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Meet St. Mary's Newest Faculty, 2014-15

August 15, 2014
Press Release #14-059


This 2014-15 academic year, St. Mary’s College welcomes two new tenure track faculty and four visiting faculty. 

Tenure Track Faculty

James Mantell, assistant professor of psychology, earned his undergraduate degree from Millersville University Honors College and master’s degree and Ph.D. from SUNY Buffalo. Mantell was previously a graduate instructor of psychology at SUNY Buffalo. His research interests include auditory perception and action, and the vocal imitation of song and speech.

Barry R. Muchnick, assistant professor of environmental studies, earned a joint Ph.D. from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale University’s History Department for his research on the intersection of environmentalism and social justice. His current book project, "American Environmental Citizenship: Moral Ecology at the Century’s Turn," explores how reformers use nature to cultivate activism in different historical contexts. Combining graduate degrees in both natural science and the humanities, Dr. Muchnick has published action-oriented reports to help rural communities deal with environmental issues ranging from wildlife management to agricultural pollution and has focused on cross-disciplinary collaboration across academic, non-profit, philanthropic, and business sectors. Concurrent with his academic career he has helped launch a green tech start up, operated a sustainable property management consulting practice, run a design studio specializing in upcycled materials, and helped develop an environmental intern and fellows program. Shaped by his own fieldwork tracking Grizzly bears, wolves, and desert tortoises for the USGS Biological Survey before graduate school, Dr. Muchnick is especially interested in developing experiential learning and internship opportunities for St. Mary’s students. 

Visiting Faculty

Laura Eierman, visiting assistant professor of biology, earned her undergraduate degrees from Salisbury University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and master’s degrees from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Towson University. Most recently, she earned a Ph.D. from Cornell University. Her research interests include the management and restoration of species that impact the ecosystem, marine systems, environmental variability and eastern oysters. 

Abdel Salam Sayyad, visiting assistant professor of computer science, earned his undergraduate degree at Birzeit University, master’s degree at the University of Maryland and Ph.D. at West Virginia University. He was previously a design engineer at Patton Electronics Company and taught in the Department of Computer Systems Engineering at Birzeit University. His research interests include multi-objective optimization, metaheuristic search algorithms and search-based software engineering. 

Troy K. Townsend, visiting assistant professor of chemistry, earned his undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis. Townsend was previously a graduate student fellow with the National Science Foundation at UC Davis and a post-doctoral fellow with the National Research Council at the U.S. Naval Research Lab. His research interests include materials science, optoelectronics, nanocrystals, surface chemistry and semiconductors.

Russell J. Webster, visiting assistant professor of psychology, earned his undergraduate degree from North Central College, master’s degree from Ball State University and Ph.D. from Kansas State University. Webster was previously a visiting assistant professor of psychology at Gustavus Adolphus College and North Central College. His research interests include pro-sociality.