CASL Promotion and Tenure


Dear Colleagues,

One of my greatest privileges is to be able to advocate on behalf of CASL's outstanding faculty and to support their promotion and tenure cases.  Every year I am both humbled and inspired by the work of my faculty colleagues.  This year is no exception.  Please join me in congratulating our peers on their successful promotion and tenure cases!  Well done!

Martin J. Hershock, Dean

(Click on each name to read a summary of the promotion recommendation.)

Matthew Heinicke

Matthew Heinicke
Dr. Matthew Heinicke
Matthew Heinicke, associate professor of biology, with tenure, Department of Natural Sciences, promoted to professor of biology, with tenure.

Dr. Heinicke's work on the use of phylogenetic trees to test hypotheses and to understand patterns in the evolutionary history of amphibians and reptiles is very highly regarded and he is considered one of the leaders in his field. Over the past few years, Matt has written 15 peer-reviewed journal articles (many of which include UM-Dearborn undergraduate students as contributing authors), two research notes, and one book chapter. He has also successfully garnered support of over $70,000 in external funding (including from the NSF) to support his work. 

Professor Heinicke has taught a number of different courses for the university that vary in focus from freshman-level survey courses to upper-level courses in the areas of Bioinformatics and Population Genetics. His classroom is a model of engaged learning, and students appreciate both his accessibility and his ability to inspire their learning. Matt has served on the Academic Standards Committee, the Dearborn Discovery Core Committee, and on the evaluation committee of the MSU Medical School Early Assurance Program for Health Professions Advising.  Professionally, Dr. Heinicke also serves as associate editor for the Journal of Herpetology.

Sally Howell

Sally Howell
Dr. Sally Howell
Sally Howell, associate professor of history, with tenure, Department of Social Sciences, promoted to professor of history, with tenure.

Dr. Howell’s scholarship is wide ranging and distinctly interdisciplinary with primary emphasis upon the Arab American experience, Arab American community building, and Muslims in Detroit. Her new book, Hadha Baladuna, continues to rack up recognition, and has been named the UM-Dearborn First Year Experience Community Read book for 2023-2024. Additionally, Professor Howell has provided a model of engaged scholarship by curating museum exhibits (including her highly regarded Halal Metropolis exhibit), digital exhibits, and podcasts. To support this public-facing work, she has been awarded major grant funding.

Professor Howell is a risk taker in the classroom as she seeks to push her students to become active participants in their own learning. She is widely known for her engaged classroom environment, passion for her subject matter, and for her commitment to her students’ success. Sally has performed prominent and important campus-wide service roles, most notably as Director of the campus’ Center for Arab American Studies (2016-2022) and as an active member of CASL's Executive Committee. Dr. Howell served as president of the primary professional organization in her field, the Arab American Studies Association, and currently sits on the editorial board of the Michigan Historical Review.

Zhong Xu Liu

Zhong Xu Liu
Dr. Zhong Xu Liu
Zhong Xu Liu, assistant professor of psychology, Department of Behavioral Sciences, promoted to associate professor of psychology, with tenure.

Dr. Liu's work focuses on human memory processing, how the brain encodes visual information into long-term memory, and how memory declines during aging. He integrates eye-tracking with fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) methods to investigate how eye gaze fixations are related to memory processing at the behavioral and brain levels. His more recent work examines working memory and memory training in adults with ADHD, as well as the relation between physical health, diet and well-being in memory function. 

Most notable are Professor Liu’s contributions to the psychology curriculum. As the first neuropsychologist in the discipline, he has spent much time creating new curriculum and teaching upper-level courses in support of this subfield and the Behavioral and Biological Sciences degree program. His students praise his enthusiasm, the accessibility of the course content, and the high level of classroom engagement. Dr. Liu has served on the CASL Academic Standards Committee and as a reviewer for the SURE program. He is also a regular reviewer of manuscripts for varied professional journals in his field.

Anna Muller

Anna Muller
Dr. Anna Muller
Anna Muller, associate professor of history, with tenure, Department of Social Sciences, promoted to professor of history, with tenure.

Dr. Muller's research is primarily focused on post-war Polish history/culture, and she is noted as a pioneer in the emerging field of spatial historical studies.  Her work embodies many of the salient features of the microhistorical genre and explores the messy intersections of memory, history, place, and time and the construction of identity, especially female identity. Professor Muller writes in a very accessible and engaging narrative style thus making her work comprehensible and relevant.  

Professor Muller has taught nine different courses (three of which were entirely new courses) for the university that vary in focus from freshman-level courses all the way up to upper-level courses in our history program. She also teaches in our first-year Foundations program, as well as in our Inside/Out Prison Exchange program and in the Honors program. Her classroom is a model of both interdisciplinary pedagogy and applied learning. Anna's commitment to service is unquestioned. She directs both the Women in Learning and Leadership and Honors programs, and is a key member of CASL's Practice-Based Learning (PBL) Task Force. Beyond our campus, Dr. Muller gives much of herself to both her profession and her community, serving as president of the Polish American Historical Society, as a reviewer for the Fulbright Scholar program, and working with numerous community-based organizations. 

Caleb Siefert

Caleb Siefert
Dr. Caleb Siefert
Caleb Siefert, associate professor of psychology, with tenure, Department of Behavioral Sciences, promoted to professor of psychology, with tenure.

Dr. Siefert's work is focused on the assessment of personality and interpersonal functioning. In particular, his research offers an important reevaluation of how personality and personality disorders are assessed. Professor Siefert's work is considered leading edge, and he is at the forefront in creating new assessments that address theoretical gaps in terms of measurement that he has identified in the course of his research. That his scholarship is so highly regarded and that it is impactful is a testament to the quality of his mind and the thoroughness of his research.

Professor Siefert has taught a wide array of courses within the psychology program from freshman-level survey courses all the way up to graduate courses in our Clinical Psychology/Health Psychology MS program. His classroom is a model of applied learning. From 2017-2019, Caleb served as the first Undergraduate Research Coordinator for the college. In this capacity, he dramatically expanded the resources available to support student research and the number of opportunities available to students to showcase their work. Beyond the campus, Dr. Siefert serves on the editorial boards of both the Journal of Personality Assessment and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, and Training.

Aditya Viswanathan

Aditya Viswanathan
Dr. Aditya Viswanathan
Aditya Viswanathan, assistant professor of mathematics, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, promoted to associate professor of mathematics, with tenure.

A noted applied mathematician, with broad research interests in the areas of computational harmonic analysis, scientific computing, and inverse problems in imaging, Dr. Viswanathan’s work focuses primarily on phase retrieval problems, a problem that arises when one attempts to recover an object illuminated with visible laser light or high intensity x-rays based on its diffraction pattern. He has developed practical, efficient, and mathematically rigorous computational frameworks for imaging techniques, including ptychography, where multiple, overlapping diffraction patterns are used to reconstruct an approximation of the object.

Professor Viswanathan has taught nine distinct courses that range from introductory courses up through graduate-level courses, including a new online Discrete Mathematics for Computer Engineering course. He is well known as a deeply engaged instructor who is adaptable and eager to help his students. Aditya has served as a member of CASL Curriculum Committee, as a member of the PBL Advisory Committee, and as a member of the new CASL Sustainability and Optimization Task Force. He works very closely with students in the mathematics program and is also an active participant in the department’s Maize and Blue Math Circles program and its GirlsGetMath@Dearborn program.

Zhi (Elena) Zhang

Zhi (Elena) Zhang
Dr. Zhi (Elena) Zhang
Zhi Zhang, assistant professor of biology, Department of Natural Sciences, promoted to associate professor of biology, with tenure.

In her relatively short time in rank, Dr. Zhang has produced 15 peer reviewed publications. Her work in the area of pediatric brain injuries produced by head trauma and/or genetic mutations, is very highly regarded. This research focuses on three primary areas: targeting pathogenic pathways after pediatric brain trauma; the investigation of gene-environment interaction in pediatric brain health; and targeting neuroinflammation and glutamate excitotoxicity in perinatal brain injuries. Dr. Zhang's contributions have enabled her to win several honors and awards and helped establish her reputation nationally and internationally. 

Professor Zhang's courses are models of reflective pedagogy, and her teaching is characterized by both its clarity and the high level of classroom engagement. She exemplifies our campus model of teacher/scholar and has worked with numerous students on mentored research projects resulting in co-authored publications. Students very much appreciate and praise her patience and willingness to work with them. Within the Natural Sciences department, Elena created the department’s animal research facility and coordinates the work necessary for that facility to maintain its certification. Dr. Zhang has reviewed a great many manuscripts for scientific journals and serves as a reviewer for the National Institutes for Health Early Career grant program. 

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