New Faculty Profiles 2013-2014 (Q-Z)

Raynor, Sharon

Sharon Raynor

Visiting Associate Professor 

Department of English

Sharon is a Visiting Associate Professor of English in the Writing Program. Since 1999, she has written and directed two oral history projects with combat veterans in rural North Carolina, “Breaking the Silence: The Unspoken Brotherhood of Vietnam Veterans” and “Soldier-to-Soldier: Men and Women Share Their Legacy of War.” Her community scholarship and publications focus on the discourse of trauma, silence and identity in war studies and women’s studies. She is a native of Clinton, North Carolina, a graduate of East Carolina University where she received both her B.A. and M.A. degrees, and holds a Ph.D. in Literature and Criticism from Indiana University of PA. She has held fellowships at Duke University, W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History, and the United States Air Force Academy. She was also an Adjunct Instructor in the Center for Documentary Studies and Continuing Education at Duke University.


Rodrigues, Michelle

Visiting Assistant Professor

Department of Anthropology

Michelle received her B.S. in Ecology, Ethology, Evolution and Psychology from the University of Illinois before receiving her M.A. in Anthropology from Iowa State University. The following Fall semester, Michelle received a Graduate Enrichment Fellowship for her first year at The Ohio State University. She then worked as a Graduate Teaching Associate for two years, followed by 15 months conducting field research in Costa Rica with funding from the Wenner-Gren Foundation and American Philosophical Society. With the support of a Social and Behavioral Sciences Fellowship, Michelle completed her dissertation, Stress and sociality in a Patrilocal primate: Do female monkeys tend-and-befriend? and received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Ohio State. Michelle has conducted research in Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua and Cameroon, among other places, and has taught courses in biological anthropology and archaeology, primate behavior, world prehistory and physical/biological anthropology.


Rowell, Chelcie

Chelcie Rowell

Assistant Librarian 

Z. Smith Reynolds Library

Chelcie serves as the Digital Initiatives Librarian at Z. Smith Reynolds Library. In this role, Chelcie oversees digitization of special collections, manages born-digital materials, and liaises with the Humanities Institute. Chelcie earned a B.A. in English from Oglethorpe University and an M.S. in Information Science from the School of Information & Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She comes to Winston-Salem from Chapel Hill where she was a Research Assistant at both the Metadata Research Center and the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center. During her graduate experience, Chelcie also served as President of the UNC Information & Library Science Student Association and was awarded the Outstanding Service to the School Award for her work facilitating conversations between faculty and students regarding curriculum change at the School of Information and Library Science. Before pursuing a career in librarianship, Chelcie worked in the Writing Associates Program at Swarthmore College, where she conducted one-on-one conferences with student writers and hosted tutor training workshops, writing workshops for students, faculty panels, and other events.


Sakkal, Ali

Ali Sakkal


Department of Education

Ali completed his Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis where he divided his time between the Learning and Mind Sciences and School Organization and Education Policy programs. He received his M.S. in Adolescent Education through a joint Americorps and New York City Department of Education program and was a music educator at the middle and elementary school levels for five years in the New York City public schools. He is interested in how students integrate their knowledge across contexts, and in how innovative educational designs can facilitate this process. His research interests draw from the fields of experiential learning, informal learning contexts, sociocultural theory, image-based field research, and technology for learning. His dissertation thesis, The Culture of Home Away from Home: Embracing the Travel Experience for Learning and Development, integrates many of these topics, focusing on young adults learning on the road while traveling in Latin America. Having received a B.M. in Saxophone Performance, Ali can also be found making music through various musical contexts and touring projects.


Shaner, Katherine

Katherine Shaner

Assistant Professor

School of Divinity

Katherine graduated summa cum laude from Luther College with a B.A. in English and German. The next year she was a Fulbright Fellow at the Ruprecht-Karls Universitat Heidelberg in Germany. She received her M.Div. degree from Harvard Divinity School where she was both a Williams Fellow and Hopkins Fellow. Katherine also received a Certificate of Lutheran Studies from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and while there, was awarded the Krentz Prize for New Testament Scholarship. Katherine has taught in a variety of contexts including Carthage College, Harvard Divinity School, Episcopal Divinity School, and General Theological Seminary. Her teaching emphasizes feminist, liberation, and multi-cultural biblical interpretation, particularly with an eye toward the intersections of race, class and gender. In her research she turns these foci on Paul’s letters and the communities which received, resisted, and interpreted them. She also works with archaeological materials and has participated in the excavation at Ephesos in western Turkey. Currently, Katherine is working on a book-length project examining the roles that enslaved persons played in religious life in the earliest Christian communities in Ephesos.


Smith, Chris

Visiting Assistant Professor

Department of Philosophy

Chris is returning to Wake Forest after teaching here this past Spring. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after graduating summa cum laude with a B.A. in Philosophy and Mathematics from Vanderbilt University. He has taught classes on perception, language, ethics, religion, mathematical logic, and experience and reality at UNC Chapel Hill, Auburn University, and UCLA. Chris focuses his research on philosophy of perception and will be teaching Basic Problems of Philosophy and Modern Philosophy. He currently lives in Raleigh with his wife and daughter.


Sovero, Veronica

Veronica Sovero

Assistant Professor

Department of Economics

Moving from Los Angeles, California, Veronica joins Wake Forest as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics. Veronica received her B.S. in Economics from the California Institute of Technology, her M.A. in Development Economics from the University of Sussex, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from UCLA. Her research examines how individual preferences and beliefs affect household decision-making with respect to marriage, fertility, and investments in children in developing countries. Recent research focuses on topics such as HIV testing and marital stability in Malawi, as well as the effects of a parent’s risk preferences on child health in Mexico.


Staples, Jason

Visiting Instructor 

Department of Religion

Jason Staples

Jason received his B.A. in Religion from Florida State University. With this degree, he went on to teach in the Department of Religious Studies while pursuing his masters. In 2007, Jason received his M.A. in Religions of Western Antiquity from Florida State University. Immediately following, Jason moved to North Carolina where he began working on his Ph.D. in Ancient Mediterranean Religions at UNC Chapel Hill. During this period, he received the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, which is awarded to students pursuing the highest terminal degree in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. He also participated in the UNC Future Faculty Fellowship Program, was a recipient of the Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Training, and gained invaluable teaching experience. Jason is currently working on the completion of his Ph.D. with the dissertation, Paul, the Gentiles, and the Restoration of Israel. He will join the Department of Religion at Wake Forest as a Visiting Instructor teaching Introduction to the Bible and Visions of the End: Jewish and Christian Apocalyptic.


Sumanth, John

John Sumanth

Assistant Professor

School of Business

John joins the Wake Forest School of Business after spending the past two years at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. His areas of interest and research are in upward communication, leadership, trust and the role of power and status in organizational hierarchies. His research has been published in sources such as Administrative Science Quarterly, the Journal of Applied PsychologyPersonnel Psychology and Organizational Psychology Review. In 2011, John was recognized by his students as a SMU H.O.P.E. Professor—an award honoring professors’ excellence—for his high quality teaching. John obtained his B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Miami, his M.B.A. in Marketing from the Warrington College of Business Administration at the University of Florida, and his Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to higher-education, John spent about ten years working for large, multi-national corporations in the insurance, global tourism and fast food industries.


Veneskey, Laura

Laura Veneskey

Assistant Professor

Department of Art

After receiving her Ph.D. in Art History from Northwestern University in 2012, Laura served as a Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. She has held additional fellowships from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the German-Israeli Foundation/Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Laura is currently working on two articles: “Negotiating Place and Space in the Reliquaries of Saint Demetrios of Thessaloniki” and “Jerusalem Refracted: Geographies of the True Cross in Late Antiquity.” She joins Wake Forest as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art, specializaing in late antique and Byzantine visual culture.


Verstein, Andrew

Assistant Professor

Andrew Verstein

School of Law

Andrew joins the Wake Forest community in the School of Law teaching Business Associations, Contracts, Financial Services Regulation, and Securities Regulation. Prior to Winston Salem, Andrew lived in New Haven, Connecticut where he was a Lecturer in Law and the John R. Raben/Sullivan & Cromwell Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Corporate Law at Yale Law School. He also taught at Fudan University and East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, China. Andrew graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College with an A.B. and Highest Honors in Philosophy. Following his undergraduate degree, he received his J.D. from Yale Law School. Much of Andrew’s research focuses on financial indices and benchmarks, as well as crowdfunding and incomplete contracts. Andrew’s financial law discussions can be found in media sources such as CNBC’s Squawk Box and Worldwide Exchange, BBC’s World Report, Bloomberg, and the Wall Street Journal.


Violette, George

George Violette

Visiting Professor 

School of Business

George most recently lived in Portland, Maine where he was the Berry Dunn Distinguished Fellow of Accounting and Taxation at the University of Southern Maine. He received his Ph.D. from Arizona State University in Accounting and Tax, and holds a Maine CPA license. George has had extensive teaching and academic experience, ranging from Assistant Professor of Accounting at the University of Massachusetts to Professor of Accounting, Director of the Graduate Accounting Program, and Associate Dean of the School of Business at the University of Southern Maine. George has published over 35 articles in such journals as The Journal of the American Taxation Association, Behavioral Research in Accounting, The Journal of Accountancy and The CPA Journal. His research has covered such topics as tax policy and behavioral issues, accounting education, and accounting student understanding, training and interaction with the profession.


Warden, Shannon

Shannon Warden


Department of Counseling

Shannon returns to Wake Forest University in the Department of Counseling as a lecturer after earning her M.A.Ed in Counselor Education. Shannon received her B.A. in Journalism from Elon College before receiving her M.A.Ed from Wake and her Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education from UNC Greensboro. While at UNCG, she was a recipient of the Outstanding Doctoral Student Award as well as the NC-ACTS Service-Learning Award, an AmeriCorps award for community volunteerism. Her areas of research include counseling children, families, and couples; creativity in counseling and counselor education; assessment and program evaluation; counselor supervision; mental health services for rural populations; and spirituality in counseling. As a full-time counselor educator, mother, and wife, she does not counsel on a full-time basis, but still counsels when time permits. On a personal note, Shannon enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, attending sports events and concerts, watching the Andy Griffith Show, listening to 80s music, organizing anything that needs to be organized, and eating just about anything (especially Southern comfort foods).


Willis, James (Jim)

James Willis

Professor of Practice

School of Business

Moving from Richmond Virginia, Jim joins the Wake Forest community as a Professor of Practice in the School of Business. For the past seven years he has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Gray Holdings, LLC a large multi-family real estate company. Prior to joining Gray Holdings, Jim spent 24 years in public accounting, most recently as the partner in charge of tax services for the Atlantic Region of BDO USA, LLP. He has also held positions in the tax departments of Ernst & Young and Coopers & Lybrand (now PWC). His teaching experience includes graduate tax courses in Taxation of Property Transactions and Partnership Taxation at Virginia Commonwealth University and Principles of Accounting at John Tyler Community College. Jim received his B.S. in Accounting and his Master of Taxation from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he later received the VCU Beta Alpha Psi Outstanding Alumnus Award.


Wren, David

David Wren


Department of Chemistry

David received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of California, Davis before getting his M.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Colorado, Boulder. His biochemistry research focused on measuring calcium concentrations in Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms using a genetically encoded fluorescent resonance energy transfer sensor. While at the University of Colorado, David was a recipient of the Graduate Teaching Excellence Award and a Molecular Biophysics Fellowship. Upon completion of his Masters work, David earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Education from the University of Northern Colorado, where he graduated with the Graduate Dean’s Citation of Excellence. His doctoral research involved the development and evaluation of a concept inventory focusing on topics covered in college-level general chemistry. David brings his research interests of assessment development and psychometric evaluation to Wake Forest, along with his enthusiasm to bring evidence-based teaching practices into the classroom.


Yarfitz, Mir

Mir Yarfitz

Assistant Professor

Department of History

Mir has an extreme enthusiasm for Latin America, which is a product of his study abroad experience in Nicaragua, his Fulbright Fellowship in Argentina, and his work with migrant farmworker labor unions in Washington, Oregon, and Georgia. His teaching and research interests include US-Latin American relations, cultural production, social movements, dictatorship and resistance, racial hierarchies, migration, gender, sexuality, and masculinity. Mir graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Reed College with a B.A. in International and Comparative Policy Studies, later receiving his M.A. in Latin American History. At the University of California, Los Angeles, Mir earned his Ph.D. in Latin American History with a dissertation on Polacos, White Slaves, and Stille Chuppahs: Organized Prostitution and the Jews of Buenos Aires, 1890-1939. He is currently revising his dissertation into a book manuscript about the role of immigrant Ashkenazi Jews in organized prostitution in Buenos Aires between the 1890s and 1930s and in broader transnational flows of sex workers and moral opposition. Mir will be teaching The Americas and the World, Latin America’s Colonial Past, and Modern Latin America in the Department of History at Wake Forest.


Zanish-Belcher, Tanya

Senior Librarian 

Tanya Zanish-Belcher

Z. Smith Reynolds Library

Tanya received her B.A. in History and Medieval Studies from Ohio Wesleyan University and her M.A. in Historical and Archival Administrationfrom Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Immediately following, she worked as a Special Collection Archivist at the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery Alabama, and then as the Curator for the Archives of Women in Science and Engineering at Iowa State University. Later, Tanya became Head of the Special Collections Department and Head of the University Archives at Iowa State. Tanya has given numerous presentations to local and regional groups, as well as professional organizations such as the Midwest Archives Conference (MAC) and the Society of American Archivists (SAA). She is a Past President of MAC and is currently a member of SAA Council. She was named an SAA Fellow in 2011, the highest accolade given by the Society. Her most recent publication is Perspectives on Women’s Archives for the Society of American Archivists and she is also the author of “’A Culture of Concealment’: Revealing the Records of Human Reproduction.”