2012/13 New Faculty

  • Jessica Graham

    Assistant Professor, History
    Appointment effective 7/1/12

    Dr. Graham received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago in 2010, and held a Moreau Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of History at the University of Notre Dame. She has a strong interdisciplinary background, and holds an M.A. in Africana Studies from Cornell and a BA in African American Studies, with a concentration in history, from UCLA. Graham's research explores the politics of race and nationalism in Brazil and the United States in the 1930s-40s. In the international debates over democracy, fascism, and communism, race became one of the key points of contention and debate. The result of debates among policy makers and pressure from black social movements was a major shift in racial ideology in both the U.S. and Brazil, from exclusion to racial inclusion or racial democracy. Graham's work explores how this shift came about and what were the consequences for the politics of race and democracy in the two national contexts. At the same time, Graham makes clear that this new language of inclusion was in fact more symbolic than action-oriented, adopted for reasons that had to do more with managing internal tensions and international concerns than with redressing the demands of subject populations. Graham's research interests will contribute to the increasingly transnational orientation of US history in the Department, as well as enhance a strong cluster of faculty who work on race and ethnicity. Graham will teach courses on African-American history that will also enhance offerings in the African American Studies minor, and will offer comparative courses on Brazil and the U.S.

  • Dana Velasco Murillo

    Assistant Professor, History
    Appointment effective 7/1/12

    Dr. Velasco Murillo joined the Department of History in 2012. She received her PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles (2009). Prior to her appointment at the University of California, San Diego, she was assistant professor of Latin American history at Adelphi University (2011-2012) and UC Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Irvine (2009-2011). Velasco Murillo’s research interests center on the intersections of colonialism with gender, ethnicity, and identity formation in early Latin America. Her book project, Urban Indians in a Silver City: Zacatecas, Mexico, 1546-1812, examines how ethnically diverse indigenous migrants re-created native communities and indigenous identities in Zacatecas, and explores the ways in which native peoples contributed to the vitality of one of New Spain’s most important cities. Velasco Murillo recently co-edited City Indians in Spain’s American Empire: Urban Indigenous Society in Colonial Mesoamerica and Andean South America, 1600-1830 (Sussex Academic Press, 2012), in which she also co-authored a chapter. She has published in Ethnohistory and has a forthcoming piece in the Hispanic American Historical Review. Velasco Murillo is on the Executive Committee of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies and has served as a reviewer for several journals, including the Colonial Latin American Historical Review. She has received support from a variety of institutions and fellowships, including an American Philosophical Society Franklin Research Grant and the Conference on Latin American History Lewis Hanke Post-Doctoral Award. Velasco Murillo has taught courses on Latin America and World Civilizations. At UCSD, she will offer courses on early Latin America, indigenous peoples, ethnicity, and gender.

  • Edward Watts

    Professor, History
    Alkiviadis Vassiliadis Endowed Chair in Byzantine Greek History
    Appointment effective 7/1/12

    Professor Watts received his PhD in History from Yale University in 2002. His research interests center on the intellectual and religious history of the early Byzantine Empire. His first book, City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria (University of California Press, 2006), details how the increasingly Christian upper class of the late antique world used a combination of economic and political pressures to neutralize pagan elements of the traditional educational system. City and School received the Outstanding Publication Award from the Classical Association of the Middle West and South in 2007. His second book, Riot in Alexandria: Historical Debate in Pagan and Christian Communities (University of California Press, 2010), draws upon Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac sources to show how historical traditions and the personal relationships that gave them meaning shaped interactions between Byzantine social and religious groups. The study reconstructs an Alexandrian riot that erupted in 486 AD and uses this moment of violence to initiate a broader discussion of the effect that notions of a shared past had on the behavior of pagan intellectuals, Christian ascetics, and bishops from the fourth to early seventh centuries. Riot received a 2010 PROSE Award Honorable Mention in Classics and Ancient History. In addition to these two books, he has co-edited two other volumes (From the Theodosians to the Tetrarchs [Cambridge, 2010] and Shifting Cultural Frontiers in Late Antiquity [Ashgate, 2012]) and authored more than 25 articles. He is currently working on two monographs, The Last Pagan Generation and The Social History of Platonism. Before coming to UCSD, Professor Watts taught for ten years at Indiana University. Professor Watts will teach courses on Byzantine History, Roman History, Late Antique Christianity and paganism, and the history of the Medieval Mediterranean.

  • Gloria Chacon

    Assistant Professor, Literature
    Appointment effective 7/1/12

    Dr. Chacón received her Ph.D. in Literature at UC Santa Cruz in 2007. She has been a UC President’s Post-Doctoral Fellow at UC Davis’s Native American Studies Program, studying the resurgence of indigenous literature in El Salvador and Honduras, and was then awarded another post-doctoral fellowship at UCLA’s Charles Young Research Library. In the Center for Primary Research and Training and the Center for Oral History Research, she worked at collecting oral histories, familiarizing herself with the most recent techniques of digital archiving, and creating a portal of Mesoamerican indigenous literature.  Dr. Chacón has been working on a book provisionally entitled "Contemporary Indigenous Intellectuals in Mesoamerica: Literature, Politics and Identity," which analyzes the recent revival of indigenous languages, world-views, and esthetic forms in Latin American literature, linking the poetry by Maya, Nahua, and Zapotec women writers to the broader histories of culture (including the relation between literacy and oral traditions), and of social and political movements. Thanks to her mastery of several Mayan languages, and to her experience collecting, transcribing and translating a wide range of material, and to her interdisciplinary interests, Dr. Chacón is uniquely able to conduct wide-ranging research on transnational indigenous communities. Additionally, her knowledge of Latin American cultures will allow her to make innovative interventions in the analysis of U.S. Latina culture as a transnational cultural formation, especially with regard to gender studies and feminist methodologies.  An experienced teacher, Dr. Chacón will contribute course offerings to different sections of the department (Literatures in Spanish, Literatures of the Americas, Literatures of the World, Cultural Studies) and to programs, including Third World Studies,  Latin American Studies, and Critical Gender Studies.  

  • Tamara Smyth

    Associate Professor, Music
    Appointment effective 7/1/12

    Before coming to UCSD, Dr. Smyth was Associate Professor of Computing Science at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Canada, where she served almost eight years as a research faculty member. Prior to SFU, she was Technical Director of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustic (CCRMA) at Stanford University, where she completed her Ph.D. in Computer-Based Music Theory and Acoustics, and a Ph.D. minor in Electrical Engineering, under the supervision of Julius O. Smith. Dr. Smyth also holds degrees in Music from McGill University (Piano Performance and Computer Applications to Music) and New York University (Music Technology). Dr. Smyth's research merges the areas of physical modelling synthesis, digital signal processing, musical acoustics and human computer interaction, for the development of musical instrument technology and interactive sound sources.

  • Matthew Fulkerson

    Assistant Professor, Philosophy
    Appointment effective 7/1/12

    Dr. Fulkerson received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto in 2010, and prior to his appointment at UCSD he held a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia. He also holds an M.A. in Philosophy from Tufts University, and spent two years in an interdisciplinary cognitive science program at Ohio State. He works in the philosophy of perception and the philosophy of psychology and neuroscience. His work attempts to bridge the gap between empirical investigations in the cognitive sciences and longstanding philosophical questions about the mind. He is deeply committed to the model of cognitive science as an interdisciplinary enterprise, one in which philosophy plays an important role. The focus of much of his work in this area is on human haptic touch. In philosophy, touch has often taken a backseat to vision and audition. This is surprising, since the sense of touch raises so many central questions about human experience. These include how we ought to understand sensory interactions and multisensory experience; the role, if any, of exploration and bodily awareness in perception; and how we should represent the spatial character of non-visual modalities. He is currently completing a book on these issues, The First Sense: The Nature of Human Touch, for MIT Press. More recently, he has been collaborating on a series of papers and a book project on the felt positive and negative character of experience (often called 'affect' or 'hedonic tone'). This work seeks to explain, by building on recent findings in affective neuroscience, how certain experiences come to have a strongly motivating positive or negative qualitative character.

  • Mark Guirguis

    LPSOE, Theatre & Dance
    Appointment effective 7/1/12

    Mark Guirguis earned his Master of Fine Arts degree of Theatre Design in the department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, San Diego in 1999. The Master of Fine Arts is a terminal degree, considered equivalent in the arts to a Ph.D. He has held lecturer positions at Stanford University (1990-2004) and at UC San Diego (2005-present). His research is as a scenic designer includes designs for professional theatres in Memphis, TN and Los Angeles, CA. Mark Guirguis' degree and professional experience in architecture is unique and enriches the range of his teaching expertise. As a unit 18 lecturer at UC San Diego in the department of Theatre and Dance, Mark Guirguis currently teaches core classes in introduction to Theatre Design (a lecture/studio course that encompasses scenic, costume, light and sound design) and practicum classes where students are actively engaged in practical production experience. He supervises graduate teaching assistants in all areas of design, and provides constancy in developing both undergraduate and graduate educational experiences. Other classes that he currently teaches include drafting at the graduate level and drawing studio for undergraduates. A popular instructor, Mark Guirguis' varied and professional background coupled with very strong mentorship skills have enhanced undergraduate design and production experiences for majors and also attracts students from engineering, visual arts and cognitive science.

  • Charles Means

    LPSOE, Theatre & Dance
    Appointment effective 7/1/12

    Mr. Means is a freelance production stage manager who has worked extensively in New York City, both on and off Broadway, as well as regionally and abroad.  He has been honored to collaborate with such directors as Doug Hughes, Anna Shapiro, Sam Gold, Anne Bogart, Christopher Ashley, Moises Kaufman, David Esbjornson, Mary Zimmerman, Adam McKay and Garland Wright. Recent Broadway productions include Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar starring Alan Rickman and Mauritius starring F. Murray Abraham; Stephen Adly Guirgis’s The Motherf**ker with the Hat starring Chris Rock; The Royal National Theatre’s production of The Pitmen Painters by Lee Hall; Geoffrey Nauffts’s Next Fall; David Mamet’s Oleanna starring Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles; Edward Albee’s Tony Award winning The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? starring Bill Pullman and Mercedes Ruehl; and the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning Doubt by John Patrick Shanley starring Cherry Jones.  Following the successful Broadway run of Doubt, he stage managed the National Tour, which also starred Cherry Jones.  In 2009, he served as production stage manager for the special Broadway event You’re Welcome America, A Final Night with George W. Bush written by and starring Will Ferrell which was later telecast live on HBO. Off Broadway, he worked on the original productions of The Laramie Project, Wit, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Resident Alien, Flesh and BloodGertrude and Alice, Culture of Desire, Mystery School, The Devils, A Question of Mercy and A View of the Dome.  He was also the Production Stage Manager for Measure for Measure and Much Ado About Nothing for The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in Central Park. Mr. Means has worked with many of this country’s leading non-profit theatre companies including Manhattan Theatre Club, The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Roundabout Theatre Company, Center Theatre Group, Foundry Theatre, Theatre for a New Audience, Long Wharf Theatre, and SITI Company.  He has lectured at UCSD, Fordham University, Brown University and Yale School of Drama and has enjoyed being a mentor to many young stage managers over the last two decades.