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Welcome Back!

Welcome back! I hope you all had a great summer break doing research, creative activities, traveling the world, or just enjoying some time off.

We have many exciting things coming up for the 2019-2020 academic year. First, July 1, we welcomed Donde Plowman, our new chancellor. She hit the ground running and hosts drop-in office hours in the Mary Greer Room of Hodges Library Tuesdays, from 3 – 5 p.m. No appointment is necessary. I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. Learn more and keep up with her schedule on the UT calendar page

Also on July 1, we launched UT 225, a celebration of our 225-year history of lighting the way for others, across Tennessee and throughout the world. During the 2019–20 academic year, we will celebrate our storied past and chart our future. As we look to the future, the university remains wholly committed to fulfilling its land-grant mission to advance knowledge, enrich communities, and create opportunities for all Tennesseans. I hope you make plans to attend the Big Orange Birthday Party September 10. Read more about the celebration and themes throughout the year. As with every new semester, we welcome new tenure-track faculty to our Volunteer family. This year, we bring 17 new assistant and/or associate professors to 14 of our departments.

Anneke Janzen received her PhD from University of California Santa Cruz. She comes to UT following a postdoctoral appointment at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany. A specialist in isotope analysis and zooarchaeology, Janzen studies ancient human and animal mobility and the origins of pastoralism in Africa.

Kelli Wood received her PhD in 2016 from the University of Chicago for her dissertation “The Art of Play: Games in Early Modern Italy” and has held fellowships such as a Fulbright to Italy, a Kress fellowship at the National Gallery of Art, and most recently a three year postdoc in the Michigan Society of Fellows. Her research focuses on the relationship between art, games, and sports as mimetic representations, and over the past two years, she has published widely on this subject in leading journals in her field. Wood has also taught and published on modern board and video games in addition to having guest curated a permanent wing of the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum in anticipation of the 2022 World Cup.

Frederick Heberle specializes in physical chemistry. He received a doctorate from Cornell University and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His previous appointment was with University of Texas, Health Science Center, as an adjunct assistant professor where he was studying the mechanisms of interleaflet coupling in asymmetric lipid bilayer, “smart design” of asymmetric vesicles, and converging simulation and scattering techniques for the analysis of mammalian membranes. He plans to continue this research here with us and already has National Science Foundation funding to support his research.

Stephen Romaniello is an associate professor specializing in isotope geochemistry. He received his doctorate from Arizona State University in 2012 and has since been managing their very well respected isotope lab facilities. In that role, he has collaborated with dozens of researchers in many disciplines including oceanography, space science, and climatology.

Eleni Palis joins us from the University of Pennsylvania where she recently completed her PhD in English literature and cinema and media studies. Her dissertation, “Theorizing Film Quotation,” argues that the reuse of classical Hollywood film fragments is a constitutive element of post-classical film authorship. She will be a welcome addition to the Department of English and to the Cinema Studies Interdisciplinary Program.

Qiusheng Wu specializes in Geographic Information Science and remote sensing. He received his PhD from the University of Cincinnati. His research focuses on the application of geospatial technology to study environmental change, such as wetland and surface water dynamics.

Hannah Herrero specializes in remote sensing of the environment. She received a doctorate from the University of Florida, where she was a graduate student fellow. The goal of her research is to combine innovative remote sensing techniques with fieldwork to evaluate environmental change around the globe, with a particular focus on vegetation dynamics.

Robert Bland received his PhD from the University of Maryland in 2017. He also holds an MA in history from the University of Mississippi, and a BA from Williams College. He comes to us from a position at St. John’s University. His research focuses on the legacy of Reconstruction in the African American memory and politics. His upcoming book project also explores the long history of the Fifteenth Amendment, the racial politics of natural disasters, and the intellectual history of the Gullah people in the South Carolina low country.

Olivia Prosper earned her PhD from the University of Florida, held a postdoc position at Dartmouth, and until this year was an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky. Prosper does research in mathematical biology, including work to understand the relationship between human actions and the dynamics of vector-borne diseases such as malaria. Other efforts include developing mathematical models for blood cell dynamics with applications to chronic kidney disease.

Vyron Vellis earned his PhD from the University of Illinois, had a postdoc position at University of Jyväskylä in Finland, and until this year was a research assistant professor at the University of Connecticut. Vellis works in the areas of mathematical analysis and geometry on metric spaces. His work seeks to understand spaces that are not smooth in the sense of traditional calculus, but which increasingly play an important role in mathematics, with applications to several areas of science and engineering.

Benjamin Parker received his PhD from Emory University and conducted post-doctoral research at Oxford University and the University of Rochester before joining the UT microbiology faculty this past February. Parker’s research is dissecting the molecular and evolutionary foundations of the interactions between animals and their microbial residents. As a model, he studies aphids, their associated microbes, and a fungal pathogen that infects them.

Matthew Brauer earned his PhD in French and Francophone studies from Northwestern University in 2018. His book in progress focuses on rethinking postcolonial literature and Maghrebi literature in particular in terms of territory. His specializations include literary translation.

Georgi Gardiner received her doctorate in philosophy from Rutgers University in 2017. Before that, she received undergraduate and master’s degrees in philosophy from the University of Edinburgh and studied math and physics at the Open University. Before joining UT, she was the Andrew Fraser Junior Research Fellow at St. John’s College, Oxford University. Gardiner researches epistemology and meta-philosophy, focusing on social epistemology, legal epistemology, virtue epistemology, epistemic value, epistemic luck, and the nature of understanding. Her recent work investigates the epistemology of legal standards of proof and sexual assault accusations.

Brian An graduated with his PhD from the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. An’s research explores how urban governance can address inequalities in local public goods. Specifically, he is interested in how the choice and design of governing arrangements determine the allocation of public investment and its impact on local communities.

Caglar Tas earned her BA and MA from Bogazici University in Turkey and her PhD from the University of Iowa. Tas has been with UT since 2014, first as a lecturer then as a research assistant professor. She uses behavioral, eye tracking, and neural measures to investigate the visual system in healthy adults. Her research focuses on visual perception, visual attention, and visual working memory, with a special emphasis on how attention and working memory play a role in perception across saccadic eye movements.

Sarah Lamer earned her PhD in social, affective, and cognitive psychology from the University of Denver in 2019. Prior to that, she earned her BA in psychology with a certificate in public policy and community action from Connecticut College in 2013. In her research, she investigates how subtle patterns people encounter every day can reinforce or challenge social inequities. Her goal is to address power differentials among social groups in ways that contribute to scientific knowledge and have clear, broad social benefits.

Zhandarka Kurti received her PhD in sociology from Binghamton-SUNY in 2018 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Prison Education Program in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU. Her research focuses on mass incarceration and the way courts and non-profits reproduce and extend carceral logics and practices in the juvenile justice system.

Finally, I am excited to announce two new college initiatives this year. First, I would like to invite you to have tea with me during “Tea with Dean,” a monthly opportunity for faculty, staff, and graduate students share your ideas and ask questions. Each group will meet from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Ayres Hall, Room 401. Learn more about the schedule and signup for you group.

Second, Angie Batey, associate dean for diversity and inclusion will host a Dynamic Discourse series for all members of our college to get together and discuss issues of diversity and inclusion and how we can work together to achieve the vision of Vol Means All. We will share more information about this as details are confirmed.

As always, thank you for your work with our students and your enthusiasm for our Volunteer family!

Theresa M. Lee
Dean, College of Arts & Sciences