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College of Arts and Sciences welcomes 22 new faculty members this fall

Clemens Hall is home to the College of Arts Sciences. As promised by the College's 2013 strategic plan, new faculty have been hired in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and arts.


Published August 29, 2013

In June 2013, the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, released a strategic plan that anticipated an increase of 60 faculty members or 13 percent in the number of its tenure-track faculty over the next few years. The College has now announced that 22 new faculty members in the visual and performing arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences will take up tenure track positions this fall.

In alphabetical order by department, they are:

Anthropological geneticist Omer Gokucumen, PhD, an award-winning 2008 doctoral graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Anthropology, and a recent postdoctoral fellow at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and the Harvard Medical School, joins the UB Department of Biological Sciences as an assistant professor, a post to which he brings his considerable expertise in genetic anthropology and genomic structural variation.

His work in evolutionary genetics of heritable human diseases, population genetics, genome evolution and its relevance to expression and human phenotypic variation, has been cited by experts in his field as exceptional and published in such journals as Science, Cell, Genome Biology, Nature Genetics and Nature. He also has presented dozens of invited lectures and conference talks.

Gokucumen is a mentor for the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program, which offers training and career development opportunities for underrepresented minorities interested in pursuing cancer research careers in basic, clinical, prevention and population control sciences. It is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Department of Chemistry welcomes two new assistant professors, G. Ekin Atilla-Gokcumen, PhD, and Luis Velarde, PhD.

Atilla-Gokcumen, a graduate of Koc University, Istanbul, received her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to work as a postdoctoral fellow for several years at Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School.

A chemical biologist, she uses liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry to study the involvement of lipids in different biological processes. Her aim is to identify lipids that cells regulate during different processes, study the fate of these lipids in the biological environment and investigate the biological implications of changes in lipid content and localization. The resulting data may provide therapeutic applications for aging, cancer and inflammatory disease.

Atilla-Gokcumen’s work has been published in the journals ChemBioChem, Cancer Research, Angewandte Chemie (international edition), Synlett, Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry, the European Journal of Organic Chemistry, and Chemical Biology, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

Dana Farah Fields, PhD, will join the faculty of the Department of Classics as an assistant professor. Her areas of specialty are Greek literature (in particular that of the Greek imperial era), ancient politics and the history of ideas.

Martha Malamud, PhD, professor and the department’s director of graduate studies, calls Fields an important addition to the faculty in part because she teaches many literary genres, including poetry, drama, and comedy.

“She is a superbly trained Ph.D. from Princeton University (2009) who has taught at Birkbeck University, London, and at Columbia University, where she had a prestigious Mellon Research Fellowship in Columbia's Society of Fellows in the Humanities,” Malamud says. “And, in addition to her interests in literature of the Greek classical period, she brings to the department expertise in Greek literature of the Roman Empire, and in ethical and political thought in Greek imperial literature.”

Matthew N. Grizzard, a recent PhD from Michigan State University (MSU), will join the Department of Communication as an assistant professor.

His major areas of interest are the historical and contemporaneous impact of media on morality, media entertainment, media effects, video games and quantitative research methodology. Last year he received awards from MSU for excellence in teaching and having the most promising research agenda.

Grizzard is well-published in scholarly journals, has a number of papers in preparation, has presented many peer-reviewed conference papers and appeared on peer-reviewed panels. He has twice received best paper awards from the National Communication Association for co-authored work. He is an invited reviewer for the journals Media Psychology and the Journal of Media Psychology.

Alexander Green, PhD, a 2013 graduate of the Department for Study of Religion, University of Toronto and a specialist in Jewish studies, will join the Department of History and the UB Institute for Jewish Thought and Heritage as an assistant professor.

A 2012-13 fellow of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Green is proficient in Hebrew, French, Arabic, Latin, Judeo-Arabic, Yiddish and Aramaic, and has conducted research at Cambridge, the University of Jerusalem and elsewhere on such topics as the Cairo Geniza, the “forgotten space between ‘religious’ and ‘secular,’” and notions of divine and human love in Jewish philosophy.

Green has delivered presentations at national and international conferences on ethics in the Jewish tradition, with specific attention to Spinoza, and currently serves as the associate editor of the Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought. 

Cala A. Zubair, PhD, most recently an assistant professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, will join the Department of Linguistics as an associate professor. She holds her PhD and MA from Georgetown University.

Zubair’s research is directed toward sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology; the linguistics of Sinhala, the ancient mother tongue of the 16 million Sri Lankan Sinhalese, and lexical semantics (case, argument, realization, mood). Her ethnographic studies among Sinhalese youth examine register formation, gendered slang constructions and language ideology. She also studies Sinhala syntax and semantics, including research on (in)volitive verbs, causative/inchoative alternations, and non-canonically case-marked subjects. She has received several research and travel grants in support of her work, which has been published in linguistics and anthropology journals and presented in invited lectures in the U.S. and Sri Lanka. In addition to English and Sinhala, Zubair’s languages are Russian, ancient Greek and Sanskrit.

On a more populist note, Zubair has considered stylization as the mechanism through which The Daily Show with Jon Stewart stretches the boundaries of political news broadcasting. She also studied discourses of history and heritage that appear on tourist signs in northwest Washington, D.C. She points out that, while the narratives appear to address long-time residents, they also entice the gentrifying populations responsible for the very changes the stories lament.

Cagatay Kutluhan, PhD, received his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Michigan and holds bachelor’s degrees in both mathematics and physics from Turkey’s Middle East Technical University. He joins the Department of Mathematics as an assistant professor after two years as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University.

He also has worked as Ritt Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Columbia University and as a postdoctoral research fellow at UC Berkeley’s Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI). Kutluhan’s current research focuses on the equivalence of Heegaard and Seiberg-Witten Floer homologies, mathematical tools used in the study of symplectic geometry and low-dimensional topology

Paige Sarlin is an artist, filmmaker, scholar and political activist with a PhD in modern culture and media from Brown University and an MFA in film, video and new media from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A visiting assistant professor in the UB Department of Media Study since 2012, she joins the department faculty as an assistant professor. Her work examines the interrelation of documentary practice and histories of technological and cultural change.

Her writings on aesthetics and politics have appeared in the publications Rethinking Marxism, The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, and Reviews in Cultural Theory. She is now working on a book-length manuscript entitled “Interview-Work: The Genealogy of a Cultural Form.” Sarlin’s well-received feature-length documentary film, “The Last Slide Projector,” is the story of Eastman Kodak’s carousel slide projector. Told on the eve of the carousel’s final production run, the film contemplates the social consequences of technological change and obsolescence. From 1999 to 2010, Sarlin was active in the 16Beaver Group, a New York-based, artist-run political and artistic collective that serves as a platform for the discussion of the intersection of art and politics.

Yuki Numata, who has worked at UB as an adjunct professor in 2010-11, joins the Department of Music faculty as an assistant professor and instructor in violin and viola. Since 2006 she has worked as a private and group violin instructor, chamber music coach and viola teacher and while at UB, performed with the Slee Sinfonietta, led orchestral sections for strings, mentored composition students and coached weekly chamber music groups.

Cited by the New York Times for her “virtuosic flair and dexterous bravery,” Numata has an affinity for contemporary music and in addition to the Sinfonietta, has performed with Signal Ensemble, the Talea Ensemble (of which she is a member), the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and other notable ensembles. She also has worked closely with some of today’s foremost composers, including Charles Wuorinen, Steve Reich and John Dorn, and also has collaborated with many composers of her own generation.

She holds a master of music degree in performance and chamber music from the University of Michigan and was a 2003 graduate of the Eastman School of Music.

Numata has worked extensively as a chamber musician and as a soloist at  festivals and other venues throughout the United States, including Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall, and in Paris, Grenada (SP), Caen (FR), Berlin, Krakow, Shanghai, London and Banff with a wide range of artists. Her performances are available on Columbia Records, Merge/Mercury Records and Cantaloupe Records and in addition to recordings of her own performances, she has recorded with a number of other individuals and groups.

Carlisle Rainey, who holds a PhD in political science and an MS in mathematical statistics from Florida State University, joins the Department of Political Science as an assistant professor.

His research interests include electoral institutions, political parties, electoral campaigns and participation, party identification, data visualization, computation in “R” and other subjects. In particular, he observes how electoral rules affect political parties' incentives to structure and simplify the political world for citizens and the way social scientists evaluate and communicate empirical evidence, particularly the use (and misuse) of statistical arguments and visualization

Rainey has authored or co-authored articles published in the American Journal of Political Science and his current projects include papers on party coherence and voter behavior, strategic mobilization of expert opinion,  and an alternative to the heteroskedastic-ordered probit.

Kenneth G. DeMarree, PhD, a much-published social psychologist and assistant professor in psychology at Ohio State University, and Kristin E. Naragon-Gainey, PhD, a specialist in anxiety disorders, who will both join the UB Department of Psychology as assistant professors.

DeMarree’s research lies at the intersection of attitudes, social cognition, the self and self-concept. He is the co-editor of “Social Metacognition” (Psychology Press, 2012), whose contributors explore the nature, origins and consequences of the views we hold of ourselves.

In psychology, priming is an implicit memory effect in which exposure to a stimulus influences a response to a later stimulus. DeMarree has studied the mechanisms by which primes impact judgments and behavior. Among these effects are their impact on the self and meta-cognitive factors influencing priming effects; the role of self-affirmation and self-confidence in persuasion; predictors of attitude strength (in particular subjective ambivalence), and factors that predict the durability and impact of self-views.  Under a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, he is in the second year of a three-year study of positive and negative consequences of behavioral mimicry.

Naragon-Gainey is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College in psychology and music who holds an MA from the Yale School of Music and an MA and PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Iowa.

She has received a number of honors and awards for her graduate and undergraduate work, and is the author or co-author of more than two dozen peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and encyclopedia entries, many on emotional expression in psychopathology and how cognition and affect might be improved in those with such disorders. She comes to UB from her position as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Boston University’s internationally known center for clinical treatment and research in a wide range of anxiety disorders and related problems.

Paola Ugoline, PhD, a visiting assistant professor of Italian at UB since 2011, will join the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures as an assistant professor of Italian.

Ugoline holds a doctorate from New York University and degrees from the University of Bologna and the Ca’Foscari Graduate School at the University of Venice. Her interests include early modern literature and culture, gender studies and the history of sexuality, 20th-century Italian poetry and Italian as a second language. She has taught courses in the Italian Renaissance, Italian theater, the Divine Comedy, the Italian novella, Italian conversation and civilization, and intermediate Italian.

Her publications include articles in the journals Italian Studies and The Italianist (forthcoming), and a translation of the complete poems of Italian Renaissance poet Veronica Gambara (University of Toronto Press, 2014).

The Department of Sociology has two new assistant professors, Jessica Houston Su, PhD, and Hanna Grol-Prokopczyk, PhD.

Jessica Su recently received her PhD in sociology from Cornell University where she minored in demography. She also holds a BA with honors from Dartmouth College. A former research assistant in Cornell’s Department of Policy Analysis and Management and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, she is the recent author of “Pregnancy Intentions and Parents’ Psychological Well-Being” in the Journal of Marriage and the Family, and has several manuscripts awaiting publication that consider children’s well-being in fragile and stressed families.

Grol-Prokopczyk received her PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, supported in part by a scholar’s grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She received her AB cum laude from Harvard University, and an MS in sociology and MA in Southeast Asian studies from the University of Wisconsin. 

She has received a number of other grants and awards in support and recognition of her work, which focuses on the demography of health and aging. Her other research and teaching interests include medical sociology, research methods, sociology of science, aging and the life course, demography, globalization, medical ethics and statistical computing. She has published peer-reviewed articles in the journal Social Science and Medicine and the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and has several more under review or in preparation.

Lindsay Brandon Hunter, PhD, and Jacob Gallagher-Ross, DFA, will join the Department of Theatre and Dance as assistant professors.

Hunter holds a PhD in theater and performance studies from UCLA and her work focuses on digital, social and new media, acting theory and pedagogy, and performance and gaming. She has published on such topics as realness, mimesis and media in 21st century performance, examining, for example, “realness,” affect and excess in reality TV and melodrama; bodies on reality television; performances of circulation such as memes, viral videos and participatory digital culture, and authenticity in performance.

Gallagher-Ross received his DFA in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism from Yale University. He has served as a production dramaturge for Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival and the Yale School of Drama and has worked as a teacher, literary manager and writer.

His editorial work has been featured in the Village Voice, TheatreForum, Performing Arts Journal (PAJ), Canadian Theatre Review and Drama Review (TDR). He also is a contributing editor with Theatre magazine, a publication on which he also has served as associate editor, managing editor and staff member.

Two new faculty members in the Department of Transnational Studies are Professor Cecil A. Foster, PhD, and Assistant Professor Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, PhD.

Foster, recognized for his contributions to the fields of race, ethnic and religious relations, has been a professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Guelph, Ontario, for several years. He served on that university’s graduate faculties of the Latin and Caribbean Studies Program, and the graduate program in creative writing, Department of English. He is a fellow or collaborator in several centers and institutes at York University as well, including the centers for public policy and law, refugee studies and research on Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migration of African Peoples.

Mt. Pleasant is an ethno-historian and specialist in American Indian studies from Yale University will also be an assistant professor in the Department of History.

A Tuscarora from New York’s Haudenosaunee Confederacy, she recently was a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania’s McNeil Center for Early American Studies. She holds an MA in history and a PhD in history and American studies from Cornell University, and was an assistant professor of history at Yale. She teaches broadly in American Indian history, although her research focuses on the experiences of American Indians of the northeastern United States. She was Yale’s first American Indian faculty member whose teaching was devoted entirely to American Indian studies.

Mt. Pleasant is the author of many articles, monographs and conference papers and has presented her work at meetings of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, American Studies Association, American Society for Ethnohistory, Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture, and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.

Art historian Jasmina Tumbas, who holds a PhD from Duke University, joins the Department of Visual Studies as an assistant professor. She brings to this position her specialties in modern and contemporary art in the U.S., Europe and Eastern Europe, performance, conceptual art, Fluxus and mail art, Marxism, nationalism, Slavic studies, trauma studies and globalization.

She has published on artists’ networks in Eastern Europe and Latin America and on the work of Croatian multimedia artist Tomislav Gotovac, Hungarian Fluxus/conceptual artist Endre Tot, the Dada-influenced Serbian performance and photographic artist Rasa Todosijevic, and others.