College of the Environment and Life Sciences New Faculty 2022
The University of Rhode Island College of the Environment and Life Sciences (CELS) welcomes seven new faculty members this fall. With expertise and interests ranging from hydrology to STEM education, and phytoplankton to environmental law, these new faculty members will aid CELS in continuing to provide exceptional education, research, and outreach to Rhode Island and beyond.
Chris Russoniello, assistant professor, Department of Geosciences
Chris Russoniello joins CELS as an assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences. Holding a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Delaware, Russoniello comes to URI from West Virginia University’s Department of Geology and Geography, where he was an assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Geography. Now situated on the Rhode Island coast, Russoniello plans to explore the numerous living laboratories in the area. His research relies on fieldwork and computer models to understand how water moves through the environment, particularly along coastlines and how climate change and sea level rise are affecting accessibility to clean water.
Russoniello will be teaching geoscience courses on water movement, including sedimentology. He enjoys working with his students and watching them succeed. “I am always proudest when my students and advisees are learning, doing good work, and communicating it well.” Russoniello is looking forward to experiencing the “variety of topics and depth of expertise” across the URI community as well as learning about this beautiful state and its people.
David Townson, professor, Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Sciences
Townson joins the Department of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Sciences as a professor of reproductive physiology. He earned his Ph.D. in dairy science from The Ohio State University, and previously served as a professor and department chair for the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at the University of Vermont. Regarding joining CELS, Townson says, “I look forward to joining this energetic group and providing my own contributions.”
Townson’s research aims to help commercial dairy farmers increase pregnancy rates among their cows. He will incorporate his research into his courses, which will include Introduction to Animal Sciences, Endocrinology, Reproductive Physiology, and a graduate-level course in Advanced Reproduction. Recognized as Outstanding Associate Professor at the University of New Hampshire, Townson brings a high level of academic and teaching expertise to CELS. “I can appreciate the diversity of expertise within my own department and the collegiality of its members,” he said. “Others whom I’ve met within CELS are very open-minded, respectful, and friendly, so I can appreciate those attributes in working relationships.”
Jesse Reiblich, assistant professor, Department of Marine Affairs
Professor Jesse Reiblich comes to CELS as an assistant professor in the Department of Marine Affairs. He holds a Master of Laws in environmental and land use law and a J.D. from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. He previously served as a law fellow at the William and Mary Law School Virginia Coastal Policy Center and at Stanford University’s Center for Ocean Solutions. Jesse researches the efficacy of coastal law and policy, focusing on coastal adaptation and protecting areas that face threats from development, sea level rise, and climate change. His research has had a notable impact on the field, including a citation of his research in a federal court decision.
Jesse will teach undergraduate and graduate courses on coastal zone law in Marine Affairs and will be designing new courses in the future. “I am excited about the direction of the college and the great faculty that CELS has,” he said. “I look forward to doing good, meaningful work at CELS to affect positive and progressive societal change in Rhode Island and beyond.”
Angela Google, assistant professor, Department of Biological Sciences
The Department of Biological Sciences welcomes Angela Google as a tenure-track assistant professor in biology education research. She holds a Ph.D. in mathematics and science education from Middle Tennessee State University. Before joining CELS, she served as a postdoctoral associate at the University of South Alabama conducting discipline-based education research. “After engaging with several people in CELS,” Google said, “I felt that the mission to serve students and faculty through an inclusive and supportive lens was echoed throughout the college.”
Google’s research explores the factors contributing to the academic success of students from groups that are historically underrepresented in postsecondary science education. She studies the impacts of the development of students’ identity as scientists and their sense of belonging in the academic science community to find ways of improving the teaching and learning of college biology. Google will be teaching several introductory biology courses as well as graduate-level courses on effective teaching practices in biology. “I look forward to working with great, enthusiastic people that share the same passion for supporting students in their academic journey,” she said.
Niels-Viggo S. Hobbs, assistant teaching professor, Department of Biological Sciences
URI alum Niels-Viggo S. Hobbs returns to CELS as an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Biological Sciences after serving as a visiting assistant professor at Connecticut College. Hobbs earned his Ph.D. in biological and environmental sciences and previously worked at URI as a part-time instructor.
Hobbs studies marine and invertebrate ecology, focusing on marine crustaceans. As part of his research, he has identified a newly introduced species of isopod that has been undetected for years. Looking to carry his momentum at URI, he states, “I really like the diversity of both programming and students, as well as the unique focus on marine-related questions and systems.”
Ambarish Karmalkar, visiting assistant professor, Department of Geosciences
Ambarish Karmalkar joins CELS as a visiting professor in the Department of Geosciences. He holds a Ph.D. in geosciences from UMass Amherst and served as a research assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at UMass Amherst. Karmalkar will be teaching several courses in climate dynamics, regional climates, and computational methods in geosciences, and he currently teaches Environmental Geology and Global Climate Change for the Honors Program. His research uses atmospheric and oceanic models to study climate changes throughout the world, recently focusing on the Northeast. Eager to collaborate with the diverse group of researchers at URI, he explains, “I am looking forward to meeting and working with folks in CELS and across URI who are thinking about climate change, sustainability, and resiliency.”
Last year, he published a study in Nature Climate Change explaining how changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation in the Atlantic Ocean influence increasing coastal temperatures in the Northeast, a finding that was featured in news media such as the Guardian.
Andrew Presley, lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences
Andrew Presley joins CELS as a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences. “I really enjoyed teaching anatomy and physiology as a graduate student and continuing to teach it going forwards seemed a great way to apply my skills I learned and teach more people,” he explains. Now as a faculty member, he will be teaching Anatomy and Physiology I as well as Fundamentals of Biology.
While pursuing his master’s degree, Presely studied the relationship between silica concentration and phytoplankton communities and how phytoplankton levels varied with depth. In addition to research, he learned about resilience and determination for defending his master’s thesis during the pandemic. “Completing a master’s thesis during COVID was a unique challenge that I am glad most future graduate students will not have to experience!” he said.