Five Women Who Are Taking on New Faculty Roles at Major Universities

Jodi Byrd will join the faculty in the department of literatures in English at Cornell University for the fall of 2021. She has been serving on the faculty at the University of Illinois. Dr. Byrd, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, brings expertise in Indigenous studies to the department.

Dr. Byrd is the author of The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism (University of Minnesota Press, 2011), which examines how “Indianness” has been crucial to the formation of U.S. empire. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.

Liza Comita, an associate professor of tropical forest ecology at Yale University’s School of the Environment has been appointed co-director of the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture. Dr. Comita joined the faculty at Yale in 2014. Earlier, she was an assistant professor in the department of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University.

Professor Comita earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in conservation biology from the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a Ph.D. in plant biology from the University of Georgia.

Stacy Creel was named interim director of the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Southern Mississippi. As an associate professor, she teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels pertaining to youth services, literature, and reference and public libraries.

Dr. Creel earned a master’s degree at Florida State University and a Ph.D. in information science from the University of North Texas.

Michelle Scherer, professor of civil and environmental engineering and the Donald E. Bently Professor of Engineering at the University of Iowa, has been named a University of Iowa Distinguished Chair. The appointment to a University Distinguished chair is one of the highest honors bestowed on faculty at the university. It recognizes tenured scholars of national and international distinction who are making a significant positive impact within the university, state of Iowa, and beyond through teaching, research, and/or scholarship. Dr. Scherer joined the faculty at the university in 1998.

Dr. Scherer is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she majored in systems engineering. She holds a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Connecticut and a Ph.D. in environmental science and engineering from the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology.

Beth Wahler has been named the next director of the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She was associate dean for academic affairs and served on faculty in the School of Social Work at Indiana University since 2012.

Dr. Wahler holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Evansville in Indiana. She earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in social work from the University of Kentucky.

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