Three Ivan Allen College Faculty Members Earn Promotions
Posted March 24, 2021
Three Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts faculty members have been promoted, effective August 1, 2021. Neha Kumar was promoted to associate professor and granted tenure. Karen Head and Julia Melkers were promoted to professor.
Kumar joined Georgia Tech in 2015. She holds a joint appointment in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and the School of Interactive Computing. Her research lies in the overlap of the Information and Communication Technology and Development (ICTD) and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) spaces. She uses her background in computer science, design, and ethnography to study emerging technology practices of marginalized users in resource-challenged communities and to leverage this understanding towards the design and deployment of appropriate technology- and process-based solutions. Kumar’s work contributes towards scholarship on mobile, social, and visual media practices and applies this research to design appropriate and contextually-relevant mHealth and education interventions for marginalized communities, mainly in South Asia.
Kumar earned a Ph.D. from the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley in December 2013. She also served as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington’s Computer Science and Engineering department from 2013 to 2014. From 2014 to 2015, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California.
Head came to Georgia Tech in 2004. She is the associate chair in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication and executive director of the Georgia Tech Communication Center.
In 2020, she was named the inaugural Poet Laureate of Fulton County, Georgia. She is also the editor of Atlanta Review and the immediate past editor of Southern Discourse in the Center: A Journal of Multiliteracy and Innovation. On a more unusual note, Head is currently the Poet Laureate of Waffle House—a title that reflects an outreach program to bring arts awareness to rural high schools in Georgia, which has been generously sponsored by the Waffle House Foundation.
Her research focuses on higher education rhetoric, sustainable and innovative pedagogy and space design, communication theory and pedagogical practice, especially the implementation and development of writing centers, writing program administration, and multidisciplinary communication. Her book, Disrupt This! MOOCs and the Promises of Technology was published by University Press of New England in Spring 2017.
In 2012-13, she was awarded a Georgia Tech Fund for Innovation in Research and Education Grant. Head's classes center on analyzing, critiquing, evaluating, and creating a variety of texts that demonstrate an understanding of audience and adaptation of multimodal rhetorical strategies and tools. Students and colleagues consistently rank her teaching as excellent. In 2012-13, she won the CETL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Award. In 2019, she was honored with the Georgia Tech Outstanding Service Award.
She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska, a master’s from the University of Tennessee, a bachelor’s degree from Oglethorpe University, and an associate’s degree from Dekalb College.
Melkers teaches graduate-level courses in research design, program evaluation, survey methods, and an undergraduate course in American Government. Her research and evaluation work focuses on a number of aspects relevant to careers in science, including research and career capacity development in the STEM environment, knowledge diffusion, collaborative and other social networks, and issues specific to career development and mentoring with special attention to underrepresented groups. Melkers also directs the ROCS lab (Research on Careers in Science), a group of undergraduate and graduate students who work with her on projects relevant to scientific careers.
Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes for Health, and multiple foundations. Her publications may be found in journals such as Science, Technology & Human Values; PlosOne; Computer Science Education, Review of Policy Research, Public Administration Review, Urban Studies Review, Policy Studies Journal, Public Budgeting and Finance, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Journal of Technology Transfer, and Evaluation and Program Planning.
She holds a visiting appointment at INGENIO [CSIC], University Polytechnic Valencia, Spain.
Melkers earned her Ph.D. in Public Administration at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and holds an M.P.A. from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. She previously was on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Georgia State University, and the University of Alaska.
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