Brandeis welcomes new faculty to campus

More than 30 new full-time faculty members and postdoctoral fellows join the university community this fall

A group shot of some new faculty membersPhoto/Mike Lovett

New faculty members arrived on campus Aug. 20 and 21 for new faculty orientation.

Along with throngs of new students, Brandeis University has welcomed more than 30 new full-time faculty members and postdoctoral fellows to campus this fall semester.

The group spans 28 areas of study and includes appointments in the School of Arts and Sciences, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management and Brandeis International Business School. All new full-time and part-time faculty were welcomed to campus at new faculty orientation Aug. 20 and 21.

“This is a remarkable group of scholars that is both full of potential and also already full of accomplishment,” said Provost Lisa Lynch. “I am looking forward to seeing all the ways this group will reinforce excellence at Brandeis, both in the classroom and in their research.”

The following new faculty have joined the university:

School of Arts and Sciences

African and African American StudiesHistory

Wangui Mugai
Assistant Professor

Mugai is a historian of medicine and science. Her research focus is the history of health, particularly the role of race and gender in shaping illness experiences, public health policies, and health care. Mugai’s current book-length project is a study of black infant mortality in the United States from slavery to the present. She received her PhD from Princeton University in 2017 and for the following two years served as Florence Levy Kay Fellow in Race, Science, and Society at Brandeis.

African and African American Studies, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Shoniqua Roach
Assistant Professor

Roach’s research interests include black feminism, black sexuality studies, and black literary and visual cultures. She received her PhD in 2017 from Northwestern University. From 2017-2019, Roach served as an assistant professor at the University of Oregon. She will teach the course “Intellectual History of Black Women” in the fall semester.


Brian Horton
Assistant Professor

Horton’s research examines intersecting sites of inquiry between queer anthropology, digital anthropology, and the anthropology of India: popular culture, virtual life, politics and ethics, pleasure, fun and violence. Horton received his PhD in 2019 from Brown University with the dissertation, “Shimmers of the Fabulous: Reinventions of Queer Life and Politics in Mumbai.”

Richard Schroeder

Schroeder is a human geographer whose research has focused on environmental studies, African studies, and development studies. He is the author of two books, more than a dozen peer-reviewed journal articles, four book chapters, and a number of editorials and commentaries. Schroeder earned a PhD in geography from the University of California, Berkeley. He has served as assistant professor (1993-1999), associate professor (1999-2013), and professor of geography (2013-2019) at Rutgers University.

Asian American Pacific Islander Studies, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality StudiesHistory

Yuri Doolan
Assistant Professor

Doolan is an historian with research interests in Asian American studies, transnational U.S. history, modern Korea, women’s history, gender and sexuality, oral history, and critical mixed race studies. Doolan received his PhD in 2019 from Northwestern University with the dissertation, “The First Amerasians: Mixed Race Koreans from Camptowns to America.” In addition to teaching courses in Asian American Pacific Islander studies, history, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, Doolan will develop and implement an Asian American and Pacific Islander studies program at Brandeis.


Alexandre Bisson
Assistant Professor

Bisson’s research seeks to develop the relatively unexplored field of the cell biology of archaea. His research aims to advance understanding of how archaeal molecular machineries work and how they compare to their bacterial and eukaryotic counterparts (archaea, bacteria and eukarya make up the three domains of life). Bisson received his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of São Paulo in Brazil in 2014, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University from 2015 until he came to Brandeis in August.  

Dariusz Przybylski
Assistant Research Professor

Przybylski is a computational scientist with expertise in systems biology, genomics, structural biology, proteomics, and physics.  In his research he uses advanced computational analysis and modeling while developing computational methods as needed.  He joins the lab of Professor Michael Rosbash after eleven years at the Broad Institute where his research focus was bioinformatics.

Computer Science

Constantine Lignos
Assistant Professor

Lignos’ expertise is computational linguistics. With interests spanning natural language processing (NLP) and child language acquisition, his work bridges computer science, linguistics and psychology. He aims to create simple, high-performance language technology systems that address underexplored problems in NLP, and has so far applied his interdisciplinary approach to domains as diverse as unsupervised morphological learning, codeswitching, natural language understanding for robotics, information extraction, and information retrieval. Lignos received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013, and has held positions at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, BBN Technologies and, most recently, at the Boston office of the University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute.

Marwan Abi-Antoun
Assistant Professor

Abi-Antoun’s expertise is software engineering. After receiving his Master’s degree, he worked for five years as a software engineer in the private sector in Texas before heading to Carnegie Mellon University. There he completed his Ph.D., which he based on a thesis titled “Static Extraction and Conformance Analysis of Runtime Architectural Structure.” From Carnegie Mellon, he joined the faculty of Wayne State University's Department of Computer Science before moving to New England to take up a position at MathWorks in Natick.

Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation (CAST), International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life

Toni Shapiro-Phim
Associate Professor

Shapiro-Phim joins Brandeis as associate professor of CAST, and as assistant director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts. She is a cultural anthropologist, educator, nonprofit administrator and filmmaker whose work is situated at the intersection of human rights, peace and justice concerns, genocide studies, and migration and the arts. After several years working with Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees in camps in Indonesia and Thailand, she completed the PhD in cultural anthropology at Cornell University. She comes to Brandeis from the Philadelphia Folklore Project (an arts and social justice nonprofit) where she has served as director of programs since 2011.

East Asian Studies, German, Russian and Asian Languages and Literature

Motoi Katsumata
Madeleine Haas Russell Visiting Professor in East Asian Studies, and German, Russian and Asian Languages and Literature

Katsumata will be in residence as Madeleine Haas Russell visiting professor for the academic year 2019-2020. He obtained his PhD in literature in 2001 from Kyushu University, Japan, and served as a postdoctoral fellow at Tokyo University before taking up his first faculty appointment at Meisei University in 2005 where he is now professor in the Department of Japanese and Comparative Culture. This fall, Katsumata will teach the course “Greed and Morality in Edo Period Novels.”


Joshua Goodman
Associate Professor

Goodman is an applied microeconomist specializing in labor economics and education policy, with a focus on higher education and STEM skills. His work explores the determinants and long-run impacts of college choice, and evaluates innovative interventions to develop STEM-related human capital. He received his PhD in 2009 from Columbia University. Goodman has served as an assistant professor (2009-2015) and associate professor (2015-2019) at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Mahsa Akbari

Akbari completed her Ph.D. in 2019 at Simon Fraser University. She has taught courses in microeconomics and macroeconomics at Columbia College, and Bentley University. Akbari's research interests include labor economics, applied microeconomics, and applied econometrics.

Geoffrey Clarke

Clarke’s research interests include economic history, applied microeconomics, banking and financial history, with a focus on African American banks. Clarke received his PhD from Rutgers University where he earned the Sidney I. Simon Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award.

EconomicsEnvironmental Studies Program

Xinde (James) Ji
Florence Levy Kay Fellow in Environmental Economics

Ji is an applied economist with a focus on natural resource and environmental economics, agricultural economics, and applied econometrics. His research interest sits at the intersection of climate change adaptation, water and land management, and human decision-making in the context of U.S. agriculture. Ji received his PhD from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 2018.


Leah Gordon
Harry S. Levitan Director of Education

Gordon’s research and teaching focus on the 20th-century United States, integrating the history of education, histories of racial and socio-economic inequalities, and intellectual history (with a particular interest in the history of social science and its relationship to social policy). She published her first book, “From Power to Prejudice: The Rise of Racial Individualism in Midcentury America,” with University of Chicago Press in 2015. Gordon holds a joint PhD in the Department of History and the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.


Grace Talusan
Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence

Talusan received her MFA in English from the University of California, Irvine’s Program in Creative Writing for Fiction. Her first book, a memoir, “The Body Papers,” was published in 2019. She writes both creative nonfiction and fiction; her next project is an historical novel based on research about Jewish refugees from the Holocaust who fled Manila, Philippines. Talusan has taught most recently at Tufts University and at GrubStreet.

Fine Arts

lauren woods
Assistant Professor

lauren woods is a conceptual artist whose hybrid media projects use film, video and sound installations, public interventions and site-specific work to engage history as a lens to view the socio-politics of the present. She also explores how traditional monument-making can be translated into new contemporary models of commemoration. woods received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2006. Her artwork has been exhibited across the U.S. and internationally. woods has served as a visiting lecturer at Southern Methodist University since 2016. She will join the Brandeis faculty in January 2020.

Genetic Counseling

Hetal Vig
Associate Professor of the Practice

Vig joins Brandeis as associate professor of the practice of genetic counseling, and as associate program director. As a board-certified genetic counselor, Vig has over 15 years of cancer genetic counseling experience at three NCI-designated cancer centers. For over 10 years, she has delivered formal genetics education to students and a wide range of health-care providers including genetic counselors, physicians, physician assistants, nurses and nurse practitioners. As a member of the Executive Leadership Committee, she helped establish the Rutgers University genetic counseling master’s program. Vig comes to Brandeis from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Monmouth, New Jersey, where she was senior genetic counselor.


Leah Wright Rigueur
Harry Truman Associate Professor of History

Wright Rigueur’s research interests include 20th-century African American history and politics, 20th-century U.S. political and social history, race, politics, policies, political ideologies, political institutions, civil rights, social movements, and the American presidency. She received her PhD in 2009 from Princeton University. From 2009 to 2014, Wright Rigueur served as assistant professor at Wesleyan University, and from 2014 through 2019 she served as assistant professor of public policy at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Amy Singer
Hassenfeld Chair in Islamic Studies and Professor of History

Singer is a scholar of Ottoman Turkey. She has served on the faculty of Tel Aviv University since receiving her PhD from Princeton University in 1989. Her courses have covered topics on the Ottoman Empire, modern Turkey, the modern Middle East and digital media studies. Singer has authored three monographs, and published 11 edited volumes or special journal issues, along with numerous articles and collections. Singer is currently president of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association. Her digital humanities work includes the establishment of OpenOttoman, an online portal and an incubator for developing digital resources.

David S. Katz
Visiting Professor

Katz completed his D.Phil. at Oxford University. He has served on the faculty of Tel Aviv University since 1978, most recently occupying The Abraham Horodisch Chair for the History of Books. Katz' areas of expertise are the history of ideas in the long early modern period (1500 - 1900), early modern English history, and early modern European religious history.

Latin American and Latino StudiesRomance Studies

María Durán
Florence Levy Kay Fellow in U.S. Latinx Cultural Studies

Durán received her PhD in 2019 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her dissertation, “Chicana Perspectives on the Political Ends of Grief and Public Mourning,” reflects her interdisciplinary interests in Latinx literatures and cultures, feminist theory, and Chicanx theatre and performance. In fall 2019, Durán will teach the course, “Latinx Theatre: Politics, Performance and Social Change.”


Rahul Krishna
Krishna’s research interests include algebraic number theory, and the theory of automorphic forms and applications to problems in arithmetic geometry. He received his PhD from Columbia University in 2016 before becoming a Boas assistant professor (a postdoctoral position) at Northwestern University.

Lam Pham
Pham’s research falls within the broad topic of discrete subgroups of Lie groups, and arithmetic groups. He explores the dynamics of group actions on homogeneous spaces, representation theory, and geometry, with a particular interest in connections to number theory. He received his PhD from Yale University in 2019.


Emily Frey
Assistant Professor
Frey’s research interests include Russian and Soviet music, history of opera (especially of the 19th century), music and literature, Russian cultural history of the "long" 19th century, music, politics, law, psychological realism, voice studies, music criticism and operatic acting. Frey received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2014, and has served as assistant professor at the University of Georgia (2014-2016) and visiting assistant professor at Swarthmore (2016-2019).

Near Eastern and Judaic Studies

Jessie DeGrado
Assistant Professor
DeGrado received their doctorate from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago in 2018 with training in Assyriology, Northwest Semitic epigraphy, and the Hebrew Bible. Their research focuses on cultural interaction between the Mesopotamian empires of the 1st millennium BCE and native populations of the Levant, including ancient Israel and Judah/Judea. DeGrado’s interdisciplinary approach engages postcolonial theory to show how modern social and political experiences inform reconstructions of ancient Mesopotamian history.


Umrao Sethi
Assistant Professor
Sethi’s research is situated at the intersection of the philosophy of the mind, metaphysics and early modern philosophy. She received her PhD in philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley in 2017 and comes to Brandeis from Lehman College, City University of New York where she was an assistant professor (2017-2019).


Guillaume Duclos
Assistant Professor
Duclos’ research interests lie at the interface of soft condensed matter, biophysics and material science. He examines the physical principles underlying the self-organization and dynamics of active complex fluids. He received his PhD in 2015 from the Curie Institute in Paris, France, and joined Brandeis’ physics department as a Human Frontier Science Program fellow in 2016.


Zachary Albert
Assistant Professor
Albert’s research focus is American politics, with an emphasis on political parties, elections, and public policy. His current research examines various aspects of party organization and behavior, focusing on the relationship between formal party organizations and informal/external party groups in elections and the development of public policy. Albert completed his PhD in 2019 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


Anne Berry
Assistant Professor
Berry’s research examines the nature of relationships between neurochemistry, brain activity, cognition and decision making in humans. Berry received her PhD in 2014 from the University of Michigan. She joins Brandeis following a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, and at the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Center at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Romance Studies

Christa Gould
Lecturer in Hispanic Studies
Gould joins Brandeis from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Miami University, Ohio, where she has served as visiting instructor of Spanish since 2014. She received her master’s in Spanish from Ohio University in 2012 and, since then, has taught Spanish at all levels at a variety of institutions ranging from high schools to colleges.

Theater Arts

Isaiah Wooden
Assistant Professor
Wooden’s areas of expertise include dramatic literature, theory and history, performance studies, critical race studies, sexuality studies, temporality studies, visual studies, devised theater, and theories of acting, directing and dramaturgy. Wooden, a former Ford Foundation Dissertation and Postdoctoral Fellow, earned his PhD at Stanford University in 2016. From 2015-2019, he served as assistant professor at American University.

Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

V Varun Chaudhry
Chaudhry’s research interests lie at the intersection of transgender studies, cultural and linguistic anthropological studies of institutions, and black feminism. Chaudhry is currently a PhD candidate at Northwestern University with the dissertation project, “The Price of Transgender Justice: Gender, Race, and the Institutionalization of Marginality.”

Beth Clark
Allen-Berenson Fellow in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Clark received her PhD in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies Program at the University of British Columbia with research focused on transgender health and health- care ethics. During the two-year residency at Brandeis, Clark will teach “Feminist Bioethics and Transgender Health and Wellness.”

Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Pamina Firchow
Associate Professor
Firchow comes to Brandeis from George Mason University where she was an assistant professor in the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Firchow studies the international accompaniment of communities affected by mass violence, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Firchow has published widely on participatory approaches to design, measurement and evaluation of transitional justice, reconciliation and peacebuilding interventions. Firchow earned her PhD from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. She has been working in the peacebuilding sector as a scholar-practitioner for nongovernmental organizations and universities since 1999.

Brandeis International Business School

Ying Becker
Professor of the Practice of Finance
Becker has over 24 years’ experience working in the technology and quantitative asset management industries. Prior to her transition to full-time academia, Becker held several leadership positions at State Street Global Advisors (SSgA), where she headed up an equity research team for portfolio strategies which managed multi-billion dollars in U.S., Canadian and global equity markets. Becker holds a PhD from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Nicole Boyson
Visiting Professor of Finance
Boyson is the Patrick F. and Helen C. Walsh Research Professor at Northeastern University, and is visiting for the fall 2019 semester. Boyson’s research focuses on institutional investors, including banks, mutual funds and hedge funds. She serves on the advisory board for the Financial Analysts Journal and is an associate editor for the Journal of Corporate Finance. Boyson holds a PhD from the Ohio State University.

Xavi Vidal-Berastain
Assistant Professor of Marketing
Vidal-Berastain conducts research in the areas of machine learning, big data and structural estimation. His research fuses enormous data sets with novel advances in computer science to improve standard approaches in causal estimation. Substantively, his research sheds light on how consumers change their grocery shopping habits when more diverse options become available. Vidal-Berastain holds a PhD from the University of Rochester.

Philippe Wells
Senior Lecturer
Wells is an operating executive in the start-up space with a background in private equity (Bain Capital) and strategy consulting (BCG). Wells spent 16 years creating and running successful health and wellness businesses. He has a PhD in economics from Harvard University and an undergraduate degree from Yale University.

Categories: Alumni, Research, Student Life

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage