New faculty join the College of Arts & Sciences

Posted on September 03, 2020

Image of text saying Welcoming new Faculty

This academic year (2020-2021), 13 new tenure-stream faculty are joining the College of Arts & Sciences. They come to UNC Greensboro from across the the globe, bringing a diverse set of research experience – from Shaker dancing to geometry, German culture to parent-toddler communication.

“We’re excited to welcome these impressive faculty members to our community of teacher-scholars,”  said Dr. John Z. Kiss, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “In CAS, we value strong researchers who contribute to their disciplines and who – with equal vigor – bring the excitement of their research into the classroom. I look forward to seeing where their academic careers at UNCG take them.”

Learn about their research areas here, as well as some interesting and unexpected facts:

Jonathan Chekan

Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry

Research areas: Natural product and drug discovery; chemical biology; protein engineering

Interesting fact: “I just moved to UNCG from San Diego where I worked 100 yards from the beach and could just walk out the building to collect marine samples for my research.”

More about Chekan

Michiel van Veldhuizen

Department: Classical Studies

Research areas: Cultural and intellectual history of ancient Greece and Rome

Interesting fact: “My current research looks at the ways in which the ancient Greeks and Romans coped with disaster. The relevance of this topic became all too apparent to me this past spring, when, as a professor in Rome, I found myself suddenly in one of the strictest pandemic lock-downs in Europe.”

More about van Veldhuizen

Chunjiang Zhu

Department: Computer Science

Research areas: Machine Learning; theory; drug discovery; network science

Interesting fact: “I heard about North Carolina when I was a kid (through NCAA men’s basketball), but I never expected that I would start my academic career here. This is exciting!”

More about Zhu

Derek Palacio

Department: English

Research areas: Literary fiction; diaspora/exile narratives; religion in literature

Interesting fact: “For research on my current project, which involves Catholic mysticism, I have (and hopefully will again) visit monasteries for private retreats.”

More about Palacio

Denisa Jashari

Department: History

Research areas: Latin American history; twentieth-century Chilean urban history; politics of the working poor

Interesting fact: “I was born and raised in Albania and first moved to Massachusetts before making my way to Connecticut, Indiana, and now, North Carolina. I first fell in love with Chile as a young study-abroad student in Santiago, an experience that motivated me to pursue graduate studies.”

More about Jashari

Teresa Walch

Department: History

Research areas: Modern Europe; modern Germany; Holocaust studies; urban history

Interesting fact: “I have spent the past five years living abroad (in Germany and Israel) engaging in both academic historical research and public history. I am excited to return to the states, join UNCG and to contribute to its dedicated public outreach and wider community engagement in Greensboro.”

More about Walch

Derek Toomes

Department: Interior Architecture

Research areas: New media, using technological mediums as interventional forms and experiences within spaces in order to challenge assumptions about perceptual experience

Interesting fact: “I have quite a bit of mechanical aptitude, with an audacious touch, which has led me in recent years to explore the ‘metaphysics of quality,’ as I continually work on my ever expanding collection of vintage motorcycles.”

More about Toomes

Faye Stewart

Department: Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Research areas: German, Austrian, and Swiss literature, film, and culture, 20th and 21st centuries; Muslim studies; Islam in Europe; Human rights, asylum politics, and refugee experiences

Interesting fact: “In the summer of 2018, I spent a month in Vienna, Austria, the city where I studied abroad as an undergraduate in the 1990s, and I fell in love with Vienna all over again. I ate and drank my way through the city’s diverse dumpling, sausage, ice cream, and beer offerings while working with a team to author Grenzenlos Deutsch (German without borders), an inclusive, social justice-oriented, open educational resource for beginning German.”

More about Stewart

Thomas Weighill

Department: Mathematics and Statistics

Research areas: Topology, geometry and their applications to data science

Interesting fact: “I was born and raised in Paarl, South Africa, home of the biggest schoolboy rugby match in the world.”

More about Weighill

Andrew Engelhardt

Department: Political Science

Research areas: Public opinion; identities and politics; polarization

Interesting fact: “I’m a licensed amateur radio operator and while I’ve not been active much lately I’m looking forward to getting back into it.”

More about Engelhardt

Margaret Fields-Olivieri

Department: Psychology

Research areas: Parent-toddler emotional and verbal communication processes; Early emotional and language development

Interesting fact: “My paternal grandparents were born and raised in Greensboro, so I am excited to set down my own roots here!”

More about Fields-Olivieri

Dana Logan

Department: Religious Studies

Research areas: American religion and ritual; history of evangelicalism; civil society in the nineteenth-century United States; the history of wellness.

Interesting fact: “Most recently I have been researching Shaker dancing in the mid-nineteenth century and Baptist discipline. I teach classes on the history of American religion, evangelicalism, ‘cults,’ race and religion, and the role of religion in celebrity culture.”

More about Logan

Jim Coleman

Department: Biology; Dr. Coleman is also the new UNCG provost

Research areas: Plant physiological ecology; plant and ecosystem responses to environmental change; ecological and evolutionary physiology of heat shock proteins; plant-herbivore interactions

Interesting fact: “I taught myself to play the piano. Also, last year I was part of group of three that resuscitated an individual who had a heart attack in a university administrative meeting, helping to get that person breathing until the paramedics arrived- all is now well.”

More about Coleman


Story by Elizabeth Keri, College of Arts & Sciences

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