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Honors College Staff | University of Central Missouri



Dr. Jennifer Carson, Director

Dr. Carson is on a research sabbatical for the 2023-2024 academic year, working on a grant for the National Institute of Justice.

Dr. Jennifer Varriale Carson serves as the Director of the Honors College and is also a Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at UCM. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Maryland in Criminology and Criminal Justice and a B.S. in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota, where she herself was an honors student (magna cum laude). Dr. Carson started her research career at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, a former Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence. These beginnings led her to focus her work on policy evaluation through the use of quasi-experimental and experimental methods, with a concentration on U.S. counterterrorism efforts and the use of virtual reality technology. Dr. Carson’s work can be found in a number of academic outlets including the Journal of Research on Crime and Delinquency, Criminology and Public Policy, and the Journal of Quantitative Criminology and has been featured in Congressional Quarterly Researcher, the New Scientist, and Bloomberg News. She has also served as the Executive Counselor for the American Society of Criminology’s Division on Terrorism and Bias Crimes and was the recipient of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences’ Bracey/Joseph New Women Scholar Award. Dr. Carson frequently teaches courses on research methods, terrorism, and homeland security & loves to incorporate students into her research. She will be teaching an online honors colloquium on gender and crime this summer.


Dr. Tom Goldstein, Interim Director

Dr. Tom Goldstein serves at the Interim Director of the Honors College. More info to come!


Dr. Sang-wook Cha, Interim Assistant Director (Fall)

Dr. Cha is an Assistant Professor of Biology at UCM and teaches in the fields of developmental biology & bioinformatics. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Genetic Engineering, a Master’s Degree in Medical Science, and a Ph.D. in Anatomy & Developmental Biology from the Kyungpook University in South Korea. After graduation, Dr. Cha became a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Drs. Chris Wylie and Janet Heasman at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center from 2007 to 2012. Dr. Cha will be serving as the Assistant Director of The Honors College for fall semester.


Dr. Allison Robbins, Interim Assistant Director (Spring)

Dr. Allison Robbins is a musicologist who specializes in Hollywood and Broadway musicals; music in the American West; and American popular music & dance traditions. She regularly teaches courses in music history, music and culture, and research methods & bibliography. Robbins received her undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and her doctorate from the University of Virginia, where she was a Jefferson Scholars Graduate Fellow. She began teaching at UCM in 2013, following a visiting position at the University of Tennessee. Robbins has published articles in American Music, Journal of the Society for American Music, and Studies in Musical Theatre, and was invited to contribute essays in the Oxford Handbook of Improvisation in Dance and Oxford Handbook of Musical Theatre Screen Adaptations. Her current book project focuses on indigenous, settler, and military music traditions in the Great Plains during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Dr. Robbins will be serving as the Assistant Director of The Honors College for spring semester.



Dr. Julie Stephens DeJonge

Dr. Julie Stephens DeJonge is a professor of Spanish at UCM, where she teaches all levels of undergraduate Spanish courses, including grammar, composition, film, literature, and civilization. In addition, Dr. DeJonge teaches two courses taught in English: Literature in Translation and Cross-Cultural Cinema. She received her doctorate in Hispanic Literature from the University of Kansas and has taught at UCM since 1996. Dr. DeJonge is the co-author of Contextos, a textbook to learn Spanish through short films. Her interests include strategies to improve learning through games, multimedia, and evidence-based approaches. Dr. DeJonge is also working on educational materials to teach Spanish civilization and foster critical thinking. She will be teaching a colloquia on “Ethical Issues in Stories from Spain and Latin America” this spring.


Dr. Anna Oller

Dr. Anna Oller has been a faculty member at UCM since 2000 and has earned the rank of Professor. She obtained her B.A. in Clinical Laboratory Sciences from Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska, and rotated through her clinicals in Iowa to become board certified. She obtained her Ph.D. from South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota, with an emphasis in Microbiology and Molecular Biology. She is a member of the American Society for Microbiology, American Society for Clinical Pathologists. Dr. Oller’s research interests include polysaccharide and melanin regulation mechanisms in the fungus Aureobasidium pullulans, Staphylococus aureus transmission mechanisms, antibiotic resistance mechanisms, food microbiology, and ecological relationships to disease. Almost any topic dealing with clinical microbiology is of interest. She has served as a mentor for over 45 undergraduate research projects, many with internal funding, and multiple graduate student projects. Dr. Oller will be teaching a colloquia on “Microbes in Food” for the fall semester.


Dr. Daniel Runnels

Dr. Daniel Runnels is an Assistant Professor of Spanish at UCM. He works primarily on Latin American literature, culture, political thought, and critical theory. His research has appeared in Latino Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies, Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, Intervención y coyuntura (Mexico), and Revista Vorágine (Chile). Dr. Runnels is currently working on a book tentatively titled, “A Critique of Anarchist Thought in Latin America.” He has also published translations in Jacobin, Latin American Literature Today, Exchanges: Journal of Literary Translation, and Editorial Charmides, and is finalizing two book-length translations: Spanish literary critic Alberto Moreiras’ Third Space and Other Tales (forthcoming with Duke University Press) and Argentine philosopher Jorge Alemán’s Lacan and Capitalist Discourse: Neoliberalism and Ideology (forthcoming with Routledge). Dr. Runnels will be teaching a colloquia entitled, “The End of the World” for fall semester.

Gen ed Instructors


Dr. Jasmine Cloud

Dr. Jasmine Cloud is Associate Professor of Art History at UCM, where she teaches courses in the history of art from prehistory to the present day. Her scholarly work focuses on the art and architecture of Renaissance and Baroque Italy. Dr. Cloud has received fellowships from the Kress Foundation to support her research on the urban history of Rome, specifically the redevelopment of the Roman Forum in the early modern period. She has published essays on Baroque Rome and Renaissance Venice in edited volumes and has presented her research at conferences in Italy and North America. Dr. Cloud is currently working on her first book on the ceremonial processions that moved through the Forum in the early modern period, under contract with Routledge. Dr. Cloud will be teaching an Honors College-only section of Art History Survey this spring.


Dr. Michael Makara

Dr. Michael Makara earned his Ph.D. from Syracuse University in 2014 and is an Associate Professor of Comparative Politics & International Relations at UCM, where he teaches courses related to global security and the politics of the Middle East. Beyond the classroom, he co-leads a study abroad program called “Divided Cities,” which takes students to Jerusalem, Berlin, and Kansas City to explore how a legacy of political and social divisions continue to impact these cities in the 21st century. Dr. Makara’s research focuses on the politics of civil wars and the durability of authoritarianism, with a regional focus on the Middle East. He is currently working on two projects. The first explores how rebels in Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan govern the territory that they capture during conflict. The second is a co-authored project that utilizes a survey experiment to study how political biases impact individuals’ attitudes toward immigration. Dr. Makara will be teaching an Honors College-only section of American Government in fall.


Dr. Selene Nikaido

Dr. Selene Nikaido received a B.A. in Chemistry from Northwestern University, a M.S. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Northwestern University. After working as a research associate for a biochemist at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and for a circadian biologist at Vanderbilt University, she accepted a position in Biology at the UCM, where she currently holds the rank of Associate Professor. Dr. Nikaido was awarded a National Science Foundation grant to build a program in molecular biology at UCM, where funds were used to create laboratories for genetics and molecular technology courses. Her research interests include measuring plant hybridization using DNA markers and plant genomics. Dr. Nikaido will be teaching an Honors-College only section of Basic Genetics this fall.


Dr. Sally Zellers

Dr. Sally Zellers holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been employed in a variety of positions with both industry and secondary/post-secondary teaching, enabling her to bring "real world" experiences into the classroom. Dr. Zellers’ research interests include marine micropaleontology - using fossil remains of foraminifera to gain insight into the geologic history of the Gulf of Alaska, Japan Trench, and offshore Jamaica. She will be teaching an Honors College-only section of Introduction to Geology during spring semester.


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