Welcome to New Faculty 2022 in SBS!

Aug. 17, 2022

Welcome to our new faculty whose expertise illustrates the breadth and depth of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. These scholars explore such topics as Latin American ethnomusicology, the politics of Israeli media, environmental history, cybercrime, game narratives, corporate social activism, Spanish-language TV, women in politics, ethnic conflicts, the gender-wage gap, applied ethics, bilingual investigative journalism, poetry on medical science, human mobility, urban design, and much more!

Estevan Azcona
Assistant Research Social Scientist, Southwest Center
and Assistant Professor, Department of Mexican American Studies

Estevan Azcona has been active in the world of Chicano/Latino arts and culture for over 20 years as a scholar, arts presenter, and musician. He studied ethnomusicology and Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin where he received his doctoral degree. He has taught ethnomusicology and Chicano/Latino music, history, and culture at University of Texas at Austin, Indiana University, DePauw University, University of Houston, and San José State University prior to his appointment at University of Arizona. 

Azcona's research and teaching interests lie at the intersections of Chicano/Latino music history and folklore, Latin American ethnomusicology, and borderlands anthropology and history. He is particularly interested in how ethnic Mexican music-making represent processes of cultural and political change and exchange. He is also co-producer of the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings release, Rolas de Aztlán: Songs of the Chicano Movement.  

Anat Balint
Assistant Professor and Jeffrey B. Plevan Chair in Israel Studies, Arizona Center for Judaic Studies

Anat Balint is the inaugural holder of the Jeffrey B. Plevan Chair in Israel Studies. Prior to joining the University of Arizona, Balint served as an Israel Institute Visiting Scholar and coordinator of the Jewish Studies Program at San Jose State University.

A media scholar who specializes in the political economy of the media and the politics of Israeli media, Balint received her Ph.D. in media and communication from the University of London. Prior to her faculty appointment at SJSU, she was a journalist for Ha'aretz and an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Communication at Tel Aviv University.  

Carolyn Barnett
Assistant Professor, School of Government & Public Policy
and School of Middle Eastern & North African Studies 

Carolyn Barnett received her Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University in 2022. Barnett’s research focuses on how public opinion, social norms, and political behavior in the Middle East and North Africa evolve in response to women's rights reforms and other social policies. Her work has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, PS: Political Science and Politics, Middle East Law and Governance, and Hawwa.

Barnett has held Fulbright scholarships to Morocco for research and to Egypt for language study through the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) program. She has also held a Marshall Scholarship to the UK, where she earned an M.Sc. in Middle East Politics and M.A. in Islamic Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Carolyn earned a B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University and worked as a research fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies from 2012-2015.

Sarah Bratt
Assistant Professor, School of Information

Sarah Bratt holds a B.S. in philosophy from Ithaca College and M.S. and Ph.D. in library and information science and data science from Syracuse University. Her research lies at the intersection of scholarly communication, research data management, and science of science. The overarching goal of her research is to understand and design for long-term research data sustainability and actionable science policy.

Her research has been published in Quantitative Science Studies (QSS), Journal of Informetrics, ASIS&T, and Scientometrics. She was a research fellow at the Laboratory of Innovation Science at Harvard and a fellow at the iSchool Inclusion Institute. She received multiple awards, including the Masters’ Prize in Library & Information Science at Syracuse University and honorable mention as a 2022 Better Scientific Software (BSSw) Fellow.

Monica Chadha
Associate Professor, School of Journalism

Monica Chadha’s research focuses on entrepreneurial motivations of individuals who may want to start independent news startups, and professional role identity construction/transition of former journalists-turned entrepreneurs. Additionally, she examines the organizational structure of these startups and the kind of journalism practiced and produced in these news sites. Her work has been published in journals such as Mass Communication & SocietyCommunication Methods & MeasuresJournalism PracticeDigital JournalismInternational Journal of Communication, Journalism Studies, and Journalism.

Before entering academia, Chadha worked as a news reporter for 12 years, eight of which were as a news reporter for BBC World Service Radio and BBC News Online. Chadha received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Gregory Cushman
Associate Professor, Department of History

Gregory T. Cushman specializes in global environmental history, Latin American history, the Pacific World, Indigenous peoples, and the history of science, technology, and engineering. His award-winning book Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World: A Global Ecological History (Cambridge University Press, 2013) is one of the first studies to examine the environmental and cultural history of the modern world from the perspective of the whole Pacific Basin and demonstrates how humble bird excrement changed the course of modern history.

Climate change and variability are central issues in Cushman’s work, as well as the environmental engagements of Indigenous peoples in the Andean and Pacific Worlds. In 2015-17, he was the recipient of an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship and is completing two books based on this research: Alex in Wonderland: A Political Ecology of Humboldtian Science and Debating the Anthropocene: Biotic Exchange and Environmental Change in World History.

Charles Gomez
Assistant Professor, School of Sociology and School of Information

Charles J. Gomez is an assistant professor in the School of Sociology and the School of Information, as well as a member of the applied math graduate interdisciplinary program. He is a mathematical and computational sociologist who studies the rising inequality in global scientific knowledge production and diffusion. He uses topic models, social network analysis, and simulations in his work to study hierarchies, diversity, diffusion, and novelty.

His work has been featured in Nature Human BehaviourNature Communications, Social Networks, Journal of Informetrics, and Sociological Science. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford, master’s degrees from the Harvard Kennedy School and Columbia, and his B.Sc.Eng. from Duke. He's also the P.I. of a three-year National Science Foundation grant that studies the growing stratification in global scientific research and its implications on field innovation.

Trevor Hedberg
Assistant Professor of Practice, Department of Philosophy
and the W.A. Franke Honors College

Prior to joining the University of Arizona, Trevor Hedberg held postdoctoral scholar positions at The Ohio State University and the University of South Florida. His areas of specialization are ethics and applied ethics, and he examines the ways in which recent technological advancements have created new and pressing moral problems. He is the author of The Environmental Impact of Overpopulation: The Ethics of Procreation, which was published by Routledge in 2020. He is also examining the moral repercussions of biodiversity loss and investigating a cluster of ethical issues related to human enhancement. Hedberg received his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee in 2017.


Qingting “Charlotte” Hu
Assistant Professor of Practice, School of Government & Public Policy

Charlotte Hu’s research interests include courts and sentencing, cybercrime, and white-collar crime. She teaches courses in criminal justice administration, cybercrime, surveillance, and privacy. She completed her Ph.D. in criminology and criminal justice at Arizona State University. She was a visiting assistant professor with Whitman College.




Eric Jackson
Assistant Professor of Practice, Department of Linguistics

Eric Jackson studied both physics and linguistics as an undergraduate at the University of Arizona and went on to graduate study in linguistics at UCLA. Since completing a Ph.D. in linguistics in 2005, he has worked in community-based applied linguistics for an international language development NGO in southern China and Southeast Asia. This work included cooperative projects with government agencies, minority language community members, and teaching in a joint master’s program in Kunming.


W. Andrew Kemp-Wilcox
Assistant Professor of Practice, School of Information

Andrew Kemp-Wilcox is a former game and narrative designer, writer, and producer who received his Ph.D. in moving image studies from Georgia State University in 2022, with specializations in game narrative, game phenomenology, and industry studies. He earned his B.A. in English from Kennesaw State University (2015) and is a graduate of the Vancouver Film School screenwriting program (2009). Kemp-Wilcox's research interests are in the collaboration in narrative creation between players and games, and the complexities of player experience with game phenomena.


Diego Leal
Assistant Professor, School of Sociology

Diego Leal is interested in the analysis of social network dynamics and focuses on the social network aspects of relational inequalities, mostly as they manifest in the emergence and evolution of international migration systems and minority health outcomes. He uses a variety of methods, from focus groups to agent-based computational models.

Leal’s work has been published in the American Journal of Sociology, Social Networks, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, PLoS ONE, and several other outlets. He has received the James S. Coleman Outstanding Publication Award from the Rationality and Society section of the American Sociological Association. His research has been funded by national/federal organizations, such as the Colombian Agency of Science, the National Cancer Institute, and the Defense Health Agency.

Saura Masconale
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Economy and Moral Science

Saura Masconale’s research encompasses the broad domain of law and political economy, which studies how the intersection of legal entitlements, politics, and economic forces affect society, both as a positive and normative matter. Her scholarship has focused on exploring the implications of this intersection in the public corporation context. Her most recent work examines the rise of corporate social activism and explores the hidden democratic risk raised by such activism. Her articles have appeared in top law journals. 

Masconale received a Ph.D. in law and economics from LUISS Guido Carli University (Rome) and a J.D. from University of Bologna. She previously taught at the University of Chicago Law School and the University of Notre Dame Law School. Before entering academia, she practiced law at Clifford Chance LLC, an international law firm headquartered in London. Masconale is also the director of outreach at the University of Arizona Center for the Philosophy of Freedom.

Pate McMichael
Assistant Professor of Practice, School of Journalism

Pate McMichael has taught journalism at the college level since 2006. He has served as the college newspaper adviser at Georgia College (The Colonnade) and California State University, Chico (The Orion). His students have won numerous national, statewide, and regional journalism awards.

McMichael is the author of Klandestine: How a Klan Lawyer and a Checkbook Journalist Helped James Earl Ray Cover Up His Crime (Chicago Review Press, 2015) and Operation Chrysler: Stolen Valor Behind Enemy Lines During World War II (2019). His longform journalism has been anthologized in Words Matter (University of Missouri Press, 2016) and The Bitter Southerner Reader (2019).

McMichael has a bachelor’s in history from the University of Georgia and a master’s from the Missouri School of Journalism.

Carlos Parra
Presidential Post Doc, Department of History

Carlos Parra completed his Ph.D. in history at the University of Southern California in 2021 where he researched Latino cultural formation in metropolitan Los Angeles and throughout the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. During his graduate studies, Parra received several prestigious fellowships, including appointments with the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Latino Center. Previously, Parra served as a visiting assistant professor of Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies at Loyola Marymount University.

A University of Arizona alumnus, Parra’s published research covers topics ranging from the origins of the first U.S.-Mexican border fences in Southern Arizona, the cultural assimilation of ethnic Mexican students in the early New Mexico public school system, and the cultural history of Spanish-language television in greater Latino Los Angeles. During his fellowship, Parra will expand his research for a book manuscript, Televising Latinidad: Latino Los Angeles and the Rise of Spanish-Language TV in the United States, 1960-2010. 

Lori Poloni-Staudinger
Dean, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
and Professor, School of Government & Public Policy

Lori Poloni-Staudinger is the author of five books and over 30 articles, chapters, and reports. Her research focuses on social movements and extra institutional political participation in Europe and the United States. Over time, her work has moved to a focus on women’s movements. Her recent work examines questions around women and political violence as well as women and politics more generally. Her expertise has led to publications in the Washington Post and other popular media outlets.

Poloni-Staudinger received her Ph.D. at Indiana University in political science, and her dissertation focused on environmental non-governmental organizations in Europe. Poloni-Staudinger has been a Distinguished Fulbright Fellow at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, Austria, a Kettering Foundation Fellow, and a consultant for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Nahrain Rasho   
Presidential Post Doc, School of Government & Public Policy

Nahrain Rasho is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of California, Davis. During her time at UC Davis, Nahrain received several prestigious fellowships, including the Peace Scholar Dissertation Fellowship from the U.S. Institute of Peace for her outstanding dissertation on conflict analysis and prevention.

A second generation Iraqi-American, Rasho’s familial background as Assyrian Christian refugees and survivors of genocide deeply impacts her research interests in studying ethnic conflicts. Rasho aims to develop evidence-based policy recommendations that promote minority group inclusion in state institutions and foster peace worldwide. During her fellowship, Nahrain will explore the implications of the return of Iraqi Christian migrants on the autonomy rights of Christians in Iraq. The project will build on research that explores the consequences of repatriation policies on domestic autonomy in the context of Middle Eastern Societies in Northern Iraq.

Mary Rigdon      
Associate Professor, Department of Political Economy and Moral Science
and Associate Director, Center for the Philosophy of Freedom

Mary Rigdon received her Ph.D. in economics from University of Arizona. Her recent research on gender differences in competitiveness and the gender wage gap, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has been covered by local, national, and international media. During her career, her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics, and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan. She is also an affiliate in the Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science at George Mason University and an affiliate in the Center for Population-Level Bioethics at Rutgers University.


Sara Sams
Assistant Professor, Department of English

Sara Sams is the author of Atom City, a book of poetry that scrutinizes various legacies of her Manhattan Project hometown: the received history of the atomic bomb, local mythologies orbiting that narrative, and stories of family and inheritance. Sams is currently researching the influence particle physics has had on contemporary poetics and is working on new poems about medical science, childbirth, infant surgery, and frontline workers, as well as on a novel about nuclear-reactor-powered ghosts and the opioid crisis in rural Tennessee. 

Sams received her MFA in poetry from Arizona State University. Her poems and translations have appeared in Blackbird, The Volta, Matter Monthly, The Drunken Boat, Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, and elsewhere. She has served on the editorial staff of Parnassus: Poetry in Review and Hayden’s Ferry Review; she has also supported student editors as a faculty mentor for The Superstition Review.

Xavier Segura
Assistant Professor of Practice, School of Government & Public Policy

Xavier R. Segura research interests includes a focus on historically underrepresented populations, law, race, gender, criminal justice ethics, diversity, and equity issues in law, legal studies, and the criminal justice system. He teaches courses at the undergraduate level on criminal justice administration, criminal justice ethics, and LGBTQ+, the law, and public policy.

A three-time University of Arizona alumnus, Segura is a recipient of the 2022 Leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award, and is one of the first professionals to earn the University of Arizona’s Endorsed Leader Award and Recognition. Segura is recognized by the City of Tucson and the United States Army for his honorable and prestigious service to the community.

Liliana Soto
Assistant Professor of Practice, School of Journalism

Award-winning journalist Liliana Soto is the assistant director for the School of Journalism’s Bilingual Journalism Program and a freelance bilingual multimedia journalist.

Soto has 10 years of experience in broadcast news in English and Spanish with a specialization in bilingual investigative journalism, immigration, the U.S.-Mexico border, Latino issues, marginalized communities, and Mexican-centric Latin culture. Her passion for investigative journalism, her deep knowledge of the Latino community, and her determination to amplify the voices of marginalized communities through her reporting won her the highest level of recognition by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with nine Emmys and a national recognition by the Online Journalism Awards in 2016.

Micah Stack
Assistant Professor of Practice, Department of English & Writing Program

Micah Stack has taught creative writing, composition, and literature at a number of institutions, most recently the University of Nevada, Reno. Stack’s work has appeared in Juked, Gemini Magazine, AGNI, The Oxford AmericanAlaska Quarterly Review, and The Pushcart Prize XLI: Best of the Small Presses (2017 Edition). He received a Master of Fine Arts in English from the University of Iowa (Iowa Writer’s Workshop) and a Master of Arts in English/American literature from the University of Southern Mississippi. 

Yining Tan
Assistant Professor of Practice, School of Geography, Development and Environment

Yining Tan’s foci of research are urban geography, human mobility, highly skilled international migration, and transnational connections. Her dissertation develops a capital-mobility framework and employs intersectionality theory to examine the impacts of skilled U.S. migrants’ capital and intentionality on both cross-border and everyday spatial mobility as well as occupational and social mobility in China. Her work has been published in journals including Journal of Ethnic and Migration StudiesAsian GeographerInternational Migration, and International Development Policy


Andrea Thomer  
Assistant Professor, School of Information

Andrea Thomer conducts interdisciplinary research in the areas of scientific data curation and data practices; science and technology studies – “meta" examinations of how scientific research gets done; and computer-supported cooperative work in scholarly research settings. She is especially interested in long-term data curation and knowledge infrastructure sustainability; database curation; integrative data reuse; and the collaborative use and curation of natural science data.

Thomer earned her doctorate at the School of Information at the University of Illinois at Urbana‐Champaign in 2017. She has prior work experience in natural history museum curation and paleontology, which she continues to draw on in her research.

Mariya Tseptsura
Assistant Research Scientist, Department of English & Writing Program

Mariya Tseptsura earned her Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico, where her research focused on online writing instruction and multilingual writing. For the past three years, she served as the associate director of composition at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and supported the program's online writing courses. She is excited to join the UArizona Writing Program as the director of Online Writing. Her research interests encompass writing program administration, online education, and linguistic diversity.


Adriana Zuniga-Teran 
Assistant Professor, School of Geography, Development & Environment

Adriana Zuniga-Teran obtained her Ph.D. in arid lands resource sciences with a minor in global change and holds a M.S. in architecture with a concentration in design and energy conservation from the University of Arizona. Zuniga-Teran’s work examines neighborhood design patterns that affect physical activity, wellbeing, and the use of greenspace. She works with stakeholders and community partners to answer questions related to water security, urban resilience, public health, and environmental justice, by focusing on greenspace/green infrastructure (or nature-based solutions) across the urban-rural continuum.

Zuniga-Teran has taught courses related to sustainability, urban design and placemaking, and history of the built environment. Her scholarly work is demonstrated in 50+ publications, and she has presented her research in 70+ public presentations in many countries.