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The College welcomes 19 new faculty members


The Union College faculty has welcomed 19 new colleagues. They include:

ANTHROPOLOGY: Alvaro Jarrin, visiting assistant professor, earned his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Duke University where he introduced a course in gender and culture. Jarrin’s research focuses on how perceptions of beauty in Brazil reflect both the existing social inequalities and the struggles to produce a more egalitarian society. His research is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/ACLS Early Career Fellowship Program. Paul Christensen, visiting assistant professor, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with his dissertation, “The Fragility of Sobriety: Alcoholism and Masculinity in Japan.” Christensen was also a special projects coordinator for the university’s Center for Japanese Studies. He spent this past summer at Manoa teaching two courses on contemporary culture, based on the HBO series, “The Wire.”

BIOLOGY: Roman Yukilevich, assistant professor, holds a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Most recently, Yukilevich was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, where he also earned his bachelor’s degree. Some of his research interests are speciation, population genomics and the genetic architecture of complex traits. 

CHEMISTRY: Charles Rutkowski, formerly an adjunct assistant professor, joins the faculty as a visiting assistant professor. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in Boulder, with a thesis titled “Kinetics of Electron Transfer Reactions Between Thallium (III) and a Series of Mononuclear and Binuclear Ruthenium Complexes.” He also previously worked as an integrated systems support team leader at Grubb and Ellis Management Services in Poughkeepsie.

CLASSICS: James Tan, visiting assistant professor, recently received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He was awarded the Whiting Foundation Fellowship from Columbia which funded the completion of his dissertation, “Revenue, Rulers and Population in the Roman Republic.” He has taught courses on elementary Latin and Roman and Greek histories, the focus of his research interests.

COMPUTER SCIENCE: Nicholas Webb, visiting assistant professor, earned his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. Webb previously worked as a senior research scientist at the Institute for Informatics, Logics and Security Studies at the University at Albany. His role was to further develop ILS by attracting funding from state, federal and European sources. He also held several research positions in the UK, and was part of a Capital Region group that received a National Science Foundation grant to research social robotics. 

ELECTRICAL and COMPUTER ENGINEERING: Takashi Buma, assistant professor, taught at the University of Delaware and has held several teaching and research positions at the University of Michigan, where he earned his Ph.D. in applied physics. He has also been active in supervising student research and theses at all levels. Buma brings two National Science Foundation (NSF) awards to Union. He will continue research under an NSF CAREER grant, originally totaling $399,999 for his study, “Optoacoustic Arrays for Real-Times Ultrasound Biomicroscopy.” A new NSF CBET grant, totaling $240,000, will support his research project, “Wavelength Agile Photoacoustic Microscopy for Video-Rate Functional Imaging.”

ECONOMICS: Daisy Nuñez Parrado joins Union as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Environmental Economics. Parrado earned her Ph.D. from the Universidad Austral de Chile, where her research was focused on estimating the contribution of recreational fishing sites to the tourism industry in the Chilean Patagonia. Other areas of interest include microeconomics and economic analysis in natural resources management and conservation. Yufei Ren, visiting assistant professor, received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Dallas. Most recently, he taught in the Economics Department at Virginia Tech University. Ren’s research interests are experimental and behavioral economics, industrial organization and behavioral operations management. While in Texas, he received several awards for his scholarly work, including the Gilbert White Award and the Shukla Scholarship.

ENGLISH: Andrew Burkett, assistant professor, received his Ph.D. from Duke University with a dissertation, “The Ministry of Chance: British Romanticisim, Darwinian Evolutionary Theory and the Aleatory.” Most recently, Burkett was a professor at Wake Forest University. In 2009, he received a university wide teaching award at Wake Forest. He has also served as an academic advisor at the school. Some of his research interests include British romantic literature and culture and cinema and media studies.

HISTORY: Cheong Soon Gan, visiting instructor, received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley with his research, “Contested Nationalisms, Ethnic Conflict and Propaganda: Birth Pangs of a Malaysian Nation, 1957-1969.” Gan has presented on the history and issues of Asia at conferences around the world, including Portugal, Singapore and Sweden. In addition, he worked as a journalist in Singapore and served as a coordinator at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley in its International Visiting Scholar Program. Kathleen McIntyre, visiting instructor, will defend her dissertation from the University of New Mexico in the spring. Her project is titled “Contested Spaces: Protestantism in Oaxaca, 1920-1994.” She has previously worked at Southwestern University in Texas, and was the recipient of a fellowship from the American Association of University Women. She is also an active alumnus at Vassar College, serving as reunion chair, where she received her bachelor’s degree. 

MATHEMATICS: Leila Khatami, assistant professor, earned her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Tehran in Iran. She most recently worked as a postdoctoral associate at Northeastern University and has taught linear algebra and differential equations at Harvard University. Her research interests include commutative algebra, homological algebra and algebraic geometry. 

MODERN LANGUAGES: Vlad Dima, visiting assistant professor, received his Ph.D. in French from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he has also taught in its Foreign Language Immersion Program. Most recently, he taught French and film studies at the College of William and Mary. Dima has led numerous workshops for K-12 language educators in Minnesota. He has also written a collection of theater reviews based in Minneapolis for “Aisle Say,” an online theater publication. 

MUSIC: John Cox, lecturer, earned his Ph.D. in musical arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Cox has wide-ranging experience in conducting. Most recently, he worked as guest conductor for the University of Illinois Symphony, assistant conductor for both the University of Illinois Chorale and Baroque Orchestra, and chorus master for the Reno Baroque Ensemble in Reno, Nev.

PHYSICS and ASTRONOMY: Evan Halstead, visiting instructor, earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University at Buffalo, with a research concentration on cosmology. He taught “Calculus-based Introductory Physics for Engineers I and II” at Buffalo and an MCAT physics preparation class for The Princeton Review. He was the recipient of a Presidential Fellowship in Buffalo and received several department wide grants from NASA. Some of his other research interests include astrophysics, particle physics and black holes.

SOCIOLOGY: Linda Mertz, visiting assistant professor, comes to the College from the University at Albany, where she worked as a project coordinator at the university’s School of Social Welfare, focused mainly on its internships for an aging project. Mertz earned her M.S.W. from Boston College’s Graduate School of Social Work. She has held numerous positions in geriatric care and in private practice providing assessment and care management services to older adults and their families. She also currently leads a community support group for the Alzheimer’s Association.

THEATER and DANCE: Robert Bovard, visiting assistant professor, technical director and lighting designer, holds an M.F.A. in technical theater and design from Dallas Theater Center/Trinity University. He has run theater productions across the country. Most recently, he worked as technical director and production manager for the University at Albany. He also has worked as director for stage technologies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and has helped stage productions across the country, including the San Antonio Festival, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Trinity and Indiana universities.

VISUAL ARTS: Sheri Lullo, assistant professor, received her Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in the history of art and architecture with a focus on Chinese art. Lullo was a visiting lecturer at her alma mater, teaching classes on the art of Asia and the foundations of art history. Lullo attended summer language programs and worked as an archaeological assistant in China. She has given numerous presentations on beauty and social identity in Chinese history.