Each academic year the School of Arts and Sciences Newark welcomes new faculty to our family from across the liberal arts disciplines. This year’s group is diverse, spanning the social sciences, humanities, arts and physical sciences. Below, in Part 1 of our series, we profile some of the professors making their SASN debut during the fall 2023 semester (pictured L-R above).
Natalie Munoz | Social Work
Natalie Munoz joins the Social Work department as Assistant Professor. She holds two degrees from Stony Brook University, including a B.S. in Psychology and a M.S. in Social Work with a concentration in Student Community Development. She recently completed her Ph.D. at Howard University’s School of Social Work. Her doctoral research delved into understanding how HBCUs contribute to the ethnic/racial identity, as well as the mental health of AfroLatine students. Natalie’s research pursuits extend to educational equity, mental health equity, and the effects of migrant trauma. She was awarded an American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education’s graduate fellowship for her scholarship.
Munoz has served as an advocate for underserved college students, building mentorship programs for Black and Latine students for the last 15 years at college campuses across the country. Her most recent role as a Bi-lingual Mental Health Clinician in a Washington, D.C., middle and high school has amplified her dedication to addressing structural injustices pertinent to the Latine and AfroLatine communities. At Howard University, she instructed Social Work Practices and Processes, as well as Race, Class, and Gender within the School of Social Work's master's program. This fall, she’ll guide students through Social Work Policy at RU-N.
As Natalie joins the Rutgers University community, her enthusiasm is centered on harmonizing her teaching, practice, service, and research with the institution's resolute commitment to inclusivity, social justice, and civic responsibility.
“I am so excited to be a part of Rutgers-Newark's efforts to accelerate its growth as a regional and national center of excellence in Latinx Studies,” said Munoz. “As a 3rd-generation Dominican and Cuban from Queens and a New York State alumnus, I understand first-hand how state universities drive social mobility for Latine communities. I am delighted to be en comunidad with so many amazing students and scholars at Rutgers-Newark this fall.”
Pabitra Sahoo | Biological Sciences
Pabitra Sahoo joins the Department of Biological Sciences this fall as Assistant Professor. Originally from India, he did his B.S. and M.S. in India and received his Ph.D. from the National Centre for Cell Science, University of Pune, India under the mentorship of Dr. Jomon Joseph. He then joined the lab of Dr. Jeff Twiss at the University of South Carolina (USC) for his postdoctoral studies, which was supported by a fellowship grant from the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund.
Sahoo’s research uses neuronal development as a model system and aims to understand how mRNAs are stored at specific sites in neurons and get translated upon exposure to certain signals and further assesses how/if impaired neuronal mRNA storage mechanisms plays any role in neural repair, in neurodevelopmental disorders, and in neurodegenerative diseases.
Sahoo taught courses on the biology of neurological diseases, cell & molecular biology, and biochemistry to upper-level undergraduate students at USC and will be teaching similar courses here at the RU-N. His research at RU-N will be supported by the Merkin Peripheral Neuropathy and Nerve Regeneration (PNNR) Center.
“I am very excited to start my tenure-track career at the RU-N, and I aim to help train the students coming from different backgrounds to build the next generation of scientists and thought leaders.”
Jamilah Abu-Bakare | Africana Studies
Jamilah Abu-Bakare joins the Africana Studies department as Instructor Professional Practice.
She is an artist and writer interested in exploring artistic practices that move us towards freedom. Her works contemplate refusal, repetition, dedication, and intimacy through sound art, video essay, text off-page and installation.
Abu-Bakare earned her MFA in Creative Writing at the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago. Her works have played or shown from Sweden to L.A. and across Canada, and her writing has appeared in Canadian Art magazine, CBC Arts Online and Active Cultures Digest.
During the upcoming academic year, Abu-Bakare will teach the “Black Liberation, Black Art” and “Black Women in the US: Contemporary Black Women Artists.” She’ll also be teaching a sound art class at Express Newark called “Sound Art as Archive” that will begin in October, and will give an artist talk at Express Newark on September 14 to share her work and discuss the class.
Her work with Express Newark will bring to the RU-N community an exciting new focus on contemporary and historical sound, conceptual art and curatorial theory and practice, particularly where they intersect with the critical and cultural studies work of Black Women's Studies/Africana Studies theorists and artists.
"It means the world to be working at the country's most diverse campus, specifically in Conklin Hall, a building with so much rich history. I am looking forward to meeting the students."