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Holy Cross Welcomes Tenure-Track Faculty Members

The new faculty members represent nine academic disciplines
February 6th, 2021 by 
collage of faculty headshots

(Left to right, top to bottom:) Jameliah Inga Shorter-Bourhanou, philosophy; Katherine Lu Hsu, classics; Muhammad Ali Qadri, psychology; Kyle C. Frisina, English; Sarah Ihmoud, sociology And anthropology; Ana Irene Ugarte, Spanish; Yu-Jung Lin, world languages, literatures and cultures; Alexander S. Browman, psychology; Rebecca Winarski, mathematics and computer science; Ting Gu, mathematics and computer science; Stephanie Crofts, biology

At the start of the 2020-21 academic year, Holy Cross welcomed new tenure-track faculty members, joining the following departments: biology, classics, English, mathematics and computer science, philosophy, psychology, sociology and anthropology, Spanish, and world languages, literatures and cultures.

The scholars bring with them a depth and breadth of expertise in a variety of topics, from cybersecurity and cryptanalysis to animal cognition.

ALEXANDER S. BROWMAN, psychology

Alexander S. Browman earned a B.S. in psychology and biology from McGill University and an M.S./Ph.D. in social psychology from Northwestern University. Prior to Holy Cross, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Boston College’s Department of Applied, Developmental, and Educational Psychology.

What excites you most about joining the faculty at Holy Cross?

I am most excited by the College’s strong commitment to helping students understand the importance of science, research and knowledge for addressing some of the major social challenges facing our world. I very much look forward to working closely with students in discussing these issues and the role that psychology can play in helping us find novel solutions to these problems.

How do your research interests influence the courses you teach?

I study how individuals psychologically experience and internalize social and economic inequality in their environments, and the consequences of these experiences for their motivation and outcomes. In line with these interests, I look forward to offering courses that help students understand the kinds of environmental factors that can influence people’s motivation, the implications for important outcomes (such as academic and job performance, improved health and successful personal relationships), and how psychological research can help us design interventions to help address these and other important social challenges.

STEPHANIE CROFTS, biology

Stephanie Crofts earned a B.A in biology from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Washington, Seattle. Prior to Holy Cross, she was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior.

What excites you most about joining the faculty at Holy Cross?  

So many things! The College’s commit­ment to a strong liberal arts education and dedication to excellence in teaching, learning and research led me to apply in the first place. Since starting, I’ve been really excited about joining my depart­ment and, even with the social distancing and working remotely, my colleagues have been amazing about reaching out and making me feel welcome. I’m also super excited about starting up a lab and getting students involved in my research. It’s been a slow start, but I’m really hoping I’ll be able to have a student or two working on projects over the summer.

How do your research interests influence the courses you teach?

Being a biomechanist who has worked in a fair number of different biological systems, I definitely come up with examples and anecdotes that my students probably don’t expect. My hope is that my background — having worked in a paleontology lab and at a marine field station — allows me to give my courses breadth beyond what students might expect and exposes them to biological systems they might not otherwise consider. My non-majors course students, for example, just learned a whole lot more about hagfish than I think any of them ever expected to!

KYLE C. FRISINA, English

Kyle C. Frisina earned an A.B. in history from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in American culture and English from the University of Michigan. Prior to her time at Michigan, she worked for many years as a theater producer and dramaturg. She comes to Holy Cross directly following the completion of her doctoral degree.

What excites you most about joining the faculty at Holy Cross? 

I am delighted by the College’s liberal arts emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration and by its celebration of the interplay between scholarly and pedagogical creativity. I am also deeply moved by the Holy Cross’ capacious commitment to educating the “whole person,” which I have already seen modeled in the efforts of fellow faculty in the English department and beyond. Last, but not least, I am thrilled to arrive at such an exciting time on campus for the arts!

How do your research interests influence the courses you teach?

The issues I grapple with in my writing and teaching are similar to those I faced in theater: How do artists set the stage for audiences? How do audiences engage with a story? How does the performance of one body translate to the felt experience of another? One of my current research projects explores how certain works of contemporary American literature draw on theatrical aesthetics to make ethical arguments about citizenship and com­munity. Another examines the intertwined tropes of invisibility and hypervisibility in African American drama. I look forward to engaging Holy Cross students in the possi­bilities, the pleasures, even the dangers of dramatic form. Drama is an ancient art — and an evolving one — that I believe holds countless lessons for our present day.

TING GU, mathematics and computer science

Ting Gu earned a B.S. and an M.E. in computer science from Central China Normal University, as well as a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Kentucky, Lexington. Prior to Holy Cross, she was an assistant professor of computer science at Elizabethtown College.

What excites you most about joining the faculty at Holy Cross?

What excites me most is the frequent interactions with students inside and outside the classroom, and the supportive colleagues here at Holy Cross. Students here are eager to learn and open to challenges. Colleagues are exceptionally generous in sharing ideas and offering guidance.

How do your research interests influence the courses you teach?

My research focuses on cybersecurity in general and cryptanalysis in particular. Our society is more technologically reliant than ever before. Cyber threats and attacks are increasing in both frequency and sophistication. I believe cybersecurity background information is beneficial to our students. With this thought in mind, I often come up with various project ideas related to cybersecurity in my classes. By designing and implementing those projects, the students not only learn the security knowledge embodied in the projects, but also realize the importance of protecting their sensitive information.

KATHERINE LU HSU, classics

Katherine Lu Hsu earned an A.B. in classics from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in classical studies from the University of Michigan. Prior to Holy Cross, she was an assistant professor of classics at Brooklyn College (City University of New York) and director of the Latin/Greek Institute at Brooklyn College.

What excites you most about joining the faculty at Holy Cross?  

I’m thrilled to be joining a small liberal arts college community where learning, co-curricular and mentoring relationships all contribute to the student experience. I was drawn to the College for its focus on the education of the whole person and was especially impressed by how the College values being “patient with ambiguity and uncertainty.” I look forward to joining a vibrant classics department that connects language pedagogy to community impact and ancient to modern worlds.

How do your research interests influence the courses you teach?

As a scholar of ancient literature, I study how mythological narratives encode social conventions and express ethical tensions prominent in Greek and Roman culture. These issues are often perennial —questions about the proper role of violence in society or one’s obligations to refugees — and I look forward to diving into them with students in future courses on mythology, ancient migration and refugees, and tragedy. I am also very interested in the pedagogy of learning Greek and Latin, and I am thrilled to join my colleagues in creating new language courses that bring students into direct contact with ancient texts as soon as possible.

SARAH IHMOUD, sociology and anthropology

Sarah Ihmoud earned a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in social/activist anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to Holy Cross, she was a postdoctoral associate at Boston University’s Department of Anthropology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

What excites you most about joining the faculty at Holy Cross? 

This has been an incredibly strange time to begin one’s academic career. I have been teaching remotely and online this semester, but had a surreal experience last week where I met one of my students in person for the first time while in line to get a COVID test on campus. We had this moment of recognition and exchanged a few words, and it brought me a great deal of joy to have that face-to-face connection that I think we’ve all been missing this year. It made me remember why I’ve always wanted to teach at a liberal arts college and why I feel so privileged to have joined the faculty at Holy Cross — the opportunity to build meaningful connections with students; to teach in a way that nurtures young peoples’ innate curiosities, creativity and passions; to learn from them, as well; to build intellectual community together; to create a bridge between the life of the mind and the larger community, where we can imagine and create the world we want to live in guided by our values, a shared sense of purpose and dedication to something greater than ourselves.

So much is lost when you’re teaching and learning through a screen, and it’s been a challenging time for our students, who are not only negotiating the conditions of the pandemic, but many of whom are also witnessing widespread social and political unrest, and are living in a deeply divided country. Still, they show up to class eager to learn and committed to doing the work, with a readiness to be vulnerable and engage in difficult conversations. It’s amazing how, in this moment of crisis, they’ve been able to hold out grace for each other and rise to the challenges. I told my students at the beginning of the semester that this is going to be a very different college experience this year, that in many ways, we’re going to get to know each other in a much more intimate way than one might expect early on — because quite literally we are guests in each other’s homes. The necessity of remote learning and teaching has challenged us to really abide by the goals of a Jesuit education, which invites us to develop a deep sense of care for each other, and I hope to be able bring this ethos of patience, care, kindness and humility into the classroom as we work together to survive this moment.

On a more personal level, I was a public school kid from the South Side of Chicago who got a scholarship to attend a small, private liberal arts college, and it changed my life trajectory. My professors showed me that they believed in me, they empowered me with new tools to think about the world, and helped me find new ways of expressing myself. I feel immensely grateful to be a faculty member at Holy Cross and am humbled by the opportunity to be able to reciprocate that care and attention with my students in some small way.

How do your research interests influence the courses you teach?

While my research has centered on Indigenous women in colonial contexts and conflict zones from a critical feminist perspective, one of the bigger questions that has always motivated my work has been how do marginalized and/or oppressed peoples navigate structures of power and violence? How do they survive, imagine and create alternative possibilities, alternative life worlds for themselves and for their communities? It’s a question that grows out of my own life experience as the daughter of a Palestinian immigrant and a first-generation Mexican American, and bearing witness to immense suffering resulting from war, occupation and displacement from the space of the diaspora. These questions shape how I approach both the content of my courses and the ethos I attempt to build in the space of the classroom. I make an effort to center the scholarship and voices of those who have historically been marginalized from the anthropological canon — Black, Indigenous, people of color, women, queer and others — in the spirit of a decolonial anthropology. I think this is especially important in a moment where we’re witnessing growing social inequality, violence and mass uprisings against racial, gender and other forms of violence on a global scale.

One of the courses I’m excited to be teaching for the first time this spring is called Coming of Age at the Border. It’s a course that explores how young people in a variety of social contexts experience a strengthening of borders — from the construction of physical borders and fences in places like Israel/Palestine and the U.S./Mexico borders, to the militarization of their communities and increased surveillance, policing and violence against a nation’s internal “others”— in their everyday lives. How do young people understand and relate to these processes, and how do they resist oppression and work toward building meaningful futures?

Much of the course will center on ethnographies of young people’s lives, and in some contexts, the genre of autobiography, which feminist anthropologists have long claimed to be a source of ethnographic data. For example, we’ll be reading an ethnography about Black girlhood and the “borders” of citizenship in the United States alongside a book about Indigenous youth organizing in Canada, an ethnography about growing up under military rule in Kashmir juxtaposed with one about Palestinian childhood in the occupied territories, and another about Indigenous women from Central America incarcerated at the U.S./Mexico border. The hope is that engaging the stories and experiences of young people in other contexts will invite students to consider their own place in the world in a new light, and that we can have meaningful conversations about how to transform conditions of global inequality and bring about change toward more just futures.

YU-JUNG LIN, world languages, literatures and cultures

Yu-Jung Lin earned a B.A. in foreign languages and literatures from National Taiwan University and an M.A./ Ph.D. in linguistics from Indiana University Bloomington. Prior to Holy Cross, she taught at Indiana University Bloomington.

What excites you most about joining the faculty at Holy Cross?

It is an interesting time to start my first full-time job — everything is virtual, including classrooms, meetings, supervisors, colleagues and students. Nevertheless, this virtual Holy Cross community made me feel welcomed, cared for and connected by sending informative messages and scheduling individual meetings to answer my questions. I look forward to growing in this supportive environment, and with the help of the whole community, to inspire and empower my students as well.

How do your research interests influence the courses you teach?

As a scholar of phonetics, phonology, psycholinguistics and second language acquisition, I am interested in the phonological encoding of writing systems and its influences on first and second language acquisition, the tonal patterns in different tonal languages, how social factors influence people’s accents, and speech perception and production in second language acquisition. At Holy Cross, I teach Chinese language courses, literary Chinese and Chinese linguistics. When teaching Chinese linguistics, I plan to focus on the historical context, the social aspects, the psychology of learning, as well as the data collection and analyses. My hope is that my students can understand how deeply and widely “language” has shaped the order of our society, thus respecting and appreciating the cultural and linguistic diversity of this world.

MUHAMMAD ALI QADRI, psychology

Muhammad Ali Qadri earned a B.S. in cognitive and brain science, an M.S. in experimental psychology and a Ph.D. in psychology: cognitive science, all from Tufts University. Prior to Holy Cross, he taught at Tufts University and Wheaton College, and was director of Tufts University’s Avian Cognition Laboratory.

What excites you most about joining the faculty at Holy Cross?

I’m excited to mentor students through the process of learning about the human and animal world using the scientific lens. I think these mentoring relationships work in both directions, creating an atmosphere for innovative science.

How do your research interests influence the courses you teach?

My research is focused on animal cognition in a broad sense — how animals see, hear and process the world. Some of my courses are focused exactly on these questions — how animals learn and how they process information. Teaching how fundamentally different minds work directly comes out of my research in trying to decipher them and finding students truly capable of considering the possible strange truths of animal minds is always rewarding.

JAMELIAH INGA SHORTER-BOURHANOU, philosophy

Jameliah Inga Shorter-Bourhanou earned a B.A. in philosophy and religion from Paine College and an M.A/Ph.D. in philosophy from Penn State University. She was a postdoctoral teaching fellow in philosophy at Holy Cross’ Center for Interdisciplinary Studies from 2018 to 2020. Prior to Holy Cross, she was an assistant professor of philosophy at Georgia College & State University.

What excites you most about joining the faculty at Holy Cross?

I am very excited to work with the brilliant students we have at Holy Cross. The best part of my postdoc was engaging with students who love learning and are dedicated to their studies. I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to work with them.

How do your research interests influence the courses you teach?

My research focuses on the intersection of race and the history of philosophy. I am currently working on a book that explores the thoughts of a figure in the history of philosophy, Immanuel Kant, and his views about race and universal equality. I argue that learning more about the intersection of such views from the past is helpful to us as we work to create a more equitable world. I enjoy engaging our students in discussions about equality, inclusivity and racism. I teach courses in political philosophy, race, Africana philosophy and the history of philosophy.

ANA IRENE UGARTE, Spanish

Ana Irene Ugarte earned a B.A. in Spanish philology from Universidad Complutense de Madrid and a B.A. in French from Université Stendhal Grenoble III in France. She also earned an M.A. in Spanish American literature from Universidad Complutense de Madrid and a Ph.D. in romance studies from Duke University. Prior to Holy Cross, she taught at the University of Scranton and Duke University.

What excites you most about joining the faculty at Holy Cross?

In Spain, where I come from, liberal arts institutions do not exist as such. I thus look forward to teaching in a liberal arts environment that engages its students in critical and interdisciplinary thinking, social justice and ethics. I am also thrilled to get to know Worcester and its Latinx community better, as I am very excited about the unique opportunities that community-based learning offers to Holy Cross’ students and faculty.

How do your research interests influence the courses you teach?

My scholarly interests focus on Latin American studies and the emerging field of health humanities. I examine the repre­sentation of illness, disability and caring practices in contemporary works of fiction from the Caribbean, including Indigenous literature from the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico. In my literature and culture classes, students explore how medical and literary discourse have historically intersected to create colonial ideologies. I also hope to engage their interest in how contemporary fiction from Latin America and the Caribbean undermines and resists these colonial ideologies through alterna­tive forms of imagining (and experiencing) mental and physical health, corporeal dif­ference and healing processes. Similarly, in the classes I teach (continued on Page 28)

on Spanish language, I help students develop critical and analytical learn­ing tools to become interculturally competent. For me, the humanities have an integral role in shaping and transforming health care, health and well-being. I believe that the devel­opment of new pedagogical prac­tices informed by intercultural and diversity competence is key to this transformation.

REBECCA WINARSKI, mathematics and computer science

Rebecca Winarski earned a B.S. in mathematics and a B.A. in psychology from Case Western Reserve University, as well as a Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to Holy Cross, she taught at the University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Wittenberg University.

What excites you most about joining the faculty at Holy Cross?  

I’m excited to join a community of teacher-scholars.  I’m passionate about using active teaching techniques, and I see the same student-centered values and thoughtfulness of pedagogy in my colleagues at Holy Cross. I look forward to getting to know the students at Holy Cross, supporting their events and engaging them in undergraduate research projects.

How do your research interests influence the courses you teach?

My research is in pure math, specifically focused on geometry, topology and algebra. I’m excited to teach courses that reflect the intersection of these three topics, such as geometric group theory and hyperbolic geometry. My research has helped me to see algebra (specifically, a branch of algebra called group theory) as the study of symmetries of objects, which is powerful and beautiful, but not always seen in the standard mathematics curriculum.

Written by Nicoleta Jordan for the Winter 2021 issue of Holy Cross Magazine.

About Holy Cross Magazine
Holy Cross Magazine (HCM) is the quarterly alumni publication of the College of the Holy Cross. The award-winning publication is mailed to alumni and friends of the College and includes intriguing profiles, make-you-think features, alumni news, exclusive photos and more. Visit magazine.holycross.edu/about to contact HCM, submit alumni class notes, milestones, or letters to the editor.

 

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