Humanities Faculty

Dr. Aysha Bodenhamer

Dr. Aysha Bodenhamer is a broadly-trained sociologist with teaching and research interests in a number of substantive areas including: environmental sociology, sociology of health & illness, rural sociology, and public sociology. Much of her research is qualitative and focuses on the impact of extractive industries on environmental conditions, community, and workplace hazards. Dr. Bodenhamer is also a proud alumni of Radford University.

Dr. Scott W. Dunn

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Scott Dunn is an associate professor in the School of Communication at Radford University. He studies political communication, and his current research interest is young people’s engagement with politics. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Jamie McDaniel

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Dr. Jamie L. McDaniel is an Associate Professor of English at Radford University, and the editor of The CEA Forum, an online, peer-reviewed journal devoted to pedagogy in English studies. Publishing in journals such as Gender and History, The Midwest Quarterly, and Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, he is the author of articles on disability and adaptation studies, ableism in horror films, and legal, economic, and political theories of property in contemporary British women’s writing. His current work in the field of game studies combines the frameworks of procedural and constitutive rhetoric with disability studies to show how tabletop gaming – as both an increasingly important economic sector and as a communication practice within businesses – remains a particularly inaccessible and ableist part of the commercial world. This year, Dr. McDaniel also serves as the Humanities Coordinator for the Governor's School.

Dr. Geoff Pollick

Geoff Pollick studies the history and culture of religion in America. He teaches courses that explore broad questions of religion’s meanings and uses, including comparative studies of religious difference, American religious history, and surveys of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. His current research projects explore mutual influences between liberal Protestants and secular radicals in the prewar New York City Left; the political and social impact of women’s ordination during the 1800s; and the effects of consumer practice on U.S. evangelical Christian identity during the late twentieth century. Dr. Pollick received the Ph.D. from Drew University in New Jersey. Before coming to Radford University, he held positions at Sweet Briar College, New York University, Kean University, and Drew University.

Dr. Michele Ren

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Associate professor of English and Associate Director of Women’s and Gender Studies, Dr. Michele Ren received the Ph. D. in American Studies from Washington State University. She teaches courses in American Literature, Composition, and Women’s and Gender Studies at Radford University.

Dr. Amy Rubens

Dr. Amy Rubens is returning as an instructor with the Governor's School for the fourth time, and she also serves as the program's Assistant Director for Curriculum. At Radford University, she teaches courses in American literature, professional/business writing, and writing in digital environments. The health humanities (also called the medical humanities) is one of her primary research and teaching interests, and she believes that this field can benefit all learners, regardless of career path. Her research in the health humanities has been published in The Journal of Medical Humanities and Persona Studies, and she also has a chapter appearing in a forthcoming textbook on health humanities research methods. As Radford's inaugural Presidential Fellow, this fall Dr. Rubens will explore the creation of academic programs in the health humanities under the guidance of President Brian O. Hemphill and his executive staff. 

Dr. Gabriella Smith

Gabriella V. Smith is a sociologist who earned her BA from the University of Missouri in her native Kansas City, then went on to earn a MA at the University of Kansas and was awarded her PhD from the University of Virginia in May of 2019. Her research interests include the hidden ways that culture, gender, and race intersect. Dr. Smith loves to dive into complicated topics in the classroom, and places special emphasis on making students comfortable talking about difficult subjects like racism. She’s an avowed lover of animals, tea enthusiast, and plant geek.  

Mr. Joe Staniunas

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Joe Staniunas, Jr. teaches a variety of journalism, media law and media production courses in the School of Communication at Radford University. He was an adjunct instructor while an assignment editor at WDBJ-7 in Roanoke, where he also worked as a reporter. A member of NPPA (National Press Photographers Association) RTDNA (Radio Television Digital News Association) and IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors), he continues to do freelance reporting for Virginia public radio stations and for the Catholic Virginian. He is also licensed drone pilot and will be teaching a course in drone journalism in the fall.

Mr. Mike Zarella

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Mr. Zarella has five years of experience teaching philosophy for Radford University. He also has experience teaching philosophy to high-school students through The Virginia Governor’s School for the Humanities and The Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University. He regularly teaches courses that introduce students to philosophy through the topics of Ethics & Society and Knowledge & Reality. He also teaches courses in Symbolic Logic and The Philosophy of Art. He’s lived in Radford, Virginia since 2012, when he moved to the area to study philosophy at Virginia Tech. Prior to that, he lived in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he studied philosophy and religious studies at William & Mary.