St. Lawrence Faculty Earn Tenure, Receive Promotions
St. Lawrence University announced the promotion of several faculty members at the start of the 2021-22 academic year. The promotions were celebrated during the University’s annual Convocation, which was held Wednesday, August 25. All promotions are effective September 1, 2021.
Faculty Receiving Tenure and Promoted to Associate Professor
Associate Professor of Canadian Studies Neil Forkey
Forkey chairs St. Lawrence’s Canadian Studies department, offers courses such as Introduction to Canada, Canadian-American Relations, Québec, and survey of Canadian history, participates in the University’s First-Year Program, and is active with the First-Generation Initiative.
A specialist in environmental history, Forkey is the author of Canadians and the Natural Environment to the Twenty-First Century (University of Toronto Press, 2012); and, Shaping the Upper Canadian Frontier: Environment, Society, and Culture in the Trent Valley (University of Calgary Press, 2003). He is currently working on a book about environmental activism in the St. Lawrence River watershed, c. 1950s-2000s. Forkey received his Ph.D. in Canadian history from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.
Associate Professor of World Languages, Cultures, and Media Brook Henkel
Henkel teaches Elementary and Intermediate German and courses in English on New German Cinema, film history, and intersections of film, visual culture, and the history of science. He has seen record numbers of St. Lawrence students minoring in German Studies during his tenure and recent graduates have earned Fulbright and German Academic Exchange Service awards to study and teach in Germany.
A scholar of German cinema, film theory, and media history, Henkel has published articles and chapters on topics ranging from classical avant-garde cinema of the 1920s to recent Austrian documentary film. Two of his articles have appeared in the prestigious journal New German Critique. He coordinates study abroad programs in both Austria and Germany and, in addition to his role in the World Languages, Cultures, and Media department, he has a dual appointment in the University’s Film and Representation Studies department.
Henkel earned his Ph.D. in Germanic Languages from Columbia University.
Associate Professor of English Alvin Henry
Henry teaches English courses such as “African American Literature” and “Race and Gender in Science Fiction.” To help St. Lawrence students expand their passions and realize the value of their liberal arts experience, he co-teaches “Careers 101: Exploring the Liberal Arts.”
Henry describes himself as deeply committed to bringing about a more equal university and world and has served as co-project investigator for a grant on Diversity and the Liberal Arts, co-authored the University’s Strategic Action Plan for Diversity and Inclusion, and participated in designing the Retention Strategic Plan. His book “Black Queer Flesh: Rejecting Subjectivity in the African American Novel” analyzes how Black novelists such as Nella Larson and Ralph Ellison envisioned a radical and emancipatory selfhood beyond the confines of American culture. He teaches courses such as “African American Literature” and “Race and Gender in Science Fiction.”
Henry earned his Ph.D. in African American Literature and Social Thought at the University of California, Berkeley.
Associate Professor of Mathematics Natasha Komarov
Komarov has taught a variety of mathematics courses at St. Lawrence including Calculus 1, 2, and 3, Game Theory, Combinatorics, Mathematical Finance, and Probability and loves mentoring students embarking on undergraduate research. During the 2021-22 academic year, she is directing St. Lawrence’s Liberal Arts in New York City program where she is teaching Tasting Culture, an experience-based course about food culture.
Komarov has published several papers, mostly in the field of pursuit-evasion games, which draws on elements from probability, graph theory, and game theory. She is currently working on multiple papers with St. Lawrence students and alumni.
Associate Professor of Economics Sahar Milani
Milani, an innovation economist who studies how national policies impact technology development, teaches economics courses in macroeconomics, quantitative methods, and upper-level courses on the economics of innovation, environmental economics, and natural resource economics. Milani is passionate about video production and enjoys developing engaging digital content for her classes. She recently taught a sophomore seminar course on personal finance and is committed to advancing financial literacy education at St. Lawrence.
Milani’s scholarship has been published in a variety of journals including "Research Policy, Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Environmental & Resource Economics" and "Economics Bulletin." She received her Ph.D. in economics and master’s in finance from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
Associate Professor of Economics Michael O’Hara
O’Hara’s economics teachings and research are in environmental economics, econometrics, cryptocurrencies and the decentralized economy. Since 2014, he has been involved in the Teaching Integrity in Empirical Research Project (Project TIER) and serves on that project’s Executive Committee and on the board of the New York State Economics Association. He also serves as the faculty advisor for the Crown Royalty Investment Club.
O’Hara earned his Ph.D. in Economics at Binghamton University.
Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Peter Pettengill
Pettengill studies and teaches about parks. He regularly teaches environmental studies courses in Outdoor Recreation Management and Contemporary Issues on Public Land, Recreation Policy and Planning, and Foundations of Environmental Thought. He regularly teaches in the Higher Education Opportunity Program each summer.
Since his arrival at St. Lawrence, Pettengill has published in "Park Science", the "International Journal of Wilderness", and "Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies." He is co-author of the book "Managing Outdoor Recreation: Case Studies in the National Parks" and has written significant contributions for planning documents for the National Park Service and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Pettengill earned a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont, a master’s in environmental law from Vermont Law School, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire.
Associate Professor of Chemistry Samuel Tartakoff
Tartakoff specializes in organic chemistry – making new molecules to better understand the world. At St. Lawrence, he has worked on developing opioid alternatives, investigated how chemotherapeutics interact with DNA, and studied various environmental questions. In addition to teaching organic chemistry, he enjoys teaching general chemistry and the University’s First-Year Program, where he recently taught a course on science fiction vs. fact.
Tartakoff is the faculty mentor for the Chemistry Club and regularly teaches in the community SOAR Program. He has been a lead or collaborator on several successful grants, most recently for the purchase of the University’s new NMR spectrometer.
He received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of California-Irvine and a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Brigham Young University.
Associate Professor of English Penny Vlagopoulos
Vlagopoulos teaches 20th- and 21st-century U.S. and global literature and film, with an emphasis on multiethnic literature and issues of migration and globalization within the English department. She is interested in intersections between literature and social justice and teaches courses with St. Lawrence students at Riverview Correctional Facility in Ogdensburg. She has also directed St. Lawrence’s Liberal Arts in New York City program.
Vlagopoulos has published on a range of contemporary diasporic writers. Recent publications include an article on Dominican writer Junot Díaz in "Arizona Quarterly" and a collection of essays on food and outlaw narratives that she co-edited and were published by Routledge. Her current book project examines the ethico-political stakes of hospitality in the current refugee crisis.
She received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University.
Faculty Promoted to Professor
Professor of Caribbean, Latin American & Latino Studies Martha Chew Sánchez
Chew Sánchez takes students off campus whenever possible, and has developed summer courses in the Yucatan Peninsula and taken them to the borders they are studying, including El Paso/Cd. Juarez and Akwesasne. She has directed the University’s signature Spain Program three times, and is the co-coordinator of the Caribbean, Latin American, and Latino Studies Program.
Chew Sánchez’s book, "Corridos in Migrant Memory," established her reputation in Chicano Studies. She now has two new books, "Scattered Musics," co-edited with St. Lawrence Associate Professor of Music David Henderson, and the book "Colonialidad, Feminismo y Neoliberalismo," published by Ediciones Eterno Feminino. She is currently editing "Performing Mexican Identities," which is currently under contract with the University of New Mexico Press.
Chew Sánchez, who was the 2011 recipient of the Louis and Frances Maslow Award, graduated summa cum laude from Escuela Nacional de Maestros, earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso, and holds a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico.
Professor of Psychology Bill DeCoteau
DeCoteau regularly teaches psychology courses in Introductory Psychology, Introduction to Biological Psychology, and Animal Behavior, as well as various specialty courses including Behavioral Neuroscience, Human Neuropsychology, and the Neuroscience of Fear. His research investigates the neurobiology of spatial cognition while his applied work, done in collaboration with a number of St. Lawrence students and faculty colleagues, has centered on understanding and treating neurodegenerative movement disorders such as ALS, MS, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease and neurodevelopmental disorders like autism spectrum disorder.
DeCoteau earned his Ph.D. in psychology with a focus on Cognition and Neural Science from the University of Utah.
Professor of Government Grace Huang
Huang teaches government courses like Comparative Politics, Asia: Beyond the Great Wall, Chinese Politics, Research Seminar: China’s Rise, and political leadership. In comparing political systems, she teaches students to reflect more deeply on the nature of their own. She also teaches the craft of research and, in response to the pandemic, incorporated methods to help students do deep work.
In August 2021, Harvard University Asia Center published her book on controversial 20th-century leader Chiang Kai-shek, who advanced a Confucian politics of shame to confront Japanese incursion into China and urge unity among his people. Her research interests include political leadership, the political uses of shame in Chinese leadership, and rural to urban migration to China.
Huang holds both a Ph.D. and master’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Brown University.
Professor of World Languages, Cultures, and Media Zhenjun Zhang
Zhang teaches Mandarin Chinese at all levels, Chinese Literature and Film, Chinese Culture through Fiction and Film, and Buddhism and Daoism through Literature and Film. In addition to his work within the World Languages, Cultures, and Media department, He is the coordinator for both St. Lawrence’s Asian Studies program and the China off-campus program.
Since earning tenure, he has published four books, including "Anthology of Tang and Song Tales," "Hidden and Visible Realms: Early Medieval Chinese Tales of the Supernatural and the Fantastic," "Song Dynasty Tales: a Guided Reader," and "Buddhism and Tales of the Supernatural in Early Medieval China."
Zhang received his Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin-Madison, his master’s from Peking University, and a bachelor’s degree from Zhengzhou University (China).