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32 new tenure-track faculty join APSU


Austin Peay State UniversityClarksville, TN – A total of 32 new tenure-track faculty members have become part of the Austin Peay State University community.

College of Arts and Letters

New faculty members are Dr. Eric Branscome, Beatrix Brockman, Paul Collins, Barry Gresham, Daniel Austin Humberd, Johnny Jones, Dr. Eli Lara, Tracy Shearon Nichols and Margaret Rennerfeldt.

Dr. Eric Branscome’s

A recent review of Dr. Eric Branscome’s book, “Music Board Game Workshop,” described the work as “an exciting classroom resource for teachers seeking a fun and engaging way to reinforce musical knowledge and literacy.” Branscome, a new assistant professor of music at APSU, has spent years studying elementary school music curriculum development and music teacher preparation. At APSU, he’ll use this knowledge to assist students wanting to work as music teachers in public schools. Branscome earned his Bachelor of Music degree at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. He then went north and received a Master of Music in horn performance at Northwestern University. In 2010, he graduated from the University of North Texas with a Doctor of Philosophy in music education.

Beatrix Brockman

Beatrix Brockman, an APSU alumnus, is returning to the University this year as an instructor in the languages and literature department. Brockman earned her B.A. and M.A. in English at APSU, and she is currently a Ph.D. candidate in German at Vanderbilt University. In 1983, she received her a bachelor’s degree in German/English translations from the Institut für Fremdsprachen und Auslandskunde in Germany.

She has been awarded the Gisela Mosig Graduate Summer Research Grant three times at Vanderbilt, and she was that university’s 2009 Hans Joachim Schulz Graduate Award for Excellence in Research recipient.

Paul Collins

APSU’s new Trahern gallery director and assistant professor of art, Paul Collins, earned his Master of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking from Yale University in 1995. For the last three years, he has worked as the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado as artistic director of painting, printmaking and critical studies, and as chair of exhibition, visiting artist projects and new programs.

Prior to that, he was director of production development for and, from 2001-2007, senior producer for the Showtime Networks’ Digital Media Group. Collins has extensive curatorial experience, hosting shows for such luminaries as Japanese ceramic artist Goro Suzuki and sculptor James Surls.

Barry Gresham

Barry Gresham, a popular sports radio personality in Tennessee and western Kentucky, is joining APSU’s Department of Communication as an instructor. For the last six years, he’s been known as the “Voice of the Tigers” for all radio and TV sports broadcasts for Tennessee State University.

He served as that university’s associate athletic director for broadcasting and sales/marketing, which put him as the host of radio and TV coaches shows. He has extensive media experience working for television and radio stations throughout the southeast. Gresham earned his Master of Arts in organizational communication from Western Kentucky University, and his B.A. in broadcasting and mass communication from that same university.

Dr. Eli Lara

Cellist Dr. Eli Lara has performed across the globe at some of the world’s pre-eminent festivals and classical music venues, and this fall she will bring her talents to the department of music as one of its newest instructors. Lara pursued music studies in cello, music theory, orchestra and chamber music during high school at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore.

She attended Yale University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in molecular biophysics and Biochemistry and a Master of Music in cello performance. She recently completed her Doctor of Musical Arts in cello performance at The Julliard School.

Daniel Austin Humberd

Daniel Austin Humberd recently earned his Master of Arts in corporate communication from APSU, and this fall he returns to campus as an instructor in the department of communication. Humberd received his bachelor’s degree in recording industry production and technology from Middle Tennessee State University, before coming to study at APSU.

In 2008, he worked as a graduate assistant for the University’s radio station, WAPX-FM, where he helped coordinate the station’s involvement in a citywide concert and telethon to raise money for earthquake victims in Haiti. He also taught broadcast equipment operations classes and public speaking courses while serving as a graduate student.

Tracy Shearon Nichols

Tracy Shearon Nichols, a new instructor in the APSU Department of Communication, is returning to the place where she spent much of her academic career. Nichols graduated from APSU in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts in communication, with a theater emphasis and a minor in creative writing. She returned to APSU a few years later to earn a Master of Arts with honors in speech and theater.

Over the years, she has worked with the University as an adjunct professor and, later, as an online instructor. She has also worked as an adjunct professor at The Renaissance Center in Dickson and with the Tennessee Arts Commission. In 2006, she received a Jimmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Play, and in 2011, she was named a South Carolina Arts Commission Adjudicator Playwriting Fellow.

Margaret Rennerfeldt

The Area of Dance has experienced exponential growth in recent years, so the program is adding a second faculty member this fall – assistant professor of theater and dance Margaret Rennerfeldt. Rennerfeldt earned her Master of Fine Arts in performance and choreography from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

She is trained in various styles and techniques, including ballet, modern dance, jazz, tap, musical comedy, dance improvisation, African styles and somatic studies. She previously served as the school director for the Rockford Dance Company, was the coordinator of the dance program at Rockford College and assistant professor of dance at Beloit College. For nine years, she also served as artistic director for Without Shoes Modern Dance Company in Illinois.

Johnny Jones

When Johnny Jones arrives at APSU this fall as a new assistant professor of African studies, he’ll bring with him a wealth of experience as a writer, performer and teacher on that subject. Jones, who earned a master of arts from New York University and a Master of Fine Arts from the California Institute of Art, has written and acted in numerous acclaimed works dealing with black male identity, such as “CadillacsCognacsandCondoms: The 5-Mic Certified Classic” and “Word Up: Insight to the Hip Hop Generation.”

Jones is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Association of Theater in High Education Playwriting Award and the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s National Theater Showcase award.

College of Behavioral and Health Sciences

New faculty members are Tanya S. Beard, Dr. William Trevor Brooks, Deborah K. Buchanan, Dr. Melissa A. Gomez, Dr. Jessica L. Hatz, Shondell Hickson, Dr. Regina Kakhnovets, retired Col. Stephen Lomax and Joely Thornhill Schroder.

Tanya Beard

Tanya Beard, assistant professor of nursing, comes to APSU with a varied nursing career beginning in 1998, having most recently worked as a nurse at Toledo (Ohio) Correctional Institute. She is licensed as a registered nurse in Tennessee, California, Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio. Beard has a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Toledo (Ohio), Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Bowling Green (Ohio) State University and an associate degree in nursing from Owens Community College in Ohio.

Dr. William Trevor Brooks

Dr. William Trevor Brooks joins APSU as assistant professor of sociology. Most recently, he was an assistant professor at Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, NC. Brooks’ research interests within sociology include demography, statistics, quantitative methods, family, and race, class and gender issues. He has written several refereed articles and made numerous presentations.

He earned his Ph.D. in sociology from South Dakota State University in Brookings, M.S. and B.S. degrees in sociology from Utah State University in Logan and an associate degree in history and political science from Utah Valley State College in Orem, Utah.

Deborah Buchanan

Deborah Buchanan, assistant professor of psychology, will defend her dissertation in Sept. 15 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she is pursuing a doctoral degree in counselor education. She has a Master of Education in school counseling and a Bachelor of Science in educational studies.

In addition to having taught at UT, Buchanan has supervised school counseling students at Carson Newman College in Jefferson City and at UT. She also spent five years as a middle school teacher in Lynn (Mass.) Public Schools and then eight years as a school counselor in the Knox County (Tenn.) Schools. She also has prior military experience, having served in the U.S. Air Force from 1979-81. She has presented at several professional conferences.

Dr. Melissa Gomez

The former director of New Student Programs at APSU, Dr. Melissa Gomez returns to the campus the new assistant professor of health and human performance. She most recently was associate dean of student affairs at Hopkinsville (Ky.) Community College. From 2005-08, Gomez was coordinator of New Student Programs at APSU, becoming director in 2008.

She also has taught courses in the health and human performance department at APSU as both a full-time and adjunct faculty member. Prior to APSU, Gomez was an instructor in the massage therapy and medical assistant programs at Miller Motte Technical College. She earned an Ed.D. in leadership and professional practice from Trevecca Nazarene University, master’s in exercise science from APSU and bachelor’s in health science from Clemson (S.C.) University.

Dr. Jessica Hatz

Dr. Jessica Hatz, assistant professor of psychology, comes to APSU from Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, where she has been a visiting assistant professor of psychology since Fall 2009. Her research interests are interpersonal deception and person perception, which include verbal and behavioral cues signaling truths and lies, cognitive processing during lie-detection tasks and training to enhance lie-detection ability.

She has presented and published several papers, with a manuscript currently under review and two in preparation. Hatz received a Ph.D. in social psychology with a law concentration from the University of Wyoming in Laramie, a master’s in experimental psychology from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, and a bachelor’s in psychology from Bloomsburg (Penn.) University.

Shondell Hickson

Shondell Hickson is now an assistant professor of nursing on the tenure track, having been a temporary assistant professor and assistant lab coordinator at APSU for the last year. She also has taught at APSU, her alma mater, as a nursing instructor since 2006, while working as a resource nurse at Vanderbilt University and advance practice nurse at the Montgomery County Health Department.

In Tennessee, she is licensed as both a registered nurse and advanced practice nurse with certificate of fitness. Hickson has a post-master’s Family Nurse Practitioner certificate from Tennessee State University, a Master of Science in Nursing from Murray State University and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from APSU. She is a member of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, American Nurses Association, Tennessee Nurses Association and the Nurses Service Organization.

Dr. Regina Kakhnovets

Dr. Regina Kakhnovets, assistant professor of psychology, comes to APSU from Auburn University in Montgomery, AL, where she was assistant professor of psychology and director of clinical training for the graduate clinical psychology program. She also has taught at Alfred University in Alfred, NY.

She has presented and published several papers, with two research projects under way – one that investigates self-harm behaviors among college students and another that examines the attributions of guilt to victims of rape. Kakhnovets earned both her Ph.D. and master’s degrees in psychology from Ohio State University and bachelor’s in psychology and sociology from the University of Texas at Austin.

Col. Stephen Wayne Lomax

With a military background in combat support, retired Col. Stephen Wayne Lomax joins APSU as an assistant professor of nursing. Most recently, he was the senior clinical analyst at Fort Detrick, MD, and had served as a clinical instructor at APSU during the Fall 2010 semester.

During his assignment at Fort Campbell, KY, Lomax commanded the rear provisional command of the 86th Combat Support Hospital from July 2010-November 2010. Prior to that, he was the unit’s deputy commander for nursing and chief clinical operations and was deployed with the unit to Iraq from October 2007-January 2009. His other Army assignments included Honolulu, Hawaii, Fort Knox, KY, Washington, D.C., Mogadishu, Somalia, Fort Leavenworth, KS, and Leonard Wood, MO.

He received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Harding University in Searcy, AR, Master of Business Administration from Webster University in Kansas City, MO, and a Master of Science in Nursing (with advanced practice nurse certification in trauma and critical care nursing) from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Joely Thornhill Schroder

Joely Thornhill Schroder was an assistant professor of nursing on a temporary basis during the Spring 2011 semester and now joins the nursing faculty in a tenure-track position. Prior to teaching at APSU, she was a nursing instructor at Hopkinsville (Ky.) Community College from January 2008-Janaury 2011.

Schroder has an extensive nursing background in various medical areas, having worked at A-Certive Home Health Care in Clarksville, Beauregard Memorial Hospital in DeRidder, LA, Byrd Regional Hospital in Leesville, La., John Randolf Hospital in Hopewell, VA, Las Palma Medical Center in El Paso, TX, and other locations.

She currently is working on a post-master’s certificate in the family nurse practitioner program at the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing in Hyden, KY. Schroder received her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing from the University of Phoenix and an associate degree in nursing from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston.

2nd Lt. Patrick J. Smith

Also in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, the APSU Department of Military Science and Leadership has new instructors in the Governors Guard Battalion, 2nd Lt. Patrick J. Smith. They are assigned to APSU by the U.S. Army and as such are not on a tenure track.

College of Education

The new faculty members are Tara L. Alvey and Dr. Jeannine St. Pierre Hirtle.

Tara L. Alvey

Tara L. Alvey, a new instructor of teaching and learning at APSU, is interested in getting more public school teachers to use technology in their classrooms. As a Ph.D. candidate in language, literacy and cultural education at Vanderbilt University, she has conducted research on incorporating multimedia composition into schools.

She has given numerous presentations at academic conferences across the country. Alvey also earned her Master of Education degree at Vanderbilt, and her Bachelor of Art in English and secondary education at Thomas More College.

Dr. Jeannine St. Pierre Hirtle

Dr. Jeannine St. Pierre Hirtle, a new associate professor of education at APSU, spent more than two decades as a public school teacher, instructing students in subjects such as English, French, writing and reading. In 1996, she earned an Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Houston, and she’s made a name for herself in that field over the years, publishing some 30 scholarly articles and delivering even more presentations at conferences around the country.

She was awarded the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and Distance Education by the University of Texas at Arlington and the Outstanding Teacher Research Award at the University of Houston. She has also received more than $250,000 in grant money over the years.

College of Science and Mathematics

New faculty members are Dr. Folashade Agusto, Dr. Ayman Alzaatreh, Dr. Jennifer Fillingim, C.M. Gienger, Dr. Andriy Kovalskyy, Dr. Leong Lee, Dr. Rodney L. Mills and Dr. Lindsay Ann Szramek.

Dr. Folashade Agusto

While in Nigeria, at the University of Ilorin, Dr. Folashade Agusto conducted extensive research in the field of mathematical biology. Agusto blended the two fields to study aquatic systems in Africa. This fall, she’ll bring her expertise to APSU when she joins the faculty as an assistant professor of math. Agusto was previously awarded the African Mathematics Millennium Science Initiative Research Award and a Third World Organization of Women in Science postgraduate fellowship.

In 2009, the National Institute of Mathematical and Biological Synthesis awarded her $108,000 to conduct mathematical analysis of transmission dynamics of infectious disease models. She has published widely in academic journals, such as the International Journal of Biomathematics, and she is a frequent presenter at scholarly conferences across the world.

C.M. Gienger

Since 2009, C.M. Gienger has been in Australia’s Charles Darwin University, researching digestive physiology and ecology of crocodiles. This fall, he is coming to APSU’s College of Science and Mathematics as an assistant professor of Biology. Gienger earned his Ph.D. in ecology, evolution and conservation biology from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Dr. Jennifer Fillingim

After graduating from the University of Mississippi with a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education, Dr. Jennifer Fillingim came to APSU as a one-year, temporary faculty member. This year, she is returning as a tenure-track assistant professor of mathematics. Fillingim also earned both her bachelor’s degree and her master’s degree in mathematics from Ole Miss.

In 2005, she participated in the renowned Cryptologic Mathematician Program at the National Cryptologic School in Fort Meade, MD. Through that program, she conducted top secret/special intelligence mathematical research for the National Security Agency.

Dr. Andriy Kovalskyy

Dr. Andriy Kovalskyy, a new associate professor of physics at APSU, has spent the last three years conducting groundbreaking research on infrared detector arrays for the U.S. Army. He started this work while serving as a research associate and project leader for the Center for Optical Technologies at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

Kovalskyy’s impressive academic career started in the Ukraine, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in electronics from the Ivan Franko National University of L’viv. He went on to receive his Ph.D. from that school in physical and mathematical sciences, specializing in solid state physics.

He has served as a researcher and visiting scientist at several renowned institutions across the world, including the Warsaw University of Technology in Poland and the University of Applied Sciences in Germany.

Dr. Leong Lee

Dr. Leong Lee, a new assistant professor of computer science at APSU this fall, has studied computer and information sciences at institutions across the globe, ultimately earning his Ph.D. in that field from the University of Missouri. In 1996, he graduated from the National University of Singapore with his Bachelor of Science degree.

He then went on to the National University of Ireland, in Dublin, to earn his master’s degree with honors in information managements. His research includes developing a new protein secondary structure production algorithm using a data mining approach, and he has published academic articles in respected scientific journals.

Dr. Rodney L. Mills

Dr. Rodney L. Mills has spent the last few years looking into the relationship between animal health and meat production, and he’ll impart some of his insights to APSU students this semester as an assistant professor of agriculture. Mills earned his Ph.D. in animal science this summer from Oklahoma State University, but he’s no stranger to the southeastern United States.

After earning his bachelor of science in biology from Union College, he attended the University of Tennessee, where he graduated with a master of science in ruminant nutrition. In 2010, he was awarded the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture’s Graduate Student Teaching Award and he placed fourth in the 2009 Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Symposium’s Oral Presentation Competition.

Dr. Lindsay Ann Szramek

Dr. Lindsay Ann Szramek’s interest in volcanology has taken her to sites such as the Popocatépetl Volcano in Mexico and Katmai National Park in Alaska to conduct field research. This fall, she’ll share her knowledge and passion for fieldwork with local college students as a new assistant professor of geography and geology at APSU. Szramek earned her Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of Texas at Austin.

She was awarded that school’s prestigious Petrography Award. In 2002, she received the Arthur M. Hussey Award and the Outstanding Student Award from Bowdoin College where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree.

Dr. Ayman Alzaatreh

In 2007, Dr. Ayman Alzaatreh left Jordan to begin an impressive academic career at Central Michigan University. While at that institution, he earned a master of science, a graduate certificate in data mining and, in 2011, a Ph.D. in Mathematics.

He also found himself as the primary instructor for a 300-level class on probability and statistics and the primary instructor for a 200-level class in linear algebra. During that time, he had three articles approved for publication and delivered presentations at academic conferences on campus. Alzaatreh, a member of the American Mathematical Society and the American Statistical Society, will join the APSU faculty this fall as an assistant professor of math.

School of Technology and Public Management

New faculty members are Ihab Habib, Taj Hashmi and Carter F. Smith.

Ihab Habib

Ihab Habib joins APSU as an assistant professor of construction and engineering technology. He had taught in the engineering technology department at APSU as an adjunct faculty member from 2000-03. Having worked at the Tennessee Department of Transportation in Nashville at various intervals since 2000, Habib most recently worked as a structural supervisor specialist, in which he managed projects and programs.

In 2001, he founded his own construction company, with most of his experience in the structural design of bridges, buildings and homes. Some of his projects included the construction of the Brentwood Chase residential subdivision and several bridge designs throughout the state. He received a master’s in civil engineering from Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt, and a bachelor’s in civil engineering from St. George College, also in Cairo.

Dr. Taj Hashmi

Dr. Taj Hashmi is an assistant professor of public management and criminal justice. He comes to APSU from the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he was a professor in the College of Security Studies. In addition, he was a research associate at the York Centre for Asian Research at York University in Canada. Hashmi’s areas of teaching and research include political violence, terrorism and insurgency; homeland security; suicide attacks; Islamic reforms; and many others.

He has written numerous refereed journal articles and book chapters, and presented papers at several conferences. He received a Ph.D. in modern South Asian history from the University of Western Australia, a master’s in Indian and Islamic history and culture from the University of Dhaka and a bachelor’s in Indian, Islamic and European history, also from the University of Dhaka.

Carter Smith

An APSU alumnus, Carter Smith comes to APSU as an assistant professor of criminal justice. He has an extensive background in law enforcement, having most recently worked as a longtime special agent for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command. Smith also was an investigator and drug team leader with the Army Military Police Investigations, and was a squad leader and patrol supervisor with the Military Police Corps.

He has a bachelor’s degree in public management from APSU and has completed several leadership and law enforcement courses at the U.S. Army Military Police School, the NCO Academy and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Kebede Hundie Wordofa

In APSU’s Woodward Library, Kebede Hundie Wordofa is a new assistant professor of library systems. With more than 15 years of experience as a systems librarian in several academic libraries, he has worked at Botswana College of Agriculture Library in Gaborone, Botswana, the National University of Lesotho Library in Roma, Lesotho, and the Addis Ababa University Libraries in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

He earned his master’s in information science from Addis Ababa University, where he also received a bachelor’s in library science. He also has CompTIA A+ Certified IT Professional and CompTIA Network+ Certified Professional credentials.

Temporary Faculty Members

New one-year, temporary faculty members are Russell Balliet, assistant professor of geoscience; Ernest Barwick, instructor of art; Dr. Taryn J. Chartier, instructor of political science; Dr. Susan R. Cockrell, instructor of accounting, finance and economics; Paul Collins, assistant professor of art and gallery director; Nicole Cummings, instructor of art; William Longhurst, assistant professor of chemistry; Karen McArthur, assistant professor of art; and Pamela Meyer, assistant professor of accounting.




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