College of LAS « Illinois

New department and unit heads assume duties at LAS

Dean thanks outgoing leaders and anticipates continued success

New department and unit heads have been named in the College of LAS.
New department and unit heads have been named in the College of LAS.
Fifteen faculty and staff members have assumed new leadership roles in departments and units across the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences this fall semester. LAS is home to more than 60 departments, centers, schools, and programs.

Feng Sheng Hu, Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of LAS, expressed deep appreciation for outgoing department heads and chairs and unit directors while voicing optimism for what the new leaders will achieve.

“The leadership changes we’re seeing this fall reflect healthy and normal turnover in our departments and units,” Hu said. “Our outgoing leaders have provided strong direction during an uncertain time, and the College of LAS has a bright future thanks in large part to their efforts. I am certain that the new leaders will continue growing our success.”

In addition to their leadership skills, the incoming and outgoing department leaders are each known for outstanding research and scholarship in their fields. They are listed below: 

Milan Bagchi has been named director of the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology after replacing Stephen Sligar. Bagchi is the Deborah Paul Endowed Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology , with his research focusing largely on the physiology and biochemistry of the endocrine system and its hormones.

Teresa Barnes has taken over as director of the Center for African Studies. She replaces interim director Maimouna Barro. Barnes is also a professor of history, gender and women’s studies, and LAS global studies. She studies political, gender, and institutional histories of South African universities.

John Caughlin is the new head of the Department of Communication, taking over for David Tewksbury. Caughlin studies interpersonal communication in close relationships, such as marriages and families, and the role of communication technologies in close relationships.

Virginia Dominguez is the new interim head of the Department of Anthropology, taking over for interim head Brenda Farnell. Dominguez is also affiliated with the Center for Global Studies and Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Her most recent published work along with Jane Desmond is titled “Global Perspectives on the United States: Pro-Americanism, Anti-Americanism, and the Discourses Between.”

Zsuzsa Gille has been named the director of LAS Global Studies after taking over for  interim director Tim Wedig. Gille is a professor of sociology whose research interests include environmental sociology, Eastern Europe, the European Union, global and transnational sociology, and the sociology of consumption.

Claudio Grosman is the new head of the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, replacing Milan Bagchi. Grosman is also a professor of biophysics and neuroscience. Research topics for Grosman include ion channels, membrane biology, neurobiology, protein dynamics, protein structure, and receptor biochemistry.

Sheldon Katz will take over for Matthew Ando as interim chair for the Department of Mathematics. Katz is an internationally renowned mathematician whose research interests include string theory and algebraic geometry.

Leslie Looney has been named chair of the Department of Astronomy, replacing Brian Fields. Looney frequently appears on the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent. He studies protostars—young stars—that give direct evidence of how stars and planetary systems form.

Mimi Nguyen will take over for Chantal Nadeau as interim chair of the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. Nguyen is also professor of Asian American studies and specializes in transnational feminist cultural studies, critical refugee studies, women of color feminisms, and queer of color critique.

John Randolph will serve as the director of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center following David Cooper. Randolph is a professor for the Department of History and researches imperial Russia. Among other publications, he authored the book “The House in the Garden: The Bakunin Family and the Romance of Russian Idealism.” He is fluent in Russian.

Robert Rushing has been named acting head of the Department of French & Italian while Marcus Keller is on leave. His studies include 19th and 20th century Italian literature and culture, contemporary Italian fiction, critical and interpretive theory, popular culture, and comparative literary and cultural studies.

Misumi Sadler has been named acting director of the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, as Tim Liao is on leave. A professor of East Asian languages and cultures, Sadler’s research includes discourse and grammar, interactional linguistics, historical pragmatics, pedagogical grammar, and teaching Japanese as a foreign language.

Valeria Sobol is replacing Michael Finke as the head of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. Sobol’s research topics include Russian literature and culture of the 18th and 19th centuries, literature and science, travel literature, and Ukrainian and Czech literatures.

Elizabeth Sutton is the new director of Spurlock Museum, replacing interim director Susan Frankenberg. Sutton has more than a decade of experience managing museum collections. Prior to arriving at Illinois, she served as executive director of the Union Station Foundation museums and managed university-managed cultural collections in Utah and California.

Shaowen Wang is succeeding Sara McLafferty as the new head of the Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science. His research interests include geographic information science, advanced cyberinfrastructure, complex environmental and geospatial problems, computational and data sciences, high-performance and distributed computing, and spatial analysis and modeling.

Logan Weeter and Samantha Jones Toal

Related Topics

  • Collegewide
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Center for African Studies
  • History
  • Gender and Women's Studies
  • LAS Global Studies
  • Communication
  • Anthropology
  • Center for Global Studies
  • Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Sociology
  • Molecular and Integrative Physiology
  • Biophysics
  • Neuroscience
  • Mathematics
  • Astronomy
  • Asian American studies
  • Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center
  • French and Italian
  • Slavic languages and literatures
  • Spurlock Museum
  • Geography and Geographic Information Science
  • East Asian Languages and Cultures