Sept. 8, 2014Vol. 45, Issue 1

New Faculty Infuse Campus with Expert Teaching, Research

New faculty participate in orientation activities Aug. 24.

This fall, the University welcomes more than three dozen new faculty members in a range of academic disciplines and research areas.

Hailing from institutions around the world, the 37 new professors hold post-graduate degrees from such highly respected universities as Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Texas A&M, the Berklee College of Music, and UCLA. At least five are CSU, Chico alums.

The cohort’s wide-ranging specialties and award-winning research promise to strengthen the University’s academic programs and enhance student learning. A look at several new faculty members follows.

Alek PalmersmithNew to the Department of Music and Theatre is Alek Palmersmith, who holds a master’s degree in music technology innovation from Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain.

Though Palmersmith’s academic background is in live music, recording, and music production—and not software development—he recently discovered what he felt was a gap in the current mobile music app market, and he has focused his energy on filling it.

“Part of my master’s degree was music technology and innovation,” he said. “The concept was to apply what I was learning in application development and make music applications. I ended up learning the process of developing an app a day.”

At Berklee, Palmersmith received an award for a set of three apps he designed that control the audio parameters of compression in sound engineering. He developed a program that can split up the elements of a music mix, allowing users to see and hear separate tracks for bass, guitar, vocals, and drums on their mobile screen.

“It’s so important, now that we have fewer CD sales, to think about how we promote music and multimedia and give people a chance to interact with music,” Palmersmith said. “To be able to mute different elements of a mix in a song, for example, gives the listener more options.

“The other aspect is the design of it. Design is so important … look at Apple. If an app doesn’t look good and isn’t easy to use, people will just discard it. I’ve really enjoyed that part of my research.”

Palmersmith, who teaches classes in music industry and audio recording, is already encouraging his students to innovate.

Jennifer BrundidgeAnother new faculty member, Jennifer Brundidge, also won an award for her research at the University of Texas at Austin, where she taught formerly.

Brundidge, who holds a doctorate in communication studies from UC Santa Barbara, received a department award for her research paper on the Internet’s impact on mass media and politics. She has joined the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences.

“There was a question when the Internet first became a viable mechanism for political participation and news and discussion,” she explained. “The question was, will we go online and expose ourselves to a broad array of political views and socioeconomic statuses, or will we find and connect with people just like ourselves and with our views? The Internet gives us a great deal of control over who we talk to. The fear was that we would become a very polarized society.

Brundidge has found that it’s somewhere in between those two worlds. “We aren’t going online to broaden ourselves, but we aren’t avoiding others who are different," she said. "In the process of going online, we are exposed to new sources that are contradictory to our views. It’s an accidental, consequential thing.”

Brundidge said a lot of her work focuses on those general questions: to what extent do people use the Internet to find others who agree with their own views, and what are the consequences of the exposure to political knowledge and public opinion offered by the Web?

She teaches courses exploring politics and the media, focusing on the evolving media landscape and its bearing on politics, citizenship, the 24-hour news environment, social media, and other elements.

Brundidge also teaches a class on research methods for undergraduates, which she said cultivates “important skills not only for students but for citizens to make sense of published studies and public opinion polls.”

Michael SmithIn a totally different arena is Michael Smith, who has joined the Department of Kinesiology to teach exercise physiology, strength and conditioning, and exercise testing and prescription. 

Smith joins CSU, Chico from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. He holds a doctorate in exercise physiology from Ohio State University and is the recipient of an outstanding doctoral poster award from the American College of Sports Medicine.

He’s also an alum: he earned his bachelor’s in exercise physiology from CSU, Chico in 2007.

At Ohio State, Smith was part of a research team that compared the differences in blood viscosity between aerobic and resistance athletes.

“Both should be fit,” he said. “We wanted to investigate why weight lifters typically don’t run well.”

As aerobic athletes meet their maximum work capacities, blood clumps together and becomes more viscous, he said. The same is not necessarily true for resistance trainers. Smith is also interested in exploring blood viscosity in response to CrossFit workouts and to sedentary behavior.

“Think about sitting on a plane for six hours,” he said. “We hear you can get blood clots. I want to simulate that and find out if aerobically trained people have a built-in defense against it. And if exercising after you get off the plane reverses those effects.”

At CSU, Chico, Smith plans to establish a vascular lab for testing and research. He has much of the equipment he needs and plans to recruit undergraduate researchers and apply for grants.

“It’s wonderful to be back in Chico,” he said. “It’s one of the best universities. They’re going to have to wheel me out of here.”

A complete list of newly hired faculty is below.

Sarah Langford, Public Affairs and Publications

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David Alexander, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering and Sustainable Manufacturing

Carolynn Arpin Chin, Chemistry

Feraidon Ataie, Concrete Industry Management Program

Janell Bauer, Journalism

Jennifer Brundidge, Communication Arts and Sciences

Kevin Buffardi, Computer Science

Kasey DeAtley, Animal Science

Jeff Decker, Accounting

Dallas DeForest, History

Joan Giampaoli, Nutrition and Food Science

Darin Haerle, Political Science

Shelley Hart, Child Development

Kyle Horst, Psychology

Yan Huang, Health and Community Services

Robin Jeffries, Mathematics and Statistics

Priti Kalsi, Economics

Nanhee Kim, Communication Design

Teresa Lloro-Bidart, Science Education

Christopher Marks, Mathematics and Statistics

Kevin McGown, Mathematics and Statistics

Rachel Middleman, Art and Art History

Fay Mitchell-Brown, Nursing

Hadil Mustafa, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Emily Nuester, Biological Sciences

Matthew O'Brien, Anthropology

Alek Palmersmith, Music and Theatre

Carl (George) Pittman, Nursing

Colleen Robb, Management

Matt Simkins, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering and Sustainable Manufacturing 

Tal Slemrod, Education

Michael Smith, Kinesiology

Lauren Sparks, English

David Stachura, Biological Sciences

Anne Stephens, Science Education

Matthew Stone, Recreation, Hospitality, and Parks Management

Dana Williams, Sociology

Hossein Zakeri, Plant and Soil Sciences