15 New Tenure-Track Faculty Bring Diverse Expertise, Creative Innovation to Students

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Monday, September 23, 2019
Photo of Colleen Daniher lecturing on Humanities lawn in front of students
Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Colleen Daniher takes her class to the Humanities lawn on a sunny day. Photo by Elizabeth Bradley Hunter.

The College of Liberal & Creative Arts welcomes 15 tenure-track faculty members to its ranks this year.

Thirteen of the new tenure-track assistant professors are women. The new faculty include the Peabody- and Emmy-winning director of the Vice documentary Charlottesville: Race and Terror, a film sound editor and recordist, a researcher of viewers’ obsessive relationships with television personalities, a theatre artist and scholar bridging the stage and digital media and more.

The 15 professors are among 43 tenure-track and tenured faculty joining SF State this year.

Shadee Abdi, Communication Studies

Shadee Abdi photo

Shadee Abdi is a critical cultural communication scholar whose research aims to enhance understanding of Iranian and Iranian-American diasporic communities in social situations. In this context, she explores sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, class and family.

She earned her doctorate in communication studies from University of Denver.

Most recently, Abdi was an assistant professor of communication at Arizona State University.

Sukanya Chakrabarti, Theatre and Dance

Sukanya Chakrabarti photo

Kolkata native Sukanya Chakrabarti is a prolific playwright, actress and scholar. Her performance piece almost…home… — supported by a grant from the Stanford Arts Institute — addresses questions of identity, place and belonging in a globalized world.

Her research has been published in the Indian Theatre Journal, Modern Drama, Asiatic and Emergency Index.

Chakrabarti earned her doctorate in theatre and performance studies from Stanford University, where she won a Charles R. Lyons Memorial Prize for Outstanding Dissertation. She was most recently a visiting assistant professor in theatre studies at Florida State University, where she won a Facilities for Arts Research fellowship.

Ellen Christensen, Design

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Ellen Christensen is excited to return to her Bay Area roots. The De Anza High School (Richmond) graduate is an advocate for public education and is interested in the visualization of power imbalances.

She teaches Visual Communication Design. Her research primarily focuses on community, placemaking and experimental mapping. Her design practice includes editorial, identity and information design.

Christensen holds a Master of Fine Arts in graphic design from Rhode Island School of Design. Previously, Christensen taught at Boston University, Clark University and Tufts University.

Colleen Daniher, Communication Studies

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Colleen Daniher is a writer, teacher, scholar and maker of performance. Her research and teaching specialties include critical and comparative race studies, visual cultural studies, women and gender studies and Asian American theatre and performance studies.

Her research has been recognized and supported by fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, American Society for Theatre Research, Brown University and Amherst College. She is completing a book manuscript on the ambivalently raced and gendered figure of the “amalgamation queen” in 20th-century transnational American performance.

Daniher’s training spans a degree in classical music (voice), amateur musical theatre performance, devised theatre dramaturgy and directing and multimedia solo performance art. She earned her doctorate in performance studies from Northwestern University.

Joshua Davis, Journalism

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Joshua Davis comes to SF State from HBO’s VICE News Tonight, where he directed Charlottesville: Race and TerrorM, a riveting 2017 documentary that won Emmy, Peabody and Polk awards and went viral. Columbia Journalism Review called it “an excellent, chilling piece of work.”

Davis has spearheaded visual journalism projects at The New York Times, MediaStorm, National Geographic, CNN, Rolling Stone and National Public Radio, where he directed the award-winning Planet Money Makes A T-Shirt.

He has taught at New York University, Columbia University, City University of New York and The New School. He earned a Master of Arts from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Ashmi Desai, Communication Studies

Ashmi Desai photo

Ashmi Desai researches how communication can be more meaningful, inclusive and authentic across cultures.

She is certified for dialogue facilitation on divisive issues, intercultural development facilitation and college teaching. She has served in senior positions at the United Nations Association of Boulder County and Nothing But Nets. She also was a journalist with The Times of India.

Desai earned her doctorate in communication from University of Colorado, Boulder, where she received the Provost Fellow Award in Information Science and International Student of the Year Award.

Elizabeth Bradley Hunter, Theatre and Dance

Elizabeth Bradley Hunter photo

As the creator of a Macbeth-themed video game, Elizabeth Bradley Hunter takes theatre arts into the realm of digital media, from immersive theatre to augmented and mixed reality technology. She once founded a theatre company at a restored blast furnace in Alabama.

In addition to teaching courses in theatre studies, Hunter brings her Fabula(b) Theatre + New Media lab to SF State. The lab uses immersive technology to study audience participation in today’s oversaturated, media-filled culture.

Hunter’s work has been supported by Northwestern University, a Segal Design Fellowship and Microsoft, where she was one of nine women worldwide in its inaugural Women in Mixed Reality initiative. Her research has been published in Text and Performance Quarterly, the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media and the book Research Methods in the Digital Humanities.

Hunter earned her doctorate from Northwestern University.

Ashley Larson, Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts

Ashley Larson photo

Ashley Larson returns to the same program where she earned her master’s degree in 2011. Her 2011 investigative news series on teenage pregnancy, produced at SF State, won awards at BECAfest and the CSU Media Arts Festival. Larson’s paper on curricular pipelines for the entertainment industry, written with Professor Scott Patterson, placed second in the 2013 Broadcast Education Association Open-Paper Competition.

Larson participated in the CSU Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program and, from 2012 to 2014, was the industry relations coordinator for the CSU Entertainment Alliance.

Larson’s research explores parasocial relationships in the media — when regular viewers believe that familiar personalities on the air and online are their friends. She earned her doctorate from Arizona State University, where her dissertation explored media coverage of terrorism. Most recently, Larson taught at Grand Canyon University, where she was named 2016 Adjunct Faculty of the Year.

Rosa Sungjoo Park, Cinema

Rosa Sungjoo Park photo

Seeking unusual ways of seeing and listening, Rosa Sungjoo Park explores Korean rituals, acoustic memories, death, body, silence and environment. The sound artist has exhibited and performed in galleries and theatres in the U.S., Canada and South Korea. She teaches courses in sound design and experimental filmmaking.

Park also has experience as a graphic designer and illustrator for agencies, periodicals and children’s books in South Korea. She redesigned the passport for South Korea’s Ministry of Culture.

Park holds master’s degrees in digital media from Rhode Island School of Design, visual communication design from Seoul National University and interdisciplinary studies from University of British Columbia, Okanagan. Park has also taught at Rhode Island School of Design, University of British Columbia and Florida Atlantic University.

Teresa Pratt, English Language and Literature

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Sociolinguistics expert Teresa Pratt has studied how they talk on Saturday Night Live’s “The Californians” skit, like, totally. Overall, her research explores how people make use of all the subtle differences in pronunciation to construct and interpret the social world around us.

Pratt recently completed postdoctoral studies at University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. She earned her doctorate at Stanford University. There, she was involved with the Voices of California Project, which documents life and language throughout the state. She previously taught at Stanford and SF State.

She will begin teaching in spring 2020.

Leslie Quintanilla, Women and Gender Studies

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Leslie Quintanilla studies feminist activist art at the U.S.-Mexico border. For her doctoral dissertation at UC San Diego, she argued that the critical border region is a transnational site of political struggle and contestation.

Trained in ethnic studies, her research and teaching are interdisciplinary in scope, crosscutting cultural studies, women and gender studies and environmental science studies.

Quintanilla is co-founder of the Center for Interdisciplinary Environmental Justice, a collective space in San Diego for co-learning about environmental justice in solidarity with political struggles, movements and marginalized communities. Before joining SF State, Quintanilla was an adjunct professor in Chicanx studies at San Diego City College.

Jeremy Reid, Philosophy

Jeremy Reid photo

Jeremy Reid studies the history of ethics and political philosophy, primarily in Greece and Rome.

On the political side, he is interested in the development of constitutionalism, democratic theory and the use of moral psychology and theories of character in political philosophy, particularly in non-ideal circumstances. On the ethical side, Reid has worked most on ancient theories of love, sex and friendship.

Most recently, Reid was a postdoctoral research associate at University of Maryland, College Park. He earned his doctorate at University of Arizona and grew up in Auckland, New Zealand.

He will begin teaching in spring 2020.

Bethany Sparks, Cinema

Bethany Sparks photo

Award-winning sound editor and recordist Bethany Sparks joins the School of Cinema faculty after 13 years at University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.

A seasoned sound designer for independent short films and interactive projects, Sparks received her Master of Fine Arts from USC in 2008. She is particularly drawn to abstract and experimental films as well as projects related to science and the environment. In 2015 she won the Best Sound award at the Hollywood Film Festival for the short film HOME.

Sparks has also served as a National Park Ranger around the country, interpreting the natural environment for families.

Whitney Taylor, Political Science

Whitney Taylor photo

Whitney Taylor studies law and courts, state-society relations and social policy. Her book project examines the emergence and institutionalization of social constitutionalism in Colombia and South Africa.

Her research focuses on the intersection of rights, law and contentious politics, particularly in the contexts of Colombia and South Africa. She has contributed articles to The Washington Post and Huffington Post.

Taylor received her doctorate from Cornell University this year.

Saskia van Kampen, Design

Saskia van Kampen photo

Saskia van Kampen is a graphic designer, researcher and artist who explores techniques of disrupting social and design conventions. She also studies design pedagogy, community building and placemaking.

van Kampen recently received a $25,000 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to explore reinventing public spaces in Toronto for the benefit of the people.

van Kampen taught at OCAD University in Toronto from 2006 to 2019. She earned her Master of Design from York University in Toronto. She has served as vice president of education for the Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario.

— Matt Itelson

Story updated September 24, 2019

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