College Welcomes 13 Tenure-Track Faculty Members

Friday, September 11, 2015
Photo of Felicia Viator talking at a podium

A Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, a philosopher of science, a scholar focusing on violence in the cinema, a composer specializing in electronic music and a hip-hop historian are among the 13 new tenure-track faculty members joining the College of Liberal & Creative Arts this year.

The new assistant professors are among 32 tenure-track faculty who joined SF State this year.


Julia Bursten, Philosophy

Julia Bursten photo

Julia Bursten’s research starts with the basic idea that there is more to the goals of science than just describing nature. She shows how these goals influence scientific theories, concepts and explanations.

She specializes in the philosophy of nanoscience, a branch of chemistry and physics that has grown up around the development of practical technologies aimed at solving extra-scientific problems, including medical imaging and the energy crisis. To solve these problems, nanoscientists are synthesizing new materials with never-before-seen properties and using scientific reasoning to figure out how to manipulate and control these properties in new machines, devices and medical therapies.

Bursten recently completed her doctorate in the history and philosophy of science at University of Pittsburgh.

Steve Choe, Cinema

Steve Choe photo

As part of a campuswide hiring cluster of faculty with expertise in violence, trauma and health, Steve Choe brings extensive scholarship in German and South Korean cinema and topics in film theory, philosophy and phenomenology. He comes to SF State from University of Iowa, where he was associate professor in cinema and comparative literature.

His forthcoming book is Sovereign Violence: Ethics and South Korean Cinema in the New Millennium (Amsterdam University Press). Just last year, Choe wrote Afterlives: Allegories of Film and Mortality in Early Weimar Germany (Bloomsbury), the latest in a three-part series exploring the encounters between, film, philosophy and theory.

“Steve Choe’s book makes an important and original contribution to the study of Weimar film in its cultural and intellectual historical contexts,” University of Cambridge Professor Andrew J. Webber says. “He arranges revealing and stimulating critical encounters between ideas of life and death circulating at the time and a series of films, both canonical and less familiar.”

Choe has also written papers on James Cameron’s Avatar, Fritz Lang and German horror classic Nosferatu, among others.

He earned his Ph.D. in rhetoric from University of California, Berkeley, in 2008. He holds a Master of Philosophy in cultural analysis from University of Amsterdam and a Master of Arts in comparative literature from University of Pennsylvania.

James Gilligan, English Language and Literature

James Gilligan photo

During his career in education, James Gilligan has taught English at the high school and undergraduate levels, he has taught teacher education courses and he has supervised teacher candidates in English education.

Gilligan served as assistant director of the Office of Field Experiences at Purdue University for the past 11 years. He recently earned his Ph.D. in literacy and language, secondary English education, from Purdue. He has published articles on bullying against LGBTQ students in Gender and Sexualities in Education: A Reader (Elizabeth J. Meyer and Dennis Carlson, editors) and Generation BULLIED 2.0: Prevention and Intervention Strategies for Our Most Vulnerable Students (Leslie David Burns and Tara Star Johnson, editors).

Gilligan looks forward to getting acquainted with the students and faculty at SF State, teaching challenging courses and developing a scholarly agenda focusing on English/language arts teacher education and LGBTQ issues in education.

Oscar Guerra-Nunez, Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts

Oscar Guerra-Nunez photo

Oscar Guerra-Nunez is a researcher, producer and educator. His primary research interests include critical educational technologies among low-income Latino students and organic educational technologies.

With a professional foundation in aesthetics and performance, Guerra-Nunez’s career spans the spectrum of television environments, music, multimedia production, documentaries for social change and a vast international audio-visual experience in the United States, Mexico and China.

Guerra-Nunez has also been a faculty member at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and was an adjunct professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He served as head of the Media Lab Center at Tec de Monterrey University in Mexico City.

Brad Hogarth, Music

Bard Hogarth photo

Equally versed in the concert hall and classroom as a trumpeter, conductor and educator, Brad Hogarth was recently named music director and conductor of the Contra Costa Wind Symphony. He performs trumpet regularly with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and many more of the Bay Area’s professional ensembles. He has performed in festivals around the world including Spoleto Italy, Spoleto USA, Brevard Music Center, The Pacific Music Festival in Japan and Napa’s Music in the Vineyards.

A committed conductor and educator, Hogarth served as the band and full orchestra director and chair of instrumental music of the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts High School. Students in his award winning ensembles have continued on to top conservatories such as The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Eastman School of Music and Oberlin Conservatory. Before moving to the Bay Area, he taught at the Gunma Kokusai Academy in Ota Gunma, Japan.

Hogarth earned his Master of Music degree in trumpet performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2012 and his Bachelor of Music in trumpet performance and music education from Eastman School of Music in 2008.

Robert Kohls, English Language and Literature

Robert Kohls photo

Newly minted Ph.D. Robert Kohls spent much of his dissertation in an inner-city church basement — His ethnographic study “Sacred Spaces and Socialization” focused on tutoring writing and appropriating voice for culturally diverse youth in an after-school literacy program.

At SF State, Kohls will focus on Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, better known by its acronym TESOL. He has been teaching academic English at the graduate level for nearly 20 years. He has taught English for academic purposes at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and business English at Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania.

His research interests are first- and second-language composition theory, teacher-written feedback and student revision, contrastive (intercultural) rhetoric, sociolinguistics, studies in critical pedagogy in the writing classroom and voice and identity in writing.​

Kohls earned his doctorate in second-language education from University of Toronto. He will begin teaching in the spring.

Kim Komenich, Journalism

Kim Komenich photo

Kim Komenich worked as a staff photographer and editor for the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner. He was awarded the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography for photographs of the Philippine Revolution he made while on assignment for the Examiner.

Komenich has photographed the ramifications of conflict in the Philippines, Vietnam, El Salvador, the former Soviet Union and most recently in Iraq, where photos from his three trips to the Sunni Triangle in 2005 earned him the Military Reporters and Editors’ Association's 2006 Photography Award for large-circulation newspapers.

He has received the 1987 Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, the 1981 World Press Photo News Picture Story Award and three National Headliner Awards.

From 1998 to 2000 Komenich was a visiting instructor at University of Missouri, where he received the Donald K. Reynolds Graduate Teaching Award. He is a 2005 recipient of the Clifton C. Edom Education Award from the National Press Photographers’ Association. Komenich was a 2006 – 2007 Dart Ochberg Fellow at the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, based at Columbia University.

In 2007 he received his Master of Arts in journalism from University of Missouri, where he studied the history and practice of multimedia photojournalism. He most recently was an assistant professor at San Jose State.

Ana Luengo, Spanish

Ana Luengo photo

Ana Luengo — fluent in Spanish, Catalan, German and French — joins the Foreign Languages and Literatures Department after serving as a visiting assistant professor at University of Washington.

Her research interests include contemporary peninsular literature and film, historical memory studies, gender and family studies, narratives of the crises, crime fiction and critical theory. Her book Memory at the Crossroads: Collective Memory of the Spanish Civil War was published in 2004, with a second edition published in 2012. Her next book is titled Generalogy and Heritage: The Rests of the Past in Contemporary Spain. Luengo has also co-edited several volumes on Spanish and Latin American literature.

Luengo has also taught at University of Bremen in Germany, in the romance studies department. She earned her Ph.D. in romance studies at University of Hamburg, Germany.

Laura Moorhead, Journalism

Laura Moorhead photo

With a background in magazine editing, education, public policy research and technology, Laura Moorhead joins SF State as a newly minted Ph.D. She earned her doctorate in learning sciences and technology design from Stanford University.

Moorhead’s research interests include open systems and the “opening of science,” media technology, digital archives, cultural change through technology, mass media and education. She works to improve educational practice in primary sources and technology and to help people find new ways of combining critical literacy and open access.

Moorhead was an editor and executive producer during an 11-year tenure at Wired Magazine. She has also served as a contributing editor and writer for PBS Frontline/World and IDEO. She earned her Master’s degree in liberal arts from Stanford and her Bachelor of Science from Ball State University.

Justin Peck, Political Science

Justin Peck photo

Justin Peck teaches courses on Congress, the presidency and the national security state. He most recently was a visiting assistant professor at Wesleyan University’s Department of Government.

Peck’s current research addresses efforts by Congress over the years to reclaim the president’s foreign policy powers.

A native of Georgia, he attended graduate school at University of Virginia and has lived in Washington, D.C., Massachusetts and Connecticut. He notes that he has a lovely partner named Rebecca and a dog named Hushpuppy.

Benjamin Sabey, Music

Benjamin Sabey photo

“Benjamin Sabey writes music that reveals a brilliant technique and a keen ear for sound, timbre and arc,” Gramophone writes of the assistant professor who composes chamber, live computer interactive and orchestral music.

His music has been performed by many of the leading ensembles in new music, including the Arditti String Quartet, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, the La Jolla Symphony directed by Bang on a Can All-Star Steven Schick, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the New York New Music Ensemble, the Antares Ensemble and members of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the New Millennium Ensemble and Red Fish Blue Fish.

Recent awards include a Barlow Endowment Commission to write a piece for the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart and the Royaumont Prize of Domaine Forget, which consisted of a residency at the Royaumont Abbey north of Paris.

Sabey holds a Ph.D. from University of California, San Diego, where he studied primarily with Roger Reynolds. He has also studied composition with Brian Ferneyhough (at Royaumont) Chaya Czernowin, Philippe Manoury and Michael Hicks, as well as computer music with Miller Puckette and psycho-acoustics with Richard Moore.

Sabey taught at University of San Diego and San Diego City College before joining SF State as an assistant professor in composition and electronic music.

Anastasia Smirnova, English Language and Literature

Anastasia Smirnova photo

Linguistics expert Anastasia Smirnova studies language as both a cognitive and a social phenomenon. Her research interest is in natural language semantics and in the syntax-semantics interface. She works primarily with languages of the Balkan Sprachbund, Albanian, Bulgarian, Greek and Turkish.

Smirnova co-edited the 2010 book Formal Studies in Slavic Linguistics and the 2008 book Issues in Slavic Syntax and Semantics (both with Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

Most recently, Smirnova was a visiting assistant professor of linguistics at University of Michigan. She earned her Ph.D. in linguistics from The Ohio State University in 2011. Smirnova conducted her post-doctoral research at Tufts University’s Center for Cognitive Studies.

She will begin teaching in the spring semester.

Felicia A. Viator, History

Felicia A. Viator photo

Historian Felicia A. Viator brings a specialized focus on California, social and cultural history in the modern era and African American history. Her forthcoming book explores Los Angeles after the Watts Riots and the rise of gangsta rap. Harvard University Press will publish the book.

Other works-in-progress include an essay on immigrant folk music in the California Central Valley and an article about Run-DMC’s 1986 concert tour. Viator has written book reviews for the Journal of American Culture and the American Studies Journal, and she has published a set of articles on California immigrant history, including an oral history-based study of the Portuguese in Northern California. She has also written digital history materials for Bedford St. Martin’s Press composed essays, teaching resources and study guides for a digital humanities website aimed at advanced high school and entry-level college students.

Viator earned Ph.D., Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in history from University of California, Berkeley. She will begin teaching in the spring.


Header photo: In a lecture at University of California, Berkeley, Assistant Professor of History Felicia A. Viator discusses the Free Speech Movement. Photo by Quinn Dombrowski. Thumbnail photos by Hannah Anderson.

News Article