Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

New Faculty for the 2015–2016 Academic Year


Kandace Hollenbach
Assistant Professor
Kandace Hollenbach earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and archaeology from Washington University in Saint Louis and a doctorate in anthropology from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Before joining the Anthropology faculty, she worked with the Archaeological Research Laboratory at UT-Knoxville, where she most recently served as Director. She specializes in paleoethnobotany, and her research interests include the responses of foragers and horticulturalists to changing landscapes, and the foodways of prehistoric and historic peoples of the southeastern US.

Raja Swamy
Assistant Professor
Raja Swamy specializes in the anthropology of disasters. He earned his Ph.D. in 2011 from the University of Texas at Austin. His doctoral research focused on post-tsunami reconstruction and economic development in India’s Tamil Nadu state. Swamy has published articles and book chapters on the impacts of humanitarian aid, tourism and infrastructure development on fisher communities in Southern India. Prior to joining the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee as an assistant professor, he taught at the University of Arkansas.


Rubens Ghenov
Assistant Professor
Rubens Ghenov was born in São Paulo, Brazil and immigrated to the US in 1989. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Tyler School of Art (1999) and his Master of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design (2010). Ghenov has shown nationally in both solo and group exhibitions, most recently at VOLTA NY 2015 where his abstract paintings, inspired by the imagined poet Angelico Morandá (b. Spain 1940 – b. Portugal 2006), were exhibited by Morgan Lehman Gallery. Rubens comes to us from Philadelphia where he has been teaching at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, and in the graduate program at the University of the Arts.


Christopher Baker
Assistant Professor
Christopher Baker is an Assistant Professor specializing in Analytical Chemistry. He received a doctorate from Florida State University and was recently a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Arizona and Sandia National Labs. His research develops novel bioanalytical technologies that probe chemical communications that occur between the brain and the body, pertinent to understanding mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Bhavya Sharma
Assistant Professor
Bhavya Sharma is an Assistant Professor specializing in Analytical Chemistry. She received a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh and completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Northwestern University. The goal of her research is use of innovative Raman spectroscopic methods to create new approaches for chemical and biological sensing, and early detection of disease.


Justin Arft
Assistant Professor
Justin Tyler Arft, Assistant Professor of Classics, earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Classics from the University of Missouri, where he also earned an M.A. in religious studies. He defended his dissertation in May. Justin is the last student of the late John Miles Foley, the greatest American scholar of Comparative Oral Tradition. He is also an expert on Homer, ancient epic, and Greek Literature of the Archaic and Classical periods. Justin has already begun a promising and steady publication program that integrates the methods of comparative oral tradition studies with more conventional approaches to the study of Greek literature and society.

Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Susan Kalisz
Professor and Head
Susan Kalisz earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in Botany and a masters and doctorate from the University of Chicago in Biology. She has been a member of the tenured faculty of Michigan State University and the University of Pittsburgh and served as a program director at the National Science Foundation. As an evolutionary ecologist, Kalisz’s research interests span invasive species, conservation biology, population modeling, mating system evolution and speciation in plants.


Jessica Grieser
Assistant Professor
Jessica Grieser received a master’s degree and a doctorate in linguistics from Georgetown University in Washington, D. C. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Her research focuses on the intersectionality of racial identity and class, and the role that the ethnic dialectics of English play in indexing racial, class, and place-based identities. Her secondary research interest include studying language on the internet and examining discourse and argument within fan communities.

Roy Liuzza
Roy Michael Liuzza earned a B.A. in history from Northeast Louisiana University. He went on to earn both the M.A. and the Ph.D. degrees in medieval studies at Yale. He taught at the Ohio State University and Tulane University before joining the English Department faculty at the University of Tennessee in 2003. He served as the Angus Cameron Professor of Old English at the University of Toronto during the 2015-2015 school year and has rejoined the University of Tennessee English Department this fall. A specialist in Anglo Saxon culture and literature, he has distinguished himself as a scholar, editor, and translator. Among his numerous publications are several collections of Old English poetry and a verse translation of Beowulf.


Solange Muñoz
Associate Professor
Solange Muñoz earned a master’s degree in Latin American Studies and a doctorate in Geography from the University of Texas-Austin. Prior to coming to Knoxville, she served as a lecturer in the Intensive Spanish Program at the University of Michigan. Solange’s areas of expertise include urban geography, immigration, race and ethnicity, and social movements. Her dissertation examined these issues in the context of Latin America and the housing experiences, struggles, and rights of squatters in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Colleen Jonsson
Professor of Microbiology, Director of NIMBioS
Colleen Jonsson earned her Ph.D. from Purdue University. Dr. Jonsson joins us from the University of Louisville where she was a Professor of Microbiology. Dr. Jonsson’s research is on Evolutionary Mechanisms of RNA Virus Host-switching. Her laboratory is focused on defining the genetic determinants and mechanisms which facilitate spread of Hantavirus within its rodent reservoir in nature and its adaptation in vitro to non-reservoir rodents.

Modern Foreign Languages & Literatures

Bernard Issa
Assistant Professor
Bernard Issa received his doctorate in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2015, with a dissertation on “Morphosyntactic Development in a Second Language: An Eye-Tracking Study on the Role of Attention.” He was an Audrey Lumsden-Kouvel Graduate Fellow at UIC and co-PI for an NSF dissertation research improvement grant. His research in progress includes articles on eye-tracking and attention, the passive voice in relation to competence, and musical background in relation to second language acquisition. Prof. Issa serves as Language Program Director for first-year Spanish, which enrolled 989 students in fall 2015.

Physics & Astronomy

Jian Liu
Assistant Professor
Jian Liu received his PhD in 2012 at the University of Arkansas. He then became a postdoctoral researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and at the University of California – Berkeley before coming to UT as an assistant professor of physics. Dr. Liu specializes in experimental condensed matter physics, and specifically in the growth of thin film transition metal oxide materials, using pulsed laser deposition. Dr. Liu also studies the electronic properties of these layered quantum materials using soft x-rays at the nation’s synchrotron radiation facilities. His laboratory will be housed in the new JIAM building.

Andrew Steiner
Assistant Professor
Andrew Steiner received his Ph.D. in Physics at the University of New York in Stony Brook in 2002, for which he won the prestigious Nuclear Physics Dissertation Award from the American Physical Society. He then held consecutive post-doc positions at the University of Minnesota, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Michigan State University, and most recently a research assistant professor position at the Institute for Nuclear Theory at the University of Washington in Seattle. Andrew studies theoretical astrophysics, meaning that he uses terrestrial nuclear physics to describe neutron star observations as well as many other astrophysical processes, such as core-collapse supernovae, X-ray bursts and giant flares in magnetars. Andrew not only became an assistant professor in the physics department but also holds a joint faculty appointment with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Political Science

Adam Eckerd
Assistant Professor
Adam joins the Department of Political Science and the MPPA Program by way of the University of Kansas and most recently, Virginia Tech. Adam holds a Ph.D. from the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University (2011), and a Master’s degree in Government from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Eckerd conducts research on organizational decision making and the complex relationship between these and other policy decisions and social outcomes. Adam has published over a dozen articles and co-authored a book, Rethinking Environmental Justice in Sustainable Communities. He will be teaching courses on environmental policy, non-profit organizations and management and methods. In his free time, Adam enjoys hiking, running, and brewing beer.


Subimal Datta
Professor of Psychology and Anesthesiology
Subimal Datta earned his doctorate degree in human physiology and neuroscience from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and completed Postdoctoral training in Neurophysiology at Laval University School of Medicine. He has served on the faculties of Harvard Medical School and, most recently, of Boston University Medical School, where he was a Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology, and Director of Cognitive Neuroscience. Dr. Datta has received a number of national and international awards, including the Young Investigator Award of the North American Sleep Research Society and the Milton Award from Harvard University. He has also received a number of research grant awards from the National Institute of Mental Health and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. He is an Associate Editor of a number of scientific journals, including Journal SLEEP and Frontiers in Neuroscience. Dr. Datta’s NIH-funded research program is focused on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of REM sleep and memory processing. His research interests also include cellular mechanisms underlying dreaming and consciousness and psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression.