The Office of the Provost has announced the promotion of several faculty members to full professor effective the Fall 2021 semester.

Parveen Ali

Mathematics and Computer Science

Parveen AliTeaching developmental mathematics is a great privilege that comes with extraordinary responsibilities and a commitment to life-long learning. I have had the privilege of teaching developmental mathematics since 1998, when I began teaching as an adjunct faculty member at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois. Prior to that, I had a career as a public-school teacher, teaching high school and middle school mathematics, which gave me valuable experience for my role here at IUP. It should be noted that students assigned to developmental math classes are identified through placement testing and are considered at-risk concerning their math abilities. It requires a particular set of skills to engage this population and help them into the mainstream of math coursework that students must take to graduate from IUP.

After my last promotion in 2013, I served as a developmental mathematics instructor and a coordinator for the Department of Developmental Studies until spring 2020. I led the department in transforming and redesigning all developmental math courses from traditional instruction to emporium style, self-directed adaptive learning in fall 2014. I also revised the sequence of courses. In fall 2021, I was transferred to the Mathematical and Computer Sciences Department.

My publications and conference presentations focus on non-cognitive factors that affect math learning, gender equality, diversity, and religion (Islam). I have tried to align my scholarly work with my teaching and to embrace diversity and inclusion.

I chaired and served the department on several committees. Within the college, I served on the research and scholarship committees. My service at the university level includes the University Wide Sabbatical Committee, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) Rep Council, and the University Student Conduct Board.

Julie Ankrum

Professional Studies in Education

Julie AnkrumMy mother kept a “memory” book where she recorded interviews with me each year. One of the questions was “what do you want to be when you grow up?” At ten years old, I answered, “a teacher!” After my mom put the book away, I pulled it out and crossed out the answers from the previous years and wrote TEACHER above each one. My mom was a bit upset, explaining that I would change my mind several times. She was right, I did. However, by my sophomore year in college, I recommitted to my goal of becoming a teacher.

I earned a BA in Elementary Education at Michigan State University, an MAT in Reading and Language Arts from Oakland University, and a PhD in Reading Education from The University of Pittsburgh. Before I began teaching at the university level, I taught kindergarten, fifth grade, eighth grade, and reading intervention in Michigan. I loved teaching children, but I thought I could impact more children by developing educators. I continue to draw on all of my previous experiences to inform my current instruction.

I am a professor in the Department of Professional Studies in Education, where I teach undergraduate and graduate courses. I also serve as coordinator of the MEd in Literacy/Reading Specialist Certification program and director of the Bill and Judy Scheeren Literacy Center. I am so appreciative of the opportunity to work alongside the dedicated PSE faculty, as well as colleagues across the university.

My primary research agendas include explorations of effective literacy instruction and effective professional development for literacy educators. I am currently collaborating on several research projects; I love the research process and use my findings to improve my own teaching. I am an active member of several literacy professional organizations and currently serve on the board of directors for the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers.

Mimi Benjamin

Student Affairs in Higher Education

Mimi BenjaminI became interested in the field of student affairs when I was a resident assistant, orientation leader, and graduate assistant in housing at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Like many students, I didn’t realize there were career options in college and university administration. Once I discovered that, I was on my way to a long career in higher education.

My 19 years of professional experience as a student affairs administrator greatly contribute to my ability to convey and bring life to course concepts in class. Student affairs professionals are educators, and I held multiple student affairs educator roles. I have been a residence hall director and assistant director of residential life at Plymouth State University. While pursuing my PhD at Iowa State University, I worked full time in roles such as coordinator of residence life, coordinator for academic services, assistant to the vice president for student affairs, and interim dean of students. Before transitioning to a faculty role at IUP, I served as an associate director of residential programs at Cornell University. These experiences serve as the foundation of my teaching.

I am collaborative by nature and enjoy working with colleagues and students on various projects. I feel very fortunate to work with exceptional colleagues in the Student Affairs in Higher Education Department. Some of my favorite IUP service has been completed with the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) Newer Faculty Committee and my involvement with the IUP Center for Teaching Excellence. I also am actively involved in professional organizations such as the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).

My research foci include learning communities, student learning through co-curricular involvement, and faculty experiences. Understanding the experiences of students, faculty and staff on university campuses enables me to educate future student affairs professionals.

Joshua Castle

Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Science

Joshua CastleSince grade school, I have been involved in sports. Over the years, sport has continued to be an essential part of my life. I say essential because of everything it has provided. Initially, it provided me with fun, friends, and entertainment. As I grew older, in high school, it provided me with an understanding of leadership, teamwork, confidence, coping, managing conflict, and focus.  

Sport was an obsession for me during my high school and college years. After earning my degree from Penn State in Kinesiology, sport provided me with an income as an exercise physiologist, health and physical education teacher, and coach. I continued to study it and discovered the business aspects of it, which led me to pursue graduate studies. Because of my previous experiences in sport, I was able to earn graduate assistantships for my master’s degree at IUP and for my doctorate at the University of New Mexico in Sport Management. Essential sport provided me with an opportunity to continue my education.

Sport continues to provide an income for my family. Furthermore, through teaching in the Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Science Department at IUP since 2010, it has provided me with a home where I can share my passion for it. It also continues to provide me with fun, friends, and entertainment.

I am not sure I would have predicted the impact that it would have on my entire life. I guess that is why I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experiences with students. Maybe sport will have a great impact on their lives as well. 

As I look back on my professional life, I owe a lot to sport, but owe more to my wife, who consistently supports me. I would like to thank all of my teachers, professors, coaches, and mentors for their encouragement. I would also like to thank my colleagues here at IUP, who have provided me with the opportunities to be successful.  

John Chrispell

Mathematics and Computer Science

John ChrispellI have always enjoyed mathematics and computational tasks; however, I went to college not fully knowing what I wanted to do. The classes I gravitated toward early on in my undergraduate experience had a mathematics and physics focus. It wasn’t until my junior year at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia that I looked retrospectively at my course work and declared that mathematics would be my major. I was also lucky to have an advisor who suggested that more school was an option. She pointed me toward graduate studies.

It was at Clemson University, that I found a unique blend of mathematics, physics, and computer science when working on applied mathematical problems. My research focus became centered on implementing and analyzing computational methods for viscoelastic fluids. The study of computational fluid problems allowed me to use mathematics and physics, in concert with computer programming to solve real-world applications.

During my time at Clemson, I spent two summers working at the US Army Corps of Engineers Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory in Vicksburg, Mississippi. After graduating, I spent three wonderful years enjoying New Orleans in a postdoctoral position at Tulane University, where I expanded my research program to include moving immersed structures when modeling fluids. I also went to a few parades.

I joined the faculty at IUP in the fall of 2011, and it continues to be an honor to share mathematics and computer science with our students. As the problems that I work on change and evolve, I’m thankful for having great mentors and colleagues. At Clemson, Tulane, and IUP, you have all showed me that enthusiasm is contagious in the best way, and you have pushed me to be the best version of myself. I would like to thank my parents for constantly reminding me that twelve hours is only a half day. As my mathematical journey continues, I’m grateful for the support of my family. Taylor and Roslyn, your curiosity is inspiring. Denise, I would not be anywhere without you.  

Cuong Diep


Cuong DiepI had never considered a career in research and education, even while in college. However, working for two summers at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID, the Department of Defense's research laboratory), showed me the meticulous and methodical nature of experimentation, and this suited me very well.

The final push came from my research experience with Dr. Larry Mylin, a newly hired professor in our department at that time. Dr. Mylin provided real hands-on research at a small college. He also challenged us in the classroom, and my “B” grade in his molecular biology class was the most gratifying of all my courses. He was the reason that I decided late in my senior year to pursue a career in research. As fate would have it, I ended up working in the same lab as he did for our doctoral research at Penn State College of Medicine.

After graduate school, I did postdoctoral trainings at Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh before coming to IUP in 2011. I hope that I have provided my students with the research experiences they needed to make an informed decision toward their future careers. My success does not come without the support of family, friends, colleagues, and students, but luck and opportunity also played prominent roles in shaping my career and life.

Laura Ferguson


Laura Ferguson

I am a professor of music education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I’m a native of Illinois, where I earned a BM in music education from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and an MME and EdD from the University of Illinois.

I’m a specialist in general music with particular research interests in children's expressive movements to music, the use of vernacular music in classrooms, and practical applications of technology use. At IUP, I coordinate the BSEd in Music program and teach undergraduate and graduate courses in music education.

Before coming to IUP, I taught elementary general music, beginning strings, elementary and middle school band, and high school extracurricular choral ensembles at schools in Central Illinois.

In addition to my music education emphasis, I am a jazz vocalist who is active in the local music scene. While I have no degrees in this musical performance area, I often will give scholarly and in-service presentations on jazz to K-12 educators and music students in Pennsylvania. I also perform frequently in the Western Pennsylvania region.  I have been working on a recording project, Late to the Party, that will be available in winter 2021. You can hear more of my work at

Nurhaya Muchtar

Communications Media

Nurhaya MuchtarGrowing up, my parents used to say, each one, teach one. They were the one who introduced me to the idea of teaching since the early age. As I get older, I appreciated different approaches in teaching, whether they’re participatory approach in community-based learning or classroom approach.

Here in IUP, I have developed my focus on combining teaching and practices in my classes. Having experiences as a broadcast journalist, I found the value in combining application and theories. This is especially relevant in my classes related to multimedia news production as well as video editing and news package production. This process might be tedious and challenging but it brings new understanding for students and complexities in working in journalism field, in which having skills is as important as understanding different types of media and audience.

Beyond teaching, I tried to connect my instruction to my research projects. My research interests are related to journalism perception and journalism practices around the world. For these projects, I am fortunate to work with communication and journalism professors from more than 70 countries around the world under a European-based organization called Worlds Journalism Study. Some of the papers were published in Journalism Study, Journalism Practices, or International Communication Gazette journals as well as a few academic books. Through this collaborative project, I learned to develop my skills as researcher as well as finding out social context that influence how journalists’ work across the world. The knowledge also contributes to my other classes related to Global Media and gender in media.

Today, I am trying to give back to my fellow journalists in my home country, Indonesia, by collaborating and mentoring former journalists who are currently working as communication and journalism professors in writing several books related to Indonesian media for journalists as well as communication and journalism students. The first one was released in 2020 while the second one will be published in 2022.

Louis Pesci

Rural Health and Safety

Louis PesciSince 1997, I have worked for the IUP Institute for Rural Health and Safety (formerly the IUP Highway Safety Center). In 2010, I became the director of the IRHS and taught the core classes for the Safety/Driver Education teacher certification. I also specialize in teaching the IUP Driver Perceptual Program to a wide range of audiences.

I have served as the principal investigator on more than 30 external funding awards which include both state and federal grants, fees-for-service, and contracts ranging from traffic safety programs to health-related issues.

Recently, I helped establish the IUP Paramedic and EMT clock-hour programs within the IUP IRHS. Since 2014, I have received the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Outstanding Centers and Institutes Award and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Sponsored Programs Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Service. I’ve also been the recipient of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania President’s Grantsmanship Award twice.

Zachary Stiegler

Communication Media

Zachary StieglerI arrived at IUP in 2009, straight out of the University of Iowa’s Communication Studies program (with a fellowship detour to Baltimore, Maryland). One of my duties upon hire was to serve as faculty advisor to WIUP-FM, a position I’ve held for most of my time here. Since 2014, I have also served as doctoral coordinator for our Media and Communication Studies PhD program.

I’ve taught a number of courses in the department, but staples in my rotation at the undergraduate level are Media Law and Policy; Music, Media, and Culture; and Women, Media, and Music. At the doctoral level, Audio Documentary and Ideas that Shape Media also would be included. Each of these has been an absolute joy to teach and consistently presents opportunities for engagement and enrichment, for myself as much as for the students.

Initially, my research interests centered on media history, radio studies, and media law. Over the years, those interests have shifted to a primary focus on critical studies of pop culture, with occasional work in other areas. This has included presenting and publishing on concerns of identity in popular media, social and political constraints on cultural expression, media fandom, and the shift from a global to mobile village in the broader media ecology. My work has been published in Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, Explorations in Media Ecology, Teaching and Learning in Medicine, Communication and the Public, Journal of Radio and Audio Media, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Javnost: The Public, and a number of edited volumes including Regulating the Web: Network Neutrality and the Fate of the Open Internet, a collection that I edited in 2013.

Most recently, my work has focused on constructions and perceptions of intimacy in popular music, an interest that I’ve cultivated through a series of conference presentations and publications. My current project is a co-authored book manuscript on the topic, which will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2022.

Josiah Townsend


Josiah TownsendLike many biologists, I confess to having never really outgrown my childhood fascination with the natural world. That fascination took hold on a visit to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, when 5-year-old me gazed up in awe at a seemingly impossible variety of beetles on display in one of the galleries. I was amazed to learn that many were new species and that museum scientists were dedicated to revealing these unknown animals. The idea that so much of the natural world still awaited discovery was an epiphany to 5-year-old me and became prologue to a lifelong journey.

My path has been shaped by many experiences and mentors, but all roads passed through a general zoology class I took in spring 1999 at Miami Dade Community College. That course was taught by Dr. Larry Wilson, who serendipitously was a working taxonomist and authority on Honduran herpetology. For the first time, I saw the pursuit of biodiversity discovery and exploration as a career, and in a few short months I was off on my first expedition to Honduras.

A decade later, these annual expeditions in search of new species resulted in the most unexpected and important discovery of my life – a like-minded biologist who first became my partner in research, and then in life and parenthood. I truly owe everything to my wife Ileana, and if any hardship we suffered before or since served only to afford us the opportunity to be together, it was worth every moment of struggle.

Nearly a decade at IUP has given me the opportunity to share my enthusiasm for biology and Latin America with thousands of students, and to attempt to provide the inspiration and mentorship that professors like Larry Wilson, Robert Powell, and Jim Austin provided to me. We have written books and dozens of scientific papers and uncovered and named 27 new species along the way. But giving our students the chance to participate in truly impactful scientific contributions, while building their own knowledge and careers, will continue to be its own reward for years to come.  

David Wachob

Kinesiology, Health, and Sports Science

Davis WachobWhen I was training to become an educator 20 years ago, I never imagined ending up in higher education. My goal was to teach in public schools and make a strong career in that environment. However, after encouragement from one of my former professors at IUP, I went on for my master’s degree. Surprisingly, I truly enjoyed the graduate work. As a full-time teacher taking graduate courses, I was able to apply what I was learning immediately with my own students and lessons.

The enjoyment and connection I made with graduate studies got me thinking about higher education and sharing this experience with future teacher candidates. I was fortunate enough to start teaching part-time as an adjunct for IUP, which reinforced my thoughts about a possible career move. Knowing this path would require a doctoral degree, I found myself taking another unexpected plunge.

Once I got hired full-time at IUP, I immediately knew this is where I wanted to finish my career. As part of a younger generation, I never saw myself staying anywhere for too long, and I assumed I would move on to other careers as my passions shifted. However, going into my tenth year at IUP, I have never once thought about other career paths. This job allows me to do what I love with teaching, and to explore research interests that motivate me both personally and professionally. I am glad to be at IUP and look forward to many more years at this institution.