Introducing new faculty members for the 2023-24 academic year

At New Faculty Orientation, Aug. 23, 2023


The University is pleased to introduce the scholars, educators and creators who will join the SUNY New Paltz community as new full-time faculty in the fall 2023 semester. 

Please join us in welcoming them to the campus community: 

Debra Adair, Biology  

Debra Adair joins the Department of Biology as an Instructor and Pre-Health Advisor. She completed her doctoral degree working at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Warsaw in Poland, where she studied the impact of viral replication in autopsy brain tissue and genetic expression due to a disease response in Hepatitis C (HCV), suggesting a biological basis for the neuropsychiatric symptoms and cognitive impairment associated with HCV infection.   

Adair is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico and now calls the Catskills home, where she likes to hike. Click here for more of Adair’s work  

Lauren Baldonado, Teaching & Learning 

Lauren Baldonado joins the Department of Teaching and Learning as an Assistant Professor of Behavior Analysis and Autism Studies. She holds a doctoral degree from Columbia University and general education and special education teaching licenses in New Jersey.   

Her expertise focuses on the application of Applied Behavior Analysis to education and includes consulting for school districts, supervising and training paraprofessional staff and teachers, and developing language and learning programs for children with and without disabilities. 

Chad Bridgewater, Digital Design & Fabrication 

Chad Bridgewater joins the Digital Design and Fabrication program as an Assistant Professor. He received his Master of Fine Arts in Digital Fabrication from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.  

His work has been featured in Popular Mechanics and Metalsmith Magazine. In his current work, He combines impaired and discarded objects with computer-numerically-controlled machine generated parts, fusing traditional and digital fabrication processes to create one-of-a-kind, hybrid art objects. 

Wafi Danesh, Engineering 

Wafi Danesh joins the Division of Engineering Programs as an Assistant Professor in Computer Engineering. He received a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. 

His research interests cover the areas of artificial intelligence in hardware security, 3D integrated circuit design, multi-valued logic and Internet-of-Things (IoT) networks. Danesh looks forward to the opportunity to further extend his research and make collaborations between industry and academia. 

Cheri Ehrlich, Art Education 

Cheri Eileen Ehrlich is the new Assistant Professor of Art Education. Her research focuses on feminist art and art education, adolescents, and museums.  

Ehrlich completed her doctorate in Art & Art Education at Teachers College Columbia University. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and a Bachelor of Arts in women’s studies from UMass Amherst and a Master of Arts in Teaching in art education from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. In her free time, Ehrlich enjoys hiking or running but spends most of her time playing with and taking care of her one-year-old daughter. 

María Félix-Ortiz, Psychology 

Lecturer in Psychology María Félix-Ortiz’s research, clinical and consultation work included people who had AIDS, mental illness, and substance use disorders, and Latinx gang-affiliated youth, and she has been awarded National Institute of Health and other grants for her research of drug use and resiliency among Latino and other youth; and in the use of assisted mutual support groups.  

She has co-authored over a dozen peer-reviewed studies in these areas, and has traveled to Mexico City and to Washington D.C. to present this research. After travelling around the world to pursue her scholarship, she has returned home to the northeast to rejoin her family and enjoy cooler conditions for hiking and bicycling.

Matthias Heyne, Communication Disorders  

Matthias Heyne joins the Department of Communication Disorders as an Assistant Professor. He has a diverse background in music, education, linguistics, and speech science, and completed tertiary studies in Germany, Australia, and the U.S., culminating in a doctoral degree from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.   

Heyne has carried out research on a range of interdisciplinary topics, including the influence of native language on brass instrument performance, and the role of atypical white matter connectivity in the brains of people with speech disorders.  

Shelton K. Johnson (Es. K. Jay), Black Studies  

Es. K. Jay, an Alabama native, joins the Department of Black Studies as an Assistant Professor. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and African American Literature from Alabama State University in 2018, Master of Education degrees in curriculum and instruction and English from Faulkner University in 2019 and a doctorate in Instructional leadership-social/cultural studies and qualitative educational research from the University of Alabama in 2023.  

Jay’s scholarship has explored topics on social justice in education, color blindness, education, and the law; politics in education; social responsibility; identity formation; intersectionality; culturally relevant pedagogy; pedagogical content knowledge; critical race theory in education; race, gender, sexuality, curriculum; and teacher narratives. For his work and service, he was honored with the University of Alabama’s 2022 Most Outstanding Doctoral Student Award.  

Michael Kim, Communication 

Michael Kim joins the Department of Communication as an Assistant Professor of Global, Sustainable and Nonprofit Communication. He holds a doctorate in communication from the University of Miami, and a Master of Science in media, communication and development from the London School of Economics and Political Science.  

Kim studies communication for social change (C4SC) and critically examines how digital communication practices contribute to fostering social change and social justice efforts in a global context, with focuses on media representation of poverty and international development, advocacy communication, sustainability discourse, nongovernmental organization (NGO) communication, and information and communications technology for development. 

So Lim Kim, Teaching & Learning 

So Lim Kim joins the School of Education as an Assistant Professor of Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL). After completing her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Boston College, she worked as an adjunct professor and curriculum developer for the online TESOL program at Boston College.  

Kim’s academic and research background revolves around language, literacy, and culture, with a focus on identifying the distinct needs of immigrant students, bilinguals, and English language learners, with the goal of fostering successful English language acquisition while preserving their native language and culture. Her current interests include the integration of TESOL education with technology, extending TESOL education to all subjects for K-12 educators, and facilitating heritage language development for immigrant children. 

Alyssa Liguori 

Alyssa Liguori joins the School of Science and Engineering as an Assistant Professor of Biology. She earned her doctorate in ecology and evolution at Stony Brook University. Liguori studies the population dynamics of aquatic animals and uses experimental and molecular methods to explore the mechanisms that underlie organismal resilience to rapid environmental change.  

Katherine S. Misar, Teaching & Learning 

Katherine S. Misar joins the Department of Teaching & Learning as an Assistant Professor of Literacy Education. She received a doctorate in adolescent, post-secondary, and community literacies from The Ohio State University and a Master of Education in reading education from Vanderbilt University.  

 Misar’s research focuses on highly regarded experienced secondary science teachers engaging in argumentative writing instruction in biology. It has been published in the Journal of Literacy Research and presented at national conferences. 

Afia A. Oppong, Business  

Afia A. Oppong joins the School of Business as an Assistant Professor of Accounting. She is a certified public accountant and holds a doctorate in accounting from the University of Scranton and a Master’s in Business Administration in finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University.  

Oppong’s research interest mainly focuses on whistleblower studies in accounting, data security breaches and emerging technologies and their effect on accounting processes and financial reporting, and cultural and ethical behaviors influencing accounting teams. She lives in New City, New York, with her family. 

Victoria St. George ‘99 ‘03g, Communication Disorders 

Victoria St. George ‘99 (Visual Arts) ‘03g (Special Education) returns to New Paltz as a Lecturer in the Department of Communication Disorders and Coordinator of the Deaf Studies Minor. She is also a published author and illustrator and painter, holding art shows and book signings in her local communities. 

Jingwen Zhang, Music Therapy 

Jingwen Zhang received a Bachelor of Arts in music therapy from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China, a Master of Science from the State University of New York at New Paltz. and a doctorate from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Her research areas include clinical protocol development; music-based interventions for people with aphasia, dementia, Alzheimer’s diseases, and long-COVID; and environmental music therapy.  She has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Music & Medicine, Journal of Medical University of Medical Sciences, and Nordic Journal of Music Therapy.