University News

Denison University announces newly tenured professors

April 20, 2017

Denison University’s Board of Trustees recently has awarded tenure to seven members of the faculty. Those who have been granted tenure and who will be promoted to associate professor in the fall of 2017 are Olivia Aguilar, Alina Haliliuc, Clare Jen, Jordan Katz, Sangeet Kumar, Laura Russell and James Weaver. “We are thrilled to welcome these outstanding teachers, excellent scholars, and engaged members of the Denison community to the ranks of our tenured professors,” said Denison Provost Kim Coplin. “These faculty are deeply committed to our students and help to provide an incredible liberal arts education.”

Olivia Aguilar joined Denison’s Environmental Studies Program in 2007. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in horticulture from Texas A&M where she studied children’s gardens and their effect on youth environmental attitudes. After teaching in public schools, she went on to receive her doctorate in Natural Resources at Cornell University in 2009, studying environmental and science education. In 2007, Aguilar received a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellowship to teach in the McPhail Center for Environmental Studies at Denison University and was hired into a tenure track position in 2011. She teaches a broad spectrum of environmental studies courses, including all four core courses: People and the Environment, Science and the Environment, Junior Practicum, and Senior Project. In addition, she teaches Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Education, which both capitalize on her interests in community, environment and food systems. Her scholarship similarly examines issues at the intersection of environment, education, race/ethnicity, and community. Specifically, her work examines how sociocultural learning theories help to account for learning of marginalized groups in environmental and science contexts through community approaches. Her recent endeavors also involve a critical analysis of inclusive practices in the environmental arena.

Alina Haliliuc joined Denison’s Department of Communication in 2011, after earning her doctorate from the University of Iowa. In her scholarship, Haliliuc examines how public discourse contributes to the constitution of politically responsible subjects and of inclusive publics. Collecting her “texts” from Romania, her native country, Haliliuc ‘s work participates in efforts to advance rhetorical and critical work about the area. Her research can be found in such journals as “The Journal of Popular Culture,” “Communication, Culture & Critique,” “Aspasia” and “Text and Performance Quarterly.” She teaches courses that mirror and expand her interest in public discourse (Rhetoric, Rhetorics of Hope, and Rhetorics of Place and Space), theory (Theorizing Communication), and in gender (Exploring Masculinity). She enjoys guiding students through developing vocabularies and an appetite for analyzing public discourse in our immediate and global communities.

Clare Jen joined Denison’s Department of Biology and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program in 2010. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a master’s and doctorate from the University of Maryland-College Park. She teaches introductory courses in biology and women’s and gender studies, as well as advanced courses in research methodologies and women’s health. Her research in feminist studies of science, technology, and health is of relevance to women’s and gender studies, critical race and ethnic studies, and cultural studies of public health. 

Jordan Katz joined Denison’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 2010. He holds a bachelor’s from Reed College and a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology. Katz teaches classes in general, organic, and analytical chemistry, and on the chemistry of renewable energy. He also is a member of the Environmental Studies Program. A materials and physical chemist, he works on the synthesis and characterization of novel semiconducting nanomaterials for use in low-cost solar cells that can produce clean and renewable fuels. Combined with a variety of synthetic methods that rely on self-assembly, Katz uses electrochemical and spectroscopic methods to probe and better understand interfacial electron-transfer reactions in working solar cells.

Sangeet Kumar joined Denison’s Department of Communication in 2010. He holds a bachelor’s from the Delhi University, India; a master’s from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; and a doctorate from the University of Iowa. Kumar’s current research interests are focused on two distinct but connected dimensions of the globalization of media and culture. The first interrogates global digital media networks from the perspective of postcoloniality, critical theories of technology and parody/satire. The second analyzes power and identity within global popular cultural texts and practices using theories of desire. His recent research has appeared in journals including “International Journal of Communication,” “Popular Communication,” “Journal of Communication Inquiry,” and “Global Media and Communication,” among others, as well as in anthologies such as “News Parody and Political Satire Across the Globe” and “Television at Large in South Asia.” Kumar also serves on the International Studies committee at Denison.

Laura Russell joined Denison’s Department of Communication in 2011. She holds a bachelor’s from Wittenberg University; a master’s from the University of Dayton; and a doctorate from Ohio University. Drawn to issues concerning individual and collective well-being, Russell’s interests center on understanding the communication of personal and relational health. The courses she designs, such as Narrative Ethics, Communicating Kindness, and “Ill”usions of Wellness, invite students to reflect deeply on how they make sense of their well-being through relationships with others. Moreover, she encourages students to question the value of human life — how individuals construct meaning for their personal worth. As a phenomenologist at heart guided by theories of narrative and dialogue, Russell observes, participates in and examines processes of human recovery in an array of contexts. In her recent work, she has investigated how self-proclaimed workaholics support one another and construct new understandings for what it means to live “well.” Inspired by this study, she currently explores ethical questions concerning the social politics of health and human worth. Her recent publications appear in “Health Communication,” “Qualitative Inquiry,” and “Communication Theory.”

James Weaver joined Denison’s Department of English in 2006. He received a bachelor’s from Allegheny College, and a master’s and doctorate from the Ohio State University. Weaver has authored several articles examining the intersections of American travel literature and nationalism in the 1850s-1880s, focusing on the work of Bayard Taylor, Helen Hunt Jackson, and George William Curtis. He currently is working on an article about Bayard Taylor’s international travel during the 1850s as well as a book-length project about American attitudes toward the environment as expressed in contemporary popular culture. In addition to teaching courses in first-year writing and surveys and seminars in American literature, he often teaches courses cross-listed with the university’s Environmental Studies Program and is affiliated with Denison’s new Narrative Nonfiction Writing concentration.

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