Welcome, new tenure-track faculty

Jessie Knowlton, Assistant Professor of Biology
Jessie Knowlton

Assistant professor of biology

  • Former research scientist in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich.
  • Bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolution, University of California, Santa Cruz; Ph.D. in ecology and evolution, Stony Brook University

“I grew up on the central coast of California and was always outside in nature with my family. The complexity and beauty of the natural world never cease to amaze me, so pursuing ecology for my career was an easy choice. I love sharing my passion for ecology and natural history with students and mentoring those who are interested in pursuing this field. I enjoy the reciprocal learning that takes place between instructor and students. I love the small size of the college, which leads to greater interaction between faculty and students. I also recognize how unique it is to be able to do research with undergraduate students and believe these interactions greatly benefit both students and researchers. I want every student to embrace their natural curiosity about the world around them, and to learn how they can explore this curiosity using scientifically rigorous methods.”
Fun fact: A direct descendant of Eng and Chang Bunker, the conjoined twins from Thailand (then Siam) who became the basis for the term “Siamese Twins.”

Christopher Kotyk, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Christopher Kotyk

Assistant professor of chemistry

  • Former postdoctoral faculty fellow at Boston University
  • Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, with a minor in biology, Gettysburg College; doctorate in chemistry, University of California in Irvine, focusing on the chemistry of organometallic lanthanide complexes

“I’ve always been interested in the sciences, but chemistry in particular really drew me in. The foundation of chemistry is physics, and chemistry itself can be argued as the foundation for biology. The different disciplines of chemistry lie right at the border between what is tangible and what isn’t, and that’s a very fun place to work. What I want every student to learn is that science is a process, and it can be used by anyone to understand the world by making observations, testing their reproducibility and building theories.”
Fun fact: “I’m terrible at fantasy football, but I’m pretty good at making beer, and I’ve been a vegan for 10 years.”

Szu-Yin “Jennifer” Wu, Assistant Professor of Business Management
Szu-Yin “Jennifer” Wu

Assistant professor of business and management

  • Former instructor at University at Buffalo (N.Y.), teaching undergraduate investment and international finance management
  • Bachelor’s degree, economics, National Taiwan University; master’s degree in finance, National Chengchi University; Ph.D. in finance, University at Buffalo

“I have a great passion for learning as well as sharing my knowledge with others. When I interact with students, it is very rewarding to see what a difference I can make. I’m thrilled beyond words that my students gain something from me that stays with them forever. I encourage students to explore what is important to them—their values, their strengths as well as weaknesses, what they really want to do in the future. I did that when I was in college by talking to people in different areas and being interested in many activities. I want students to know that their GPA is just one dimension of their college learning experience and to never forget to explore more outside of the classroom.”
Fun fact: Loves dancing; has been doing Zumba for almost five years; considering getting a Zumba instructor license

Shenglan Li, Assistant Professor of History
Shenglan Li

Assistant professor of history

  • Former instructor, teaching assistant and academic advisor at State University of New York at Binghamton
  • Bachelor’s degree, world history and international economics, Nankai University in Tianjin, China; Ph.D. in history, focusing on modern China, East Asia, medicine and gender, State University of New York at Binghamton

“There was a patriotic song taught in my grade school. Part of the song’s lyrics discussed the altruistic nature of teachers and encouraged us to become teachers. Although I had no doubts about teachers’ importance, I hated the song and thought I would never become one of them. However, during my junior year, serendipity led me to Poland, where I had the opportunity to teach high school students about Chinese history. That experience made me realize that teaching is as much about helping students as it is about being inspired by them. As I obtained more teaching experiences throughout graduate school, I found myself passionate about communicating with students and touched by watching them grow. I appreciate the privilege of being an educator, to guide, teach, impact and learn from students. All these continue to push me to become a better educator and researcher. As a faculty member, I encourage all students to think critically as well as empathetically. I hope they learn how the diverse and complex past impacts the present, and how we can use history and historical skills to make a better future.”
Fun fact: Practices calligraphy as a form of meditation