Ohio Wesleyan University will welcome seven assistant professors this fall committed to preparing OWU students for successful, fulfilling lives and careers.

“Our new tenure-track professors are experts and innovators in their fields, and they are well-qualified to help students take full advantage of the opportunities provided by an Ohio Wesleyan education,” said Provost Karlyn Crowley, Ph.D.

The new faculty represent Ohio Wesleyan’s third annual cohort hire, built around the university’s commitment to flexibility, interdisciplinarity, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Crowley said.

“These seven outstanding educators will help students make the most out of every learning opportunity, including the OWU Connection, Ohio Wesleyan’s signature program,” Crowley said.

The OWU Connection links classroom learning with real-world experience as a foundational feature of the Ohio Wesleyan curriculum. Faculty mentors work with students to help them build their own OWU Connection experiences, utilizing unique combinations of internships, research, travel, creative projects, and service to help the students prepare for the causes, careers, and graduate school opportunities they wish to pursue.

Ohio Wesleyan’s newest assistant professors and their departments and backgrounds are:

• Lusie Cuskey, Ph.D. – Performing Arts. Cuskey is a theater artist-scholar from Louisville, Kentucky. Cuskey is a director, an actor, and occasionally a dramaturg and stage manager. She is interested in curating bold, consent-forward spaces and developing skills for empathetic collaboration and confident self-advocacy in her communities. As a practitioner, Cuskey works as a theatrical intimacy educator and choreographer, and she is an associate faculty member with Theatrical Intimacy Education. As a scholar, Cuskey writes about performance pedagogy and musical theater with a current research focus on the intersections of queerness and faith in contemporary musical theater. She holds a doctorate in Theatre Studies from the University of Kansas, a Master of Arts in Theatre Arts from the University of Oregon, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performing Arts (directing, acting) from Western Kentucky University.

• Cliff Hurst, MBA, Ph.D. – Economics and Business. Hurst primarily teaches entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship. He takes a special interest in social entrepreneurs – people who apply business principles to doing good. His research centers on “formal axiology,” a value theory developed by the late philosopher Robert S. Hartman. The theory “focuses initially upon the most formal features of human values, then upon applications of these formalities to the concrete details of what we value (values) and how we value (valuations).” Hurst seeks to develop the concept more fully and recently edited three volumes of Hartman’s previously unpublished manuscripts. Hurst earned his undergraduate degree in international relations from the University of Virginia, his Master of Arts and doctorate from Fielding Graduate University, and his MBA from the University of Southern Indiana.

• Ashley Kennard, Ph.D. – Journalism and Communication. Kennard is a first-generation teacher-scholar who centers her curricula and research on intercultural and intergroup communication, attitudes and persuasion, social identity, and media effects. In the classroom, she challenges students’ existing frameworks and integrates theory and practice to explore the role of communication in social advocacy and justice work. Her research primarily examines the impact of media representation on identity and attitudes. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Cincinnati, and her Master of Arts and doctorate in Communication from The Ohio State University.

• Veda Hyunjin Kim, Ph.D. – Sociology and Anthropology. Kim instructs sociology and criminology courses as means of collective emancipation. With students, he strives to understand the social world and take conscious action. Kim researches crimes of the powerful in modern history, and his current book project explores sociological changes in South Korea after 1954. His work has been published in the Journal of Genocide Research and Social Forces. Kim earned his doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

• Katsutoshi “Toshi” Mizuta, Ph.D. – Environment and Sustainability. Mizuta is broadly interested in environmental sustainability, with a particular focus on soil health, climate-smart agriculture, and ecosystem services. His expertise spans various areas, from conducting lab-based biogeochemical incubation studies to utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and proximal/remote sensing for large-scale data mining research. He is dedicated to developing decision-making support tools for cost-effective and sustainable management practices concerning global food security and climate change. Mizuta will teach Earth Science, Soil Science, and Digital Agriculture at Ohio Wesleyan. He earned both his Master of Science and doctorate from the University of Florida, majoring in soil, water, and ecosystem sciences, with a minor in food and resource economics.

• Camilla Querin, Ph.D. – Fine Arts. Querin specializes in modern and contemporary art with a focus on Brazil. Her academic and curatorial research focuses on the intersection of visual arts with politics across the Americas, from the independence movements of the 19th century in Latin America to Latinx art in the United States today. She has worked in museums in New York and Los Angeles and earned her doctorate in Art History at the University of California, Riverside, a master’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Museum Studies at New York University, and a master’s degree in Arts Administration at Bocconi University.

• Andrea Suria, Ph.D. – Biological Sciences (Microbiology). Suria is interested in beneficial host-microbe interactions. Her research uses molecular genetics to determine how bacteria make antimicrobials that protect their hosts from infection. She uses bobtail squid eggs and their symbiotic bacteria as a model to study microbial defense during reproduction. Her teaching brings authentic research experiences into the undergraduate biology classroom, providing students with a hands-on exploration of microbiology. She earned her doctorate in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Connecticut and completed a combined teaching and research postdoctoral experience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ohio Wesleyan’s new faculty join a university where all professors are classroom teachers, instructing, advising, and mentoring students to help them succeed and thrive as they pursue their bachelor’s degrees and plan their paths in life.

Learn more about academics at Ohio Wesleyan at www.owu.edu/academics.

Submitted by Ohio Wesleyan University.