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New Faculty 2020-21

The College of Arts and Sciences welcomes 6 new faculty members this fall. Spanning the range of humanities, social sciences and natural sciences disciplines, our new faculty bring deep expertise and fresh perspectives that will enhance our abiding commitment to teaching, research and service.


Mattie Burkert

Mattie Burkert joins CAS as Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities. Originally from the Chicago, Illinois area, Burkert earned Bachelor’s degrees summa cum laude in Journalism & Mass Communications and English & American Literature from New York University. She finished her Master’s and PhD in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She then went on to teach as assistant professor of literature in the English Department at Utah State University until joining us at the University of Oregon.

Burkert has earned numerous awards and fellowships, including a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship for 2015-2016 and an Innovative Course Design award from the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies in 2019. She is the Principal Investigator and Project Director for the London Stage Database, which was funded by an NEH Office of Digital Humanities Advancement Grant for 2018-2019. She is looking forward to continuing the project in collaboration with students, librarians, developers, and other faculty here at UO. This year, her classes include Literature and Digital Culture, Plague Literature, Intro to Drama and the Digital Humanities Capstone. “The energy around digital humanities is what brought me to Oregon, from the digital humanities minor to the DREAM lab. I’m really looking forward to being part of it.” In her free time, Burkert enjoys hiking and exploring Eugene’s parks with her family.


Justin Caouette

Justin Caouette joins CAS as career lecturer for the Online Master’s in Psychology program through the Center for Translational Neuroscience. Caouette graduated with honors from Claremont McKenna College with a B.A. in Psychology and went on to earn his Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of California at Davis. Caouette was Associate Director for the Prevention Science Academic Programs for the UO before joining CAS. Caouette completed a fellowship at Oregon Health and Science University, which helped him gain the necessary skills for translating neuroscience into evidence-based practices that are then used in real community health organizations. He also received an R03 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse that allowed him to complete independent research looking at social motivations for cannabis use in teens, using brain imaging methods.

Caouette’s research is focused on the social determinants of adolescent biobehavioral health, with an emphasis on identifying neural mechanisms underlying substance use decision-making and substance use intervention efficacy in higher-risk youth. “I’m looking forward to the Online Master’s in Psychology program because it reignites my research and career interests,” Caouette says. “I’m excited about guiding students towards novel neuroscience approaches to evidence-based practices that can be applied to the community outside of the UO.” In his free time, Caouette is a gymnastics historian and an active volunteer in the queer community, where he helps social organizations that cater to the LGBTQ youth community.


Cristi Carman

Cristi Carman is joining CAS as a Project Manager for the Center for Translational Neuroscience, which is housed under the Department of Psychology. Carman is a native Oregonian. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and went on to complete her graduate degree at Tufts University where she earned her Master’s in Public Health with an emphasis on Health Policy. After graduating, Carman worked in the Massachusetts state government where she led a team as they implemented health reforms related to health care access and health care quality.

Once she returned to Oregon, Carman was hired on to the Rapid Assessment of Pandemic Impact on Development team (RAPID). “I’m very excited to be working on this project. We are a small team that’s conducting a national survey twice a month to households with children ages 0-5 to ask how they are doing during the pandemic. I think this work is critically important and I’m really impressed by the team.” The survey focuses on better understanding child development, caregiver mental health and wellbeing, and caregiver needs and utilization of resources. Carman is looking forward to continuing to collaborate with the RAPID team this fall. In her free time, Carman can be found relaxing outside with her three children.

Learn more about RAPID.


Jeff DiezJeff Diez joins CAS as an associate professor in the biology department. Diez earned his B.A. in Biology and M.A. in Conservation Biology from the University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. from the Institute of Ecology at the University of Georgia. His graduate and post-doctoral research led him from New Zealand, to Michigan, Switzerland, and finally California, where he’s lived and taught until coming to the UO. Originally from Atlanta, GA, Diez says he was drawn to the UO because of the excellent program in ecology and evolution and the UO’s interdisciplinary strengths in environmental studies. The new University-wide initiatives in data science and the environment were exciting for Diez as well.

Diez’s research is focused on population and community ecology, which investigates the causes and consequences of species distributions and patterns of biodiversity. Through his current NSF grant, he’s looking at how the changing climate affects species phenologies (such as timing of flowering) and how these phenological changes may have cascading effects in ecological communities. Specifically, he’s interested in how spatial and temporal ‘reshuffling’ of species interactions may affect the resilience of plant communities to changing climate. “As an ecologist, there is a ton of great ecology work to be done here,” Diez says. “We live in a rapidly changing, dynamic world, and Oregon is a great place to be studying these changes. I’m really excited to be teaching classes and working with undergraduate and graduate students to explore the environment around us.” In his free time, Diez enjoys hiking, mushroom foraging, and photography, and he also dabbles in “rustic-style” wood working.


Laura Fredrickson

Laura Fredrickson joins CAS as assistant professor in the mathematics department. Fredrickson earned her B.S. in Mathematics summa cum laude from the University of California, Irvine and went on to earn her Pd.D. in Mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin. Fredrickson taught at Stanford University until joining the UO. Originally from Southern California, Fredrickson says the research being done here in the mathematics department is what brought her to Oregon. “We have a strong math department, and the commitment to research across the UO in general is really great,” Fredrickson says.

Fredrickson’s area of focus is on geometry, specifically in gauge theory. Her current research program focuses on asymptotic geometry of the Hitchin moduli space and K3 surfaces. She currently has an NSF grant from the Division of Mathematical Science. This year, Fredrickson says she’s looking forward to continuing her research and connecting with graduate students. In her free time, Fredrickson enjoys running, road biking, and hiking.


Patricia HershPatricia Hersh joins CAS as Professor of Mathematics. She earned her A.B. Magna cum Laude from Harvard University and went on to complete her PhD at MIT. Hersh held postdoctoral positions at the University of Washington and University of Michigan, and from there went on to faculty positions at Indiana University and later North Carolina State University. Hersh has received the Ruth Michler Prize, a national prize from the Association for Women in Mathematics, and in 2016 was named a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. Originally from Michigan, Hersh says she enjoyed the beauty of the Pacific Northwest when she was at UW and is very happy to be back in the area.

She says the UO Math Department has several excellent researchers in fields close to hers, and she is excited for the opportunities for collaboration. Hersh’s field of specialty is combinatorics, an area of pure mathematics that arose out of problems related to the organization of discrete data. Combinatorics has applications to many fields, including computer science, biology, and operations research. Hersh came to UO last January and had a brief three months in Eugene before the pandemic hit, and so far has taught a graduate course and two upper-level undergraduate courses here. Recently, Hersh also started a reading group for graduate students and fellow faculty where they read biographies of mathematicians from underrepresented groups. In her free time, Hersh has also enjoyed exploring Eugene, taking photos, and walking along the river.


Sihong LiuSihong Liu joins CAS as a postdoctoral researcher at the Stress Neurobiology and Prevention (SNAP) lab in the Center for Transitional Neuroscience. Liu received her B.S. in Statistics from the Renmin University of China and went on to complete her M.S. and her PhD in Human Development and Family Science from the University of Georgia. Liu received a Dissertation Completion award from the University of Georgia as well. Liu says she was introduced to Oregon through an ABCD workshop on adolescents’ brain development and mental health, hosted in Portland by the UO. “When I found out I got the job at UO, I was so happy. I love the west coast!” Liu says.

Currently she is mainly working on two projects in the SNAP lab: the first is on the Buffering Environmental Stress Together (BEST) project where she works on data for randomized controlled trials that gauge the effectiveness of the FIND intervention program. Liu also works on the Rapid Assessment of Pandemic Impact on Development – Early Childhood (RAPID-EC) project where she is involved with question design and assists with preliminary analysis. “It’s amazing to see how much we get done, and how this team keeps this project going every week,” Liu says. In her free time, Liu enjoys doing CrossFit, being with her two cats, and exploring the mountains and coasts across Oregon.


Melissa LucashMelissa Lucash joins CAS as a research assistant professor for the department of Geography. Lucash earned her B.S. in Environmental and Forest Biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She went on to earn her M.S. in General Science for Oregon State University and her Ph.D. in Forest and Natural Resource Management from SUNY. Originally from Pennsylvania, Lucash was drawn to the Pacific Northwest after a summer spent in Tillamook in her early 20s. And the UO’s focus on research is why she applied for the position.

“I came for the research and was impressed by the sense of community here. Everyone has been so welcoming, even through COVID,” Lucash said. Currently, Lucash has four National Science Foundation grants she is working on. The first is building simulations for virtual reality that allow viewers to walk through a forest 50 years from now, showing the effects of climate change. Lucash is working with her PhD student who is looking at increased wildfire effects on Alaska and her postdoc who is studying climate change in Siberia. Her new project focuses on forest management, wind disturbance, and carbon offsets in the Tongass region in Alaska. Lucash is interested in how President Trump’s recent opening of the Tongass National Forest to roads and logging will affect that environment. In her free time, Lucash enjoys hiking and cross-country skiing. At home, her new kitten and 10-month-old puppy keep her and her family busy.


Michelle Marneweck

Michelle Marneweck joins CAS as assistant professor in the Human Physiology department. Marneweck earned her B.A. with honors in Psychology, her M.S. in Clinical Psychology, and her Ph.D. in Psychology, with a specialization in Behavioral Neuroscience, from the University of Western Australia. Her dissertation explored how motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease have flow-over effects into non-motor perceptual domains and was recognized on the Dean’s List Honorable Mention for an Outstanding PhD and by the European Brain and Behaviour Society’s Young Investigator Award. She was subsequently awarded an Endeavour Research Fellowship to conduct neurophysiological research in children with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy in Biobehavioral Sciences at Columbia University in collaboration with Burke Neurological Institute|Weill Cornell Medicine. Before joining UO, she completed an NHMRC CJ Martin Overseas Biomedical Fellowship at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Monash University in Melbourne.

Originally from South Africa, Marneweck says she’s looking forward to teaching as well as filling her lab with research students. Marneweck’s research interests center around the neural and motor control processes that allow humans to interact with their environment skillfully and dexterously, as well as the effects of damage to or aging of such processes. Marneweck says she’s excited about the collaboration happening across the HPHY department and the Knight campus. In her free time, Marneweck enjoys surfing and skiing, and says Oregon is perfect because both activities are just an hour’s drive from Eugene.


James Murray is joining CAS as an assistant professor for both the Biology and Mathematics departments. Murray is also part of the Institute of Neuroscience. Originally from Montana, Murray earned his BS and PhD in Physics, on theoretical solid-state physics, from Montana State University and Johns Hopkins University respectively. He completed his post-doctoral research at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, FL and later, at the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University, where he looked at how our brains generate movement, specifically focused on the basal ganglia. Murray received the NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, which helped fund the last part of his post-doc research and will continue into the first three years of his research at the UO.

He is excited to have moved out west to join the team at UO. “I really like being part of the College of Arts and Sciences because it means I get to do more teaching and educate the next generation of neuroscientists.” Murray will begin teaching spring term and is looking forward to the coming projects for the Murray lab. Murray used to play upright bass in a neuroscientists jazz trio. He and his wife enjoy getting outside and visiting the coast and mountains with their toddler. They are expecting their second child.


Lauren PonisioLauren Ponisio joins CAS as Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology. From the Central Valley of California, Ponisio learned the importance of agriculture for both conservation and livelihoods, and how wild pollinators connect the two. She completed her undergraduate and Master’s degree at Stanford University. Her PhD at UC Berkeley focused on restoring wild pollinators in agriculture and how fire maintains plant-pollinator communities. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science, Ponisio focused on data science pedagogy and how to apply the principles of reproducible, open science in ecology.

Her research program here at the UO will focus on understanding the mechanisms by which species interactions maintain species diversity and how we can harness these processes to manage and restore diversity in human-modified systems. Her program’s aim is to discover new insights into how communities form, evolve, and persist through time and space, aiding in the prediction and prevention of community collapse. “My personal connection to issues concerning agriculture sustainability as a native of the Central Valley and Latina woman has motivated me to study how to design agricultural systems to better support humans and wildlife.” In her free time, Ponisio enjoys sailing and berry/mushroom foraging. She is also part of the Oregon Bee Atlas and works with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Ari Purnama joins CAS as an assistant professor in the Cinema Studies Department. Purnama earned his BA in communication studies from Padjajaran University. He went on to earn his MA cum laude in Research Master Literary and Cultural Studies, with a focus on film and television, and his PhD in film studies from the University of Groningen. Purnama admires the cinema studies program at the UO, and notes that the program’s emphasis on theory and practice together gives students a well-rounded education in the discipline. Purnama specializes in Southeast Asian cinema studies, specifically, and the Global South cinema studies, more broadly, and appreciates the attention and emphasis to non-western cinematic cultures that exists in our Cinema Studies Department.

Purnama is looking forward to teaching the classes he has put together, connecting with students, and working with colleagues whose work he says he’s admired for some time. “I’m a big believer in the power of a Liberal Arts education, and CAS epitomizes that. The community feeling that the campus creates as a whole is something I’m excited to be a part of.” Currently, he is working on a monograph entitled Film Style in Indonesian Cinema (1939-2017) that is based on his doctoral research. In his free time, Purnama writes “cheesy indie rock songs” on his guitar, and he also enjoys cooking and exploring new recipes.


Jerell Rosales

Jerell Rosales is joining CAS as a Career Film Maker and Narrative Fiction Instructor as well as Internship Coordinator for the Cinema Studies department. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, earning his MFA in writing/directing. He made his directorial debut in “High School Lover” staring Paulina Singer, Lana Condor, François Arnaud and James Franco, which premiered on Lifetime and is currently available on DVD. Rosales’s short films have played in more than 100 film festivals worldwide and won numerous awards. He is also a Humanitas Prize recipient for his screen writing, as well as a directing fellow in Film Independent’s signature diversity program, Project Involve.

Looking towards his first year at the UO, he sees teaching as the next step. “I’ve become a better director through teaching. I’m learning from others and they’re learning from me every day,” Rosales says. He will be teaching two courses this fall, Intro to Production and Cinema Careers. Focused on professionalization and demystifying pathways, Rosales’s Cinema Careers course aims to practically prepare students to find a job in the film industry after graduation. He also has an upcoming short film “The Terrorist” that will premiere at the Austin Film Festival this October.