Honors College Faculty
Our Honors College faculty is selected from among the most talented and dedicated professors on campus. Not only do they teach their Honors courses with enthusiasm and creativity, but they also set an example of serious scholarship for the students to emulate. These professors are excited about developing research projects through innovative course design and then sharing the results of their research with future students in their courses and with the larger scholarly community in books and articles. They also encourage President's Scholars to produce research that goes well beyond the bounds of normal undergraduate work. Through interaction with our faculty, President’s Scholars gain insights and skills that prepare them well for graduate studies in all disciplines.
Saeed Attar, Ph.D.
Dr. Attar received his undergraduate (B.S.) and graduate (M.S. and Ph.D.) degrees in chemistry at the University of Nevada, Reno. He spent three years at UC Davis as a Postdoctoral Research Associate where he taught organic chemistry courses and performed research in different areas of organic and inorganic chemistry before taking his current faculty position at Fresno State in 2000. Dr. Attar, who has also served as the Chemistry Department Chair (2010 - 2014), regularly teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in organic chemistry including CHEM 128A, 128B, 129A, 129B, and 230. In addition, Dr. Attar directs both graduate and undergraduate research in the area of synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry. He has also conducted workshops on technical writing for science and engineering majors. As a faculty member in the Smittcamp Family Honors College, he teaches CHEM 10H (titled "Chemistry & Society"), a GE course for non-science majors. Finally, he is a university designated Predental Advisor.
Michael Botwin, Ph.D.
Michael Botwin, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
(559) 278-2691 | Email | Department Bio
Dr. Botwin has been a member of the Psychology Department at Fresno State since 1990. He received his undergraduate degree from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and obtained his Ph.D. in personality psychology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Before coming to Fresno State, Dr. Botwin was a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Postdoctoral Fellow in Quantitative Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. Dr. Botwin teaches courses in Personality Psychology (PSYCH154), History of Psychology (PSYCH182), as well as topics courses in Mating Systems and Evolutionary Psychology. As a current faculty member of the Smittcamp Family Honors College he team teaches The Biology and Psychology of Human Nature (Honors 103) with Dr. Schreiber. Dr. Botwin is very involved in faculty governance on our campus and has interests in higher education policy. Dr. Botwin conducts research in many areas including human mate preferences and the basic structure of personality. Currently he is collaborating with students in his research lab to develop a measure of Mating Intelligence.
Katie Dyer, Ph.D.
Dr. Dyer earned her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her current research explores attachment cognitions of toddlers in relation to sleep history and family context. Her research agenda reflects an interest in parenting practices pertaining to infant sleep, and how those strategies (such as cosleeping and sleep training) are related to attachment and emotional development. A secondary research interest is in pedagogy, assessment, and learning in higher education, including the exploration of curiosity as a factor in critical thinking skills and learning among college students.
Lori Clune, Ph.D.
Dr. Clune's primary area of historical research is Cold War America. She holds an M.A. from New York University and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis. She is currently working on a book manuscript based on her dissertation "Executing the Rosenbergs: A Transnational History."
Kristi Eastin, Ph.D.
Kristi Eastin grew up in the heart of the central San Joaquin Valley of California in the small farming town of Reedley. In 2001 she earned a B.A. in English Literature with a Minor in Latin from California State University, Fresno. The following year she was accepted into the graduate program in Comparative Literature at Brown University and received her Ph.D. in 2009. Her dissertation, Virgil and the Visual Imagination: Illustrative Programs from Antiquity to John Ogilby (1654), examines the Virgilian illustrative tradition with emphasis on the Georgics.
Dr. Eastin’s work on illustrated editions of Virgil won her a Research Grant from the Friends of the Princeton University Library (2006-2007) to work in the exceptional Junius S. Morgan Virgil collection at Princeton. She has recently written an essay on seventeenth-century illustrations of Virgil’s Aeneid entitled, “The Aeneas of Virgil: A Dramatic Performance Presented in the Original Latin by John Ogilby”, to be published in the forthcoming Companion to Virgil, eds. Joseph Farrell and Michael J. Putnam (Blackwell 2010).
Alex Espinoza, M.F.A.
Alex Espinoza was born in Tijuana to parents from Michoacán and was raised in suburban Los Angeles. After working a range of retail jobs, selling everything from eggs and furniture, to rock T-shirts and body jewelry, he earned his Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) from the University of California in Irvine. His first novel, Still Water Saints (2007) appeared simultaneously in English and Spanish and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and his second novel, the Five Acts of Diego León, was published in March of 2014 by Random House. His nonfiction and book reviews have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times Magazine, Salon, and on NPR's All Things Considered. Espinoza was a 2009 fellow in fiction at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the recipient of a 2014 fellowship in prose from the National Endowment of Arts. He currently teaches English and Creative Writing at Fresno State in California and is working on his next novel.
Dr. Fraleigh has taught at CSU Fresno since 1990 and currently serves as chair of the Department of Communication. He has co-authored six books in the fields of freedom of expression and public speaking. His scholarship has focused on diverse topics including online expression, government surveillance and control of information, academic freedom, and university speech codes. Current research interests include the potential of social media to circumvent government censorship, and the balance between government secrecy and the public's right to know. Before joining the faculty at Fresno State, he taught and coached debate at Cornell, CSU Sacramento, and UC Berkeley. He earned a J.D. Degree from UC Berkeley in 1980 where he served as associate editor of the California Law Review.
Melissa Gibson, Ph.D.
Dr. Gibson received her Ph.D. in Theatre History and Performance Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She has taught at Fresno State since 2000 and is currently the chair of the Theatre Arts Department. Her research areas include contemporary American and British theatre and historiography. She has published in various journals and anthologies and served as the book review editor of Theatre Journal. Dr. Gibson is also a regular lecturer at theatre conferences, giving presentations across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Poland.
Raymond Hall, Ph.D.
Dr. Hall is currently the Chair of the Department of Physics at California State University, Fresno where he teaches courses in engineering physics, quantum mechanics, particle physics, critical thinking, and the philosophy of science. He holds a PhD in Experimental High Energy Particle Physics from the University of California, Riverside, and he has 16 years experience as a researcher with the D-Zero Collaboration. During his participation in the construction and operation of the D-Zero Detector at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, he was part of the research team that discovered the fundamental particle known as the top quark.
Dr. Hall has developed and taught general education courses in critical thinking for more than 15 years, including an enhanced honors section for the Fresno State Smittcamp Family Honors College. He also teaches a related course on the philosophy of science to honors students in their senior year.
In addition Dr. Hall gives lectures and conducts workshops to promote critical thinking and science. Recent audiences include teachers at the California Science Teachers Association annual conferences, students at universities including the Air Force Academy, Stanford, CSU Sonoma, and CSU Pomona, business leaders at K2B International workshops in Singapore, skeptics at The Center for Inquiry in Los Angeles and the Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas, and to the general public at the Café Scientifique lecture program here in Fresno. Dr. Hall is also a Fellow of the James Randi Education Foundation and helps organize their annual conference on critical thinking.
Thomas Holyoke, Ph.D.
Dr. Holyoke teaches courses and conducts research on American politics, specializing in interest group politics, education policy, and western water policy. He is the author of the books Interest Groups and Lobbying (2014) and Competitive Interests (2011). He is also the author or co-author of more than two dozen research articles appearing in journals like the American Journal of Political Science, Political Research Quarterly, the American Journal of Education, and Educational policy.
John Karr, Ph.D.
Dr. John Karr graduated with a Bachelor's of Music Education from the University of
in 1979, a Master's of Music Education from the University of Louisville in 1985 and a Ph.D. in
Musicology from the University of Kentucky in 1997. He has published articles on fifteenth century
topics including improvised polyphony, reviews for the Renaissance Quarterly, and entries
in the Reader's Guide to Music. Dr. Karr is an editor whose works include two volumes of
eighteenth-century Tuscan motets and his current project, a three-volume edition of fifteenth century
psalms from Italian manuscripts, the first volume of which has been published by the
Institute of Medieval Music in Ottawa. He has also read papers ranging in subject matter from
chant in the 15th century to The Temptations and Motown. Currently, he is teaching music history
at Fresno State University. Dr. Karr has sung as a baritone (and occasionally countertenor) soloist
with the Louisville early music ensembles Timechange and the Louisville Collegium Musicum. For
the latter ensemble he sang solos in the Clérambault and Charpentier Te Deums, Clérambault’s
cantata Amor e Baccus and Carissimi’s Jephte. He sang the baritone solos in the Kodaly Budavari
Te Deum and Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb for the Louisville Choral Arts Society. More recently
he has sung baritone solos for the Fresno Community Chorus performances of Rossini’s Petite
Messe solenelle and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and directed and performed a program of 12thcentury
music for the Orpheus New Music series.
Spee Kosloff, Ph.D.
Originally an east-coaster (CT, NY), Dr. Kosloff received his Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from the University of Arizona in 2010. He then worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Michigan State University before joining the Psychology Department at Fresno State in 2012. Dr. Kosloff is deeply interested in broad questions about human motivation. Dr. Kosloff applies interdisciplinary perspectives to explore what drives humans to be creative, helpful and loving, though his research tends to concentrate most centrally on the darker side of human experience: our penchants for prejudice, hatred and insecurity. In this context, Dr. Kosloff employs experimental methods to identify factors that contribute to cultural bias, defensive strivings for self-esteem, preferences in close relationships, responses to traumatic events, and the desire to kill living things.
Robert Maldonado Ph.D.
Dr. Robert Maldonado has been teaching at Fresno State as a member of the Philosophy Department for 23 years. Prior to that he taught for four years at Colgate University, a liberal arts college in upstate New York. After attending and graduating from a high school in Sacramento, he went to UC, Davis, initially as a BioMathematics major, but then graduated in Music. He went to SUNY, Stony Brook, for graduate work in Music Composition. Then, returned to California for an M.A. and Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from The Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. While there he also received an S.T.L. in Biblical Studies, from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. This degree licenses him to teach Roman Catholic Theology at a pontifical university. At Fresno State he teaches courses in literature of the Bible, philosophy of religion, and J.R.R. Tolkien. His research focus is on Jewish identity in the early Second Temple period, dealing with texts such as Ruth, Esther, Ezra-Nehemiah, and 3rd Isaiah. More recently his focus has been on the Gospel according to Mark and the contesting of Greco-Roman patriarchal values within early Christianities. He served as a founding member of the Honors Council (tasked with designing the program) for the Smittcamp Family Honors College and has taught in the College two courses, Phil 32H, Life, Death, and Afterlife and Honors 102, Revolutions in Science and Social Science (with Dr. Mary Domski, focussing on Galileo, Darwin, and 19th century historical Jesus studies).
Jennifer Mayer, Ph.D.
Jennifer Mayer, Ph.D.
Department of Philosophy
559.278.2879| Email | Department Bio
After a ten-year career in corporate communication and administration, Jennifer returned to school and earned an M.A. in English with a specialization in Composition Theory from Fresno State in 2011. Since then, she has taught first-year writing at Fresno State at all levels, including an accelerated academic literacy class, English 10H, for the Smittcamp Honors College. Jennifer’s research interests include student agency and reflective writing.
Chris Pluhar, Ph.D.
Dr. Pluhar received his B.S. in geology from Caltech in 1991, worked as a consulting geologist for the Parson Corporation family of companies, and then earned a Ph.D. from UC Santa Cruz in Earth science in 2003. He has been a professor at Fresno State since 2007, during which he has taught a variety of classroom, laboratory, field-based, and service learning courses. His research focuses on understanding tectonic and volcanic activity of California and the Western U.S. as well as age dating significant geological events such as large rock avalanches and Missoula Floods of the Pacific Northwest and their predecessors. In spring 2015 he will teach an Earth and Environmental Science course, EES 8H, Natural Disasters and Earth Resources, covering vital topics such as earthquakes, hurricanes, climate change, energy and mineral resources.
Blain Roberts, Ph.D.
Dr. Blain Roberts received her Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005. Her research focuses on the American South, women, and memory. Her first book, Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women: Race and Beauty in the Twentieth-Century South, was published in March 2104 by the University of North Carolina Press. With her colleague Ethan J. Kytle, she is currently working on a manuscript entitled “Struggling with Slavery in the Cradle of the Confederacy: Memory and the “Peculiar Institution” in Charleston, South Carolina.” Based on their research, she and Dr. Kytle have published an article in The Journal of Southern History, an essay in Destination Dixie: Tourism and Southern History (ed. Karen L. Cox, University Press of Florida, 2012), and several op-eds for the New York Times’s “Disunion” series. Dr. Roberts has also published two essays in Southern Cultures, one of which won the 2007 A. Elizabeth Taylor Prize for the best article published in southern women’s history. She teaches History 15H for the Smittcamp Honors College.
Kenneth Ryan, Ph.D.
Kenneth Ryan, Ph.D.
Department of Criminology
559.278.8756 | Email | Department Bio
Dr. Kenneth Ryan received his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis in 2006 in Political Science where he focused on political violence, comparative politics, and global intelligence. His earlier career and teaching interests are in intelligence theory, criminal justice management, counter-terror and counter-organized crime. He is an international lecturer and author and frequently refers students to the Intelligence Community for careers in the clandestine services.
Fred Schreiber, Ph.D.
Fred Schreiber, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
(559) 278-8756 | Email | Department Bio
Dr. Schreiber received his B.S and M.S. in Zoology and Physiology from Northern Illinois University and his Ph.D. in Insect Pathology from Ohio State University. He has taught about 25 different courses since coming to Fresno State in 1973. He has held appointments in both the Plant Science and Biology Departments. He has served as the Biology Department chair from 2000-2004 and as a member of numerous university committees and task forces.
He is currently semi-retired and teaches half time. He uses some of the extra time doing additional student advising, which he finds very rewarding.
Martin Shapiro, Ph.D.
Martin Shapiro, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
(559) 278-2691 | Email | Department Bio
Dr. Shapiro’s interests include animal behavior and neuroscience. He studies issues of learning and choice behavior in animals, and he also conducts research with an electroencephalogram investigating how certain brainwaves change when humans perceive time and make decisions. Dr. Shapiro also has a particular interest in global trends and teaches a course for the Smittcamp Family Honors College on global citizenship.
Timothy Skeen, Ph.D.
Tim Skeen coordinates the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Fresno State. His most recent book, Risk, won the 2013 White Pine Press Poetry Prize. He is also the author of Kentucky Swami, which won the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry and was published by BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He earned his PhD from the University of Nebraska and specializes in 20th Century American poetry.
William E. Skuban, Ph.D.
Dr. Skuban is an expert in Chilean and Peruvian history and culture, having conducted research in both countries on many occasions. He has published several articles and essays about the region, including the book, Lines in the Sand: Nationalism and Identity on the Peruvian-Chilean Frontier (New Mexico, 2007). He is currently researching the relations between the Catholic Church and the modern state in twentieth-century South America. He is a five-time winner of the College of Social Science’s “Research and Creative Activity Award” and also received the University’s Provost Award for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity. Dr. Skuban served as the first assistant director for the Smittcamp Family Honors College in 2006-2007.
Mark Somma, Ph.D.
Dr. Mark Somma received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Iowa in 1992. His research work focuses on environmental politics and policy. Dr. Somma works in collaboration with state and local agencies on a variety of local environmental projects. Many of his students are directly involved with these research and service activities. He teaches an environmental service-learning course, PL SI 071H, for the Smittcamp Family Honors College.