Denison University’s Board of Trustees awarded tenure to five members of the faculty who will be promoted to associate professor in the fall of 2023: Anthony Bonifonte, Ojeya Cruz Banks, Matthew Jungers, Sarah Supp, and Chris Westover-Muñoz.
Data analytics professor Anthony Bonifonte joined Denison in 2017. When he committed to a career as a liberal arts college professor during his undergraduate studies, Bonifonte’s goal was to excite and inspire students and to demonstrate the diverse ways data is used today and will be used in the future. Students in his classes may see a collection of statistical and mathematical puzzles, riddles, and games that build out-of-the-box thinking necessary for problem-solving.
As a researcher, Bonifonte believes in interdisciplinary collaborations that simultaneously solve real-world problems and expand mathematical concepts. He enjoys working with students on research projects of their own choosing or introducing them to his own work in the healthcare field.
Dance professor Ojeya Cruz Banks joined Denison in 2018. She is passionate about dance teaching, choreography, ethnography, and dance film, with a focus on dances of the African diaspora and Indigenous Pacific. Her research combining African and Pacific lineages is inspired by her identity as a Pacific Islander (Guåhan/Guam) and African American with roots in Alabama, Kentucky, and Louisiana. Cruz Banks developed an interest in Black Pacific dance intersections during her decade-long tenure as senior lecturer at the University of Otago in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Her choreographies and publications include topics such as musicality, spirituality, and cultural health, chant, dancemaking, and indigenous education and performance.
She has studied dance in Guinea, Senegal, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, and in Cuba, and has taught dance around the world in places such as Bali, Fiji, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Australia. In teaching, a focus for Cruz Banks is about creating a sense of social connectedness, and fostering a work ethic balanced with self-care in students. Making interdisciplinary knowledge embodied in dance visible is important to her.
Earth and environmental science professor Matthew Jungers joined Denison in 2016. He is a geomorphologist whose research interest is in quantifying modern and past rates of landscape evolution. He investigates active surface processes and past surface processes preserved in the stratigraphic record by employing modern field techniques in concert with topographic analyses, remote sensing, soil science, numerical models, and isotope geochemistry.
In particular, Jungers is an expert in the application of cosmogenic nuclide geochemistry for both geochronology and the quantification of millennial-scale erosion rates. He notes, “Quantifying the rates of surface processes over geologic time scales defines landscape evolution rates driven by tectonics, climate, and internal sedimentary system dynamics. We can compare these to process rates driven by human-induced landscape change.”
Data analytics professor Sarah Supp joined Denison in 2017. An ecologist who uses data analytics techniques to study biodiversity in a changing world, Supp is part of an interdisciplinary data analytics program. She teaches a set of tools that is increasingly important for success across career paths. “As it becomes easier to quickly collect large amounts of data or gain access to complex datasets, a solid foundation in data and computational literacy is needed to solve the important problems of our time,” says Supp.
Her teaching methods foster creative and critical thought through hands-on learning and research, enabling her students to become effective communicators and problem-solvers. Supp teaches core courses in the data analytics program and conducts data-driven ecological research on biodiversity, avian migration, and long-term trends in ecological communities.
Music professor Chris David Westover-Muñoz joined Denison in 2016. An award-winning conductor, Westover-Muñoz has conducted and curated programs for wind ensembles and orchestras nationally and internationally and was recently named music director of the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra. He sees his work as a conductor as equal parts collaborator, curator, and creator. Westover-Muñoz’s work is primarily motivated by the social function of music — how music brings people together to engage with the challenging issues of our time through the collective act of music-making.
He has presented his scholarly research on Vincent Persichetti and Beethoven at several international assemblies and has conducted across the United States and in the People’s Republic of China. He maintains a relationship with ensembles and conductors in Poland. His album, SALVATION! The Music of the IWW and the Salvation Army, will be released by PM Press later this year.