Introducing 2021
New CLASS Faculty


Our 22 new CLASS faculty, spanning from early career investigators to established and highly distinguished scholars, broadens and deepens the college’s research capacity and impact. Their innovative ideas and work will contribute to new solutions for local, national, and global challenges and establish UH’s preeminence in the humanities and social sciences.


Heather Dial
Assistant Professor

Heather Dial is an assistant professor in the department of communication sciences and disorders. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in psychology from Rice University, her B.S. in psychology from the University of Houston and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on neurological processing of language and the relationship between neurological diseases and language disorders.

Katherine Ermgodts
Clinical Assistant Professor

Katherine Ermgodts is a clinical assistant professor in the department of communication sciences and disorders. She received her Ph.D. in speech-language pathology from the University of Kansas and her M.A. in communication sciences and disorders from the University of Houston. Her doctoral work focused on clinical education and administration with a concentration in curriculum and teaching.


Luca Oliva
Assistant Professor

Luca Oliva moves into the role of tenure-track assistant professor after having served several years in the department of comparative cultural studies as an instructional assistant professor and instructional associate professor. He is also the director of the liberal studies program. He received his Ph.D. and B.S. in philosophy from the University of Milan and completed a postdoctoral specialization at the University of Freiburg in Breisgau. He will teach courses on normativity and theories of knowledge. Oliva focuses on ethical issues regarding morality, injustice and analytic philosophy. He is the author of two books in Italian and editor of a third. His work in English has appeared in Kantian Review, the NAKS Series and edited volumes published by Cambridge University Press and De Gruyter.


Piruz Saboury
Instructional Assistant Professor

Piruz Saboury is an instructional assistant professor in the department of economics. He earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in economics from Texas A&M University and his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran, Iran. He studies pro-social markets and institutions such as philanthropy, charitable giving, social entrepreneurship and microfinance, examining their impact on poverty alleviation and economic development. He uses a variety of research methods, including game theory and experiments.


Daniel Davies
Assistant Professor

Daniel Davies is an assistant professor in the department of English. He received a Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. from the University of Edinburgh. A specialist in late medieval literature, his research centers on literary and historical writing from England, Scotland and France. His book project examines how historians and literary authors theorized the territorial conflicts endemic to medieval Europe as a distinct political worldview centered on war. Davies’ research has appeared in Modern Language Quarterly, New Medieval Literatures and Medium Æuvum. He has received fellowships from the Folger Shakespeare Library and Strathmartine Trust.

Brenda Peynado
Assistant Professor

Brenda Peynado is an assistant professor of creative writing in the department of English. She received her Ph.D. in fiction from the University of Cincinnati and her MFA in fiction from Florida State University. Her fiction and screenwriting focus on political violence, girlhood and the moral quandaries of love, while her craft and scholarship focus on magical realism and alternative realities. Peynado’s first book, “The Rock Eaters,” is a short-story collection featuring angels, ghosts, aliens and Latina girlhood, focusing on what it means to love across boundaries of class, race, gender and immigration. Her short stories have been featured in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, The Pushcart Prize and The O. Henry Prize anthologies.

About the College

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) is the heart of the University, dedicated to spurring intellectual curiosity, creativity, and transformative education. Encompassing humanities, social sciences, and health sciences, CLASS is truly a mosaic of disciplines that broaden perspectives, inspire potential, and advance possibilities yet unimagined.


Dr. Cinthia Yoon - HHP

Cynthia Yoon
Assistant Professor

Cynthia Yoon is an assistant professor of community health promotion. She received her Ph.D. in epidemiology and public health from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and her M.S. in public health nutrition from Case Western Reserve University. Her research is centered on social behavioral epidemiology and the epidemiology of obesity. The overarching goal of Yoon’s research is to reduce obesity by preventing maladaptive eating and encouraging adaptive eating. Her current research focus is on examining the impact of adverse and traumatic life experiences, including childhood abuse and neglect, household dysfunction, interpersonal violence and other forms of violence on maladaptive and adaptive eating.


Julio Cesar Lopez Otero
Assistant Professor

Julio César López Otero is an assistant professor in the department of Hispanic studies. He received his Ph.D. in bilingualism and second-language acquisition from Rutgers University, his M.A. in Hispanic linguistics from Purdue University and his B.A. in translation and interpretation from Universidad Pablo de Olavide in Seville, Spain. His research focuses on the acquisition and maintenance of Spanish grammar among different types of bilinguals.


Nandini Bhattacharya
Associate Professor

Nandini Bhattacharya is an associate professor of Indian history and history of medicine. She received her Ph.D. from University College London, where she was the Roy Porter Doctoral Fellow. Her research focuses on the histories of pharmaceuticals and alcohol in modern India. She will teach courses on modern Indian history and history of medicine. Bhattacharya has been a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Leicester. She has taught history of medicine at Yale University and history at the University of Dundee in the United Kingdom.

Pratik Chakrabarti
Professor Cullen NEH Chair in History

Pratik Chakrabarti is the National Endowment for the Humanities Cullen Chair in History. He has contributed widely to the history of medicine, science and imperialism spanning South Asian, Caribbean and Atlantic history from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. His most recent book is “Inscriptions of Nature: Geology and the Naturalization of Antiquity,” published in 2020. His current research is on the history of postcolonial public health in India, a cultural history of the southern continent of Gondwanaland and global vaccine research. 

Adela Cedillo
Assistant Professor

Adela Cedillo is an assistant professor of modern Mexican history. She earned her Ph.D. in Latin American history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her M.A. and B.A. in Latin American studies and history from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Her research interests include revolutionary movements, counterinsurgency warfare, the war on drugs, human rights and female activism. Cedillo has published several book chapters and peer-reviewed articles on guerrilla organizations, anti-drug campaigns and forced disappearance in Mexico. She is the author of “El Fuego y El Silencio, Historia de las Fuerzas de Liberación Nacional Mexicanas (1969-1974)” and the co-editor of “Challenging Authoritarianism in Mexico: Revolutionary Struggles and the Dirty War, 1964-1982.”

Kelly Hopkins
Assistant Professor

Kelly Hopkins is an assistant professor of early American history. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis and her M.A. at the University of Akron. Her research interests include the fields of Native American, British and French Colonial American history, environmental history and Atlantic world history. She investigates the experiences and legacies of the interactions between European colonists and Native Americans. Hopkins’ current book project, “Recreating Iroquoia: Haudenosaunee Settlement Patterns, Subsistence Strategies, and Environmental Use, 1630-1783,” demonstrates the innovative responses of the Haudenosaunee to a period of rapid colonial and market expansion into their homeland. Her research has been supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship.


Felicitas Baruch
Assistant Professor

Felicitas Baruch is an assistant professor in the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication. She earned her Ph.D. in media and cultural studies from University of Massachusetts Amherst and her M.A. in broadcast journalism from Emerson College. Her research centers on digital distribution of media content, audience collaboration with the media, cultural production and digital activism. She will teach courses on media production, communication and journalism. Baruch has worked as a journalist for various news agencies, including the Associated Press, Xinhua, newspapers and electronic media. She has previous experience as a TV producer and videographer in Boston and Mexico City.

Hanyoung Kim
Assistant Professor

Hanyoung Kim is an assistant professor of strategic communication. He is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia, where he also received his master’s degree. Kim earned his B.A. in international trade from Dongguk University. His research explores theory-based mechanisms behind changes in health attitudes, emotion and behavior in response to media exposure. Kim’s work has appeared in several peer-reviewed journals, including the International Journal of Advertising, the Journal of Health Communication and the Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising.


Viola Green
Instructional Assistant Professor

Viola V. Green is an instructional assistant professor of French in the department of modern and classical languages. Her research centers primarily on the phonology of binominals in French and English, psycholinguistics and bilingualism. Green completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Georgia Institute of Technology and has taught at the University of Utah, Minsk State Linguistic University, Northeastern University and The University of Texas at Austin. Green has also worked as a Russian, French and Belarusian translator.   


Peter Koelling
Instructional Associate Professor

Peter Koelling is an instructional associate professor of public administration. He received his Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University and his J.D. from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. He is the editor and contributing author of “The Improvement of the Administration of Justice, 8th Ed.” and has taught at Colorado State and the University of Denver. Koelling comes to the MPA Program from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague, where he was the chief of court management.


Claudia Yau
Assistant Professor

Claudia Yau is an assistant professor in the department of philosophy. She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton and her B.A. from Wellesley College. She specializes in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, with a focus on ancient epistemology, ethics and politics. Yau has additional interests in the philosophy of race, feminist philosophy and Chinese philosophy. At Princeton, she was a member of the interdepartmental program in classical philosophy and a graduate affiliate of the University program in American studies.


Jae-Hee Jung
Assistant Professor

Jae-Hee Jung is an assistant professor in the department of political science. She received her Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis and her B.A. from Yonsei University in South Korea. She comes to UH most recently from the University of Oxford, where she was a postdoctoral fellow in survey research. Jung specializes in comparative politics with a focus on political parties. In her research, she studies political behavior and political psychology by examining party campaigns, party rhetoric and voter attitudes. She often employs surveys and survey experiments in her work and has published several articles in top journals of political science, including the Journal of Politics.

Michael Kistner
Assistant Professor

Michael Kistner is an assistant professor in the department of political science. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and his B.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University. In his research, he explores how campaign finance, legislative organization and electoral concerns affect public policy and representation, particularly in American state politics. Kistner’s work combines the collection of large-scale observational data with quantitative social science tools like machine learning, formal modeling and Bayesian methods. He has several articles forthcoming in notable journals of political science, including the Journal of Politics.

Tanika Raychaudhuri
Assistant Professor

Tanika Raychaudhuri is an assistant professor in the department of political science. She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University and her B.A. from the University of Michigan. Her research is in American politics with a focus on political behavior, immigration, race and inequality. Raychaudhuri was a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Immigration at the University of Pennsylvania. She employs surveys, interviews and experimental methods in her work and is currently working on a book manuscript that explains why Asian-Americans support Democrats in national elections. She has published several articles in noted political science journals, including electoral studies.


Denise Reyes
Assistant Professor

Denise Reyes is an assistant professor of industrial/organizational psychology. Reyes received her Ph.D. and M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology from Rice University and a B.S. in psychology from the University of Central Florida. Her main research interests revolve around leadership and training. Reyes was selected as the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology’s 2019 Joyce & Thayer Graduate Fellow, demonstrating exceptional research in training and development. Her other research interests include diversity, rejection in the workplace and the psychology of teams. Her research has been published in academic journals such as Journal of Applied Psychology, The Leadership Quarterly and American Psychologist.


Hyunseok Hwang
Assistant Professor

Hyunseok Hwang is an assistant professor of sociology. He received a Ph.D. in sociology and an MPA from Texas A&M University. His academic interests include organization theory, environmental sociology, community resilience, philanthropic studies and social entrepreneurship. His research has an overarching theme of identifying how organizations respond to institutional heterogeneity, grand societal challenges (i.e., massive social and environmental issues) and challenges to organizational sustainability. 

Welcome to the Cougar Family!

A communication by the CLASS Office of Communications.

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