Faculty / Staff / Students Bios 2020-2021

Dr. Brian Yothers, Principal Investigator

Dr. Brian Yothers is the Frances Spatz Leighton Endowed Distinguished Professor of English at UTEP and a 2014 recipient of the UT Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award. He is the author of Reading Abolition (2016), Sacred Uncertainty (2015), Melville’s Mirrors (2011), and The Romance of the Holy Land in American Travel Writing (2007), and co-editor, with Jonathan Cook, of Visionary of the Word (2017), editor of Critical Insights volumes on Billy Budd, Sailor (2017) and The Scarlet Letter (2018), co-editor, with Harold Bush, of Above the American Renaissance (2018), and associate editor of Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies.

Margaret Nelson Rodriguez, Co-Principal Investigator

Margie Nelson Rodríguez is an Associate English Professor and has led developmental education redesign at El Paso Community College (EPCC) where she has worked for 10 years. She is also the Pathways Instructional Liaison, Special Projects Assistant to the Vice President of Instruction and Workforce Education. She received the EPCC Faculty Achievement Award and NISOD Excellence Award in 2014 and earned a Bachelor's Degree and a Master's Degree in American and English Literature from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Brian Kirby, Co-Principal Investigator

Brian F. Kirby is an Associate English Professor and enters his fourth year as District-wide Coordinator of English at El Paso Community College (EPCC) where he has worked for 6 years. He has mentored two EPCC students, Itzel Tejeda and Andrea Portillo Porras, to earn the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Transfer Scholarship and is co-Principal Investigator for the Mellon Foundation grant supporting the Humanities Collaborative at EPCC-UTEP. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in philosophy and a Master's Degree in English from New Mexico State University.

Vincent Martinez, Program Manager

Vincent Martinez received his BA in English: Creative Writing and MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso before working as a writing instructor at El Paso Community College. He later worked as a corporate copywriter for twelve years in the personal care and wellness industry before returning to The University of Texas at El Paso where he obtained his BA in English and American Literature and his MA in Literature. He currently works as the Program Manager for The Humanities Collaborative at EPCC-UTEP.

Zaira Crisafulli

Zaira Crisafulli is an Associate Professor of English at El Paso Community College’s Transmountain Campus. She received her M.A. in Comparative Literature from Penn State University and her B.A. in English from The University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests lie in the areas of trauma and healing. Zaira’s work with students has been recognized locally, regionally, and internationally. She is the recipient of the 2014 Transmountain Campus Star Award, was inducted into the Texas Region Hall of Honor for Outstanding Advisors (2013) and received the 2013 Phi Theta Kappa International Paragon Award for New Advisors. Outside of the classroom, she is an advocate for animal welfare. She is currently writing a children’s book inspired by her pit bull, Bruno. She lives at the edge of the desert with her husband and four dogs.

Dr. Deepanwita Dasgupta

Dr. Deepanwita Dasgupta is a philosopher of science whose research focuses on the dynamics of conceptual changes in science. She is interested in studying such changes in various peripheral and non-Western contexts, e.g., in the contexts of early twentieth-century India. Her upcoming book Creativity from the Periphery: Trading Zones of Scientific Exchange in Colonial India is published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, and the book explores a number of case studies of conceptual changes produced by a small group of early twentieth-century Indian physicists (e.g., S.N. Bose and C.V. Raman), providing cognitive reconstructions of their discoveries in quantum theory and the phenomenon of light scattering. The book will be available in print in April 2021. Her recent research focuses on understanding the nature of the contemporary big science, its emerging problems of lack of transparency and lack of replicability, and the possibility of developing an ethical/imaginative form of thinking that could help with such problems in the long run. Such thinking also builds a bridge between the diverging cultures of science and humanities, so her research project for The Humanities Collaborative at EPCC-UTEP seeks to operationalize this ethical/imaginative form of thinking into smaller episodes of teaching and research. Dasgupta is a member of the Consortium for Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering (SRPoiSE) and Public Philosophy Network (PPN), and she was a visiting fellow at the University of Bergen, Norway, in summer 2019. She teaches mostly philosophy of science and science and ethics courses at The University of Texas at El Paso.

Freddy Jaimes

Freddy Jaimes is an Assistant Professor of History at El Paso Community College (EPCC) and has been working at the institution for the past five years. He has been involved in promoting historical literacy for the El Paso community through cinema and popular culture including initiatives such as “College Cinema Nights,” a historical analysis of acclaimed foreign movies. He is currently developing the project “Interdisciplinary Lectures,” a series of specialized online lectures addressed to the general public on historical topics that combine academic expertise from fields such as political sciences, philosophy, history and medical sciences, among others. He obtained a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in International Relations at the Catholic University of Milan as well as a master's degree in history from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Professor Jaimes is currently working on his doctoral dissertation on drug use, control, and trafficking in the American hemisphere during the twentieth century.

Dr. Andrew Fleck

Dr. Andrew Fleck teaches early modern literature and culture at the University of Texas in El Paso. His research focuses especially on the Dutch in the early modern English imagination. In addition to articles in Studies in English Literature, Modern Philology, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, Studies in Philology and numerous contributions to edited collections and short scholarly pieces, Dr. Fleck has one monograph under review and is in the early stages of his next book. His project for The Humanities Collaborative at EPCC-UTEP focuses on connections between the history of science (astronomy, in this case), early modern literature (paratextual verse, in this case), and the emerging field of digital humanities (the creation of a new research tool). Dr. Fleck is the editor of the journal Explorations in Renaissance Culture and serves as the Director of UTEP’s Liberal Arts Honors Program.

Dr. Joshua Hevert

Dr. Joshua Hevert is an Assistant Professor of History at the El Paso Community College Northwest Campus. Prior to his appointment at EPCC, he taught at Cotton Valley Early College High School in Fabens, Texas, where he taught dual-credit US History and high school World History. Dr. Hevert holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he wrote a dissertation that considered the papal construction of heresy and orthodoxy as applied to Latin Christians living outside of Europe in the fourteenth century. His current research focuses on apocalyptic ideas and rhetoric in conquistador writing about the Americas. He also conducts and applies research in pedagogy, which he enjoys sharing with his peers both within and outside of the History department. He is the author of “In the Borderland: Navigating between Community College and Dual Credit High School,” which will appear in the forthcoming, Independent Scholars Meet the World: Expanding Academia beyond the Academy, out October 2020 from University of Kansas Press. Dr. Hevert is also one of the hosts of the popular history podcast, Footnoting History.

Reyna Muñoz

A first-generation college graduate, Reyna obtained her BA in English and her MA in Literature at New Mexico State University. While she was studying, she worked as a writing tutor at Doña Ana Community College, where she found her first teaching job. Currently she is Assistant Professor at the El Paso Community College Rio Grande campus where she teaches Developmental English, Rhetoric and Composition, Research Writing and Literary Analysis, and Chicanx Literature. Reyna also holds board positions for the Association of Women in the Community College, BorderSenses, and Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center.

Dr. Hyung Park

Dr. Hyung Park is an Associate Professor of Government at El Paso Community College since 2011. He earned his Ph.D. from Purdue University, and his research area is political behavior, including voting behavior, political participation, and civic engagement. As a Korean-American, he wrote many columns for Korean Americans about U.S. politics and the role of Korean Americans in American society. He has also given public lectures about North Korean nuclear issues, Korean culture, current U.S. politics, and East Asian Politics. He tries to engage Korean Americans in political and social activities and to help all Americans understand Korean-American culture, history, and Korean-Americans' role in American society.

Patrick Pynes

Patrick L. Pynes is a Professor of History and teaches American History, World History, and Mexican American History at El Paso Community College where he has worked for 14 years. Previously, he taught American History and Western Cultural Heritage classes at The University of Texas at El Paso. He serves as the Coordinator of the Honors Program and has worked on the Pathways Program for the last few years and has also served as Chair of the Curriculum Committee. He was fortunate to have received an NEH Grant to study Religious Pluralism at the Newberry Library in Chicago for three Summer Institutes from 2014 to 2016, and most recently he attended a Summer Institute in Detroit hosted by the NCHC on City as a Text. Professor Pynes serves as a Board Member of the El Paso County Historical Society. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in History from The University of Texas at El Paso.

Mauricio Rodriguez

Mauricio Rodríguez is the founding member of the first Associate of Arts degree in Chicanx Studies in Texas in 2004. As a longtime resident and activist of the largest bi-cultural, bi-national border community in the world, Professor Rodríguez works with various community groups fighting for immigrant rights and humanitarian aid. From 2007-2008, he was Co-Director of the “Las Platicas” Chicana/o Studies Lecture Series, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). He was awarded the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE) Distinguished Community College Faculty Award in 2013. Professor Rodríguez served as President of TACHE from 2014-2017. He earned his terminal MFA degree in Bilingual Creative Writing from The University of Texas at El Paso in 2003 as one of the program’s first graduates. Professor Rodríguez currently serves as the District-wide Coordinator of Chicanx Studies; a position he’s worked at since 2007. When not working for students’ success across all disciplines, he spends his time with his inspirational wife and his demanding pack of six miniature dachshunds.