New Faculty 2017-18 (A-F)

Hussein Awala

Teacher Scholar Postdoctoral Fellow; Mathematics and Statistics

Hussein comes to Wake Forest from Temple University, where he recently completed his PhD in Mathematics and dissertation titled Singular Integral Operations Associated with Elliptic Boundary Valve problems in Non-smooth domains. At Temple, Hussein earned his M.A. in Mathematics and obtained a Teaching in Higher Education Certificate. He attained his Master’s in Pure Mathematics from American University Beirut where he spent two years researching the ultra-products of Lie Algebra. Hussein has spent much of his career deconstructing the complexities of Partial Differential Equations, the Geometric Measure Theory, and Validated Numerics. From his findings, Hussein has several academic publications including, “On the Solvability of the Zaremba Problem in Infinite Sectors and the Invertibility of Associated Singular Integral Operators” andThe Spectrum of Biharmonic Layer Potentials on Curvilinear Polygons”.  He has presented his research findings at universities and conferences across the country.


Tonya Balan

Associate Teaching Professor; School of Business

Tonya brings with her to Wake Forest a passion for statistics, predictive modeling and years of teaching experience. Tonya earned her PhD in Statistics with a minor in Mathematics from NC-State and comes from her Alma mater after teaching graduate and undergraduate business students. She has over ten years of experience translating numerical data into tangible information used for software development and marketing products. She enjoys applying analytic thinking to help solve problems in other disciplines like the sciences, business, and finance. Tonya is excited to incorporate her educational background in statistics with her years of professional experience in the corporate sector in courses at Wake. She is a member of the American Statistical Association; and the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

Elise Barrella

Assistant Professor; Engineering

Elise comes to Wake Forest from James Madison University where she was a founder and steering committee member of the Applied Research Collaborative, inaugural director of the NAE Grand Challenges Scholars program, and junior capstone coordinator for engineering. Her teaching, scholarship, service, and student mentoring are focused on transportation systems, sustainability, and engineering design. As an engineering education researcher, Elise is currently engaged in projects sponsored by National Science Foundation to investigate engineering students’ application of sustainability concepts across courses and project contexts. On the transportation/development side, she has enjoyed mentoring a variety of applied research projects related to sustainability rating systems, greenway system planning, energy infrastructure and more. Community planning is a passion outside of work too, and Elise has been proud to serve on local planning committees and be an active member of national organizations like the Transportation Research Board, Women’s Transportation Seminar, and the Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honor Society. Prior to joining the JMU faculty in Virginia, Dr. Barrella completed her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at Georgia Tech.



Jack Bell

Visiting Assistant Professor; English and Writing Program

Jack brings a renowned interest in Medieval and Renaissance literature to Wake Forest. He completed his PhD in English Literature from Duke University and dissertation titled Chaucer and the Disconsolations of Philosophy: Boethius, Agency, and Literary Form in Late Medieval Literature. He has received a number of distinctions including, the John L. Lievsay Fellowship, the “Conversions” Interdisciplinary Research Grant, and the Graduate Fellowship. Jack has experience teaching undergraduate upper level and introductory English courses. He is a member of the Modern Language Association, the Medieval Academy of America, the International Piers Plowman Society, the New Chaucer Society, and the Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy. Jack looks forward to discussing the enigmas of Shakespeare’s philosophy with Wake Forest students and faculty.

Lina Benabdallah

Assistant Professor; Politics and International Affairs

Lina comes from the University of Florida where she completed her PhD in International Relations and dissertation titled Relational Power in IR: Case of Chinese Investments in Human Resource Development in Africa. She has teaching and research interest in international relations theory, Global IT, international development, China-Africa relations, international organizations, and post-colonial theory. Lina has published a number of articles and peer reviewed papers including, “Explaining Attractiveness in South-South Relations: Power-Knowledge Nexus in Beijing’s Capacity Building Programs” in the Journal of International Relations and Development, “Is China Building an Empire in Rural Africa” in the International Studies Review, and the “China Syndrome,” which received the University of Florida Sahel Research Group Research Grant. Lina is the founding member of the UF China-Africa working group and the UF Women in Political Science group.

Michael Beitler

Visiting Assistant Professor; School of Business

Michael brings more than twenty years of teaching experience in domestic and international business schools to Wake Forest. He earned his PhD in Human Resource Development from the Union Institute with a concentration in Leadership & Professional Development and his M.A. in Applied Psychology from Norwich University with a concentration in International Management. He has over twenty-five years of financial and management consulting experience which has taken him around the world. Michael has contributed a number of titles including, “Strategic Organizational Change: A Practitioner’s Guide for Managers and Consultants,” “Strategic Organizational Learning: A Practitioner’s Guide for Managers and Consultants,” and “Purchase Order Management Best Practices: Process, Technology, and Change Management” to the organizational behavior field. He is a certified public accountant and holds memberships in the Southern Management Association, the Association of Change Management Professionals, and the Society for Human Resource Management.

Laura Bilton

Visiting Clinical Instructor; Education

Laura returns to her alma mater after a decade of leadership experience in the education and banking industries. Previously, she served on an innovative team teaching a fifth grade math and science students at Old Town Elementary School. Laura found a passion for community service early on in her professional career and served in a variety of leadership positions within community out-reach programs. Laura implemented an afterschool Girls STEM club to support adolescent girl’s interests in STEM. She has led workshops for colleagues on goal settings and implementation of SMART goals to promote professional growth within the school. Laura is excited to begin her work in higher education within the Education department.


Seth Bledsoe

Visiting Assistant Professor; Study of Religion

Seth returns to his alma mater after obtaining his PhD in Religions of Western Antiquity and dissertation titled Wisdom in Distress: A Literary and Socio-Historical Approach to the Aramaic Book of Ahiqar from Florida State University. He completed a Humanities Initiative Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study at Central University in Budapest. Seth has a number of publications including “Wisdom in Distress: The Book of Ahiqar and the Sapiential Tradition” and “Strange’ Interpretations in the Septuagint Proverbs” where he explored multiple facets of religious interpretation. While completing his MA in Divinity from Wake Forest he was awarded the Greek Award for outstanding achievement in NT/Greek studies. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the European Association of Biblical Studies and the International Organization of Septuagint & Cognate Studies.

Ann Bliss

Visiting Professor of the Practice; School of Business

Ann comes to Wake Forest from the Carolina Common Enterprise where she consulted community-based enterprises within low-income communities in the creation, expansion, and improvement of their organizations. She completed her Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego St. Thomas More School of Law. She has practiced in the public and private sectors of law, serving at the circuit court commissioner in Columbia County and as a lawyer in a private law firm in Wisconsin. She is invested in the continued development and growth of communities riddled with food deserts. She is on the executive committee for the Forsyth Community Food Consortium and Ann was the chair of the Triad Buying Co-op subcommittee, the chair of the Cobblestone Farmers Market steering committee. Ann hopes to further collaboration with Wake Forest with community initiatives throughout Forsyth County.


Elizabeth Boatman

Assistant Professor, Engineering

Elizabeth brings her expertise in advanced materials characterization to the Engineering department. She completed her PhD and MS in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. She comes to Wake from the University of Wisconsin-Stout where she served as an Assistant Professor of Engineering, and prior to that served two years as a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, with one year at the National Science Foundation and the other at the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice. Elizabeth is actively involved in the study of structure-property relationships in biological structural materials, including fossil vertebrate tissues, and engineered ceramics. She has conducted research at institutions across the country including the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Stanford University, and Beloit College.

Eleanor Boglioni

Visiting Professor; Romance Languages

Eleanor has taught Italian as a second language throughout Italy and the United States. She comes to Wake Forest from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she completed her MA in Italian with a concentration in cultural studies and second language acquisition. She earned her Vocational Master’s teaching Italian as a second language and a MA in Art History at the University of Milan. She has a developed interest in the Italian language and culture, project-based activities design, and test development. Eleanor has invested in understanding the approach to teaching Italian as a second language, at the University of Illinois she was the co-organizer of the Italian Movie nights and culinary events to promote language acquisition outside of the classrooms. She was awarded the French and Italian departmental summer fellowship and a teaching honor from the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne.

Abbey Bourdon

Assistant Professor of the Practice; Mathematics & Statistics

Abbey comes from the University of Georgia where she was investigated the classification of torsion subgroups which arise on an elliptic curve as a postdoctoral associate and instructor. She completed her PhD in Mathematics from Wesleyan University and dissertation titled A Uniform Version of a Finiteness Conjecture for CM Elliptic Curves. Abbey is the project co-leader for Women in Numbers (WIN) 4 at the Banff International Research Station, a workshop that supports the collaboration between women in mathematics. Abbey has presented her torsion research at conferences and universities throughout the South. Beyond conventional classrooms, Abbey has taught inside Connecticut prisons through a public-private partnership to offer an accredited liberal art education to incarcerated individuals. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Mu Epsilon, Phi Kappa Mu, Eta Sigma Phi, Phi Eta Sigma, and Golden Key.

LeAndrea Brown

Assistant Professor of Practice; Health and Exercise Science

LeAndra comes to Wake Forest from Virginia Commonwealth University Community Memorial Hospital as the Cancer Rehabilitation Coordinator. She earned her Masters of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of North Carolina. LeAndra has presented on a number of topics involving body mechanics, exercise as medicine, and diabetes at institutions along the southeast coast. She has a special interest in cancer and cardiac rehabilitation; in this field LeAndra has created and facilitated group seminar sessions which promoted active learning for patients and their families. She is a member of the Clinical Exercise Physiologist Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. LeAndra has earned a number of certifications including ACSM Cancer Exercise Trainer, Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support, ACSM Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist, and DEXA Training.

John Butler

Visiting Professor of Practice; School of Business

John holds a MBA from the University of Texas at Austin with a concentration in Finance/Marketing where he was granted the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence. He joins Wake Forest after twenty years in corporate finance where he’s held positions as President, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Executive Vice President of a venture capital backed wireless internet provider which operated in 14 markets across the mid-west. He comes from Aether Partner’s Consulting where he served as President handing financial statement preparation, liquidity analysis, tax planning, and financial modeling. John is a public account who facilitated over $1 billion in revenue growth in his portfolio in the past fifteen years.

Robert Casares

Assistant Professor; Counseling

Robert earned his PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision and MA in Marriage and Family Counseling from the University of Holy Cross. Previously, John worked as a counselor at the Archdiocese of New Orleans North Shore Pastoral Center and as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Holy Cross. His teaching and research interest include parent-child relationships, attachment theory, ethics of school counseling, and the teaching systems theory. He is a National Certified Counselor; a licensed professional counselor and a licensed marriage and family therapist in the State of Louisiana. He is a member of the Association of Graduate Students in Counseling, Chi Sigma Iota Counseling Honor Society, American Counseling Association, Louisiana Association for Counselor Education and Supervision; and the Louisiana Counseling Association. John’s current research project explores the perceived benefits and shortcomings of a court-mandated co-parenting program.

Bilal Celik

Visiting Instructor; Economics

Bilal comes to Wake Forest from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville where he completed his Ph.D. in Economics and his dissertation titled Essays in Applied Microeconomics. He earned his Masters of Science in Economics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Bilal’s research incorporates his interests in international relationships and macro-economies. He has published papers that investigates the relationships between public economics, political economy, and the economics of natural disasters. Most recently, Bilal investigated the impacts of large natural disasters have on economic activity. He is a member of the American Economic Association, Midwest Economic Association, and the UT Turkish Student Association. While at the University of Tennessee he received the Graduate Assistantship, taught economic courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels. He is currently working on two projects focused on the effects of time zones at the macro- and micro- levels.

Bruce Cole

Assistant Teaching Professor; Romance Languages

Bruce comes from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville where he completed his Ph.D. in Spanish with a concentration in Modern Foreign Languages & Literatures and dissertation titled Society, Culture & Literature in the Works of Ventura Ruiz Aguilera. He earned his M.A.T. in Spanish from the Middle Tennessee State University. At UTK, Bruce created the Spanish Language Café which is an effort that encourages students to comfortably practice Spanish outside of the classroom environment. He was a Board member of the Student Conduct & Community Standards and a reviewer of Vernacular journal was awarded the MFLL Graduate Teaching Award, the Chad Goldman and the Brian Pendleton LRC Award. He is a member of the Modern Language Association of America and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. He looks forward to innovating how foreign languages are taught.

Nicole Dalzell

Assistant Teaching Professor; Mathematics and Statistics

Nicole come to Wake Forest from Duke University where she completed her PhD, MA in Statistical Science and dissertation titled Bayesian Approaches in File Linking. Nicole has presented and published papers regarding regression modeling, mathematics education reform, and the Bayesian Approach; her most recent publication is titled “Regression Modeling and File Matching Using Possibly Erroneous Matching Variables,” submitted to the Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics. Nicole was awarded the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Teaching Assistant of the Year in the Statistical Science department at Duke and the Preparing Future Faculty Fellowship. She served as the Co-organizer of DataFest at Duke, a data analysis competition for over 300 undergraduates across three host institutions.

Dan Du

Visiting Assistant Instructor; History


Dan comes to Wake Forest from the University of Georgia where she completed her PhD in History and dissertation titled This World in a Teacup: Chinese-American Tea Trade in the Nineteenth Century. She obtained her MA in History from Nankai University, her thesis research focused on the Illinois Free Banking system from 1851-1865. In the past five years Dan has completed fellowships at the Winterthue Museum, Garden & Library; the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and the Library Company of Philadelphia. She has taught courses in American History, Pre-Modern Japan, World Civilizations, and the History of China. Among her many publications are “A Shadow of Chinatown: Chinese Highbinder Societies in San Francisco” in the Social Sciences Academic Press and “China, East Asia and the Global Economy: Regional and Historical Perspectives” in the Journal of International and Global Studies”.

Luigi Ferraro

Teacher Scholar Postdoctoral Fellow; Mathematics and Statistics 

Luigi comes to Wake Forest from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he completed his PhD in Mathematics and dissertation titled On the Structure of the Stable Cohomology of local rings. He earned his MA in Mathematics from the University of Pisa. Luigi research interest includes commutative algebra and homological algebra. He has multiplication publications, including “Regularity of Tor for weakly stable ideas,” in Le Matematiche. He has presented at over 25 conferences and talks regarding his research, which primarily focuses on the structure of stable cohomology of local ring and on the Castelnuovo-Mumford regularity of graded modules. Luigi has experience teaching introductory and upper level mathematic courses and looks forward to teaching within the Mathematics and Statistics department at Wake.