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I grew up in Virginia in a small town and received a Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. After completing my Ph. D. work at Oxford and teaching for two years at The University of California at Irvine, I came to Denison where I have spent the last 12 years. I have a wife, Nancy, and two kids, Joseph (14) and Emily (11). Mathematically, I am interested in operator theory, probability, and statistics. Outside of mathematics, I am interested in Jesus Christ first and foremost. I am also interested in games, history, sports statistics, indie rock, and showing mercy to the poor, lonely, and marginalized.
Selected student research projects:
- Modeling player value in the NBA, Danny Persia, Summer 2013 (awarded a Pi Mu Epsilon Research Presentation Award, Math Fest 2013)
- Metric-linear characterizations of operator algebra structures, Matt Gibson, 2012-2013 (presented at Joint AMS/MAA meetings, 2013)
- Toward a metric-linear characterizations of operator algebras, Nathan Zakhari, 2010-2011 (awarded a research presentation award, Math Fest 2010)
- Toward a classification of n-uniform frames in linear coding theory, Glen Sutula, 2011 (presented at Math Fest 2010)
Recently, I have done research with students in NBA basketball analytics. I try to determine what players are worth, which five man-units play well together, and which coaching strategies are most successful. To do this, I use statistical modeling methods that are commonly used in most real world industries. Hence, research in NBA analytics is an excellent preparation for any career that involves analyzing data to solve problems.
Much of my research is in Functional Analysis and Algebra. More specifically, I study the algebra, geometry and topology of spaces of operators. Operators represent the basic observables of the universe, like energy and momentum. Although my work is theoretical, the problems I solve are motivated by probabilistic questions in Quantum Mechanics. I have had success working with students on such problems. Unlike my basketball analytics projects discussed above, operator theory requires students to be somewhat advanced in their mathematical education. Students who want to pursue a Ph. D. in Mathematics will benefit most from this kind of work.
- A holomorphic characterization of operator algebras (with B. Russo) to appear in Mathematica Scandinavica, 2013
- Metric characterizations II (with D. Blecher) to appear in the Illinois Journal of Mathematics, 2013
- Open projections in operator algebras II: compact projections (with D. Blecher), Studia Mathematica 208, pp. 203-224, 2012
- Open projections in operator algebras I: comparison theory (with D. Blecher). Studia Mathematica 209, pp. 117-150, 2012
- Metric haracterizations of isometries and of unital operator spaces and systems (with D. Blecher). Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society 139, pp. 985-998, 2011
Anna joined the Communication Department Fall 2012 to teach a special topics course, Music as a Form of Communication. Anna earned her B.A. at St. Olaf College, her M.M in oboe performance at Wichita State University where she studied with Emily Pailthorpe, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in musicology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Her ongoing research centers on disputes over the moral and cultural value of popular musics, and she co-authored the article “Cultural Policy in American Music History: Sammy Davis, Jr., vs. Juvenile Delinquency” which appeared in the February 2010 Journal of the Society of American Music. She also authored a chapter, “U.S. Evangelicals and the Redefinition of Worship Music,” in the anthology Mediating Faiths: Religion, Media and Popular Culture (Ashgate, 2011).
She has contributed several entries to the forthcoming second edition of the Grove Dictionary of American Music and her chapter “Negotiating the Tensions of U.S. Worship Music in the Marketplace” will appear in The Oxford Handbook of Music and World Christianities.
Previous Denison classes taught by Dr. Nekola include: Intro to Queer Studies, Queer Theory, 20th c. Music History, History of Rock, Intro to World Music, FYS 101: “Music and Transcendence”, FYS 101: From Holy Sabbath to Black Sabbath: Religion and Popular Music in 20th-Century America,” FYS 101: “Commemoration and History: Investigating the Politics of Memory,” and FYS 102: 20th-Century Images of Women.”
Anna also maintains an active career as an oboist and reedmaker, and has held positions with professional orchestras in Kansas and Wisconsin.
Emily Nemeth is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at Denison University. She holds a B.A. in Educational Studies and Spanish from Denison University, a M.Ed. in Higher Education, Service Learning from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a Ph.D. in Adolescent, Post-Secondary, and Community Literacies from The Ohio State University. She began her career in education as a corps member for City Year, AmeriCorps. Nemeth teaches courses in literacy, community engagement, and equity pedagogies. Her research explores the literacy lives of adolescent youth in community contexts and the learning opportunities afforded by expanding space and literacy resources through service-learning.
David Nesmith had his first Alexander Technique lesson on April Fools’ Day, 1995. He immediately experienced the benefits of practicing The Alexander Technique and decided to immerse himself in what would become a tremendous transformation. “I can change” became the mantra that propelled David from a realm of harmful habit and discomfort to one of discovery and expansiveness.
David’s musical career has developed in leaps and bounds along with his focus on applying The Alexander Technique for performance enhancement and injury prevention. He served for 10 years as Principal horn of the Cleveland Chamber Symphony and has performed with numerous other symphonies. He has been a member of the Cathedral Brass Ensemble (Columbus) since 1990, the West Virginia Symphony since 1985, and has performed with the New Hampshire Music Festival each summer since 1996.
In 2003, after years assimilating wisdom from some of the greatest teachers of The Alexander Technique, David experienced a fundamental shift, feeling free more often than tense. His breath has slowed and deepened and he stands taller. Now a certified Alexander Technique instructor since 2001, he teaches at Denison University and enjoys a private practice in Columbus, Ohio. David continues to explore deeper layers of emotional and intellectual intuition, reassessing the nature and impact of our habitual gestural repertoires.
A licensed member of Andover Educators, he teaches the course What Every Musician Needs to Know about the Body to musicians around the country. He has presented at many conferences and written several articles on The Alexander Technique and Body Mapping. David is also a practitioner member of the All Life Center for Integrative Well Being (Delaware, Ohio).
David is the author of The Breathing Book for Horn and creator of Constructive Rest: The Audio Guide Series, a carefully prepared collection of mp3 downloads, apps, and CD’s incorporating The Eight Primary Intentions of Constructive Rest. These audio guides are available on iTunes®, CDBaby™, the App Store℠, Google Play™, and ConstructiveRest.com.
David considers becoming at ease with himself to be his greatest accomplishment. Whether he is teaching, creating, exploring or at rest, David is engaged in the moment. He is an enthusiastic musician, hiker, and salsa dancer, and truly appreciates getting to know people. His passion for sharing The Alexander Technique takes him all over the world, teaching and participating in workshops.
David’s students thrive in the honest and supportive atmosphere he creates. Being at ease with himself translates as a gentle, confident invitation to rest in authenticity. It becomes clear he trusts that each student, in whatever state they arrive, is capable of achieving great things.
Isis Nusair, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and International Studies at Denison University. She has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Tel-Aviv University, a Master’s degree in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and a doctorate in Women’s and Gender Studies from Clark University. She teaches courses on transnational feminism; gendered migration, feminism in the Middle East and North Africa; and gender, war and conflict.
Isis previously served as a researcher on women’s human rights in the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch and at the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network. She is currently working on two book projects. The first focuses on the impact of war and displacement on Iraqi women refugees in Jordan and the USA, and the other on gendering the narratives of four generations of Palestinian women in Israel from 1948 until the present. She is the co-editor with Rhoda Kanaaneh of Displaced at Home: Ethnicity and Gender among Palestinians in Israel. She is a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures and the Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. She serves on the editorial committee of the Middle East Report and is a member of Jadaliyya’s DARS team.
- “Negotiating Identity, Space and Place among Iraqi Women Refugees in Jordan.” Doing Research in Conflict Zones: Experiences from the Field. Eds. Dyan Mazurana, Karen Jacobsen, and Lacey A. Gale. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013: 56-77.
- “The Cultural Costs of the 2003 US-led Invasion of Iraq: A Conversation with Art Historian Nada Shabout.” Feminist Studies, 39 (1), 2013: 119-148. full text
- “Permanent Transients: Iraqi Women Refugees in Jordan.” Middle East Report 266, 2013: 20-25. full text
- “Gendering the Narratives of Three Generations of Palestinian Women in Israel.” Displaced at Home: Ethnicity and Gender among Palestinians in Israel. Eds. Rhoda Kanaaneh and Isis Nusair. New York: SUNY Press, 2010. 75-92. full text [pdf]
- “Introduction” (with Rhoda Kanaaneh) Displaced at Home: Ethnicity and Gender among Palestinians in Israel. Eds. Rhoda Kanaaneh and Isis Nusair. New York: SUNY Press, 2010. 1-18. full text [pdf]
- “Gender Mainstreaming and Feminist Organizing in the Middle East and North Africa.” Women and war in the Middle East. Eds. Nadje Al-Ali and Nicola Pratt. London: Zed Books, 2009. 131-157. full text [pdf]
- “Gendered, Racialized and Sexualized Torture at Abu-Ghraib.” Feminism and War: Confronting U.S. Imperialism. Eds. Robin Riley, Chandra Mohanty, Minnie Bruce Pratt. London: Zed Books, 2008. 179-193. full text [pdf]
- “The Integration of the Human Rights of Women from the Middle East and North Africa in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership” (with Rabea Naciri). Denmark: Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, 2003.
- “Gendered Politics of Location: Generational Intersections.” Women and the Politics of Military Confrontation: Palestinian and Israeli Gendered Narratives of Dislocation. Eds. Nahla Abdo and Ronit Lentin. London: Berghahn Books, 2002. 89-99. full text [pdf]
- “Women and Militarization in Israel: Forgotten Letters in the Midst of Conflict.” Frontline Feminisms: Women, War, and Resistance. Eds. Marguerite Waller and Jennifer Rycenga. London: Routledge, 2001. 113-128. full text [pdf]
Talking to the Media about Veiling in the Middle East
By: Isis Nusair, Associate Professor of International Studies & Women’s Studies, Denison University
At a time when Arabs and Muslims are becoming the ultimate “enemy others,” how are we to talk about Islam and particularly Muslim women to the media? What happens if our quotes are misrepresented or taken out of context, and what if they are used to reinforce the same biases we aim to counter? How are we to deal with online media when racist websites can, with a click of a mouse, draw on our “quotes” to reinforce their own hateful agendas? It is part of our role as academics and educators to engage in public discourse. Yet, is talking to the media becoming too risky?
I have had unfortunate reason to consider these questions. I was contacted early in the fall semester of 2009 by Theodore May, an American journalist who writes for the Global Post, about veiling in Egypt. In the past, I have usually avoided talking about these issues to the media because of its historic sensationalist representations of Arab and Muslim women. However, May asked intelligent questions and seemed serious about studying the subject from all its angles. I suggested the names of people he could contact and naively expected him to share the final draft of his article with me. I emphasized during our phone conversation that writing about the veil is very complex and laden with colonial, Orientalist, and stereotypical representations of both Islam and Arabs. I also said that Muslim women veil for a variety of reasons. These could be religious as well as economic or to protect themselves from sexual harassment in the public sphere. When talking about economic reasons, I emphasized the issue of class and how some young women cannot afford designer clothes when attending college. Therefore, wearing the veil could also be about income levels in addition to a variety of other factors.
The resultant story had little to do with the words I provided to the writer. The only quote attributed to me in May's article, published online in the Global Post on September 14, 2009, (“Some Women Find Egypt a Colder Place”) was: ” 'Some women can’t afford 2 million dresses,' said Isis Nusair, a professor of women’s studies at Denison University in Ohio, 'and wearing the hijab is cheap.'
“ Not only is May’s quote sensationalist, selective, and misrepresentative of what I said and the nuances in which I presented my argument, it also is now featured on the Islamophobic website “Bare Naked Islam - It isn’t Islamophobia when they really are trying to kill you.
“ In my attempt to contact the Post and complain about the quote attributed to me, I received the following response from the editor, Barbara Martinez: “What Theo did was not cherry-picking, but choosing the most interesting and lively quote for an 800-word overview of the topic, the only thing Dr. Nusair said that he hadn't heard from other sources. Had she not said anything original, he would not have quoted her at all. The story itself puts the quote into context and presents the veil issue as complex.” The editor's implication was that I should feel grateful to have been quoted. “Grateful” hardly describes my reaction.
I am hesitant to conclude that the right solution is to avoid talking to the media. There is abundant misinformation in my field of study, concerning women in the Middle East and North Africa, and I'm sure the same is true for those who concentrate on areas all across the academic curriculum. I'd like to think that if we, as academics, spoke out more frequently in public arenas on issues of importance, then perhaps the charade of misinformation could be lifted. But how are we to feel comfortable speaking out when digital proliferation practically guarantees that an irresponsible use of our words will live forever online and might even be used to bolster ignorance? Is there a tyranny of silence brought about by the threat of misrepresented ideas? How many dedicated scholars refuse to share their expertise in the public media because it's just not worth it? These are the questions that I’ll be thinking about next time the phone rings and it's a reporter calling.