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Affiliated Faculty

One of the hallmarks of the Symposium is the diverse group of faculty and fellows who come together to develop the yearly theme and deliver the courses diving into subtopics of that theme. Since these courses are co-taught, students are taking part in classes that are led by unique disciplinary combinations: a historian teaching with a biologist; a professor of natural resources teaching with a professor of interior design; a public health expert teaching with a political theorist.

From 2007-2020, the Symposium had a Visiting Fellow who played a central role in building out the course series and co-curricular opportunities. The current structure focuses on an interdisciplinary team of current Drexel faculty cutting across departments and colleges at the University. Below you will find those who have served as fellows and affiliated faculty throughout the Symposium's existence.

2021-22 Theme: Aging - Faculty Cohort

2020-21 Theme: Disaster - Faculty Cohort

Dr. Jen Ayres: 2019-20 Visiting Fellow

Jen Ayres earned her PhD in American Studies from New York University and holds a MA in Fiber Science and Apparel Design from Cornell University. She was an Instructor at Parsons School of Design, The New School from 2016-2018 and taught courses on fashion and memory. Her research focuses on fashion, material culture, and economy. Her dissertation, "Enterprising Fashion: The Political Economy of Secondhand Clothes, Secondary Markets, and Vintage," used multi-sited ethnography in Philadelphia and New York City to explore how thrift stores, vintage boutiques, and clothing resellers created value for used clothes and prescribed taste and lifestyle. She found that multiple forms of labor were required to transform secondhand objects into value-added vintage pieces and that the feast-or-famine character of this kind of ‘creative work’ was similar to unstable employment as a temp, independent contractor, or freelancer. Thus, she argued that spaces of consumption have transformed into spaces of production under the Post-Fordist restructuring of everyday life.

One of Jen’s latest research projects is collaborative and explores online neighborhood peer-to-peer exchange groups in order to understand why, in the age of Amazon, people are starting their own hyper-local affinity groups online and choosing to redistribute their clothing and goods along these channels. Ultimately, her research projects highlight the role identity, subjectivity, and sexuality play in emerging and urban economies.

Dr. Julia Novak Colwell: 2016-18 Visiting Fellow

Dr. Julia Novak Colwell earned her PhD in Fisheries & Wildlife at Michigan State University where she also earned her MSc (2013). Her research has focused on the unintended impacts of resource management regulations, particularly pertaining to the fisheries sector in Tamil Nadu, India. Her current research aims to identify how underrepresented segments of the fisherfolk population, particularly women, are affected by management hierarchies and fisheries regulations and how those impacts feedback to influence resource use and resource health. Julia was a 2015 Fulbright-Nehru scholar and has also led a range of study abroad programs. These have included programs in the high Himalayas focused on mountain and glacial ecology as well as in Madagascar on biodiversity conservation and livelihood preservation. Julia’s research interests center around water as a medium for life and lifeline for communities.

Dr. Melinda Lewis: 2015-16 Visiting Fellow

Melinda Maureen Lewis earned her degree in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University. She also earned certificates in Women's Studies and Digital Humanities. Prior to her arrival at Drexel, she taught film studies courses for BGSU's Theatre and Film Department, which included introductory courses regarding cinematic language; film history; culture and the moving image; and special topics courses on the works John Waters and Jim Jarmusch, New American Cinema, and Cult Cinema.

Her research to this point has focused on the intersections of identity, ideology, and comedy. This work includes examinations of American tropes in British sitcoms, comedic representations of emotional violence enacted against women in the works of Julia Davis, and the significance of women's labor in developing and expanding the role of the sitcom. She is currently interested in the bridging affect studies with humor and examining the relationship between jokes and bodies, including physical responses that may or may not include laughter. Her work has been published in The Projector, Studies in American Humor, and M/C Journal.

Dr. Simchi Cohen: 2014-15 Visiting Fellow

Dr. Simchi Cohen earned her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her work stands at the intersection of film studies, twentieth-century Jewish American literature, Yiddish literature, and contemporary American popular culture, and is particularly invested in images of the monstrous, the uncanny, and the living dead. Her research considers the influence Jewish history and culture have had on the production of American popular horror culture, and the way in which the zombie functions as the thread that pulls Jewish literature and American popular culture together.

In developing her own work, she has integrated a variety of genres dealing with popular culture in the many courses she has taught, expanding the breadth of the literary field to include supernatural films, television episodes, and comic books. Simchi’s publications similarly reflect the interdisciplinarity of her work, as well as her engagement with texts in a variety of media and languages. She has published articles in journals such as Horror Studies and Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History, exploring issues of biopolitics and autoimmunity, memory, history, and the archive. She also currently serves as an editor and coordinator at Jura Gentium Cinema.

Dr. Elliot Panek: 013-14 Visiting Fellow

Dr. Elliot Panek earned his MA in Media studies from the University of Texas and his PhD in Communication Studies from the University of Michigan. His research examines the uses and effects of new media from sociological and psychological perspectives, using interviews, surveys, and experiments to understand how entertainment and social media affect our individual and collective lives. He has published articles on complex narratives, social media and narcissism, parental restriction of media use, and self-control as it relates to media choice. Coverage of his research has been featured on Time.com, the Chicago Tribune, and the Huffington Post.

Dr. Lydia Pyne: 2012-13 Visiting Fellow

Dr. Lydia Pyne holds a PhD in History and Philosophy of Science from Arizona State University as well as MA/MS degrees in Anthropology and History and Philosophy of Science from University of Texas at Austin and Arizona State University. Her research focuses on the history of science, the intellectual history of paleoanthropology and archaeology, as well as literary nonfiction.

Dr. Saeed Hydaralli: 2011-12 Visiting Fellow

Dr. Saeed Hydaralli holds a PhD in Sociology from York University. His current research is focused on an examination of the relationship between the multiple sensations concentrated in and released by the city and urban health and livability. He is also an Editorial Board Member of the Culture of Cities book series with Intellect Press. Dr. Hydaralli has previously taught at OCAD University and the University of Guelph-Humber, both located in Toronto. He has also been a Project Researcher with the Culture of Cities Centre, City Life and Well-Being: The GreyZone of Health and Illness, where he consistently brought to bear his extensive training in social theory and qualitative research methods.

Dr. Michael Fortner: 2010-11 Visiting Fellow

Michael Javen Fortner earned his PhD from Harvard University’s Program in Government and Social Policy. He is a former doctoral fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy, and an affiliate of The Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies. His work studies the intersection of American political development and political philosophy – particularly in the areas of race, ethnicity, and class. His dissertation, “Must Difference Divide?: The Institutional Roots of Racial Politics,” compares the development of racial politics in London and New York City.

Dr. Dan Moscovici: 2009-10 Visiting Fellow

Dan Moscovici was the Great Works Symposium Visiting Fellow in Energy for 2009-2010 and a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania in Environmental Planning. Prior to this, he was a full-time interdisciplinary professor at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania. There he developed and taught courses in sustainability, environmental policy, energy development, and natural resource management. His focus is both domestic and international. His professional experiences inform his academic training. He completed his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in Environmental Planning (2009). Prior to this, for five years, he worked for CITGO Petroleum (a wholly owned subsidiary of Petrol de Venezuela S.A.), as a Marketing Pricing Analyst. During his employment, he received an MBA from Villanova University in International/Environmental Management (2003) and an MS from the University of Pennsylvania in Environmental Studies (2005). His Bachelor’s degree was from Lehigh University in Natural Resource Economics (2000).

Dan’s research is focused on land synergies surrounding energy projects and natural resource management. He has active projects in the Northern Forest of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the Adirondacks regarding impacts of land preservation. Other research interests include research with students in Costa Rica to study effects of hydrological projects on the environment and society and also the impact from eco-tourism on sustainability on the island of Dominica.

Dr. Kevin Egan: 2008-09 Visiting Fellow

Kevin Egan was the 2008-09 Visiting Fellow in the Great Works Symposium. He is currently teaching as an adjunct professor at Drexel, both in the Honors College and department of History and Politics. He is also teaching as a visiting instructor via Virginia Tech’s Online Master’s Program (OLMA).

Kevin received his PhD in Political Science from Penn State in 2007. Before that, he received his Master’s from Virginia Tech and his Bachelor’s degree from the College of Wooster. While working on his dissertation, which examined the role of rights in structuring democratic citizenship for marginalized sexual identities, he was awarded the Penn State Alumni Association's Outstanding Dissertation Award. His research has been published in such journals as Contemporary Political Theory and New Political Science, and his research and teaching interests span a wide array of topics, including democratic theory, international relations theory, and the relationship between politics and music, among others.

Dr. James Schafer: 2007-08 Visiting Fellow

Dr. James Schafer received his B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Michigan in 1996. After working as a laboratory technician for two years, he matriculated to Johns Hopkins University, where he earned his Ph.D. in the History of Medicine in 2007. Dr. Schafer’s research reflects his interests in the social, political, and economic history of American medicine and health care. His research has been supported by fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the Drexel University College of Medicine Archives and Special Collections.