NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) recently welcomed 11 new, full-time faculty members to eight departments on campus, including two associate professors, eight assistant professors, and one instructor.

Marisa Benson has joined the campus’s Department of Biology as an instructor. A doctoral candidate in science education from Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y., her dissertation focuses on the use of capsaicin administration to attenuate atrophying skeletal muscle. This study employs the use of aging and disuse/reloading models to investigate whether capsaicin will preserve muscle, and the integrity and function of the muscle during periods of atrophy.

Benson comes to MCLA from Syracuse University, where she worked in the Laboratory of Skeletal Muscle Plasticity and Aging. She also served as an adjunct professor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. She holds her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, R.I.

Eric Doucette, a botanist and plant systematist, has joined MCLA’s Department of Biology as an assistant professor, and will teach ecology, biodiversity and botany. His research interests include the floristics of vascular plants and bryophytes, as well as lichenology and natural history.

Doucette received his Bachelor of Science degree and his Ph.D. from the University of Maine in Orono, Maine, where he worked on the systematics of the genus Amelanchier (serviceberries). The president of the Josselyn Botanical Society of Maine, he has worked as a professional consulting botanist/ecologist. 

Tara Ferriter MBA ’13 has joined the College’s Department of Business Administration and Economics as an assistant professor, and will teach courses in accounting. Licensed by the United States Department of Treasury as an enrolled agent, she also has published questions for the Special Enrollment Examination and continues to work with the Prometric company regarding the test’s development.

Ferriter, who is the chief executive officer of Tarm Tax Services, and serves on the Landmark Credit Union Board of Directors, holds her bachelor’s degree from the University of Phoenix and her Master of Business Administration (MBA) from MCLA.

D. Gilson has joined MCLA’s English/Communications Department as an assistant professor. He primarily will teach classes in creative nonfiction and American literature, as well as cultural theory. He is the author of multiple published works, including “I Will Say This Exactly One Time: Essays” (Sibling Rivalry, 2015); “Crush” with Will Stockton (Punctum Books, 2014); “Brit Lit” (Sibling Rivalry, 2013); and “Catch and Release” (2012), winner of the Robin Becker Prize.

Gilson holds a Ph.D in American literature and cultural studies from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and an Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Anna Jaysane-Darr has joined the College’s Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work Department as an assistant professor. She is a cultural and medical anthropologist who specializes in reproduction, medicalization, neurodiversity and refugee studies. Her recent projects include autism in the United States and South Africa, global public health interventions in behavioral health, and lab-based research on autism spectrum disorder etiologies and treatment.

Jaysane-Darr comes to MCLA from Tufts University in Medford, where she was a lecturer in anthropology and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and from Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s interdisciplinary and global studies program in Worcester. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University in New York City, N.Y., her master’s degree from the University of London in London, England, and her Ph.D. from Brandeis University in Waltham. Her areas of specialty include cultural awareness, engaged education and global citizenship.

Erin Kiley has joined MCLA’s Department of Mathematics as an assistant professor, and will teach a variety of mathematics classes on campus. For more than 10 years, her research has been in the broad realm of mathematical modeling and computer simulation of microwaves. Most recently, she wrote a mathematical model and corresponding multi-physics computer simulation of microwave sintering.

Kiley completed her Ph.D. in mathematical studies, as well as an Master of Science degree in applied mathematics at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester. She holds two undergraduate degrees from the University of New Hampshire: a B.S. in mathematics and statistics, and a B.A. in Russian language. She was a Fulbright Graduate Fellow at Penza State University in Russia in 2008 and 2009, was honored with the National Science Foundation Graduate Student Fellowship during her studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Chali Nondo has joined the College’s Business Administration and Economics Department as an associate professor of economics. He comes to the campus from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, where he served as an associate professor of economics. In addition, he was an assistant professor of economics at Albany State University in Albany, Ga. where he also served as co-director of the Center for Business, Economic Development and Research in the College of Business, and was responsible for assessing business and economic performance of Albany Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Nondo received his Ph.D. in Natural Resource Economics from West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.V.  His main teaching interests are in microeconomics and macroeconomics, including statistics; environmental economics; managerial economics; econometrics; and international economics.

In addition, Nondo has worked as a civil engineer for a United Nations-International Labor Organization funded road project in Zambia. His research interests revolve around sustainable development for developing countries, primarily focusing on energy economics, natural resources, institutional quality/governance issues, efficiency measurement, and productivity analysis.

Samantha Pettey has joined MCLA’s Department of History, Political Science, and Public Policy as an assistant professor of political science. She majored in political science at UMass-Dartmouth, where she interned on a local campaign and worked with faculty on research projects.

She earned her master’s degree at the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, R.I., and went on to the Ph.D. program in political science at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. There, she turned her passion for politics into a focused research agenda centering on campaigns and elections, women and politics, and state/local politics.

John Ridgwayhas joined the College’s Computer Science Department as an associate professor of computer science. His area of research and expertise is programming languages, and particularly formal foundations for programming language system interoperability, working on understanding the problems associated with programming boundaries – such as the boundaries between programming languages and the boundary between programming languages and databases.

Ridgway holds his Ph.D. and Master of Science degrees in computer science from the UMASS-Amherst and his Bachelor of Science degree  in engineering from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa.

He comes to MCLA from work with an interdisciplinary team, including nurse researchers, to develop a tablet-computer application to support self-management of chronic disease in older adults. Over the course of his career he has had substantial undergraduate teaching experience, primarily in small liberal arts colleges.

In addition, Ridgway has more than 12 years of experience in industry doing general programming and, most recently, programming for the World Wide Web. 

Andrea Williams has joined the College’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts as an assistant professor of theatre. She will teach courses in costume, makeup and theatre history.

Williams has worked at a variety of theaters, including The Goodman Theatre Company and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, Ill.; The American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wis.; Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.; and Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.

She has her Master of Fine Arts degree in costume design and technology from the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in a self-designed major in theatre, history and classical studies from Ripon College in Ripon, Wis. Her background includes extensive work with period costumes as well as work on opera, musicals, contemporary theatre and dance.

Jeremy Winchester has joined the Department of Fine and Performing Arts as an assistant professor of theatre. He comes to MCLA from the Flint Youth Theatre in Flint, Mich., where he was the executive artistic director. In addition, he has worked with companies as the Santa Fe Opera, Spoleto Festival, Cornerstone Theatre, and Pacific Performance Project, among others, and serves on the board of directors for Theatre for Young Audiences USA (TYA/USA).

Winchester also taught theatre at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., and at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Ind. He earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in lighting design from the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash., and his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theatre from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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