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Arts & Sciences New Faculty


Department of Biological Sciences

Dr. Olson joins Texas Tech after spending 9 years on the faculty at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. At Texas Tech he will continue to develop his research interests in ecological genetics and bioinformatics with the aim of identifying genes important for growth and yield in trees. To date Dr. Olson has been the recipient of 5 grants from the National Science Foundation, including two for graduate student training, which amounted to over $4M in funding. He also brings strong teaching credentials, having taught a popular course in Evolutionary Biology at UAF. Finally, he has served on steering and management committees for developmental grants in climate change science. Dr. Olson earned his Bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master's in Botany from Louisiana State University, and a PhD from Duke University. 

William Resetarits comes to Texas Tech after serving as Program Director in the Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation and as a Visiting Scholar at Rutgers University.   He has held several senior academic positions, including posts at the University of Southampton (UK) and Old Dominion University.  He holds Master's degrees in Anthropology (University of Missouri) and Biology (Saint Louis University) and received his Ph.D. at Duke University.  With a long history of funding by both NSF and EPA, Professor Resetarits' research lies at the intersection of ecology, behavior and evolution and has primarily focused on aquatic systems and the aquatic/terrestrial interface.   He is keenly interested in biodiversity and species interactions and their role in community and ecosystem function at multiple spatial scales.


Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Professor Yehia Mechref is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.  He was recruited to Texas Tech University from Indiana University where he was a Senior Scientist and Director of the METACyt Biochemical Analysis Center and assistant director of the National Center for Glycomics and Glycoprotemics, a national resource Center.  He is the principal investigator on a grant from NIH that is developing mass spectrometry techniques to support studies in glycomics research.  He received a Ph.D. degree from Oklahoma State University with horonable mention and afterward was a postdoctoral fellow at Indiana University.  He has authored more than 100 papers and book chapters and holds 9 patents.


Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures

Dr. Anita McChesney is a tenure track Assistant Professor of German in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures.  She comes to Texas Tech after spending four years as an Assistant Professor of German at the University of Notre Dame. Since earning her Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University in 2005, she has authored several articles on narrative constructions of truth in detective stories, and on the intersections of visual media, narration and history in contemporary Austrian literature.  Her most recent article, “History and Media in Gerhard Roth’s Orkus and in Austrian Literature of the New Millennium,” draws out the role of intermediality in the work of acclaimed Austrian novelist Gerhard Roth.  She is also in working with the author on a literary evening on his works. The event will take place at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York in November and will center on the relationship between photography and literature in Gerhard Roth’s work. Anita’s larger ongoing research project is a book entitled “Mediating Truth: The Detective Story and its German Context.” This project examines the impact of textual and visual media on the development of the detective novel from German Romanticism to post-modern Austrian literature.

Dr. Carole Edwards was born and raised in Reims, France.  She went to the University of Reims, France and the University of Caen, Normandy where she received two Bachelors of Arts and a Master’s in Applied Languages, French, English and Spanish.  She also holds an M.A. in French from Texas Tech (1996).  She taught at Arizona State University for 2 years and then received her Ph.D. in Francophone Studies at Purdue University (2005).   She was the recipient of two First Prizes in Literary analysis and Cultural Studies for her works on Francophone Women of the Diaspora.  She has published on authors of the Maghreb as well (« Regards sur le dernier été de la raison de Tahar Djaout: Un cri pour l’Algérie postcoloniale » in Expressions Maghrébines).  She has written articles on Women of the Caribbean (Transnational Studies).  Carole Edwards also received many research scholarships including the « Juliet Benhamou » scholarship for excellence in Francophone Studies (2003).  She has translated some of Suzanne Dracius’ poetry in exquise déréliction métisse (2008) and published a monograph: Les Dramaturges Antillaises: Cruauté, Créolité, Conscience féminine (L’Harmattan, February 2008).  She is currently working on a book Le Sacrifice dans la littérature francophone.  She has agreed to co-author a textbook in Business French.  Carole Edwards taught at the Air Force Academy from 2006 until this past summer.  At the Academy, she received the Professional Pacesetter Award in 2006, the Outstanding Academy Educator in 2009 and was a nominee for the Professor of the Year Award in the State of Colorado in 2010.


Department of Communication Studies

Dr. Kendra Rivera received her doctorate in Human Communication from Arizona State University in August 2010.  Dr. Rivera’s research interests are in organizational communication.  Her dissertation was an ethnographic exploration of the U.S. Border Patrol, where she spent 2 years observing and interviewing gents as they worked along the Southwestern border of the United States.


Department of English

Dr. Cordelia Barrera received her PhD in 2009 from the University of Texas at San Antonio.  Her article “Border Theory and the Politics of Place, Space, and Memory in John Sayle’s Lone Star” was published this year in the Quarterly Review of Film and Video. Her dissertation and book project, has the intriguing and certainly timely title “Border Places, Frontier Spaces:  Deconstructing Ideologies of the Southwest.”  It focuses on counternarratives of nation-making and identity in Chicana/o, Native American, and Euro-American conceptions of US-Mexico border regions.  She is also the film reviewer for the alternative monthly newspaper Laredos: A  Journal of the Borderlands.

Dr. Timothy Crowley earned his PhD from University of Maryland in 2009. His article “Arms and the Boy: Marlowe’s Aeneas and the Parody of Imitation in Dido, Queen of Carthage,” was published in the journal English Literary Renaissance and was awarded the Hoffman Prize from the King’s School of Canterbury for a Distinguished Essay on Christopher Marlowe. Dr. Crowley has also been awarded fellowships to the Folger Institute (where he participated in seminars in Renaissance Paleography and in the Early Modern Book in a Digital Age) and the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar “Reformation of the Book.”  His dissertation and book project has the provocative title “Sidney’s Arcadia and Spanish Chivalric Romance: Feigned Histories of Secret Marriage.”

Joining the faculty in creative writing is author Cristina Garcia.  Her novels include Dreaming in Cuban (which was a finalist for the National Book Award), The Agüero Sisters, Monkey Hunting, and A Handbook to Luck.  Her fifth novel—The Lady Matador’s Hotel—was released yesterday.  She has also written one book of poetry and two children’s books and edited two anthologies of fiction— Cubanísimo: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Cuban Literature and Bordering Fires: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Mexican and Chicano/a Literature.  Her work has been translated into a dozen languages, and she is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers' Award, a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.


Department of Geosciences

Dr. Brian Ancell joined the Geosciences faculty in January of 2010. He received the Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington in 2006 and was a post-doc there from 2006 to 2009. Dr. Ancell’s research interests are focused on the predictability of high-impact and important weather events such as severe convection associated with fronts and drylines, winter storm frozen and freezing precipitation, extreme precipitation from tropical cyclones as they make land-fall, and wind power. He is currently using a high-resolution modeling system to develop a better understanding of the relative predictability of different weather events and how forecasts of these events could be improved by taking observations in specific areas.

Dr. Eric Bruning joined the Geosciences faculty in September 2010. He received the Ph.D. in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma in 2008, and was a research associate at the University of Maryland Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center and NOAA Cooperative Institute for Climate Studies.  Dr. Bruning’s research specialties focus on the relationships of storm electrification and lightning to the thermodynamics, microphysics, kinematics, and dynamics of thunderstorms. He also does research on data visualization, the Python programming language, and the history and philosophy of science. In the coming year, Dr. Bruning will deploy the West Texas Lightning Mapping Array, 3-D lightning mapping technology. Data from this network will be in collaboration with the TTU KA-band radars and data from the network will be sent to the local National Weather Service Forecast Office for use in short-term forecast and warning operations.

Dr. Song-Lak Kang joined the Geosciences faculty in September 2010. He received the Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from Penn State University in 2007 and was a postdoctoral fellow in the National Center for Atmospheric Research Advanced Study Program in Boulder, Colorado from 2008-2010. Dr. Kang’s research interests include the atmospheric boundary layer, land-atmosphere interaction, and low-level horizontal winds. His research has applications to wind energy research, specifically to understand the effect of land surface heterogeneity on low-level horizontal wind speed fluctuations and to improve wind power forecast. He is also interested in initiation and development of severe thunderstorms and linking local land surface heterogeneity to improvement of weather forecasts.

Dr. Juske Horita is the first Strategic Hire in the College of Arts & Sciences. He received the Ph.D. from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, in 1987 and then pursued a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University. Following his post-doctoral studies, he was a Staff Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and also served as a Research and Adjunct Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Horita’s research is on the geochemistry of light stable isotopes: primarily the isotopes of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. He applies measurements of stable isotope ratios to research into water sources, water quality, and related environmental sciences. This research will provide critical input information concerning the economic impacts of water resources, environmental change, and the ecology of the region, with broader application throughout the Southwestern U.S.


Department of Health, Exercise, and Sport Sciences

Dr. Joaquin Gonzales is a new assistant professor in the area of exercise physiology.  Dr. Gonzales completed his doctorate at the University of Toledo and he received his master’s degree from the department of Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences here at Texas Tech University.  He comes to Texas Tech from a post-doc at Penn State University.  Dr. Gonzales’ research interests focus on vascular aging and understanding the mechanisms involved in shear stress-mediated changes in vascular function that accompany acute and chronic exercise.

Dr. Yoonjung Park is a new assistant professor in the area of exercise physiology.  Dr. Park received his master’s degree from the University of Texas and his doctorate from Texas A&M University.  He recently completed a post-doc in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia.  Dr. Park’s research interest focuses on the role of exercise in cardiovascular function, especially mirocirculation, in aging and pathophysiological conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and to identify the mechanisms associated with exercise that prevents or reverses the impairment of cardiovascular function.

Dr. Zan Gao is a new assistant professor in the area of physical activity pedagogy and sport psychology.  Dr. Gao most recently was a faculty member at University of Utah.  He received his doctorate from the Louisiana State University. Dr. Gao’s primary area of research has focused on the promotion of children’s health-related physical fitness and fighting childhood obesity through school-based physical activity intervention programs (e.g., physical education programs, after-school physical activity programs, recess programs) and ways to motivate student to participate in physical activities.  Dr. Gao has received several grants associated with his research.

Dr. Jens Omli Is a new assistant professor in the area of sport psychology.  Dr. Omli received his doctorate from the University of Minnesota.  He comes to Texas Tech from an NIH post-doc position at the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota.  Dr. Omli’s research focuses on adult influences in the physical and social development of children and youth within the contexts of organized sport and physical education.  Dr. Omli has received external funding from the United States State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to provide a coach education program in Uganda.


Department of History

Dr. Barton A. Myers is an Assistant Professor in nineteenth century U.S. military history with a research specialization in the American Civil War era. His first book on American Civil War guerrilla warfare Executing Daniel Bright: Race, Loyalty, and Guerrilla Violence in a Coastal Carolina Community, 1861-1865 won the 2009 Jules and Frances Landry Award for the best book in southern studies published by LSU Press. He received his MA and PhD in history from the University of Georgia and comes to Texas Tech after holding a postdoctoral fellowship in military history at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Currently, he is working on a second book funded by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation entitled Rebels Against a Rebellion: Southern Unionists in Secession, War and Remembrance.

Dr. Zachary Brittsan is an Assistant Professor of history who specializes in the history of Mexico.  His research focuses on one of the largest rural rebellions of mid-nineteenth-century Mexico, led primarily by a conservative mestizo, Manuel Lozada.  Dr. Brittsan completed his Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of California, San Diego.  He teaches a wide variety of courses in world history, Latin America, and the history of Mexico.


Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Alastiar Hamilton is a new assistant professor of mathematics. He received his PhD in October 2005 from Bristol University, England under Andrey Lazarev.  The title of Dr. Hamilton’s thesis was Homotopy Algebras, Noncommutative Geometry and Graph Homology.  From June 2006-June 2007, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max-Planck-Institut fur Mathematik, Bonn, Germany and from August 2007 – August 2010, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Connecticut.  He has 10 publications (2004-present) appearing in high quality outlets, such as the Journal Noncommative Geometry and Letters in Mathematical Physics.  He has given 14 presentations (2003-2010) at European and U.S. conferences, colloquia and seminars.  Dr. Hamilton’s research interests are in the areas of noncommutative geometry, moduli spaces of curves, homological algebra, deformation theory, and mathematical physics.  

Raegan Higgins is a new assistant professor in mathematics.  She received her Ph.D. in May 2008 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln under Lynn Erbe and Allan Peterson. The title of her thesis was Oscillation Theory of Dynamic Systems on Time Scales.  From September 2008-August 2010, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University.  She has 5 publications and she has given 19 presentations (2001-2010) at regional and national conferences and seminars.  Additionally, she is a Project NExT Fellow and a CoPI on a NSF grant for “The West Texas Middle School Math Partnership.” Dr. Higgins’ research interests are oscillation criteria for nonlinear dynamic equations, stability criteria for nonlinear difference equations, and mathematical preparation of teachers.


Department of Psychology

Dr. Jamie Gorman received his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from New Mexico State University in 2006. He held a post-doctoral research associate position at Arizona State University and the Cognitive Engineering Research Institute in Mesa, AZ for four years. His research program centers on the study of human interaction dynamics with an emphasis on teams and groups. He applies methods of dynamical systems theory, as well as concepts from ecological and cognitive psychology, to real problems such as training adaptive teams. This work has conceptual richness and great applicability in various settings, including surgical operating rooms, military vehicles, and the like.