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New faculty: Introducing Memorialís new teachers and researchers

John Bodner, Social/Cultural Studies, Grenfell College

A faculty member in Grenfell College's social/cultural studies program, John Bodner enjoys the challenges of ethnographic, observation based fieldwork. He applied his favoured research method recently when conducting research on a street kid community in downtown Toronto.

“I love fieldwork, but it is a tool not an end in itself,” said Mr. Bodner, who lived on the streets with the kids for a summer. “My interest in street kids stemmed from different concerns, some personal and some political. I want my research to engage productively in an active social debate; I want it actually to matter to people's lives.”

Though he has had opportunity to study and write on a number of different subjects, he said they reflect similar enduring themes in his scholarship: youth, extreme labouring, subcultures, power/conflict and politics.

Mr. Bodner received a BA from Trent University; an MA from Memorial University and is currently pursuing a PhD at Memorial.

At Grenfell, Mr. Bodner teaches Introduction to Folklore, Folklore and Popular Culture, Folklife, and a new class for Grenfell this fall, Material Culture.

Angela Carter, Environmental Studies, Grenfell College

Angela Carter, born in Corner Brook, now finds herself back again, this time as a faculty member in Grenfell College’s environmental studies program, as well as a driver of the brand new Environmental Policy Institute.

Ms. Carter has spent the last decade moving around for undergraduate and graduate work and fieldwork: Ottawa, New York State, Alaska, Alberta and Wyoming.

The move to the Corner Brook campus struck Ms. Carter as a multi-faceted opportunity.

“It is an ideal position for me,” she said. “Not only does it encourage me to build a research agenda, to teach in my specialization and to contribute to the growing EVST program, but it also allows me to help develop one of Grenfell's first graduate programs, a master's in environmental policy, as well as the Environmental Policy Institute.

“These two initiatives will foster knowledge and progress on environmental policy in this province and I think this is critical.”

Ms. Carter’s current research is focused on the final stages of her doctoral dissertation, which she’s completing from Cornell University's Government Department (political science). The project compares environmental regulatory regimes surrounding oil developments in key oil-dependent Canadian and American cases, Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, Alaska and Wyoming.

Dr. Marica Cassis, Department of History

Dr. Marica Cassis finished her PhD early in 2007 and held a postdoctoral position at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto prior to arriving in St. John’s. She is currently the only professor in the history department to focus primarily on medieval Middle-Eastern history.

Dr. Cassis hopes to develop her area into a larger segment of the department through the creation of a new group of courses over the next couple of years. A course she plans to offer in the near future is an Introduction to Middle Eastern History.

Apart from teaching, Dr. Cassis also runs the Byzantine section of a small archaeological project in Turkey and is on the board of directors for the Canadian Society for Syriac Studies, an organization for the history of Syriac-speaking Christians. Dr. Cassis has authored publications in the areas of Syriac studies and Byzantine archaeology.

Dr. Cassis' dissertation won the 2007 Best Medieval Dissertation in Canada which is awarded through the Canadian Society of Medievalists. She enjoys the pace of St. John's and MUN in general, and looks forward to continuing her teaching and research in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dr. Roselyne Okech, Tourism Studies, Grenfell College

Dr. Roselyne Okech came to Grenfell College in 2008 having worked in Kenya for 10 years in the areas of tourism and hospitality management. She has also been a guest lecturer twice in Wageningen University in The Netherlands and done consultancies in Kenya and as well as Rwanda.

Dr. Okech, who holds a PhD in tourism from the University of KwaZulu-Natal South Africa (2004), joins a faculty which is involved in delivering Grenfell’s relatively new BA in tourism studies, launched in 2006.

Dr. Okech’s research includes ecotourism planning and management, cultural tourism in various communities in Africa and issues in sustainable tourism and events.

"I am going to focus on local communities in North America to learn of different experiences and challenges, if any, from those of Africa," she said.

Dr. Okech has written numerous articles on the subject appearing in Anatolia; International Journal for Women and Gender Research; Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality and Tourism; World Journal of Tourism, Leisure and Sports; Tourism Today Journal; Cornell Quarterly among others.

Dr. Okech teaches third- and fourth-year courses in ecotourism, resource valuation, parks and protected areas, colloquium in tourism management and community and cultural tourism.

Dr. Sevtap Savas, Discipline of Genetics, Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Sevtap Savas brings strengths in genetic cancer research and computational analyses to the Discipline of Genetics. Her research program in human genetic disease involves single gene disorders and cancer, where genetics plays a role in susceptibility, treatment response (pharmacogenetics), and disease prognosis and survival. She is also interested in computational data analysis and establishment of public databases.

Dr. Savas said the unique genetic structure of the Newfoundland population attracted her to work in this province as well as the scientifically well-established members of the Discipline of Genetics at MUN.

Dr. Savas has previously worked on breast and head and neck cancers, childhood onset spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), and the Acadian Usher type I syndrome. Dr. Savas completed her PhD in molecular biology and genetics at Bogazici University, Turkey, in 1999. She trained as a post-doctoral fellow/research associate at the Louisiana State University in the U.S., at Mount Sinai Hospital Research Institute and the Ontario Cancer Institute at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.

In addition to her academic and work experience, Dr. Savas has a certified associate in project management (CAPM) credential from the Project Management Institute.