College Welcomes New Faculty


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Jim Armacost Jr., instructor of biology, has a B.S. degree in zoology from Louisiana State University, M.S. in biology from Mississippi State University and will receive a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Illinois State University. A National Science Foundation Fellow from 2001-03, he has done extensive ecological fieldwork, most recently in Peru. His research focuses on habitat use by birds, central to understanding avian ecology and the management and conservation of birds. He is the author of a number of articles that have appeared in peer-reviewed publications and is a member of several ornithological societies.  

Carole Blankenship, assistant professor of music, has a B.A. in music from Rhodes College and M.M. and D.M.A. degrees in vocal performance from The University of Memphis. She formerly taught part-time at Rhodes. In 2004, she received the Graduate Document Award for the most outstanding thesis as judged by the faculty at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at The University of Memphis. She has served as president of the Memphis Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing since 1995.   Michelle Lyn Cook-Brown, assistant professor of theater, has a B.A. degree from Louisiana College and M.F.A. from The University of Memphis. Her areas of interest and research include the genealogy of the scenic designer; theatre: is it for the elite?; Samuel Beckett: what influenced his writing?; Josef Svoboda, master of design: scenography as a profession; and projections, a new category of design. She has received several awards for her scenic and lighting designs and has worked with theaters and universities across the country.

Rachel Dunwell, assistant professor of mathematics, received a B.S. degree in mathematics and a post-graduate certificate of education from the University of Leeds, M.S. in pure mathematics from the University of Liverpool and Ph.D. from Heriot-Watt University. Her current research project is the Kent Infant Development (KID) Scale, a questionnaire completed by an infant’s caregiver that measures healthy development in five domains. The KID Scale, developed in the United States, has been translated into 10 languages and normed and standardized in eight countries. Prior to joining Rhodes, she was a lecturer in the Mathematics Department at Bindura University of Science Education in Bindura, Zimbabwe.

Brooke Findley, assistant professor of French, has a B.A. degree in Medieval studies from Amherst College, M.A. in French from Middlebury College and Ph.D. in French with a graduate certificate in medieval and Renaissance studies from Duke University. She has presented at several conferences and was an invited participant on a panel at Amherst College on “The Versatility of the Liberal Arts Experience.” A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she is also the recipient of several fellowships and travel grants.   Nora Jabbour, instructor in Spanish, has a B.S. degree in speech therapy from the Universidad Rafael Landivar in Guatemala and M.S. in Spanish literature from Mississippi State University. She has taught at Rhodes in a part-time capacity since 2002 and has worked as a Spanish translator in Memphis-area hospitals.

Donna Lee Kwon joins the Department of Music as the William Randolph Hearst Fellow. She has a B.A. degree in women’s studies from Oberlin College, B.M. in piano from Oberlin Conservatory and M.A. in world music/ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University . She will receive a Ph.D. in music/ethnomusicology from the University of California, Berkeley. The recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, the KF Fellowship for Graduate Studies and the Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award, she also has worked extensively with community arts organizations such as the Korean Youth Cultural Center and performed in various venues including the Asian American Jazz, Other Minds and San Francisco Ethnic Dance festivals.

Julie Cong-Dung Le, visiting assistant professor in chemistry, has a B.S. degree in biochemistry and M.S. in chemistry from Louisiana State University and Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. She was an intern of the Preparing Future Faculty program at St. Edward’s University, a recipient of a Gates Millennium Scholarship and a member of Iota Sigma Pi, a national honor society for women in chemistry. Her research interests include asymmetric catalysis with applications toward the synthesis of therapeutically relevant compounds. She also is the author of several publications. Manling Luo, instructor of Chinese, received a B.A. degree in Chinese language and literature and M.A. in Chinese linguistics from Peking University. She will receive a Ph.D. in Chinese and comparative literature from Washington University. She is the author of a forthcoming publication The Seduction of Authenticity: ‘The Story of Yingying’, Nannü: Men, Women and Gender in China 7.1 (2005).

Edward Mallot, assistant professor of English, has a B.A. degree in English and history from the University of Missouri and will receive a Ph.D. in 20th-century British literature from the University of Iowa. The author of several published articles, he has presented at a number of conferences. He also is a member of several professional organizations including the Modern Language Association and the South Asian Literary Association.

Raechelle Mascarenhas, instructor in economics and business administration, received a B.A. degree from St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, India, M.S. from the University of Mumbai, and will receive a Ph.D. in political economy and public policy from the University of Southern California. She is the recipient of a Graduate Merit Award and a Final Year Dissertation Fellowship from the University of Southern California. Her areas of research interest include political economy of development, public economics, public policy and international political economy.

Karl-Heinz Maurer assistant professor of German, studied at the University of Cologne, Germany before receiving a M.A. degree in German from the University of Missouri and Ph.D. from Indiana University. He was formerly an assistant professor of German at Knox College. His areas of interests include 18th- and 19th-century German literature, German and European drama, early 20th-century culture, film studies and political philosophy.

Guy McClain, assistant professor of accounting, has a B.S. degree in accounting from Louisiana Tech University, master of accountancy degree from the University of Mississippi and Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Arkansas. His article, “User Versus Auditor Perceptions of the Auditor’s Report on Internal Control: Readability, Reliability and Auditor Legal Liability”, written in conjunction with Willie Gist and Trimbak Shastri, was published in the American Business Review, 2004. His research interests include director compensation, corporate governance effectiveness and auditor reporting. His teaching interests include auditing and assurance, audit committees and corporate governance and financial reporting.

Chad Middleton, assistant professor of physics, has a B.S. degree in physics with a minor in mathematics (cum laude) from Eastern Illinois University and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Tennessee. He is the recipient of several scholarships and awards including the 2002 University of Tennessee Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant, a SARIF Graduate Research Assistant Research Grant and a Science Alliance Fellowship. He is a member of several professional organizations including Sigma Pi Sigma, the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Taehyun Nam, assistant professor of international studies, has a B.A. degree in political science and a second B.A. in Hindi from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, Korea. He received a M.A. degree in political science from the American University and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Kansas. His teaching and research interests include comparative political behavior, comparative political institutions, international conflict and conflict resolution and research methods. He is a member of the American Political Science Association, the Midwest Political Science Association and the Southern Political Science Association.

Shadrack Nasong’o, assistant professor of international studies, received both a B.A. degree (with honors) in political science and linguistics and M.A. in international relations from the University of Nairobi, Kenya and Ph.D. in public and international affairs from Northeastern University. He was formerly a lecturer in political science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The author of many articles and book chapters that have appeared in refereed journals, he also is the recipient of several fellowships and grants, including the Fulbright Fellowship. He is a member of several professional organizations including the African Studies Association, Association of Third World Studies, African Council for Communication Education and the Organization of Social Science Research in Eastern Africa.

Rebecca Edwards Newman, assistant professor of English, received a B.A. degree in English (first-class honors) from King’s College, University of Cambridge; M.A. degree in romantic literature (honors, awarded distinction) from the University of York; and Ph.D. from King’s College, Cambridge. She was a lecturer at the University of Wales, Bangor and has published two pieces, “Prosecuting the onus criminus: Early Criticism of the Novel in Fraser’s Magazine” in Victorian Periodicals Review and “Ruskin’s God, Michael Wheeler,” (Review) in Religion and the Arts.

Janet Panter, assistant professor of psychology, received a B.A. degree in English from the College of William and Mary; M.A. in Christian education from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education; and M.A. and Ph.D. from The University of Memphis. Her areas of teaching interests are psychoeducational assessment, school readiness and learning and memory. A former adjunct faculty member at The University of Memphis, she is a certificated school psychologist with the Tennessee State Board of Education, a nationally certified school psychologist and a licensed psychologist.

Keith Pecor, faculty fellow in the Department of Biology, received a B.S degree in biology (summa cum laude) from The University of Memphis and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biology from the University of Michigan. His teaching interests include conservation biology, evolution and vertebrate zoology. Recognized by the University of Michigan as an Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor, he served as a curatorial assistant in the division of reptiles and amphibians at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.

Amy Risley, assistant professor of international studies, received a B.A. degree in political science and international relations (with distinction) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean studies from New York University; and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. Her teaching interests include comparative politics, Latin American politics, international relations, democratization, gender and politics, civil society, social movements, political economy of developing areas and women in development. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Eta Sigma honor societies.

Dawn Shute, instructor of Spanish, has a B.A. degree with a major in Spanish and a minor in political science from Samford University and M.A. in romance languages with a concentration in Spanish from The University of Memphis. In addition, she completed the teacher certification program at the University of West Florida. She is the owner the Foreign Language Immersion Childcare Center, which fosters early bilingualism.

Glenda Swan, assistant professor of art, received a B.A. degree (with honors) in classical archaeology and anthropology from University of Texas at Austin, M.A. in classical arts and archaeology and Ph.D. in classical art and archaeology from Princeton University. She was an assistant professor at North Dakota State University, where she served as codirector of the Reineke Art Gallery and the Art Bank.

Melissa Vandenberg, instructor of art, has a B.F.A. from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit and M.F.A. in sculpture from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. She received the Award of Excellence from Missouri Fiber Artists in 2003, and her work has appeared in exhibitions nationally.

Brian Warren, assistant professor of history, has a B.A. degree in literature (cum laude) from Yale University and Ph.D. in classics from Johns Hopkins University. His special interests include ancient history and historiography, Greek literature and Greek and Roman philosophy. Prior to joining the Rhodes faculty, he was a lecturer at Washington University. He is the author of several papers that have been presented at professional conferences.