Arts and Sciences Welcomes New Faces
Utility NavTop NavContentLeft NavSite SearchSite SearchSite Search

Arts and Sciences Welcomes New Faces

Sundeep Muppidi
Jessica Nicklin
Kellie Westenfeld

The College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to welcome a number of new faces in the dean’s office and in departments across the college.

In July, two faculty were named associate deans when Mark Blackwell and Jim Shattuck stepped down after a combined 14 years of dedicated service to A&S. Sundeep Muppidi is the new associate dean for Academic Planning and Curriculum. He has been a faculty member in the School of Communication since 1998, and was recently promoted to full professor. He teaches courses in new media, television/multimedia production, international communication, and research methods. His research focus is on new communication technologies, international media theory and research, and communication for empowerment. Prior to this position, Muppidi served as director of the School of Communication, and held several leadership positions in professional organizations. In his new position, Muppidi represents the dean on matters related to academic planning and curriculum, student scholarships, strategic partnerships, program and core learning outcomes assessment, and the first-year seminar experience, among others.


Also in July, Jessica Nicklin became associate dean for Student Academic Services. Nicklin joined the University of Hartford Department of Psychology faculty in 2009 and was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 2015. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in organizational psychology and research methods, and conducts research on workplace motivation, work-life balance and positive psychology in the workplace. Nicklin also currently serves as director for the online master’s program in organizational psychology. Nicklin’s office is responsible for handling all student and academic services, including new student orientation, graduation, the Dialogue program, and general academic advising.


Earlier this year Kellie Westenfeld was hired as the director of Collegiate Admissions and Communication for A&S. In 2003 Westenfeld earned her MA in communication at the University of Hartford while serving as assistant director of Graduate Admission.  Later Westenfeld earned a MS in counseling psychology from the University of Kansas and spent time as director of college counseling at a high school in Kansas City, Mo., before returning to Connecticut. A central focus of Westenfeld’s work is to connect prospective students with faculty and undergraduates to personalize the campus visit experience. Already Westenfeld has identified 52 undergraduate student ambassadors to assist her in her efforts.


In August, the college was pleased to welcome four tenure-track and seven visiting faculty members.

<b>New Faculty left-right:</b> Markeysha Davis, Timothy Becker, Brian Wells, Matthew Costello, Adolfo Sanchez-Blanco, Erin Bartram, Colleen Krause, Raynaldo Scarlett, Pedro Bermudez

Erin Bartram will be a visiting instructor in the history department. Erin is a PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut. Her area of specialization is the history of American religion, the history of women and gender, and comparative imperialism. This year she will be teaching courses in U.S. history and women’s history and will be assisting with the history department’s new internship program.

The Department of Computer Science welcomed Timothy Becker as a visiting instructor. Becker, a two-time graduate of the University of Hartford, is a doctoral candidate at the University of Connecticut. Becker’s specialization is bioinformatics and this year he will be teaching introductory and advanced courses in computer science.

Pedro Bermudez, visiting assistant professor in cinema, is also an alumnus of the University of Hartford, earning a degree in film studies. Bermudez has an MFA from the American Film Institute and has served as creative director for Unifocus and as an associate producer for ESPN before starting his own production company, Revisionist. Bermudez will be teaching Introduction to Filmmaking and special topics courses to cinema students.

Matthew Costello joined the Department of Psychology as an assistant professor. Costello’s specialty is gerontological studies and, in particular, the effects of aging on cognition and attention. Costello earned his PhD at Duquesne University and did post-doctoral work at Duke University. He held a faculty position at Indiana University in South Bend before coming to the University of Harford. Costello will be teaching undergraduate and graduate classes with a focus on research methods and developmental psychology.

The College of Arts and Sciences and Hillyer College welcomed Markeysha Davis, who will be holding a joint visiting position in both colleges as the 2015-2016 Jackie McLean Fellow. Davis is a doctoral candidate at the University of Massachusetts and her research investigates how black poets and playwrights during the Black Arts Movement reimagined and redefined concepts of nationhood and identity based on their creative interpretations of “double consciousness.” Davis will be teaching courses in the Africana Studies program in the College of Arts & Sciences, and the social sciences department of Hillyer College.

Colleen Krause is a new assistant professor in the chemistry department. Krause earned her PhD at the University of Connecticut, where her research focused on the detection of cancer biomarker proteins.  This year Krause will be teaching general chemistry courses and further developing an upper-level course and lab in biochemistry.

After spending the 2014-15 academic year as a visiting faculty member, Kellie McGeever became a tenure-track faculty member in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. Kelly earned her PhD at the University of Albany, where her research focused on examining the impact of correctional facilities on neighborhood property values and crime rates. McGeever is teaching courses in criminology and juvenile delinquency.

The mathematics department welcomed Sanja Pantic, visiting assistant professor, to its ranks. In 2012, Pantic completed her PhD in mathematics at the University of Illinois at Chicago and served as a lecturer there until she was hired by the University of Hartford. This year, Pantic will be teaching precalculus and multi-variable calculus.

Adolfo Sanchez-Blanco is a new visiting assistant professor in the biology department. Sanchez-Blanco earned his PhD in biomedical sciences at the University of Connecticut. His area of expertise is the biomarkers of aging. Sanchez-Blanco will be teaching courses in general biology, ecology, and molecular cell biology.

Raynaldo Scarlett is a visiting assistant professor in the chemistry department. His PhD in chemical and biomolecular engineering is from the University of Pennsylvania. Scarlett’s specialty is in designing computational frameworks to simulate DNA-directed self assembly of colloids. Scarlett will be teaching introductory chemistry courses this year.

Finally, the physics department welcomed Brian Wells as its newest assistant professor. Wells earned his PhD at the University of Massachusetts Lowell where his dissertation focused on quantum and non-linear optics in nanowire materials. Wells spent several years as a high school teacher before earning his PhD. This year Wells will be teaching algebra- and calculus-based physics.