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The Record Fall 2013 - Introducing GC's New Faculty

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Greenville College Welcomes New Faculty Members 2013-2014

The start of a new school year brings many new faces to campus, including new faculty members. This year, Greenville College welcomes to our campus about a dozen new faculty members.

Professor Brian Hartley, dean of the School of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, welcomed eight faculty members to the arts and sciences, focusing primarily in the sciences. The schools of education and professional studies also made hires.

The hires range from professors fresh out of graduate school to mid-career and senior faculty members. Many of these faculty members have stories of interesting and inspiring journeys to GC.

Watch a video of Brian Hartley sharing his enthusiasm for this year’s new faculty members, and read about some of the new faculty members, below.


Hyung Choi

Dr. Hyung ChoiDr. Hyung Choi, physics department chair and associate professor of physics, comes to Greenville College from the John Templeton Foundation where he helped initiate and fund frontier scientific programs. He was also a visiting researcher at Wycliff Hall, Oxford University and a visiting fellow at St. Edmund's College, Cambridge University.

Choi holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the Graduate Center of CUNY and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Before he moved to the United States in 1979, he studied at Seoul National University for graduate work in theoretical particle physics. Choi is fluent in English and Korean and has reading proficiency in the languages of Biblical Hebrew and Greek, German and Chinese.

The interdisciplinary area of science and religion is of particular interest to Choi, who was a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkley, California. He won the grand prize from the John Templeton Foundation's international essay contest for his essay on physics and the Christian faith.

Choi has authored many technical and nontechnical articles and books in the areas of quantum theory of light, quantum information, the foundations of physics, philosophy of science, the interdisciplinary area of science and religion, spirituality and worldviews. Choi has also worked with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) for more than 35 years.

His wife, Piety Choi, displayed artwork at Greenville College’s Maves Gallery recently. She received her MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. She has earned numerous prizes for her work in oil paintings and mixed media.


Hannah Fishburn

Hannah FishburnVisiting Professor of Spanish Hannah Fishburn ’05 has returned to her alma mater to teach in the Language, Literature and Culture (LLC) Department. Fishburn’s area of expertise is second language acquisition, with a specialty in Spanish teaching. She has trained in international relations and educational leadership.

“I'm excited to be here and to see what has changed and what is still tradition at GC,” she said. “There are some exciting changes going on here at GC, and alumni should definitely visit to see for themselves!”

As an undergraduate student from Auburn, Illinois, Fishburn was drawn to Greenville College’s Christian community and the large number of musicians on campus.

After graduating from GC with a degree in Spanish education, she continued her education at Webster University and the University of Illinois. Fishburn is motivated to help students reach their goals. “I am very eager to work with students who are in the college life phase, where many important decisions about faith, friendships, and career are made,” she said.


Bwarenaba Kautu

Assistant Professor of Biology Bwarenaba Kautu specializes in cell and molecular neuroscience, which investigates functional and developmental aspects of the nervous system at both the cellular and the molecular level. Kautu was born and raised on a small, remote coral island in the Republic of Kiribati (South Pacific) before moving to the United States to begin his undergraduate studies.

“The highest point on the island is about two meters above sea-level, and I come from a small village of about 200 people,” Kautu said.

As a doctoral student at the University of Alabama, he studied in Guy Caldwell’s neurobiology lab. Kautu said, “Caldwell is a neurobiologist who previously trained in the lab of a Nobel Prize winner at Columbia University, New York.”

Following the completion of his doctorate, Kautu studied as a postdoctoral fellow at Baylor College of Medicine. He is excited about the possibility of creating a new course in neuroscience at GC and hopes to work on cutting-edge neuroscience research projects with students.

Kautu says the foremost factor in his decision to teach at Greenville College was the College’s founding on Christian values and principles. “My new role will give me the opportunity to make an impact on the lives [of students],” he said. “Because of my own personal background as an orphan who grew up in tremendous hardship, I am excited about the possibility of meeting and interacting with students who may have come from a similar background.”


Koby Kizzire

Koby KizzireAssistant Professor in Chemistry Koby Kizzire is no stranger to the science lab. His research at the University of Iowa’s College of Pharmacy focused on non-viral gene therapy, which studies the treatment of diseases with DNA or siRNA. He applied concepts from organic chemistry to make unnatural peptides that protect DNA in the bloodstream from blood proteins.

Kizzire completed his doctorate in pharmacy/medicinal and natural products chemistry this year. Previously, he attended Southeast Missouri State (SEMO) and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry/biochemistry from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE).

He spent his high school years in Edwardsville after moving frequently as a child, including living in Zimbabwe during middle school. His father is a minister and former missionary. Kizzire has lived in Iowa, Nebraska, Montana and Florida.

He believes God’s calling brought him to Greenville College and approaches his new role in the classroom with excitement. Kizzire said, “I have a front row seat in being a catalyst of change. It's rewarding to interact with people with the goal of improving them and myself intellectually and spiritually. Having a chance to witness and share in that growth and transition is why I do it. “


Eric and Andrea Nord

Eric and Andrea Nord are a husband-and-wife team of biology professors who will share teaching responsibilities at Greenville College beginning next semester. The pair met as undergraduate lab partners in a general ecology class at Goshen College. After graduating, they married and embarked on a joint adventure in academics and life that included:

  • Work at the Au Sable Institute for Environmental Studies as teaching interns and support staff
  • The completion of masters’ degrees at Pennsylvania State University
  • Three years in Honduras assisting with rural development projects in villages where they came to love and respect their Honduran neighbors
  • Teaching as visiting professors at their alma mater, Goshen College

Eric and Andrea both completed their doctorates in ecology at Pennsylvania State University. They share interests in cycling, reading and their children, Joel and Emma. “Our solution to the challenges of having a two-career marriage is to share one full-time position,” they say. Click here to read more about their life and studies together.

Since August, the Nord family has resided in Malawi where Eric is working in agricultural development through funding provided by the Fulbright Program. Click here to follow the family’s adventures in southeast Africa.


Jamie Thanepohn

Jamie ThanepohnThe Greenville College softball program will enter the 2013-14 season with a new head coach. Jamie Thanepohn, former softball coach and high school math teacher at Morton High School in Illinois, steps up to the plate as GC's head softball coach and senior women's administrator. She also serves as an instructor in math.

Thanepohn attended Illinois Wesleyan University where she earned her bachelor's degree in 2004 in math education. She later completed a master's degree in teaching and leadership at Saint Xavier University.

While at IWU, Thanepohn was a successful student-athlete in their softball program, playing on three CCIW conference championship-winning teams. At IWU, she holds the single season record for doubles and was twice a member of the all-conference team. She was also honored as an all-region player. She played in three NCAA tournaments placing third in 2003. Thanepohn was also selected to the NCAA World Series all-tournament team.

“I am most excited to help shape the next generation and challenging them to be the best they can,” she said. “I was a bit apprehensive about leaving the public schools where I was making a difference for the kingdom, but then began to realize that I have an opportunity to help pour into and develop the next generation of teachers to have an even bigger impact.”


Vanda Underwood

Vanda UnderwoodJoining the education department as director of clinical practice, Assistant Professor Vanda Underwood brings more than 15 years experience as a classroom teacher to her role of teaching and supervising student teachers and consultants.

Underwood grew up in East Alton, Illinois, and graduated from Greenville College in 1980. She earned her master’s degree at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville and a doctorate in education at Lindenwood University. She has taught both elementary and middle school students and is passionate about literacy and reading.

“My dissertation explored the effects of guided reading instruction on student achievement,” she said. “It was very enlightening for our district.”

Underwood says that teaching at her alma mater fulfills her lifelong dream. She feels happy to be part of the GC community and looks forward to connecting with current students.

“I love sharing my experiences with teacher candidates, allowing them to gain a realistic perspective on their future careers in teaching,” she said.


Ben Wayman

Ben WaymanAssistant Professor of Religion Ben Wayman grew up in Santa Barbara, California, and planned to attend Seattle Pacific University after high school, but, in his words, “Ish Smith would have none of that. He wooed me to Greenville with baseball and its fine community. I have never quite been able to shake off the sense that this place is full of enchantment.”

After graduating from Greenville College, Wayman went on to attend Duke Divinity School and St. Louis University. He is a theologian trained in historical theology, and his expertise is early Christianity.

Wayman explained, “What this means is that I'm attentive to the ways in which culture and context influence the way people have thought about God. My doctoral coursework and research focused on early Christian interpretation of the Bible and its relation to theology, tradition, culture and worship.”

Wayman has two books currently in the publication process. Paraclete Press will publish Wayman’s book on the Psalms sometime next year. The book is tentatively titled, Make the Words Your Own: Athanasius' Guide to the Psalms, and is based on the earliest surviving Christian guide for how to read the psalms devotionally.

“I see my work in the academy as service to the church,” Wayman said, “and this project represents well this conviction.”

A second book, Diodore the Theologian, has an expected publication date of December 2013. Wayman offers a fresh proposal for the role of theology in Diodore's exegesis of Psalms 1-50. His book examines the role of theology in the biblical commentary of a fourth-century pastor and teacher.

He is eager to begin working with Greenville College students. “I am excited to teach young adults about why they should love reading the Bible and see the Christian life as the most exhilarating adventure on offer,” he said.


Check back later as we add more new faculty profiles!