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New Faculty Members Arrive at Pomona College

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges, has hired 17 new faculty for the 2005-06 academic year. They bring a wide range of experience and passions to the campus.

Rita Bashaw is assistant professor of German and Russian and director of Oldenborg Center for Modern Languages and International Relations. Oldenborg is at once a foreign-language residence hall, an international exchange venue, and an international affairs center. Bashaw earned her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Jose Cartagena-Calderon, assistant professor of Romance languages and literatures, focuses his research on the literary and cultural production of Spain and the Americas from the late 15th through the 17th centuries, with special emphasis on the construction of self perception and early modern masculinities and non-normative sexualities. Cartagena-Calderon earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Philip Choi, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, will teach “Introductory Astronomy,” “Life in the Universe,” “Observational Astronomy Lab” and “Stellar Structure and Evolution.” Choi’s primary research interests are observational studies of galaxy evolution. His current focus includes both detailed studies of nearby galaxies as well as large infrared and optical surveys of distant galaxy samples. Choi earned his Ph.D. from University of California, Santa Cruz.

Stephan Garcia, assistant professor of mathematics, teaches “Calculus II,” Linear Algebra” and “Principles of Real Analysis I.” His research is primarily in operator theory, which can best be described as a cross between linear algebra and infinite dimensional analysis. Garcia earned his Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley.

Dru Gladney, president of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College and professor of anthropology, has expertise in U.S. and China relations, Islam in Asia and transnationalism on the Sino-European frontier. The Pacific Basin Institute is dedicated to expanding and enhancing comity and shared knowledge among the nations and cultures that face the Pacific. Gladney earned his Ph.D. from the University of Washington.

Malkiat Johal, associate professor of chemistry, researches using layer-by-layer ionic adsorption processes to fabricate nanomaterials for optical and biochemical applications. His current courses are general chemistry, physical chemistry, advanced analytical chemistry and laboratory, and soft nanomaterials. Johal earned his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge.

Gizem Karaali, assistant professor of mathematics primarily researches representation theory, which is representing abstract algebraic objects with geometric objects that are easy to recognize and understand. She is also working with the symmetry of physical objects and physical theories. Karaali earned her Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley.

Pardis Mahdavi, assistant professor of anthropology, teaches courses in social and medical anthropology. Her areas of research include gender, sexuality, and health and human rights, particularly in the Muslim world. Specifically, she focuses on the intersection of sexuality and politics in post-revolutionary Iran and how sexuality is being used as a political statement, particularly with Iranian youth. Mahdavi earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Alma Martinez, assistant professor of theatre and dance, received a Fulbright grant for examining the work of a theatre collective in Latin American Nuevo Teatro Popular. Martinez teaches intermediate acting and her research looks at the interconnectivity of Chicano Theatre and the Nuevo Teatro Popular Movement in Latin America from 1964-1975. Martinez earned her M.F.A. from the University of Southern California and is a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University.

April J. Mayes, assistant professor of history, teaches classes on the Caribbean and U.S. and Latin American relations, such as “The Caribbean; Crucible of Modernity” and “Afro-Latin America.” Currently she is writing a book that examines the transformation of Dominican identity from brown to white in the period between 1870 and 1930. She also examines the transnational movement of ideas among African-descended political leaders in the United States, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic during the nineteenth century. Mayes earned her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Susan McWilliams, an instructor in politics, teaches classical political theory and “The Politics of Literature.” Her research is primarily on American political and popular culture. She examines the connections between travel narratives and political knowledge in the Western tradition and also studies the American legal and political tradition of Roe v. Wade. McWilliams earned her M.A. and is also a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University.

Sandeep Mukherjee, assistant professor of art and art history, teaches painting classes and topics in 20th Century painting. His expertise areas also include drawing and contemporary issues in art. From earlier self-portraits to the more recent abstractions his interest remains in making the hybrid object—part painting, part drawing, part sculpture and part environment. Mukherjee earned his M.F.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Mary Paster, assistant professor of linguistics and cognitive science, researches African languages, phonology (the study of speech sounds), and morphology (how words are built from stems and prefixes/suffixes). She focuses on describing poorly documented languages and demonstrating the theoretical importance of the linguistic phenomena found in these languages, particularly in their sound patterns. Her courses include “Introduction to Linguistics,” “Phonology,” and “Language in the Field.” Paster earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Claudia Rankine, Henry G. Lee professor of English, is an award-winning poet whose work is primarily in documentary poetics, which is writing that is grounded in the real world and current events. She is currently working on documentary multimedia pieces with photographer John Lucas. Rankine is teaching “Poetry Movements Since the 1950s” and “Advanced Creative Writing: Poetry.” Rankine earned her M.F.A. from Columbia University.

Friederike von Scherwin-High, assistant professor of German and Russian. Her work centers on 18th century German literature and German intellectual thought. She is currently working on an online literary encyclopedia, plays and aesthetic essays by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. von Scherwin-High earned her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

JoAnne Ferguson is assistant professor of physical education and women’s softball coach and earned her M.Ed. from University of Virginia.

Joshua White is assistant professor of physical education and men and women’s swim and dive coach. White earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University.

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges, provides its students with a challenging curriculum in the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and fine arts, and an unsurpassed environment for intellectual inquiry and growth. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.