Meet Our Faculty

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Average class size: 18

Denise Hildreth
Katherine Wisser
beebe

215

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

jones
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Student-to-faculty
ratio of 10:1

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

Kara Mellonakos '15HCMBA

Tien Ung
Naresh Agarwal
Fung

Valerie Leiter

Val Leiter teaches courses on medical sociology, research methods, and sociology of childhood and youth—these topics dovetail with her research on children and youth with disabilities, medicalization, and gender and health. She received the Irving K. Zola award for Emerging Scholars in Disability Studies in 2004 for her work on "Parental Activism, Professional Dominance, and Early Childhood Disability." Her first book, Their Time Has Come: Youth with Disabilities on the Cusp of Adulthood, was published in 2012, a result of her William T. Grant Foundation Scholars project on the “Transition to Adulthood Among Youth with Disabilities.” The Sociology of Health & Illness: Critical Perspectives (9th edition), co-edited with Peter Conrad, was also published in 2012.

She is active in the Society for the Study of Social Problems and the American Sociological Association, where she has multiple leadership positions, including membership on ASA’s Committee on Professional Ethics and the Editorial Advisory Board of Social Problems. On campus, Val is the Co-Chair of the Institutional Review Board, Co-Director of the Public Health program, and a member of the steering committee for the Master in Public Policy program.

Val mentors several students each year on their independent research projects. Right now, she is working with Sidney Jean (Public Health) on her senior thesis on women’s body images, Renata Bule (Public Health) on her senior thesis on health care for refugees and asylees, Mary Harrington (Public Health) on the role of faith and spirituality in medical care, Sarah Hewitt (Master in Public Policy) on calorie count menu policies, Youjin Kim (Sociology) on youth culture in Korea, and Danielle Funk (Master in Gender and Cultural Studies) on STDs among women who have sex with women.

Val is also a dedicated student of Iyengar yoga, learning from multiple teachers in the Boston area.

Erica Gunn

I am perhaps an unlikely chemist. Naturally inclined to music and language rather than science, I struggled with the basic mechanics of understanding chemistry. After failing my first chemistry test in high school, I knew that I would hate the topic forever. Achieving high final grades in both accelerated. . .

Becky Thompson

Becky Thompson, Ph.D. is a scholar, poet, activist, and yoga teacher whose work focuses on trauma and healing. She is the author of several books on social justice including Survivors on the Yoga Mat: Stories for those Healing from Trauma, When the Center is on Fire: Passionate Social Theory for Our Times, (co-author, Diane Harriford); Mothering without a Compass: White Mother’s Love, Black Son’s Courage; A Hunger So Wide and So Deep: A Multiracial View of Women's Eating Problems, A Promise and a Way of Life and a recently published book of poetry, Zero is the Whole I Fall into at Night.  She is Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department at Simmons College and has taught at Duke University, Wesleyan University, the University of Colorado, Bowdoin College, and elsewhere. She has received numerous honors and awards, including from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Association for University Women, the Ford Foundation, Political Research Associates, the Creative Justice Poetry Prize, and the Gustavus Myers Award for Outstanding Books on Human Rights. Becky is a senior level yoga teacher (RYT-500) and teaches at conferences, workshops, in college classes, and community centers internationally and nationally.

Denise Hildreth

Denise E. Hildreth

“Live to do good and you will never tire of your employment.”  I read this quote at the age of 17 and, since then, have kept it pinned to my wall. Even before then, my career path was mapped out - I never really wanted to be anything other than a professional social worker.  Looking back more than 20 years later, there is still no career I would rather have and nothing more rewarding than watching students gain a passion for the work that I love. 

I began my career as a child welfare practitioner, working with children and families facing a host of what seemed like impossible challenges. I saw the ways in which their situations were impacted not only by their choices, but by their environmental context and social forces and injustices that impacted their ability to thrive and meet their goals. I learned early on that being a good social worker involved working alongside clients as they confronted personal challenges while also advocating for social change. My professional identity became strongly rooted in a social work strengths perspective and a commitment to social justice. 

I became a social work educator in 2002 out of a desire to share my knowledge and experiences and to be a mentor and guide for the generation of social work professionals that would go on to replace me in the field. As Director of the new BSW Program at Simmons, I have sought to develop a learning community where my students can develop the knowledge, values, and skills needed to become competent, ethical generalist social work practitioners. As a teacher, I look to create a learning environment that is based upon mutual respect and an appreciation for intellectual curiosity, challenge, professionalism, and lifelong growth.  In the classroom, I strive to assist students in developing strong critical thinking, writing, and professional practice skills that allow them not only to assist individual clients in locating needed resources and addressing specific problems, but to examine the critical role that the social environment and systems of power and oppression play in all of our lives. It is my hope that students not only become strong practitioners, but equally strong advocates and agents of social change.  

In addition to my passion for child welfare work, I am a homicide bereavement researcher, specifically examining the ways in which homicide bereavement impacts the employment of surviving family members.


Katherine Wisser

Katherine Wisser

Katherine Wisser comes to GSLIS from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where she earned her doctorate in 2009 and master's degree in library and information science in 2000. Wisser also holds a master's degree in early American history from the University of New Hampshire. While in North Carolina, Wisser spent five years as the metadata coordinator for NC ECHO, a statewide program that encourages and supports use of appropriate metadata by member institutions to ensure online access to cultural heritage information facilitation, workshop instruction and individual institutional consultation. Prior to that, she spent two years as a libraries fellow in the North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries cataloging and special collections departments. Wisser's articles have been published in, among others, American Archivist, Library HiTech, and Library Resources and Technical Services. She currently serves as the co-chair of the Technical subcommittee for Encoded Archival Context for Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF). Wisser joined the Simmons GSLIS faculty in Fall 2009.

Katherine Wisser's Curriculum Vitae

beebe

Justin Beebe

Dr. Beebe joined the faculty at Simmons College in July 2013. He has been a physical therapist since 2000, and practiced primarily in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy settings.  He served as an assistant professor of physical therapy at the University of South Dakota for nearly five years after completing his PhD in Movement Science from Washington University in 2008.  Dr. Beebe has 13 peer-reviewed publications and 30 national and international presentations.  He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association where he serves as Chairman of the Section on Research Abstract Review Committee, and is a member of the Research Committee of the Orthopaedic section.  He is a manuscript reviewer for Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, Physical Therapy Journal, and SportsHealth.

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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.


Eileen Abels

Eileen Abels

As Dean of the Simmons School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), Eileen Abels brings more than 30 years of award-winning expertise in library and information science to the school to help prepare 21st century information professionals for work in libraries, archives, information institutions, and cultural heritage organizations. She has led a distinguished career as an educator and innovator. She is the recipient of the ALISE Award for Professional Contribution to Library and Information Science Education, the ASIS&T Thomas Reuters Outstanding Information Science Teacher award, the Special Libraries Association Rose L. Vormelker award, and the Medical Library Association's Ida and George Eliot prize, among others.

Prior to joining Simmons SLIS, Abels was the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor at the iSchool at Drexel, The College of Information Science and Technology. Specializing in digital reference, she oversaw ipl2, a digital library resulting from the merger of the Internet Public Library and the Librarian's Internet Index. Her current research interests focus on the future of reference services, libraries, and library and information science education.

Her leadership positions include serving as president of the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) and President of Beta Phi Mu (International Library & Information Studies Honor Society). She is widely published, including articles, conference proceedings, and book chapters. Abels has also edited several books and co-authored two books.

Abels also held a faculty position for 15 years at the University of Maryland's College of Information Studies and has been a librarian and information professional in special libraries, including the Instituto de Investigaciones Eléctricas in Mexico, Price Waterhouse's Washington National Tax Service, and Boston Consulting Group.

She obtained her MLS degree from the University of Maryland and her Ph.D. from UCLA. Abels received her bachelor's degree from Clark University.

Eileen Abels' Curriculum Vitae

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.

Tien Ung

Tien Ung

I am a practice researcher - motivated by an unyielding sense of responsibility to capture best practice through collective action in the context of complex, diverse, and uncertain conditions amidst the face of high stress, significant risk, and competing demands.  I believe social workers are like social surgeons and as such are perfectly poised to lead social change, dissect and disrupt the status quo - relentlessly innovating to improve the lives of others.  The roots of my current scholarship can be traced directly to my practice and specifically to my previous career as a child protection social worker.  

My philosophy of teaching, my approach to scholarship, and my commitment to service can be summarized in three words: Engage, discover, and act.   This simple mantra scaffolds my own relentless pursuit of social change via effective knowledge management within non-linear and complex systems of care.  I aim to demonstrate the ways in which practice research can advance reality based teaching, stimulate community and user participation, and promote both service and learning in higher education.  Specifically, my research, teaching, and service inform best practice in the domain of culturally authentic, utilization focused, and community based participatory research.  

At the School of Social Work, I also direct the Urban Leadership Program, a community of engaged emerging leaders who work tirelessly with our local neighbors in order to seed possibilities through collective action.  Through these partnerships we form strategic alliances to develop leadership capacity.  In all that we do, we pledge to demonstrate how an institution of higher education can be a reliable, authentic, hard working, and trustworthy partner and ally.  In this endeavor we aim to contribute and promote knowledge and understanding about what leadership in the context of social work is, along with how it unfolds, evolves,  and works in urban communities. 


Naresh Agarwal

Naresh Agarwal

Naresh Agarwal, who joined the faculty in Fall 2009, earned his doctorate from the National University of Singapore (NUS)'s Department of Information Systems, School of Computing. His teaching areas are evaluation of information services, technology for information professionals, web development & information architecture, and knowledge management. Agarwal's research area is information behavior and knowledge management – the way people look for information and the contextual factors that impact their choice of information sources. He seeks to understand and synthesize the apparent contradictions in this phenomenon and tries to reconcile multiple perspectives – the user (context, seeking, sense-making, serendipity) versus systems/technology, theoretical and empirical studies, and a variety of contexts - office workers, medical residents, LIS students, faculty, librarians, toddlers, etc. His publications span these areas. Agarwal has held various leadership positions at ASIS&T - the Association for Information Science and Technology. He was a member of the ASIS&T Board of Directors from 2012-2014. Agarwal was awarded the ASIS&T James M. Cretsos Leadership Award in 2012. Prior to entering the doctoral program at NUS, he worked for six years in technology roles in the voice-over-IP, bioInformatics and digital cinema industries. Among other things, Agarwal has been a debater and public speaker and likes to paint in oil and watercolor in his free time. You can learn more about him at http://www.nareshagarwal.co.nr/.

Naresh Agarwal's Curriculum Vitae

Edith Bresler

My photo-based practice includes text, sound and installation. Currently I am examining American communities through the lens of state-run lotteries. My projects have been featured on the PBS show Greater Boston with Emily Rooney, Business Insider, Lenscratch, Photo District News and Virgin Australia Magazine.

Fung

Teresa Fung

I graduated from Cornell University with BS and MS degrees in Nutrition and completed my dietetic internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital.  I then stayed on as a clinical nutrition specialist (RD) working in a variety of nutrition specialties.  After a few years, I moved to Boston for a dual Doctor of Science degree in nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.  I have been at Simmons since 2000 and teach both undergraduate and graduate courses while maintain research collaboration at the Harvard School of Public Health where I am an Adjunct Professor.  

I am currently an Associate Editor for the Journal of Nutrition and a panelist for the U.S. News and World Reports Best Diet rankings.  I have previously been on a Technical Expert Committee at the United States Department of Agriculture to evaluate scientific evidence on dietary patterns and health outcomes.

I believe in preparing students for a fast paced and quick changing work place.  In that light my teaching focus on providing students with the most updated technical knowledge, skills for critical thinking, problem solving, as well as locating and evaluating scientific information.