Arts and Sciences Faculty


Quality and Commitment

WSU Tri-Cities is a campus of Washington State University, which shares one central administration and one faculty. The campus strongly values diversity among its faculty, staff and students. As a campus of a land-grant institution, WSU Tri-Cities is committed to excellence in research, learning, and outreach to all constituents.

Allan Felsot, Ph.D.

Interim Academic Director, Arts and Sciences
Professor, Entomology and Environmental Toxicology
Graduate Coordinator, School of the Environment
Office: East 128
Phone: 509-372-7365

Allan Felsot (1993) earned his Ph.D. in Entomology from Iowa State University. His research and extension interests include hazard assessments of transgenic crops, pesticide drift and buffer zone design, reduction of insecticide application rates using new sprayer technologies, enhanced biodegradation of pesticides, remediation of pesticide waste in soil, best management practices for controlling agrochemical movement to surface and ground water, analytical chemistry of pesticide residues in soil, water, and food, pesticide toxicology, regulations, and risk communication. He teaches a graduate course entitled “Applied Environmental Toxicology.” He also team teaches the course, “Pesticides: Toxicology and Modes of Action.”

Biological and Environmental Sciences

W. Jim Cooper, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences
Office: ICB Suite A
Phone: 509-372-7175
Related website:

Jim Cooper (2011) specializes in the adaptive divergence of cranial anatomy in fishes. He earned a Ph.D. in Evolutionary Morphology from the University of Chicago. His research interests include functionally intricate skulls of those fishes in the lineage Percomorpha, skull evolution and how genetic changes affect fish skull evolution.


James R. “Dick” Pratt, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, School of the Environment
Office: East 103B
Phone: 509-372-7212

James R. “Dick” Pratt joined Washington State University Tri-Cities as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs on Aug. 1, 2008. He served as Interim Chancellor for the 2012-2013 academic year, transitioning in August 2013 to Professor of Environmental Science. Dick received his Ph.D. degree in Zoology from Virginia Tech, his Master’s of Science in Biology from Eastern Washington University, and his Bachelor’s of Arts in Biology from the University of Washington. He graduated from Kennewick High School in 1968.


Elly Sweet, Ph.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences
Office: ICB Suite A
Phone: 509-372-7525

Chemistry and Physics

Cigdem Capan, Ph.D.

Instructor, Physics
Office: CIC 202J
Phone: 509-372-7147

Cigdem Capan (2010) received her Ph.D. in Condensed Matter Physics from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris. She has been invited to speak across the globe including Italy, Poland, England, and throughout the United States. Her research specialty is Condensed Matter Physics. It is a frontier area of research, at the crossroads of solid state chemistry, materials science, and quantum many body theory. The aim of this interdisciplinary approach is to understand and describe the quantum mechanics of a very large number of particles, be it electrons in metals, or atoms in optical lattices. Capan has experience in conducting a large variety of measurements, including transport properties such as magnetoresistance and Hall Effect, and thermodynamic properties such as magnetization and specific heat, at low temperatures and high magnetic fields. She is also experienced in the crystal growth, solid state synthesis, and X-ray characterization of new materials. Since 2014 Capan has been a visiting faculty at PNNL, where she participates in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance experiments in actinide compounds with the aim of better understanding how the chemical environment affects the magnetic properties of heavy elements like Plutonium.


Nelmi Devarie Baez, Ph.D.

Instructor, Chemistry
Office: East 132
Phone: 509-372-7465


Dan Mitchell, Ph.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor, Chemistry
Office: East 103A
Phone: 509-372-7184

Dan Mitchell (2000) received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Washington.


Andrea Aebersold, Ph.D.

Clinical Associate Professor, English
Office: CIC 202K
Phone: 509-372-7390

Andrea Campbell Aebersold (2010) received her Ph.D. in English Literature from Washington State University. Her areas of expertise include 20th century American literature, women writers, multicultural literature, and ecocriticism. Her research focuses on environmental literature written by women such as Octavia Butler, Toni Morrison, and Ruth Ozeki. Her most recent project focuses on environmental experiences and contested landscapes in Asian-American literature.


Simon Aebersold

Instructor, English
Interim Director, Writing and Tutoring Centers
Office: CIC Library 201AE
Phone: 509-372-7342

Simon Aebersold (2010) earned his M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) from the University of Idaho. Before coming to WSU Tri-Cities, Aebersold taught English in Fukuyama, Japan and ESL at the University of Idaho. His academic interests include linguistics, composition and rhetoric, and writing center pedagogy.


Vanessa Cozza, Ph.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor, English
Office: CIC 202E
Phone: 509-372-7137

Vanessa Cozza (2011) specializes in multilingual composition and rhetorical studies. She earned a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing at Bowling Green State University (BGSU). Her research interests include student enculturation and assimilation, cultural differences in communication styles and its impact on literacy learning, teaching composition to U.S.-educated multilingual writers, Latino/as education, visual literacy and rhetoric, writing studies, critical pedagogy and social justice. Prior to arriving at WSU Tri-Cities, Cozza taught first-year writing as a graduate instructor at BGSU and a range of English courses at Neumann University and Delaware County Community College.


Nora Kuster, Ph.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor, English
Office: CIC 125N
Phone: 509-372-7142


Michael Mays, Ph.D.

Director, Hanford History Project
Professor, English
Office: CIC 125C
Phone: 509-372-7380

Michael Mays (2012) received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington. Mays’s research and teaching interests include Modern and Contemporary Irish and English Literature. His book Nation States: The Cultures of Irish Nationalism was published in 2007.


Robin Ebert Mays

Instructor, English
Office: CIC 125D
Phone: 509-372-7425

Robin Ebert Mays (2015) earned her M.A. in American Literature from the University of Southern Mississippi. Prior to arriving at WSU Tri-Cities, she gained experience teaching varying levels of English Composition and Technical Writing at Delgado Community College, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and The University of Southern Mississippi.

Fine Art

Peter Christenson

Assistant Professor, Fine Arts
Office:West 101D
Phone: 509-372-7285

Peter Christenson (2012) earned his M.S.W. from the University of Michigan and his M.F.A. in Intermedia from Arizona State University. Christenson is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and filmmaker, and he is the recent recipient of a US-UK Fulbright Scholar Award in Art & Design. He is co-founder and Artistic Director of Left of Centre, a guerrilla-marketing/consulting firm and artist collective started in Detroit, MI. His current practice and research are rooted in interventionist, social art, and institutional critique theories and significantly influenced by his past experiences working as a licensed psychotherapist. Christenson’s research focuses on New Media and Digital Culture, Installation and Immersive Environments, Institutional Critique and Interventionist Theory, Relational Aesthetics, and Psychosocial Art.


Sena Clara Creston

Clinical Assistant Professor, Fine Arts
Office: West 101E
Phone: 509-372-7419

Sena Clara Creston is an exhibiting interactive installation artist from New York City. Creston earned her MFA in electronic art from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2012 and her BFA from NYU for photography and imaging in 2005. Creston uses a combination of old and new technology to construct immersive electronic, kinetic and interactive sculptural installations as well as photographic environments. Her research and creative practice focus on the impact materials, process and mythology can have on interactive art and reflect on alternative associations with what is considered natural.


Doug Gast

Associate Professor, Fine Arts
Program Director, Digital Technology and Culture
Office: West 101B
Phone: 509-372-7185
Related websites: — a collection of work in film, video, photography, and interactive media — a project website — a project website

Douglas Gast (2005) received his M.A. in Communication Studies from Baylor University and his M.F.A. in Electronic Art from the University of Cincinnati. Gast is an exhibiting artist whose work has been shown worldwide. His research and creative interests include Video/Film/Animation, New Media/Electronic Art, Photography/Imaging, Installation, Performance, Web/Net Art, Sound, Interactive Art, Conceptual Art/Fluxus/Dada, Semiotics, and Curatorial Studies. While typically digital or electronic in nature, his work involves the identification and activation of the inherent elements of the media which stands to best serve his chosen message. Gast is the advisor of the Digital Technology and Culture Student Organization.


Robert Bauman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, History
Office: CIC 125K
Phone: 509-372-7249

Robert Bauman (1997) is an award-winning scholar whose research and teaching interests are in 20th Century U.S. social policy, religion, and race in the American West. His book, Race and the War on Poverty: From Watts to East LA, was published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2008. He has been invited to present his research on the War on Poverty at several academic institutions, including Dartmouth College, the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, and the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. His article, “Jim Crow in the Tri-Cities, 1943-1950” won the Charles Gates Award for the best article published in the Pacific Northwest Quarterly in 2005. His most recent publications include “`Kind of a Secular Sacrament:’ Fathers Geno Baroni and John Egan and the Catholic War on Poverty,” published in The Catholic Historical Review in April 2013. He is currently working on a book project, titled, “Kind of a Secular Sacrament: Race, Religion and the Long War on Poverty,” about religious organizations’ involvement in the War on Poverty.


Brett Bell, Ph.D.

Instructor, History
Office: CIC 125S
Phone: 509-372-7239

Brett Bell (2015) received his Ph.D. in History from Washington State University. His historical interests include early American history, antebellum southern history, military history, and the history of slavery. His research interests primarily center on the United States from 1835-1850, with a central focus on southern opposition during the Mexican War. He teaches a variety of history courses, including classes on early American history and the Roots of Contemporary Issues.


Brigit Farley, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, History
Office: CIC 202C
Phone: 509-372-7357

Brigit Farley (1995) received her Ph.D. in History from Indiana University. Her research interests include 20th century Russia and Europe, War and Peace in the 20th century, Holocaust, and commemoration, translation/annotation of historical works from Eastern Europe and Russia. Her expertise covers a wide span: Russia/Eastern Europe, US and European foreign affairs, 1914 to present, Cold War, Great War, World War II, European ethnic conflict, and the Holocaust. Farley worked in the Soviet Union as a United States Information Agency Exhibit Guide in the Soviet Union during the late 1980s. She shares her knowledge with the Richland Kiwanis, Pasco and Kennewick Rotary Clubs, senior citizen groups and local schools. Farley speaks Russian, French, and the Serbo-Croatian languages fluently and speaks Hungarian on a limited basis.


Steven Hoch, Ph.D.

Professor, History
Office: CIC 201AB
Phone: 509-372-7145

Steven Hoch (2008) received his Ph.D. in History at Princeton University and has studied at L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and at Moscow State University. Hoch’s research focuses on modern Russian history, European agrarian history, and historical demography. He has written two books and a number of articles on Russian history and the nation’s socioeconomic conditions. While at the University of Iowa, he received an $825,000 U.S. Department of Education grant to establish a National Resource Center in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies.


Stephanie San Miguel Bauman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Psychology
Office: CIC 202D
Phone: 509-372-7363

Stephanie San Miguel Bauman (2011) received her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research looks at developmental concerns and the role of resilience and empowerment within the broader scholarly areas of multicultural psychology and health psychology. In the area of multicultural psychology, she recently co-authored a chapter about lifespan development which appeared in The Oxford Handbook of Multicultural Feminist Counseling Psychology. Given her interest in the generation, transmission, and application of knowledge to serve the needs of Latino/Mestizo and Native/Indigenous communities in the Pacific Northwest, she serves on the advisory board of the Pacific Northwest Center for Mestizo and Indigenous Research and Outreach. In the area of health psychology, Bauman examines the psychosocial and school adjustment of adolescent and young adult survivors of childhood cancer.


Allison Matthews, Ph.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor, Psychology
Office: CIC 125B
Phone: 509-372-7146

Allison Matthews (2011) earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from Washington State University. Matthews is an experimental psychologist with a specialty in cognitive psychology. Her research interests include theoretical and applied study of the interaction between affect and “cold” cognitive processes within dual-process models of decision making and reasoning, biases in decision making and reasoning, and executive control in working memory in clinical and non-clinical populations.


Janet Peters, Ph.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor, Psychology
Office: CIC 125A
Phone: 509-372-7431


Paul Strand, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Psychology
Office: CIC 125S
Phone: 509-372-7177

Paul Strand (1997) earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. His research centers on school readiness and social skills development of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Strand studies how shyness, social values, and emotion relate to social skills development and school engagement. He is concerned with verbal processes that emerge in cultural context and guide behavior, such as verbal-relational learning, IQ, social values, and religious practices. He is the Vice-Chair of the Benton Franklin Head Start Board of Directors, consults with the National Children’s Reading Foundation and the Children’s Developmental Center in Richland.


Sarah Tragesser, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Psychology
Office: CIC 125Q
Phone: 509-372-7388

Sarah Tragesser (2007) received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Colorado State University. Her research focuses on personality features associated with substance abuse. Specifically, she studies Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), features of affective instability/negative affectivity and impulsivity, and how these relate to alcohol and prescription opioid use. She examines these features through exploring motives for using substances, and the role of physical pain in substance use and dependence. She studies the association between pain and personality features, and how motives mediate the association between BPD features, substance use, and consequences. Tragesser’s research spans both non-clinical and clinical populations, including research among college students, individuals in treatment for substance use disorders, and individuals in treatment for chronic pain. Currently, she is researching how chronic pain conditions and their interaction with personality features contributes to both negative emotionality and to the development of opioid dependence and dependence on other substances.

Social Sciences

Katherine Banks

Instructor, School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs
Office: CIC 125R
Phone: 509-372-7119

Katherine (Katie) Banks holds an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington (2009) and an M.Phil. in International Relations from the University of Cambridge (2006). She is ABD, completing her dissertation on the politics of global health financing. Banks’ research/teaching interests are centered in international relations, human security, international development, and American foreign policy. She also teaches introductory courses in American politics, research methodology, and sociology. Banks serves as a faculty coordinator of the WSU Tri-Cities’ Annual Social Justice Institute, a faculty liaison for the Global Learning/Study Abroad program, and a co-advisor for the Global Leadership Certificate.


Mark Mansperger, Ph.D.

Clinical Associate Professor, Anthropology
Office: 509-372-7383

Mark Mansperger (2003) earned his Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Washington State University. His research includes Cultural Ecology, Cultural Change, Human Evolution, and Primate Behavior. Primarily a cultural anthropologist, Mansperger is active across the field including physical anthropology and paleo-anthropological discoveries. Originally trained in economics, his research interests also include political economy where he studies comparative economic systems, globalization, and democracy. He is also interested in Contemporary American Social Problems and deeply committed to investigating the looming challenges of dwindling resources and exorbitant wastes that humans have created on this planet. Mansperger taught and worked in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles prior to returning to Washington.


Michael Pieracci, Ph.D.

Clinical Associate Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences
Office: CIC 125R
Phone: 509-372-7392

Michael Pieracci (1991) obtained his Ph.D. in Psychology from Saybrook University in San Francisco in 1989 and an MA in the Humanities from California State University, Dominguez Hills, in 2004. Pieracci’s research specialties include Classical Literature, World History and Civilizations, Religious Studies, Cultural Psychology, Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice, Narrative, Politics, and American problems. He has a background in psychology and social services working as a self-employed psychologist since 1991, and for Catholic Family and Child Services in the Tri-Cities from 1983 to 1991, and for several social service agencies in Portland and San Francisco. He is the co-founder of the “Reflection Café,” a community-based discussion group and is the advisor of the Humanities Club Student Organization.


Kristy Valenciano, Program Specialist

Office: West 263D
Phone: 509-372-7306


Tammy Castrellon, Completion Coach

Office: CIC 125G
Phone: 509-372-7382


Carrie Marean-Reardon, Science Lab Coordinator

Office: East 118
Phone: 509-372-7485


Meg Mercer, Science Lab Coordinator

Office: East 118
Phone: 509-372-7327

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