Gender Studies Advisory Board

Gender Studies Advisory Board

Christina Francis, Ph.D., GSM director, associate professor of English

Christina Francis

Christina Francis received her Ph.D. degree in 2004 from Arizona State University. She has served as the Director for the Gender Studies Minor since Fall 2015. She also works as the advisor to English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta and the English Club. She co-chairs and organizes the annual High School Conference on Diversity which happens every November on the BU campus, bringing high school students from the region to campus for a day of interactives workshops on diversity.

The courses Dr. Francis teaches for the Gender Studies Minor include Feminist Reading of Culture and Popular Literature. Her research focuses on Arthurian literature of the Middle Ages and contemporary Arthurian medievalism. Some of her publications include 1) “Malory’s Bloody Bedrooms” for Arthurian Literature (Boydell & Brewer, 2011) and “Playing with Gender in Arthur, King of Time and Space” for the journal Arthuriana 20.4 (2010). She is currently working on a book-length study of the BBC series Merlin.

Ferdâ Asya, Ph.D., professor of English

Ferdâ Asya

Ferda Asya, who has a Ph.D. degree in American Literature from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, started her graduate studies in English and American literature on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. She lived in France, Nigeria, and Turkey; taught English and American literature and French language in Canada and Malaysia; and traveled extensively in northern and western Europe.

She works in the fields of 19th and 20th century American literature, with an emphasis on the turn of the century, the era of realism, naturalism and early modernism. More particularly, she is interested in the social and political approaches to the fiction of this period. Her current research focuses on the political aspects of the fiction of Edith Wharton and American expatriate writers in Paris. Ferda Asya directed the GSM from fall 2010 to fall 2015.

Archita Banik, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics

Archita Banik

Archita Banik joined the Department of Economics as Assistant Professor in fall 2013. She earned her Ph.D. degree in Economics from University of Connecticut, Storrs. Her area of specialization is health economics, and in her dissertation she analyzed the role of different socioeconomic factors that affect adult women’s health in India.

She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Economics from University of Calcutta (Kolkata), India. Before she came to University of Connecticut, she had worked as research assistant for Center for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, one of the leading research institutes in India, and also for The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi, a non-governmental organization.

Kristie Byrum, Ph.D. APR, assistant professor of mass communications

Kristie Byrum

Kristie Byrum earned a Ph.D. degree in Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design (RCID) from Clemson University. With her research on the intersection of communication and corporate social responsibility, she offers insights to the evolving public relations profession. A recognized entrepreneur, she founded several businesses, including three public relations agencies and a venture-funded dot-com company.

She was a visiting scholar to the European Graduate School for Media and Communication in Saas-Fee, Switzerland in 2013 and is accredited by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Kristie Byrum previously taught Women’s and Gender Studies courses at the University of South Carolina Upstate and Clemson University. She holds a B.A. degree in Journalism from the Pennsylvania State University and an M.A. degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of South Carolina.

Elisabeth D. Culver, Ph.D., R.N., C.N.M., assistant professor of nursing

Elisabeth Culver

Elisabeth Culver, Ph.D., R.N., C.N.M., earned her Master’s degree in Nursing and Certificate in Nurse-Midwifery from the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a Ph.D. degree from Marywood University in Human Development, with a specialization in Health Promotion. Since joining Bloomsburg University’s Department of Nursing in 2002, she has taught maternity nursing in the Maternal-Child Health clinical course. She co-developed and taught the Contemporary Women’s Health course, which is part of the Gender Studies Minor.

Culver’s clinical interests are in women’s health, particularly during pregnancy and childbirth. Her research interests include bed-sharing (mothers and infants) and assessment of coping during labor. In addition to teaching undergraduate nursing students, she practices clinically as a certified nurse-midwife and attends hospital births, provides prenatal and postnatal care, and provides well-woman (gynecologic) care to women from puberty through menopause and beyond.

Kelly Dauber, Ph.D., assistant professor of exercise science

Kelly VanGorden

Kelly Dauber received her Ph.D. degree from Springfield College (MA) in Physical Education Teaching and Administration. She came to Bloomsburg University in 2006, and she currently teaches the course, Women in Sport, for the Gender Studies Minor. She enjoys researching and presenting on the female-athlete paradox as well as the double jeopardy faced by women in sport.

Jessica Defenderfer, Ph.D., assistant professor of Political Science

Jessy is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Bloomsburg University. She teaches many of department’s political behavior courses, including Campaigns and Elections, Public Opinion, Women and Politics, and the Democratic Citizenship of Harry Potter. She completed her PhD in the Department of Political Science at The Ohio State University in August 2015 where she focused on the impact of personal value systems on effective framing of political messages. She researches in the field of political psychology, applying psychological concepts to individual voter behavior, particularly the behavior of women and racial minorities. Prior to Ohio State, She completed a Masters of Public Policy at The George Washington University and utilized these skills as a legislative analyst for the Service Employees International Union in Washington, DC, where she had the unique opportunity to campaign for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. During these early graduate studies in DC, she also had the opportunity to intern for Congresswoman Diana DeGette (CO-1) and for AARP.

David Heineman, Ph.D., associate professor of communication studies

David Heineman

David Heineman earned his Ph.D. degree in Communication Studies with a certification from the Project on the Rhetorics of Inquiry from the University of Iowa and Masters and Bachelors degrees in Speech Communication from Syracuse University. He is an advisor to the Bloomsburg chapter of the Lambda Pi Eta National Honor society and an active member of the National Communication Association. He regularly presents his work at international, national, and regional conferences.

Heineman’s primary research interests are located at the intersection of rhetorical theory and criticism and new media technologies. In 2012, he co-authored the book, Rhetoric Online: The Politics of New Media, for Peter Lang Press and he is currently writing a book for inclusion in the Digital Game Studies series by the Indiana University Press. Other recent scholarship has focused on gender in media, the rhetoric of memes, and digital aesthetics. He also has research interests in visual rhetoric, public memory, social movements, the rhetoric of science and technology, media criticism, narrative theory, and political communication. He teaches classes such as Gender Issues in Communication, Media and Visual Culture, Understanding Social Influence, and Examining Communication.

Thomas Scott Klinger, Ph.D. professor of biology

Thomas Scott Klinger received his Ph.D. degree in Biology from the University of South Florida. His area of expertise is the relationships between nutrition, growth, and reproduction of sea animals, particularly starfish, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers. He taught Human Sexuality and courses in zoology since 1978.

Before joining the faculty at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Klinger taught at St. Leo College, which draws students from throughout the Caribbean. Teaching and research have led to appointments in Greece, Australia, and Antarctica.

Yahya Laayouni, Ph.D., assistant professor of Arabic and French

Yahya Laayouni

Yahya Laayouni received a BA degree in English Literature and an MA degree in Gender Studies at Mohammed Ibn Abdellah University in Fez, Morocco. He earned his Ph.D. degree at the University of Pittsburgh in 2012.

His primary field of research concentrates on Beur cinema as an emerging genre and on the construction of subjectivity in Beur films. Part of his work focuses on the issue of gender in Beur films, particularly the representations of women and gay Beurs. His theoretical framework is founded on visual alterity, narrative identity, and theories of subjectivity. He is also interested in francophone Arab-Islamic literature and culture and Orientalism.

Jennifer Oast, Ph.D., associate professor of history

Jennifer Oast earned her Ph.D. degree in Early American History at the College of William and Mary in 2008. Her book manuscript," Institutional Slavery," forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, examines slaveholding by colleges, free schools, churches, businesses, and the government in Virginia between 1680 and 1860. In the History Department, she teaches survey courses on early American History as well as classes on African American History, the Colonial America, and the American Revolution.

She enjoys working with students as the faculty advisor for History Club and Phi Alpha Theta, the History Honor Society. She also serves on the Social Equity Scorecard Committee, the Board of the Institute for Culture and Society, and the Board of the Frederick Douglass Institute Advisory Committee.

Lauren Kross Polinski, Professional Development Manager in Alumni and Professional Engagement

Lauren Kross Polinski earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with minors in Women’s Studies and Leadership from California University of Pennsylvania in 2011. In 2014, she earned a Master of Arts in Gender and Women’s Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from Minnesota State University Mankato. Her graduate thesis, “The Effect of Interpersonal Relationships on the Body Image of First Year, Women of Color Studying at Predominately White Undergraduate Institutions,” focused on how relationships and peer groups positively or negatively impact the body image of first year women of color studying at Minnesota State University Mankato. This research incorporated both feminist theory and student development theory. In addition to her education, Lauren has completed four terms of AmeriCorps National Community Service and has worked in different higher education roles.

In her current role, she organizes the Career Intensive Boot Camp, serves as liaison to the College of Liberal Arts, and offers various workshops throughout the semester. Lauren enjoys helping students discover their career interests and connect them with professional development opportunities!

Faith Warner, Ph.D., professor of anthropology

Faith Warner

Warner received her Ph.D. degree from Syracuse University in Anthropology, with a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies. Warner has researched how Salvadoran refugee women utilized the power of motherhood and the testimonio as a means of social protest against the atrocities of war, specifically torture and “disappearances”. She also received a Fulbright Robles Garcia grant to study gender and cultural differences in adaptation, traumatic stress, and social support networks in a Guatemalan refugee camp in Campeche, Mexico, focusing on Q’eqchi’, K’iche’, Mam, and K’anjobal peoples.

More recently, Warner has been focusing on the feminization of poverty in the United States and gender differences in college students’ expectations for and changing beliefs relating to gender equality and gender roles. She is a member of the Association for Feminist Anthropology. She teaches Men and Women: Anthropological Perspectives and regularly mentors students in research that addresses gender issues.

Albra Wheeler, Coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center

Albra Wheeler joins us as the Coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center at Bloomsburg University. Wheeler received a Bachelor’s in Communication Studies with a focus in Public Advocacy & Leadership from Bloomsburg University, where she then went on to pursue a Master’s in the College Student Affairs program. Her research interests include feminist criticism, human communication, gender, and education. She regularly presents both workshops and original scholarship to a variety of campus and off-campus audiences, emphasizing audience involvement to facilitate dialogue around issues of local, national, and global significance.