The new academic year brings with it new beginnings, new adventures and new aspirations – not to mention new faces! And nearly 60 of those new faces belong to the College of Charleston faculty!
The College’s newest faculty members have come from all over the world – with a diversity of expertise in a variety of disciplines – to teach, mentor and inspire students across campus. And the College couldn’t be more proud to welcome them to its community.
Over the fall 2022 semester, we will introduce these new faculty members to campus a few at a time – in no particular order – giving the CofC community the opportunity to get to know them all a little better.
Please welcome the College’s newest faculty members in the first of this introductory series!
Beena Austin, Theatre and Dance
Adjunct Dance Faculty, Department of Theatre and Dance
Background: My background is in the classical and folkloric dance styles of Arabic and Indian dances. I have taught, performed and presented many cultural programs in the Lowcountry. Originally I’m from India, but moved to Chicago, Illinois, way back in the ’70s. I have an IT background, but since discovering dance/healing/martial arts, I’ve been on a journey to learn, practice and share these with my community.
Expertise: I continue to study dance, drumming and the culture of the Arab world, which includes the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant region, North Africa and, of course, my main focus: the Nile valley (i.e., Egypt and Sudan). I have also studied classical Indian Bharatanatyam dance and I continue to expand my knowledge of Punjabi bhangra, which I plan to bring to CofC.
Outside Interests: After moving to Chicago, I discovered karate and kendo martial arts, so I immersed myself in these disciplines. Since moving to Charleston, I practice qigong, yoga and reiki healing arts. All these ground me and give me the energy to soar in my dance arts.
Looking Forward: I am most excited to bring Arabic and Indian cultural dances to CofC. Cultural dances come with a story, a story of people in their day-to-day lives: what they wear, their traditions, music and, of course, dance.
Jodie Ball, Teacher Education
Jodie Ball ’95 (M.Ed. ’99)
Visiting Instructor of Literacy, Department of Teacher Education
Background: I am originally from outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, then moved to Charleston to attend CofC. I graduated from the College of Charleston with a B.S. in special education and an M.Ed. in special education. Additionally, after several years teaching, I obtained an M.Ed. in literacy education from The Citadel in 2016. I have spent most of my career working in local K-12 public and private schools as a special education teacher/interventionist, literacy instructional coach and reading specialist.
Expertise: Researching and incorporating effective, innovative and efficient literacy instruction tools and techniques for elementary and early middle school classrooms. Fostering a love of reading and writing in students.
Outside Interests: I love spending time with my family, going to the beach, reading, writing, cooking, traveling and doing recreational activities such as yoga, swimming, tennis and walking/jogging.
Looking Forward: I love being able to connect with my students when they are learning about the best instructional practices for teaching literacy in the elementary/early middle school grades. I always enjoy seeing them become comfortable and confident teaching, as well as incorporating their own personalities and creativity into their lessons. I can’t wait to continue being a part of the College of Charleston’s phenomenal teacher education program!
Alex Brummer, Physics and Astronomy
Assistant Professor of Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Background: Having grown up in southern Oregon, I attended Oregon State University to study physics and mathematics. With a passion for abstraction, I moved to Tucson, Arizona, for graduate school in theoretical physics at the University of Arizona. During this time, my interests drew me toward the life sciences as I completed my dissertation in theoretical ecology and undertook postdoctoral appointments in biomedical physics at UCLA and mathematical oncology at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope National Medical Center. Along the way, I received training in evidence-based teaching practices, with an emphasis in peer instruction in computer programming.
Expertise: My work focuses on building and testing mathematical models of vascular and cancer biology that connect form and function. I study how variations in vascular branching architecture and single vessel shape influence tissue and organismal function, and ecologically inspired models of tumors and tumor-killing cells. Applications have involved mammalian vasculature, tree canopies, glioblastoma and lung cancer. Separately, I am interested in using evidence-based teaching to promote student self-efficacy in physics and mathematics.
Outside Interests: I am an avid outdoor recreator and enthusiastic about exploring the Southeast. I also enjoy cooking, and during the pandemic I started baking tiered cakes. I am looking forward to the Charleston restaurants, beaches, rivers and history – and like-minded company with which to explore.
Looking Forward: I am excited for the opportunity to integrate physics and biology into the curricula at CofC and to introduce students to the vast opportunity of quantitative modeling at the interface of physics, mathematics and the biological sciences.
Ezequiel Durand-López, Hispanic Studies
Assistant Professor of Hispanic Linguistics, Department of Hispanic Studies
Background: I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina, born to Spanish parents. I have lived in Buenos Aires; Salamanca, Spain; Madrid, Spain; Worcester, Massachusetts; Athens, Ohio; and New Brunswick, New Jersey. I have taught Spanish at the College of the Holy Cross, Ohio University and Rutgers University. I earned a B.A. in linguistics at Universidad del Salvador (Buenos Aires), an M.A. in applied linguistics at Universidad de Nebrija (Madrid, Spain), and a Ph.D. in bilingualism and second language acquisition at Rutgers University (New Jersey).
Expertise: Areas of expertise include Spanish linguistics, second language acquisition, Spanish morphology, psycholinguistics, and human likeness in natural language processing.
Outside Interests: I like hiking, horror movies, Star Wars and German literature.
Looking Forward: I am very excited to teach interdisciplinary courses that allow for the interaction of sciences such as psychology, computer science and linguistics.
Julia Haager, History
Visiting Assistant Professor of History, Department of History
Background: My Ph.D. is in U.S. history from SUNY Binghamton. I also hold an M.A. in history from SUNY Binghamton, an M.A. in educational foundations from Cal State Los Angeles and a B.A. in history from Seattle Pacific University. While I consider Los Angeles, California, home, I have lived all over the Untied States – in Washington, New York, Ohio, Florida and now South Carolina. Prior to joining the College of Charleston, I served as an adjunct assistant professor of history at the College of Wooster, SUNY Delhi and SUNY Binghamton.
Expertise: My research explores how members of the eugenics movement shaped sex education in U.S. public schools during the first five decades of the 20th century. A portion of my dissertation, “Teaching Responsible Reproduction,” has appeared in the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and I’m currently preparing a book manuscript based on that project. I serve as managing editor of the “Surviving Grad School Series” of the website Clio and the Contemporary and worked previously as managing editor of the Journal of Women’s History (2016–20). My second book project, co-authored with Sean G. Massey, explores AIDs service organizations and public health work in NYC and is based on more than 30 oral history interviews conducted with volunteers and staff from the Gay Men’s Health Crisis center during the AIDs epidemic in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Outside Interests: My hobbies include hiking and going to art museums and the beach, as well as gardening and watching movies with my dog, Lady.
Looking Forward: I think what is most exciting about my courses is that they include assignments where students have to make personal connections with the history we are studying. In my Immigration and Ethnicity course, for example, the major paper assignment is a roots paper where students have to either research and write their own family’s immigration history or interview an immigrant and tell their story. My goal is to help students see that history is not some abstract list of names and dates that is unrelated to their lives – it has utility for understanding our present world, and the critical thinking and analytic skills they build will help them understand everyday stuff that’s all around them.
Yunah Kae, English
Assistant Professor of Early Modern Literature and Drama, Department of English
Background: I received my doctoral degree from the English department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I specialize in Early Modern English literature and drama.
Expertise: My area of expertise is in Early Modern English literature and drama, with a focus on Shakespeare, critical race studies and historical formalism
Outside Interests: Food, film, performance and art are my main interests! I also love antiquing.
Looking Forward: I will be teaching Race in the Renaissance in fall 2022, an upper-level English literature course on the formation of race in early modern culture.
Erika Manning, Biology
Visiting Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, Department of Biology
Background: I am originally from Greenville, South Carolina. I completed my undergraduate training at Furman University, then went to graduate school in cognitive psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After completing my Ph.D. with a minor in neurobiology, I returned to school to complete my M.D. However, I did not enjoy medicine, so I returned to teaching, primarily anatomy and physiology. I have been working to expand my teaching repertoire, with a goal of acquiring a tenure track position at a liberal arts college.
Expertise: My research interests include the physiology of pain, the psychology of pain, education to improve pain coping and medication trials for chronic pain issues such as fibromyalgia and burning mouth syndrome.
Outside Interests: I enjoy weightlifting, cello playing, writing and reading.
Looking Forward: I’m excited about the blending of psychology and neurobiology, as well as the remarkable faculty who are so willing to help in preparing course materials. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach a course in neuroscience that includes the psychology of sensation and perception as well as the neurobiology of the pain systems.
Gareth Smail, International Studies
Visiting Assistant Professor of International Studies, Department of International and Intercultural Studies
Background: My career has spanned both academic research and work with international development organizations, with a focus on literacy and language education, multilingual education and youth development. I worked with youth development organizations in the U.S. Peace Corps in Morocco, with educational and community development organizations in Algeria, and on USAID and World Bank funded projects in Colombia. In addition to North Africa and Latin America, I have lived and worked in Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; and Connecticut. I’m originally from Wisconsin.
Expertise: My research interests are in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology, international development, international education, and multilingual language and literacy education.
Outside Interests: In addition to language learning, I’m passionate about the outdoors and watching Wisconsin sports teams.
Looking Forward: I’m excited to be teaching courses on international politics and globalization, integrating my own research on language and social media with a broader interdisciplinary perspective on studying the globe.
John Thomas, Political Science
John Thomas III
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science
Background: I am from Nashville, Tennessee, and most recently lived in Chicago, Illinois, where I studied political science at the University of Chicago. My most recent position was at Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio, where I held a presidential fellowship through the Gift of Black Theology Program. I have also taught courses at Chicago State University and was a teaching consultant at the University of Chicago Center for Teaching.
Research: My research interests are comparative race politics, social movements, public policy, minority rights and democratic consolidation with a regional focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. My current project focuses on the evolution of Black movements in Peru and Ecuador from 1980 to 2016 and how the governments of these states responded through policies and institutions.
Outside Interests: I have a collection of over 500 Starbucks mugs and have visited three of the six Starbucks Roasteries worldwide. I love seafood and barbecue and look forward to exploring the Charleston culinary scene. Scuba diving is also an interest of mine. I travel a lot for my research, but I also enjoy it as a hobby. Students who stop by my office shouldn’t be surprised to see assorted sci-fi and fantasy paraphernalia lurking.
Looking Forward: I try to bring the world to Charleston! Especially in this geopolitical environment, it is essential to understand how we are all interconnected. My courses this year include Introduction to Global Politics, Latin American Politics, and Model Organization of American States. In future years, I hope to offer courses focusing on Afro-Latin America, international relations theory and other areas. My goal is for my students to understand that, no matter what their majors are, international politics impacts their lives – and that my students can make an impact on international politics, too.
Kimberly Tribou, Accounting and Business Law
Assistant Professor of Accounting, Department of Accounting and Business Law
Background: After earning my bachelor’s degree from a small liberal arts institution, my long-term career goal was strategic finance, like Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP. I roughly followed Fiorina’s career trajectory, earning my MBA from the University of New Mexico, working in corporate finance at Gap Inc. (parent company for the Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic retail stores) and working as an auditor for the federal government. In all those industries and career jumps, I realized I was happiest when I was researching the tangential questions that arose from my audit work and teaching my audit staff how to be auditors. I earned my Ph.D. in business administration with an accounting concentration from Texas Tech University so I could spend my career doing what makes me happiest (research and teaching). I am a licensed CPA in the state of Maryland.
Expertise: My research interests draw from my career as a federal government auditor. I am currently working on papers that examine audit fees and internal control deficiencies in a federal agency context. I also research gender and work-life balance issues in the accounting profession, and I have a recently published paper on woman-to-woman bullying in accounting firms. Finally, I develop classroom teaching cases that draw from my accounting experience.
Outside Interests: I am currently exploring all that Charleston has to offer: finding the best local coffee shops, petting the stingrays at the South Carolina Aquarium, walking my dogs Teddy and Maisie on James Island and Folly Beach, and catching the RiverDogs at home. I dabble in long-distance running, and I will “compete” in the James Island Connector Run (October) and the Cooper River Bridge Run (April). Next spring, I hope to coach Girls on the Run, an experiential learning program for elementary schoolers that uses running as context for building self-esteem. My current binge-watch is Only Murders in the Building.
Looking Forward: Having attended and taught at a liberal arts institution, I am so excited that the College of Charleston shares my commitment to student-centric learning. I am excited to incorporate active learning techniques and exercises within my managerial accounting classes. I am excited to be teaching a future course in data analytics that is rife for two-way learning.