Eastern Welcomes New Faculty

Ruth Gowitzke News Editor

Eastern Connecticut State University welcomes 24 new staff members. Each new hire is sure to bring some valuable insight to each student and faculty alike.

Academic Staff:

Geeta Thapa Health Sciences

Geeta Thapa is a medical doctor from Nepal, working in emergency, pediatric, adult and critical care medicine before coming to United States. She was a cancer researcher at the Molecular Oncology Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and as a Tissue Recovery Specialist in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Sarit Gluz, Athletics

Sarit Gluz is the first full-time head swimming coach in the 24-year history of Eastern’s womens swim program. She will also serve as head coach of the first-year men’s program. Prior to Eastern, Gluz spent the last five years as assistant men’s and women’s swim coach at Lewis & Clark College and as assistant women’s swim coach at Division II University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Phillip Bloomer, Music

A master of the tuba, Phillip Bloomer has taught tuba performance, methods and music theory for five years at Eastern Michigan University before coming to our Eastern! He was also a Tubist for the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet and for the Disneyland All-American College Band. Phillip has also performed in music festivals in Belgium, Spain, Arizona and Maine.

Brian Day and John Wadecki: Performing Arts

Brian Day spent 12 years working in Hollywood, mostly in editing rooms.  He worked on large studio projects and small independent films that have appeared on PBS.  He even met Elmo in person. Since 2007, Brian has taught filmmaking at schools in Georgia, California, Michigan, Tennessee and now Connecticut.

A Connecticut native, Jason Wadecki will serve as both Assistant Professor and Technical Director in the Performing Arts Department. Jason spent the last 5 years at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, working on production scenery. Jason also has worked locally in large venues focusing on lighting and carpentry.

Shahnaz Ghassemi,

Physical Sciences

Shahnaz Ghassemi’s research focuses on designing new techniques for rapid and continuous solution phase synthesis and automation of solution phase peptide synthesis. Since 2009, Shahnaz has been the Director of a Contract Lab in Charlottesville, VA. where she planned and executed multi-step organic synthesis, purification, and analysis of high-quality target molecules purification, and analysis of high-quality target molecules for biological screening. At Eastern, Shahnaz will teach courses in biochemistry and general chemistry.

Alec Calvo and Christopher Krebs: Psychology

A former Civil Engineer in New York, Alec Calvo found the interpersonal dynamics of the workplace more fascinating. He is pursuing a PhD in I/O Psychology at UConn. Alec’s research interests focus on work as a calling, as well as the effect callings have on career development, performance, well-being, and workaholism.

Christopher Krebs has taught and mentored students at Florida Institute of Technology and was Site Director of the Comprehensive Autism Clinic in San Diego. His research interests include the application of behavioral principles to address problems of social significance with a specific focus on behavior reduction, decision making and impulsivity, education, and health.

Emily Cormier and Manuel Otero: English

Emily Cormier has taught courses in children’s and young adult literature, part-time at UConn, Quinnipiac University, and—over the past two years—at Eastern. Dr. Cormier will be teaching Young Adult Literature, Fiction, and College Writing.

Manuel Otero’s scholarship on understudied and/or endangered languages in South America and Africa, and his research on the Koman languages of Ethiopia and Sudan also resulted in a literacy project that serves a marginalized community there. Dr. Otero will teach courses such as The History and Development of the English Language and Modern American Grammar.

Kevin Generous:

Political Science

After 25 years as a security policy analyst and consultant to non-profits and government entities in Washington DC, Kevin Generous comes to Eastern as a Visiting Assistant Professor this year. His book, Vietnam: The Secret War (1985) is one example of his research interests in military history and homeland security. At Eastern, he’ll teach courses in International Relations, American politics, and Comparative Politics.

Jennie Albert, and Suray Duygulu: Sociology

Jennie Albert has worked in criminal justice and forensic social work for 25 years as a social worker, mitigation specialist for those facing the death penalty, and as a researcher for the Division of Public Defender Services.  Her current research interests include forensic social work, services to indigent and marginalized communities and outcomes of diversion and other measures to reduce mass incarceration.

Suray Duygulu is a former police major in the Turkish National Police. After earning degrees Kent State University and Rutgers University-Newark, his study interests include transnational crime and terrorism. Before coming to Eastern, Dr. Duygulu was a member of the faculty at Quinnipiac University.

Nashid Anjum:

Computer Science

Nashid Anjum received his PhD in Electrical Engineering/Computer Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He has published more than fifteen papers in highly ranked journals and a book chapter. His research interests include UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) networks, wireless body sensor networks, cognitive radio networks and 3D mobility modeling.

Khai Zhi Sim:


Dr. Khai Zhi Sim just graduated from Cornell University with a PhD in Economics.  He is originally from Malaysia, loves to travel with his family, and has just returned from a family trip to Cuba. His research is on Macroeconomics, Banking and Monetary Economics focusing on the social costs of bailouts for banks and the government.

Soojin Kim:

Art & Art History

Soojin Kim is an artist and teacher of extraordinary talent having taught in Seoul and Boston and has exhibited her artwork around the world. Her recent artwork uses time-based media and traditional art-making processes to connect her family history from the period of the Confucian dynasty to the modern American-influenced consumerism in Korea.

Kwongwon Lee, Laura Rodriguez and Elena Sada: Education

Dr. Kwangwon (Won) Lee’s recent doctoral research examined the relationship between turn-taking and joint attention in interactions between caregivers and young children with Autism. He is interested in universal design for learning and examining disability within a global and cultural context. He will be teaching in the early childhood education program.

Laura Rodriguez is a doctoral student in the department of science education at UCONN. She served in Ecuador as a Peace Corps volunteer before spending 20 years teaching elementary and middle school science. She will be teaching science education courses and mentoring teacher candidates in the field.

Elena Sada is completing her doctoral research at UCONN in Bilingual and Multicultural Education. Her research includes examining the linguistic identity of Latino students and social networking of young children in a language immersive classroom. She will be teaching and recruiting graduate students for the Advanced Masters program in Bilingual Education, Dual Language Learners and TESOL.

Cob Carlson:


Cob Carlson did his student teaching on the Navaho Indian Reservation in Fort Wingate, New Mexico and later taught in Hartford public schools. A filmmaker for the past 30 years, Cob’s critically acclaimed documentaries include, “An Irish American Story,” and “Donald Ross: Discovering the Legend.”


Yulia Tikhonova:

Akus Gallery Director

Before becoming director of our Art Gallery in the Fine Arts Instructional Center, Yulia Tikhonova had a storied career in the art world leading galleries and exhibitions from Orlando to Brooklyn. Her work included founding the Brooklyn House of Kulture, producing community-focused exhibitions in public libraries in Manhattan and the Bronx as well as recruiting Eastern European artists to join the Artist Pension Trust in New York City.

Zeke DeWitt and Emily Knapp: Admissions

Zeke DeWitt comes to Eastern after spending the last year working in Admissions at the University of Delaware. Zeke is originally from Barrington, Rhode Island and is a 2018 graduate of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, where he swam all 4 years for the Lyons. Outside of the office, he likes to workout, watch TV, and eat.

Emily Knapp comes to Eastern after two years of coaching lacrosse at Wesleyan University, while completing her master’s in liberal studies. She graduated from the University of Colorado in May 2017 where she was a four-year member of the lacrosse team at the Division I level. After work, the New Jersey native enjoys spending time with friends and family, hiking, yoga, traveling, and anything outdoors.

Amanda Irwin:

Academic Affairs

Amanda Irwin is the administrative assistant to the Provost in Academic Affairs. She’s new to New England, having grown up in North Carolina and spending 15 years there as a journalist in newspapers, radio and online. Prior to moving to Connecticut, Amanda and her family also lived in bustling Wuhan, China for four years working in academic positions and sipping very spicy -yet delicious -noodle soups.

Campus Lantern
The Campus Lantern is the school newspaper at Eastern Connecticut State University. The Lantern is run by students, for students and reports on everything hppening around campus. We publish every other week. The Lantern has been in publication since 1945.

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