung-Ah Nam


    School of International Service, international communication
    PhD, organizational leadership, policy, and development, University of Minnesota

    Kyoung-Ah Nam’s research and teaching interests include intercultural communication, maximizing study-work abroad, global leadership development, expatriate intercultural training, cross-cultural management, and interaction between international faculty and U.S. students. She holds an MA in journalism and communication from the University of Oregon. Prior to joining AU, Nam taught such courses as Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Leadership, Intercultural Communication, Critical Issues in International Educational Exchange, Maximizing Study Abroad, and Korean Language and Culture at the University of Minnesota.


  • Natalia Radtchenko


    College of Arts & Sciences, economics
    PhD, economics, University of Paris

    Natalia Radtchenko witnessed the collapse of the USSR firsthand while studying applied mathematics at the Novosibirsk State University. Seeing the destruction of the union and its academic system provoked her to study economics. Radtchenko was able to transfer into an economics master’s program at the Centre for Economic Research and Graduate Education in Prague, thanks to the program’s welcoming stance toward European graduates with science and economics backgrounds. Radtchenko gravitated to microeconomics because of its “mathematical tools and my natural disposition for work at the micro rather than the macro level.”Her interest in labor economics was ignited while working at the University of Paris I, and a recent interest in public policy evaluation grew from research related to practical applications of labor economics and interaction with policymakers. Radtchenko had contemplated moving to the United States after receiving her PhD and the position at AU caught her eye since the duties corresponded strikingly to her background. Here she looks forward to “being integrated into the stimulating research and teaching environment.”


  • L. Song Richardson


    Washington College of Law
    JD, Yale Law School

    While an undergraduate at Harvard, where she earned a BA in psychology, L. Song Richardson worked one summer at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Her job as a “tester” was to try to rent housing; her applications were often turned down because of her ethnicity. “I was shocked,” she says. “I was not one who grew up thinking about race. My father was black, my mother was Korean, but it was never something that was salient in my life.” The formative experience led her to become a lawyer who would “represent underserved populations.” After working as a both a public defender and criminal defense attorney, Richardson was invited to teach criminal procedure at the DePaul University College of Law. “Within two months I knew this is what I wanted to do,” she says, “I just loved teaching students and the research aspects of being a professor.” At Washington College of Law, Richardson’s research will center on the intersection of psychology and criminal procedure. “I’m interested in an area called implicit social cognition that studies our conscious mental processes,” she says. “Most people of all races have nonconscious biases against people of color. They can conflict with your conscious and genuinely held thoughts and feelings, but we all have them because of the society in which we grow up. I’m interested in how these can affect the way police officers police the street.”


  • Cristel Russell


    Kogod School of Business, marketing
    PhD, marketing, University of Arizona

    It’s nearly impossible for Cristel Russell to relax in a movie theatre. The French native — one of the first researchers in the country to study how people act on product placements in television and film — can’t help but count the plugs, some subtle and others not so, for everything from shoes to alcohol. And while product placement, which first emerged in the 1940s, is nothing new, it’s ubiquitous in today’s pop culture. According to Russell, the average Hollywood offering features 30–50 product placements. “The product placements that work are seamlessly integrated into the storyline,” she explains. “They have to be subtle, otherwise people are skeptical.” Russell adds that people who feel “connected” to a fictional character are more likely to be influenced by what they see on the silver screen — call it the Carrie Bradshaw phenomenon. (The Sex and the City character made brands like Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik household names.) Russell, who’s landed several NIH grants to fund her research on alcohol advertising, comes to AU from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. She says the marketing department’s focus on public policy drew her to Kogod. “My work is a natural fit with the department.”


  • Colin Saldanha


    College of Arts & Sciences, biology
    PhD, biopsychology, Columbia University

    Colin Saldanha is interested in how hormones, in particular estrogen, are delivered to the right place at the right time to regulate neural structure and function. Songbirds, which make up about half of earth’s 9,000 bird species, turn out to be the perfect subjects to study this phenomenon. Songbirds need to learn a specific song, and in spring parts of their brains actually double in size. Estrogen contributes to this brain plasticity, and it also slows degeneration when the birds’ brains are injured. Such findings are why Saldanha has devoted his career to understanding the mechanisms of hormone production, function, and delivery. “One thing that our research has discovered is that . . . the enzyme that makes estrogen is localized to very specific portions of nerve cells, and our big surprise . . . was that individual synapses are capable of synthesizing estrogen,” he said. His research could have important implications in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has awarded him about $3.2 million in grants to investigate neuroplasticity.


  • Randa Serhan


    College of Arts & Sciences, Arab studies
    PhD, sociology, Columbia University

    Randa Serhan “read Weber and Marx before I could understand them in an effort to emulate my busy dad,” a sociologist. Her Palestinian family lived in Kuwait, but they were displaced to war-torn Lebanon following the 1990 Kuwait invasion. Later Serhan lived in Canada and then the United States.  Those life experiences led her to research interests in Arab Studies, immigrant communities, and citizenship. “I began to ask why people migrated and how and if people’s allegiances changed. I wanted to know the difference between outsiders and insiders.” Drawn to AU because of the dual opportunities to direct the Arab Studies Program and teach sociology, Serhan  says it’s very important that the Arab Studies Program is housed in the Department of Sociology. That placement “allows the program to go beyond the scope of policy and politics, where it is in most institutions.” Serhan believes “the time is ripe for expanding everyone’s understanding of the Arab world, and that the program at AU will add to the field.”


  • Stephen Tankel


    School of Public Affairs, terrorism
    PhD, War Studies Department, King's College London

    Stephen Tankel’s research focuses on insurgency, terrorism, and the evolution of nonstate armed groups. He has conducted field research on conflicts and militancy in Algeria, India, Pakistan, Lebanon, and the Balkans. His area of regional expertise is South Asia, where he focuses on political affairs and security issues. He is the author of Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba (Columbia University Press, 2011). He has contributed to the Guardian, Foreign Policy, Jane’s Intelligence Weekly, and the CTC Sentinel, and published reports with the East-West Institute, New America Foundation, and the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence.


  • Matthew Taylor


    School of International Service, international politics
    PhD, government, Georgetown University

    Matthew Taylor is spending the first semester of  this academic year in Brazil. That’s not a surprise, as he has lived and worked extensively in the South American nation, most recently as an assistant professor at the University of Sao Paulo. Taylor’s research and teaching interests include corruption and organized crime, judicial politics, and Latin American political economy. He is the author of Judging Policy: Courts and Policy Reform in Democratic Brazil (Stanford University Press, 2008), which was awarded the Brazilian Political Science Association’s Vitor Nunes Leal Prize for best book, and coeditor with Timothy Power of Corruption and Democracy in Brazil: The Struggle for Accountability (University of Notre Dame Press, 2011). His scholarly work has been published in a variety of journals, including Comparative Politics, Perspectives on Politics, Journal of Latin American Studies, and World Politics.


  • Matthew Wright


    School of Public Affairs, government
    PhD, political science, University of California-Berkeley

    Matthew Wright is interested in the causes and implications of political identity. He also researches immigration, assimilation, citizenship policies, and the politics of ethnic diversity. Other areas of interest include national identity and patriotism; religion and politics; political culture; social capital, civic engagement, and trust; and political parties and partisanship. Wright is a native Canadian, who before coming to AU was a postdoctoral research fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. A sample of research projects Wright conducted while at Harvard: what patriotism means for Canadians and Americans, implications of nationalism for European support of the welfare state and social cohesion and justice, and an analysis of how social network diversity affects American ethnic nationalism. A Harvard bio describes him as “a long-suffering fan of the California Golden Bears” and a “semi-competent musician and DJ, a voracious reader, and an aspiring screenwriter.”


  • Nina Yamanis


    School of International Service, international development
    PhD, health behavior and education, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

    In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 9 percent of adults live with HIV. Nina Yamanis, in her most recent research, is working to prevent the spread of the disease with a two-pronged approach of reducing HIV risk behaviors among men and diminishing violence against women, who endure greater HIV risk due to sexual assaults and domestic relationships where they are afraid to insist upon condom use. Yamanis helped develop an NIH-funded pilot program for 15-to 24-year-old men who live in a Dar es Salaam slum. These young men have no employment opportunities and spend their days in social groups or “camps” that have formalized leadership structures, and like peer groups everywhere, hold considerable influence over their members. Yamanis trains elected health leaders within the camps to present HIV messages and discourage violence against women. At the same time, Yamanis’s group offers microfinance to the camps, to help create employment opportunities for the men. As a coinvestigator, Yamanis will move on to the next phase of the project, a random control trial at 70 camps each across two geographic regions. At AU, Yamanis will also continue a project she began as a postdoctoral fellow at Duke, studying the social networks of men in these camps.


  • Antoine Yoshinaka


    School of Public Affairs, government
    PhD, political science, University of Rochester

    Antoine Yoshinaka, who comes to AU from the University of California–Riverside is the coauthor of the book Establishing the Rules of the Game: Election Laws in Democracies and of numerous articles for peer-reviewed journals.  Reviewing Establishing the Rules of the Game, Richard Katz of Johns Hopkins University called it “the most thorough and comprehensive report available of all the rules governing the conduct of elections.” Yoshinaka is now working on a book titled “Crossing the Aisle: Party Switching by U.S. Legislators in the Postwar Era,” described as the first in-depth study of both the causes and consequences of U.S. legislative party switching since World War II. Yoshinaka’s research interests in American politics include Congress, parties and elections, electoral laws and voting rights, voting behavior and public opinion, and state politics. In comparative politics, he researches electoral laws, legislative politics, as well as parties and elections. Other comparative politics interests include voting behavior and public opinion, representation, Canadian politics, and federalism.


  • Joseph Young


    School of Public Affairs, justice, law and society
    PhD, political science, Florida State University

    Joe Young’s first day of grad school was 9/11. “The teacher was crying and everyone was asking ‘why,’” he recalls. The question haunted Young. Long focused on ethnic conflict — a research interest sparked by the Rwandan genocide in 1994 — Young turned his attention to political violence. The stats wonk, who comes to AU from Southern Illinois University, has written extensively on terrorism, insurgency, civil war, and interstate war. Though his research is mostly cross-national, Young, who worked as a teacher in Brazil for two years, is particularly interested in Latin America. Along with Stephen Tankel, Young was hired to help shape SPA’s new terrorism concentration. “Washington is the premier location for understanding the causes and consequences of terrorism,” he says. “AU has a lot of untapped potential, and I’m excited that they’re investing the time in energy in this new program.” This is a homecoming of sorts for Young, who participated in AU’s Washington Semester in 1996. “I remember the [peace and conflict resolution] professor did negotiation simulations, which I’ve adapted for my own classes.” That wasn’t the only thing Young got out of the experience: “I met my wife in Washington Semester, so we’re thrilled to be back in D.C.”


  • Xiaoquan Raphael Zhang


    College of Arts & Sciences, Chinese
    PhD, Chinese and comparative literature, Washington University

    Literary critic and translator Raphael Zhang is a cultural intermediary. In Chinese, he has translated works by authors as varied as William Hazlitt and T. S. Eliot. Teaching Chinese to English speakers, he has helped them discover both classic masterpieces and modern film and fiction. His specialty is Chinese literature between the last two dynasties, particularly during the seventeenth century. He’s interested in the ways people transcend the sense of marginality, both from a cultural and a psychological point of view. At Swarthmore College, where in 2010 he won the Faculty Research Award, he codesigned a course that sent students with at least three years of Chinese language training into the community to help recent immigrants and elderly people with minimal English skills. The students helped them deal with practical problems, such as understanding letters they received from a hospital. Before coming to this country 10 years ago, Zhang spent seven years studying in Beijing. Outside of work, he enjoys Chinese chess and cooking, table tennis, badminton, and stamp collecting. He and his wife have two daughters.