2018-19 Rhodes College New Faculty

Dan Blustein
Psychology/Neuroscience

Dan Blustein joins the Department of Psychology and the Neuroscience Program as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Blustein has a B.A. in Biology from Kalamazoo College and a Ph.D. in Biology from Northeastern University. He comes to Rhodes after having served as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of New Brunswick in Canada. His interdisciplinary research focuses on how people plan and make movements with the ultimate goal of improving neuroprosthetic technologies and neurorehabilitation techniques. Dr. Blustein has previously taught introductory biology and neuroscience courses. He also works to use film and other media to communicate science to the general public, and to provide STEM educational experiences to historically underserved groups.

Cara Djonko-Moore
Educational Studies

Cara Djonko-Moore joins the Educational Studies Program as Assistant Professor. She studied Urban Education in the Department of Education Leadership and Policy Studies at Temple University and was honored as a Future Faculty Fellow.  She received her Ph.D. 2011. Dr. Djonko-Moore comes to Rhodes from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she served as Assistant Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies. She taught undergraduate and graduate courses focused on early childhood teacher preparation with a focus on culturally responsive teaching.  She has taught courses titled Diversity Among Children and Families, Early Childhood Teaching Methods, and Action Research in Early Childhood Education.  Dr. Djonko-Moore’s research interests include culturally responsive teaching within early childhood contexts and the retention of teachers in schools that serve culturally and linguistically diverse children and children in poverty.

Karl Erickson
Art & Art History

Karl Erickson joins the Department of Art and Art History as Assistant Professor. He received his MFA in Studio Art from the California Institute of the Arts and his BFA in Sculpture from Wayne State University. He comes to Rhodes from Ball State University, where he served as Assistant Professor of Art. He has taught courses such as Introduction to Computer Art, Video Art, and Intermedia Art. He makes videos, performances and collages centering on themes of transformative experiences, self-betterment, UFO cults, environmentalism. He is interested in how belief systems are built, and how those systems lead people to take certain approaches to the world. Karl has lived in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Muncie. He has been an artist in residence in The Arctic Circle, at Signal Culture, and Field Projects.

Laura Beth Kelly
Educational Studies

Laura Beth Kelly joins the Educational Studies Program as Assistant Professor. She received her Ph.D. in Learning, Literacies, and Technologies from Arizona State University in 2018. During her time at ASU, she taught courses in Instructional Design for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students and in Language Arts Methods, Management, and Assessment. Laura's work revolves around elementary literacy instruction, particularly for bilingual students. She used to teach kindergarten in Memphis, and she is excited to be back in the city and supporting its teachers and schools.

Patrick Kelly
Biology

Patrick Kelly joins the Department of Biology as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Kelly received his Ph.D. from University of Notre Dame in 2016. He comes to Rhodes from Miami University, where he completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology. Dr. Kelly has taught courses including Fundamentals of Ecology and a seminar on Coupled Human and Natural Systems, both at Miami University. His research interests are centered around lake watershed influences on lake biogeochemistry and ecology, focusing on carbon and nutrients as they move from the landscape to the lake. Patrick loves being outdoors, and spends his non-academic time rock climbing, hiking, or canoeing.

Robert Laport
Biology

Robert Laport joins the Department of Biology as an Assistant Professor. He received a B.S. in Biology from Oregon State University, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from University of Rochester. He comes to Rhodes after serving as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Colorado – Boulder. Dr. Laport has taught classroom and field-based courses in Evolution, Ecology, and Speciation with an emphasis on plants. His research combines greenhouse and molecular components with field work in the deserts of the southwestern US and northern Mexico aimed at investigating the origins of new species and patterns of biodiversity. He enjoys hiking, botanizing, and travel.

Matthew Lammers
Anthropology & Sociology

Matt Lammers joins the Department of Anthropology and Sociology as Visiting Assistant Professor. Dr. Lammers received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2008. He comes to Rhodes from Southern Arkansas University, where he served as Assistant Professor. Dr. Lammers' research interests include the creation of community identity, authenticity, and the interplay between material culture, memory, and belonging.

Kristie Lipford
Urban Studies

Kristie J. Lipford joins the Urban Studies Program as Visiting Assistant Professor. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Southern Illinois University in 2013. Dr. Lipford comes to Rhodes from Emory School of Medicine, Department of Surgery where she completed a Clinical Research Postdoctoral Fellowship in kidney transplant disparities. Her research interests include health disparities, social and cultural determinants of chronic diseases, and health behaviors. She also has interests in urban development and the impact of built environments on health outcomes.

Abou-Baker Mamah
Modern Languages & Literatures

Abou-Baker Mamah joins the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures in the French Program as Assistant Professor. Abou-Bakar has an MA in French Language and Literature (with a concentration in literary criticism) from University of Lomé (Togo), and received his Ph.D. in French and Francophone Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2018. During his time at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, he taught courses in the French and Italian Department as well as the African American & African Studies Department.

Samson Ndanyi
History

Samson K. Ndanyi joins the Department of History as Visiting Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies. He holds a Ph.D. in African History and double minors in African American and African Diaspora (AAAD) and World History from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. He taught several courses that include American History and Medieval Heroes as an Associate Instructor. His research interests include Expressive Popular Cultures in Africa, Maritime Piracy in the Horn of Africa, Black Cinema, Black Protests, Child Labor, and African Diaspora. He likes indoor recreational activities, reggae concerts, and fine cuisine. 

Xosé Pereira Boán
Modern Languages & Literatures

Xosé Pereira Boán joins the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures as Assistant Professor of Spanish. He earned an MA in Early-Modern Hispanic Literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder and received his Ph.D. in Contemporary Peninsular Studies — with a concentration in memory and visual culture, from Tulane University in 2017. Other research areas are masculinity and violence, migration studies, along with transnational cultural productions. Over the past ten years, he has published peer-reviewed articles in Hispanic studies, and taught courses in film, literature and language in the US, as well as in Europe. Xosé is originally from Galicia —Northwestern Spain, and he enjoys food, music, nature, playing sports, and watching the Grizzlies.

Sarah Rollens
Religious Studies

Sarah Rollens continues her work in the Department of Religious Studies in her new tenure-track position as Assistant Professor. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 2013. She has been at Rhodes since 2015 and has taught courses such as The Bible and Social Identity, Apocalypse Then and Now, and The Bible: Texts and Contexts.

Jagori Saha
Economics

Jagori Saha joins the Department of Economics as a Visiting Instructor. She expects to receive her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Washington – Seattle in 2018. Before coming to Rhodes, she was a Grover and Creta Ensley Graduate Fellow in Economic Policy at the University of Washington – Seattle. Her dissertation is titled Consequences of Economic Development on Women’s Lives in India.

Ross Sowell
Mathematics & Computer Science

Ross Sowell joins the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science as an Assistant Professor.  Ross has a BS in Computer Science from Sewanee: The University of the South and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Washington University in St. Louis.  His research interests are in human-robot interaction, computer graphics, and computer science education.  He has taught computer science for the past seven years at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.  Ross grew up in Columbia, Tennessee, the "Mule Capital of the World", located ~200 miles east of Memphis.   He enjoys sports, food, books, and chasing Benjamin (age 7) and Elliott (age 4) around the house

Jenna Sprowles
Psychology

Jenna Sprowles joins the Department of Psychology as Assistant Professor. She received her BS in Cell and Molecular Biology and Psychology from Tulane University and her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology with an emphasis on Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Memphis. Dr. Sprowles comes to Rhodes after serving as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Division of Pediatric Neurology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and Research Foundation, where she studied how developmental exposure to SSRIs and PCBs elicits neurobehavioral alterations and learning and memory deficits in rodents. Jenna is originally from Memphis and enjoys traveling, reading, and gardening.

Lynn Washington
English

Lynn Washington joins the Department of English as Visiting Assistant Professor. She received her Ph.D. in English and Language Arts from Morgan State University in 2013. Dr. Washington comes to Rhodes from Kennesaw State University, where she served as a Lecturer in the Department of English. Her research interests include African American literature, anglophone Caribbean literature, ethnomusicology, and black popular culture.

Matt Weeks
Psychology

Matt Weeks continues his work in the Department of Psychology in his new tenure-track position as Assistant Professor. Dr. Weeks received his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, with a concentration in Social Psychology, from the University of Memphis in 2001. Before coming to Rhodes in 2015, he served on the faculty at Centenary College of Louisiana and Augustana College (IL). His research interests include the social cognition of religion, the influence of stereotypes on person perception processes, and the confounding of racial and social class prejudices and stereotypes.

Evan Williams
Music & Theatre

Evan Williams joins the Department of Music and Theatre as Assistant Professor and Director of Instrumental Activities. He received his Doctorate in Musical Arts in Composition from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati in 2016. He also holds degrees from Bowling Green State University and Lawrence University. Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Dr. Williams comes to Rhodes from Lawrence University, where he served as a Lecturer in Music. He has also held teaching positions at Bennington College, and at The Walden School’s Young Musicians Program. Williams will teach courses in composition, electronic music, music theory, music history, and will conduct the Rhodes Orchestra.

Joshua Yesnowitz
Political Science

Joshua Yesnowitz joins the Department of Political Science as Assistant Professor. Dr. Yesnowitz specializes in American political and intellectual development with a particular focus on the politics of higher education, social movements, minority politics, and youth political engagement. Before coming to Rhodes, Dr. Yesnowitz previously served as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Clarkson University and Williams College. He holds graduate degrees from Boston University (PhD in Political Science) and Boston College (MA in Political Science) and completed his undergraduate studies at Skidmore College (BA in Government and American Studies).

Chris Brunt
English

Chris Brunt joins the Department of English as Assistant Professor. He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2014. Before coming to Rhodes in 2017, he served as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Houston Honors College. His teaching interests include creative writing, world literature, and contemporary literature.

Shaolu Yu
Urban Studies

Shaolu Yu continues her work in the Urban Studies Program in her new tenure-track position as Assistant Professor. She received her Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Connecticut in 2015. She has been at Rhodes since 2015 and has taught courses such as Asian Urbanization through Cinema, Introduction to Urban Studies, and Exploring Diversity: Why Race, Gender, Culture Matters.