Get to know Ellie Schemenauer!




Dr. Ellie Schemenauer is a Women’s and Gender Studies Professor at UW-Whitewater.




What’s your educational background?

I went to Eckerd College, a small liberal arts college in St. Petersburg, Florida, for my undergraduate degree in International Studies. I always was fascinated with cultures that were different from my own and Eckerd had a great faculty, strong international programs and plenty of study abroad opportunities. I thrived in the small classes and intensive mentoring that Eckerd provided students. I got involved in undergraduate research and even travelled to Costa Rica as part of their undergraduate research program to study F.I.R.E. (Feminist International Radio Endeavor), a short-wave radio program focused on women and gender issues heard in 100 countries around the world.  It was my dual interest in Women’s and Gender Studies scholarship and teaching in a liberal arts context that motivated me to go on to graduate school.  I earned my Ph.D. in International Relations from Florida International University in Miami, Florida where I focused my work in Feminist International Relations and Latin America and the Caribbean.

What courses do you teach here?

I teach a wide range of courses in Women’s and Gender Studies including Introduction to Women’s Studies, Women in Work, Women and Men in Cross-Cultural Perspective, Women in International Relations, Advanced Seminar in Women’s and Gender Studies, and the general education course, Individual and Society.

What are your research interests?

My dissertation research examined women drug couriers and the gendered dimensions of the illicit drug trade. I was really interested in the socioeconomic context and motivations that women from Latin America and the Caribbean had for trafficking illicit drugs, but I was also interested in exploring this issue from a security angle. I’ve largely continued to work on that research agenda that I set out in graduate school. Right now I’m working on an article that looks at so-called cocaine queen pins—women who are in the upper echelons of illicit drug networks. I’m very interested in examining how different media outlets are telling these stories. My second area of research interest involves feminist pedagogy. I spend so much time in the classroom thinking about how to teach and how to teach well that my interest in pedagogy grew pretty organically from the demands of my job.

How long have you been teaching?

I taught my first college class after my second year of graduate school in 1997, and I came to teach at Whitewater full-time in 2005.

What inspired you to become a professor?

I would say my experiences as an undergraduate. I really enjoy learning- I’m seriously curious about the world. I couldn’t imagine ever being satisfied with what I knew, and so it seemed like a perfect profession to go into. I also learned pretty early on as an undergraduate that the more you know, the more you understand how very little you know about the world around you. So, that quest for knowledge with humility appealed to me.

What do you like most about UW-Whitewater?

My students and my colleagues. I’m very fortunate that I am surrounded by hard-working, smart, and kind colleagues. I’m also often humbled by the perseverance of my students and the challenges that they face. There are a lot of good people around here. This feels like a good place to be- I feel supported.

What are some of your interests outside of teaching?

I’m a big fan of yoga. I wish I could take a yoga class every day, but I have to settle for once or twice a week. I like to go hiking- especially in mountains. I also love to travel. I have a 3 year old, so I spend a lot of my free time doing fun things with her.

What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is ceviche. You basically chop up fresh fish, add sliced red peppers, onions, or tomatoes, and squeeze citrus over it. Let it sit in the citrus for an hour or so, and the citrus “cooks” the fish.

What is something that your students may be surprised to learn about you?

I jumped out of a plane once- I went skydiving when I was in college. Also, I used to love scuba-diving, but being in Wisconsin kind of puts a damper on that hobby.

Who inspires you and why?

My 3 year old daughter. She inspires me to be very intentional about what I do and say.

Get to know Jalal Nawash!




Dr. Jalal Nawash is an Associate Professor in the Physics Department.





What’s your educational background?

I earned a B.Sc. in Physics in 1993 from the University of Jordan. I received a Master’s degree in 1997 from the same school. I came to the United States in 1999 and attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania, earning another another Master’s in Physics in 2000. I then went to Washington State University and received a Ph.D. in Materials Science in 2007.

What courses do you teach here?

I teach Algebra-based Physics- Physics 140 and 141. I also teach advanced Physics classes like Modern Physics and Thermal Physics. In the past I also taught Senior Seminar and Statics.

What are your research interests?

My research interests are in crystal growth, so I know how to make diamonds if you want. I also work on laser crystals; I worked on developing laser crystals in 2004 while working on my PhD. One of them is called the YAG crystal. These are very powerful lasers, and I worked on making new types of crystals. I was able to make two types of crystals that were never made before, and I also discovered a new phase of a material.

How long have you been teaching at UW-Whitewater?

I’ve been in Whitewater since 2009.

What inspired you to become a professor?

I really love teaching, and I like to see the influence that this brings to the students. I think it actually leaves a very long life effect, and I like that. I think that if a student is successful, it reflects on me personally.

What do you like most about UW-Whitewater?

Whitewater offers a lot of programs and facilities for students. It offers a lot of accommodations for students with disabilities, and I like that a lot. A lot of students are first generation university students, and I think that’s part of the influence you leave on a student and on their families as well. When I go to commencement and see all the parents who are very, very proud of their kids because they are the first generation who graduated from a university, I think that’s amazing. You don’t see that as much at other schools.

What are some of your interests outside of teaching?

I play a lot of soccer. I play in leagues in Madison, Wisconsin, and sometimes I go to Milwaukee. I also go to Arizona to play soccer, and Las Vegas every year. I once was invited to play in Italy in the league, but I didn’t go because of other commitments. I’m also a licensed soccer coach in Wisconsin.

What is your book?

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.

Who inspires you and why?

My parents. My father didn’t have many resources when he grew up, but he worked hard, got married, and had a big family. He was able to make his family happy and bring up his kids, send them to college. My mother also is an inspiring person for working hard throughout her life to raise a big family.

Welcome Rossitza Ivanova!

RIIt is the College’s pleasure to welcome a new faculty member to the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater.  Dr. Rossitza Ivanova joins us as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages and Literatures.  Dr. Ivanova studied English and Comparative Literary studies at the University of Warwick, UK, were she also earned her Ph.D. in Contemporary American Indian Literary Studies.  


Here are a few things about our new colleague:

Hobbies: I love quiet times for reading and gardening, as well as active times for biking and hiking. 

Research:  Curriculum development in composition and rhetoric; working with multi-lingual writers, Contemporary American Indian literature (especially issues related to teaching and audience response).

Personal Life:  My husband and I have an eight year-old boy.

Interesting Facts:  I did a Fulbright lectureship a few years ago in my home country of Bulgaria and I got to teach in my Alma Mater.  I am looking for opportunities to develop cross-cultural initiatives between the two universities.


Welcome Nengher Vang!

nvIt is the College’s pleasure to welcome a new faculty member to the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater.  Dr. Nengher Vang joins us as an Assistant Professor in the History Department.  Dr. Vang earned a BA in Sociology from Davidson College, an MA in Theology from the Iliff School of Theology, an MA in Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.


Here are a few things about our new colleague:

Hobbies:  Reading personal memoirs and biographies, learning new languages and traveling overseas.

Research:  My areas of research are US refugee/immigration history, US-Asia relations, diaspora politics/engagement, Hmong history/politics.

Personal Life: I have a wife and one son, Choua Her and Matthew Vang, respectively.    

Interesting Facts:  I came to the U.S. in 1988 after spending the first four years of my life in the Lao jungle running from persecution by the communist Pathet Lao government and the next eight years of my life in two refugee camps in Thailand.  (It’s amazing how my parents, both illiterate, were able to bring me and my five other siblings from Laos to the US at the time.)

Welcome Jennifer Anderson!


It is the College’s pleasure to welcome a new faculty member to the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater.  Dr. Jennifer Anderson joins us as an Assistant Professor in the Social Work Department and will also serve as the program’s Field Coordinator.   Dr. Anderson earned her Ph.D. in Social Work from the Indiana University School of Social Work on the IUPUI campus. 



Here are a few things about our new colleague:

Hobbies: I have explored many hobbies over the years. My current one is quilting. I enjoy the creative process of blending colors, textures, and designs.

Research:  My area of research is inter-professional education (IPE) and collaborative program design. In addition, I am interested in how students apply competencies in practice settings.

Personal Life: My spouse and I have been together for nearly 20 years, but we have been married for 12 years. We have two sons:  Mark and Wyatt. At present, we have one dog—a golden retriever.

Interesting Facts: I love Star Wars and my funny thing is that I have named all of my dogs after characters from the movies. I have had a Chewbacca—a black long haired Kelly Cocker Spaniel, a R2D2—mixed breed Chihuahua and beagle, a JaJa Binks—Red American Beagle, and our Golden Retriever—Obe-Wan Kenobi.


Welcome Eric Loepp!


It is the College’s pleasure to welcome a new faculty member to the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater.  Dr. Eric Loepp joins us as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science.  Dr. Loepp graduated from the Jepson School at the University of Richmond with his undergraduate degree in Leadership Studies, and recently completed his doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh.


Here are a few things about our new colleague:

Hobbies: Playing guitar, studying for my pilot’s certificate, and watching/playing sports, especially hockey. 

Research:  I work in the area of American politics and political behavior. 

Personal Life: I have two younger sisters who live in Oregon (my home state) and, in the interest of full disclosure; I must admit one of them is a proud graduate of Linfield College.  She and I look forward to a friendly football rivalry in the coming years.

Interesting facts:  I grew up working in a veterinary clinic with my father, and I am an avid animal enthusiast – one of my goals this fall is to get a pet.



Welcome Loren Wilbers!


It is the College’s pleasure to welcome a new faculty member to the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. Dr. Loren Wilbers will be joining us as an Assistant Professor in our Sociology, Criminology, and Anthropology Department.  She recently completed her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of South Florida.


Here are a few things about our new colleague:

Hobbies:  In my free time I like to cook, hike in the woods with my dog, and read anything written by Stephen King.

Research:  My areas of interest are medical sociology and the sociology of disability, and my research focuses on the experiences of people living with chronic pain.

Personal Life:  My family consists of my fiancé, Travis, and our dog, Weezy (a beagle/pit bull mix).

Interesting Facts:  I am an aspiring cookbook author and am currently developing a collection of Midwestern comfort food recipes.



Welcome Yeongmin Kim!



It is the College’s pleasure to welcome a new faculty member to the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater.  Yeongmin Kim will be joining us as an Assistant Professor in our Social Work Department.  Dr. Kim received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 



Here are a few interesting things about our new colleague:

  • Hobbies:  Dr. Kim enjoys playing the guitar and hopes to do this more frequently when he gets settled in Whitewater.
  • Research: Dr. Kim’s research focuses on Poverty, Child Support, Family Structure and well-being, and Child Care.
  • Family:  Dr. Kim has a wife and daughter joining him at UW-Whitewater.
  • Other good things to know:  Wisconsin is Dr. Kim’s second hometown. It’s the first state he lived in when he arrived in the U.S., it is the state where he met his wife, and it is the state where his daughter was born.  According to Dr. Kim “I am so happy that I be coming back to my U.S. Hometown.”

Get to know Jessica Bonjour!


Professor Jessica Bonjour is an Assistant Professor in the Chemistry Department.

What’s your educational background?

I have my Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Truman State University, which is in Missouri. Then I got my PhD in Organic Chemistry from UW-Madison.

What courses do you teach here?

I primarily teach Chem 100 lecture, which is Chemistry for the Consumer- the non-science major’s course. I also teach Chem 112, which is a second semester chemistry course for mostly Occupational Safety majors, and then I teach labs- so Gen Chem labs and Organic labs.

What are your research interests?

I research in chemical education, so things like different teaching methods or different types of assignments and courses. I also have a project, involving a picoSpin NMR- just a small tabletop portable model. Now we can bring that technology into high schools, so high school teachers come to campus to learn how to use it, and if they want to bring it to their classrooms they can. I’m also on a grant with the College of Education where we’re trying to get kindergarten through 3rd grade teachers to do more science in class.

How long have you been teaching?

I started here part-time in Spring of 2010, and I’ve been here ever since.

What inspired you to become a professor?

I like the teaching. I like the variety- it’s never the same, so even if you’re teaching the same thing every semester, it can always change and you can always get different interactions with students. Working with non-science majors is always interesting, too. They either come in really excited about it or they come in really scared, and hopefully by the end they’re not so scared. Because I like the teaching, I also started doing my research on the teaching as well.

What do you like most about UW-Whitewater?

I like the size- it’s not too big, not too small. It reminds me a little bit of my undergrad school. It’s twice as big here, but you don’t quite feel it. We have a pretty good department as far as interaction with the faculty. We have pretty small majors, so we know our students pretty well.

What are some of your interests outside of teaching?

I have chickens. We’ve got four hens and a rooster, and we actually have two baby chickens right now and a bunch more eggs in the incubator. That’s kind of a big time sink. We live out in the country, so we take care of 2 ½ acres. We also have three cats.

What’s your favorite movie?

A childhood favorite movie was “Mrs. Doubtfire” for some reason, so it’s usually my go-to all-time favorite.

What is something that your students may be surprised to learn about you?

I’m an only child- I don’t know if that’s surprising, maybe just a random fact.

Who inspires you and why?

My undergrad research advisor was a big inspiration. I started working with him pretty early, and he definitely got me to go to grad school- which wasn’t my original plan. Teaching here reminds me a lot of what it was like there, so how he interacted with the students and things like that. He would probably be my primary inspiration.

Get to know John Frye!



Dr. John Frye is an Assistant Professor in the Geography, Geology and Environmental Science Department



What’s your educational background?

I have two degrees from Ball State University- both my Bachelor’s degree and my Master’s degree. Then I did my PhD at the University of Georgia. My undergrad was actually in Journalism with a minor in Geography, and then I changed career paths and did the Master’s and PhD in Geography, focusing on weather and climate.

What courses do you teach here?

I teach the Intro to Physical Geography class, which is a pretty large GenEd class. Then I also do all the Weather and Climate classes. I teach an upper level meteorology class and a climate class that’s also upper level. For the last three years, including this semester right now, I also do our field course where we go storm chasing. We learn all about severe weather and how to forecast for severe weather, and then we spend two weeks out in Great Plains doing some storm chasing.

What are your research interests?

Most of my research interest is in the severe weather field, so looking at tornados and thunderstorms. I do that both from a climate standpoint- so looking at changes in the patterns of severe weather to the meteorology aspect of it- why certain events happen where they do. I also do a lot of educational components- so how people learn about severe weather and where they get their information about severe weather.

How long have you been teaching at Whitewater?

I started in the fall of 2011, so this is my fourth year here.

What inspired you to become a professor?

I enjoy working with students- that’s the biggest reason. I am really student-focused in all of my classes. I just like sharing what I know about the weather and physical geography while teaching students about it and getting them interested in it.

What do you like most about UW-Whitewater?

I like the small-feeling of the campus and the community here. I enjoy working with students, and this is a good place to be- you get a lot of one-on-one interaction with students both inside the classroom and outside the classroom through things like undergrad research, which I’m also involved in.

What are some of your interests outside of teaching?

Outside of teaching I help coach a lot of youth sports. I have three kids that are both going up through the youth sports ranks here in town. I really enjoy teaching and coaching in those sports leagues. As a family we also like to do a lot of outdoor activities- like going camping, hiking, and that sort of stuff. We are kind of outdoorsy kind of people. I also do storm chasing on my own as well outside of the field course.

What’s your favorite musical artist?

I like 80’s hair band music- so Poison, Motley Crue and all that kind of genre. I also like jazz and blues music a lot. Anyone from BB King to Michael Brecker and all those kind of classic jazz and blues legends.

What is something that your students may be surprised to learn about you?

I’m actually married to my high school sweetheart. We met in high school and we’ve been together ever since.

Who inspires you and why?

First and foremost, I do what I do for my kids and my wife. They definitely inspire me to be the best that I can be. My students inspire me as well- seeing the passion in their eyes and seeing them learn stuff is also very inspirational to me. A former professor of mine, Dr. David Arnold, was very instrumental in getting me into the field of Meteorology and Climatology, so he’s definitely a big inspiration. As far as famous people, Cal Ripken, a baseball player in the 80s and 90s, inspires me. I grew up watching him play. Most people know him because he set the all-time record for consecutive games played. He always showed up to work and gave it 100% every single day, so I aspire to do that, too.