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TWU welcomes new faculty for fall 2020

This fall, Texas Woman’s University welcomes 48 new faculty to our campuses. Here’s an introduction to five of our newest Pioneers:


College of Arts and Sciences

Lionel Faure, PhD, joins the Department of Biology as an assistant clinical professor of biology. Faure earned his doctorate in molecular biology and biochemistry at the University of Bordeaux Victor Segalen in France, then completed post-doctoral training at the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University.

Faure will support the new professional science master’s degree program in biotechnology, one of three innovative academic programs approved by the TWU Board of Regents. The PSM Biotechnology program provides training in both business and biological sciences to prepare students for a required internship and, ultimately, a successful career in the biotechnology industry.

Faure’s expertise in molecular biology and modern instrumentation were invaluable in the design and construction of the new Scientific Research Commons and also will be a great asset in the development of an intensive methods course where PSM students gain critical thinking and laboratory skills in preparation for their biotech internship experience.


College of Business

Megan Burke, PhD, joins the faculty as an assistant professor of accounting. She earned her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in accounting from Virginia Tech in 2010, and holds a master of accountancy degree from The College of William & Mary.

Burke worked at Andersen in corporate tax and was a tax manager at Argy, Wiltse, and Robinson in family wealth management. She holds an active CPA license.

Her research focuses on employee ownership, tax planning, tax aggressiveness, accounting education, and accounting history. Her work, which has appeared in the Journal of Accountancy, the Accounting Educators’ Journal and other publications, has been cited by Bloomberg and Forbes. Burke has received research funding from the Prenting Foundation and travel support from the Beyster Foundation.


College of Health Sciences

Alyssa Fiss, PhD, joins the School of Physical Therapy as a professor on the Dallas campus. She previously served as director of physical therapy research at Mercer University. Fiss earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical therapy from the Ohio State University, and holds a PhD in rehabilitation science from the University of Kentucky.

Fiss joins an emerging College of Health Sciences research cluster focused on children with disabilities. Her specialty in pediatrics will mesh with ongoing research in kinesiology, occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech/language pathology.

As both a practitioner and a researcher, Fiss brings a wealth of knowledge to her teaching. Her research focuses on development of children with cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, service delivery models, and adaptive behavior in young children. She also actively engages in her local communities, serving nonprofit organizations that support children with disabilities.


College of Nursing

Cheryl Ann Thaxton, DNP, joined the college as an associate clinical professor and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program director on the Dallas campus in July 2020. She graduated from George Washington University’s DNP program and has developed her program of scholarship surrounding the specific needs of children and adults with life-limiting illnesses. She is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) certified as a pediatric nurse practitioner and family nurse practitioner.

Thaxton has served as national faculty for the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC), which is focused on national and international education initiatives to improve palliative care. She assisted in the launching of the ELNEC pediatric palliative care education in Kyoto, Japan, and nurse leadership training in Hong Kong.

She is a founding member and former program coordinator for the Duke Children’s Pediatric Quality of Life Team. She coordinated a $100,000 grant-funded, multidisciplinary course for Duke’s pediatric staff addressing “A Total Approach to Suffering in Children: Pediatric Pain and Palliative Care.” In 2019, Thaxton received the D Magazine Excellence in Nursing Award and was designated as a Fellow in Palliative Care Nursing. She recently worked with the national ELNEC faculty to develop resources for Pediatric Palliative Care COVID-10 patients.


College of Professional Education

JaNiece Elzy, EdD, joins the Department of Literacy and Learning as an assistant professor. She earned her doctorate in reading and language from National Louis University and holds a master of arts in elementary education from Aurora University. Prior to earning her doctorate, Elzy worked as a curriculum coordinator for the Valley View School District in Romeoville, Illinois. She holds certification as a K-12 reading specialist.

She completed post-doctoral training at Texas Woman’s University, then served as a Reading Recovery university trainer and co-director of the Reading Recovery Center for Literacy at National Louis University. Her research focuses on developing collaborative relationships between schools and the communities they serve.

Elzy will support the TWU Reading Recovery Center and is designing courses for the new bachelor of science in education accelerated degree completion pathway, designed to facilitate degree completion for community college transfer students in the College of Professional Education. She also is representing the Department of Literacy and Learning on COPE’s new Equity, Inclusion, Social Justice, and Diversity Task Force.


These are only a few of the new faculty who will be teachers, researchers, collaborators and colleagues at Texas Woman’s University. The complete list of new faculty for fall 2020:


College of Arts and Sciences


Mary Berger, assistant clinical professor

Lionel Faure, assistant clinical professor

Youlonda Fitzgerald, visiting lecturer

Zane Lybrand, assistant professor

Maria Serrano, visiting lecturer

Sushmita Sinha, assistant professor

Chemistry and Biochemistry

John Beatty, assistant professor

Yunxiang Li, lecturer I


Elisa De La Rosa, assistant professor

English, Speech and Foreign Language

Rachel Daugherty, visiting senior lecturer

Johnathan Smigles, assistant professor

History and Political Science

Courtney Buchkoski, assistant professor

Jennifer Danley-Scott, lecturer I

Aubri Thurmond, lecturer I


Lauren DiMaio, assistant professor

Daniel Milan, assistant professor

Jeffrey Tarr, visiting lecturer

Rebecca West, assistant professor

Visual Arts

Corina Carmona, visiting assistant professor

Sara Ishii, visiting assistant professor


College of Business

Megan Burke, accounting, assistant professor

He Ren, finance, assistant professor

Sumanjali Shrestha, business, visiting instructor

Keith Yockey, BBA-HCA, visiting assistant professor


College of Health Sciences

Communication Sciences and Oral Health

Alison Brockett, assistant clinical professor

Brandy Cowen, visiting assistant clinical professor

Deborah Testerman, assistant clinical professor

Physical Therapy — Dallas

Alyssa Fiss, professor


College of Nursing


Lori Aaron-Brija, assistant clinical professor

Mary Janice Ballou, assistant clinical professor

Stephanie Evans, assistant professor

Kari Guffey, assistant clinical professor

Cheryl Thaxton, associate clinical professor


Catherine Martin, assistant clinical professor


Jodi Behr, assistant professor

Clothilda Ekeanyanwu, assistant clinical professor

Elif Isik, assistant professor

Catherine Mbango, assistant professor


College of Professional Education

Human Development, Family Studies and Counseling

Kathryn Cantrell, assistant professor

Jessenia Garcia, assistant professor

Bonnie King, assistant professor

Library and Information Studies

Kristen Becker, assistant professor

Kerol Harrod, instructor

Kathryn Loomis, assistant professor

Vyacheslav Zavalin, assistant professor

Literacy and Learning

JaNiece Elzy, assistant professor

Aimee Hendrix-Soto, assistant professor

Teacher Education

Maria Peterson-Ahmad, visiting associate professor