Where the Best Come to Teach
Learn from faculty who are committed to your success. They will inspire you with new ideas, challenge you to move past your perceived limits, and support you as you gain a better understanding of our world and your potential to make an impact in it.
Business Administration, Marketing Focus
Explore the Skies
A Professor of Geology and Astronomy at Western, Dr. Melissa Rice is also part of the Mars Curiosity rover science team—a role that directly benefits her students.
Rice has been a member of both the Curiosity and Opportunity rover teams for years, and was recently named a Participating Scientist, a grant-funded position that provides significant opportunities for collaboration between the Curiosity team and Rice’s undergraduate students. The grant allows Rice’s students to attend rover team meetings and training sessions at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and to present their research results at national conferences such as the Geological Society of America annual meeting.
“I’ll be funded to participate in the continuing day-to-day operations of the rover, and my students will be trained to perform basic operational roles as well, which is really exciting. It’s going to be a great experience for them.”
Politics, Race, Humanity
Dr. Vernon Damani Johnson’s journey into higher education was spurred decades ago by his participation in civil rights organizations.
He found the academic world to be a place where he could keep his views, express himself, and continue learning from his peers and his students. In 1986, he started teaching for Western’s Department of Political Science where he currently teaches courses in African politics, politics of development, race and public policy. Through his lectures, public involvement and published work, he continues to demonstrate his commitment to mobilizing our community to make it a place where people of all races can be comfortable.
“Honest conversations about our society, about race and gender and social norms and roles—truly honest ones—have to involve everybody squirming a bit, feeling a little bit uncomfortable, even the professor. I really do believe Aristotle was right. Politics is the 'master science'. It seeks to answer the questions regarding how it is that we live together, and hopefully, how we might live together well."
Invested in Finding a Cure
Few scientists know Huntington’s disease as intimately as Dr. Jeff Carroll. He trained with top Huntington’s scientists, is a widely-published researcher, award-winning advocate, and sought-after speaker at Huntington’s disease conferences around the globe. He’s also guaranteed to get the disease.
A decade before opening his lab at Western, Carroll had been serving in the Army—then he learned that his mom was dying of Huntington’s disease. Desperate for any information that might provide hope, he began a lifelong pursuit of a cure for the disease. Carroll has been at Western since 2011, where the primary research in his lab focuses on testing whether turning off the Huntington's disease gene in the body can help the brain get better. He was named a 2014 Researcher of the Year by the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.
“I hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I act like it’s going to kill me, but I hope and believe that it won’t.”
Philosophy and Behavioral Neuroscience (Pre-Med)
Prepare for Disaster
As Huxley College of the Environment’s disaster expert, Dr. Rebekah Paci-Green (Environmental Studies) teaches Western students how to defend vulnerable communities from environmental catastrophe.
Surviving and recovering from natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes requires careful community planning and understanding of how we can craft sustainable infrastructures that support disaster response. This is what Paci-Green's students learn.
Paci-Green, who is also Director of Western's Resilience Institute, has a passion for her work that's shaped by personal experience. While working toward her doctorate, she lived in Turkish communities devastated by an earthquake that had killed 17,000 people. She helped those communities prepare for a future where similar tragedies won't happen again.
“Many people found it easier to think of disasters as unpredictable, chance events, as acts of god. It was then that I realized I could be most effective by shaping the way the next generation of planners, policy makers, educators, humanitarians and others thought about disasters."
Teaching from the Heart
Heather Davidson (Communication Studies) took a non-traditional path into and through higher education, experience that allows her to connect with her students and them with her. It has also impacted her lessons, which include the teaching of empathy—the capacity to understand or feel what another person is going through.
Davidson is the faculty advisor for the Self-Designed Event Planning minor and the #WeAreWWU campaign, and serves as a facilitator for the campus-wide Equity and Inclusion Effort. She teaches skills that give her students increased professional marketability across a variety of industries, such as program planning, social media marketing strategies, online content development and delivery, and audience analysis. She also builds lasting connections with her students.
"Hands down, no question, my student-colleagues make my job the wonderful work it is. I am grateful for their eagerness to explore and learn, enriched by knowing and working with them, and sustained by the ripples outward once they leave Western and go on to do their work in this world."
The Art of Movement
Dr. Rich Brown is an active director, is regularly published in theatre journals, and was named Carnegie Foundation’s Washington Professor of the Year in 2015. He’s also a first-generation college graduate with a deep admiration for the drive and work ethic of his students, and their passion for learning.
Brown has taught at Western for more than 11 years. He teaches theater courses at all levels, and specializes in Theatrical Movement courses and Devising Production, a course in which students create an original work for the main stage theatre season. All students write, design, and perform the piece.
"Theatre in general, and acting in specific, teaches empathy and compassion. It teaches resilience, self-worth, work ethic, collaboration, and problem-solving. All those 'soft skills' that employers are always seeking, theatre teaches them in spades."