Meet the new faculty

Publication Date


Colleen Connelly, assistant professor, comes to Union after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Md. She received her Ph.D. in 2014 from North Carolina State University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her most recent research focus was on “Targeting and Regulatory Non-Coding RNAs with Druglike Small Molecules.”


Zeynep Orhan, visiting assistant professor, received her BS, MS and PhD. degrees from Bilkent
University Computer Science and Informatics, Bilkent UniversityComputer Engineering, and İstanbul University Computer Engineering departments, respectively. She worked as an assistant professor at Information Technologies Department of International Burch University (Bosnia and Herzegovina), assistant professor and instructor at Computer Engineering Department of Faith University, instructor at Istanbul University, Vocational School and Computer Engineering Department of Fatih University. Her interest include artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language and speech processing and sentiment analysis. She has interdisciplinary researches in the intersection of computer science, linguistics, psychiatry, cognitive sciences, education and health.


Smriti Bhargava, visiting assistant professor, comes to the College from Clemson University, where she recently received her Ph.D. with her dissertation, “Wages and Labor in India.” She received her masters degrees from the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics. Her research interests include labor economics, development economics and applied economics. Her current research is focused on wages, education and the female labor supply.

Ercan Karadas, visiting assistant professor, comes to Union after serving as a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. He received his Ph.D. in 2017 from New York University with the dissertation, “Essays in Macroeconomics and the Business Cycle.” He was the recipient of the Henry M. MacCracken Fellowship at NYU from 2008-15. His research interests include macro-finance, monetary policy, economic growth and central banking.


Zheng Yang, visiting assistant professor, comes from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was an assistant professor. Previously, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. He holds degrees from the University of California at Riverside and Nanjiang University, and has extensive advising and undergraduate research experience.


Joseph Florez III, postdoctoral fellow, received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge with the dissertation, "Pentecostal Social Thought and Action, la Mision Iglesia Pentecostal, and Military Authoritarianism in Chile, 1973-1990." He also holds degrees from Harvard University. He has taught courses at Cambridge on historical argument and practice and the history of Latin America.


Pradeep Gudler, visiting assistant professor, received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University with the dissertation, “Experimental and Numerical Studies on Aluminum-Alumina Composites.” He worked as a postdoctoral research associate at A&M in the Aerospace Engineering department. Some of his research interests include composite manufacturing, welding metallurgy for corrosive atmospheres and thermo-mechanical testing at elevated temperatures.

Yijing Yin Stehle, assistant professor, comes to Union from the Pittsburgh Institute of Sichuan University in Sichuan, China. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Miami in Florida, and she holds other degrees from Fudan University and Lanzhou University in China. Her research interests include 2D materials development and sustainable energy.


Silvina Yi, assistant professor, received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in the spring. She taught courses in Spanish and Portuguese. She has presented at numerous conferences in the United States and South America, where she also worked as an interpreter.


Christopher Chandler, assistant professor, received his Ph.D. in 2017 from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., with the dissertation, “Recontextualization and Variation: Associative Organization in Hans Abrahamsen’s Walden and Wald.” As a faculty member at the University of Richmond, he taught courses in composition, recording techniques, film scoring and more. He has won numerous awards and prizes for musical composition and recently served as a guest composer with the American Wild Ensemble.


Saladdin Ahmed, visiting assistant professor, comes to Union from Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Ottawa and also holds degrees from Carleton University and Brock University in Canada. His research interest areas include political philosophy, political theory, social space and international relations.

Sara Wiest, visiting assistant professor, received her Ph.D. in 2018 from Purdue University, where she was most recently a visiting professor. She is the co-author of the book, “Exploratory Data Analysis: A Primer for Undergraduates.” Her research interests include public policy, American politics and research methodology.


Darlingtina Atakere, visiting assistant professor, received her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. She also has degrees from Arkansas Tech University and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and graduate certificates in health psychology and African Studies from Kansas. Her research and teaching interests include social determinants of health and life, minority health and aging, health disparities and inequities, and social psychology.

Timothy George, visiting assistant professor, received his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has masters and bachelors degrees from American University. He was honored in 2017 with the American Psychological Association’s Dissertation Research Award. His dissertation was titled, “Analogy-Induced Forgetting: Inhibitory Mechanisms During Analogical Transfer.”


Lina Verchery, visiting assistant professor, comes to Union from Harvard University after receiving her Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies this spring. She also holds degrees from Harvard Divinity School and McGill University. She has taught courses on the study of Japanese religion through film and the religious traditions of China. Her research interests include comparative monasticism, religion and modernity, and transnationalism.


Andrew Bodd, lecturer, comes to Union after serving as the technical director at the Delbarton School in Morristown, N.J. He has an extensive background in technical theater, working at such places as the University at Albany, Ithaca College and the Hangar Theatre. He holds an M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and has skills in carpentry, scenic design and art, welding, stage combat and more.

Randy Wyatt, associate professor, department chair and artistic director, comes to Union after a decade on the faculty at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich. He has taught courses in acting, improvisation, directing, script analysis, theater history and more. He has an M.F.A. from Minnesota State University Makato.


Adam Mazel, director of Digital Scholarship and Public Services, most recently worked at Northeastern University as a research collaborator and a digital pedagogy intern in its Digital Scholarship Group. He received his master’s degree in digital scholarship from Simmons University and also holds a Ph.D. in English language and literature from the University of Michigan. He has worked for the Boston City Archives, the Boston University’s Wheelock College library and the Stephen S. Clark Library at the University of Michigan.

Sarah Schmidt, director of Special Collections and Archives, comes to Union from Duke University where she was the head of technical services at the Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library. She has also worked at Yale University, the University of Delaware, the Maryland Historical Society and the Library of Congress. She has a master’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park with a concentration in rare books and archives.

Sean Tennant, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship in Data Curation for the Sciences and Social Science, recently received his Ph.D. in art history from the University of Virginia with the dissertation, “Domestic Spaces in the Roman West: Architectural Adaptation in the Provinces of Gaul, Britannia and Germania.” He also has experience conducting archaeological fieldwork, and working with 3-D printing and makerspaces in UVA’s Library Scholars’ Lab.