Meet Our Faculty

Average class size: 18

CullinaneJudith
Cathryn Mercier
jones
Dana Grossman Leeman

215

Full-time faculty members,
70% of whom are women.

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Student-to-faculty
ratio of 10:1

Jennifer Putney
Williams
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“The faculty are extremely accessible. There’s the sense that we’re here for common goals.”

Kara Mellonakos '15HCMBA

Kimberly O'Brien
Duty

Masato Aoki

I started my own college education as a pre-med major. (Guess what my parents did.) In my second semester, I discovered economics, and I’ve been a student of economic systems ever since. I continue to be fascinated by the dynamics that subject the economy to instability and even crisis; competing economic theories, from those that celebrate market outcomes to those that problematize class; economics as a window into social justice issues; and education reform movements as reflections of economic priorities. While I did not become a physician, I have devoted my life to studying the physiology and metabolic system of an important patient: the economy.

I love teaching as a craft, as a way to inspire students, and as a way to be inspired by students and colleagues. The classroom is a sanctuary, and time preparing for class and helping students pursue their own research is precious. Teaching extends to working one-on-one with students during office hours and engaging in intellectual play with the Economics Student Liaison (similar to economics “clubs” at other institutions). I also take great pleasure in advising students, which for me means helping them (1) discover their passions, (2) figure out what difference they want to make in the world and how to prepare to make that difference, and (3) navigate Simmons and Boston to get to most out of their college experience.

Carole Biewener

With a background in Economic Development and Political Economy and a joint appointment in Economics and Women’s and Gender Studies, Professor Biewener’s most current research interests address the political economy of food – a fabulous way of combining her love of gardening and food with her keen interest in community economies.

In 2013 she completed a long-term, collaborative research project with Marie-Hélène Bacqué (Professor of Urban Studies, Université de Paris Ouest Nanterre) that traced the genealogy of the term "empowerment" in the fields of gender and development, urban policy and social work. Publications from this research include “Feminism and the Politics of Empowerment in International Development” (forthcoming in Air and Space Power Journal–Africa and Francophonie); L’empowerment, une pratique emancipatrice (Editions La Découverte, 2013; Spanish translation forthcoming in 2015); and “Different manifestations of the concept of empowerment. The politics of urban renewal in the United States and Great Britain” (International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, August 2012).

Prior research and publications have addressed community development and social economy projects in the United States and Canada, debates at the intersection of poststructuralist feminism and postmodern Marxism, and the French Socialist government's financial and industrial policies in the 1980s.

Currently Professor Biewener is an Associate Editor for Signs, Journal of Women in Culture and Society and she has served on the Editorial Board of Rethinking Marxism (1990-2001). In 2009 she co-organized (with Randy Albelda, UMass-Boston) the 18th Annual Conference of the International Association for Feminist Economics, “Engendering Economic Policy,” which was hosted by Simmons College.

Professor Biewener oversees the Economics Department Internship program, and was Coordinator for the interdisciplinary minor in Social Justice from 2004-2013.

Cathryn Mercier

Cathryn Mercier

As an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College (BA '81) Cathie Mercier was drawn to the scientific emphasis and empiricism of experimental psychology. A psychology major, she did not take her first course in children's literature until her senior year. "Like Alice, I fell down the rabbit hole and I've yet to come up," said Mercier.


Cathie brought the taut writing style and analytical sensibility required of psychology to the study of literature for children and young adults. She completed her Master of Arts degree in Children's Literature in 1984; in 1993 she earned a Master of Philosophy in English at Simmons as a steppingstone to her doctoral studies. She pursued doctoral work in the University Professors Program at Boston University ('02) where she wrote about the confluence of social movements and images of the child in American picturebooks. She holds a PhD in Children's Literature.


Cathie was appointed to Simmons in 1985 and has been teaching in the graduate degree program in children's literature ever since. She teaches criticism, contemporary young adult realism, the child in fiction, the picturebook and a survey course. Her thesis, independent study, and internship advising embrace a wide range of topics, from a cultural analysis of Printz titles to an annotated bibliography of historical fiction for curricular use. "As advisor of a thesis that asked, 'What can queer theory tell children's literature?' I met regularly with the student to discuss ideas. We both learned from the books, and I hope she learned from me. But I consider it my best teaching experience because of how very much I learned from her," said Mercier, who was thrilled when part of her student's thesis was included in a book of new voices in children's literary criticism.


In the undergraduate curriculum, she taught children's literature as a key focus in her honors seminar titled "Stories of Childhood," a course that was part of a learning community that paired with Economics professor Niloufer Sohrabji's course "Stories of Democracy." She won the Dean's Award for Excellence in Academic Advising.


At Simmons, Cathie has served in a variety of administrative roles. Currently, she directs the Center for the Study of Children's Literature,the graduate degree programs in the Master of Arts in Children's Literature, the Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children (on-campus and at The Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA), and dual degree programs that combine the MA with degrees in library science, or teaching, or writing for children.


Cathie has been contributed to Children's Literature and to The Horn Book. Her skill at "close reading, an ability to talk about books so that others see the book at its most ambitious and complex, and a talent for collaboration" have made her a valuable member of national book award committee.  She currently serves on the Subaru Prize Committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences/ Young Adult Division.


Past award selection service includes the 2012 Caldecott Award (Ball for Daisy),  1999 Newbery Award Committee (Holes), the 1994 Caldecott Award (Grandfather's Journey), and the inaugural 2000 Sibert Award Committee (Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado). Cathie was honored to serve Chair of the 2009 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Committee (Ashley Bryan) and as Chair of the 2004 Sibert Award Committee (The American Plague). She has twice been a member (once chairing) the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and served as a judge for the New York Times Best Illustrated Books.  


Cathie  completed her third study of an important young adult author with co-writer Susan Bloom; it also marks their third book with editor Patty Campbell.  Russell Freedman was published in 2009 by Scarecrow Press and will be the first book at Scarecrow to focus on nonfiction. Prior collaborations are Presenting Avi and Presenting Zibby Oneal. These books and their audience of teachers, librarians, and young adults fit perfectly into Cathie's driving belief that the "work of the critic is not to 'take apart' a book, but to read well and deeply enough to offer insight and illumination to the text and to oneself."

Cathryn Mercier's Curriculum Vitae

jones

Justin Jones

I am a physical therapist with orthopedic specialization and have been practicing in outpatient rehabilitation for the past 15 years.  I have an interest in general orthopedics and sports medicine related conditions with a specific focus on rehabilitation of the shoulder.  I have enjoyed teaching at Simmons for the past 8 years and feel that the combination of small class sizes, engaged and accessible faculty, and the incorporation of problem based learning really prepares graduates to be leaders in the changing health care environment.


Afaa Weaver

Afaa Michael Weaver (Michael S. Weaver) was born in Baltimore, Maryland, where he graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute at the age of sixteen as a National Merit finalist. After two years at the University of Maryland, he entered fifteen years of factory work, during which time he wrote and published.

During the Vietnam War, Professor Weaver served honorably in the 342nd Army Security Agency of the Army Reserves. He ended that period of blue collar factory work in 1985, when he received an NEA fellowship in poetry. In that same year Professor Weaver entered Brown University's graduate writing program on a full university fellowship. While completing his M.A. at Brown, he also completed his B.A. in Literature in English at Excelsior College.

Later Professor Weaver taught at Essex County College, Seton Hall Law School, New York University, Brooklyn College, and Borough of Manhattan Community College. He came to Simmons in 1998, after receiving tenure with distinction at Rutgers University. At Simmons he is a tenured full professor and holds the Alumnae Endowed Chair, the first chair to be established at the college and one that is reserved for working writers.

In addition to the NEA, Professor Weaver has received several awards over the years, including the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award (2014), May Sarton Award (2010), several Pushcart Prizes (2008, 2013, 2014), a Pew fellowship (1998), a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship (1994), and a Fulbright appointment as a scholar (2002) at National Taiwan University and Taipei National University of the Arts.

He is the author of numerous books of poetry, a collection of essays which he edited, several essays and articles in various academic and trade publications, and short fiction. As a freelance journalist he has written for the Baltimore Sunpapers, Baltimore Afro-American, The Philadelphia Tribune, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore City Paper, and The Philadelphia Sun. He has been the editor of Obsidian III at North Carolina State University, and the editor and founder of 7th Son Press in Baltimore.

At Brown, Professor Weaver focused on playwriting and theatre. His master's thesis was a full length play entitled Rosa, which was produced professionally in 1993 at Venture Theater in Philadelphia. In that same year he won the PDI Award in playwriting from ETA Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of several other plays, including Berea, which has received two staged readings, one in Chicago and one in Philadelphia.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates of Harvard University has described Professor Weaver as "...one of the most significant poets writing today." Ed Ochester, professor emeritus at University of Pittsburgh has said Professor Weaver is "...the African American successor to Walt Whitman."

Professor Weaver studies Chinese on an ongoing basis, and in 2005 he tested successfully in the intermediate level of fluency in Speaking, Reading, and Writing at the Taipei Language Institute in Taipei, Taiwan. He has convened two international conferences on contemporary Chinese poetry at Simmons and, in that way, given the college an international presence in the world of Chinese poetry. In 2005 he was awarded a gold friendship medal from the Chinese Writers' Association in Beijing, China.

Professor Weaver's papers are held in repository at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University.

Janie Ward

I am the co-editor of three books, Mapping the Moral Domain: A Contribution of Women’s Thinking to Psychological Theory and Research (Harvard University Press, 1988), Souls Looking Back: Life Stories of Growing Up Black (Routledge, 1999) and Gender and Teaching, with Frances Maher, published in 2001 by Lawrence Erlbaum. I also wrote the book, The Skin We're In: Teaching Our Children to be Emotionally Strong, Socially Smart and Spiritually Connected (Free Press/Simon and Schuster, 2000). 

In 1990-92 I was the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for the Study of Black Literature and Culture, University of Pennsylvania, and in 1996-97 I was a Visiting Scholar at the Wellesley College Centers for Women. From 2000-2003, I served as the Director for the Alliance on Gender, Culture and School Practice at Harvard Graduate School of Education. With Harvard Professor Wendy Luttrell, I was Co-Principal Investigator of Project ASSERT, a five-year school based research study and curriculum development project exploring issues of gender, culture and school practice for urban elementary and middle school teachers. This project ended in 2006.

Kimberly O'Brien

Kimberly O'Brien

Assistant Professor Kimberly O’Brien, LICSW, PhD, has a joint appointment as Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and holds a per diem clinical position as a psychiatric social worker in the Emergency Department at Boston Children’s Hospital. She recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University. She teaches clinical practice courses at Simmons and focuses her research on the development of interventions for adolescents with suicidal thoughts and behaviors and/or substance abuse problems.

Randi Lite

As a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP) with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), I am passionate about the positive role that physical activity can play in chronic disease management and optimizing health. I am also passionate about service to my profession, in particular to advancing career opportunities for exercise professionals to be engaged in preventive health care.

My introduction to exercise physiology occurred with my first job as an Exercise Specialist in a hospital based sports medicine and fitness program. I was lucky to get in on the ground floor of creating a medical fitness facility that served both healthy adults and those with chronic diseases and conditions, like severe osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, and cognitive trauma. In those days, even pregnancy was treated like a medical condition when it came to exercise. I was part of a group that pushed for acceptance of a pregnancy exercise program within the sports medicine facility that trained pregnant women like athletes preparing for an event. Our hospital was also an Olympic Research and Training program, so I was privileged to work with Team Handball players before the 1984 games. 

I have also worked in Employee Fitness and Wellness as manager of a hospital based Occupational Health Promotion Program. This program serviced area businesses and industries in Central Massachusetts with programs like Back Care Workshops, Smoking Cessation Programs, Employee Fitness Programs, and Stress Management Programs. Here I learned first hand how physical activity and targeted exercise could alleviate workplace-related stress and injury. Our clients ran the gambit from office workers who sat all day to laborers in manufacturing who had very physical jobs involving lifting, carrying, and twisting motions.

My scholarship at Simmons has taken many directions, like working with K-12 children to use technology to learn about wellness, quantifying energy expenditure and muscular demands of Exergaming, and most recently, assessing and evaluating the physical capacity of athletes on the Simmons Swimming and Diving Team.

I am also very involved in service to my profession. I have been active in both my State and National professional organizations and am currently chairing ACSM’s Exam Development Team, which oversees the revision of five certification exams for Exercise and Fitness professionals (Group Exercise Instructor, Personal Trainer, Health Fitness Specialist, Certified Exercise Specialist, and Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist). 

As Program Director for the BS in Exercise Science, I am committed to engaging students in challenging coursework that provides a firm base in science and research alongside real-world experiences to build skill in exercise assessment, prescription, and programming.

Niloufer Sohrabji

As a college student I was drawn to economics because it taught me how to think about, and address the many challenges that ail our world. I became an educator because I wanted to share this knowledge and inspire my students to make a positive difference in the world.

Duty

Susan Duty

After obtained her doctoral degree in occupational epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2002, Dr. Susan Duty joined the nursing faculty in the nursing program at Simmons College. She is an associate professor and teaches across the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral curriculums. She is also certified as an Adult Nurse Practitioner with specialization in Occupational Health.

In addition to her teaching responsibilities at Simmons, Susan works clinically at South Shore Hospital as a Nurse Research Scientist and is a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her research agenda explores environmental exposures to plasticizers including phthalates and bisphenol A and works collaborative with students and multidisciplinary faculty on studies exploring Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus colonization of people, pets and surfaces. She has many peer reviewed publications and has presented her work regionally, nationally and internationally. She has more recently extended her scholarly activity into clinical research translation aimed at reducing 30-day readmissions, enhancing mammography compliance, improving satisfaction with patient care and reducing hospital acquired adverse outcomes.

Grant funding has been secured from highly competitive National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, the National Institute for Environmental Health and Safety, as well as from the Simmons College President's Fund and from private foundations like the Passport Foundation and the New England Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Association.

Dr. Duty is a member of the Organization of Nurse Leaders Research Council. She also serves as a peer reviewer for many top tier journals.  Dr. Duty received The Theresa LaPlante Award for Excellence in Administration from Sigma Theta Tau and is President of the Theta-at-large Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International.