Meet the new faculty

Publication Date

Learn more about the members of the Union community who have arrived for the new academic year.


Strom Thacker, dean of the faculty and vice president for Academic Affairs, comes to Union from Boston University. His research and teaching focus broadly on questions of political economy, governance and development, with a regional focus on Mexico and Latin America. Learn more about Thacker here.

Joanne Fitzgerald, director of Leadership in Medicine and Combined Health Degree programs, joins the College after serving as the vice president of enrollment management at Union Graduate College since 2005. She also serves as a member of the graduate college’s Strategic Planning Committee.


Angela Commito, visiting assistant professor, received her Ph.D. in 2014 at the University of Michigan. She received her bachelor’s degree (summa cum laude) from Bowdoin College. She traveled throughout Greece and Rome during her undergraduate years. Her courses at Michigan focused on classical archaeology, architecture and the history of art, covering major monuments of Greece and Italy.


Harlan Holt, visiting assistant professor, received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Mississippi in 2015. His research interests include applied macroeconomics, financial economics, asset markets, search models and asset bubbles. He has also taught courses on mathematical economics and a history of American banking and financial crises.

Kaywana Raeburn, Feigenbaum Professor of Behavioral Economics, received her Ph.D. from McGill University earlier this year with her dissertation, “Essays in Development Economics: Microeconomic Decision-Making in the Caribbean.” She was the recipient of the International Doctoral Research Award from the International Development Research Centre and numerous awards and scholarships from McGill. She has done field research in Guyana, St. Kitts and Grenada. Her fields of concentration include development economics and behavioral and experimental economics.


Chandra Pappu, visiting assistant professor, received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2015 with his dissertation, “Performance of Chaotic Signals for High Resolution Bistatic Radar Applications.” His research interests include signal processing and its applications to radar systems, communication channels and non-linear dynamical systems.


Jaron Kuppers, visiting assistant professor, comes to Union as the founder and chief technical officer of Vistex Composites, an advanced composites research and manufacturing business. He received his Ph.D. in 2012 from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he does extensive academic and scholarly work. He has also taught grade school students through a National Science Foundation-funded program and consulted in the composites manufacturing industry. He was the 2011 recipient of the RPI Founders Award and has served as a committee member for the City of Troy Sustainability Task Force. His teaching interests include material science, design of mechanical systems and solid mechanics.

Hani Tiznobaik, visiting assistant professor, received his Ph.D. earlier this year from the University of Texas at Arlington with his dissertation, “Enhanced Specific Heat of Molten Salt Nanofluids.” In addition to teaching experience during his doctoral research, he has also worked at companies and institutions in Iran. His research interests include micro/nanoscale heat transfer, fracture/fatigue analysis and heat transfer fluid.

Nourouddin Sharifi, visiting assistant professor, was most recently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Kansas, studying numerical simulation and experimental analysis of heat pipe-heat exchanger for power plant applications. He received his Ph.D. in 2014 from the University of Connecticut with the dissertation, “Comprehensive Numerical Modeling of Heat Pipe-Assisted Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage Systems.” He holds several patents on heat pipe technologies and taught courses at the University of Kansas on fluid mechanics and thermal systems.


David Collinge, visiting assistant professor, comes to Union from the University of Michigan where he was a postdoctoral teaching fellow lecturing on topics such as “Capitalism and Crisis in Contemporary Spanish Culture” and “War at the Windowsill: A History of Conflict in Spain through Film.” He received his Ph.D. from Michigan in 2015 with the dissertation, “The Turning Wheel of Hostility: The E.T.A. in Literature and Film in Spain since the 1970s.” He has spoken at numerous conferences in the U.S. and Chile on Spanish film.

Yasmine van Wilt, Our Shared Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow, is a published dramatist and screenwriter, trans-media performance artist and human rights activist. In 2015, she received her Ph.D. in creative writing from Newcastle University, United Kingdom. She is a fellow for the Royal Society of the Arts and has had several selections in the Women’s International Playwriting Conference, including her play, “The Gift,” and a musical, “We’re Gonna Make You Whole.” She has received numerous European Union grants to stage performance art and theater pieces in Greece, Sweden and the U.K.

Daniel Johnson, ASIANetwork Postdoctoral Fellow, was most recently a visiting assistant professor of comparative literature and Japanese at the University of California at Riverside. His Ph.D. is from the University of Chicago in a joint program with Cinema and Media Studies, and East Asian Languages and Civilizations. His dissertation was titled “Interstitial Dimensionalities: Anonymity and Asynchronicity in Contemporary Media Culture.” His research interests include international film history, media theory, Japanese film and television and game media.

Joseph Garcia, visiting assistant professor of Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Consortium for Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, comes to Union from the University of New Mexico, where he was a visiting assistant professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department. He received his Ph.D. in 2015 from New Mexico with the dissertation “Natural Resource Revolutions: Mexico and Cuba Within the Sphere of U.S. Hegemony.” He is a past recipient of a Mellon Doctoral Defense Preparation Fellowship and a College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Excellence Graduate Award at New Mexico.


Eric Egan, visiting assistant professor, was most recently a visiting assistant professor at Skidmore College. He received his Ph.D. in 2014 from Ohio State University, where he was also a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer. He taught courses at Skidmore on introductory neuroscience and sensation and perception. He has co-authored several articles in the Journal of Vision, and other pieces have been included in Biological Psychology and Human Vision and Electronic Imaging.

David Hayes, visiting assistant professor, comes to Union after working as a research associate for the University Health Network at the Toronto Western Research Institute. He has also held postdoctoral research positions at the University of Toronto, University of Cambridge in the U.K. and the University of Ottawa. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Alberta. He is the co-author of a $660,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to study neural and biochemical correlates of resting state activity and emotional processing in major depressive disorder.


Peter Koonz, electronic and continuing resources librarian, was most recently the serials and electronic resources librarian at the College of St. Rose, where he has held numerous positions in their library since 1997. He holds a Masters of Library Science from the University at Albany and a Masters of Arts (English) from the College of St. Rose. He has served on numerous committees at St. Rose, including the Writing Across the Curriculum Committee, the Middle States Planning Group and the Digital Assets Task Force.

Lindsay Bush, instructional services librarian, served as the head librarian at Elmira Business Institute in Vestal, N.Y., where she co-designed an institution-wide information literacy plan for both faculty and students. She worked on several committees at Elmira and gave numerous presentations on information literacy. She received her masters from Simmons College.