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24 new faculty arrive at Fort Lewis College

24 new faculty arrive at Fort Lewis College

Thursday, September 05, 2019

The Fall 2019 semester began on September 2, and in the midst of new and returning students getting acquainted with campus were 24 new faculty. Of the new faculty, four are FLC alumni, two of whom were roommates as undergraduates. 

The new faculty began their academic year at a newly revised orientation led by the Provost’s Office, Academic Affairs, Teaching & Learning Services, and other FLC faculty and staff. The orientation included a full day of learning on campus, including learning activities with many student services on campus and a discussion with Provost Cheryl Nixon on facilitating a positive student experience for all students. The second day of orientation was a cultural and historical exploration day facilitated by Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colorado, which included touring the Ute Mountain Tribal Park, and discussing with Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Department potential community connections.

Get to know more about some of our new professors:

Alex Borgella, assistant professor of Psychology

Alex Borgella, assistant professor of Psychology, was trained in social psychology at Tufts University in Boston, with a concentration in the social psychological underpinnings of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. Prior to joining FLC, he was a visiting assistant professor of psychology at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. His current research interests involve disparagement humor and its effects on members of stigmatized social groups (e.g., racial minority groups, sexual and gender minority groups, and the overweight or obese), within-group differences in racial stereotyping and prejudice, and stereotype threats in academic and athletic domains. His research has been published in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Psychology of Sport and Exercise, and Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, and his work has been featured in The APA Monitor, VICE, Quartz Magazine, and Fast Company. Outside the office, he enjoys playing music, cultivating houseplants, appreciating the views on long Colorado hikes, attending comedy shows, relaxing with any number of Nintendo games, and a slew of other hobbies. 

Borgella will be teaching “Introduction to Psychology” and two sections of “Psychological Research Methods.”

What is your favorite part about teaching/engaging with students?

I like teaching students about the scientific method in psychology. While many students have some understanding of how science works in other disciplines, I find that some have never considered its application in investigating human cognition and behavior. This is a hugely important part of scholarship in the social sciences (hence the name), so it makes me especially happy to see this ‘click’ for some students.  

How did you choose this field and then become a professor?

I became interested in social psychology – specifically my concentration on stereotypes and prejudice – largely because of my own background. I sometimes refer to my lines of work as “me-search” for this reason. I’m mixed race (my father was Cuban, my mother Korean), and I was born and raised in the Southern U.S., both of which heavily influence my perspectives on racial stereotyping and prejudice. With the help of some amazing professors at my undergraduate institution, the University of West Florida, I realized that I really enjoyed learning about other folks’ social constructions of race as well, and that these perceptions could be measured and assessed.  

Sage advice for Psychology majors, or general advice for FLC students?

Talk to your professors about your ideas, not just about grades or assignment deadlines. We love hearing your ideas, and we might be able to help you cultivate them.
Don’t fear statistics. Embrace it for what it is: one of the most valuable tools in your arsenal that will help you answer the complex questions you have about human behavior.

Melissa Clutter, assistant professor of Geosciences

Melissa Clutter (Geology, '11) is an assistant professor in the Geosciences Department. Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as part of Cherokee Nation, she traveled west in 2007 to attend FLC. What she didn’t know was that she would soon fall in love with Durango and the Four Corners region. She is a proud alumna of the FLC Geosciences Department. After college, she worked at Chesapeake Energy Corporation in Oklahoma City for three years as an engineering technician. Determined to change career paths and seek higher education, she went to the University of Arizona for graduate school as a National Science Foundation and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation fellow. Graduate school helped her pursue her dreams of not only earning a doctorate (and doing awesome field research in Japan), but also by helping her land a job back at FLC. Clutter’s research focus is measurement network design for field studies, which aims to discover the most informative data for the lowest cost to the user. She has done this sort of data worth analysis for monitoring soil moisture on agricultural fields, and is interested in expanding the method to monitoring networks for measuring downstream effects of dams on groundwater. She is thrilled to be here as Durango is not only a perfect place academically to study local water issues related to dam and agricultural water management, but it is the perfect place for her to enjoy rock climbing, running, and fly fishing.

Clutter will be teaching “Earth & the Environment” and “Groundwater Geology.”

What is your favorite part about teaching/engaging with students?

The ‘aha moment.’ I love when you see something click for a student; when previously acquired knowledge becomes connected to the knowledge learned in the classroom.
 
How did you choose this field and then become a professor?

As a student at Fort Lewis College, I always thought that my professors had the best job in the world. I admired their devotion to teaching and getting students engaged with the course material. This helped me realize I wanted to get my Ph.D. so I could become a professor. When I did my senior thesis project along the Dolores River, it all came together. I found an avenue where I could connect all my passions of doing research, teaching, and learning more about water-related environmental issues.
 
Sage advice for Geology majors, or general advice for FLC students?

Learning is not a passive process. Your instructors at Fort Lewis, they really want to see you succeed, but they can’t do it for you. Students are at the center of our mission on campus, but we also need you to meet us ‘in the center.’ Come to class. Engage with the material. Ask for help. We are all here for you!

Tapati Dutta, assistant professor of Public Health

As a social scientist in community health, Tapati Dutta has blended teaching, research, praxis, and service experiences (including a widely viewed TEDx talk), advancing the intersecting areas of global health disparities, health systems and policies, community health, social epidemiology, community-based participatory research, and implementation research in public health. Her doctoral thesis examined community engagement as a policy imperative for vaccinations in India. Dutta has two master’s degrees in Social Work and Population Studies, and certifications in Good Participatory Practices, Participatory Monitoring, Evaluation, and Health Educaiton. In her professional experience of 20 years, she’s been instrumental in grant development, health policy advocacy, and program management to make efficacious biomedical prevention tools effective among populations who need them the most. To this end, she spearheaded state-of-the-art HIV Rural Research Center in India and bilateral-exchange programs addressing HIV, cervical cancer, and sexual and reproductive health (Female Condom and Nischay Pregnancy Test Card) among Indian, African, and U.S.-based academic, research, and advocacy organizations (IAVI, PATH, GHS, HLFPPT, KEMRI, TASO).

Dutta will be teaching “Global Health,” “Principles of Public Health,” and “Epidemiology,” along with mentoring students on their public health internships.

What is your favorite part about teaching/engaging with students?

Teaching a diverse range of classroom-based and non-traditional community-based students has been a tremendous learning opportunity for me, to understand and be sensitive of how vicissitudes of fortune—illnesses, accidents, personal maladies, political and economic traumas—have affected their lives. For a diverse cohort of students, my prime aim is to facilitate the development of a proud notion of agency, while envisaging an empathetic civil society, of knowing and appreciating the realities 'of the other world.' Carrying from my learnings in appreciative inquiry, I strive to trigger ambition beyond survivorship when I engage with vulnerable community groups while explaining the strength in resilience to students who might not have experienced deprivation and victimhood to a degree that strikes to the heart of the human agency. Collaboratively, with FLC family and community stakeholders, I am keen on building academic-practice partnerships fostering sub-population based, equity-focused, community engagement models for improved health outcomes, and empowering relationships between communities and health systems.

How did you choose this field and then become a professor?

Being a first-generation graduate, a non-traditional age group student, and now a professor, a woman of color, and coming from a staunch patriarchal background, there were more reasons than I could think of, which could have deterred me from chartering my prac-academic professional path. However, that surely is not the case. Rather, it was possibly my upbringing in a draconian patriarchal hegemony and later my work and service-learning experiences with marginalized and ethnic populations in India and Africa, which shaped my penchant of ‘giving back.’ My participatory teaching philosophy and way-of-life have enabled me not only to emancipate students in manners and morals, but also to enhance upper-level undergraduate students' clarity and confidence to realize their career goals, research interests, and facilitating them to realize the attributes in teamwork. I am enthusiastic in continuing to strengthen FLC's mission in invigorating learners' critical thinking in connecting praxis and theory while reflecting on their own experiences and values in relation to the content. 

Sage advice for Public Health majors, or general advice for FLC students?

I am looking forward to consciously garnering my empathetic intelligence and intercultural humility in delivering pedagogy such that it becomes enjoyable and memorable! My mantra is:
Keep dancing to the devils of life 
and stop bothering whether 'vain' or 'gain,'
...for one day to your surprise 
You'd realize that we're all singing in the rain

Corey McCullough, assistant professor of English

Corey McCullough, assistant professor of English, began teaching college writing courses while on fellowship as a graduate student in English literature at the University of Vermont. After teaching business English in Madrid, Spain, and then doing graduate work in environmental law, he decided what he wanted most was to be a college writing teacher. McCullough returned to graduate school and completed a doctorate in composition studies from the University of New Hampshire and is thrilled to now be at FLC. Besides writing pedagogy, his scholarly interests include rhetoric, multilingual writing, writing centers, writing across the curriculum, and archival and oral history research.

McCullough is teaching “Rhetoric & Research Studio,” “Rhetoric & Research,” “Academic Inquiry & Writing,” and “Rhetoric of Knowledge.” 

What is your favorite part about teaching/engaging with students?

Teaching a range of composition courses allows me to work with students of differing skill levels, majors, and interests. One of the great things about being a writing professor is that I often get to know students well because writing assignments are usually connected to students’ individual experiences, passions, and academic fields. In these areas, students are the experts, not me, so I’m always learning.

Sage advice for English majors, or general advice for FLC students?

If I had to give any advice to FLC students, I would suggest the following random tidbits: Take advantage of FLC’s small size and caring faculty and develop mentorship relationships; find things you enjoy reading and make some time, however minimal, to read them; try to study (or travel, or work) abroad; get enough sleep; learn or practice another language; remember that productivity can be a good antidote for anxiety; take time to record or write down the stories and memories of your older family members; and, of course, get outside.
 

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