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Visiting professors and scholars enrich the CLASS faculty

Academics join CLASS departments and academic programs for a year or two

Eric Castillo
Dr. Eric Castillo
Angel Hernandez
Dr. Jose Angel Hernandez

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences has a long and rich tradition of bringing noteworthy academics to campus to teach and study for one- or two-year terms as Visiting Professors and Visiting Scholars.

In this way, the College enriches the diversity of thought within its faculty, recruits for senior and junior faculty positions and provides opportunities for students to engage with different teaching styles and cutting-edge research.

A key supporter of this CLASS tradition is the Center for Mexican American Studies.

Since 1986, the CMAS Visiting Scholars Program has recruited experts, who may be interested in tenured or tenure-track positions, to generate research about the Latino community in such areas as history, art, sociology, psychology, anthropology, political science and English.

The program allows the scholar to pursue his/her research and publication writings, and to develop a spring semester class. Often, the CMAS Visiting Scholars have joint appointments in CLASS departments.

This year, two professors join the list of experts deepening the pool of research on the Latino experience, a hallmark of the University of Houston’s academic excellence. They are Dr. Eric Castillo, Adjunct Visiting Assistant Professor, and Dr. Jose Angel Hernandez, Adjunct Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of History.

Dr. Castillo earned both an MA and PhD in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. His research begins at the place where art, social justice, culture and identity collide—“artivism” (art + activism.)

“I’m interested in how we can use visual images to recreate iconography for community mobilization, for youth empowerment and for advocacy,” he said. “In particular, I’m looking at the undocu-queer movement (self-identified LGBT and undocumented) and the possibility of making more strides for social justice and liberation. The undocu-queer movement and artivism do that successfully.”

Castillo, also a scholar of the late artist Luis Jimenez, will spend the fall semester in research and the spring semester teaching.

Dr. Hernandez earned his B.A. and M.A. in history here at the University of Houston and his Ph.D. in history at the University of Chicago. While a student at UH, Dr. Hernandez was mentored by History professor John Hart, one of the nation’s foremost scholars on Mexico. Dr. Hernandez’ own research is on repatriated Mexicans in the early 19th century.

“There aren’t any books looking at this period,” he said. “My research is a reinterpretation of Mexican and Mexican American history and Mexico’s struggle to secure its northern border with repatriates after the U.S.-Mexican war.”

Hernandez’s research is a continuation of his work that resulted in the publication of his book “Mexican American Colonization during the Nineteenth Century: A History of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands.” He plans to teach a course in the spring about global migration to Latin America.

“These are two outstanding scholars who are producing important research about Latinos,” said Tatcho Mindiola, professor and director of CMAS. “Jose Angel’s research is a new and interesting approach to our view of being Latino. Eric is a promising young scholar who will bring us an important view of the role of art in our culture and behavior. We are fortunate to have them both.”

In addition to the CMAS Visiting Scholars Program, several other CLASS departments and schools have welcomed Visiting Scholars to their faculty ranks this academic year.

African American Studies Program

Vincent Willis, Visiting Scholar

Vincent Willis

Dr. Vincent Willis earned his PhD in the Division of Educational Studies at Emory University. His major field is educational history and his academic interests include history of American education, African American Studies, history of African American education, and twentieth century African American history. Last academic year he was a James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference Graduate Assistant Fellow. Dr. Willis’ most recent publication, “Let me in, I have the right to be here:” Black youth struggle for equal education and full citizenship after the Brown decision, 1954-1969 is currently in press with the journal, Citizenship Teaching & Learning.

Marcia Walker, Visiting Scholar

Marcia Walker

Marcia Walker has spent the past year as an adjunct instructor at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi teaching various U.S. History courses. She earned both her M.A. and PhD in History from the University of Chicago. Her fields of expertise include 20th Century U.S. History, African American History, and Atlantic World History. Beginning in March 2013, Dr. Walker served as Guest Curator at the Chicago Public Library for the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection titled, “Faith in the Struggle” – A year-long exhibit on the Life of Rev. Addie Wyatt.

School of Art

Jessica Santone, Visiting Assistant Professor

Jessica Santone

Jessica Santone specializes in contemporary art history since 1960, performance art, and theory. She completed her doctoral degree in Art History at McGill University in 2011. Dr. Santone received a BA in History with minors in Women’s Studies and French at the University of Maryland, College Park, and an MA in Humanities at the University of Chicago. As a graduate student at McGill, she served as a member of two multi-year, multi-disciplinary team research projects: Documentation and Conservation of Media Arts Heritage and Augmented Reality in Contemporary Art. Her book project in development, "Archiving Participation: Documenting Performance Variations in the Fluxus Movement, 1962-78," investigates the social history of documenting and archiving in Fluxus performance art of the 1960s and 1970s.

Department of English

Travis Webster, Visiting Assistant Professor/Post-Doctoral Fellow

Travis Webster

Travis Webster joins the English Department from the University of Maryland where he has been a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of English since Fall 2012. He earned his MA in Composition & Rhetoric from Miami University of Ohio in 2008, and his PhD in Rhetoric & Writing from Michigan State University in 2012. While at University of Maryland, Dr. Webster taught a course in academic writing and another course about writing in a wireless world. His dissertation, What Ex-Exgays Can Teach Us About Gay, Lesbian, and Queer Rhetorics, traces how stories told by gay men in online communities can enact activism.

Department of Health and Human Performance

Christopher Connaboy, Visiting Assistant Professor

Christopher Connaboy

Christopher Connaboy has a strong interest in aquatics research, specifically the hydrodynamics of undulatory underwater locomotion in both humans and animals; examining how propulsion can be optimized through changes in inter- and intra-limb coordination. In 2012, he completed his PhD in Motor Control and Biomechanics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Prior to joining UH faculty, Dr. Connaboy served as Director, Military and Veterans Health Research Consortium at the Institute of Science and Health Innovation at Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Jong-Hee Kim, Visiting Assistant Professor

Jong-Hee Kim

Jong-Hee Kim earned a MS in Human Exercise Physiology from Seoul National University and a PhD in Exercise Physiology from Texas A&M University. Since 2009, Dr. Kim has served as a Postdoctoral fellow with the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation within the Medical School at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Kim currently is participating in a research grant entitled, “Structural and Calcium Regulatory Protein in Sarcopenia.”

Beom-Chan Lee, Visiting Assistant Professor

Beom-Chan Lee

Beom-Chan Lee holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan. His dissertation examined the design and assessment of vibrotactile biofeedback and instructional systems for balance rehabilitation applications. He also holds a PhD (All But Dissertation) in Mechatronics from the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in the Republic of Korea. Most recently he has been a Research Investigator, Mechanical Engineering, at the University of Michigan. His research interests include sensory substitution and augmentation, biomechanics and wearable balance prostheses and rehabilitation aids for balance-impaired patients.

Department of Hispanic Studies

Jorge Iglesias, Visiting Assistant Professor

Jorge Iglesias has been a lecturer in the UH Department of Hispanic Studies since 2011 where he taught Advanced Spanish for Non-Heritage Learners, Public Speaking in Spanish, and Written Composition for Hispanic Heritage Learners. He completed his PhD in Hispanic Studies in 2012 at UH. His areas of specialization are Spanish American, Peninsular, and U.S. Latino cultures and literatures.

Department of Modern and Classical Languages

Anne Reitz, Visiting Assistant Professor

Anne Reitz has been teaching at UH’s department of Modern and Classical Languages since 2002 both as a lecturer and as an assistant instructional professor. Her areas of teaching experience and curriculum development include German Literature and Culture, Twentieth Century Culture Studies, and German Language from elementary to upper division. Dr. Reitz earned her PhD in Germanic Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and her MA in Germanics from the University of Washington. She also studied at Albert Ludwigs Universität Sommerschule, Freiburg im Br., Germany as well as at Johannes Gutenberg Universität, Mainz, Germany.

Moores School of Music

Erin Hansen, Visiting Assistant Professor

Erin Hansen

Erin Hansen completed her PhD in Music Education at the University of Michigan. She has been an instructor at the University of Michigan and Adjunct faculty at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan. She has also worked as an Instrumental Music Instructor and Orchestra Instructor at Ann Arbor Public Schools in Ann Arbor, MI.

- By Marisa Ramirez and Monica Byars