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Meeting Drew University’s Newest Faculty

Getting to know a diverse group of new professors

August 2023 – A new academic year is starting at Drew University, complete with an historic number of first-year and transfer students.

The new students aren’t the only fresh faces on campus. So, too, are a few professors. Let’s get to know them!

Karen Smith, Assistant Professor of Economics

Why Drew?

I chose to come to Drew because of its reputation for combining theory with practice in Business and Economics. The opportunity to work closely with students to connect macroeconomic and financial models with a real-world immersive experience in the Wall Street Semester made Drew the most compelling choice! I was also very impressed by the students in the program, who seemed to have a strong grasp of some of the most important macroeconomic issues. I’m looking forward to every moment of this experience!

Where were you before Drew?

I was a student in Brandeis University’s Ph.D. Program in International Economics and Finance.

What would students be surprised to learn about you?

I have had several years of formal training in playing the piano and had dreams of becoming a classical pianist! How I made the switch from music to economics and finance – I’m still trying to understand.

Kamal Benslama, Assistant Professor of Physics

Why Drew?

I came to Drew because I really value liberal arts education. Drew also offers undergraduate students the golden opportunity to have the kinds of real-world lab research experiences that most students won’t get until graduate school or working in the professional world. I am so excited to be a member of the Drew community so I can work closely with students, help them navigate their research experiences at Drew, and facilitate their collaboration with international teams working at the cutting edge of physics.

Where were you before Drew?

As a experimental particle physicist, I had the honor to contribute to several experiments in both Europe and North America. I worked on the ATLAS experiment at the CERN Laboratory in Geneva as a member of the physics department of Columbia University. I also contributed to the CLEO Experiment at Wilson Laboratory at Cornell University. In terms of teaching, I taught physics in Europe, Canada, and at Loyola University and Towson University in Maryland.

What would students be surprised to learn about you?

I am a big soccer fan, specifically Real Madrid! I was a soccer player and at some point I had to choose between soccer and physics. Physics won and I am glad I made this choice.

Chelsea Ebin, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Why Drew?

I was initially drawn to Drew because the department was looking for someone who works at the intersections of American politics, political theory, and gender studies. I had never seen a job description that so closely matched my research interests, so I jumped at the opportunity to apply. Then, when I interviewed, I was struck by how everyone I met talked about their teaching and students. While I’m passionate about my research, I really value my role as an educator and wanted to join a community of scholars who are invested in teaching and care about student learning. I felt like I found just such a community in the Political Science Department at Drew, which made the decision to come here a really easy one.

Where were you before Drew?

For the past three years, I was an Assistant Professor of Politics at Centre College in Kentucky. Before that, I was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rollins College in Florida. I got my Ph.D. at the New School for Social Research in New York City. While I learned a lot living in Florida and Kentucky, I was eager to move back to the East Coast.

What would students be surprised to learn about you?

I spend a lot of time cooking and baking, and my secret power is adapting recipes to make them plant-based.

Janet Berthel, Assistant Teaching Professor of Chemistry

Why Drew?

Two things have always drawn me to Drew, the passion of its faculty members and the genuine intellectual curiosity of its students.

Where were you before Drew?

Teaching many things in many places to many different people—everything from intro high school chemistry to graduate courses for pre-service teachers. But at Drew I’m really excited to be able to focus on one of the things I love teaching most, organic chemistry.

What would students be surprised to learn about you?

I am a life-long Buffalo Bills football fan. What is surprising about that is how anyone can endure the seemingly inevitable disappointment and heartache of being a Bills fan for so long.

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