College Welcomes 30 New Faculty and Staff Members


This year, the College of Arts & Letters welcomes 30 new faculty and staff members. They include the following: 

Qais Assali

close up of man with dark brown hair and facial hair smiling in front of a black and whiteQais Assali, Visiting Assistant Professor and Artist-in-Residence, Department of Art, Art History, and Design, is a visual artist and educator. His work has been internationally exhibited including at Jeune création, Paris (2016); Tiradentes, Brazil (2016); The Overlook Place, Chicago (2018); and solo exhibitions at Akademirommet, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo (2015) and Khan Al Wakala, Nablus (2016). He has worked as a Lecturer, Research and Teaching Assistant, and Graphic Designer at a number of academic institutions in Palestine. He holds two master’s degrees – an M.F.A. from Bard College and an M.A. in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Cody Beebe

close up of man with a blue collared shirt smiling outside Cody Beebe, Secretary III, Department of English, comes to the College of Arts & Letters from MSU’s Accounting and Information Systems Department where he had worked since August 2016 as the Graduate Secretary and a Secretary II. Prior to MSU, he worked for VidCom Solutions as a Warehouse Manager and attended Alma College where he received his B.A. in Theatre. He also had worked as a Technical Assistant for the Alma College Heritage Center and was a Scene Shop Assistant.

Alexis Black

woman with long curly hair who is wearing a red shirt smilingAlexis Black, Assistant Professor, Department of Theatre, is an expert on acting, movement, and stage combat. She has choreographed the fights, movement, and/or intimacy for more than 40 productions in regional theatre, New York City, Europe, and Asia, including assisting on Broadway. Black received her M.F.A. in Performance Pedagogy with an emphasis in Acting and Movement from Virginia Commonwealth University and her B.F.A. in Performance from Ohio University. 

Silvina Bongiovanni 

woman with white shirt and long brown hair smilingSilvina Bongiovanni, Assistant Professor of Spanish Linguistics, Department of Romance and Classical Studies, received a dual Ph.D. in Linguistics and Hispanic Linguistics from Indiana University where she also received her M.A. in Hispanic Linguistics. In 2008, Bongiovanni received her Licenciatura in Letras from the Universidad de Buenos Aires. Her main work centers on the phonetic underpinnings of phonological variation. Her primary focus of inquiry explores variation in nasality (i.e. sounds that are produced with air passing through the nose as well as the mouth), both in vowels and in consonants. She also is interested in the acquisition of phonological systems by second language speakers and has examined the impact of learning context (study abroad vs. at home) on development of L2 sound systems. 

Christina Boyles

woman with short brown hair and light blue shirt holding books and laughingChristina Boyles, Assistant Professor of Culturally Engaged Digital Humanities, Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, is the founder of the Hurricane Memorial project and co-founder of the Makers by Mail project. Her research explores the relationship between surveillance, social justice, and the environment. Her published work appears in The Southern Literary JournalThe South Central Review, and Plath Profiles, and her forthcoming work will appear in Digital Humanities QuarterlyBodies of Information: Feminist Debates in the Digital HumanitiesAmerican Quarterly, and Studies in American Indian Literatures. Boyles received both her M.A. and Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from Baylor University. 

Amanda Brohman

close up of woman with long brown hair and brown shirt wearing glasses and smilingAmanda Brohman, Office Assistant III, The Writing Center, has worked at Michigan State University since 2013. Previously she worked for University Advancement and MSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. She holds a B.S. degree in Zoology and is pursuing her M.S. in Integrative Biology from MSU. Her research interests include evolution of temporal niche in mammals and museum specimen collection management. In her spare time, she volunteers for the Wharton Center for Performing Arts and Potter Park Zoo.

Kinitra Brooks 

close up of woman with short brown curly hair wearing a grey shirt and floral scarf smiling with green backgroundKinitra Brooks, the Audrey and John Leslie Endowed Chair of Literary Studies, Department of English, specializes in the study of black women, genre fiction, and popular culture. She previously taught at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) from 2008-2016 as a Postdoctoral Fellow, Assistant Professor, and Associate Professor, respectively. From 2016-2018, she served as the Ricardo K. Romo Endowed Professor of the Honors College at UTSA. She is widely recognized for her groundbreaking course that explored the theoretical, historical, and literary frameworks of black feminism, using Beyonce’s visual album Lemonade as a starting point. Brooks will be spending the 2018-2019 academic year at Harvard University as the Advancing Equity Through Research Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research. 

Edgar Cardenas

close up of man with short hair and black shirt in greyscaleEdgar Cardenas, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Center for Interdisciplinarity (C4I), holds a Ph.D. in Sustainability from Arizona State University and conducts research at the art-science interface. He recently completed an Andrew W. Mellon Research Fellowship at the University of Michigan with the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities where he focused on approaches for fostering productive artist-scientist collaborations. As a social scientist, he focuses on social creativity and small group dynamics, exploring which processes and mechanisms support creative collaborations. As an interdisciplinary artist, he investigates the ecological, cultural, and technological subtleties of human/environment relationships. He also is a member of the indigenous artist collective, Radio Healer. As a member of the C4I community, he will be leading research on various ways in which art can inform and enhance interdisciplinary research across campus.

Julian C. Chambliss

close up of a man with no hair wearing a dark brown button up shirt and glasses smiling against a white backgroundJulian C. Chambliss, Professor, Department of English with a joint appointment in the Department of History, is an interdisciplinary scholar who has designed museum exhibitions, curated art shows, and created public digital history projects that trace community, identity, and power in the American South. He is a core participant in the MSU College of Arts & Letters’ Critical Diversity in a Digital Age initiative. His research focuses on the race, identity, and power in real and imagined urban spaces. His newest books: Assembling the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Essays on the Social, Cultural and Geopolitical Domain (2018) explores questions of culture, identity, and politics in the MCU and Cities Imagined: The African Diaspora in Media and History (2018) is a reader that documents the African-American imaginary through primary and secondary sources focusing on media and culture.

Mark Davis

sparty logo against a dark green backdropMark Davis, Assistant Professor of Spanish, Department of Romance and Classical Studies, received both his Ph.D. in Hispanic Cultural Studies and M.A. in Hispanic Literatures from Michigan State University. He returns to MSU after serving as a Lecturer in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures at Christopher Newport University for two years and a Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages at Ohio University for a year. While working on his master’s and doctoral degrees at MSU, he served as a Research Assistant, Undergraduate Advisor in the Department of Romance and Classical Studies, and the Study Abroad Coordinator for Latin America, the Caribbean, France, Italy, and Spain.   

Heather Douglas

woman with blonde hair wearing a maroon turtle neck sweater leaning on table smiling Heather Douglas, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, is a philosopher of science with a research focus on the relationship between science and democracy, the nature of scientists’ responsibility in and for science, and science-policy interfaces such as science advising, science funding, and science communication. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation. She has been recognized as a Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Institute for Science, Society, and Policy at the University of Ottawa. Douglas comes to Michigan State University from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, where she was an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy, the Waterloo Chair in Science and Society, Associate Director of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE), and Professor at the Balsillie School of International Affairs Innovation. She earned her Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Pittsburgh.

Ryan Frederick 

close up of short brown hair and beard wearing a blue button up shirt smilingRyan Frederick, Academic Specialist and Videographer, Dean’s Office, is an award-winning filmmaker and producer. His work has received numerous recognitions at film festivals in the United States, and his background includes extensive client work with Michigan State University, Kettering University, Harley Davidson, U.S. Navy, McLaren Health, Lansing Public Schools, The Conservation Fund, and Herman Miller just to name a few. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2012 with a B.A. in Media Arts and Technology and a concentration in TV, Cinema, and Radio. 

Thomas Hakes

sparty head logo on dark green backdropThomas Hakes, Academic Technology Coordinator, Dean’s Office, comes to the College of Arts & Letters from Michigan State University’s IT Services where he had worked since 2008. In his role with IT Services, he served as an Information Technologist maintaining, installing, and upgrading the wireless connectivity on campus. Prior to his work with the wireless network, he was a member of the Tier One Technical Support Team. In addition to working with IT Services, Hakes also worked for MSU’s University Services for several years.

David Howe

close up of balding man wearing a plaid button up shirt smilingDavid Howe, Specialist and Learning Designer, Academic Technology Office in the College of Arts & Letters and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, is an experienced educational technologist and web consultant. He served as an Educational Technologist, Web Consultant, and Teaching Lab Manager at Rutgers University for 10 years prior to coming to Michigan State University. Additionally, he received his M.S. in Natural Resources Conservation from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 2002 and has held the position of Lecturer, Instructor, and Advisor at Princeton University, Rutgers, and Elizabeth City State University. 

David Humphrey

close up of man with no hair and glasses wearing a white dress shirtDavid Humphrey, Assistant Professor of Japanese and Global Studies, Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages, received both his Ph.D. in Japanese with a designated emphasis in New Media and his M.A. in Japanese from the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on literature, media, and culture of modern and contemporary Japan. He has worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture at both Middlebury College and the University of Notre Dame. He has had multiple articles published in The Journal of Japanese Studies, Japanese Studies Association Journal, and Japan Forum. Humphrey currently is working on a book manuscript that examines laughter and comedy’s rise in late 20th and early 21st century Japanese media culture, titled Warai: Laughter’s Temporality and the Media Cultures of Japan

Sarah Jackson

close up of woman with long dark brown hair wearing a green shirt and glassesSarah Jackson, Administrative Assistant I, Department of Art, Art History, and Design, is a College of Arts & Letters alumna with a B.A. in Professional Writing. She previously worked for the Michigan Humanities Council where she served as the Program Assistant and Office Manager. She also works as a freelance editor and serves as a board member for the local nonprofit Mid-Michigan Massage Therapy Institute. 

Joseph Jalbert

man with short light brown hair and short beard wearing a blue shirt smiling sitting in a blue chairJoseph Jalbert, Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages, holds four degrees from MSU’s College of Arts & Letters. He received a B.A. in Linguistics and a B.A. in Spanish in 2007, an M.A. in Linguistics in 2012, and a Ph.D. in Linguistics in 2016. He spent the last two years at the University of Iceland as a Post-Doctoral Researcher focusing on neuro and psycholinguistic research on compounds. His research interests also include minimalist syntax, child language acquisition, variation in syntax, and semantics. Previously, he served as an Adjunct Instructor of Linguistics at Michigan State University, Oakland University, and Alma College.

Mikki Kressbach

woman with short brown hair wearing a tan shirt smilingMikki Kressbach, Post-Doctoral Fellow in Film Studies, Department of English, received her Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies from the University of Chicago. Her dissertation was titled Perfect Contagion Machine: Digital Media, Scientific Evidence, and Emergent Outbreaks on Screen. Kressbach’s areas of interest include the representation of science and medicine in popular culture, new media theory, the horror genre, post-war French film and theory, and contemporary Hollywood cinema. At Michigan State University, she will be teaching courses in the Film Studies Program. 

Rachel Levy

woman with short brown hair wearing a plaid button up shirt in greyscaleRachel Levy, Post-Doctoral Fellow in Creative Writing, Department of English, is a published author of the novel, A Book So Red, and a story collection, titled Necessary Objects. She is the Co-Founder and Editor of Dreginald Magazine, an online literary magazine. Levy received her Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing (fiction) from the University of Utah where she received the Clarence Snow Memorial Fellowship in 2013 and the François Camoin Dissertation Fellowship in 2017. She will be teaching courses in fiction and creative writing.

Brooke Linsenbardt

woman with brown hair wearing a black blazer smiling Brooke Linsenbardt, Pre-Doctoral Fellow, American Indian and Indigenous Studies, will receive her Ph.D. in American History and a certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from Texas A&M University in May 2019. Her dissertation is titled For Being: Indigenous Women’s Educational (Re)imaginings in the 1970s and 1980s. At MSU, she plans on teaching the Introduction to American Indian and Indigenous Studies Course and participate in the Indigenous Youth Empowerment Program and the Indigenous Studies Writing Group. Linsenbardt has spoken at Native American and Indigenous Studies and women’s conferences around the country. 

Helina Metaferia

close up of woman with black braided hair wearing black shirt smiling in front of a brick wallHelina Metaferia, Visiting Assistant Professor and Artist-in-Residence of Critical Race Studies, Department of Art, Art History, and Design, is an interdisciplinary artist working in performance, video, installation, and collage. Her work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions at venues including the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, California; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; New Museum, New York, New York; Galeria Labirynt, Lublin, Poland; and Museum of Modern Art, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her most recent solo exhibition, Refiguring the Canon, is on view at the Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington, D.C., until September 15. Metaferia received her M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Art in 2015 from Tufts University’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Andrew Murray

man with black striped polo wearing glasses and straw hat in front of a gateAndrew Murray, Undergraduate Specialist and Advisor, Department of English and Film Studies Program, is a two-time MSU alumnus, having earned his B.A. in English from the College of Arts & Letters and M.A. in Student Affairs Administration from the College of Education. He worked previously for MSU’s Honors College for more than five years where he was part of an advising team responsible for more than 4,000 Honors College members. 

Gregory Owen

close up of man with short brown hair and goatee wearing a green poloGregory Owen, Assistant Technical Director of MSU Theatre and Technical Director of Summer Circle Theatre, Department of Theatre, has an M.F.A. in Theatre Design from The Ohio State University and a B.F.A. in Design Tech Theatre from Otterbein College. He comes to Michigan State University from the University of Wyoming where he was the Technical Director and a Visiting Lecturer. Prior to that, he was the Associate Technical Director at the McCain Auditorium at Kansas State University. He also served as Faculty Technical Director at Santa Fe University of Art and Design and spent five years as the Technical Director, Scenic and Lighting Designer at The Ohio State University at Lima campus. Owen has had a successful career as a stagehand doing film and television as well as working backstage for rock and roll, operas, ballets, and theatre.

William Reyes-Cubides

close up of man with brown hair and earrings wearing a dress shirt vest and tieWill Reyes-Cubides, Spanish Language Coordinator, Department of Romance and Classical Studies, has varying degrees of proficiency in French, Latin, and Italian, is natively fluent in Spanish, and is nearly native fluent in English. He founded and served as President of the Romance Languages Graduate Association at Boston College, where he received his M.A. in Romance Studies, Hispanic Studies in 2005. Prior to that, he attended Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá, Colombia. There, he received his Licenciatura in Spanish and English Studies. He also has an M.A. in Applied Linguistics and Education from Universidad Pedagógica Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá, Colombia.

Víctor Rodríguez-Pereira

close up of man with mustache and short beard wearing a suit at a boat dockVíctor Rodríguez-Pereira, Assistant Professor, Department of Romance and Classical Studies, is a native speaker of Spanish, fluent in English, and an advanced speaker, writer, and reader of Italian and Catalan, among many other languages. He comes to MSU from the University of Michigan where he was a lecturer in the Department of Romance Languages for three years and taught courses in Spanish. He received his Ph.D. in Spanish with a minor in Medieval Studies from Indiana University in May 2018. 

Laura Scales 

close up of woman with curly black hair wearing large orange sweater and glassesLaura Scales, Production Manager, Department of Theatre, has been professionally stage managing and production managing for more than 10 years. She comes to Michigan State University from the University of Chicago where she served as the Production Manager for University Theatre for more than eight years. She also was the Production Manager for the Emerald City Theatre for three years and she did a production management apprenticeship at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. She has served as the Resident Stage Manager at the Dorset Theater Festival in Vermont and the Stage Manager for the Human Festival in Chicago. She received a B.F.A. in Stage Management in 2006 from DePaul University. 

Christie Schichtel

close up of woman with brown hair and dark blue shirt wearing glasses and smilingChristie Schichtel, Career Consultant, Dean’s Office, comes to the College of Arts & Letters from the MSU Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement where she served as the Program Manager of Community Engaged Learning. Schichtel brings a deep knowledge of the nonprofit sector and has several existing connections across the university with both faculty and staff. She has a proven track record in program management, student mentorship, and in relationship development. She is known for her experience, passion for helping students, and relationship-building skills. She holds a B.A. in French from Grand Valley State University and an M.S.W. from the University of Michigan. 

Tanner Schudlich

close up of man with brown hair and grey sweater wearing glasses in front of a houseTanner Schudlich, Secretary III, Department of Romance and Classical Studies, began his MSU career in the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages in October 2017 and recently was promoted to Secretary III in RCS. He holds a B.A.A. in Family Studies and English with a concentration in Applied Linguistics from Central Michigan University. He also worked as a Multicultural Advisor at CMU and continues to be involved with Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Justice work. In June, Schudlich received the Diversity, Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Support Staff award at the College of Arts & Letters Staff Appreciation Ceremony

Ryan Welsh

close up of man with brown hair and blue shirt Ryan Welsh, Assistant Professor, Department of Theatre, has worked professionally as an actor, director, and writer in Los Angeles for nearly a decade. His most recent writing/directing film venture, Outpost, received its U.S. premiere at the esteemed Dances with Films festival this past summer. He has worked as a screenwriter for production companies and independent producers on several films and series. Welsh received his M.F.A. in Acting from the University of California, Irvine, and his B.A. in Theatre Performance from Western Michigan University.

Laura Yares

close up of woman with long brown hair wearing a red shirt and smiling Laura Yares, Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, works on modern Judaism, with a particular interest in Jewish education. After completing her Ph.D. in Religious Studies at Georgetown University, she spent four years as Director of Educational Research at Hillel International, a Jewish nonprofit, where she developed research and training in experiential education. She is currently at work on a book-length manuscript based on her doctoral dissertation, exploring the development of supplemental religious schools in American Judaism, as well as on a new project investigating Jewish learning in cultural arts contexts.