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Willard College Staff and Fellows

These are the individuals associated with Willard Residential College, including Faculty-in-Residence and Fellows!

College Staff



Gary Saul Morson

Faculty Chair

Department of Slavic Languages and Literature

The Faculty Chair is a faculty member that provides intellectual leadership for the college; nurtures the fellows program of the college; engages student members of the college; and, where appropriate, cultivates the college theme and draws in campus resources to promote that theme via fellow appointments and programming.

Gary Saul Morson is the Lawrence B. Dumas Professor of the Arts and Humanities and professor of Slavic languages and literatures at Northwestern University. His many books include Narrative and Freedom: the Shadows of Time, Anna Karenina in Our Time and The Words of Others: From Quotations to Culture.

Christine Helmer


Associate Chair

Department of German & Religious Studies

The Associate Faculty Chair is a faculty or full-time staff member that assists the Faculty Chair in all aspects of guiding the programming and culture of the college with a particular focus on ensuring Fellows well-represent both the breadth of students at the college and developing cultural and academic programming for residents.

Christine Helmer is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of the Humanities at Northwestern University, and Professor of German, with a courtesy appointment in the Department of Religious Studies. In 2017 she was awarded an honorary doctorate in theology from the University of Helsinki for her work on German reformer Martin Luther, as well as for her commitment to theology as an important contributor to the intellectual life of the university.



Matt Zellner

Assistant Chair

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

The Assistant Faculty Chair is a graduate student who serves as the Formal Advisor of the college's Executive Board, in addition to performing administrative duties for ORAI, and coordinating with Residential Life Staff. The Assistant Chair holds weekly office hours for college members and serves as the main point of contact for both students and Fellows at the college.

Matt is a proud Willard Residential College and Northwestern University alum. He completed his undergraduate studies in psychology and radio/television/film at Northwestern, and his master’s degree in speech-language pathology at the University of Texas at Austin. Matt is a member of the Early Intervention Research Group in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northwestern where his research centers around developing and implementing social communication interventions for children with autism.


Ben Gorvine



Department of Psychology

The Faculty-in-Residence (FIR) is a member of Northwestern’s faculty who lives with their family in an apartment attached to the dorm. They host dinners and other events regularly for Willard residents.

My research interests center on two broad areas: (1) pedagogical research on the best practices for instruction in psychology in general, and statistics (as it is taught in psychology) more specifically; and (2)  fathers and children's socio-emotional development.

Willard Fellows

Meet the Fellows! The Willard Fellows are faculty and staff with unique ties to Willard Residential College. They come to events planned by the dorm, engage with Woos, and even host exclusive classes and events for Willard residents.


Connor Bain 


Department of Computer Science

I’m Connor Bain and I’m an Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Computer Science Department. I’m originally from South Carolina though lack any of that delightful southern accent you hear bandied about. I teach many of the introductory computer science courses and try to make them engaging and fun with the idea that computers can help us express ourselves in different ways: from visual arts and music, to mathematics and data science. My research mainly focuses on how learning to program changes how people think about problem solving and learning. I have an eclectic set of interests from getting too invested in various sports teams, trying to find Chicago’s best pancakes, and building huge Lego sets.


Department of Mathematics


Santiago Canez 

I am a Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished Professor of Instruction in the Department of Mathematics, and currently serve as the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies. I am originally from Nogales, Arizona and joined the faculty at Northwestern in Fall 2012. I am passionate about mathematics education at all levels, and differential geometry as well. Specifically, my work focuses on symplectic geometry and mathematical physics, and seeks to understand the types of geometric structures which underlie physics on non-smooth spaces.


Department of Religious Studies


KB Dennis Meade

Dr. KB Dennis Meade is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies with a courtesy appointment in the Department of Black Studies. Her research areas include the study of the modern African diaspora, religious cultures and politics in the Caribbean, ethnographic methods, and the digital humanities. Prior to her career in academia, she was a college counselor and program director in various non-profits focused on underserved youth. 

Dr. Dennis Meade is a first-generation Caribbean immigrant raised in New York City. She enjoys fancy pizza, learning about spiritual traditions, and listening attentively to elaborate stories improvised by her toddler and preteen nieces. Dr. Dennis Meade has learned that sharing belly laughs with friends helps cure the Chicago winter blues. 



Eli Finkel

Department of Psychology

I'm a social psychology professor who studies romantic relationships (e.g., initial attraction, marital dynamics, shared goal pursuit), American politics (e.g., political polarization), and their intersection. I work at Northwestern University, with appointments in psychology and Kellogg. My undergraduate degree is also from Northwestern (1997), and I earned my MA (1999) and PhD (2001) degrees with Caryl Rusbult at UNC Chapel Hill. I live in Evanston, IL, with my wife, two kids, and various pets. I am curious, but not querulous.



Gary Galbreath

Program in Biological Sciences

Conducts evolutionary and Conservation biology research in Southeast Asia. Provides scientific advice to wildlife protection organizations there, and to organizations that conserve rainforests in Peru. Recent publications include An apparent hybrid wild bear from Cambodia, co-authored with M. Hunt, T. Clements, and L.P. Wait. Teaches 103-0 Diversity of Life.



Linda Gates

Department of Theatre

Linda Gates is Head of Voice in the Department of Theatre at Northwestern University where she teaches voice, speech, text, dialects, and specializes in teaching, coaching, directing Shakespeare’s plays. As a professional voice and dialect coach, she has worked both on and off-Broadway, in Chicago, regional theatre, opera and film.

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Natalia Gutiérrez-Jones

McCormick Library of Special Collections and University Archives

Natalia is an Archival Processing Specialist in the McCormick Library of Special Collections and University Archives, working hands-on with historical materials and creating guides for research access. She studied Spanish and Comparative Literature as an undergraduate at Haverford College (PA), and history and library science during grad school at Simmons University (MA). Santa Barbara, CA, where she grew up, is still home, although she keeps chasing chillier climates in adulthood. In her spare time she boxes, reads sci fi, and spoils her cat Gerry.



John Haas

Department of Theatre

John Haas is an Assistant Professor of Instruction and Undergraduate Academic Advisor in the Department of Theatre. He advises, mentors, and supports students in the Theatre major and Music Theatre Certificate Program to moments of self-discovery as they progress through their academic journey at Northwestern.

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Megan Hyska

Department of Philosophy

Megan Hyska is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Northwestern University. Her research focus is political communication. Her recent projects take up questions about social organizing, social movements, political communication mediated by machine learning, and the nature and value of communication itself. She received her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018.



Daniel Immerwahr

Daniel Immerwahr is a professor of U.S. history. Having dedicated his meager career to higher learning, he is almost entirely unequipped to face the vicissitudes of life on the cold Evanston streets. Should you see him, he will probably require assistance swiping his card (oddly, a laminated library card from 1982) to get into the dining hall. It is not advisable to engage Prof. Immerwahr in conversation, or indeed to acknowledge him at all, if you are in a rush. But once he is seated and fed, he is by and large affable, so long as you like stories about Woodrow Wilson's cabinet. Approach with caution.


Amy Kehoe


Office of Fellowships

Amy manages many fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students, with the majority being international opportunities. She has worked in higher education, philanthropy, and global engagement for over 20 years, including positions with the Open Society Institute, the University of Michigan International Institute, and the Peace Corps. She holds a BA in Latin American studies from the University of Michigan and an MA in international and comparative education from Columbia University. Amy has traveled to more than 20 countries and loves helping Northwestern students study and work abroad. When not in the office, Amy enjoys hiking with her husband, sailing with her daughters, and visiting art museums. 



Martina Kerlova

Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

Martina Kerlova, coordinator of second-year German for the Slavic department, has been a member of the German and Slavic Departments since 2002. Before coming to Northwestern she earned Master’s Degrees in German Literature from Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, and in German Studies from Charles University in Prague. In addition to German, Martina has taught first, second and third-year Czech in the Slavic Department as well as a cultural courses. In her free time, she likes to read literature, attend theater, backpack in National Parks and go cross-country skiing.

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Julia Oliver Rajan

Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Julia teaches different levels of Spanish and courses for Spanish heritage speakers. She is a certified Spanish tester and rater for the American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL). She performs Oral Proficiency Interviews (OPI) for students and professionals seeking official assessments, e.g., for grant applications, studying abroad, and placement for Spanish courses.

Julia’s other areas of interest include sociolinguistics, community engagement, and service learning. Her service-learning textbook - Amigos de la comunidad: Curso de aprendizaje-servicio en español is available at Cognella Academic Publishing.

Julia has a Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she also coordinated a federally funded project for bilingual children in the Chicago Public Schools at the College of Education.


Janet Olson


University Archives

Janet Olson was the Assistant University Archivist at Northwestern from 1998 until her retirement in May 2020. She happily continues her engagement as Faculty Fellow at Willard Residential College, an honor she has enjoyed since 2013 or so. Since 2007, she has also been the part-time Archivist for the Frances Willard House Museum and WCTU Archives in Evanston, and continues in this role. She knows way too much about Northwestern’s history, including its connection with the real Frances Willard, about whom she also knows way too much. She has an MA in History from Loyola University-Chicago, with a research focus on 19th-century social reform, the more utopian the better.


Susan Osborn


Piano in Bienen School of Music

In addition to studying at Northwestern, Susan Ramey Osborn '95 DMus has studied at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Smith College, and The New School for Music Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Dr. Osborn is also on the piano faculties of Northwestern University's Music Academy and Interlochen Arts Camp. Her teaching experience includes both private and group instruction for students of all ages and levels. As a performer, she has presented numerous recitals and has appeared as a soloist with orchestras. She is active as a performer and adjudicator in the Chicago area, a member of the honorary music society, Pi Kappa Lambda, and a member of Music Teachers National Association.


Min Park


Min Park graduated from Northwestern University with a Master of Music degree in Violin Performance and Pedagogy under the guidance of Almita Vamos and Stacia Spencer. She received a BM in Violin from University of Texas at Austin under Brian Lewis and the Miro Quartet.  Passionate as a teacher, Min has been teaching since she was a high school student.   In addition to pedagogy coursework at NU, she completed additional teacher training under Mimi Zweig and Nancy Locken.  In addition to teaching, Min is active as a chamber musician, founding the Aoide Quartet at NU and the Houndstooth String Quartet – a group that collaborates with living composers.  She has participated in masterclasses with the St. Lawrence Quartet, Lynn Harrell, Philharmonia Quartett Berlin, and Shmuel Ashkenasi to name a few.  In her spare time, you can find her in bikram yoga classes.



Carl Petry

Department of History

Carl Petry (Ph. D., Michigan, 1974), Hamad bin Khalifa Chair in Middle East Studies and Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, specializes in the Middle East (Nile Valley: Northeast Africa through Southwest Asia: Iran) from the advent of Islam to the late medieval period (6th-16th centuries C.E.)


Sheppard Shanley

Northwestern Admissions

I worked in the Office of Undergraduate Admission for a long time and retired in June, 2020 as  Senior Associate Director after helping to recruit and choose the class of '24, my 50th class. A few years after I started, one of the students I met and interviewed was in Willard and got me to join. Undergrads already thought Willard was a totally cool place to live, so I was excited to be part of it and still feel a strong tie to Willard. Besides work, I've been in different choruses over the years, some at Northwestern, and have gone to France to see friends almost every year. Both of these got suspended by the pandemic, but they'll come back. I've made many friends at Willard and look forward to getting to know the group that's there now.


Scott Sowerby


Department of History

I'm Scott Sowerby, and I'm an associate professor in the Department of History. I was born in Vancouver, Canada, where I learned to spell “colour” with a “u” and to say my alphabet with a “zed” instead of a “zee.” Other than that, I had a fairly typical childhood. I enjoy traveling, hiking and walking my four-year-old beagle. If you're interested in Caribbean pirates or British kings and queens, you might want to take a course with me. I'm looking forward to seeing you all in Willard!

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Stacia Spencer


Strings in Bienen School of Music

Stacia Spencer is a senior lecturer in string pedagogy at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music and string coordinator for the Northwestern Music Academy. She also has been on the faculty of the Northwestern National High School Music Institute teaching violin, viola, and chamber music. Ms. Spencer has a special interest in contemporary music, working with composers and performing new pieces. An eclectic musician and performer, she has been a vocalist and jazz singer in the Jon Eaton Pocket Opera Company in Chicago and New York.  As a singer and electric violist she has also performed and recorded in the rock genre.



Isabel von Holt

Department of German

Isabel von Holt’s research and teaching interests include the dialogue between the early modern and the (post-)modern, cultural theory, and transnational literature with a specialization on literary relations between Germany and Latin America. She holds a PhD in Modern German Literature and an MA in German Philology and Latin American Studies, all received from Freie Universität Berlin. Prior to joining the Department of German at Northwestern University, she was a research associate at the Collaborative Research Center “Episteme in Motion” and at the Department of German and Dutch Philology at Freie Universität Berlin.



Michał Wilczewski

Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

Michał is Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and has been at Northwestern and Willard since 2021. When you meet him, he will immediately ask you if you want to learn Polish and enroll in his language courses, so you should just do it to save him the trouble. Otherwise, he teaches courses on Polish literature, film, history, and culture, and sexuality in Eastern Europe. When he’s not teaching, you can usually find him wandering the halls of Kresge. Come say hi! 



Patti Wolter

Wolter’s teaching focuses on the magazine industry, fact-checking, science writing and narrative, especially in relationship to feature writing and multimedia storytelling. She teaches courses in magazine editing, feature writing, health and science reporting, and narrative structure for undergraduate and graduate students. Wolter regularly partners with consumer media in her classes, and students in her courses have placed their reporting in a wide range of national media outlets. She has also co-taught Medill’s investigative journalism course, taught advanced science writing to master’s students, and worked with Medill's Knight Lab instructors integrating digital storytelling with narrative feature writing.


Brad Zakarin


Office of the Provost

Brad focuses on the leadership and execution of strategic initiatives in support of the diverse portfolio of academic and administrative responsibilities within the Office of the Provost. 

Prior to joining the Office of the Provost, Brad worked in other parts of the University, most recently as Director of Residential Academic Initiatives and previously as Associate Director in the Office of Fellowships. He has also held faculty appointments in the History Department and Cook Family Writing Program over more than a decade at Northwestern.

Graduate Associates

Meet the Graduate Associates! The Willard Graduate Associates are graduate students with unique ties to Willard Residential College. They come to events planned by the dorm, engage with Woos, and even host exclusive events for Willard residents.

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Murielle Standley

Department of Communication Science & Disorders

Murielle is a Ph.D. student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program and part of the Child Language Lab. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Developmental Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies (with a focus on Linguistics) from Northeastern Illinois University. Originally from Switzerland, she speaks multiple languages (Swiss German, German, English, and French) and studies bilingual language development, with a focus on children with language impairments. She is interested in how bilingualism affects cognition and learning; her goal is to conduct culturally relevant research that contributes to how early markers of developmental language disorder are identified in bilingual children. 

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Anele Villanueva

Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders

Anele Villanueva is a PhD student at Northwestern University in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders working with Dr. Adriana Weisleder at the Child Language Lab. Anele's research interests involve understanding how different aspects of the social context influences young dual language learners' home language maintenance, sociolinguistic identity formation, and children's understanding of language as a social category. She is also interested in engaging with community stakeholders to support their needs and questions related to language development and literacy. Anele is a first-generation college student, bilingual in Spanish and English, and holds a Bachelor in Child and Family Development with two minors in Counseling & Social Change and Interdisciplinary Studies from San Diego State University. Anele aims to conduct culturally responsive research and support multilingual communities by addressing their questions and needs.


Newlin Weatherford


Department of Physics & Astronomy

Newlin is an astronomy PhD student. He studies gravitational dynamics in star clusters using numerical simulations run on Northwestern’s Quest computing cluster. He focuses on the impact of central black holes on star cluster evolution and methods to infer the presence of black holes in observed clusters based on their influence on surrounding stars. Newlin started working with Professor Rasio as an undergraduate at Northwestern, where he majored in Integrated Science, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering.

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