College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Grows in Strength and Diversity

College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Grows in Strength and Diversity

The College welcomed 24 new tenure-track and visiting professors during the 2019-20 academic year.

Experts in their field of study and dedicated to their academic research, the faculty of Fairfield University’s College of Arts and Sciences are devoted to the process of discovery and inspired by the prospect of imparting knowledge in the service of others.

During the 2019-20 school year, the College welcomed eleven new tenure-track professors, eight visiting assistant professors, and five professors of the practice into its ranks, each of whom has already begun contributing to the University’s long history of academic excellence.


Kimberly Barba '10, PhD
Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Dr. Barba earned a PhD in mathematics education at Teachers College, Columbia University, an MSc in pure mathematics at King’s College London, and a BSc in mathematics from Fairfield University. Her research interests include mathematical mindsets, mathematics identities, mathematics anxiety, mathematics discourse, mathematics in popular culture, and mathematics in social media. Before returning to Fairfield, Dr. Barba taught secondary math at Roger Ludlowe Middle School and Fairfield Ludlowe High School. 

Karla Barguiarena
Assistant Professor of the Practice, Communication
Professor Barguiarena joins Fairfield after working as a reporter and anchor in local and national TV news for over a decade. She began her career at KTMD, the Telemundo affiliate in Houston, where she covered Hurricane Katrina, the Columbia space shuttle disaster, and the U.S.-Mexico border crisis. She made the crossover to English language news as a reporter for KHOU, the legendary CBS affiliate in Houston. After taking a break to start a family, Professor Barguiarena joined Houston’s top-rated KTRK as a reporter and anchor. In 2015, she became a freelance reporter for ABC NewsOne in NYC, providing live and taped reports for more than 200 affiliates around the country and the world. She later served as a primary anchor of Fios1, a regional cable news channel covering New York City and its suburbs. Professor Barguiarena received her BA from Texas A&M University and her MS from Boston University.


Joel Beatty, PhD
Visiting Assistant Professor of English
Dr. Beatty earned his PhD in rhetoric, theory, and culture from Michigan Technological University. He currently teaches courses in professional writing and contributes to the University’s Core Writing program. His research investigates how the confluence of technology and culture affects human communication practices and writing across disciplines. His most recent publication, “Technologies of Convenience: An Examination of the Algorithmic Bias,” will be a featured chapter in the edited collection Algorithmic Culture: How Big Data and AI are Transforming Everyday Life, forthcoming in November 2020.


Zhanar Berikkyzy, PhD
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Dr. Berikkyzy comes to Fairfield University from the University of California, Riverside, where she twice received the Outstanding Visiting Assistant Professor Award. Her research focus is in graph theory and combinatorics. She earned her PhD in mathematics from Iowa State University, where she received several research and teaching excellence awards.


Kerry Cannity, PhD
Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology
Dr. Cannity completed her post-doctoral training at New York Presbyterian Hospital, specializing in dialectical behavior therapy and transference-focused psychotherapy for individuals with personality disorders. Her clinical work has focused on behavioral interventions in medical illness – particularly psychosocial treatments for anxiety and depression in individuals with cancer, and her current research focuses on integrative oncology and medical provider communication. Dr. Cannity earned her MA and PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Tennessee, and her BA in psychology from Chapel Hill.


Mehmet Cansoy, PhD
Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology
Dr. Cansoy earned his MA in international relations from Koç University in Istanbul, and his PhD in sociology from Boston College. His research focuses on technological change and inequality; more specifically the sharing economy and its implications for racial and class-based inequalities using computational methods. His most recent work has appeared in the Socio-Economic Review, International Social Security Review, and the Oxford Handbook of Consumption.

Christopher Casement, PhD
Assistant Professor of Mathematics

Dr. Casement earned his MA in mathematics from Wake Forest University and taught high school math before discovering his passion for statistics. He went on to earn an MS in statistics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a PhD from Baylor University. Prior to joining Fairfield, Dr. Casement taught mathematics at Drew University. His research interests include Bayesian methods, statistics education, and computational statistics.


Pierre Christian, PhD
Assistant Professor of Physics

Dr. Christian joins Fairfield’s Physics Department from the University of Arizona Tucson, where he served as the Steward Observatory Prize Fellow in Theoretical and Computational Astrophysics. He earned both his MA and PhD in astronomy and astrophysics from Harvard University, and his BA in physics and astrophysics from the University of California, Berkeley. A member of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, Dr. Christian’s main research interests include black holes, gravitational waves, general relativity, classical mechanics, and classroom pedagogical methods.


Chelsie Counsell, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biology
Dr. Counsell received a PhD in marine biology from the University of Hawai‘i, an MS in ecology and evolution from Florida State University, and a BS in biology from Elon University. Her research investigates how environmental and anthropogenic parameters impact the structure of nearshore marine communities. Much of her work has focused on coral reefs, for which she has utilized extensive field surveys, experiments, and datasets to quantify the importance of habitat characteristics, oceanographic dynamics, and human inputs on indicators of reef health. She previously taught at Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy and Hawai‘i Pacific University. 


Kevin Feeney, PhD
Visiting Assistant Professor of Classical Studies
A native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Dr. Feeney earned his BA and MA from Trinity College, Oxford, before pursuing his PhD from Yale University. His research interests concentrate on the political, legal, and administrative history of the Later Roman Empire, as well as the religious and social history of Late Antiquity. He particularly enjoys studying Ammianus Marcellinus and fourth century political history, especially around the reign of the emperor Julian. 

Adam E. Howe, PhD
Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics
Dr. Howe earned a PhD in political science from Florida International University, and an MA in social and public policy from Duquesne University. His dissertation examines state-society relations in Asia, explaining how authoritarian regime elites manage threats to their rule posed by religious organizations. In pursuit of this research, he received the Silas Palmer Research Fellowship from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, as well as the Broad Research and Dissertation Writing Fellowship from Florida International University. He has published articles on political violence in Southeast Asia, focusing on genocide and ethno-religious conflict in Myanmar. His recent work appears in the Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs and Politics, Groups, and Identities.

Jessica Karanian '12, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology
A Fairfield University alumna, Dr. Karanian ’12 received her PhD in cognitive neuroscience from Boston College and completed her postdoctoral training at Tufts University. Her research on human memory has been funded by the National Science Foundation, American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, and the Sigma Xi Society. Prior to returning to Fairfield, Dr. Karanian was a visiting assistant professor at Wesleyan University and an assistant professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. 

Shannon King, PhD
Associate Professor of History
Dr. King is a historian of the black freedom struggle outside of the South and the author of Whose Harlem Is This, Anyway?, winner of the National Council for Black Studies best book in Africana Studies award. His research focuses on political economy and capitalism, social movements, and community politics, and his work has appeared in the Journal of African American History, Journal of Urban History, and Reviews in American History. Dr. King earned his PhD in history from the State University of New York at Binghamton and his MA in history from North Carolina Central University.


Phil Klay, MFA
Associate Professor of the Practice, Creative Writing
A Dartmouth College graduate and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Professor Klay served in Iraq’s Anbar Province as a public affairs officer before receiving his MFA from Hunter College of The City University of New York. His New York Times-bestselling short story collection, Redeployment won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2014, in addition to the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s James Webb Award and the National Book Critics’ Circle John Leonard Award for best debut work in any genre. Klay has been named a National Book Foundation ‘5 Under 35′ honoree, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek.

Navid Maswood, PhD
Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology
After earning a BS in Science (zoology) from Dhaka University in Bangladesh, Dr. Maswood pursued her MA in biology and PhD in molecular biology with a specialization in neuroscience from Texas Woman’s University. She studied the serotonergic neurotransmitters in rodent models during her graduate studies and conducted research in non-human primates at both the University of Kentucky Medical Center and the National Institute of Aging. Dr. Maswood started her career as a drug discovery scientist at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and was later hired as the program director of research support at the Hussmann Institute of Human Genomics at Miller School of Medicine. Prior to arriving at Fairfield, she served as an adjunct professor in biology at Quinnipiac University and the University of Bridgeport. Dr. Maswood has published in peer-reviewed journals and actively volunteers in organizations for orphaned and underprivileged children in developing countries.


Sebastián Pérez, PhD
Assistant Professor of English
Dr. Pérez earned his PhD in American studies from Yale University, where he also completed his BA in American studies and ethnicity, race, and migration. Prior to coming to Fairfield, he taught and completed his dissertation research as a Bolin Fellow in Latina/o studies at Williams College. Dr. Pérez’s scholarship critically analyzes the material cultures of urban uprising and gentrification in Latinx diasporic communities and focuses on the photographic and image-making practices of Puerto Rican and Latinx communities in the South Bronx. His work can be found in Art in America magazine as well as in the upcoming anthology Critical Diálogos in Latina and Latino Studies from NYU Press.

Luis Alberto Rodríguez Cortés, PhD
Assistant Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures
A native of Veracruz, Mexico, Dr. Rodríguez Cortés earned his MA in Spanish from Marquette University, before pursuing his PhD in Spanish from the University of Kansas. His research interests include literature and film productions that explore the construction of national identities, specifically the Latin American and Latino/a identities that are produced, questioned, and performed in the U.S. He is currently working on a project on Latin American and US Latino/a campus or academic novels. Prior to his arrival at Fairfield, he served as an assistant professor of Spanish at Grand Valley State University.

Thomas Schmidt, PhD
Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Dr. Schmidt comes to Fairfield from Yale University's PhD program in ancient Christianity. He has broad interests that touch upon the historical Jesus, the formation of the New Testament, Christian eschatological thought, and the history of Christianity in Syriac and Arabic contexts. His books have been published with Fordham University Press, Gorgias Press, and Catholic University of America and include studies and translations on Christian eschatological themes. His current book projects center upon Isho'dad of Merv's Commentary on Daniel and Josephus' testimony about Jesus. His revised dissertation is currently under peer review.

Kathleen Tomlin, PhD
Associate Professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Dr. Tomlin earned her PhD in psychology from Princeton University and her BA from Rutgers University. Prior to joining Fairfield, she worked as a post-doctoral researcher at Columbia Business School and enjoyed six years as an assistant professor of management in the College of Business at University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Dr. Tomlin’s research interests fall at the intersection of social psychology and business. Her publications cover topics such as ethics, conflict, decision-making, performance feedback, biases, and interpersonal perceptions. Adept at teaching both graduate and undergraduate students, her teaching experience includes negotiation, team dynamics, and other communication-focused psychology and business courses.


Bora Yook, PhD
Assistant Professor of Communication
Dr. Yook earned her PhD in communication from the University of Miami and an MA in public relations from Boston University. Her research focuses on public relations, crisis communication, and social media – more specifically, how organizations communicate with stakeholders on social media during organizational crises. Dr. Yook serves as a conference director at the International Public Relations Research Conference and has served as a committee member of the PR division at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to her arrival at Fairfield, she worked as an account executive at AdAsia, a multicultural marketing communication agency in New York City.


Liyang Zhang, PhD
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Dr. Zhang earned his PhD in mathematics from Yale University and his BA in mathematics and physics from Williams College. His research interests include analytic number theory, and in particular, quantum unique ergodicity, which is the study of the connection between dynamics and number theory. He joins Fairfield’s faculty from Boston College, where he worked as a visiting assistant professor of mathematics. 

Wen Zhao, PhD
Assistant Professor of Communication
Dr. Zhao earned her PhD in communication at Washington State University and her MA from Florida State University. Prior to that, she worked in the media and public relations industry for four years, where she was employed as a public relations supervisor and manager for Tencent Holdings Limited in Beijing, China, and as an account executive for the Strategic Public Relations Group. Dr. Zhao’s research focuses on corporate social responsibility, new media and advertising, and emotions and information in decision making. Her work has been honored by the National Communication Association, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and Eastern Communication Association.

Tags:  College of Arts & Sciences


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