SPARTANBURG, S.C. — The 2020-21 academic year began with a virtual pre-session for faculty and staff, but even before that, the college found ways to welcome and orient 13 new faculty.
Dr. Smriti Bhargava, assistant professor of economics, has a Ph.D. in economics from Clemson University. She’s originally from India, where she earned undergraduate and master's degrees in economics. Before coming to Wofford, she was a visiting assistant professor at Union College in New York. Her research and teaching interests are in labor economics, development economics and applied microeconomics. She’s currently researching outcomes involving women and children in India, including a decline in labor force participation by women and the impact that owning household durable goods has on women’s employment and children’s school enrollment. She looks forward to offering Interim courses in India and possibly courses focused on her other interests of pottery, gardening and yoga.
Dr. Jennifer Bradham, assistant professor of environmental studies, earned a Ph.D. in ecology from Vanderbilt University. Her research lies in the intersection of tropical ecosystem conservation and anthropogenic land use change. She aims to find solutions for creating sustainable ecosystems that preserve native species while also balancing sustainable development decisions that support the livelihoods of those in rural and agricultural communities. Her field sites have been located throughout South America, and she looks forward to establishing research around Spartanburg and the southern Appalachians.
Taylor Brorby, assistant professor of environmental studies, is the author of “Crude: Poems, Coming Alive: Action and Civil Disobedience” and co-editor of “Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America.” Taylor's work has appeared in The Huffington Post and Orion Magazine. He has been supported by the MacDowell Colony, the National Book Critics Circle and the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. He's contributing editor of North American Review and serves on the editorial boards of Terrain.org and Hub City Press.
Maya Fein, assistant professor of theatre, earned a master’s in fine arts in stage design and participated in a teaching certification program at Northwestern University before continuing her theatrical journey as a freelance lighting designer in Chicago, Illinois. She taught at the University of Southern Indiana for three years before coming to Wofford. She received a Chicago Jeff nomination and a Meritorious Achievement Award in lighting design. Her shows have received a Chicago Jeff Award and three nominations for best production. She also worked as the assistant lighting designer for the Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She continues freelancing as a lighting designer and Argentine tango instructor across the country. She enjoys time with her husband, Matt, and dog, Clawdia, as well as photography, nature and board games.
Dr. Rachel Grotheer, assistant professor of mathematics, is coming from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. Her teaching and research areas are mostly in applied mathematics. Calculus, numerical and modeling-based classes are her favorite to teach. Her research interests increasingly blur the line between mathematics and data science, including medical image reconstruction, signal processing, machine learning and natural language processing. Grotheer completed her graduate work at Clemson University and her undergraduate work at Denison University, where she majored in mathematics and French. She loves to travel, speak French, learn other languages, knit/crochet, play board games, swim, sing and be outdoors.
Dr. Aaron Harp, assistant professor of music, completed a doctorate in choral conducting at the University of Colorado Boulder. He holds a Master of Music in vocal performance and conducting from the University of North Texas. Prior to his doctorate, he taught choir at the secondary level for five years in Texas. In addition to his teaching, Harp performs with professional choral ensembles across the country such as Santa Fe Desert Chorale, The Thirteen, Colorado Bach Ensemble and Houston Bach Society. Harp, his wife and three daughters are enjoying getting settled in Spartanburg and are happy to be a part of the Wofford community.
Dr. Ingrid Lilly, assistant professor of religion, earned a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from Emory University and previously taught at Western Kentucky University, Graduate Theological Union and Georgia State University. She is writing her second book on the embodied self in ancient Israelite and Near Eastern literature that explores the religio-medical understandings of the human person. The book explores the invention of the Western psychological self. Ingrid is interested in several topics within biblical studies and is teaching courses on bodies and sexuality, human migration and social justice. She moved to Spartanburg from Oakland, Calif., with her partner, Scott, their 4-year old daughter and their two dogs, Leviathan and Kentucky (their next dog will be named Carolina!). She loves hiking and camping, and Coronatide has only increased her passion for van life and very long walks.
Dr. Kyle Richardson, assistant professor of psychology, received a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Alabama with a concentration in social psychology and a minor in statistics. He teaches personality psychology and research methods along with introductory courses in psychology. A primary focus of his research involves studying how subjective perception and logic help explain the aberrant and apparently maladaptive behaviors associated with people higher in "dark" personalities (e.g., narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy), which are often thought to lack subjective logic. Outside of teaching and research, he enjoys spending time with his wife and family.
Dr. Grace Schwartz, an environmental chemist specializing in trace element biogeochemistry, contaminant remediation and environmental analytical chemistry, is an assistant professor of chemistry. Schwartz received a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from Duke University. After completing graduate studies, Schwartz worked as a postdoctoral fellow for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and for Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Schwartz’s research focuses on mercury cycling in the environment, the environmental impacts of energy production and remediation solutions for metal pollutants. When she isn’t teaching chemistry or tromping through creek systems, she enjoys watching cheesy BBC detective shows, traveling and marathon open-water swimming.
Dr. Jim Stevens, assistant professor of finance, earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia. He worked for a financial data company in Charlottesville, Va., for a few years before attending the University of Georgia to study real estate finance and economics. His research addresses corporate finance issues of real estate companies, as well as the neighborhood change process of gentrification. In his spare time, he enjoys trail running with his dog and all forms of cycling. He rarely misses an outdoor swimming opportunity. Stevens lives in Greenville with his wife and 1-year-old son.
Muhammad Velji, James A. and Susan K. Keller Fellow and assistant professor of philosophy, works on political philosophy, philosophy of law, feminist philosophy and the philosophy of race and colonialism. He did undergraduate work at the University of Toronto and received a master’s degree from Carleton University in Ottawa. He will defend his Ph.D. from McGill University soon. His dissertation looks to decolonize different conceptions of autonomy using the empirical engine of anthropological work on Muslim women who wear veils. Velji hopes to start a second project at Wofford involving indigenous concepts of sovereignty, feminist ideas of relation and legal pluralism (the idea that the groups individuals belong to often have just as much authority over them as the state) to think through problems of religious exemptions and multiculturalism.
Dr. Zhe Yang, assistant professor of economics, is passionate about economics and is always excited to share his knowledge and help students learn and improve. He has taught principles of macroeconomics, money and banking and mathematical economics. His primary research interests are risk theory and game theory. His current research focuses on analyzing the effects of risk attitudes in contests. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama.
Dr. Gillian Young, assistant professor of art history, teaches art historiography for majors and the second half of the introductory survey of western art, as well as specialized classes on modern and contemporary art and interdisciplinary courses in the humanities. Her research focuses on the interwoven history of art and technology from the 19th century to the present with an emphasis on performance. She earned a Ph.D from Columbia University.