LMU welcomed 22 scholars to its tenure-line faculty ranks in the fall 2023 semester. These new members of the LMU community come from all parts of the country and represent an array of expertise and research, including theologies of accompaniment, workaholism, intercultural communication, earthquake engineering, and more.
“The new tenure-line faculty are joining a community of cherished teacher-scholars whose creativity and excellence in research parallel their dedication to engaging the whole person in their pedagogy,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas Poon, Ph.D. “I look forward to getting to know our new and recently promoted faculty over the coming year and extend my gratitude to the LMU community for showing them a warm Lion welcome.”
LMU Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts
Sarah Adeyinka-Skold, Assistant Professor, Sociology
Sarah Adeyinka-Skold earned her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and her M.A. in social work from the University of Chicago. She joins LMU after being an assistant professor of sociology at Furman University in South Carolina for three years. Adeyinka-Skold’s research focuses on how the processes of relationship formation in the United States reveal racial and gender inequality. Her work has been published in academic forums but also sparked the interest of non-academic venues and popular media figures interested in Black women’s experiences. Adeyinka-Skold is currently turning her dissertation into a book and writing an article on dating practices among LGBTQ women.
Clare Beer, Assistant Professor, Urban and Environmental Studies
Clare Beer earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in geography at UCLA. Prior to joining LMU, she was a visiting assistant professor of geography at the University of Kentucky. Her research and teaching draw from the fields of economic geography and political ecology, and broadly concerns the governance and justice dimensions of environmental sustainability. Her doctoral work in Chile contributed to debates about the future of conservation, the nature of state power, and the politics of environmental philanthropy. Her current work investigates the role of Chile’s public finance apparatus in the accelerating biodiversity crisis, and she is developing a collaborative project on the relationship between settler colonialism and sustainability capitalism in the context of a waning U.S. empire.
Angel Díaz-Dávalos, Assistant Professor, Modern Languages and Literatures
Angel Díaz-Dávalos earned his Ph.D. in Spanish American literature from Temple University. Prior to joining LMU, he taught at the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as the department’s coordinator of the elementary Spanish sequence. His research and teaching interests are focused in the areas of 20th–21st century Mexican literature and culture, and U.S.-Mexico border studies. His current book project, on the spaces and places of modern Mexican violence, challenges the theoretical paradigms of literary narratives and cinema about drug trafficking and U.S.-Mexico trans-border narratives. Díaz-Dávalos received Excellence in Teaching Awards from Temple and the University of Pennsylvania.
Oscar Gutierrez, Assistant Professor, Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies
Oscar Gutierrez earned his Ph.D. in ethnic studies at UC San Diego. He was born and raised in Southeast Los Angeles where he currently lives and conducts research with queer communities of color and analyzes their relationship to landscapes of environmental justice. His dissertation project titled, “A/effective Pollutants: Landscapes of Environmental Justice in Southeast Los Angeles” looks at queer Latinx relationships to industrial sites to understand how notions of race, class, gender, and sexuality have reshaped the social and political movement. For over a decade, he has worked alongside his community to address environmental impacts through his involvement with organizations like Communities for a Better Environment and East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.
Ky Henderson, Assistant Professor, Journalism
Ky Henderson earned his B.S. and M.S. in journalism from Northwestern University. He is a writer, editor, and producer, and was part of the team that created and launched VICE News where he served as features editor and Los Angeles bureau chief. While there, he was awarded the Investigative Reporters and Editors Freedom of Information Award for the 10-part investigative series “CIA Torture, a Senate Investigation, and the Google Search that Launched a Spying Scandal.” He also won the Southern California Journalism Award for Best Entertainment Feature for “Tequila, Painted Pearls, and Prada—How the CIA Helped Produce ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’” a piece that prompted Congress to change regulations governing the agency’s interaction with the entertainment industry.
Jennifer Owens-Jofré, Assistant Professor, Theological Studies
Jennifer Owens-Jofré earned her B.A. in sociology with a minor in peace studies and an M.A. in teaching with a concentration in social studies at Loyola Marymount University, followed by a Master of Divinity from Harvard University. She completed her Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies with an allied field in systematic and philosophical theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Owens-Jofré’s research focuses on interdisciplinary dialogue between qualitative research methods and practical theology; how Latine Catholics practice their faith and participate in community life, especially through their activism; and theologies of accompaniment. She recently completed a manuscript based on her fieldwork with lay Latina leaders at Dolores Mission Parish in Boyle Heights, “Taking Up la Virgen’s Mantle: A Practical Theology of Accompaniment.”
Sara Villalta, Assistant Professor, Sociology
Sara Villalta earned her Ph.D. in sociology from UC Irvine and was a postdoctoral research associate for the Center for Research on Child and Family Wellbeing at Princeton University. Villalta’s research quantitively interrogates how social structure influences ties between people and how those ties, in turn, replicate social inequality in the United States. Her experience collecting primary quantitative data has produced cutting-edge research that has appeared in Social Forces and in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Villalta’s research endeavors have not eclipsed her passion for teaching and mentorship as she continues to design innovative methods that integrate students into her work in formative ways.
LMU College of Business Administration
Aditya Balaram, Assistant Professor, Information Systems and Business Analytics
Aditya Balaram earned his Ph.D. in management science from the University of South Carolina. He earned master’s degrees in statistics and operations research from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and in applicable mathematics from the London School of Economics, as well as a B.Sc. from St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore. By using game theoretic and econometric tools, his work aims to better understand how various operational decisions can impact the environment. His work has been published in Naval Research Logistics and Sustainability. Prior to joining LMU, Balaram taught courses on business statistics and calculus at South Carolina and UNC-Chapel Hill.
Sang-Hoon Lee, Assistant Professor, Management
Sang-Hoon Lee earned his Ph.D. in human resources and industrial relations from the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. During his time at Illinois, he led and assisted in instructing classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, including an introductory course to organizational behavior/human resource management and a research methods and statistics in HR course. His research primarily focuses on workaholism, the dark side of prosocial and proactive behaviors, and employment relations. By applying theories and perspectives from psychology and management, he aims to advance employees’ well-being in both their work and personal lives.
Julie (Thuy Dung) Ngo, Assistant Professor, Finance
Julie (Thuy Dung) Ngo earned her Ph.D. in finance from Auburn University, her master’s degrees in mathematics and economics from Illinois State University, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from National Economics University in Vietnam. Her broad research interests include investments and corporate finance. Currently, she is conducting research on the U.S. mutual fund industry, derivatives, and fintech. Ngo is also a chartered financial analyst (CFA charter holder).
Junghoon Park, Assistant Professor, Management
Junghoon Park earned his Ph.D. from The Graduate Center and Baruch College, City University of New York. Park’s research expertise focuses on global sustainability strategy, inspired by a strong interest in exploring how firms design and implement strategies to tackle pressing sustainability issues, such as climate change and public health deficiencies. With his commitment to bridging the gap between academia and real-world application, Park aims to foster a better understanding of how firms can play a pivotal role in addressing global sustainability challenges.
Martin Kang, Assistant Professor, Information Systems and Business Analytics
Martin Kang earned his B.S. in management information systems from the Milwaukee School of Engineering, and he earned his Ph.D. at Korea University Business School. Prior to joining LMU, Kang held positions at Mississippi State University and the University of Memphis. Kang’s research is primarily focused on the field of business analytics, where he leverages methods such as deep learning, econometrics, and mathematical modeling. His expertise lies in the development and application of these techniques to address diverse business challenges. Kang’s work has been published in prestigious journals across a range of disciplines.
Yangyang Zhang, Assistant Professor, Management and Leadership
Yangyang Zhang earned her Ph.D. in management from Stevens Institute of Technology and holds a master’s degree in human resource management from Rutgers University. Her research centers on understanding the human element in strategic choices and organizational performance, and her work has been published in esteemed journals such as Strategic Management Journal. Currently, her research focuses on two main areas: diversity and inclusion in corporate leadership, as well as strategic leadership in the digital age. Additionally, she has valuable working experience in human resources, including conducting compensation and benefits analysis for CEOs and senior executives.
LMU College of Communication and Fine Arts
Luciano Pimienta, Assistant Professor, Art and Art History
Luciano Pimienta earned his M.F.A. in ceramics at San Diego State University and B.F.A. at Alfred University. He is an artist/educator whose creative journey has been deeply influenced by nature, history, and the passing of time. A fascination with the pedagogical process led to his solo exhibition “Ways of Knowing” at the Institute of Contemporary Art San Diego, where he investigated how learning processes feed into systemic ways of thinking connected to land, property, and concepts of boundaries. Pimienta’s current research utilizes the ephemeral processes of ceramics and nature to explore the space found in the in-between.
Romy RW, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies
Romy RW earned her Ph.D. in communication from the University of Maryland, College Park, and earned her master’s degree in media studies at Chinese National Academy of Arts, and a second M.A. in communication at the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to coming to LMU, she worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health and as a research fellow at the Food and Drug Administration. RW’s research focuses on the interrelationships among intercultural communication, health communication, and mediated technologies. She specifically addresses the power dynamics, stereotyping, and prejudice prevalent in intercultural communication that contribute to poorer health outcomes for marginalized and underserved populations.
LMU Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering
Mehrdad Aghagholizadeh, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Mehrdad Aghagholizadeh earned his Ph.D. in civil engineering at the University of Central Florida. Prior to joining LMU, he was a postdoctoral scholar at USC. Aghagholizadeh is a registered professional engineer (P.E.) and an expert on structural dynamics, earthquake engineering, finite element analysis, and structural health monitoring. Aghagholizadeh’s works are published in various major structural engineering journals and have been presented at national and international conferences. He was awarded the American Society of Civil Engineers’ J. James R. Croes Medal for his work, which was published in the ASCE Journal of Engineering Mechanics.
Kate Eisen, Assistant Professor, Biology
Kate Eisen earned her B.A. in environmental studies from Amherst College. She completed her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University, where she studied how species interactions affect the evolution of floral traits in California native wildflowers. She is passionate about creating learning environments that support students in their scientific and personal growth. Driven by a desire to help everyone truly belong and thrive in all fields and environments, Eisen currently serves as the chair of the Diversity Committee of the American Society of Naturalists and is eager to engage with DEI efforts at LMU.
LMU School of Film and Television
Roy Finch, Assistant Professor, Recording Arts
Roy Finch is a teacher, musician, and filmmaker, and active member of the Motion Picture Sound Editors whose first film, the indie feature WAKE, won him the Best Director award at the Queens International Film Festival as well as the prestigious Prism Commendation Award from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. Finch received his film training at Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope where he worked on such films as “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” “The Secret Garden”, and “The Godfather III” in varying production and post-production capacities. Finch has also composed the soundtracks for feature films as well as the hit television show Survivor.
Jo Meuris, Associate Professor, Animation
Jo Meuris is an award-winning animation filmmaker from Canada. She holds an M.F.A. in film, television, and digital media from UCLA and a B.F.A. in animation from Concordia University. An animator by trade, Meuris has worked on dozens of animated projects from shorts to features and documentaries and she brings her working knowledge of animation to her teaching practice. Meuris comes to LMU via Las Vegas, where she spent nine years building the new animation program at Nevada State College and where she also taught animation, visual effects, editing, and drawing.
Cory Warner, Assistant Professor, Film and Television Production, Cinematography
Cory Warner earned his M.F.A. in cinematography from the American Film Institute and shot the 2015 Student Academy Award Winning Film “This Way Up,” which he lensed for director Jeremy Cloe. Warner’s work has played at/on Hulu, AFI Fest, and LA Shorts, among other platforms and film festivals. He has shot music videos for Robin Thicke, Maren Morris, and Cozz, along with a handful of other talented musicians. Warner is a hardworking and collaborative filmmaker with a strong eye for lighting, composition, and camera movement.
LMU School of Education
Barbara Katic, Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and Administration
Barbara Katic earned her Ph.D. from UC Riverside in school psychology. She earned an M.S. in counseling and guidance from California State University, San Bernardino, and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Calgary. She worked as a registered psychological associate at Santa Barbara County SELPA, where she supported county-wide special education programming serving K-12 students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Her research focuses on improving access to evidence-based mental health programming for students in K-12 settings, including the adaptation of programs to be more culturally responsive, and promoting safe and equitable learning environments through the implementation and evaluation of restorative justice practices.
Joaquín Noguera, Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and Administration
Joaquín Noguera earned his Ph.D. in social science and comparative education and a master’s degree in education from UCLA. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from St. John’s University. He is a former social worker, K-12 teacher, school leader, and director of the International Youth Leadership Institute dedicated to serving Black and Latinx youth in New York City. His research engages three broad areas: the limits and possibilities for transformation and healing of education and schooling, particularly for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities and in low-income urban contexts; systems change that advances racial equity in organizational contexts; and critical analysis of society and culture and the impact of social and cultural patterns on the development and experiences of individuals and communities.