New Faculty 2019-2020

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Maya Abtahian

Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics

Maya Abtahian became an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics in 2016, one year after coming to Rochester as a visiting professor. For six years before that, Abtahian taught at the University of New Hampshire, first as a lecturer in linguistics and then as an as-sistant professor of linguistics.

Abtahian studies variation in the sound and structure of language, especially in the context of social changes like language endangerment. One of her current research projects involves studying the “Rochester Accent,” part of the Inland North dialect region, in light of recent social and economic changes in the area.

Her published work has appeared in the Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, the Journal of Sociolinguistics, the Journal of Southeast Asian Linguistics, the International Journal of the Sociology of Language, and Language Documentation & Conservation, among others.

Abtahian serves as an associate editor for Asia Pacific Language Variation and has been a reviewer for several journals, including International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics, and Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. In the fall of 2019, Abtahian will be teaching Language and Social Identity and Topics in Language Variance and Change.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, linguistics, Cornell University
  • Graduate degree(s): PhD, linguistics, University of Pennsylvania
  • Most recent appointment(s): assistant professor of linguistics at the University of New Hampshire
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Dan Alexander

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Dan Alexander joins the faculty from Vanderbilt University, where he was a postdoctoral scholar at Vanderbilt’s Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions.

His research explores the processes that elected officials, policymakers, and other administrative leaders use to shape governmental policies and priorities. The work is part of a larger examination of electoral and distributive politics, including the ways in which incumbency, ideology, campaign spending, and other factors influence election outcomes and policymaking.

A recipient of research support from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the National Opinion Research Center, he has recently published research in the Journal of Politics and International Studies Quarterly, and he has papers under review at other leading journals.

At Rochester, Alexander teaches classes on Congress, on American democracy, and on how food policy is shaped by political decision making. At Vanderbilt, he was an instructor for a math camp for political science graduate students.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): AB, political science and economics, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Graduate degree(s): PhD, public policy, University of Chicago
  • Most recent appointment(s): postdoctoral scholar at Vanderbilt University
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Travis Baseler

Assistant Professor, Department of Economics

Travis Baseler joins the Department of Economics as an assistant professor after earning his PhD in economics from Stanford University.

Baseler’s research interests include applied microeconomics and the economic development processes in low-income countries. He is currently studying the reasons for low rural-to-urban migration rates in Kenya, despite significantly higher pay levels in cities for workers with the same levels of education.

Among his other current projects are an exploration of the emigration of refugees and economic migrants from the collapsed Soviet Union and its satellite states, and an evaluation of an aid-sharing program between refugees and the host community in Uganda to test whether sharing aid can increase support for the right-to-work refugee hosting model.

Baseler was awarded a Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research Fellowship and twice received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award from Stanford’s Department of Economics.

He will teach courses in development economics.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, economics and mathematics, Columbia University
  • Graduate degree(s): PhD, economics, Stanford University
  • Most recent appointment(s): graduate student at Stanford University
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Gaston Chaumont

Assistant Professor, Department of Economics

Gaston Chaumont joins the Department of Economics as an assistant professor, after receiving his PhD in economics from Pennsylvania State University.

Chaumont’s research interests are in the areas of macroeconomics, labor economics, international macroeconomics, and monetary economics. His current work explores the relationships between the default risk of government bonds and the liquidity of secondary markets for these assets and interactions between households’ wealth accumulation and job search decisions, and their implications for inequalities in income, wealth, and consumption.

Previously, Chaumont studied the evolution of Chile’s vulnerability to external shocks after the introduction of structural reforms in monetary and fiscal policies.

Chaumont will teach courses on the economics of globalization and international economics.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Argentina
  • Graduate degree(s): PhD, economics, Pennsylvania State University
  • Most recent appointment(s): graduate student at Pennsylvania State University
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Jack Downey

Associate Professor, John Henry Newman Professor in Roman Catholic Studies, Department of Religion and Classics

Jack Downey joins Rochester’s faculty as an associate professor in the Department of Religion and Classics, where he also holds the John Henry Newman Professorship in Roman Catholic Studies.

Downey is the author of The Bread of the Strong: Lacouturisme and the Folly of the Cross, 1910–1985 (Fordham University Press, 2015). In progress is his book A Burnt Offering: Self-Immolation, Martyrdom, and Horror. He has also published work in Religion and Politics, The Baffler, and American Catholic Studies as well as America Magazine: The Jesuit Review and Journal of Religion and Violence.

Before Rochester, Downey was an associate professor of religion and theology at LaSalle University. There, he taught courses on contemporary spirituality, peace and social justice, Catholicism in the United States, and theologies of liberation.

He is the recipient of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion Workshop Fellowship (2017–18), and he has received an American Catholic Historical Association Research Grant (2016). 

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, religion and religious studies, Wesleyan University
  • Graduate degree(s): MTS, American religious history, Harvard Divinity School; MPhil and
  • PhD, theology/theological studies, Fordham University
  • Most recent appointment(s): associate professor of religion and theology at La Salle University
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Ruben Flores

Associate Professor, Department of History

Ruben Flores joins the faculty from the University of Kansas, where he was an associate professor of American studies with an appointment in history since 2007.

An intellectual and cultural historian of the United States and Mexico, Flores is the author of Backroads Pragmatists: Mexico’s Melting Pot and Civil Rights in the United States (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), which won the best book of the year award from the Society for United States Intellectual History. He also has authored book chapters that have appeared in American Labyrinth: Intellectual History for Complicated Times (Cornell University Press, 2018), Pragmatism in the Americas (Fordham University Press, 2011) and América Latina y la Revolución Mexicana (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2010). 

He is the recipient of two postdoctoral fellowships and two visiting fellowships—at the Smithsonian Institution, the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, and the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University. 

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, Princeton University
  • Graduate degree(s): MA and PhD, history, University of California, Berkeley
  • Most recent appointment(s): associate professor of American studies at the University of Kansas
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Manuel Gomez-Ramirez

Assistant Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Manuel Gomez-Ramirez joins the faculty from Brown University, where he served as a research associate in the department of neuroscience. Previously, he was a postdoctoral research associate at Johns Hopkins University, studying the neural processes of tactile perception.

Gomez-Ramirez’s current research focuses on the neural mechanisms that mediate haptics—interactions involving the sense of touch. He uses imaging, electrophysiology, and optogenetic tools to study the dynamics between sensory and motor neural circuits that enable object recognition and grasping with the hands. Better understanding sensory and motor integration will allow researchers to develop more accurate models of how our hands and brains work together to perceive and manipulate objects. A major long-term goal of his research is to optimize neural stimulation strategies for integrating artificial prosthetic devices with brain signals.

Gomez-Ramirez’s work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals including PloS Biology, Neuron, and the Journal of Neuroscience.

In addition to his research, Gomez-Ramirez will teach undergraduate and graduate courses and mentor PhD students.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, psychology, Manhattanville College
  • Graduate degree(s): PhD, psychology, Graduate Center of the City University of New York
  • Most recent appointment(s): research associate at Brown University
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Nadine Grimm

Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics

Nadine Grimm is an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics. Before coming to Rochester in 2014, Grimm was finishing her PhD in African linguistics at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in Germany.

Grimm investigates and helps to preserve linguistic diversity by documenting and describing understudied and endangered languages with a geographical focus on Africa.

Her doctoral work entailed 19 months of fieldwork in Cameroon to investigate the endangered language Gyeli, which is spoken by Pygmy hunter-gatherers. She won the prestigious Panini Award for her completed dissertation, “Grammar of Gyeli.”

The documentary corpus of video recordings she collected during the project is accessible in “The Language Archive,” part of the UNESCO Memory of the World.

She is currently studying the role of tone in the grammar of Bantu languages.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, general linguistics, University of Bielefeld
  • Graduate degree(s): MA, African studies, German linguistics, and French, Institute for Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; PhD, linguistics, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Most recent appointment(s): doctoral student at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
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Cory Hunter

Assistant Professor, Department of Music

Cory Hunter begins a dual appointment as assistant professor in the Department of Music and assistant professor of musicology at the Eastman School of Music. A 2018–19 postdoctoral fellow at the University’s Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies, Hunter joined Rochester from Brandeis University, where he taught courses on the history of black gospel music and the social and theological development of the black church in America.

He is currently working on a book, The Politics of Spiritual Realism in Gospel Music Discourse and Practice, which examines black gospel music in the 21st century. He is the recipient of several fellowships, including the Carter G. Woodson predoctoral fellowship at the University of Virginia, and he has studied abroad at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music’s study tour in Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Italy, and Austria. 

Hunter’s music career began as a soprano soloist for the renowned Boys Choir of Harlem. He has toured internationally, performing in concert halls across Europe and Canada as well as in leading US venues such as the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and the Apollo Theater. He has also performed on Good Morning America, Nightline, and other television programs.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BM, vocal performance, Eastman School of Music
  • Graduate degree(s): MDiv, Yale Divinity School; MA and PhD, musicology, Princeton University
  • Most recent appointment(s): lecturer and postdoctoral fellow in American studies at Brandeis University
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Mayya Komisarchik

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Mayya Komisarchik is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science. Most recently a doctoral student at Harvard University, she focuses her scholarly interests on racial and ethnic politics, representation, the Voting Rights Act, policing, immigration, and political incorporation.

She applies a data-analysis-informed approach in her research and teaching to explore American politics and the methodologies that can be used to analyze public policymaking. Her work has appeared in journals such as the American Journal of Political Science (forthcoming) as well as IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics. She has research under way on the Voting Rights Act, partisanship in political decision making, diversity in policing, electoral representation, and other topics.

As a doctoral student at Harvard, Komisarchik taught courses on research methodology and quantitative methods in statistics and political science. She was recognized for her teaching by a Harvard program designed to support experimentation, innovation, and evidence-based practices in teaching. Before graduate school, she was an assistant economist at the US Federal Reserve Bank in New York. 

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, international political economy, Colorado College
  • Graduate degree(s): AM and PhD, government, Harvard University
  • Most recent appointment(s): doctoral student at Harvard University
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Bonnie Le

Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology

Bonnie Le joins the faculty from the University of Toronto, where she earned her PhD in 2015 in psychology. Most recently, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. 

Her research focuses on how emotions and motivation shape well-being in interpersonal relationships. In particular, she examines how and when the regulation of emotions, the perception of emotions, and the motivation to care for others predict well-being. Given that supportive relationships are vital to psychological and physical health, Le explores how emotional and motivational processes may help or hinder the maintenance of satisfying relationships.

Le has authored scholarly articles that have appeared in Psychological Bulletin, Psychological Science, and Social Psychological and Personality Science, among other journals, as well as in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

A recipient of the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, Le also received a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, an Ontario Trillium Scholarship, and a University of Florida College of Liberal Arts and Science award. 

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, psychology, and BA, integrative biology, University of California, Berkeley
  • Graduate degree(s): MS, social psychology, University of Florida; PhD, psychology, University of Toronto
  • Most recent appointment(s): postdoctoral fellow at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto
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Sarah C. Mangelsdorf

Professor, Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology

University President Sarah C. Mangelsdorf joins the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology as a professor. Previously, she was a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she was also provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

A child and family psychologist, Mangelsdorf focuses her scholarship on the social and emotional development of infants and young children. Exploring in particular the interactions that take place among and between parents, children, and other family members, Mangelsdorf is interested in understanding how family dynamics influence the ability of children to develop a sense of self and well-being, levels of attachment among family members, marital satisfaction and the factors that affect it, and other aspects of social and psychological development.

She is the author or contributor to more than 50 peer-reviewed research publications in her field’s leading journals, including Child Development, Infant Behavior and Development, the Journal of Family Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and others. A fellow of the American Psychological Association, she has been recognized for her research, teaching, mentorship, and administrative leadership by colleagues throughout her career.

Mangelsdorf teaches courses on personality and social development and child psychology as well as infant and emotional development.

As president of the University, she also holds the G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professorship.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, psychology, Oberlin College
  • Graduate degree(s): PhD, child psychology, University of Minnesota
  • Most recent appointment(s): professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Molly McNulty

Assistant Professor of Public Health, Multidisciplinary Studies Center

Molly McNulty joins the University faculty as an assistant professor of public health in the Multidisciplinary Studies Center. She returns to the University’s full-time faculty in the public health–related majors program, where she has been an adjunct since 2016. From 1996 to 2004, McNulty was a member of the faculty of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, where her research focused on access to medical care for low-income adolescents. She most recently worked as an editor for the nation’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters Westlaw, winning awards for performance and innovation. 

An attorney who specializes in health law and public policy with a focus on public health and vulnerable populations, such as poor children, McNulty is interested in the policymaking process, particularly the role played by advocates and other stakeholders outside of government.

In the fall semester, McNulty will be teaching Healthcare and the Law, while developing a new course, Maternal Child Health Policy and Advocacy. Her particular teaching focus is on social justice and the right to health care. She shares her time between the River Campus and the medical school, where she contributes to the master’s in public health program.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, American studies, Smith College
  • Graduate degree(s): JD, New York University School of Law
  • Most recent appointment(s): editor at Thomson Reuters, West Publishing; adjunct lecturer in public health at the University of Rochester
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Matthew Omelsky

Assistant Professor, Department of English

Matthew Omelsky joins the faculty as an assistant professor of English. A specialist in world Anglophone literatures with an emphasis on African and Caribbean literatures, he received a PhD in English at Duke University.

Omelsky’s doctoral research was on global black cultures and utopian desire. At Duke, he taught courses on the novel; literature and the environment; and cyborgs and aliens in science fiction, fantasy, and horror literature.

He has published articles in the journals Research in African Literatures, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, and Cultural Critique. He coedited “Climate Change and the Production of Knowledge,” a special issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly, in 2017. His awards include a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

At Rochester, Omelsky will teach courses on African diasporic literature and film as well as develop new curriculum in conjunction with the Frederick Douglass Institute and other initiatives in global cultures and literatures on campus.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, Africana studies, political science, New York University
  • Graduate degree(s): MPS, Africana studies, Cornell University; PhD, English, Duke University
  • Most recent appointment(s): the Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in African American Studies at Penn State University
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Joanna (Asia) Pietraszko

Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics

Joanna (Asia) Pietraszko is an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics. She joins the Rochester faculty following two years as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Connecticut, where she taught courses on syntax and the science and field methods of linguistics.

Working primarily in the areas of morphology—how words are formed and how they relate to each other—and syntax—the study of sentence structure, Pietraszko explores the fundamental properties common to all human languages. With an emphasis on the Slavic and Bantu languages, she analyzes and compares the structure of sentences and words in unrelated languages.

Pietraszko’s work has been published in the journals Syntax and Natural Language and Linguistic Theory. She has served as a research proposal reviewer for the National Science Foundation and has organized several conferences, including the 49th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society and the 20th Central European Summer School in Generative Grammar, held in Wroclaw, Poland.

Pietraszko will teach courses on syntax for both undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, English philology, University of Wroclaw
  • Graduate degree(s): MA, English philology, University of Wroclaw; PhD, linguistics, University of Chicago
  • Most recent appointment(s): visiting assistant professor at the University of Connecticut
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Martina Poletti

Assistant Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Martina Poletti joins the faculty from Boston University, where she was a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

Poletti’s research focuses on how humans perceive the world by taking in visual information through a combination of sensory processing, motor behavior, and attention. In particular, she studies the foveola, a small region of the retina that, although it is essential for vision, researchers know surprisingly little about how it operates. Poletti studies how the foveola works in tandem with microscopic eye movements and attention to enable vision.

Poletti has received grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and Oculus/Facebook Reality Labs. She received the 2018 Furth Fund Award at the University of Rochester, which helps foster the development of promising scientists in the natural and biological sciences. Her work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Current Biology, Nature Neuroscience, and the Journal of Neuroscience.

A member of the brain and cognitive science and neuroscience programs since July 2017, Poletti will teach the undergraduate course Foundations of Cognitive Science.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BS, cognitive sciences and psychobiology, University of Padova
  • Graduate degree(s): PhD, cognitive and neural systems, Boston University
  • Most recent appointment(s): research assistant professor at Boston University
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Mical Raz

Associate Professor, Charles E. and Dale L. Phelps Professor in Public Policy and Health, Department of History

Mical Raz joins the faculty from the Sentara Medical Group in Norfolk, Virginia, where she was a hospitalist since 2017. Before that, she was an advanced fellow at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center and a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania.

A historian of American psychiatry, Raz explores the intersection of psychiatry, poverty, and politics. Her current research project is a history of child abuse policy in the United States from the 1970s and onward. The book, tentatively titled Abusive Policies: Race, Poverty and the Making of American Child Abuse, is under contract with the University of North Carolina Press.

She is the author of The Lobotomy Letters: The Making of American Psychosurgery (University of Rochester Press, 2013), which was awarded the Jack D. Pressman-Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Development Award. Her second book, What’s Wrong with the Poor? Race, Psychiatry and the War on Poverty (University of North Carolina, 2013), was a 2015 Choice Outstanding Academic Title. 

A physician, Raz will also hold an appointment as a hospitalist at the University’s Medical Center. She will teach courses on American health policy and politics and on the US health system.

  • Undergraduate degrees(s): BMSc, medical sciences, Tel Aviv University
  • Graduate degree(s): MS, health policy research, University of Pennsylvania; MD and PhD, Tel Aviv University
  • Most recent appointment(s): hospitalist physician at Sentara Medical Group in Norfolk, Virginia
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Karl Rosengren

Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences with a joint appointment in the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology

Karl Rosengren joins the faculty after serving as a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Previously, he was a psychology professor at Northwestern University and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Rosengren is a developmental psychologist whose research focuses on how children and adults develop cognitive and motor skills to adapt to environmental changes across their lifespans. In the area of cognitive research, Rosengren examines how children reason about the world and come to separate what is possible from what is impossible. In the area of motor development, he is primarily interested in how children and adults maintain balance and acquire motor skills.

Rosengren is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. He has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the US Department of Homeland Security, and the National Institutes of Health. His work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Child Development, Psychological Science, Journal of Aging Research, Gerontology, and Science. He has coedited several books, monographs, and textbooks. 

In addition to conducting research, Rosengren will teach undergraduate and graduate courses in developmental psychology, cognitive development, and research methods.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, chemistry, College of Wooster
  • Graduate degree(s): PhD, developmental and child psychology, University of Minnesota
  • Most recent appointment(s): professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison
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James Rosenow

Assistant Professor, Department of English

James Rosenow joins the faculty as an assistant professor of English. She studies early film history and the development of cinematic languages.

She received a PhD in cinema and media studies at the University of Chicago, where she also was a postdoctoral fellow in the humanities. At Chicago, she taught courses on film and the moving image, introductory film, and the relationship of comics to art-making practices and contemporary cinema.

Her publications include essays in the volumes A Global History of Amateur Film Cultures (Indiana University Press, forthcoming 2020) and I Am Already Dead: Essays on The CW’s and Vertigo’s iZombie (McFarland Publishers, forthcoming 2020).

Rosenow held a predoctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and received a Mellon Humanities Dissertation Completion Fellowship. While a graduate student at Williams College, she curated exhibitions and produced film and video work.

She will teach courses in early and classic cinema. She will also be affiliated with and contribute to the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies as well as the Film and Media Studies program and the Selznick Graduate Program in Film Conservation and Criticism.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, history of art, film studies, Johns Hopkins University
  • Graduate degree(s): MA, art history, Williams College; PhD, cinema and media studies, University of Chicago
  • Most recent appointment(s): postdoctoral teaching fellow in the humanities at the University of Chicago
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Rita Safariants

Assistant Professor of Russian, Department of Modern Languages and Cultures

Rita Safariants joins the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures as an assistant professor of Russian. Previously she was at St. Olaf College, where she was an assistant professor in the Department of Russian Language and Area Studies. 

Safariants is a specialist in late-Soviet, post-Soviet, and contemporary Russian literature and media—and the ways in which they engage the Russian literary canon—and in imperial and Soviet performance and film cultures. She has taught courses in Russian language and courses on such subjects as the Russian novel, short story, and drama; Russian women writers; the Russian press; and Soviet rock-and-roll culture. 

Safariants’s publications include articles in the volumes MLA Approaches to Teaching the Works of Chekhov (MLA, 2016) and Ruptures and Continuities in Soviet/Russian Cinema (Routledge, 2018) and in the journal Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema. She is completing a study of the role of rock music in the last decade of Soviet cinema and is at work on a project about late Soviet cultural production.

She will teach courses in Russian language, literature, cinema, and official and underground culture.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, English, University of Washington
  • Graduate degree(s): MPhil and PhD, Slavic languages and literatures, Yale
  • Most recent appointment(s): assistant professor, Department of Russian Language and Area Studies, St. Olaf College; visiting assistant professor of Russian studies, Vassar College
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Missy Pfohl Smith

Professor of Instruction, Director of the Program of Dance and Movement

Missy Pfohl Smith begins an appointment as professor of instruction at the University, where she has been director of the Program of Dance and Movement since 2010 and an adjunct faculty member since 2007. In 2018, Smith was appointed director of the Institute for the Performing Arts.

A choreographer, performing artist, and dance company leader, Smith has performed and taught across the United States as well as in Greece, Japan, Poland, Germany, Scotland, Estonia, and Finland. As the founder and artistic director of the Rochester-based modern dance company BIODANCE, she has established collaborations with internationally known multidisciplinary artists to explore social, political, and environmental issues through performances and other presentations.

Before joining the Rochester faculty, Smith was as assistant professor in the dance department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Smith regularly presents at the National Dance Education Organization Conference and the American College Dance Association Conference. She also conducts arts-in-education workshops and classes in the Rochester community. She is a member of the Rochester Fringe Festival Board of Directors.

Smith teaches courses in contemporary dance, performance and collaboration, and multimedia and choreography.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BS, dance, SUNY College at Brockport
  • Graduate degree(s): MFA, choreography and performance, Sarah Lawrence College
  • Most recent appointment(s): director of the Program of Dance and Movement at the University of Rochester
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Alexis Stein

Assistant Professor of Instruction, Department of Biology

Alexis Stein joins the faculty after completing her PhD in biology at the University of Rochester. Stein previously served as an adjunct instructor in the biology department, where she developed two new laboratory courses designed to give students broader experience in core biological principles and techniques.

As a PhD student, Stein focused her research on how DNA repairs itself in mitochondria, one of two cellular homes for the human genome. Stein studied how the DNA located in mitochondria repairs a specific type of lesion in a species of yeast, identifying proteins that are key in mitochondrial repair pathways.

Stein received a teaching innovation grant from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and her research has appeared in peer-reviewed journals including PLOS Genetics and Genetics. 

Stein will teach and mentor undergraduate students in the biology department.

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, history, University of Michigan
  • Graduate degree(s): PhD, biology, University of Rochester
  • Most recent appointment(s): adjunct professor at the University of Rochester
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Rosa Terlazzo

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy

Rosa Terlazzo joins the faculty as an associate professor of philosophy. A specialist in social, political, and moral philosophy, she previously was at Kansas State University, where she was an assistant professor.

Terlazzo has published research in such journals as the Journal of Global Ethics, the Canadian Journal of Philosophy, the Journal of Political Philosophy, and the Journal of the American Philosophical Association. At Kansas State, she taught courses on such topics as the philosophy of law, global justice, the philosophy of race and gender, and contemporary debates in feminism.

At Rochester, she will teach courses in social and political philosophy, global justice, feminist philosophy, and philosophy of law. She will also coach the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team, which is jointly sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program.

She spent the 2016–17 academic year at Tulane University, where she was a Faculty Fellow at the Murphy Institute, which is in part a center dedicated to understanding the moral and ethical bases of social systems. 

  • Undergraduate degree(s): BA, philosophy, and BA, religion, Bucknell University
  • Graduate degree(s): MA, philosophy, Rhodes University; PhD, philosophy, Australian National University
  • Most recent appointment(s): assistant professor of philosophy at Kansas State University; Murphy Institute Faculty Fellow at Tulane University