Meet Our Faculty

Cathryn Mercier
Elizabeth Scott

Average class size: 18

Gerald Benoit
coggeshall

215

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

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Student-to-faculty
ratio of 10:1

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

Kara Mellonakos '15HCMBA

Paul Abraham
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

Elizabeth Scott

Elizabeth Scott

I am an Associate Professor of Biology and co-director of the Undergraduate Program in Public Health.  I did my graduate training in Applied Microbiology at London University. I am also the co-director and founder of the Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community Settings

My research looks at broad issues associated with the transmission of microbial pathogens in the indoor environment. The applied research in my lab allows undergraduate students to get involved in developing and piloting research methodologies and also, to get published in peer review journals. 
 
I serve as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Forum on Home Hygiene and on the editorial board of the American Journal of Infection Control. This allows me to disseminate information on matters of hygiene and infection control and I am frequently quoted in the press. 

My passion is for microbiology and public health and I am committed to the rigorous preparation of Simmons students for graduate programs and careers in this field. I am also deeply committed to two other related issues. One is finding strategies to inform the general public on aspects of microbiology and infection control that impact our daily lives. The other is the issue of keeping women in the STEM disciplines and strengthening the STEM pipeline for women from school through to postdoctoral careers. 


Gerald Benoit

Gerald Benoit

Professor Benoit directs the Information Science & Technology Concentration at SLIS and teaches undergraduate computer science, graduate information science, and doctoral-level classes. Prior to entering the academic world, he worked as a rare materials librarian, later settling into programming/analysis and even started the marketing firm, Imada Wong Park + Benoit. Prof Benoit’s work experience and research interests aim at improving the human experience through ethical, technically-informed, and purposeful application of information systems. Consequently, his service, research, and teaching activities integrate the sciences and arts of information. Students in his courses learn standards, hands-on competencies, interoperability of data, professional and scholarly communication to fulfill their own career interests while addressing real-world needs. His work is framed by the philosophy of language, aesthetics, computation, and the emancipatory use of technology. Working with colleagues, Benoit’s research studies the innovation and management of new systems.

Some research projects focus on multilingual issues; others on visual resources; some on digital object repurposing in data-rich settings. All are designed to let students participate and apply their knowledge to their own projects. Active projects include the information science virtual lab, innovation and information discovery, information aesthetics and visualization. The lab’s collections include images from the Boston Public Library’s digital collection, metadata records, social tags and expert text. The whole is a research platform to generate data for retrieval algorithm design, human information seeking behavior, and innovative interfaces.

Since 2004, Benoit has organized a research and discussion colloquium, referred to as the “Lunchtime Lectures”. In 2012, he proposed and lead the Simmons Study Abroad Program in Rome (2013) and Paris (2014).

Gerald Benoit's Curriculum Vitae

Rachel Galli

Nobel prize winning geneticist Barbara McClintock wrote, “Everything is one. There is no way to draw a line between things.” This is certainly true in my own field of Neuroscience, where the study of brain and behavior integrates many areas of study and emphasizes the connection between mind and body. It is also true of my work here at Simmons. It is difficult to draw a line between my teaching, research, and mentoring efforts, in part because they are intertwined around a central theme of increasing the participation of women in the sciences. I traveled a nontraditional path in finding my passion and vocation, and I especially enjoy helping others explore their interests and career possibilities. Sometimes you’ll be surprised where life takes you, and it is the life skills and education you acquire in college that can help you make the most of your opportunities. I love to teach, and here at Simmons I’m able to work closely with students as they become active participants in a learning process that occurs in the classroom, in the research lab, and in advising relationships and extracurricular activities.

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George Coggeshall

Dr. Coggeshall joined the Simmons College PT Faculty in 2008.  He has over 35 years of physical therapy practice with experience in a variety of settings.  George’s primary teaching responsibilities at Simmons College include Cardiovascular and Pulmonary PT and Physical Therapy Management.  His background includes; PTA Program Chair at Bay State College, Director of Rehabilitation Services at Massachusetts Respiratory Hospital and he has owned and managed a private practice.   Dr. Coggeshall continues to actively practice physical therapy at the Brigham and Women's Hospital with a primary clinical focus of cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy. George’s extensive professional service includes; President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the APTA 2010-2013 and continues to serve as a national delegate to the APTA House of Delegates.

George’s academic degrees include; BS Biology - University of Rhode Island, MSPT - Boston University and DPT - Sacred Heart University.


Eduardo Febles

Professor Febles, a native of Puerto Rico, received a B.A. in French and Political Economy from Tulane University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in French Studies from Brown University. He also studied at L'École Normale Supérieure, L'Institut d'Études Politiques, and La Sorbonne in Paris. Before coming to Simmons, he taught at Goucher College and Brandeis University. His research focuses on the intersections between politics and literature, especially in 19th century France. He is the author of Explosive Narratives: Anarchy and Terrorism in the Works of Emile Zola, published by Rodopi Press in 2010. He also edited with his mother, Dr. María Vega de Febles, a collection of articles written by his grandfather entitled Crónicas Ejemplares and published by Ediciones Universal in 2010. He is presently working on a project about the connections between homophobia and anti-Semitism during the Dreyfus Affair. He is also the author of several scholarly articles, book reviews, and short stories.

Judith Aronson

Judith Aronson has been teaching graphic design at Simmons for seventeen years and has been a practicing designer and photographer for more than thirty years. Prior to Simmons she taught at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk University. Earlier in her career she was a program analyst in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department in Washington, DC, served as a VISTA Volunteer in East Harlem, and worked as a city planner for the New York City Environmental Protection Administration. For fifteen years she lived overseas: three years in South East Asia and twelve in England where she was a photojournalist. Aronson holds a BA in American Studies from the University of Michigan and a MA in City Planning and a MA in Fine Art/Graphic Design, from Yale University.

Her special interests are typography, environmental design, and photojournalism. In 2003 she received a grant from the Colleges of the Fenway to teach the course Wayfinding: Design, Information Architecture and Public Spaces. Wayfinding is a specialty that applies design principles to information systems that help people move through complex urbanscapes — hospitals, airports, college campuses and the like. In 2006 Aronson had a one person retrospective in Boston of her color photographs, TACTILE |MERCANTILE, with pictures ranging from the young Mick Jagger, to the slums Harlem and the exotic scenery in South East Asia. In 2010 she published LIKENESSES, with the Sitters Writing About One Another, a book of black and white portraits of writers and artists. The book led to a number of exhibitions both in the US and England including at the Picture Gallery, Christ Church, Oxford, The Poetry Society, London and the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol. A poetry competition sponsored by Bristol University in conjunction with the last show produced thirty poems each responding to one of her photographs. In 2015 the exhibition will move to the Cambridge University Library in England for twelve months.

Aronson’s photographs are held in collections at The National Portrait Gallery, London; Christ College, Cambridge; Keble College and Christ Church, Oxford University; Brotherton Library, Leeds University; and the National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian Institute), Washington, DC. Her work has been published in The Sunday Telegraph, England, the New York Review of Books, The Threepenny Review, Ms. Magazine, and the Boston Globe.

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Rong Tang

Rong Tang received her doctorate from the School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She has taught evaluation of information services, technology for information professionals, library automation systems, digital information services and providers...

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

Lowry Pei

I grew up in St. Louis, got my B.A. in English at Harvard (1967) and my Ph.D. at Stanford (1975). I was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war. I came to Simmons in 1985 after teaching at the University of Missouri, UC San Diego, and Harvard’s Expository Writing Program. Despite having done a dissertation on Anthony Trollope’s Palliser novels, I didn’t become a Victorianist; instead I’ve spent my career teaching writing. At Simmons I was director of Freshman Writing, later called Writing and Thinking, from 1985 to 1996, and then directed MCC, the first-year core/writing course, from 1996 to 1999. In 2004-2006, I led faculty workshops and seminars on teaching writing as part of the “Writing Infusion” initiative, whose goal is to have writing-intensive courses offered in all majors. I chaired the English Department 2002-2007.

I currently teach creative writing, both fiction and non-fiction, and Approaches to Literature, otherwise known as spring training for English majors.

Paul Abraham

Paul Abraham

Paul Abraham was born and raised in Boston and was connected enough to the “Athens of America” to stay here for his degrees: his undergraduate studies at Boston College, his master’s at Boston University and his Doctorate at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.  He majored in French at BC and started traveling back then with a year in France and a semester in Mexico. His first position was teaching French and Spanish in Brookline, Subsequently, he spent a summer in Spain and a sabbatical in Japan, just after earning his TESL degree at BU.

After several years in Brookline, Abraham went on to teach international students and do administration at the Center for English Language and Orientation Programs (CELOP) at Boston University. From there, he went to head up a similar program at Bradford College in Haverhill, MA.

After completing his doctorate in Reading and Second Language Acquisition at Harvard, he became a faculty member in the Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language Program at Simmons. A few years later, he became the Program Director. 

Abraham’s first sabbatical in 2003 took him to the Universidad de Santiago de Chile (USACH) as a Fulbright Scholar where he taught a graduate seminar in second language reading as well as an undergraduate course in applied linguistics.  The Fulbright was followed up by a Fulbright Alumni Award between USACH and Simmons College with faculty and student exchanges from 2004-2007.  

Abraham calls his second sabbatical his “Asian” sabbatical. In spring 2013, Abraham served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist for a month at Dong Thap University in Cao Lahn, Vietnam, where he taught undergraduates, English language faculty, and local teachers. His focus was on test taking skills and strategies.

He followed up with a trip to China with Primary Source where he visited migrant schools in Shi-an and Beijing.  At the end of the term, he was invited to Yamagata University in Yamagata, Japan, where he observed classes in public schools and universities and piloted a small research project on teacher attitudes towards teaching English.  

Currently, Abraham directs both the MATESL Program and the Language and Literacy Program, a Special Education language-based reading program, in the Education Department. 

Abraham is a frequent presenter at TESOL and he has coauthored, with Daphne Mackey, an ESL reading and vocabulary series, Contact USA, with Pearson as well as Get Ready: Interactive Listening and Speaking, a low-level listening and speaking book.

Jo O'Connor

O’Connor has worked for nearly 30 years in the marketing communication industry with specialties in entertainment, sports, oral presentation and event planning.

She has held leadership roles for the Boston Celtics, the Boston Garden/FleetCenter, CBS Radio, Sonesta Hotels, the Wang Center for the Performing Arts as well as worked twice in an agency setting.

Previously, O’Connor was full-time faculty member for 10 years at Boston University’s College of Communication – overhauling the oldest student PR agency in the county PRLab and has been awarded numerous teaching awards there. She has also taught advertising at Northeastern University for four years and is currently teaching online communication courses at Lasell College, where she has been for five years. She also runs a boutique mar/comm agency representing several regional clients.

O’Connor is delighted to be teaching full-time at Simmons College in Boston, where she is overseeing the new joint major (a collaboration between the Communication Department and School of Management) in Public Relations and Marketing Communication.

Go Sharks!

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.