Get to Know the Newest BSOS Faculty Members
The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences is pleased to introduce the talented new faculty members joining the college for the 2023–24 academic year.
Assistant Professor Periloux Peay, Department of African American Studies
Periloux Peay examines how those from under-represented communities employ collective strategies to shape political processes and outcomes from within and outside political institutions in America. He received his Ph.D. from The University of Oklahoma in 2020. Before receiving his Ph.D., Peay spent 7 years working in secondary education in the greater Houston area. He is a native of Southeast Texas. Outside of work, Peay is an avid music connoisseur, an enthusiastic foodie, and a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Assistant Professor Miguel Vilar, Department of Anthropology
Dr. Miguel Vilar is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Maryland. He is a molecular anthropologist, science writer, and a genomics specialist. His research focuses on analyzing parts of the genome to better understand island settlement patterns, to reconstruct human interactions and migration, and assess the impact of colonial history on human diversity. He works in Micronesia, Melanesia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. He also researches the genetics of domestic animals and the cultural and biological implications of animal domestication on human evolution, population history, and migration. Vilar is also a published writer in genetics and anthropology and a consultant for National Geographic Society and GenebyGene.
Vilar is currently teaching Anthropology 222: Introduction to Ecological and Evolutionary Anthropology.
Assistant Professor Demar Lewis, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Demar F. Lewis IV is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland in Fall 2023 and will begin his tenure appointment as an Assistant Professor in January 2024. He is a sociologist and critical criminologist trained in Black Studies and public policy whose research examines how historical and contemporary notions of safety influence the ways that Black people organize their lives. This has led Lewis to develop multiple research studies to advance understandings of how racial violence, police violence, and resource deprivation influence perceptions of safety in the United States in the past and present. His current projects examine (1) the influence of gentrification and resource deprivation on policing practices and Black Americans’ perceptions of community safety in Cincinnati, (2) the evolution of the “defund” mandate in U.S. politics, (3) the health consequences of carceral violence and racism in the U.S., and (4) the causes and consequences of U.S. lynchings. To pursue his research agenda, Lewis uses historical methods, qualitative interviews, statistical analyses, and computational methods.
Lewis will be teaching CCJS 370: Race, Crime, and Criminal Justice in Spring 2024.
Lecturer Mike Weller, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Captain Michael Weller has served in the United States Marine Corp with distinction while earning an honorable discharge, and leading to a career within the law enforcement profession for over 33 years. During his tenure he served his community in various levels of leadership, to include the following: senior executive leadership, management, and supervisory tenure at the local, regional and national levels, encompassing operations, administration, intelligence, investigations, communications, training, liaison, community engagement, and logistics, with a reputation for exceeding the most challenging organizational goals through innovation, commitment, and strong relationship building. During his public service career, he developed strategies that enabled the organizations that he served to incorporate the best available practices within the industry. In addition, Weller has worked as an instructor within the law enforcement industry for over 23 years. This allowed for him to develop the templates for Active Shooter responses, Crisis Management, Response to Local and National disaster events from 911 to riot control events. While working, Weller worked to attain his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Public Safety Administration, and complete his graduate degree in Criminal Justice Management. This allowed for him to further enhance the programs that he previous developed to ensure they met the necessary mandates for the organizations he serves. Weller is also a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigations National Academy.
Associate Professor Pablo Ottonello, Department of Economics
Pablo Ottonello is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, Department of Economics, and an NBER research fellow. He received a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University in 2015. Prior to joining Maryland, he was an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and a Kenen Fellow at Princeton University. Ottonello's research is in the fields of Macroeconomics, International Economics, Finance, and Monetary Economics. His research agenda focuses on how financial markets affect macroeconomic dynamics, economic crises, and policy transmission. He is an Associate Editor at the Journal of Monetary Economics and the Journal of International Economics.
Ottonello will be teaching Advanced Topics in International Economics in the department's Ph.D. program.
Lecturer Amanda Kerr, Department of Economics
Amanda Kerr has been the Associate Director of our department's professional master's degree program since May 2023. Additionally, she teaches two courses per year in the program and performs consulting at the World Bank. Her research focuses on development, labor, and health economics, specifically looking at gender rights and child outcomes.
Before joining UMD, Amanda was a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University (2022-2023) and American University (2021-2022); a consultant at Mercer (2020-2021); and an assistant professor at the University of Evansville (2017-2019).
Kerr will be teaching ECON 641: Microeconomic Analysis and ECON 676: Economic Development.
Assistant Research Professor Matheus Henrique Nunes, Department of Geographical Sciences
Matheus Nunes joined the Department of Geographical Sciences as an Assistant Research Professor and will contribute to the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) mission and other activities in the Department of Geographical Sciences. His research focuses on understanding what determines the structure, diversity and function of plant communities, and most of his work uses remote sensing and field surveys to explore how forests respond to global change, including the effects of forest fragmentation, logging and climate change. He has been particularly interested in the use of LiDAR data to have new insights into the complexity of forest ecosystems, and how environmental variables and human disturbances can impact vegetation. His work as part of the GEDI team will include the use of GEDI information to characterise biodiversity and habitat heterogeneity. He is a Brazilian forest engineer, and has received his PhD in Plant Sciences from the University of Cambridge in 2019, followed by a period as a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Helsinki.
Assistant Research Professor Anna Komarova, Department of Geographical Sciences
Anna Komorova grew up as a specialist in the non-government nature conservation movement in Russia. Throughout her scientific career, she has been primarily interested in implementing very powerful GIS and RS tools into conservation-related research and the development of solutions able to help save the environment.
Komorova dedicated her MS and Ph.D. research to extremely high conservation value forests in North-West Caucasus combining the research (developing the syntaxonomy, understanding the spectral and radar-derived characteristics of the forest communities, and implementing the machine learning methods to the classification process) and conservation (developing the recommendations for sustainable forestry and methodological support of the conservation initiatives).
After Ph.D. she was a leader of a group of Moscow State University researchers aimed to investigate the processes of succession at abandoned lands in the transition area of Polistovsky National Reserve. They used Sentinel 2 and drone data to map the meadow communities and understand the spatial distribution and drivers of the number of associations to support the conservation of temperate-zone placor meadows.
Lecturer Xin Tao, Department of Geographical Sciences
Tao received the Ph.D. from the department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland at College Park. He received postdoc training in the same institution from 2015 to 2017. He is currently a lecturer with the same department. His research interests include forest disturbance mapping, biophysical variables based on remotely sensed data, and scaling effect.
Tao will be teaching GEOG 650: Mobile GIS, GEOG 657: Web Programming, GEOG 677: Web GIS, and GEOG 652: Digital Image Processing and Analysis.
Assistant Research Professor Lin Xiong, Department of Geographical Science
Lin Xiong is an Assistant Research Professor at the Department of Geographical Sciences in the University of Maryland, College Park. His research focuses on coastal and wetland ecosystems with remote sensing in the NASA GEDI Mission Team. Before joining UMD, Xiongwas a postdoctoral researcher at the Coastal Studies Institute, East Carolina University from 2021 to 2022. He got his Ph.D. in geophysics at the University of Houston in 2020. He has extensive expertise in utilizing terrestrial, airborne, and spaceborne lidar sensors to map forest structures, quantify carbon stocks, and monitor coastal erosion and landslides. Presently, Xiong is working on the development of algorithms, data fusion, calibration, and validation for GEDI products.
Xiong is working in the GEDI mission team.
Assistant Professor Fiona Shen-Bayh, Department of Government and Politics
Fiona Shen-Bayh is an Assistant Professor of Government & Politics with a joint appointment at the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Shen-Bayh studies the politics of authoritarian regimes, specifically the legal and judicial instruments of power. Her book, "Undue Process" (Cambridge University Press, Studies in Law and Society Series), examines these themes in the context of postcolonial Africa. In 2023, it won the Theodore J. Lowri First Book Award, the Giovanni Sartori Book Award, and the Juan Linz Best Book Prize in the Comparative Study of Democracy & Autocracy. In other works, Shen-Bayh examines the challenges of promoting access to equitable justice and the legacies of autocratic rule. As co-founder and co-director of the Digital Inclusion and Governance Lab, Shen-Bayh draws on a variety of digital tools and data to analyze the political economy of development in the Global South. Her research has been published or is forthcoming in the American Political Science Review, The Journal of Politics, World Politics, Cambridge University Press, and Oxford University Press. Shen-Bayh has received research support from the National Science Foundation, the Institute of International Studies, and the Global Research Institute. She is also a research affiliate of the Centre on Law and Social Transformations at the University of Bergen.
Shen-Bayh earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and B.A. in Economics from Vassar College. She was previously an Assistant Professor of Government at William & Mary where she also served as a faculty affiliate of the Global Research Institute and the Data Science program. Shen-Bayh was also a Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan.
This fall, Shen-Bayh is leading an undergraduate course called Digital Dictatorship, and in the spring will be offering a graduate course on Political Institutions.
Assistant Professor Breanna Gray, Department of Government and Politics
Breanna C. Gray is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government of Politics at the University of Maryland. Gray’s research focuses on the U.S. Congress, the House Committee on Rules, special House rules, and the ways in which contemporary changes in Congress affect public policy outcomes on the House Floor—particularly for communities of color.
Prior to joining academia, Gray was a Congressional Liaison and an International Trade Specialist at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Gray earned her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Foreign Affairs and French from the University of Virginia (UVA), and her Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.) through the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at UVA. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania in 2022.
Gray will be teaching courses on the intersections between the U.S. Congress, congressional rules and procedures, race, and equity during the fall 2023 semester.
Assistant Clinical Professor Courtney Overton, Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences
Courtney Overton, EdD, CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park. Overton serves as the Director of the Language-Learning Early Advantage Program (LEAP) and the Associate Director of Education for the Maryland Initiative for Literacy and Equity (MILE). She is also the Founder & CEO of Speech of Cake, Inc., a private practice in Alexandria, Virginia that specializes in treating speech sound disorders and dyslexia. Overton continues to advocate for neurodivergent students and students of color by providing seminars, workshops, and keynotes on a national level through her organizations, DiverCity SLP and The SLP Guide to Dyslexia.
Overton earned a doctorate in literacy, culture, and language education at Indiana University with a minor in educational leadership and public policy. She obtained a certificate in entrepreneurship from Cornell University.Overton attended Emerson College to earn a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, and she obtained a bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology, minor in linguistics, and certificate in American Sign Language at the University of Pittsburgh.
Assistant Clinical Professor Ashley Webb, Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences
Ashley Webb is a speech pathologist with over 15 years of professional clinical experience in rehabilitation medicine. Her clinical career has been focused on medical speech pathology; specifically, adults in the acute care setting. Her areas of interest include dysphagia and adult neurological disorders related to speech, language and cognition. Webb's experience in higher education includes clinical education, classroom teaching and clinic administration.
Most recently, Webb practiced clinically at New York Presbyterian Weill-Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan. She participated in research related to COVID-19 and dysphagia outcomes, and proudly served as a core member of the Rehabilitation Medicine Diversity Council. Webb received her B.A. from the University of North Texas and her M. S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Texas Woman’s University.
Assistant Professor Danielle Powell, Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences
Danielle Powell is a dual-trained Audiologist and Epidemiologist. She received her AuD from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and practiced in the greater Washington D.C. area for a number of years before pursuing a PhD in Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which she completed in 2021. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in health services and outcomes research in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins from 2021-2023 prior to her transition to UMD. Her research is heavily disciplinary at the intersection of hearing and hearing care, gerontology, public health, dementia, caregiving, health services and health systems, consumer oriented health information technology, and translation of research to clinical care.
Powell’s research seeks to understand how hearing impacts overall health, function, and healthcare utilization at a population level with a public health lens. The goal of this work is to provide a person-centered perspective to guide research and implementation of findings at a public health level through interventions or programs which strive to improve our understanding of how to provide hearing care which meets the specific needs of more vulnerable groups. She will lead a seminar on Hearing and Public Health beginning the summer of 2024.
Adjunct Professor Sarah Zsak, Department of Hearing and Speech Science
Sarah Zsak, M.A. CCC-SLP is an adjunct professor in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at the University of Maryland at College Park. She graduated from there with her Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2014. She has a life-long love of languages and is fluent in Spanish.
Zsak is the lead therapist and owner of the Terrapin Speech Institute. Sarah opened Terrapin Speech Institute in the summer of 2020 as a way to provide much-needed services to clients despite the pandemic.
Terrapin Speech has two distinct divisions, Terrapin Speech Therapy and Terrapin Speech Training. As part of Terrapin Speech Therapy, Sarah treats children with speech and language disorders. She has successfully treated “late talkers,” children who stutter, children on the autism spectrum, and those who can’t say certain sounds (speech sound articulation disorders and phonological disorders). Sarah is able to provide this service to children living in Maryland as well as certain other U.S. states.
Assistant Professor Terrill Taylor, Department of Psychology
Terrill O. Taylor is a recent graduate of the Counseling Psychology PhD program at the University of North Dakota. He joins the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS) as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and is affiliated with the Counseling program area. His research interests center on examining issues of race and racism, with specific emphasis on intersectionality, racial disparities in systems of justice, anti-Black racism, and restorative justice. He will soon launch the Restoring H.O.P.E. Research Lab with the goal of enhancing collaboration between mental health and criminal justice stakeholders to better understand the cycle of oppression impacting individuals in the criminal justice system, to eradicate social inequities that contribute to the pervasive and systematic stratification of justice-involved people, and to promote values of liberation, hope, and healing in the lives of others. He will teach PSYC 433: Basic Helping Skills: Research and Practice for Fall 2023.
Assistant Professor Caroline Charpentier, Department of Psychology
Caroline Charpentier is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, the Brain and Behavior Institute, and the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science. She obtained her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, UK, in 2016, with her dissertation focusing on the interaction between emotions and decision-making. She then completed her postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology, studying the behavioral, neural, and computational mechanisms of social learning and decision-making. Her research is interdisciplinary, drawing from social neuroscience, behavioral economics and computational psychiatry. Charpentier’s research has received funding from the Wellcome Trust (Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship) and is currently supported by a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence award from NIMH (2021-2026), investigating the neuro-computational mechanisms of social learning and variation along psychiatric symptom dimensions and in autism. More broadly, research in her newly established Social Learning and Decisions Lab will focus on understanding the behavioral, computational and neural mechanisms by which people seek information, learn from it and integrate it into decisions, how these processes take place in social contexts (e.g., via social interactions, in groups, etc), and how they vary across individuals, including across development and across psychiatric symptom dimensions such as social anxiety.
Assistant Professor Henry Willis, Department of Psychology
Henry A. Willis, Ph.D. is originally from Jackson, Mississippi, and he received his B.S. in psychology from Howard University and his M.A. in clinical psychology from Columbia University. Willis received a M.A. and Ph.D. from the Clinical Psychology program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and completed an APA-accredited internship at Montefiore Hospital/Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Subsequently. He completed postdoctoral research training at Columbia University’s School of Social Work and the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice. He completed his postdoctoral clinical training working with children and adults at Madison Park Psychological Services in New York City. Willis joined the faculty of the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2023. His research interests include exploring the relationship between online and offline racial discrimination and mental health outcomes, understanding sociocultural protective factors (i.e., racial identity) and how they impact psychopathology within African Americans, creating cultural adaptations of evidence-based treatments, and utilizing mobile-health technology to increase access to mental health treatments for underserved populations. Willis also assists in clinical training at the HOPE Center, a free mental health clinic in Harlem, New York.
Willis' research lab will explore how sociocultural risk and protective factors influence mental health for Black youth and young adults, and will develop/use novel technologies (i.e., mobile applications, VR) to increase access to culturally-relevant mental health services for Black communities.
Assistant Clinical Professor Yevgeny Botanov, Department of Psychology
Yevgeny Botanov received his doctorate from the University of Kansas, completed my predoctoral internship at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and specialized in Dialectical Behavior Therapy through a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington. Prior to joining the University of Maryland, he held assistant professor appointments at Pennsylvania State University - York and Millersville University.
Assistant Research Professor Nadia Bounoua, Department of Psycholog
Nadia Bounoua received her Ph.D. in Clinical Science (Psychology) from the University of Delaware in 2023, and completed her APA-accredited predoctoral clinical internship with the Charleston Consortium at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). She is currently a Research Assistant Professor in Andrea Chronis-Tuscano’s ADHD lab, investigating a hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial targeting parents with ADHD in the community. Her research uses a multi-method approach to understand how stress and trauma impact psychosocial functioning, and has been previously funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the American Psychological Foundation (APF). Ultimately, she hopes to translate this knowledge to inform interventions designed to alleviate stress-related impairment, particularly for people who have been underserved by the mental health field.
Lecturer Joseph Barnet, Department of Psychology
Joseph Barnet graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in psychology in winter 2015, and received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the East Tennessee State University in 2021. Prior to coming to the University of Maryland, Barnet taught at Washington College in Chestertown, MD. Much of his research involves spirituality, religiosity, and the role that social support plays in health outcomes. He is also interested in the psychology of media use and entertainment.
Barnet is teaching social psychology and introduction to psychology in the fall 2023 semester, and in the spring semester, social psychology, introduction to psychology and experimental psychology: social psychology laboratory.
Lecturer Jacob Coutts, Department of Psychology
Jacob Coutts is a Lecturer of Social Data Science in the Department of Psychology at the University of Maryland. He earned his Ph.D. in Quantitative Psychology from The Ohio State University in 2023. He also received an MS and MAS in Quantitative Psychology and Applied Statistics in 2020.
Coutts' research expertise is in mediation, moderation, and the combination thereof (i.e., conditional indirect effects), resampling methods, statistical power analysis, and data visualization.
Coutts teaches BSOS 233 - Data Science for the Social Sciences, PSYC 100 - Introduction to Psychology, and PSYC 300 - Research Methods in Psychology.
Assistant Clinical Professor Susanna Jane Crowell McQuarrie, Department of Psychology
Susanna Crowell McQuarrie (she/her/hers) is a licensed psychologist with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. She received her undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and her doctoral degree from Georgia State University. She completed her predoctoral psychology internship at the University of California at Davis Child and Adolescent Abuse and Resource and Evaluation (CAARE) Center. McQuarrie is an Assistant Clinical Professor for the Master of Professional Studies in Clinical Psychological Science – a terminal master’s degree program focused on developing students’ research and clinical skills within an evidence-based framework. This fall, McQuarrie will be teaching Psyc353: Adult Psychopathology in addition to the Master’s program courses.
Assistant Professor Weizhen Xie, Department of Psychology
Weizhen Xie will join the faculty of the University of Maryland in January 2024 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Brain and Behavior Institute. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Renmin University of China and pursued research training at the University of California, Davis, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He then completed his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, where he studied the neurocognitive mechanism of visual short-term memory precision. Following his Ph.D., Xie conducted postdoctoral research on semantic knowledge and episodic memory at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) before joining the University of Maryland. Xie's research is interdisciplinary, drawing from experimental psychology, neurology, and neurosurgery, and focuses on the cognitive neuroscience of human memory. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including the NINDS Competitive Postdoctoral Fellowship Award (Intramural F32) and the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00).
Assistant Professor Muna Adem, Department of Sociology
Muna Adem is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland. Her research lies at the intersection of race, ethnicity, and immigration. More specifically, Dr. Adem is interested in examining how immigration-driven diversity influence race relations, group divisions and ethnoracial inequalities both in the US and Europe. Her current projects examine (1) the ways in which race and immigration status shapes (mis)trust and cooperation at the micro level, (2) the ways in which organizations and elite actors contribute to the (in)stability of ethnoracial and stratification systems, (3) attitudes toward citizenship ideologies, national and ethnoracial identities in the US and Europe, and (4) perceived discrimination and anti-black distancing among immigrant groups. To answer her research questions, Adem employs several strategies, including survey experiments and behavioral experiments, network and text analysis and mixed methods.
In Fall 2023, Dr. Adem will be teaching SOCY224: Why are We Still Talking About Race?
Assistant Professor Nicholas Smith, Department of Sociology
In August 2023, Nicholas Smith received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Indiana University. This fall, he will begin his appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research and teaching interests span the areas of medical sociology, neighborhoods, social networks, race-ethnicity, and quantitative methods. Outside of work, he enjoys going on long walks, playing video and board games with friends and family, and watching movies and television.
Published on Wed, Nov 1, 2023 - 10:31AM