Congratulations to the following faculty members, who received promotions in 2021. 

Promotion to Professor 

Tim Parker Timothy H. Parker

Professor of Biology

Parker’s research interests include evolution and ecology—particularly of birds—and sources of bias in empirical research. Some of the courses he teaches include BIOL 115 Natural History and Ecology, BIOL 210 When is Science Reliable? and BIOL 225 Ornithology Lab.

Parker holds a B.A. in international development from Clark University, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in biology from Kansas State University and the University of New Mexico, respectively.

Parker’s Profile


Tenure and Promotion to Associate Professor 

Eunice Blavascunas Eunice L. Blavascunas

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies

For more than 20 years, Blavascunas has been researching and writing about conservation politics in nature preserves in Eastern Europe, particularly Poland’s Białowieża Forest, which is the subject of her 2020 book, Foresters, Borders and Bark Beetles: The Future of Europe's Last Primeval Forest (Indiana University Press).

She has earned a joint B.S. and B.A. in environmental science and liberal arts from the Evergreen State College; an M.A. in cultural geography from the University of Texas at Austin; and both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Blavascunus’ Profile


Rachel George Rachel L. George

Associate Professor of Anthropology

George’s primary research focuses on changing notions of language, ethnicity, and political engagement among Serbian young adults born during and immediately after the breakup of Yugoslavia. She also conducts research on how U.S. families engage with political issues and participate in their communities. George teaches ANTH 325 The Anthropology of Digital Media, as well as courses in cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology and ethnographic methods.

George has earned three degrees in anthropology: a B.A. from New York University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California Los Angeles.

George’s Profile


Krista H. Gulbransen

Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Culture Studies 

Gulbransen specializes in South Asian art and architecture, with particular interests in manuscript illustration, portraiture and modes of cultural exchange. Her prior experience working and interning at various museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Diego Museum of Art and the University of Virginia’s Fralin Museum of Art, helped to shape her interest in exploring and critiquing historical and contemporary methods of museum display.

She has a bachelor’s degree in art history and business/economics from the University of California Los Angeles, and a master’s and Ph.D. in art and architectural history from the University of Virginia.

Gulbransen’s Profile


Britney Moss Britney L. Moss

Associate Professor of Biology, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology

Moss’s special interests are plant synthetic biology, hormone signaling pathways and cell signaling dynamics. Together with her “Moss Lab” team of students, she is conducting research on auxin, a small-molecule hormone found in all plants that plays a critical role in processes ranging from root development to growth of stems towards light sources.

She holds a B.S. in biochemistry from Montana State University, a Ph.D. in molecular cell biology from Washington University in St. Louis, and was an NIH-funded postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington.

Moss’ Profile


Lyman Persico Lyman P. Persico

Associate Professor of Geology and Environmental Studies 

Persico’s research experience in the Mojave Desert as an undergrad shaped his interest in becoming a professor and ultimately led to the creation of his GEO 258 Mojave Desert Ecology and Geology class at Whitman. Other courses include ENVS 305 Water in the West, and ENVS 479 Environmental Citizenship and Leadership. His work investigates the ways landscapes respond to climate change.

He has a B.S. from the University of Vermont and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico.

Persico’s Profile


Àlvaro Santana-Acuña Alvaro Santana-Acuña

Associate Professor of Sociology

Santana-Acuña teaches courses on big data, politics, culture and theory, with a hands-on pedagogy seeking constant real-world applications. His most recent book, Ascent to Glory (Columbia University Press), about the classic novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, has received praise from critics around the world.

He has earned a bachelor’s in history from the University of La Laguna, a master’s in social sciences from the University of Chicago, and a doctorate in sociology from Harvard University.

Santana-Acuña’s Profile


Promotion to Senior Lecturer

Wencui Zhao Wencui Zhao

Senior Lecturer of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Chinese

Zhao has taught all levels of Chinese language courses since coming to Whitman as an adjunct instructor in 2007. She has also been involved in the Whitman in China and Crossroads Summer Studies in China programs. 

Zhao has a bachelor’s in English language and literature from Peking University and a master’s in English literature from Yunnan University.

Zhao’s Profile