New Full-Time Faculty, 2014–15

Assistant Professors
Visiting Associate Professors
Visiting Assistant Professors

Assistant Professors:

Elliott AbramsElliott Abrams
Assistant Professor of Biology

BA, Rutgers University; PhD, Johns Hopkins University
Elliott Abrams’ research focuses on understanding the molecular basis for altered cell division mechanics in the early vertebrate embryo. He conducted his postdoctoral research in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania. A novel gene, brambleberry, which is important in embryonic cell division, was identified through his research with zebra fish. Abrams won the 2013 Holtzer Prize for his article “Dynamic assembly of brambleberry mediates nuclear envelope fusion during early development,” published in Cell.

Leandro BenmerguiLeandro Benmergui
Assistant Professor of History

BA, University of Buenos Aires; PhD, University of Maryland, College Park
Leandro Benmergui’s scholarly work focuses on the social and cultural history of urban renewal and housing programs in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro during the Cold War, and his areas of interest include the urban social and cultural history of Latin America from a multidisciplinary and transnational perspective. His doctoral work was a transnational history of housing and poverty, framed within a multidisciplinary approach that included social and cultural history, architecture, urban planning, and a history of sociology. Benmergui, who first joined the history faculty in 2012–13 as a visiting assistant professor, will also be contributing to the Latin American studies program.

Jakub CiupinskiJakub Ciupiński
Assistant Professor of Music
(Studio Composition and Production)
MA, Academy of Music in Kraków (Poland); MM, The Juilliard School
Jakub Ciupiński is a Polish composer, producer, performer, and music software developer. Since signing his first contract with Sony Music Poland at the age of 18, he has been recording studio albums and performing gesture-controlled electronica. He is also a co-founder of Blind Ear Music, a New York–based group specializing in improvised, real-time compositions using wirelessly connected laptops as musical score displays. Ciupiński has collaborated with a variety of artists, musicians, choreographers, and film directors, including Oscar-winning director Andrzej Wajda, and scored the music for United Nations documentary Opening Doors. He first joined the studio composition and production faculty in 2013–14 as a visiting assistant professor.

Suzanne ClerkinSuzanne Clerkin
Assistant Professor of Psychology

BA, Purchase College; MA, Queens College, City University of New York; MS, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; PhD, City University of New York
Suzanne Clerkin, an alumna of Purchase College, earned her PhD in neuropsychology at the City University of New York and subsequently completed postdoctoral fellowships in psychiatric neuroimaging and an MS in clinical research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She first joined the psychology faculty in 2013–14 as a visiting assistant professor. Clerkin uses neuropsychological testing and neuroimaging to study cognitive deficits associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) over the lifespan. She received a Clinical and Translational Science Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the structural neural correlates of ADHD symptom persistence in adulthood and recently received funding to test the impact of an environmental enrichment program on structural brain development in preschool children with ADHD. Her other research interests include attention and executive functioning in typically developing individuals and deficits in executive functioning during periods of grief.

Cobina GillittCobina Gillitt
Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance

BA, Wesleyan University; MA, PhD, New York University
Cobina Gillitt, a dramaturg, translator, and educator, comes to Purchase from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where she taught theatre studies in the Department of Drama for 17 years. Her areas of scholarship include dramaturgy and translation, Asian theatre and performance theory, and American and European 20th-century avant-garde theatre theory, history, and practice. Her most current dramaturgical work is with Elizabeth Swados on The Golem, a horror opera, scheduled to premiere in New York City in February 2015. Gillitt is a translator of Indonesian plays into English, several of which are published in a volume she co-edited, The Lontar Anthology of Indonesian Drama, Volume 3: New Directions, 1965–1998 (Lontar Foundation, 2010). Her recent publications include the Indonesian entries in the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Stage Actors and Acting (forthcoming 2014), “Richard Schechner” in Asian Theatre Journal, vol. 30, no. 2 (Fall) 2013, and “How the Fish Swims in Dirty Water: Antigone in Indonesia” in Antigone on the Contemporary World Stage (Oxford University Press, 2011). Gillitt has been a member of Jakarta-based Teater Mandiri since 1988, performing and holding workshops in Indonesia and internationally, and is an active member of the PEN Translation Committee and Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA).

David KimDavid Kim
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

BA, Trinity College; MA, New York University; PhD, Columbia University
David J. Kim received his doctorate in sociocultural anthropology from Columbia University in 2009 and has held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Pittsburgh (2010–2012) and New York University (2013–2014). He is currently working on a book project, Divining Capital: Spectral Returns and the Commodification of Fate in South Korea, which examines magic and divination in contemporary South Korea. His other research interests include critical and poststructural theory, queer theory, technology and new media, and anthropology of the senses.

Nontsikelelo MutitiNontsikelelo Mutiti
Assistant Professor of New Media

Diploma, Zimbabwe Institute of Digital Arts; MFA, Yale University
Nontsikelelo Mutiti is a Zimbabwean-born artist and educator working across disciplines to produce work that occupies the forms of fine art, design, and social practice. She first joined the new media faculty in the fall of 2012 as a part-time lecturer and was appointed as a visiting assistant professor in 2013–14. Mutiti received a diploma in multimedia from the Zimbabwe Institute of Digital Arts in 2007 and an MFA with a concentration in graphic design from the Yale School of Art in 2012. Her recent work includes Ruka (to braid/to knit/to weave), a performative “session” at Recess in New York City (June 3–August 2, 2014); T(H)READ, a solo installation at the Edwin Gallery in Hamtramck, Mich., curated by Chido Johnson; “Aural Map Making (125th Street)“ in Remitting Default: Sonic Diagrams for Recess Activities in New York City, curated by Kenya (Robinson); a performative lecture, “A New Work/A Now Work/A Non Work,” at Yale’s Davenport College Art Gallery; and Give and Take: A Currency of Culture, at the Community Folk Art Centre at Syracuse University. She is co-founder of the Zimbabwe Cultural Centre in Detroit.

Mehdi Tavana OkasiMehdi Tavana Okasi
Assistant Professor of Creative Writing

BA, Connecticut College; MFA, Purdue University
Mehdi Tavana Okasi was born in northern Iran and lived for brief periods with his family in Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, and Austria before finally settling in Massachusetts at the age of seven. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian-American Writers (Univ. of Arkansas Press, 2013), Discoveries: New Writing from the Iowa Review (Univ. of Iowa Press, 2012), Best American Voices: Anthology (Harcourt, 2009), Los Angeles Review of Books, Glimmer Train, Guernica, Iowa Review, and Think Magazine, among others. Okasi was editor-in-chief of Sycamore Review from 2007 to 2009; the 2008 Joyce Horton Johnson Fellow at the literary seminars in Key West; winner of the $10,000 award in the National Society of Arts and Letters annual short story competition in 2010; the Carl Djerassi Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011–12; and most recently, a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council fellow in fiction/creative nonfiction. He is currently completing a novel set against the political backdrop of U.S.-Iran tensions that centers around the lives of two Iranian-American families and the painful secrets that break the bonds between mothers and sons.

Larry O’NeilLawrence O’Neil
Assistant Professor of Film

BFA, Purchase College
Lawrence O’Neil, an alumnus of Purchase College, has written professionally for HBO, Warner Brothers, Fox, MGM, Lion’s Gate, and Artisan. He has directed two feature films and produced three others, and was cited as one of Variety’s 50 up-and-coming directors to watch. Throwing Down, his first film as writer and director, won the award for best feature at the Hampton’s International Film Festival. He then directed the HBO feature Breast Men, starring David Schwimmer, Chris Cooper, and Emily Proctor. His recent producing credits include Another Zero in the System, written and directed by Purchase colleague Tim McCann. O’Neil first joined the film faculty as a part-time member in 2006 and was a visiting assistant professor in 2013–14.

Jeff Scheible Jeff Scheible
Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies

BA, Swarthmore College; MA, PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara
Jeff Scheible’s research is focused on theorizing and historicizing contemporary media. It is interdisciplinary and comparative, drawing on digital culture, film, television, video, philosophy, and art. His book, Digital Shift: The Cultural Logic of Punctuation, is forthcoming from University of Minnesota Press in 2015. A chapter from this, on parentheses, appears in a recent special issue of American Literature on new media. Other publications include an essay that looks at media circulation and redistribution after video store closures; an article about an emerging genre of computer-mediated romance narratives in recent cinema; a book chapter on the emergence of YouTube as it intersected with the occurrence of Hurricane Katrina; and entries on “depth of field” and the “long take” in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Film Theory. Scheible was in the inaugural cohort of the University of California–Santa Barbara’s PhD program in film and media studies, where he was a founding editor of Media Fields Journal. Most recently, he held a Banting postdoctoral fellowship in film studies at Concordia University in Montreal.

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Visiting Associate Professors:

Faye HirschFaye Hirsch, Visiting Associate Professor of Art+Design
BA, SUNY Buffalo; PhD, Yale University
Faye Hirsch is an editor and critic who has published widely on contemporary art, most frequently in Art in America, where she has been a senior editor since 2003. Before that, she was editor-in-chief at Art on Paper and senior editor at Print Collector’s Newsletter, with expertise in the history of contemporary printmaking. She received her PhD in the history of art from Yale University in 1987, and has taught at the University of Oregon at Eugene, University of Arizona at Tucson, School of Visual Art, and Rhode Island School of Design. Hirsch is the MFA program coordinator in the School of Art+Design and first joined the faculty in the fall of 2012 as a part-time associate professor.

Visiting Assistant Professors:

Christina AndersonChristina Anderson
Visiting Assistant Professor of Playwriting

BA, Brown University; MFA, Yale University
Christina Anderson’s plays include Good Goods, Man in Love, Inked Baby, Blacktop Sky, Hollow Roots, and Drip. Her work has appeared at Steppenwolf, Penumbra, Yale Repertory Theatre, A.C.T., the Public Theater, Crowded Fire, and other theatres across the U.S. Her awards and honors include a playwrights’ residency at the Magic Theatre, a National Playwrights’ Conference residency at the Eugene O’Neill Theater, a Van Lier playwriting fellowship, and a Lucille Lortel fellowship; two PONY nominations, a 2011 Wourzell prize finalist, a Schwarzman Legacy Scholarship awarded by Paula Vogel, two Susan Smith Blackburn nominations, a Lorraine Hansberry Award, and a Wasserstein Prize nomination. She is a core writer at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. American Theatre Magazine selected Anderson as one of 15 up-and-coming artists “whose work will be transforming America’s stages for decades to come.” She first joined the playwriting faculty in the spring of 2013 as a part-time lecturer.

Tega BrainTega Brain
Visiting Assistant Professor of New Media

BA, BE, University of New South Wales, Sydney; MA, Queensland University of Technology
Tega Brain is an Australian-born artist and researcher whose work rethinks the infrastructures, interfaces, and institutions that structure our relationship with larger environment systems. Having trained as an environmental engineer, she creates speculative infrastructures, experimental software, and installations. She has taught at the School for Poetic Computation in New York and has recently been in residence at the Environmental Health Clinic at New York University. In 2013, Brain was awarded an early career Creative Australia fellowship by the Australia Council for the Arts. She has exhibited widely in Australia and has recently exhibited at the Dublin Science Gallery and the Eyebeam Centre for Art and Technology in New York.

Stephen BuckStephen Buck
Visiting Assistant Professor of Music
(Academic Studies)
BA, Johns Hopkins University; MM, University of Michigan; MMA, DMA, Yale University
Stephen Buck, who first joined the music faculty at Purchase College in 2006 as a part-time lecturer, is a pianist in demand as a performer, chamber musician, pedagogue, and musical entrepreneur. He made his Carnegie Hall debut through Artists International in New York. An avid chamber musician and collaborative pianist, Buck taught and performed for several summers at the Adriatic Chamber Music Festival in southern Italy. In 2006, he co-founded the AlpenKammerMusik Festival in Austria, an intensive 11-day course for musicians of all ages. His interest in new music led him to perform with F.I.RE (Reverse in Future), a New York–based contemporary music ensemble, while his work with the piano quartet Ensemble Argos offers a chance to explore traditional repertoire.

Alexia Toskos DilsAlexia Toskos Dils
Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology

BS, Indiana University; PhD, Stanford University
Alexia Toskos Dils was a visiting scholar at Stanford University before coming to Purchase. Her research on human thinking has uncovered intriguing individual differences in the ways in which basic perceptual and motoric mechanisms contribute to higher-level cognitive functioning. She is expanding this research to explore the impact of these differences on language comprehension and how cultural factors structure mental representations.

Charlotte GlynnCharlotte Glynn
Visiting Assistant Professor of Film

BFA, Purchase College; MFA, Columbia University
Charlotte Glynn was born in New York and spent her formative years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her first feature film, Rachel is, a documentary about her sister who is developmentally disabled, had its broadcast premiere on PBS America reframed. It has been screened internationally and won best documentary at the Thin Line Documentary Film Festival. Her most recent film, The Immaculate Reception, a short narrative, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Glynn was named one of the “25 New Faces in Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine. Glynn first joined the film faculty in 2013–14 as a part-time lecturer.

Brandon HarrisBrandon Harris
Visiting Assistant Professor of Film

BFA, Purchase College
Brandon Harris has worked in the world of American independent film as a critic and programmer, producer and director, screenwriter and educator. His writings about cinema, politics, culture, and the intersections between them have appeared in the Daily Beast, Variety, N+1, The New Inquiry, Brooklyn Rail, In These Times, Hammer to Nail, and Filmmaker Magazine, where he is a contributing editor. Harris is the former director of programming for the Cincinnati Film Festival and an alumnus of the International Film Festival Rotterdam’s Trainee Project for Young Film Critics. His feature directorial debut, Redlegs, which opened theatrically in 2012 and is available on iTunes, Amazon, and other streaming video platforms through Cinetic FilmBuff, was a New York Times Critics Pick. Harris first joined the film faculty in 2013–14 as a part-time lecturer.

Brian KatesBrian Kates
Visiting Assistant Professor of Journalism

BA, Pennsylvania Military College
Brian Kates, who first joined the journalism faculty at Purchase in 2012–13 as a part-time lecturer, has been a working journalist for more than 40 years, mostly as a reporter, writer, columnist, and editor at the New York Daily News. He holds numerous awards for journalistic excellence, including a Pulitzer Prize while deputy editorial page editor in 1999 (he was a Pulitzer finalist in 1982), a George Polk Award (1999), and the Daniel Pearl Award for Investigative Reporting (2006). His book, The Murder of a Shopping Bag Lady (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985), the biography of a homeless woman slain on the streets of New York, was a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award finalist and was included in the New York Public Library’s prestigious Books to Remember list. Kates, who created the first investigative reporting course at Purchase in 2012, has also taught at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and New York University. He earned his BA in English literature at Pennsylvania Military College and served as a captain in the Berlin Brigade’s elite Special Troops unit, which ran the legendary Checkpoint Charlie and conducted clandestine forays across the Berlin Wall during the Cold War.

Marjorie McAfeeMarjorie McAfee
Visiting Assistant Professor of Journalism

BA, Wittenberg University; MJ, University of California, Berkeley
Marjorie McAfee is a producer, editor, and digital journalist with 15 years of experience in television and multimedia. Her international reporting includes sanitation issues in Mozambique, alternative energy sources in Germany, and mobility challenges for people with disabilities in Vietnam. Domestically, she has reported on the marijuana industry in Northern California and the connection between poverty and asthma, for which she recently won a Peabody Award. She began her digital career producing original video for ask.com, and later edited, produced, and curated the online series Rough Cut for PBS Frontline/World. Additionally, she was a producer at PBS Frontline for seven years, followed by almost three years at NBC’s Dateline. She also spent several years at the Independent Television Service (ITVS) helping build viewership of the PBS documentary series Independent Lens. Her latest project is about autism and will air on NBC News in spring 2015.

Susan MorelockSusan Morelock, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art+Design (Photography)
BFA, Rochester Institute of Technology; MA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; MFA, Columbia University
Susan Morelock is a photographer whose practice is poised at the intersection of image making, history, and creative writing. She first joined the photography faculty in the fall of 2012 as a part-time lecturer and has exhibited in venues across the U.S. and in South Korea and Italy. She holds a BFA in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology, an MA in visual and critical studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an MFA from Columbia University. Born in Pennsylvania, Morelock currently lives and works in New York City.

Rachel OwensRachel Owens, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art+Design (Sculpture)
BA, University of Kansas–Lawrence; MFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Rachel Owens, a Brooklyn-based contemporary multimedia artist, first joined the faculty in the School of Art+Design on a part-time basis in the spring of 2007. Born in Atlanta and raised in Missouri, Owens received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999. Her work has been exhibited internationally and has been reviewed widely, including in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and Art in America. In 2013, she was the visual arts representative for TransCultural Express, a partnership between the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and the Mikhail Prokhorov Fund intended to foster cross-cultural dialogue between American and Russian artists and audiences. She is represented by ZieherSmith Gallery in New York City.

Tatiana Simonova, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art+Design (Printmaking)
BA, San Francisco State University; MFA, Pratt Institute
Tatiana Simonova was raised in Sofia, Bulgaria, and studied landscape architecture before relocating to the U.S. She holds a BA in printmaking from San Francisco State University and an MFA from Pratt Institute. Through grants and fellowships, Simonova has traveled to and worked in Italy, Spain, and New Mexico. Her work has been exhibited in New York City at David Krut Projects, the Heidi Cho Gallery, and International Print Center (IPCNY); the SPACE Gallery in Portland, Maine; and in Spain, South Korea, and Hungary. Her drawings can be seen online through the Drawing Center Viewing Program and Pierogi Gallery Flat Files. Simonova first joined the printmaking faculty in the fall of 2012 as a part-time lecturer.

Knarik TunyanKnarik Tunyan
Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics/Computer Science

MS, Yerevan State University (Armenia); PhD (Doctor of Technology), Tampere University of Technology (Finland)
Knarik Tunyan was a research fellow at the Institute of Mathematics at Helsinki University of Technology, where her research focused on statistical modeling to predict real-world outcomes. In her work at Tampere University, she developed new optimization methods for network problems and introduced novel ideas to efficiently solve practical problems.

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Monika L. EckenbergMonika L. Eckenberg
Lecturer in Chemistry

Vordiplom, MS, PhD, Georg August University (Germany)
Monika Eckenberg’s dissertation was on the biosynthesis of Glycerinopyrin and Angucyclin antibiotics, and the subject of her postdoctoral position at MIT was studies on the mechanism of the enzyme PHA synthase. Her research interests include organic chemistry and biochemistry. She most recently taught chemistry at the College of New Rochelle.

Updated July 22, 2015

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