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!

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!

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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!

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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

Get to know Trudi Witonsky!

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Dr. Trudi Witonsky is an Associate Professor in the Languages and Literatures Department

 

 

What’s your educational background?

I got a BA, MA, and a PhD all in English. I went to school at Grinnell College in Iowa and then UW-Madison for my graduate work. I did my minor in African American Studies.

What courses do you teach here?

A lot of the first year English Courses, so 090, 101, 102, 105, and I specialize in American Lit, so I’m doing the second half of the American Lit survey course. I also do a Composition course for future teachers, and I’ve taught Multicultural Drama because I also specialized in twentieth-century multicultural literature.

What are your research interests?

I’ve been researching a couple of women poets who have really been interested in social change that’s come out through feminist movements and multicultural movements. Adrienne Rich and Muriel Rukeyser, June Jordan, and other women poets who’ve been involved.

How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been teaching since 1993, but I’ve been at Whitewater since 2002.

What inspired you to become a professor?

With my minor in African American studies, there was always a sense of giving something back, which I hope I do. I always wanted to work with people- you get so much out of it, and students change all the time. It’s very stimulating. I have great colleagues. Every day changes when you’re working with people.

What’s your favorite part about teaching?

I love hearing other people’s ideas, and the sense of learning that is so continuous. You’re always growing and developing. Each class changes and I have to adapt, so I like that pressure overall, even if I’m crabby about it sometimes in the moment.

What do you like most about UW-Whitewater?

One of the things that I really like is the emphasis on teaching. We also have great faculty here. There’s a commitment to teaching and to ideas that seems really positive- it seems like there’s a positive purpose in what we do here. Another thing that I like about Whitewater is that there are a lot of first generation college students that have so much passion and desire to go on. That’s really motivating and inspirational to me.

What are some of your interests outside of teaching?

I love hiking and gardening, being outside in general is great. There are more things that I’d love to do if I had more time!

What’s your favorite book?

I’m really loving Muriel Rukeyser’s poetry. There’s a book that she wrote in the early 1930’s called The Book of the Dead, and it was about terrible mining practices in West Virginia, but also about her sense of hope and how we can learn and move forward.

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

I used to listen to a lot of hip-hop, like early hip-hop. I love Public Enemy, De La Soul and the Roots.

Who inspires you and why?

A lot of students do. Stories about why they’re going to school and folks that have overcome a lot to be here are really moving. When I hear what they’ve been through in order to be here I think “okay, I need to do a good job.” That really inspires me.

Get to know Kim Knesting!

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Dr. Kim Knesting is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department

 

 

What is your educational background?

I have a PhD in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in School Psychology. I earned my PhD from Indiana University. Because my undergraduate degree was in German Literature and Language, I studied psychology at the University of Minnesota for a year before beginning my coursework in school psychology.

What courses do you teach at UW-Whitewater?

I teach undergraduate courses in Introductory Psychology, Psychology of Women, and a course called Field Training in Psychology- it’s a class where students have a field placement for four hours a week, and then we meet for two hours a week. I also teach graduate courses in our school psychology program in foundations in the field, in cognitive behavioral therapies, and behavioral therapies.

What are your research interests?

My primary research interest is in looking at how better to support students who are at risk for dropping out of high school- so looking at how we can support their persistence. And that has begun to focus more and more on how it is that we can communicate caring and belonging to students who often times don’t have that sense or that feeling at their school. We are looking at how to help teachers better do this. I also look at how schools support sexual minority youth, specifically looking at the support teachers need in order to provide that support to students in their classrooms and hallways at school.

How long have you been teaching at UW-Whitewater?

This is my fourth year at Whitewater.

What inspired you to become a professor?

To be honest, I was really torn. When I was finishing up my internship for my doctorate degree, I was applying to jobs both as a school psychology practitioner- so working in schools, as well as faculty positions. The faculty position came through with an offer first, so I accepted it. Since then, I have really come to love teaching and working with students.

What do you like most about teaching?

I like the one-on-one interactions with students- I like trying to help them figure things out, help them think about something differently, or expose them to a new idea.

What do you like most about UW-Whitewater?

I have a wonderful department- really supportive colleagues. I think there seems to be a relatively positive energy among faculty about trying to do things better and improving- yet understanding that sometimes we do the best that we can, and that is the best that we can do. That support really makes a difference.

What are some of your interests outside of teaching?

Traveling. We have been working on a huge house project since we moved to Wisconsin, so sanding and painting and pounding and nailing and doing those types of things. I’m a new mom, so that is also taking up lots of my time. I have a little girl, and she’s five months old.

What’s your favorite movie?

Off the top of my head, I would probably have to say The Princess Bride.

Who inspires you and why?

When I was in graduate school I had a professor, and when I started to think about possibly pursuing a career in academia, she became my mentor. She still is in many, many ways; from just little things- like how she would approach handling a conflict with a student, to how she makes career decisions, how she handles being a mom, faculty member, and all of that. She is always a guide in the back of my mind about how she would handle a situation or what she might suggest I do in a situation.