Each academic year, the School of Arts and Sciences Newark welcomes new faculty from across the liberal arts disciplines. This year, two new scholars in the fields of Urban Education and Psychology will join the SASN family.
Laura Krystal Porterfield
Laura Porterfield joins the RU-N community as Assistant Professor of Urban Education Department. Previously she was an Associate Professor of Educational Foundations, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She holds Ph.D. and master’s degrees in Urban Education from Temple University, and received her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Rochester.
Drawing primarily from Sociology, Anthropology and Critical Geography, Porterfield’s interdisciplinary research and work examines equity and justice practices in K-16 education by exploring how students learn about various forms of difference across the human experience through visual texts and urban space and place. Porterfield has taught courses on youth culture formation, philosophy of education, urban education and multicultural education. At RU-N this fall, she is teaching Education and Social Change in the Black Diaspora, which is cross-listed in Urban Education and African American Studies.
Porterfield’s focus on visual texts stems, in part, from her use of photography as a research method, and she is currently conducting a visual ethnography project titled, Seeing Wellness: Exploring the Embodied, Radical and Transformative Wellness Practices of 21st Century Justice and Diversity Leaders. The project explores the self-care, wellness and healing practices of transgender, women, and gender non-conforming Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) who are diversity and justice leaders in the global north and south, aiming ultimately to contribute to the ongoing conversations regarding the healing, care and sustainability of diversity and justice work worldwide.
“I am thrilled to join the RU-N family in pushing the boundaries of community and public education,” said Porterfield. “I take seriously the charge of being part of an anchor institution and hope to contribute to the intellectual development of RU-N students and, by extension, the development and growth of the city of Newark more generally.”
Kimele Persaud joins the SASN family as Assistant Professor of Psychology in spring 2022. A native from East Orange, NJ, she received her B.S. in Psychology from Delaware State University, a historically black University in Dover, DE, and her master’s and Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, along with a certificate in Cognitive Science from the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Sciences.
Since 2018, Persaud has been a Post-doc Research Associate at RU-N's Computational Cognitive Development Lab, focusing on the reconstructive nature of visual working and long-term episodic memory. Using an integrated behavioral, computational and developmental approach, Persaud investigates how prior knowledge is efficiently integrated with noisy vague memories to facilitate the reconstruction of events from memory. Her goal is to understand how the mind encodes and stores information that best supports later retrieval, while minimizing effort and error.
Persaud’s work has been supported by an NSF I.G.E.R.T. traineeship, NSF graduate research fellowship, a Rutgers Dissertation fellowship, and an NSF postdoctoral research fellowship.
Persaud has taught a lab course in Sensation and Perception, co-facilitated a course on MATLAB Programming for Social Sciences, and served as a co-curriculum developer and guest lecturer for Cognitive Psychology courses. In her new role, she’ll be teaching courses in those areas, as well as Research Methods and Learning and Memory.
"Being at RU-N means being a part of a community of world-changers who are committed to advancing research, pedagogy and social improvement,” said Persaud. “I look forward to increasing awareness and training of minority students at all levels and developing a diverse group of future highly skilled scientists, as well as partnering with supportive and encouraging colleagues in the Psychology department and the University more broadly.”