Twenty-one new members join Benedictine faculty for 2017-18 academic year

September 7, 2017

Lisle, Illinois ~ Twenty-one new members have joined the faculty at Benedictine University for the 2017-18 academic year, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs James Payne, Ph.D., announced recently.

“A goal of our BenU2020 strategic plan is to raise the academic profile of the University by assuring excellence in all academic programs,” Payne said. “These new faculty will make a direct impact on the quality of our programs and enhance the student experience.”

Alicia Battle, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health, earned a Ph.D. in Health Education at Southern Illinois University and a Master of Science in Public and Community Health at Austin Peay State University. Before joining Benedictine, Battle served as an assistant professor at Governors State University. Her research focuses on health behavior, education and promotion.

Steven Burgess, assistant professor of Philosophy, earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of South Florida and a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Philosophy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Before joining Benedictine, Burgess was a teaching fellow at St. Norbert College.

Kristin Clifford, assistant professor in the Master of Science in Clinical Psychology program, earned both a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology and Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology at Adler University. She also earned a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology at Benedictine University and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology and Anthropology at North Central College. Before joining Benedictine, Clifford was a licensed clinical psychologist.

James Fackenthal, associate professor of Biological Sciences, earned a Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Indiana University and Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Geology at the University of Rochester. Before joining Benedictine, Fackenthal had an extensive career in cancer genetics at the University of Chicago where he served as a research associate assistant professor in the Department of Medicine.

Masoud Ghaffari, assistant professor in the Department of Nursing and Health, earned a Ph.D. in Urban Education at Cleveland State University and a Master of Science in Nursing Administration at the University of Akron. Before joining Benedictine, Ghaffari taught graduate and undergraduate nursing courses at East Tennessee State University.

Katherine Griffes, assistant professor in Exercise and Sports Studies and Physical Education, earned a Ph.D. in Sport Psychology at Michigan State University and an undergraduate degree in Psychology at Olivet College. Before joining Benedictine, Griffes was assistant professor of Health, Physical Education and Exercise Science at Defiance College.

James Gustafson, associate professor in the Executive Master’s and Ph.D./D.B.A. in Values-Driven Leadership programs, earned a Ph.D. in Organization Development at Benedictine University, a Master of Business Administration at the University of Redlands and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Gustafson is a global thought leader in values-driven leadership as a consultant and presenter for multinational corporations and professional leadership organizations.

Jodi Houlihan joins the Undergraduate Business Department as an instructor in the Bachelor of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship program to expand highly engaged student learning and problem-solving skills. Houlihan earned two master’s degrees in Science Education and Design Methods at the Illinois Institute of Technology where she is also completing a Ph.D. in Technology and Humanities.

Casey Larsen, assistant professor of Chemistry, earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of California, San Diego and a Master of Arts in Chemistry and Bachelor of Science in Biology at San Diego State University. Larsen is an organic chemist who develops novel catalysts for organic chemistry reactions.

Zhen Liu, assistant professor in the Master of Science in Business Analytics program, earned a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences at Northwestern University, a Master of Science in Mathematics at the University of Chicago and both master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Computational Mathematics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Nankai University. Before joining Benedictine, Liu held academic appointments at Tsinghua University, the University of Missouri-Rolla and the University of Minnesota.

Brooks Maki, assistant professor of Chemistry, earned a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry at Gustavus Adolphus College. Prior to joining Benedictine, Maki was an assistant professor of Organic Chemistry at New Mexico Highlands University. His research focuses on identifying new antioxidants using a naturally occurring amino acid as the starting point for synthesis.

Marshall J. Milbrath, assistant professor in Exercise and Sports Studies and Physical Education, earned a Master of Education at Concordia University in Curriculum and Instruction, a Master of Education in Exercise Physiology at the University of Virginia and a Bachelor of Science in Science Education at Martin Luther College. Milbrath is currently working on completing a Ph.D. in Sport Pedagogy at the University of Northern Colorado.

Tiara Perez Morales, assistant professor in Biological Sciences, earned a Ph.D. and a Master of Science in Microbiology at the University of Iowa and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Microbiology at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. Before joining Benedictine, Morales was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research studies focus on ways to disrupt growth and communication in disease-causing bacteria.

Rachael Narel, assistant professor in the Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior program, earned a Ph.D. in Organization Development and a Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior at Benedictine University, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Saint Xavier University. Narel returns to her alma mater as a professional faculty member following 17 years as a senior executive for business intelligence and solutions strategist in the banking, financial services, insurance, health care and technology sectors.

Gregory J. Ott, professional faculty member in the Benedictine University Writing Program, earned a Master of Arts in Humanities at the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts in English at Saint Louis University. Before joining Benedictine, Ott worked in the college writing program at Washington University in St. Louis.

Gina Panozzo, assistant professor in the Department of Nursing and Health, earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) at Rush University in Chicago. Before joining Benedictine, Panozzo was an assistant professor at Aurora University and adjunct professor in nursing at the University of St. Francis and Chamberlain College of Nursing.

Roli Prasad, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, earned a Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She specializes in physiology and anatomy.

Florina Salaghe, assistant professor of Economics in the Department of International Business and Economics, earned both Ph.D. and master’s degrees in Economics at the University of Nevada-Reno.

Paula Sochacki, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and program director for the undergraduate Nutrition and Dietetics major, earned an Ed.D. at Northern Illinois University and a Master of Public Health at Benedictine University. Before joining Benedictine, Sochacki was an assistant professor of Nutrition at Dominican University, an adjunct faculty member at Benedictine University and a clinical dietitian.

Stefan Stefanoski, assistant professor in Physics, earned a Ph.D. and Master of Science in Applied Physics at the University of South Florida. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics at St. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia. Before joining Benedictine, Stefanoski was a visiting professor at the Oregon Institute of Technology where he taught physics and worked to develop more effective batteries to store energy generated by alternative energy sources.

Matthew Wiesner, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, earned a Ph.D. and Master of Science in Physics at Northern Illinois University, and a Master of Arts in Educational Policy and Leadership and Bachelor of Science in Physics at Marquette University. Wiesner is an astronomer whose research interests include galaxy clusters and is a member of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope project.

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Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 9,000 students in 59 undergraduate and 23 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the seventh consecutive year in 2017. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.

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