Introducing new faculty members for the 2019-20 academic year

The College is pleased to introduce new full-time faculty who will join the campus community ahead of the fall 2019 semester.

A reception honoring new academic and professional faculty, as well as those recently promoted or granted continuing or permanent appointment and recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence, will take place on Friday, Sept. 13, at the College Terrace following the faculty meeting.

Please join us in welcoming these distinguished scholars and educators to the campus community:

Leila Mehraban Alvandi, Mechanical Engineering

Leila Mehraban Alvandi joins the Division of Engineering Programs as visiting assistant professor of mechanical engineering. She holds a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the City College of New York, and most recently served for three years as a lecturer at Queensborough Community College.

Alvandi’s research and teaching interests include self-healing composite material, Nano analysis of biological tissue (bone), tissue engineering, fracture mechanics and biomaterial. She has taught tissue mechanics, continuum mechanics, thermodynamics and metallurgy, among other subjects.

Alvandi grew up in Iran and worked for seven years in a petrochemical and manufacturing company as a senior material science engineer. She has passion for teaching and research and is a recipient of an American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Young Investigator Award.

David Bright, Psychology

David Bright joins the faculty as a lecturer in the Department of Psychology. He is a doctoral candidate from Penn State in Counselor Education. His teaching focuses on counseling skills, theories, and assessment, and his research interests include preparing counselors to work with rural populations, issues of rural cultural identity, and career development.

Phyllis Chen, Music

Described by the New York Times as “spellbinding” and “a virtuoso of the toy piano,” Phyllis Chen is a composer, keyboardist and collaborator. She is a founding member of the award-winning International Contemporary Ensemble, and the founder/director of UnCaged Toy Piano, a biennial music festival.

Chen has performed internationally to critical acclaim and was recently awarded the 2019 Cage-Cunningham Fellowship from the Baryshnikov Arts Center. She attended Oberlin Conservatory, Northwestern University, and received her doctorate degree at Indiana University, where she studied with the legendary pianist, André Watts. She is a mother of two daughters and an avid knitter and Shakuhachi (Japanese Zen flute) player.

Moshe Cohen, Mathematics

Moshe Cohen joins the Department of Mathematics as an assistant professor. He holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from Louisiana State University and spent six years in research postdoctoral positions in Israel at both Bar-Ilan University and the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology, and the last three years as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Vassar College.

Cohen’s research interests lie in the intersection of topology, which compares spaces, and combinatorics, which counts objects. He had worked with undergraduate students on projects related to the geometry of line arrangements, and has also studied knots and randomness. Cohen also has backgrounds in bicycling advocacy, Jewish campus life, event production, activism and community building.

Jessica Kate Crowell, Digital Media & Journalism

Jessica Kate Crowell joins the Department of Digital Media and Journalism as an Assistant Professor. Her ethnographic research addresses the intersection of media and social justice issues like digital inequality, information policy and the impact of digital technology on the working class. Her most recent project tracks the economic lives of the digitally connected urban poor in Philadelphia.

A firm believer in engaged scholarship, Crowell has also authored governmental policy papers on broadband access in low-income urban communities for federal and state governments. When she is not teaching or conducting research, you can find Crowell her browsing local flea markets, restoring antique furniture, or hiking with her rescue dog, Amos.

Courtney Edwards, Psychology

Courtney Edwards joins the Psychology Department as a lecturer focusing on counselor education. She holds a master of science in counseling from Pace University and previous served the SUNY New Paltz community as an advisor in the Educational Opportunity Program and as an adjunct instructor for counselor education. Her professional experience also includes vocational rehabilitation, focusing on career development with adults with psychiatric disabilities, and psychotherapy. Outside of work, Edwards can be found running or hiking the trails of the Shawangunk Ridge.

Autumn Joy Florêncio-Wain, Teaching & Learning

Autumn Joy Florêncio-Wain ’07g is a SUNY New Paltz alumna who returns to her alma mater to join the Department of Teaching & Learning as a lecturer focusing on the teaching of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL).

Florêncio-Wain is a passionate advocate for what she terms the four C’s of holistic education: curiosity, caring, collaboration and connectedness. Her research interests include Waldorf, Montessori, homeschooling and other holistic modalities, and she has taught Pre-K through college in a variety of holistic and conventional settings in the U.S. and Brazil. She is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Li Gao, School of Business (Accounting)

Li Gao joins the School of Business as an assistant professor of accounting. Gao holds a Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Massachusetts Boston, a master in accounting from Loyola University of Chicago, and a bachelor degree in accounting from Shandong University, China.

Gao’s research interests focus on chief financial officers, corporate tax avoidance, earnings management, and auditing. She enjoys hiking, traveling and volunteering.

Bianca Gavin, Languages, Literatures & Cultures (German)

Gavin joins the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures as a lecturer and coordinator of the German program. She holds a Ph.D. in German Applied Linguistics and Language Science from Pennsylvania State University. Gavin’s research interests include classroom-based second language acquisition, foreign language pedagogy, vocabulary learning and computer-assisted language learning.

Gabriel (Gabe) Gonzales, School of Business (Marketing)

Gabe Gonzales joins the School of Business as assistant professor of marketing. He holds a Ph.D. in marketing from Pennsylvania State University. He conducts research in the area of consumer behavior – seeking to understand the underlying processes behind individuals’ consumption (and disposal) decisions. He has also studied consumers’ unsustainable behavior in efforts to encourage better consumption habits, such as recycling. Gonzales taught Consumer Behavior at Penn State, and is excited to teach Marketing Principles and Marketing Strategy at New Paltz this fall.

John (Jack) Harris, Communication

Harris joins the College as assistant professor in the Communication Department. He holds a Ph.D. from Rutgers University and his teaching focuses primarily on strategic and organizational communication. He has researched the collaborative challenges of solving complex public problems such as long-term recovery after disaster.

Prior to coming to New Paltz, Harris spent a year at Northwestern University’s Network for Nonprofits and Social Impact on a study of planned and emergent collaborative networks in education. The project was funded by the Army Research Office. He recently completed five years of field research on long-term recovery in coastal New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy, and in 2017 and 2018 he worked on a National Science Foundation Grant on organizational resilience in Houston Texas after Hurricane Harvey.

Kathleen Hunt, Communication

Kathleen Hunt is an assistant professor joining the Department of Communication. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Utah in 2015 and most recently worked in the College of Agriculture at Iowa State University. Her research specializes in environmental communication and political economy, focusing on sustainable food systems, and her teaching emphasizes social justice and community engagement.

Jaiung Jun, Mathematics

Jun holds Ph.D. in Mathematics from Johns Hopkins University. He served from 2015 to 2018 as a visiting assistant professor at Binghamton University, and then at the University of Iowa for a year as a visiting assistant professor. His research focuses in interactions between combinatorics and algebraic geometry.

Yongli Li, Languages, Literatures & Cultures (Chinese)

Li holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on cinematic representation of Shanghai in contemporary film and media productions. Prior to joining New Paltz, she was a research member of UCSB’s Media Industry Project and assisted in programming film screenings and events at the Carsey-Wolf Center. Li has co-authored chapters in “Film Marketing into the Twenty-First Century” and “The New Television Industries: A Guide to Changing Channels”. She is broadly interested in film history, urban studies and media policy.

Dominic McBrayer, Chemistry

McBrayer holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. He joins the Department of Chemistry as an assistant professor, having previously served as a teacher and postdoctoral scholar at the University of Nevada, Reno.

His research interests include biochemical communication pathways, such as bacterial quorum sensing through studying ligand-receptor interactions. As an educator, he works to incorporate active learning techniques such as process-oriented guided inquiry learning (POGIL), metacognition training, and technology-assisted polling/discussions into my courses.

McBrayer also enjoys programming computer games and simulations, trail-hiking, playing board and computer games, watching movies, reading and writing, and listening to music.

Leanna (Ellie) Mellon, Teaching & Learning

Mellon specializes in using Applied Behavior Analysis teaching models in work with individuals on the autism spectrum. She holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and general education and special education teaching licenses in New York and New Jersey.

She has taught in self-contained special education classrooms and inclusive special education classrooms, experiences that inspired her research in incidental language learning, remediating difficulties in early reading acquisition, and observational learning. Mellon brings this unique experience and expertise to the School of Education, where she will serve as an assistant professor focusing on autism studies.

Angela Silletti Murolo (Sociology)

Angela Silletti Murolo (ABD, John Jay College of Criminal Justice/Graduate Center CUNY) joins the Department of Sociology as a temporary lecturer. She has been teaching since 2016 and worked in the fashion industry for 20 years as a technical designer and manager before making a career change. Her research interests include aging throughout the criminal justice system process and the application of criminological theory through crime data and publicly available crime mapping tools.

Kathleen Murphy, Music

Kathleen M. Murphy joins the Department of Music as the director of music therapy programs. She holds a Ph.D. from Temple University and has enjoyed a distinguished, 35-year career as a teacher, clinician, supervisor and researcher in various healthcare and educational settings. Her research interests are focused on music therapy substance dependence and dialysis.

Murphy is associate editor of Music Therapy Research (third edition) and Introduction to Music Therapy Research, and has authored a number of book chapters and journal articles. She has presented nationally and internationally on a variety of topics related to music therapy clinical practice and issues related to music therapy education and professional well-being.

Nafeesa Nichols, Black Studies

Nafeesa T. Nichols joins the SUNY New Paltz community as an assistant professor of black studies. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Bergen in Norway, where her dissertation investigated the intersectional ways that post-apartheid urban spaces continue to restrict and contain black South African citizens. Nichols employs black feminist theory to investigate the intersections of anti-blackness and misogyny in the U.S., South Africa and Norway, and her interests include the literatures of African American, Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Scandinavian cultures, and hip-hop music.

Chrissy O’Grady, Library

Chrissy O’Grady joins the college as a research and education librarian at the Sojourner Truth Library. She holds a master of science in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and previous worked in research, information and digitization services at the University of Illinois Main Library.

O’Grady has taught library sessions on subjects including tool-based workshops, and sessions dedicated to supporting international students. She has a background in special collections, digital history and genealogy, and strong interest in the information needs of first-generation students and of incarcerated people. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, cooking and gardening.

Blair Proctor, Black Studies

Blair M. Proctor holds a Ph.D. in African American and African Studies from Michigan State University, where he was a TIAA Ruth Simms Hamilton Fellow. He joins the Department of Black Studies at SUNY New Paltz as an assistant professor.

From an African Diasporic perspective, Proctor’s analysis and research methodology involve sociological, qualitative and historical methods. Recent publications include “Coloured South African Consciousness: Blurring the Lines of Identity Formation and Space,” in the edited volume New Frontiers in the Study of the Global African Diaspora: Between Uncharted Themes and Alternative Representations.

Aaron Ricciardi, English

Aaron Ricciardi joins the English Department as a visiting assistant professor of creative writing, specializing in dramatic writing. Ricciardi holds an MFA in playwriting from Indiana University, where he studied under the tutelage of Peter Gil-Sheridan and taught playwriting and musical theatre writing.

A writer and performer, Ricciardi is currently a Core Apprentice at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a member of Clubbed Thumb’s Early-Career Writers’ Group, and a lyricist in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.

Skeeter Richardson, School of Business (Accounting)

Skeeter Richardson joins the School of Business as a lecturer of accounting. She holds a master’s degree from SUNY Albany and is an Enrolled Agent (EA), licensed to practice before the IRS. She maintains a private practice as a tax accountant in Rhinebeck, New York and is a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents, the New York State Society of Enrolled Agents and the NY/CT Association of Tax Professionals.

Richardson’s experience includes working at both a small, regional accounting firm and a large, national firm, where she prepared complex tax returns for high net worth clients. Since 2012, she has served as an adjunct professor teaching accounting, economics and math at Marist College, Dutchess Community College and SUNY Ulster.

Robyn Sheridan, Educational Studies & Leadership (Humanistic/Multicultural Education)

Robyn Stout Sheridan joins the SUNY New Paltz full-time faculty after having taught since 2013 as an adjunct in the Departments of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Educational Studies & Leadership. She holds a Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University.

Sheridan’s research has explored how teachers with social justice aims navigate complicity within their pedagogies, and how discourses of complicity can impact on pedagogical relationships. She enjoys exploring the beautiful Hudson Valley with her two children and husband.

Heather Wagner, Music

Heather J. Wagner is a music therapy clinician and educator who will work with SUNY New Paltz students as an assistant professor of music therapy. She holds a Ph.D. from Temple University, is a Fellow of the Association for Music and Imagery and is an active member of the American Music Therapy Association.

Wagner maintains a private music-based counseling practice, providing music therapy services in medical, psychiatric, rehabilitative and palliative care settings. She frequently presents about music therapy and music for health and wellness, and is most aligned with resource-oriented and trauma-informed approaches to therapy and education.

In free time, Wagner regularly performs with a variety of music groups in different genres, and also enjoys cycling, running and triathlon.

Matthew Wice, Psychology

Matthew Wice received his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from The New School for Social Research in 2017, and spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at The New School before coming to New Paltz in 2018 as a lecturer. He now assumes a role of assistant professor in the Department of Psychology.

Wice’s research concerns social development, with a particular emphasis on how culture influences the ways in which children come to make sense of their social worlds. His interest in culture and social development was largely inspired by time he spent as an English teacher in a small town in Japan. In his free time, Matthew enjoys playing the guitar, traveling and cooking.

Yi Zheng, School of Business (Finance)

Yi Zheng joins the School of Business as assistant professor of finance. He holds a Ph.D. in Finance from University of North Texas and M.S. in Economics from The University of Texas at Dallas. His research interests mainly include financial intermediation, banking, risk management, corporate finance, corporate governance, executive compensation and payout policy.