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Welcome 2020 College of Arts and Sciences New Faculty and Staff

Sep 10, 2021
5 min Read
Welcome 2020 College of Arts and Sciences New Faculty and Staff

Creighton’s College of Arts and Sciences welcomes 13 new faculty and three new staff this fall. These new faculty and staff members come from across the country and bring with them new talents to help the College of Arts and Sciences continue to grow and prosper. Read more about each of these bright new additions to the College of Arts and Sciences. 

New Full-Time Tenure Track Faculty

Steven Lawrence Fernandes
Department of Computer Science, Design and Journalism
PhD, Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences
MTech, Manipal Institute of Technology
BE, Visvesvaraya Technological University

Steven Lawrence Fernandes began his postdoctoral research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he worked on NIH-funded projects. He also conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Central Florida. This research included working on DARPA, NSF, and RBC funded projects. His publications include research articles in highly selective artificial intelligence venues. Fernandes’ current area of research is focused on using artificial intelligence techniques to extract useful patterns from big data. This includes robust computer vision applications using deep learning and computer-aided diagnosis using medical image processing.

Angela J. Lederach
Department of Cultural and Social Studies
PhD, University of Notre Dame
MA, University of Notre Dame
BA, University of Notre Dame 

Angela Lederach received her dual PhD in anthropology and peace studies from the University of Notre Dame. Prior to graduate study, Lederach worked as a peacebuilding and restorative justice practitioner in Sierra Leone, Philippines, Guatemala, Colombia and the United States. Her current research focuses on the politics of peacebuilding in Colombia, where she has been engaged in participatory and ethnographic research with grassroots peace movements since 2014. Her scholarship highlights the intersection between environmental justice and peacebuilding and outlines the less visible ways that local, campesino (small farming) communities resist and work to transform the compounding violence of armed conflict, environmental degradation and social inequality. As an applied anthropologist, Lederach has presented her findings to international peacebuilding organizations and policymakers such as the United Nations, the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace in Colombia and the U.S. Institute of Peace. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cycling, craft brews and birdwatching.

Rachel Mindrup
Department of Fine and Performing Arts
MFA, Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University
BFA, University of Nebraska at Kearney

Rachel Mindrup is the Dr. Richard L. Deming, MD, Endowed Chair in Medical Humanities at the Creighton University School of Medicine. She is also an assistant professor of drawing and painting in the Fine and Performing Arts Department. She received her BFA from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and continued with atelier studies at the Art Academy of Los Angeles. She received her MFA from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. Her current painting practice is about the study of the figure and portraiture in contemporary art and its relation to medicine. Mindrup’s work has been shown nationally and internationally, including the Queens Museum in New York, Tufts University, Georgia Regents University and Washington University Medical School, as well as in Taiwan and the Philippines. Her artwork is held in many private collections, including those of Primatologist Jane Goodall and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Mindrup and her husband, Jeff, enjoy spending time traveling to National Park sites with their sons, Henry and Fred.

Jan Powers
Department of Education, School Counseling and Preventive Mental Health
PhD, University of Iowa
MA, University of Iowa
BA, University of Northern Iowa

Jan Powers is a veteran educator; formerly a K-12 music instructor teaching band and vocal music. After earning her master’s degree, she enjoyed her role as school counselor in K-12 education. Powers’ research interests are trauma-informed practices in schools and in career counseling, the neurobiology of learning and the promotion of social justice in schools. As a school counselor involved in community-based participatory research, she helped with the design and development of We Can! Building Relationships and Resilience, a trauma-informed professional development for schools. Due to this research, Powers was invited to earn her doctorate, and is delighted to now “pass the baton” and empower future school counselors through Creighton University. Powers is passionate about the role of school counselors and the potential for transformative leadership through the ASCA model and the Creighton mission. She is also very proud of her three grown children and their families, which include nine grandchildren. Powers also loves to garden and enjoy nature.   

New Full-Time Faculty

Erin Blankenship-Sefczek
Departments of Cultural and Social Studies and Exercise Science
PhD, Ohio State University
MA, San Diego State University
BA, San Diego State University

Erin Blankenship-Sefczek attended San Diego State University, where she began working in the biological anthropology lab as a sophomore. After graduation, she transitioned to graduate school at San Diego State University, where she earned her Master of Arts in anthropology with an emphasis in biological anthropology and bioarchaeology. For the next year, Blankenship-Sefczek worked on course development while she taught at San Diego City College. In 2011, she and her husband moved to Columbus, Ohio, to pursue a PhD, where she studied dental anthropology and bioarchaeology. Blankenship-Sefczek has two ongoing research projects. The first is an exploration of how the ancient Maya social system impacts biological health for people within each tier. The second focuses on understanding the effects of childhood physiological stress on tooth size and shape. In addition to her work, Blankenship-Sefczek and her husband enjoy cooking, reading and collecting comics with their twin 5-year-old boys.

Sarah M. Giacomini
Department of Exercise Science and Pre-Health Professions
BS, Creighton University

Sarah Giacomini attended Creighton University on an academic merit scholarship for her undergraduate degree. After completing her degree in exercise science, she began working in the Creighton Exercise Science Department as an adjunct instructor. A certified American College of Sports Medicine Personal Trainer, she enjoys teaching the weight training courses at Creighton. In her free time, Giacomini enjoys Orange Theory, cooking and spending time with friends.

Katherine P. Hazen
Department of Psychological Science
JD, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
MA, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
BS, Endicott College 

Katherine Hazen is a doctoral candidate in the Law-Psychology and Social and Cognitive Psychology Programs at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She received her JD, with a concentration in constitutional law, from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2018 and her BA in psychology, with a concentration in criminal justice, from Endicott College in 2012. Since 2014, Hazen has served as a graduate research assistant and program evaluator at the UNL Center on Children, Families, and the Law for the Nebraska Resource Project for Vulnerable Young Children and the Children’s Justice Clinic. Broadly, she studies the role of social identity in interactions between decision audiences, decision-makers and decision systems by examining questions related to how decision-making processes influence cooperation and support by increasing a sense of belonging. Hazen lives in Lincoln with her husband and two dogs (Milo and Jade). She spends her free time running, baking, reading fantasy books and legal/political nonfiction, and road-tripping.  

Leticia Rincón Herce
Department of Modern Languages and Literature
PhD, University of Georgia
MA, University of Kentucky
BA, Universidad de Valladolid

Leticia Rincón Herce is originally from Spain. She completed her bachelor’s degree in translation and interpreting with a focus on French and English at the University of Valladolid in Soria (Spain). After graduation, she moved to the United States to pursue her master’s degree in Hispanic studies at the University of Kentucky. She continued her education at the University of Georgia, where she earned her PhD in Hispanic linguistics. Her research focuses on judicial discourse in Spanish and English. The goal of her research is to gain a deeper understanding of how culturally available narratives affect text production and perception in the judicial systems of Puerto Rico, Spain and the United States.

Colin P. Holloway
Department of Psychological Science
PhD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
JD, University of Emory School of Law
BA, Carnegie Mellon University

Colin Holloway is an assistant professor of psychology. Holloway earned his bachelor’s degree in behavioral decision science from Carnegie Mellon University and his law degree from the University of Emory School of Law. After practicing law, Holloway attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he earned his PhD in psychology with a research focus in legal studies. 

Sangmi Jeong
Department of Political Science and International Relations
PhD, University of Arizona
MA, University of Arizona
MA, Seoul National University, South Korea
BA, Seoul National University, South Korea

Sangmi Jeong received her BA and MA in international relations from Seoul National University in South Korea. She worked as an activist at NANCEN, the Center for Refugee Rights in South Korea, and as a researcher at the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Jeong then started her PhD training in international relations and comparative politics at the University of Arizona. She received her PhD in government and public policy in December 2019. Her doctoral dissertation explores under what conditions popular protests can increase governments’ bargaining leverage in international negotiations. Her teaching and research interests center on the influence of domestic politics on foreign policy, protests and civil resistance, international and intrastate conflict, and state repression. Jeong lives with a cuddly cat, Aesongii. She loves strong coffee, rainy days, baseball and cooking.

Grace L. Kelly
Department of Exercise Science and Pre-Health Professions
BS, Creighton University

Grace Kelly graduated last May from Creighton University with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and pre-health professions. She now works as an adjunct instructor in the department. She enjoys biking, running, teaching group fitness classes and spending time with her dog, Bluejay. 

Josef Raoul Rodriguez, SJ
Department of Philosophy
MA, Fordham University
BA, Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum

Josef Rodriguez first entered the Legionaries of Christ after high school to pursue religious life. He earned degrees in the liberal arts and philosophy through the Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, with a focus on Thomism. He also gained experience in Gregorian chant and choir directing. After 10 years of active Legionary life, followed by two years of lay life, he entered the Society of Jesus in 2016. He completed a master’s degree in philosophy at Fordham University, this time focusing on phenomenology. He also studied composition through Juilliard’s Evening Division. His work and ministerial experience includes secondary education, adult education, campus ministry, youth and adult retreat direction and hospital chaplaincy. Rodriguez is currently fulfilling the stage in Jesuit formation known as Regency, a period of focused apostolic work. Aside from his research in phenomenology and hermeneutics, Rodriguez is actively composing liturgical and non-liturgical music. Outside of those activities, he can be found in the kitchen immersed in the culinary arts.

Patrick Saint-Jean, SJ
Department of Psychological Science
PsyD, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico
MDiv, Catholic Theological Union
MA, Catholic Theological Union
MA, Universidad Del Valle de Mexico
MA, Université Notre Dame d’Haiti
BA, Univeristé Victor Ségalen

Patrick Saint-Jean attended Université Victor Ségalen de Bordeaux and graduated with an honor scholarship then a grant scholarship from the French government. After graduation, he moved to Paris for graduate study in psychoanalysis at École Lacanienne de Psychanalyse. For the next 10 years he worked and studied in Congo, Kinshasa; Florence, Italy; Katalua, Brazil; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and Mexico City, Mexico, where he completed his PsyD at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico. Saint-Jean then taught at the same institution, while working at Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social. Saint-Jean’s research focused on the analogy of words as path to freedom and pathology to the boundary to innocent. He received a fellowship from the School of Social Science at the University of Chicago in 2014. Saint-Jean joined the Society of Jesus in 2016 and currently is in the stage of formation known as Regency, a period of focus on apostolic work. In his free time, he enjoys writing and reading about race and racism, reading about Ignatian spirituality, talking to family, friends and gazing at The New York Times and The Atlantic

New Staff

Courtney Bird
Sr. Director of Finance, Undergraduate Colleges and Graduate School
Dean’s Office

Courtney graduated from Creighton University with a bachelor’s degree in finance. She has an MBA from Northeastern University in Boston. Bird has led finance teams in the consumer-packaged goods industry for many years along with work as a finance consultant and interim CFO. Bird is excited to be back at Creighton and looks forward to partnering with the CCAS Dean’s Office.

Jake Schaffert
Sr. Financial Analyst, Undergraduate Colleges
Dean’s Office

Jake Schaffert was born and raised in Aurora, Nebraska. He graduated from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. Prior to coming to Creighton University, he was a capital asset accountant at Kiewit Corporation. Schaffert loves spending time with his wife and three kids. He is very happy to be part of the Dean’s Office and already feels the love of the Creighton family.

Logan Skrabal
Graduate Assistant, College of Arts and Sciences
Dean’s Office

Logan Skrabal is pursuing a Master of Business Administration at Creighton University while assisting with college initiatives and working with faculty and staff on various projects as a graduate assistant throughout the duration of his program. Prior to joining Creighton, Skrabal earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with majors in advertising/public relations and sports media/communication and minors in business and history. He is from Omaha and enjoys spending time with his family and friends.