Orange Alert

A&S Welcomes 21 New Forward-Thinking Faculty

Meet the new professors starting at the College of Arts and Sciences this fall.

Aug. 24, 2023, by A&S News Staff

A&S proudly welcomes 21 new faculty members with expertise ranging across STEM and humanities disciplines. The members of this cohort, including five alumni, bring diverse areas of specialization and will contribute to the College's ongoing academic excellence and interdisciplinary achievement.

“I am impressed and inspired by the work these new faculty members have already done related to contemporary questions,” says A&S Dean Behzad Mortazavi. “As they join our innovative, forward-thinking A&S community, I look forward to seeing all they will accomplish in their research, scholarship and, most important, instruction of our students.”

Meet A&S' new faculty:

Abrar(Abbi) Adnan Aljiboury square

Abrar Al Jiboury '15, G'23
Professor of Practice, Biology and Manager of the Blatt BioImaging Center, Syracuse University

“I strive to provide inclusive learning where all students feel safe, valued, heard, and supported. This allows me to create a learning environment that is conducive to discussion and collaboration. Additionally, I aspire to provide my students and mentees with the necessary knowledge and skills to be able to apply and employ what they learn beyond the classroom.”

  • Ph.D., Biology, Syracuse University
  • Specializations: microscopy and cell biology
  • Previous position: graduate research assistant, Syracuse University
  • Key honor/award: Society for the Study of Evolution Graduate Excellence Research Award

Portrait of Arun Brahmbhatt

Arun Brahmbhatt
Assistant Professor, Religion

“My research examines continuities and disjunctures in South Asian religious traditions occasioned by an entanglement with colonial modernity. I am especially interested in how Hindu religious communities make use of the classical language of Sanskrit. My pedagogy is rooted in a Sanskrit aphorism, sa vidya ya vimuktaye: “Knowledge is that which sets oneself free.” My courses invite students to think about the human activities behind the historical and contemporary expressions of religion."

  • Ph.D., Religion, University of Toronto,
  • Specializations: Hinduism & South Asian religions
  • Previous position: Assistant Professor of South Asian Religions, St. Lawrence University
  • Key honor/award: Shivdasani Visiting Fellowship, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

Portrait of Christopher Brunt

Christopher Brunt, G'11
Assistant Teaching Professor, English

“I have a passion for undergraduate teaching, and my courses are interdisciplinary in nature, ranging in topic and approach from medical humanities and addiction studies, to classical antiquity and world literature, to creative writing and theater. In the classroom, I value free, open, and lively discussion and writing that challenges us to push beyond boundaries, and am always seeking new ways to get out of our seats and bring our inquiry to the world outside the classroom."

  • Ph.D., English, University of Southern Mississippi
  • Specializations: creative writing
  • Previous position: assistant professor, Rhodes College
  • Key honor/award: finalist for the Marsh Hawk Poetry Prize, the Alma Book Prize, the St. Lawrence Book Award, and the Christopher Smart Prize

Portrait of Craig Cahillane

Craig Cahillane
Assistant Professor, Physics

“My research will focus on enabling future gravitational wave detectors like Cosmic Explorer to achieve the highest sensitivity possible through interferometric modeling and simulation, as well as high-power laser lab research. Our research will help produce the next generation of cosmic explorers, understanding interferometry so we can listen to black hole collisions from the beginning of the universe."

  • Ph.D., experimental gravity, Caltech
  • Specializations: interferometry and control systems
  • Previous position: postdoc, LIGO Hanford Observatory, Caltech
  • Key honor/award: 2016 Breakthrough Prize in physics

Portrait of Pierre Yves-Gaudreau Lamarre

Pierre Yves Gaudreau Lamarre
Assistant Professor, Mathematics

“My research focus lies in probability, functional analysis, and mathematical physics. In the past years, I have worked on problems involving random Schrödinger operators and semigroups, stochastic partial differential equations, large random matrices, and free probability. When I design lectures, one of my main objectives is to clearly emphasize the aspects of learning that are more difficult for students to acquire on their own through exercises or readings. More specifically, I make a conscious effort to repeatedly connect new ideas and results to the "big picture" of the field being studied and to explain which techniques should be used to solve given problems and why."

  • Ph.D., operations research and financial engineering, Princeton University
  • Specializations: probability, functional analysis and mathematical physics
  • Previous position: William H. Kruskal Instructor, University of Chicago

Portrait of Chris Geyer

Christine Geyer G‘04, G’13
Assistant Teaching Professor, Writing Studies, Rhetoric and Composition

“I am interested in critical inquiry into just about any subject and I try to share with my students the benefits of asking the meaning of words, phrases, and visual images they hear and see every day. I try to help my students anticipate the reception of their written work in various audiences. Whether in the academy or in the world of work, students participate in several different discourse communities. I believe it is my job to help them identify those communities and to understand the “rules” of discourse in them. At the same time, I encourage them to preserve their own voice in their writing, no matter the form."

  • Ph.D., composition and cultural rhetoric, Syracuse University
  • Specializations: effective communication, written and spoken, for both academic and civic purposes
  • Previous position: director of academic writing, Cazenovia College
  • Key honor/award: Phi Beta Kappa

Portrait of Josh Hunt

Josh Hunt
Assistant Professor, Philosophy

“My research focuses on central organizing concepts in scientific practice, including explanation and laws of nature. I am currently applying strategies from metaethics to revitalize empiricist approaches to science and math while defending a neo-Wittgensteinian meta-philosophy. My dissertation provides a systematic account of the nature and value of reformulating existing problem-solving procedures in science and math, including the role of symmetry arguments in quantum chemistry and physics."

  • Ph.D., philosophy, University of Michigan
  • Specializations: history and philosophy of the physical sciences and mathematics; general philosophy of science; meta-philosophy
  • Previous position: postdoctoral associate, MIT
  • Key honor/award: John Dewey Teaching Prize

Portrait of Byungsam Jung

Byungsam Jung
Assistant Teaching Professor, Languages, Literatures and Linguistics

“I have dedicated myself to interdisciplinary studies, exploring the literary metaphors of photographic devices, photographic objects, and the pre-photographic desire to see the world truthfully as essential elements of Russian literary realism and modernism. In my teaching, I draw on my research on visual images, which help me supply cultural resources for language learners and foster the ability to read images for literature students."

  • Ph.D., Slavic languages and literatures, Stanford University
  • Specializations: Nikolai Gogol, Andrei Bely, Vladimir Nabokov and photojournalism
  • Previous position: instructor, The Foreign Language Institute, Yonsei University
  • Key honor/award: Centennial Teaching Award, School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University

Portrait of Kyle Kaplan

Kyle Kaplan
Visiting Assistant Teaching Professor, Art and Music Histories

“As a teacher, I invite students to consider how listening can cultivate critique–a skill that combines analytic and creative faculties to imagine the world otherwise. This investment stems from my experience as a queer, first-generation student as well as deep conviction that the true promise of an education is the ability to better combat forms of precarity that inhibit personal or artistic flourishing."

  • Ph.D., Northwestern University
  • Specializations: queer and feminist musicology, with a special focus on the roles of intimacy and interpersonal attachment in the music of 20th-century German composer Hans Werner Henze
  • Previous position: Lecturer, DePaul University, the School of Art Institute in Chicago

Portrait of Sarah Lucas

Sarah Lucas
Assistant Professor, Biology

“My research interests include understanding how microbial communities respond to disruption. I am particularly interested in the role of bacteriophages in the barrier function of microbial communities at mucosal surfaces, and how this relates to human health and disease. My teaching philosophy is rooted in the idea that a science education is a lifelong pursuit that necessitates a firm foundation but is fueled by curiosity. My goal is to tailor foundational instruction to the goals and interests of my students, and tether lessons to relevant current research."

  • Ph.D., microbiology, immunology and cancer biology, University of Minnesota
  • Specializations: experimental microbiology, metagenomics, genomics, bioinformatics
  • Previous position: postdoctoral fellow, microbiology & immunology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Key honor/award: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award

Portrait of Rachana Maharjan

Rachana Maharjan

Assistant Teaching Professor, Mathematics

“My instructional philosophy focuses on three aspects: setting proper goals, using different pedagogical approaches and good communication with students."

  • Ph.D., statistics, Bowling Green State University
  • Specializations: statistics
  • Previous position: adjunct faculty, Augsburg University
  • Key honor/award: Graduate Excellency in Teaching Award, Bowling Green State University


Lauren Mavica
Associate Teaching Professor of Neuroscience, Director of Neuroscience ILM

"My teaching philosophy is guided by two fundamental goals; first, to foster an atmosphere of mutual respect where students feel comfortable and encouraged to exchange ideas and perspectives in positive and meaningful ways and second, to teach an informative, innovative course that sets students up for success. I provide students with a personalized and supportive learning environment no matter the class size or instructional method and have developed strategies for responding effectively to students with a wide range of abilities and backgrounds."

  • Ph.D., experimental psychology, Florida Atlantic University
  • Specializations: neuroscience and cognitive psychology
  • Previous position: Instructor and Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies, Dept. of Psychology, Florida Atlantic University

Jaynelle Nixon

Jaynelle Nixon
Visiting Assistant Teaching Professor, Women's and Gender Studies

"My pedagogical focus is fostering what bell hooks describes as an “oppositional gaze.” I want my classes to develop scholars who understand and employ the power of simultaneously recognizing and resisting dominant ideological narratives (in all forms of media) that mark certain bodies as inherently other.”

  • Ph.D., global gender & sexuality studies, University at Buffalo
  • Specializations: Queer Theory, Black Feminism, Cultural Studies, Disability Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Film Studies, Media Studies
  • Previous position: LeMoyne College, Syracuse
  • Key honor/award: PLASMA (Performances, Lectures, and Screenings in Media Art) 2023 guest speaker at University at Buffalo

Portrait of Natalie Novotna

Natalie Novotna G’22
Professor of Practice, Forensic Science

“It is my desire to create a stimulating educational environment where students can meet their full potential. I aim to bring an open mind, a positive attitude, and high expectations to the classroom."

  • M.S., forensic science, Syracuse University
  • Specializations: whole genome amplification from a single cell, low-quality/low-quantity human and non-human DNA analysis and DNA mixture analysis
  • Previous position: researcher, Charles University, Czech Republic

Portrait of Jennifer O'Reilly

Jennifer O'Reilly
Assistant Professor, African American Studies

“My pedagogy is guided by an interdisciplinary approach to teaching African American literature. It is my hope that students in my courses will not only be exposed to an array of Black writers and genres, but will deepen their understanding of the political, social, and cultural contexts that inform what they read."

  • Ph.D., English, Liverpool John Moores University
  • Specializations: 20th-century African American literature, black American women writers, the Harlem renaissance, black spirituality in literature
  • Previous position: visiting assistant teaching professor, African American studies, Syracuse University
  • Key honor/award: Rose Library Short-Term Award Fellowship, Emory University

Portrait of Jennifer Pan

Jennifer Pan
Assistant Teaching Professor, Writing Studies, Rhetoric and Composition

“My approach to writing instruction prioritizes helping students hone the skills they need to become independent learners. My courses encourage students to examine what it means to read, think, and write responsibly, as I challenge them to reflect on their own processes, from how to ask questions and frame arguments to what informs their impulses and inclinations. Centering questions of race, gender, sexuality, disability, citizenship, and species, I emphasize the importance of cultivating nuanced understandings of the potential of writing for perpetrating both care and harm."

  • Ph.D., English, University of Chicago
  • Specializations: 19th and 20th-century literature, science and Technology studies, literary theory, trade and migration studies
  • Previous position: humanities teaching fellow, English, University of Chicago

Portrait of Yalian Pei

Yalian Pei
Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders

“My research focuses on improving cognitive-communication rehabilitation outcomes to promote recovery and overall quality of life for individuals with brain injuries. I use behavioral measures and state-of-art technologies to study biopsychosocial factors involved in recovery processes and support returning to meaningful life activities after brain injuries. My pedagogical focus is to facilitate active learning where students can connect new learning with prior knowledge and apply what they have learned in solving clinical problems."

  • Ph.D., communication sciences and disorders, University of Georgia
  • Specializations: cognitive communication rehabilitation
  • Previous position: speech-language pathologist, Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center
  • Key honor/award: UGA Graduate School Student International Travel Award

Portrait of Cary Peñate

Cary Peñate
Assistant Professor, Music History and Cultures

"I believe that a welcoming environment for students of all backgrounds is crucial to instruction in university programs. In my experience, assignments and activities that have been well received include a combination of small-group discussions, live performance segments, participatory music-making (teaching songs, rhythms, etc.), mini-ethnographic research assignments on diverse musical styles. Similarly, I have found that critical assessments generated through group discussion encourage deeper reflection on the ethical and social issues surrounding performance."

  • Ph.D., Musicology, University of Texas, Austin
  • Specializations: film music and Latin American music
  • Previous position: assistant teaching professor, music history, Ball State University
  • Key honor/award: ACLS Emerging Voices Fellowship, 2021-2022

Portrait of Josh Pollitz

Josh Pollitz
Assistant Professor, Mathematics

“My research interests are primarily in the homological aspects of commutative algebra. I enjoy thinking about theories of support, structures on resolutions, triangulated categories and relations between commutative algebra and other areas like representation theory and topology. My pedagogical philosophy is centered on the premise that mathematics is best retained when students are involved with it dynamically; namely, I hope my students develop an appreciation and mastery of mathematics through lively discussions with their peers and creative (collaborative) problem-solving."

  • Ph.D., Mathematics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Specializations: commutative and homological algebra
  • Previous position: NSF postdoctoral research fellow, University of Utah
  • Key honor/award: NSF Mathematical Sciences Award

Portrait of Joseph Wilson

Joseph Wilson
Assistant Professor, Writing Studies, Rhetoric and Composition

“As a writing teacher, I work to support students in seeing the transnational in everyday language practices, and I see translation—across both languages and genres—as critical toward this goal. As a result, my classes foreground critical approaches to writing and research methods to make translation practices both visible and subject to critique. At Syracuse, I hope to continue to learn from students’ individual and community translation practices."

  • Ph.D., English, University of Washington
  • Specializations: transnational literacies; translingual orientations to writing studies; queer rhetorics; critical applied linguistics/TESOL
  • Key honor/award: Chester Boeing Fritz International Research Grant

mzaso -picture

Michelle J. Zaso G'15, G'19

Assistant Professor, Psychology

"My research focuses on sources of vulnerability and resiliency to alcohol-promoting environments. My current projects work to identify cognitive processes that underlie stress- and trauma-related drinking.”

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Syracuse University
  • Specializations: addiction psychology, clinical psychology
  • Previous position: Postdoctoral Associateship, Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo
  • Key honor/award: NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award

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