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New scholars join the School of Communication faculty

Zayd Dohrn, assistant professor of radio/television/film

Zayd Dohrn is a playwright and screenwriter. His plays, including Sick, Magic Forest Farm, Reborning, and Outside People, have been produced and developed across the country, including at Manhattan Theatre Club, Berkshire Theatre Festival, MCC, Marin Theatre Company, The Public (SPF), Naked Angels, South Coast Rep, The Vineyard, Southern Rep, Kitchen Dog, The Lark, and New York Theatre Workshop. He earned his MFA from NYU and was a Lila Acheson Wallace Fellow at Juilliard. He received Lincoln Center’s Lecomte du Nouy Prize, Theatre Masters’ Visionary Playwrights Award, the Kennedy Center’s Jean Kennedy Smith Award, and the Sky Cooper New American Play Prize, as well as residencies and/or commissions from Ars Nova, Alchemy Theatre, Dallas Theatre Center, The Stella Adler Studio, and the Royal Court Theatre of London. He is currently writing screenplays for American Film Company and Vox3 Films as well as the adaption of Rachel DeWoskin’s memoir Foreign Babes in Beijing for HBO with DeWoskin (Dohrn’s wife and writing partner) and Eat Pray Love screenwriter Jennifer Salt.

Kyle Henry, assistant professor of radio/television/film

Kyle’s feature narrative directing debut Room premiered at both the Sundance and Cannes film festivals in 2005, and was nominated for two FIND Independent Spirit Awards. His feature documentary University Inc., about the corporatization of higher education, and American Cowboy, about a gay rodeo champ, received wide festival play, with the former touring colleges and universities through the country as part of Michael Moore and Richard Linklater’s The McCollege Tour. Henry is also the editor of the Sundance/Tribeca/SXSW award-winning feature narrative Manito and seven documentary features including: Audience of One, Light from the East, the PBS/ITVS-funded Troop 1500, and Letters from the Other Side. He is currently editing the second PBS/ITVS documentary by Northwestern alumna Heather Courtney (J89), Where the Soldiers Come From, slated for release in 2011. Also slated for 2011 is the documentary Fourplay, executive produced by Michael Stipe and Jim McKay. Henry has also created content and worked as a consultant for numerous corporate partners and non-profits and has lectured in the Radio-TV-Film department at the University of Texas-Austin.

Molly Losh, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders

Molly Losh joins the Northwestern faculty from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she was a fellow of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at UNC after receiving her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004. She also holds a degree in psychology from San Diego State University. Her research focuses on delineating the nature and basis of language impairment in autism, fragile X syndrome, and other neurogenetic disorders. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Her articles have been published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, among others. She has contributed chapters to several books, including Autism Spectrum Disorders (forthcoming Oxford University Press). She is the recipient of several awards including a Clinical Translation Science Award, NIH LRP award, and several travel awards through NIH.

Sazzad Nasir, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders

Sazzad Nasir comes to Northwestern winter quarter from McGill University in Montreal where he was a research associate in the Department of Psychology. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco, after two years as a fellow and lecturer at the University of Uppsala in Sweden and a year at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. He received his Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics from the University of Cambridge, UK, and holds a degree from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Nasir’s research focuses on how different sensory information is integrated during speaking, how the nervous system combines sensory feedbacks from sources both auditory and somatosensory, or the tactile senses that carry information about touch, temperature, pain. Nasir’s articles have appeared in Nature Neuroscience, Current Biology, and Modern Physics Letters. He co-authored a chapter for Speech Motor Control: New developments in basic and applied research (Oxford University Press, 2010).

Emilee Rader, assistant professor of communication studies

Emilee Rader recently finished a post-doctoral fellowship in the Center for Technology and Social Behavior at Northwestern University. She received her Ph.D. from the School of Information at the University of Michigan in 2009. Prior to her time at Michigan, she earned a degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin, a master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University, and spent five years working with an interdisciplinary team of researchers at Motorola Labs, designing and evaluating next generation communication and information-sharing applications for mobile technologies. She received a Best Paper nomination for her CHI 2009 note, and is a recipient of the highly competitive Computing Innovation post-doctoral fellowship award from the Computing Research Association and the National Science Foundation. Her current research focuses on understanding social processes that affect contributions to social media systems.

Elaine Romero, lecturer of radio/television/film

Elaine Romero plays – Barrio Hollywood, iCuranderas! Serpents of the Clouds, Walk into the Sea, Something Rare and Wonderful, Alicia, Undocumented, Secret Things, The Fat-Free Chicana and the Snow Cap Queen, Undercurrents, Day of Our Dead, If Susan Smith Could Talk) – have been developed, produced and commissioned by such theatres as Goodman Theatre, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alley Theatre, Magic Theatre, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, InterAct Theatre Company, Curious Theatre Company, Kitchen Dog Theater, Urban Stages, Women’s Project and Productions, Working Theater, and others. She has done residencies with Sundance Playwrights’ Retreat, Voice & Vision, and Orchard Project and won awards such as the TCG/Pew National Theatre Artists in Residency grant and NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwright. Elaine co-chaired the National Association of Latino Independent Producers’ (Board) National Conference. She studied at the LA Film School, Latino Producers’ Academy and Latino Writers’ Lab, holds a degree from Linfield College, and has an MFA from the University of California, Davis. Romero has a script in development with Back Fence Productions and is collaborating on a spec project.

Jacob Smith, assistant professor of radio/television/film

After a career as a musician and producer, Jacob Smith received his Ph.D. from the Indiana University. Smith joins the Northwestern faculty after teaching at the University of Nottingham, UK. His research in media history is centered on questions of performance, technology, and sound. His book, Vocal Tracks: Performance and Sound Media (University of California Press, 2008) is an examination of the styles of vocal performance that developed in tandem with sound media technologies. A second book forthcoming from the University of California Press, Spoken Word: Postwar American Phonograph Cultures, brings a range of spoken word phonograph records into dialogue with scholarly work on the history of the postwar entertainment industry and media consumption in the American home. Smith is currently completing a manuscript on the history of American stunt performance and the role a cohort of popular stunt entertainers played in the construction of modern media spectacle and celebrity. His articles have appeared in Film Quarterly, Screen, Television and New Media, Velvet Light Trap, Film History, Celebrity Studies, and Journal of Popular Music Studies.


In addition, the School of Communication is hosting two visiting lecturers this year:

Walt Spangler, visiting lecturer in theatre

Walt Spangler designs sets for theatre, opera and dance. Chicagoans know Walt mostly from his extensive work for the Goodman Theater, in particular with Artistic Director Robert Falls. Their projects together include King Lear, Desiree Under the Elms, and A True History of the Johnstown Flood, for which Spangler received a 2010 Jeff Award. Spangler’s work as a set designer began at the age of 16 for a high school production of Tartuffe. He spent three years in Germany, where he studied drawing and painting and worked as an assistant to acclaimed theatre director Antje Lenkeit. He went on to earn degrees in dramatic art and German from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA in set design from the Yale School of Drama. He has lived in New York City since 1991 and now enjoys a second home with his partner, Stephen, in downtown River North Chicago.

Jason Sperb, visiting lecturer in radio/television/film

Jason Sperb recently completed a PhD in Communication and Culture from Indiana University. He teaches courses on film history and theory, authorship and media representations of race/ethnicity. His research focuses on reception studies — how media audiences negotiate, support and/or resist the dominant meanings constructed by film directors and television producers. Specifically, his research often examines how spectators historically have negotiated images of race and nostalgia through populist American film and television. He is a member of the Film Criticism editorial board, and has written articles for Cinema Journal, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Culture Theory & Critique, Biography and others. He is currently completing a manuscript titled A Frown Upside Down, on the reception histories of Disney’s notorious Song of the South (1946), and preparing a monograph on the critical reputation of American filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson.