2022 First-Year Faculty Mentoring Cohort

Faculty members who are new to the college join a small cohort under the leadership of a pair of faculty mentors. These mentors coordinate group and individual meetings, class observations, and programming for faculty members who are new to our community.

Faculty Mentors for 2022

Stacey Battis

Dr. Stacey E. Battis specializes in early modern France. Her research interests include women's writing and the history of rhetoric, particularly the ways in which early modern women writers deploy rhetorical and discursive strategies to make their voices heard. She is currently pursuing a project on 16th-century author Hélisenne de Crenne and her exploration of the sacrament of confession as an embodied practice. She pursues her interests in Francophone literature, film, medical history, gender studies, genre studies, and science fiction through her research and teaching. Her particular pedagogical interests are twofold: teaching writing as a form of empowerment (in English and in French) and transforming seemingly frivolous topics into subjects of serious intellectual inquiry

Juanita Bernal Benavides

Dr. Juanita Bernal Benavides joins the Modern Languages and Literatures Department as a Visiting Assistant Professor. Dr. Bernal Benavides received a Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of Michigan in 2017. She comes to Rhodes after serving as a Lecturer at Arkansas State University. Dr. Bernal Benavides’s research interests center on literature, film, and photography that deal with paramilitarism in Colombia and Mexico. She has taught courses on contemporary Latin American female writers, contemporary Latin American film, and literature dealing with narco-paramilitary violence.

Herb Berg

Dr. Herb Berg joins the Religious Studies Department as a Visiting Assistant Professor. Dr. Berg received a Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from the University of Toronto in 1996. He comes to Rhodes after serving as a professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in both the Philosophy and Religion and International Studies departments. Dr. Berg’s research interests center on Islamic origins and on the formation of the Nation of Islam. He has taught courses titled Women and Islam; The Bible and Atheism; Evil and Suffering; Satan, Antichrist(s) and other Evil Beings; Global Populism; Universal Healthcare around the World; Global Capitalism and its Discontents; and the International Sex Industry.

Sarah Cate

Sarah Cate joins the Business Department as a Visiting Assistant Professor. Prof. Cate received a B.A. in Economics and Business from Hendrix College and in 2003 an M.S. in Accounting from the University of Memphis. She comes to Rhodes from a long career as an accountant with Pfizer and has been an adjunct instructor in the BUS department since the Spring 2021 semester. Prof. Cate teaches Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting. 

Jessica Cowan

Jessica Cowan joins the Mathematics and Computer Science department as a Visiting Assistant Professor. She received a B.S. in Computer Science from Rhodes College and then went on to earn an M.Ed. from the University of Southern California. She spent several years working in the field and started her own consulting firm that works with small and mid-size businesses. This upcoming fall, she will be teaching Computer Science I: Programming Fundamentals.

Kyle Dempsey

Dr. Kyle Dempsey joins the Mathematics and Computer Science Department as a Visiting Assistant Professor. Dr. Dempsey received a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Memphis in 2011. Prior to joining Rhodes, he has taught courses across multiple disciplines, specializing in Statistics and Research Methods. Most recently, Kyle was part of the Psychology faculty at UT Martin. Dr. Dempsey’s primary research interests include incorporating game components in educational programs, child sexual abuse prevention, right wing authoritarianism, and distance learning efficacy. Dr. Dempsey has both published articles and presented on these topics at various conferences.

Kelly Diamond

Dr. Kelly Diamond joins the Biology Department as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Diamond received a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Clemson University in 2019. She comes to Rhodes after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Seattle Children's Research Institute. Dr. Diamond’s research integrates field-based studies with machine learning, biomechanics, and statistics to explore patterns in behavior, morphology, and organismal performance, mainly in fishes and reptiles.

Kavita Gaur

Dr. Kavita Gaur is a bio-inorganic chemist. She obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Puerto Rico, specializing in bio-inorganic Chemistry. Her teaching interest lies in biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, and general chemistry. Her research is specialized in utilizing the transmetallation anticancer approach and studying the mechanistic action of the metal complexes in the cellular environment. She is interested in designing new viable metal-based compounds made of bio-mimicking moieties to disrupt different biochemical activities in the diseased cellular milieu.

Austin Harrison

Dr. Austin Harrison joins the Urban Studies Program as an Assistant Professor. He received a Ph.D. in Urban Studies from Georgia State University. Dr. Harrison’s research focuses on community development, neighborhood change, and urban policy. He has been teaching at Rhodes in a visiting capacity, teaching Intro to Urban Studies and Applied Neighborhood Equity, where students helped facilitate a bottom-up neighborhood planning process with Juice Orange Mound.

Andrea Jacobo

Andrea Jacobo is joining the Urban Studies Program as a Visiting Instructor. Along with teaching, she is also the Public Health Director for Health in All Spaces, a multi-organizational initiative focused on vaccine equity within the Greater Memphis area. She is a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) candidate at UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Her areas of focus intersect community-based participatory action research, creative analytical practices, Black geographies, and racial health equity. 

Liam Hunt

Dr. Liam Hunt joins the Biology Department as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Hunt received his Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Melbourne, Australia in 2012. He comes to Rhodes after serving as a Postdoctoral Researcher at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Dr. Hunt's research interests are molecular regulators of muscle function, proteostasis and aging, using the fruit fly as a model organism. He has taught courses titled Biology I Lab and Topics in Biomedical Science at Rhodes College as an adjunct.

Yang Qi

Dr. Yang Qi joins the Department of Modern Languages and Literature as Visiting Assistant Professor of Chinese Studies. Dr. Qi received a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 2015. She comes to Rhodes after serving as Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Memphis. She has taught courses in Chinese language at all levels and Chinese-English translation.

Laura Shanahan

Dr. Laura Shanahan joins the Psychology Department as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Shanahan received a PhD from Northwestern University in 2019. She then continued her research training as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University, while teaching undergraduate neuroscience courses as an Adjunct Professor at Lake Forest College and Loyola University. Dr. Shanahan’s human neuroscience research focuses on sleep and sensory systems, with an emphasis on olfaction.

Shatavia Wynn
Shatavia L. Wynn (she/her/they/them) joins Religious Studies and Africana Studies as an Assistant Professor. Professor Wynn is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion and Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University. Professor Wynn plans to defend her dissertation this fall. Her scholarly interests include popular culture, phenomenology, aesthetics, and black feminist and womanist thought. Prior to attending Vanderbilt, Professor Wynn earned a Master of Arts in Religious Studies with a concentration in Black Religion in the African Diaspora from Yale Divinity School. Professor Wynn completed undergraduate studies at Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC, where she earned a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion.