The College of Charleston is proud to welcome its newest faculty members, who’ve come from all over the world to teach, mentor and inspire students.
Over the fall semester, The College Today is introducing these Cougars 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 give a warm welcome to the faculty members in the second of this introductory series! (The first in this series is on the Faculty & Staff News page.)
Keren Ayalon, Asian Studies
Keren Ayalon Visiting Instructor of Hebrew, Asian Studies Program
Background: I have an M.A. in Teaching Hebrew as a Second Language from Middlebury College. I’ve been teaching Hebrew to students of all ages for many years, and most recently taught K-8 students at a Hebrew public charter school.
Expertise: Hebrew language and culture, second language acquisition and foreign language enjoyment (FLE).
Outside Interests: I enjoy spending time with my family, hiking, yoga and playing with our puppy!
Looking Forward: I’m excited to inspire a new generation of Hebrew learners to immerse themselves in this language and culture, as well as teach an FYE course about Israel in film and media to hopefully engage even more Hebrew learners in the future!
Lauren Bickel, Special Collections
Lauren Bickel Project Archivist/Visiting Faculty, Special Collections, College of Charleston Libraries
Background: I am a librarian and archivist originally from Nashville, Tennessee. After working in public libraries, I got my MLIS at Aberystwyth University in Wales and shifted my focus to archives. I previously worked at the University of Louisville, where I focused on the collections of local activists and civic organizations.
Expertise: Processing local histories of historically oppressed/marginalized groups, inclusive description, building trust and relationships between archival institutions and underserved communities, and fiction organizations.
Outside Interests: Reading, writing, traveling, hiking and local political organizations.
Looking Forward: I’ll be processing archival records within the Jewish Heritage Collection, preserving them for the future and making them accessible to the public. I’m so excited to be able to share the history of this vibrant, long-established South Carolina community with researchers.
Sarah Castle, Management and Marketing
Sarah Castle Instructor of Entrepreneurship, Department of Management and Marketing
Background: I was an executive at Amazon where I worked for 15 years. My background includes a variety of roles in mergers and acquisitions, investment fund portfolio management, digital devices, Amazon Alexa voice technology, digital and print books and human resources. In my last role, I was the general manager of Amazon Technical Academy, a startup focused on empowering anyone to have a technical career, especially those from historically excluded populations. I’m a builder who thrives in early-stage environments focused on new products/technologies. I have a knack for transforming teams into high-performing organizations and growing them to scale. I get energy from developing leaders. Prior to Amazon, I worked for General Electric. I have a master’s from Cornell University and a bachelor’s from Syracuse University. I’m originally from Ithaca, New York, and have lived in Indiana, Massachusetts, California and Washington before I landed in Charleston.
Expertise: Female entrepreneurs, innovation and product development, and developing the leaders of the future.
Outside Interests: My main hobbies are athletic. I run, lift weights, cycle, Rollerblade, paddleboard, practice yoga and more! I’m working on a book about career development and mentoring. I have a 5-year-old daughter who keeps me on my toes. She reminds me to be creative, notice the world’s wonders and have fun.
Looking Forward: I’m teaching entrepreneurship, which is a space I’ve been passionate about for 15 years. I’m excited to share stories from my work as a an intrapreneur at Amazon and bring stories from entrepreneurs I’ve worked with throughout my career. I want to inspire students to invent, take risks and become business owners/leaders.
Nick Davidson, Mathematics
Nick Davidson Assistant Professor of Algebra and Number Theory, Department of Mathematics
Background: Before coming to Charleston, I was a visiting assistant professor in the math department at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Before that, I held postdoctoral positions at the University of Oklahoma and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. I earned my Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Oregon.
Expertise: I study representation theory, which is a branch of mathematics using techniques from linear algebra (a well-understood subject!) to learn more about abstract algebra, a more complicated area of mathematics that arose from the study of symmetry.
Outside Interests: When I’m not doing or teaching mathematics, I like to garden, ride my bicycle, cook, roast coffee and chase my kids around.
Looking Forward: I’m excited for the opportunity to teach across the curriculum at CofC, from general education courses to advanced mathematics. While I think math is an interesting topic in its own right, I’m excited to also incorporate connections to students’ other interests, or to things they will be doing in the future.
Cristina Maria Dominguez, Women’s and Gender Studies
Cristina Maria Dominguez Assistant Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies
Background: While I was born and spent the first 15 years of my life in New Jersey, I came of age, came out, into consciousness and community, in North Carolina. I have my M.A. in women’s and gender studies from San Diego State University and just completed my Ph.D. in educational studies with a concentration in cultural foundations from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Over the past decade, I have engaged in intersectional, critical, queer social justice education and action work through teaching undergraduate women’s and gender studies and education courses, and engaging in campus and community education and grassroots social justice organizing work.
Expertise: My areas of expertise and research interests include qualitative, auto-ethnographic, CAP ethnographic and post-qualitative research with a focus on liberatory pedagogies, critical community building and everyday, relational social justice work specifically within queer love, friendship, kinship/chosen family relationships.
Outside Interests: I enjoy spending time with my partner, our little one and our pups, especially outside when the weather is nice. I love to talk and connect with my chosen family, friends and given family however I can. I’m a fan of watching and critiquing TV/movies and talking pop culture and politics with loved ones who share my critical/queer analysis. I love to read creative nonfiction, poetry and fiction alongside articles, studies and research texts. I also love dancing and listening to music.
Looking Forward: The most exciting thing about the courses that I’ll teach at CofC is that, in both content and practice, they will be grounded in liberatory, intersectional, feminist, queer education that centers on the embodied, creative and relational. I’m excited to take up teaching and learning in ways that moves us toward interconnectedness and fosters collaboration with each other as well as the communities we are a part of.
Rebecca Ferrell, Arts Management
Rebecca Ferrell Assistant Professor, Arts Management Program
Background: I am a native of Richmond, Virginia, and received my B.F.A. in dance and choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University and my M.F.A. in dance from Arizona State University, and I am currently a Ph.D. student in arts administration at the University of Kentucky. I have held academic positions at American University, Arizona State University, Shenandoah Conservatory, University of Illinois and Virginia Commonwealth University. My previous professional positions include director and curator of the Flatlands Dance Film Festival, executive director of Dance Metro DC and director of programs for Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance.
Expertise: My research interests focus on equitable practices in the dance sector, specifically traditional transactional procedures, labor rights, pay equity, and performing arts unions.
Outside Interests: Outside of all things dance and arts management, I love home organization! I’m addicted to The Home Edit and using my label maker.
Looking Forward: I am thrilled to teach The Art of Creativity and Fundraising and Grantwriting in the Arts courses from a dance practitioner perspective. The students within the Arts Management Program are so creative with varying backgrounds, and I’m excited to weave our experiences as artists to craft new ways of building sustainable careers in the arts and culture sector.
Avinash Hingorani, African American Studies
Avinash Hingorani Visiting Assistant Professor, African American Studies
Background: I am an Indian American transnational historian. I began my academic studies at Tulane University in New Orleans, where I graduated with a B.A. in philosophy. After graduating from Tulane, I attended the University of Amsterdam and graduated with an M.A. in American studies. After completing my studies in Amsterdam, I entered the Ph.D. program in history at the University of Edinburgh. My dissertation was titled, “A Clash of Color: A Dialogue on Race, Caste, and Class in the United States and India (1893-1954).” I am working toward publishing a book in the Global South Asians series at Cambridge University Press. I am actively engaged in building an academic career that disseminates the realities of the lived experiences of low-caste Indians and Black Americans. It is my ambition that my work should contribute to the social advancement of both racial minorities in the United States and low-caste Indians in India.
Expertise: Evaluating race, caste and class from an international and comparative perspective; investigating the underlying system of caste marginalization that manifests itself in many similar ways in both the United States and India; comparing the mass incarceration and criminalization of Black Americans in the United States to the criminalization of low-caste Indians in India; and global racial and social justice.
Outside Interests: My hobbies and interests include singing and playing guitar. Watching sports and following my three favorite teams, the New York Mets, Jets, and Knicks. Additionally, I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and whitewater kayaking. I also plan to learn how to surf while I am in Charleston. Traveling to new locations and seeing new places is also a passion of mine.
Looking Forward: Getting to teach students how some of the experiences of African Americans in the United States mirror those of other groups abroad and how, throughout history, there has been transnational solidarity between African Americans and Indians.
Kenneth Johnson, English
Kenneth Johnson Assistant Professor of African American Literature, English
Background: I obtained my B.A. in English in 2013 at Florida A&M University (FAMU) and my M.A. in 2016 and Ph.D. in 2021 in English at Florida State University. I was a visiting instructor in the Department of English and Modern Languages at FAMU from 2019–22.
Expertise: Twentieth- and 21st-century African American literature, Black Southern boyhood literacy, Black masculinity studies, hip-hop studies, and Black queer theory.
Outside Interests: I am a freelance graphic designer and photographer. I love to cook and make social media content.
Looking Forward: Exposing students to new, exciting literature!
Rebecca Moffatt, Art and Architectural History
Rebecca Moffatt ’10 (M.S.) Instructor of Historic Preservation and Community Planning, Department of Art and Architectural History
Background: I was born and raised in Atlantic Canada and obtained an undergraduate degree in English and history from the University of New Brunswick. Following graduation and a subsequent degree in education, I began work in the heritage field. This eventually led me to explore a graduate degree, and I completed the master’s of science in historic preservation with Clemson/College of Charleston. After returning to eastern Canada, I worked with communities, regions and nonprofits to preserve their unique heritage and architecture. I also have been a university instructor since 2013, teaching courses in heritage, preservation and material history, as well as leading the Europe travel abroad study program during the summer months.
Expertise: While I would say that my research interests are ever changing, I love studying adaptive reuse and the repurposing/preservation of historic civic architecture. I am also beginning to explore the impact of tourism on historic preservation and community planning. Returning to Charleston will undoubtedly lead to new interests and explorations!
Outside Interests: I am a travel enthusiast and have had the fortunate opportunity to see much of Europe while teaching study abroad programs. I also enjoy camping, hiking and spending time outdoors. I find the ocean restorative, and can’t imagine living too far from the coast. I love cooking and trying new recipes, and look forward to exploring the culinary scene in Charleston.
Looking Forward: I am very much looking forward to being able to teach preservation in a city that has so many amazing stories to tell. A huge advantage to both students and faculty at CofC is that the City of Charleston is also your classroom, and there are so many resources and experts in the field to learn from!
Jonathan Wentz, Theatre and Dance
Jonathan Wentz Visiting Assistant Professor of Scenic Design, Department of Theatre and Dance
Background: I have designed and painted for productions, companies and universities throughout the country, including the Adirondack Theatre Festival, Berkshire Theatre Group, Theatreworks in Colorado Springs, Shadowland Stages, The Depot Theatre, Two River Theater Company, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Cortland Repertory Theatre, Mills Entertainment, Adirondack Studios (at Pandora/WDW Animal Kingdom) and the Women’s Theatre Company in New Jersey. I interned with the design department at the Metropolitan Opera Company in NYC. A native of the Finger Lakes Region of western New York, I most recently came from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, where I was an assistant professor of theatre at Coastal Carolina University. Prior to that, I was a 30-year resident of the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area working in theater, marketing, advertising and corporate graphic design. I received my M.F.A. in drama (design and production) from the University of North Carolina Greensboro and my certificate of excellence in higher education from the Harvard University Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. I conducted my graduate studies in theater design and production at the Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts and earned my B.F.A. in graphic design from the Rochester Institute of Technology. I am a proud member of IATSE USA Local 829 (Scenic Design Category).
Expertise: My areas of expertise are scenography for theater and live entertainment, scenic painting, masks and puppetry, socially engaged theater and graphic design.
Outside Interests: I enjoy art, music, travel, food and cooking, and gardening.
Looking Forward: I’m excited about mentoring and encouraging students to collaborate to express their authentic selves through theater.