Brandeis welcomes new faculty

34 new full-time faculty members and postdoctoral fellows join the university

Graphic that says Brandeis New Faculty 2020

Brandeis is welcoming 34 new full-time faculty members and postdoctoral fellows to the university community this fall.

The group spans 24 departments and areas of study in the School of Arts and Sciences, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management and Brandeis International Business School.

"The newest members of our faculty are joining our community under unusual and challenging circumstances, but that does not change the fact that they bring exceptional scholarship and expertise with them,” said Provost Lisa Lynch. “The connections they will make across disciplines and with students will further strengthen the university for years to come.”

Some of the new faculty will be on campus this semester, while others will begin their time at Brandeis remotely. A remote orientation was held in late August by the Center for Teaching and Learning.

The following new faculty have joined the university:

School of Arts and Sciences

Division of Creative Arts

Fine Arts

lauren woods
Assistant Professor

Professor 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. Professor woods also explores how traditional monument-making can be translated into new contemporary models of commemoration. Her artwork has been exhibited across the United States and internationally. Professor woods received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and she served as a visiting lecturer at Southern Methodist University.

Division of the Humanities

Classical Studies, and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies

Darlene Brooks Hedstrom
Myra and Robert Kraft and Jacob Hiatt Associate Professor of Christian Studies

Brooks Hedstrom joins Brandeis from Wittenberg University, with a joint appointment in the departments of classical studies, and Near Eastern and Judaic studies, and an affiliation with the religious studies program. She is an historian of late ancient and early Byzantine Christianity of the eastern Mediterranean world (circa 300-1000 CE) whose work combines texts, material culture and theory. She has been heavily involved in excavation work in the Middle East and is an expert in the archaeology of monasticism in Egypt, which is the focus of her award-winning book “The Monastic Landscape of Late Antique Egypt: An Archaeological Reconstruction.”

Jillian Stinchcomb
Florence Levy Kay Fellow in Hebrew Bible and Mediterranean Cross-Cultural Textual Traditions

A classical studies major, Stinchcomb received her bachelor’s degree in Greek and Roman civilizations from the University of Notre Dame and her master’s in Jewish studies from Yale Divinity School. She completed her doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Religious Studies where she recently defended her dissertation: “Remembering the Queen of Sheba in the First Millennium.” She joins Brandeis with a joint appointment as lecturer in the departments of classical studies, and Near Eastern and Judaic studies.


Brandon Callender
Assistant Professor

Callendar’s research interests encompass 19th- and 20th- century American literature, African American literature, film and media, and gender and sexuality studies. He completed his undergraduate degree in literatures in English at Hunter College, New York, where he was awarded a Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. He entered UC Berkeley’s doctoral program in 2015 where his research focused on gender and sexuality in the field of 20th and 21st-century African American literatures. During this time, he renewed his association with the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Program, this time serving as one of the program’s graduate mentors.

Joshua Williams
Visiting Assistant Professor

Williams completed his undergraduate studies in comparative literature at Princeton, with supplementary interests in African studies and creative writing. He received his master’s from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, and his doctorate in performance studies from the University of California, Berkeley. His dissertation was titled “Don’t Show a Hyena How Well You Can Bite: Race, Performance and the Animal Subaltern in Eastern Africa.” He served as a preceptor of expository writing at Harvard College Writing Program for two years and, most recently, as an assistant professor faculty fellow in the Department of Drama at New York University Tisch School of the Arts.

Latin American and Latino Studies

Isar Godreau
Madeleine Haas Russell Visiting Professor in Latin American and Latino Studies (spring 2021)

Godreau’s work lies at the intersections of race, health and education. She received her PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and has been a researcher at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey since 2003. Among her publications are two books including “Scripts of Blackness: Race, Cultural Nationalism and US Colonialism in Puerto Rico,” which was recognized with a Frank Bonilla Book Award in 2016.  She is the recipient of a number of fellowships and grants and has held visiting positions at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, New York University, Princeton University, the University of South Florida, and Northwestern University.


Peter Epstein
Assistant Professor

Epstein’s areas of specialization are philosophy of mind, epistemology and philosophy of science. He received his PhD in philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley in 2017 with a dissertation called “Sensible Concepts: Experience and the A Priori.” He then spent three years as a Junior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, Cambridge from where he joins the Department of Philosophy as Assistant Professor.

Eyal Tal
Visiting Assistant Professor.

Tal’s areas of specialization are epistemology and metaethics. He completed his undergraduate degree in philosophy at the University of Haifa, and received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Arizona with a dissertation titled “Detaching in Peer Disagreement and Higher-Order Evidence.” He has spent the past two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cologne’s Center for Contemporary Epistemology and the Kantian Tradition.

Romance Studies

Juan Sebastían Ospina León
Visiting Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies

Ospina León’s expertise is Latin American and Latinx literature, visual arts and media studies. He received a BA in literature from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Columbia, and a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures, with a Designated Emphasis in Film studies, from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015. He comes to Brandeis from The Catholic University of America’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures where he has been serving as assistant professor of Hispanic studies.

University Writing

Katrin Fischer

Fischer holds a PhD in American literature from the University of Paderborn in Germany and an MBA from Babson College, with a focus on social, environmental and economic responsibility and sustainability. She is an experienced instructor of expository writing and composition having taught writing, including business writing and technical writing, for over 15 years. She comes to Brandeis from Babson, and she will be lending her expertise to the development of the program’s business and science writing.

Division of Science


Guillermina Ramírez-San Juan
Assistant Professor

Ramírez-San Juan received her PhD in biophysical sciences from The University of Chicago in 2017 before joining the University of California San Francisco and Stanford University as a postdoctoral scholar. Her research combines approaches from cell and developmental biology, biophysical measurements and mathematical modeling. Her recent work utilizes quantitative metrics and computational modeling to examine how large numbers of cilia coordinate activity and movement. At Brandeis, she will also hold an affiliation with the Department of Physics.


Bryan Ingoglia
Assistant Professor

Ingoglia’s field is organometallic chemistry. After graduating from the University of Kentucky with a BA in chemistry, he received a PhD from MIT , where he focused on carbon-fluorine bond formation. He comes to Brandeis from Boston College where he has spent the past year in an organic chemistry research laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow. Professor Ingoglia will share responsibility for overseeing and delivering the organic chemistry laboratory and lecture courses that form the core of undergraduate organic chemistry education at Brandeis.

Stephanie Murray
Assistant Professor (started January 2020)

Murray is a synthetic organic chemist and a chemical education researcher. She completed her undergraduate studies at Stonehill College and her graduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, culminating in a PhD in organic chemistry in 2018. She then took a two-year postdoctoral position at UMass Boston. Professor Murray will share responsibility for overseeing and delivering the organic chemistry laboratory and lecture courses that form the core of undergraduate organic chemistry education at Brandeis.

Chi Ting
Assistant Professor

Ting comes to Brandeis from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he has recently served as a postdoctoral fellow. He received his PhD from UC Berkeley in 2017. The focus of his doctoral work was chemical synthesis, but during his postdoctoral fellowship his focus switched to the field of natural product discovery. Future work will draw on his background in organic chemistry and chemical biology to explore novel antibiotics by modifying new natural products.

Hao Xu

Xu’s research interests span synthetic organic chemistry and chemical biology. He received his PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from the Scripps Research Institute then spent four years as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. In 2010, he took up his first faculty appointment as a tenure-track assistant professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta, receiving tenure there in 2016.

Computer Science

Iraklis Tsekourakis
Associate Professor

Tsekourakis completed his undergraduate degree at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. He joined the Department of Computer Science at Stevens Institute of Technology as a PhD student in 2012 and upon completing his doctorate took up appointment as an assistant teaching professor there. His interest in teaching is complemented by research interests in computer vision and dynamic 3D reconstruction, the topic of his PhD dissertation.

Chuxu Zhang
Assistant Professor

Zhang’s research interests include data science, applied machine learning and artificial intelligence. Upon receiving his master’s from Rutgers University in 2017, he joined the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Notre Dame where he recently received his PhD Recent projects include developing machine learning tools to solve recommendation problems in heterogeneous networks, and applying artificial intelligence to natural language processing and to synthetic chemistry.


Gleb Nenashev

Nenashev’s research interests include combinatorics and commutative algebra. He completed his undergraduate studies at St. Petersburg State University in Russia then began his graduate training at Stockholm University where he received his PhD in 2018, which he based on a dissertation called “Around Power Ideals: From Fröberg’s Conjecture to Zonotopal Algebra.” He comes to Brandeis from MIT, where he has spent the past two years as a postdoctoral fellow.


Brian Swingle
Assistant Professor

Swingle is a theoretical physicist whose work connects high-energy theory, quantum condensed-matter theory, quantum information theory, and atomic physics. He is a member of the Simons Foundation “It from Qubit” collaboration, which explores the connections between quantum information theory and gravity. He has been an assistant professor at the University of Maryland since 2017.

Reto Trappitsch
Assistant Research Professor (October 2020)

Trappitsch is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory working in the nuclear and chemical sciences division. Previously, he was at the University of Chicago in the Department of Geophysical Sciences, first as a graduate student, and then as a postdoctoral researcher. His work over recent years has focused on the development of Resonance Ionization Mass Spectrometry (RIMS) methods to decipher galactic chemical evolution.


James Howard
Assistant Professor

Howard received his PhD in psychology from Northwestern University and has recently served as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Howard’s research incorporates associative learning tasks, neuroimaging, computational modeling, and non-invasive brain stimulation to investigate the neural mechanisms of reward and decision-making in humans.

Division of Social Sciences

African and African American Studies, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies

Soham Patel
Florence Levy Kay Fellow in Afro-Asian Diaspora Studies and Lecturer in African and African American Studies, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies

Patel received his PhD in American studies from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, with a dissertation titled “Terrorist Threats: Race War, Empire and Decolonial Dreaming,” which explores how the imperial discourses and practices of the Global War on Terror have produced the racialized Muslim as a savage, foreign, undemocratic and anti-Western figure.


Charlotte (Charlie) Goudge
Assistant Professor

Goudge’s research engages with the complexities of labor, race, industry, and climate change. Her book manuscript, “Rum Production and Consumption in the Long Nineteenth Century,” is forthcoming from the University of Alabama Press. Goudge received her PhD in archaeology and anthropology from the University of Bristol, where she recently served as a research associate.


Amelia (Molly) Hawkins
Assistant Professor

Hawkins’ research interests include labor, public finance, economic demography and health. She received her PhD from the University of Michigan, and recently served as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Yinchu Zhu
Assistant Professor

Zhu’s research interests include theory and methodology in econometrics, and statistics and machine learning. He received his PhD at The Rady School of Management at the University of San Diego, and served as an assistant professor at the University of Oregon from 2017 to 2020.


Ziva Hassenfeld

The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Assistant Professor of Jewish Education 

Hassenfeld's research focuses on the tools and reading strategies young children employ when reading Biblical texts, and the pedagogies teachers use to support student textual interpretation. Professor Hassenfeld received her MA from Brandeis University, and her PhD from Stanford University where she served as a postdoctoral fellow.

Environmental Studies

Sally Warner
Assistant Professor of Climate Science

Warner is a physical oceanographer with expertise in climate change, physical oceanography, turbulence and mixing in the ocean. She is particularly interested in connecting the small, fast motions of turbulence to decadal-scale, global processes like El Niño and climate change. She has spent many months living and working on oceanographic research vessels in places like the equatorial Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Professor Warner earned her BA in mechanical engineering from McGill University, and her MA in physical oceanography and applied mathematics and PhD in physical oceanography at the University of Washington.


Emilie Connolly
Assistant Professor

Connolly is an historian of Indigenous North America, the history of capitalism and the nineteenth-century United States. She recently served as a fellow in the Dartmouth Society of Fellows, working on a book manuscript that unearths the role of money and finance in the United States’ settler empire. She received her PhD from New York University.

Hornstein Program in Jewish Professional Leadership

Shirley Idelson
Leon A. Jick Director and Associate Professor, Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program

Rabbi Idelson was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She earned her PhD in history from the CUNY Graduate Center. She has served as dean of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, senior advisor to the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and rabbi at Dartmouth College. Idelson is currently completing a book project with the working title “We Shall Build Anew: Stephen S. Wise, the Founding of the Jewish Institute of Religion and the Reinvention of American Liberal Judaism.”


Neil Swidey
Professor of the Practice and Director of the Journalism Program

Swidey graduated from Tufts University where he previously taught multimedia journalism. He has expertise in journalism, multimedia storytelling, history, society, and higher education, and is a bestselling author of titles such as “Trapped Under the Sea” and “The Assist.”  Swidey has won a host of national awards, including eight Sigma Delta Chi Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He was an Emmy Award New England nominee for his work co-producing short documentaries, and a finalist for the National Magazine Award.


Steven Wilson
Assistant Professor

Wilson has constructed one of the largest repositories of social media data in scholarly hands. His research focuses on Russia, cybersecurity in international politics, the role of social media in shaping collective action, authoritarian resilience and de-democratization. He received his PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and served as assistant professor of political science at the University of Nevada.


Sarah Mayorga
Associate Professor

Before coming to Brandeis, Mayorga was assistant professor of sociology at the University of Cincinnati from 2012-16, and at the University of Massachusetts, Boston from 2016-20. Mayorga’s research interests include racial and ethnic stratification, urban and community sociology, Latinx migration, qualitative methods, and popular culture. Mayorga’s first book, “Behind the White Picket Fence: Power and Privilege in a Multiethnic Neighborhood,” won the 2015 American Sociological Association – Latino/a Sociology Section’s Distinguished Contribution to Research Book Award. Her current book project is “Urban Shifts: Racial Capitalism in the Queen City.” Mayorga received her PhD from Duke University.

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Karen Donelan
Stuart H. Altman Chair in U.S. Health Policy (inaugural)

Donelan, who holds a ScD from the Harvard School of Public Health, was most recently a senior scientist and associate professor of medicine at the Mongan Institute’s Health Policy Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. In her research, Donelan is recognized for her skill in designing surveys to measure the experiences, well-being, and work roles of health professionals, with a particular focus on including diverse voices and increasing equity and inclusion. Donelan will be a senior member of the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy at the Heller School.

William (Bill) Crown
Distinguished Scientist

Crown is a methodological expert related to study design, statistical methods and the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning to study health care data sets regarding health finance, healthcare quality, and disparities in healthcare outcomes. He worked at the Heller School from 1982-1995 in a variety of roles including associate research professor, and was an active member of the research community instructor of statistical methods. Following that, he helped to build several health care companies that facilitate collaboration, research and innovation in health care. This includes OptumLabs, where he served as chief scientific officer from 2013-20. He received his doctorate in urban and regional studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a master of arts in economics from Boston University.

Sakshi Jain
Lecturer, Heller MBA and MPP Programs

Jain received her PhD in economics from the University of Houston, with a specialization in applied microeconomics and public policy. Her scholarship has concentrated in the area of inequality and segregation with focus on education, gender, impact evaluation, public policy and health in both developing and developed countries. Her current research focuses on examining cognitive and non-cognitive student outcomes in diverse by design charter schools in the U.S. She will be teaching economics for the MPP and MBA programs and public finance and budgeting for the MPP program. Her BA, with specialization in math and economics, is from Delhi University. She received a MA in economics and an M.Phil. in economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and a PhD in economics from University of Houston.

Brandeis International Business School

Gizem Nemutlu
Assistant Professor of Data Analytics

Nemutlu’s research interests primarily lie in the applications of stochastic modeling and data-informed decision-making techniques in healthcare with a focus on policy design and health outcomes research. Prior to joining Brandeis, Nemutlu worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at Institute for Technology Assessment of MGH and Harvard Medical School. She has been closely collaborating with clinical experts from several leading academic health institutes including Harvard Medical School, UT Health, Baylor College of Medicine and Mt Sinai. Nemutlu holds a PhD in management sciences from the University of Waterloo, Canada.

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