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Six New Scholars Join VWU Faculty

Learn more about the newest members of the faculty and what they find meaningful about scholarship and teaching

University News | September 27, 2023

Virginia Wesleyan University welcomed six new faculty members to the campus community for the 2023-24 academic year. Joining the University this fall are: Lecturer of Physics Dr. Pradip Basnet, Research and Instruction Librarian Abraham Nemon, Lecturer in Biology Breanna Noffsinger, Assistant Professor of English Dr. Sara Ryan, Lecturer in Business Diane Lee-Strong, and Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Caitlin Williams. Learn more about each of them, including what they find meaningful about scholarship and teaching:

Dr. Pradip Basnet, Lecturer of Physics

Dr. Basnet is interested in teaching fundamental principles of physics using real-world examples in an active learning environment and studying new principles or laws of physics that describe different physical phenomena. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Tribhuvan University in Nepal; a master’s degree in physics from the University of Massachusetts, and a doctorate degree in physics from the University of Georgia. Before coming to VWU, he was a Limited-Term Assistant Professor in the Kennesaw State University (KSU) Journey Honors College. Dr. Basnet’s research interests lie in the area of condensed matter physics, materials science, and nanotechnology. His research focuses on the study of fundamental properties of metal and metal oxide thin films and nano-/micro-scale devices.

“Teaching holds a special place in my heart as it allows me to witness the spark of curiosity ignited in the student's minds,” says Basnet. “I find immense joy in guiding them and seeing them evolve on their academic journeys. Being part of this institution's tight-knit community offers a unique chance to collaborate, mentor, and make a meaningful impact, which I value immensely.”

Dr. Breanna Noffsinger, Lecturer in Biology

Dr. Noffsinger joins VWU’s Biology Department after serving as a member of the adjunct faculty at Tidewater Community College. She earned her doctoral degree in experimental pathology and her master’s degree in biomedical sciences from the University of Virginia and her bachelor’s degree in biology from Ball State University in Indiana.

“I love how scholarship demands excellence of us," she says. "It challenges us to push our knowledge to its limits and encourages us to keep learning. This is my mindset when I approach teaching. I want to motivate my students to really dive deep into the subject and learn all they can. If we can approach learning with the same passion we have for our hobbies, we can tackle anything. For me, teaching is most meaningful when I see students rise to the challenge of scholarship and achieve their best in classes.”

She notes that she is a big believer in creating inclusive and compassionate environments for learning. “I believe we learn and work best when we feel safe. I bring this approach to all aspects of life, including my hobbies. I enjoy digital art through making pixel art, creating crocheted stuffed animals for my siblings, and playing video games in my spare time. By finding a good community and safe environment, I know we can all pursue our passions.”

Dr. Sara Ryan, Assistant Professor of English

Dr. Ryan’s work focuses on poetry, creative, digital, and professional writing. She has a doctoral degree in English and Literature from Texas Tech University, a MFA in poetry from Northern Michigan University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami.  Her primary research includes poetic forms, hybrid writing, image/text literature, digital writing, and the lyric essay. She puts up a new poem outside her office in Birdsong 103 every week for any passersby to enjoy. Dr. Ryan, who lives in downtown Norfolk with her black bobtail cat, says that she loves to bring writing to students and have them appreciate poetry with a fresh perspective.

“So many people have preconceived ideas about poetry, and I love lifting the veil for students and having them read books of poetry, write their own poems, and read and support each other's work. Sharing and celebrating writing in community is integral in my classroom and we try to keep these goals in mind every time we meet. I do not believe that anyone is inherently a "bad writer" and I love to bring non-traditional texts like movies, TV, art, social media, and creative writing into conversation so that students can write about what interests them--the things that they are passionate about in their day-to-day lives.”

Diane Lee-Strong, Lecturer in Business

Diane Lee-Strong, the owner of Lee-Strong Business Consulting in Suffolk, VA, joins the Department of Management, Business and Economics at VWU. Lee-Strong has a MBA from Albany State University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Old Dominion University. She previously taught at Paul D. Camp Community College and South University and has worked at VDOT and Zel Technologies, LLC. She says she feels blessed to be able to teach at Virginia Wesleyan University. Lee-Strong lives in Suffolk with her husband of 35 years and their son, Brian, who is in his first year of teaching at Nansemond River High School.

Dr. Caitlin Williams, Assistant Professor of Biology

Dr. Williams comes to Virginia Wesleyan from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a SPIRE postdoctoral scholar. She earned her doctorate degree in emerging infectious diseases at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD and her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Richmond. She is currently teaching microbiology courses and genetics for biology majors, as well as establishing an independent research program focused on undergraduate students investigating signal transduction systems in the pathogen Clostridioides difficile. Dr. Williams views her role as a teacher similar to that of a coach. She loves to guide students through challenges so that the learning process is engaging and enables students to solidify their knowledge. She also loves to help students find their passions and make long-term goals to get to a place where they will be happy and fulfilled.

Abraham Nemon, Research and Instruction Librarian

Abe Nemon comes to VWU after serving as a visiting assistant professor and academic librarian at Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, MN. He holds a Master of Library Science degree with a specialization in Rare Books and Manuscripts from Indiana University Bloomington and a bachelor’s degree in English as well as a MA in English: Composition and Rhetoric, from Wright State University in Dayton, OH. He has taught courses in English composition and science fiction literature, and serves as the Henry Clay Hofheimer II Library's liaison to the Susan S. Goode School of Arts and Humanities at VWU.

Learn more about the Faculty at VWU.