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New faces in the School of International Letters and Cultures

September 18, 2020

ASU’s School of International Letters and Cultures is proud to welcome 10 new faculty members and one postdoctoral scholar in the fall 2020 semester.

These accomplished individuals bring new courses, research interests, and experience to the school as it continues to expand its language and culture offerings. Meet the newest members of the School of International Letters and Cultures:

Britta Ager, assistant professor, classics

Britta Ager

Britta Ager joins the school’s classics program. She received her PhD in classical studies from the University of Michigan. Her research interests include Roman history, ancient agriculture, ritual and magic, and sensory studies.

She has taught at a variety of institutions across the United States, most recently Colorado College.

Hope M. Anderson, clinical assistant professor, Spanish

Hope Anderson

Hope Anderson is joining the Spanish and Portuguese section as its new director of Spanish second language acquisition. She received her PhD in second language acquisition and teaching from the University of Arizona. Her research interests include second language curriculum design and technology. Her first book, "Blended Basic Language Courses: Design, Pedagogy, and Implementation," was published in 2018. Most recently, she was an assistant professor of Spanish at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

María José Domínguez, instructor, Spanish

Maria Jose Dominguez

María José Domínguez

María José Domínguez joins the Spanish and Portuguese section to teach Spanish. She received her PhD and MA in Spanish from Arizona State University. Her research focuses on cultural studies, literature, pedagogy, female writers, and female fictional characters. She has published in journals such as Ámbitos Feministas and Comedia Performance. She is an editorial assistant to the journal Laberinto. She previously worked as a journalist for El Mundo, the second-largest newspaper in Spain, and has taught around the world. This semester, she will be pursuing certification as a Global Advocate at ASU.

Hiroko Hino, instructor, Japanese

Hiroko Hino is joining the school’s East and Southeast Asian section. She received her MA in applied linguistics from the University of Sydney. Her research interests include Japanese language pedagogy, second language acquisition and systemic functional linguistics. She has been teaching for over 30 years in Japan, Australia, and the United States. She previously worked for CET Academic Programs in Osaka, Japan.

Judit Kroo, assistant professor, Japanese

Judit Kroo

Judit Kroo joins the school's East and Southeast Asian section. She was previously a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Vassar College. She received her PhD in Japanese from Stanford University. Her research examines how younger adults use language and embodied practice to contest and re-frame ideologies associated with standard or desirable ways of living. She has published articles in journals such as Language, Culture and Society, The Journal of East Asian Popular Culture, Discourse and Communication, and Pragmatics and Society.

Norma Lopez, instructor, Spanish

Norma Lopez

Norma Lopez is joining the Spanish and Portuguese section. She received her PhD in Spanish literature and culture from Arizona State University. Her research focuses on Indigenous women, particularly the cultural, political and social dimensions of subordination. She has published in the journal Feministas Unidas and has a recent contribution in a monograph on the literary productions of the Bolivian writer Gaby Vallejo. She worked as a Spanish professor in Shenyang, China, for one year as part of a partnership between ASU and Northeastern University to offer a dual degree in Spanish and English for Chinese students.

Natalie Lozinski-Veach, assistant professor,German

Natalie Lozinski Veach

Natalie Lozinski-Veach

Natalie Lozinski-Veach joins the German program. She received her PhD in comparative literature from Brown University. Her research focuses on the intersection between critical aesthetic theory and the environmental humanities, especially animal studies, in 20th-century and 21st-century German and Polish literature. She has published articles in the journal MLN on the poet Paul Celan and the philosopher Walter Benjamin. She has previously taught at Williams College and the University of West Georgia.

Cezar Medeiros, senior lecturer,Portuguese

Cezar Madeiros

Cezar Medeiros is joining the school’s Spanish and Portuguese section. A native of Brazil, he received his PhD in second language acquisition/applied linguistics from Purdue University.

His research interests include teaching methodologies and online language acquisition.

Yueru Ni, lecturer, Chinese

Yueru Ni

Yueru Ni joins the school’s Chinese Flagship Program from the University of Iowa, where she received her MA in Asian civilizations with a focus on teaching Chinese as a second language. She also holds an MPhil in linguistics from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Her research interests include second-language acquisition, grammar pedagogy, and language learning motivation. the past years, she has taught Chinese at the college level in China, Laos, the Netherlands , and the United States.

Lindsey Patterson, instructor, ASL

Lindsey Patterson

Lindsey Patterson is joining the American Sign Language program. She received her PhD in modern U.S. and disability history from The Ohio State University and her MA in ASL and deaf studies from Gallaudet University. Her work has been published in the Oxford University Handbook on Disability History, Journal of Social History, and Journal of Women's History. She was a senior writer and adviser for the 2020 Netflix documentary "Crip Camp and serves on the editorial board for the Disability Studies Quarterly.

W. Scott Wells, postdoctoral scholar, Korean

W. Scott Wells

W. Scott Wells joins the East and Southeast section to teach Korean as part of a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Korea Foundation. He received his PhD in Korean language and literature from the University of British Columbia, where he also taught a variety of courses. His research interests include the history and development of East Asian inscriptional practices and the 20th-century transition from cosmopolitan writing to vernacular writing in Korea.

Kimberly Koerth

Content Writer , School of International Letters and Cultures

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'From Bench to Bedside in the COVID-19 Era'

The next COVID-19 health talk will take place at noon, Thursday, Oct. 22.
The best way to deal with COVID-19? Don't get it. (Prevention is key.)
September 18, 2020

College of Health Solutions kicks off fall series with talk about COVID-19 testing, clinical care

In the latest installment of Health Talks: COVID-19 Series, the Arizona State University College of Health Solutions’ series of talks on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, moderator Matthew Scotch, an associate professor of biomedical informatics, welcomed Executive Director of the Biodesign Institute Joshua LaBaer and Professor David Sklar to discuss everything from the recent history and development of human coronaviruses to the current diagnostic challenges and methods of combating COVID-19.

The health talks are free, available for continuing education credit and open to anyone seeking information and knowledge while navigating the current health crisis. The COVID-19 series in particular is offered virtually and features experts from a variety of backgrounds on topics including causes of the virus, how scientists use biomedical data to make data-driven decisions and how to maintain well-being and health while sheltering at home.

The next talk in the series, “Health Information and Misinformation During COVID-19: What Can We Believe?” will take place at noon, Thursday, Oct. 22, and will feature Clinical Assistant Professor Swapna Reddy, Managing Director of the Cronkite School’s News Co/Lab Kristy Roschke, and Dr. Quinn Snyder, an emergency medicine physician at Banner Desert Medical Center.

On Thursday, Sept. 17, the day of the talk titled “From Bench to Bedside in the COVID-19 Era: The Role of Testing in Clinical Care and Public Health Surveillance,” Scotch noted in his introduction that the state of Arizona reported about 1,700 new cases of the virus, according to the Arizona Republic.

“(That) represents an increase from the downward trends that we’ve seen over the last few weeks,” he said.

LaBaer was the first to present, beginning with a brief history of human coronaviruses, which began with mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses in the 1960s, followed by the emergence of SARS in 2002, MERS in 2012 and now SARS-CoV-2.

“I always say that this virus won the virulent virus trifecta, because it has three characteristics that make it such a devastating virus for humankind,” LaBaer said of SARS-CoV-2.

Those characteristics are: severity, spread and stealthiness. Severity because of its high morbidity and mortality rate (10 times worse than the flu); spread because it is capable of airborne transmission; and stealth because the peak of infectivity is when the individual is still presymptomatic.

Currently, two types of tests exist for the coronavirus: the qPCR test for viral RNA, which determines whether someone is presently infected, and the antibody test, which determines whether someone had past exposure to the virus.

As early as March, LaBaer and researchers at ASU’s Biodesign Institute began meeting to develop a system for testing for the virus at the university. At that time, there were very few tests being done in the state of Arizona – only about a couple hundred nasal swab tests, according to a poll they conducted with hospitals.

“We realized as a university, we were uniquely capable of setting up this sort of operation, because we had the skill sets, we had the technology. … We know how to do this, let’s do it,” LaBaer said.

Today, ASU Biodesign’s Clinical Testing Lab runs more than 4,000 tests a day, with plans to expand to 16,000 per day. Much of that is possible because researchers there were the first in the state to develop and offer saliva-based testing to the public, greatly expediting the testing process.

Biodesign researchers are also conducting contact tracing and have made a website available to the public that tracks epidemiological data for the state.

“A lot of people regard our site as one of most reliable sites for providing data about the pandemic in the state of Arizona, and we’re quite proud of that,” LaBaer said.

Much of Sklar’s presentation focused on the challenges physicians are facing in diagnosing and treating the virus.

“This disease, as well as being very new and complex and interesting, has a variety of clinical implications,” he said. “Unfortunately, the clinical information is just getting almost overwhelming in terms of keeping up with it.”

Reasons for that range from the variety of symptoms to the unpredictable nature of its progression. The majority of cases, 81%, are mild; 14% are severe; and 5% are critical – the problem is there is no way to predict who will be among the 81% and who will be among the 5%.

The difficulty associated with diagnosing the virus based on a physical exam alone underscores the importance of the kind of testing being done by the Biodesign Institute and other organizations, Sklar said.

As far as treatment, there are some things that seem to remain consistently effective, such as hydration, and the use of steroids seems to be promising at the moment. However, Sklar said, “What I’m telling you today may not be true tomorrow.”

That has been the case with ventilators, used heavily and often at the beginning of the pandemic, health care workers are now finding that they can sometimes worsen the situation by causing injury to the lungs.

“Vaccination, of course, is the million dollar question,” Sklar said. “Will we have a vaccine? Most likely, we will. What will it cost? We don’t know. Who will have access? Most likely it will be people either in the health care provider group or people who are at highest risk. Will it be safe? That’s again, one of the million dollar questions."

Sklar noted that there has always been some fear of and resistance to vaccines, even when their safety was fairly well-proven, such as measles vaccines. Those attitudes may be due to instances in the past, as with the swine flu vaccine, where some who received it experienced complications, though Sklar added that it was a very small number of people in that case.

During the Q&A portion of the talk, Professor Scott Leischow, College of Health Solutions director of clinical and translational science, asked whether continued improvements in managing symptoms would be sufficient enough to get society back to a state of normalcy while we wait for a vaccine.

“We really want to stop the spread; we don’t want to be operating at the level of managing symptoms,” LaBaer said, adding that prevention is key because of how much we still don’t know about the virus, including whether asymptomatic people can suffer long-term effects.

“The virus has not even been in the human population a full year yet, so long-term studies are impossible,” he continued. “But we do know there are plenty of viruses out there that can cause cancer over time, that can cause neurological disease over time, that can cause all kinds of long-term health sequelae … and we just simply don’t know in this case what getting this virus does. So the best thing you can say is — don’t get it.”

And the best way to not get it is to continue doing what we already have been: wearing masks, socially distancing, staying home and getting tested if your work or life circumstances require you to interact with the public often.

Top photo: Screenshot of Biodesign Institute Executive Director Joshua LaBaer's PowerPoint presentation for ASU's College of Health Solutions COVID-19 Health Talk series, featuring the faces of researchers at ASU Biodesign’s Clinical Testing Lab.