UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences welcomes
15 new faculty members

Introducing New Faculty 2022

CLASS welcomes 15 new full-time faculty members across the college, effective Sept. 1. With expertise that reflects the diversity of humanities and social sciences scholarship, these scholars underscore the college’s commitment to supporting its diverse student body, producing competitive research and scholarship, and continuing to drive social responsibility in Houston and beyond.

Included in the 2022-23 new faculty cohort is Department of African American Studies inaugural chair Tara Green, who joins UH from University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Additionally, two of the new scholars are University of Houston Presidential Frontier Faculty (PFF) hires: Neema Langa – a joint hire for Sociology/African American Studies – and Seoung Hoon Park – a joint hire for COMD / Health and Human Performance. 

Presidential Frontier Faculty Hires

Neema Langa, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Sociology/African American Studies

Neema Langa is an assistant professor of Sociology. She is a joint faculty member in the Sociology and the African American Studies Departments. Her research uses quantitative methodologies to examine structural forces contributing to heterogeneity in healthcare utilization and health outcomes among African and African American women in underserved communities. She is particularly interested in exploring the role of institutional forces in determining disparities in the utilization of maternal health care and maternal health outcomes in developing and developed countries. Her research also examines the role of social inequalities and healthcare experiences in influencing variations in these women's later-life health outcomes.

Neema Langa

Seoung Hoon Park, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
COMD/Health and Human Performance

Seoung Hoon Park, Ph.D., joined the Department of Health and Human Performance, the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and the Department of Clinical Sciences in August 2022 as a Tenure-track Assistant Professor. He has years of experience in studying behavioral neuroscience and neuromuscular physiology in healthy and clinical populations, in addition to the studies of locomotor rehabilitation aiming at clinical populations. Dr. Park focuses on 1) neurophysiological mechanisms underlying impaired motor control and learning in individuals with neurological diseases, 2) development of novel rehabilitation tools and protocols for improving functional motor control with emphasis on walking, balance, and swallowing in people with neurological diseases, and 3) behavioral and neural changes in response to rehabilitative interventions in individuals with neurological diseases.

Seoung Hoon Park, Ph.D.

African American Studies

Tara T. Green, Ph.D.
CLASS Distinguished Professor and
Chair of African American Studies

Previous Institution: University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Tara T. Green is the CLASS Distinguished Professor and Chair of African American Studies. She also has a joint appointment in the English department. Dr. Green is the award-winning author and editor of six books, including “See Me Naked: Black Women Defining Pleasure During the Interwar Era” as well as the co-curator of the “Triad Black Lives Matter Collection” housed at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her areas of research interest are: African American fiction and autobiography, African literature, Black leadership, studies of the Black South, and the Harlem Renaissance. She is from the suburbs of New Orleans, which immensely impacts her work.

Tara Green

Valenti School of Communication

Nandikoor Prashanth Bhat, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Dr. Prashanth Bhat is an Assistant Professor at the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, University of Houston. He completed his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland-College Park and his M.A. from the American University in Washington, D.C. His research interests include anti-media populism, alternative social platforms, online hate speech, and partisan media with a particular emphasis on journalistic practice in India.

Prior to entering academia, Dr. Bhat worked for leading news organizations including the Times of India, Deccan Chronicle, China Central Television-America and Voice of America. He also served as a short-term consultant for the World Bank Group. During his graduate studies, he interned at the National Geographic Channel and Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

Nandikoor Prashanth Bhat, Ph.D.

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Camille Wynn, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Camille Wynn received a Ph.D. in Speech-Language Pathology from Utah State University in in 2022. Prior to her Ph.D., Dr. Wynn worked as a certified Speech-Language Pathologist at Cassia Regional Hospital in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Dr. Wynn’s primary research interests focus on the ways individuals coordinate their speech with one another to elevate conversational outcomes and how breakdowns in speech coordination affect the conversations of individuals with communication disorders. In particular, she is interested in exploring speech coordination in neurotypical and autistic children and adolescents.

Camille Wynn

Comparative Cultural Studies

Marwa Ghazali, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Dr. Marwa Ghazali is a cultural and medical anthropologist with interdisciplinary expertise in African and African Diaspora studies, Muslim American studies, Islamic studies, peace and conflict studies, and biology. Most recently, she was a W. E. B. Du Bois Research Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Dr. Ghazali’s research and scholarship center around themes of migration, structural oppression, urban precarity, racial, gender, and health inequalities, and the politics of death and dying. She pairs multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork with historical and archival research to shed light on experiential dimensions of state violence. Her analysis delineates structural factors that shape (im)mobility, morbidity, and mortality among marginalized communities in Africa, the Middle East, and the US. Ghazali’s scholarship puts medical anthropology in conversation with Black feminist, Pan-African, decolonial, and critical race studies and highlights the intersectional and nuanced ways violence and inequality are brought to bear on individual and communal bodies. Her work attends to creative agencies, embodied modes, political subjectivities, emergent moralities, alternative economies, and social networks people cultivate to live and die with dignity. Dr. Ghazali’s scholarship has been featured on NPR/KCUR Public Radio. 

Marwa Ghalazi

Dinah Hannaford, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Previous Institution: Texas A&M University

Dinah Hannaford is a cultural anthropologist whose work centers around the political economy of intimate life. Hannaford uses fine-grained ethnography to offer fresh insights into the conditions, challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. With an eye to questions of gender and power, her work provides a substantive contribution to crucial questions about mobility, technology, intimacy and inequality. Dr. Hannaford is the author of “Aid and the Help: International Development and the Transnational Extraction of Care” (Stanford University Press, forthcoming 2023) and “Marriage Without Borders: Transnational Spouses in Neoliberal Senegal” (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), and the co-editor of “Opting Out: Women Messing with Marriage Around the World” (Rutgers University Press, 2022).

Dinah Hannaford, Ph.D.

Ivan V. Small, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Previous Institution: Central Connecticut State University

Ivan V. Small is associate professor of anthropology in the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies. His research considers mobility, circulation and capital transformations in a trans-Pacific context, with a focus on Southeast Asia and the United States. He has been particularly engaged with Vietnam as a site of personal and professional research since the mid 1990s. Dr. Small is author of “Currencies of Imagination: Channeling Money and Chasing Mobility in Vietnam” (Cornell Univ. Press 2019), which examines changes in the social, spatial and material dimensions of remittances between the U.S. and Vietnam since 1975. He is also co-editor of “Money at the Margins: Global Perspectives on Technology, Financial Inclusion & Design” (Berghahn 2018), featuring comparative ethnographic work on digital money and financial inclusion initiatives across the Global South. Dr. Small has published in a variety of disciplinary and inter-disciplinary journals, including the Journal of Cultural Economy, TRaNS: Trans -Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia, and the Journal of Consumer Culture, and has written book chapters and op-eds on issues ranging from remittances and migration to emerging markets and transportation futures in ASEAN. In Houston, Dr. Small is examining regional Southeast Asian American community formations and transnational connections as they relate to the aesthetics and affordances of suburban development. This includes how Houston’s “Asiatown” has been shaped by various domestic and international migration and capital circulations, the role of transportation infrastructures and community demands for visibility and inclusion in practices of place making. Dr. Small teaches a range of undergraduate and graduate courses on migration, economic anthropology, cultural theory and Asian and Asian American studies.

Ivan Small


Haylee C. Harrell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Dr. Haylee C. Harrell (she/her, they/them) is a Black feminist theorist working at the intersections of Black Studies, African American Literature, and sexuality studies. Their current book project reasserts the concept of the mulatta in the United States as a critical figure of forced racial intermixture within blackness. Through archival research of historical and artistic accounts of the mulatta, Dr. Harrell tracks an alternative history of the color line that bridges the divisions between lived experience and academia—between everyday comments (“what are you?,” “but you don’t act black”) and scholarly sites such as the Beinecke Library at Yale, where they pursued the mulatta’s ghostly traces.

Haylee Harrell

Hispanic Studies

Rodrigo Hasbún, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Previous Institution: Universidad Mayor de San Simón

Rodrigo Hasbún is the author of the novels El lugar del cuerpo, Los afectos, and Los años invisibles, the collections of stories Cinco, Los días más felices, and Cuatro, and the volume of personal essays Las palabras [textos de ocasión]. He is also the co-screenwriter of several films, among them The Visitor, for which he recently received the Best Screenplay Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. Chosen by the Hay Festival as one of the Best Latin American writers under the age of 39 for Bogotá39, and named one of Granta’s Best Young Spanish Language Novelists, his work has been translated into twelve languages, among them English, French, Italian, German, and Chinese. Hasbún received his Ph.D. in Latin American Literature from Cornell University and is currently an Associate Professor in the Hispanic Studies Department at the University of Houston.

Dr. Rodrigo


Michele Johnson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Michele R.  Johnson earned her Ph.D. in History at the University of Arkansas specializing in 20th century history of the U.S. South, specifically the Civil Rights Era. Her research focuses on the darker side of the era, specifically women in the Ku Klux Klan and Massive Resistance Movement, and more broadly, right-wing women’s violence. Her work is focused on the intersection of gender, white supremacy and violence throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and beyond. 

She has taught both traditional and online classes in U.S. and World History, Race and Ethnicity, Women’s History, The Many Reconstructions, Pop Culture in the 20th Century U.S., and Animals in World History at the University of Arkansas—Fayetteville, The University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and the Lone Star College System in Houston, Texas, before joining the University of Houston, where she teaches both halves of the U.S. History survey and serves as Associate Director of Graduate Studies.

Dr. Johnson

Modern and Classical Languages

Mohan Ambikaipaker, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Previous Institution: Tulane University

Dr. Mohan Ambikaipaker joins the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. His research is focused on communications and cultural studies, social anthropology and globalized racism. His research has been primarily based on the United States, United Kingdom and Malaysia and aims to examine the shifts in racism, racial structures, state violence and the resistance among minority communities. Dr. Ambikaipaker is a former research associate with several organizations in the United Kingdom and has been a guest across the United States as well as Malaysia. He has several publications based on critical race subjects, racial formations, and political structures around race.

Dr. Mohan

Political Science

Michael Hawley, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Michael Hawley is a political theorist specializing in the history of political thought. Prior to coming to Houston, he taught at the University of Notre Dame, Bowdoin College, and Duke University.

His first book, “Natural Law Republicanism: Cicero’s Liberal Legacy,” examines the way in which the ideas of Cicero shaped the development of early modern liberalism and the American founding. In particular, the book explores the process by which universalist liberal theories of justice were reconciled with voluntaristic commitments to popular sovereignty.

His next book project explores the theory and ethics of political rhetoric that aims to mobilize rather than persuade an audience. In addition, he has research interests in political theology, Islamic political philosophy, and contemporary just war theory.

His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Polis, History of European Ideas, the Journal of Military Ethics, and the European Journal of Political Theory, among others.

Dr. Hawley

Rita Koganzon, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

My research focuses on the themes of education, childhood, authority and the family in historical and contemporary political thought. My first book, “Liberal States, Authoritarian Families: Childhood and Education in Early Modern Thought,” examined the justifications for authority over children from Jean Bodin to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and explored how Locke and Rousseau departed from their absolutist predecessors by refusing to model the family on the state but nonetheless preserved authority over children within the family for the sake of the liberty of adults.

My current book project examines the history of American education, tracing the debate between proponents and opponents of schooling from the early republic through the twentieth century to show how many of our educational system’s contradictions originated from an effort to reconcile the liberal imperative of individual freedom with the democratic imperative of public schooling.

In addition to my research, I contribute book reviews and essays to the Hedgehog Review, National Affairs, The Point, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, among others. Before coming to the University of Houston, I taught for six years at the University of Virginia.

Dr. Kognanzon


Olivia E. Atherton, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Dr. Olivia E. Atherton is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Houston. Before joining UH, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. She received her PhD in Social-Personality Psychology at the University of California Davis, and her BS in Psychology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Atherton’s research program lies at the intersection of social-personality, health, and developmental psychology. The central focus of her work is self-regulation– what is it, how does it develop, and what are its implications for mental and physical health across the lifespan? To answer these questions, she typically uses large longitudinal studies with data spanning multiple developmental periods (i.e., childhood through old age) and generations (i.e., family studies), in combination with diverse samples, multi-method measurement (e.g., self- and informant-reports, psychiatric interviews, electronic medical records, Medicare claims), and various statistical techniques (e.g., coordinated data analysis, structural equation modeling). Among her professional interests and pursuits, Dr. Atherton works to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion and to build interdisciplinary collaborations.

Dr. Atherton

Welcome to the Cougar Family!

Welcome to the cougar family

This story was produced by the CLASS Office of Communications. To learn how you can support College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences programs and initiatives, visit our Opportunities to Give page.