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.

Get to know Donald Jellerson!




Dr. Donald Jellerson is an Assistant Professor in the Languages and Literatures Department




What’s your educational background?

I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Washington in Seattle. Then I went right from there to a PhD Program at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

What courses do you teach here?

I teach a lot of different courses. I teach several Film Studies courses. I’ve taught Gender in Film, Literature on Film, Shakespeare on Film, Film Theory, and next semester I’ll be teaching a Critical Writing in Multimedia Contexts course. In the English Department I teach Freshman English and I also teach a Shakespeare course. Occasionally, I teach other things too.

What are your research interests?

Like my teaching interests, they are fairly broad. Because I have my basic training in Renaissance Studies, I publish in Shakespeare Studies and Poetics in the 16th and 17th centuries. I am editing a play from about 40 years before Shakespeare right now. I’ve also published on film.

How long have you been teaching?

I was teaching part-time while I was getting my graduate degree, but I have been teaching full-time since 2009. After getting my PhD at Vanderbilt, I spent a year teaching in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department, and then I spent a year at a smaller college in Memphis (Rhodes College). After that I got to Whitewater.

What inspired you to become a professor?

In a nutshell, the opportunity to continue to study and learn as a career.

What do you like most about teaching?

The moments that I enjoy most are when I can generate in class a conversation—an exchange of ideas. I don’t really enjoy getting up there and lecturing forever while people take notes. That’s not the most fun kind of teaching. The most fun kind of teaching is when you can get everybody invested and interested in creating knowledge together in a conversation.

What do you like most about UW-Whitewater?

I like where it is—in the middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin but close enough to Madison and Milwaukee. I also like the student body here. When I was teaching at Vanderbilt and Rhodes, it was mostly privileged kids, and they were invested so it was fine. But here, there’s just a big mix of people from all walks of life and different backgrounds. It makes the project of learning a lot more interesting when you have such a vast array of people.

What are some of your interests outside of teaching?

It’s probably not surprising as a literature professor, but I do like reading—even stuff that I would never teach. I like playing music. I play the guitar. I don’t play well enough for anyone to actually listen to me, but I play well enough to entertain myself, so that’s a lot of fun. Occasionally, in the past several years, I have performed in shows. I used to be an actor before I went back to college, so in the past four years I’ve performed in two different Shakespeare shows. It’s fun when I get to do that.

What’s your favorite movie?

My favorite movies continually rotate. I have tons of them. I was really into screwball comedy from the 40s, like Cary Grant movies and old black-and-white comedy movies—movies like Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday. Recently, I’ve been into Paul Thomas Anderson—I saw Inherent Vice, which just came out, and I thought it was fascinating. I also like the Lord of the Rings movies. I’m a big sci-fi fantasy geek as well.

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

They might be surprised to learn that I had an acting career before I became a professor. Although I teach Shakespeare and literature, I secretly read pulp sci-fi novels.

Who inspires you and why?

Because of what I do and what I think about, I get inspired by literary critics and philosophers of language, people like Judith Butler, people who have been important in intellectual history, and those who have tried to think about how language works and how it impacts social structures. I get inspired by people who challenge me to think even more deeply about what I do.