Carnegie Mellon University

Photo collage of new hires

August 22, 2023

Modern Languages Welcomes New Faculty and Scholars

By KellyAnn Tsai

The Department of Modern Languages is pleased to welcome new faculty and scholars in the academic year 2023-2024.

Keely Austin, visiting lecturer, Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition

Keely AustinKeely Austin joins the Department of Modern Languages as a visiting lecturer in the Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition (ALSLA). As part of the ALSLA curriculum, she will teach 82-795 Ideologies of Critical Language Awareness (CLA), an introduction to scholarship and pedagogies commonly found in CLA as a foundation for students’ future engagement with language learners. 

“It is important to me that students encounter a variety of instructional, sociocultural, cognitive and linguistic dimensions of language learning, focusing on how these dimensions are expressed and experienced differently across various spaces, identities, technologies and learner abilities,” Austin said.

Austin has worked in English, English as Second Language (ESL) and Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at the university level for nearly 30 years, including as Director of Communication in CMU’s English Department and Director of Communication and Language Support in CMU’s Student Academic Support Center. She is committed to learning about identity created through language and culture and advocating for an equitable and just experience for all learners. Austin holds a Ph.D. in English studies and an M.A. in professional writing. 

Jessica Balguy, postdoctoral scholar, Center for Black European Studies and the Atlantic (CBESA)

Jessica BalguyAs a postdoctoral scholar, Jessica Balguy will work with Mame-Fatou Niang, associate professor of French and Francophone studies and Director of the Center for Black European Studies and the Atlantic. Originally from Paris, Balguy completed her thesis on the history of slavery in the French West Indies. Her work focuses on the compensation of slave owners after abolition in the French colonial empire in 1848. She is also working on the issue of reparations for slavery.

“My research has led me to consider the question of slavery and its legacies from an international perspective, which I hope to develop within the Center for Black European Studies and the Atlantic in the the Department of Modern Languages,” said Blaguy. “It is with the idea of developing a transatlantic exchange that I enthusiastically join the department and its members.” 

Kiyono Fujinaga-Gordon, assistant teaching professor, Japanese studies

Kiyono Fujinaga-GordonKiyono Fujinaga-Gordon joins the CMU community as assistant teaching professor of Japanese studies. 

“I am excited to meet students from all over the world and work collaboratively with faculty of various languages and across disciplines,” she said. “As a faculty member of a strong science university, I hope to advocate for the role of humanities such as ethics, empathy, critical thinking, and global citizenship to be a foundation of current science and technology advancements.”

Fujinaga-Gordon received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University at Buffalo with a dissertation entitled “The Synchronic and Diachronic Development of Japanese Benefactive Constructions.” Her dissertation explores historical language change in usage of Japanese Benefactive construction and compares this with patterns of child language acquisition among Japanese children and Japanese heritage speakers in the United States. 

Fujinaga-Gordon’s ongoing research areas include: 

  • Examining family conversation strategies at home among Japanese heritage speakers in the US
  • Language documentation of Miyako, an endangered language spoken in southern Okinawa, Japan
  • Examination of novel curricular strategies for Japanese language courses incorporating modern technologies such as AI. 
  • Development, implementation, and evaluation of curricula for Japanese language classes that emphasize the fostering and application of critical thinking skills.

Suzanne Meyer, adjunct instructor, French and Francophone studies

Suzanne MeyerThis fall, Suzanne Meyer will teach the hybrid language course 82-103 Elementary French I Online.

Meyer has been an active practitioner in language education in both international and domestic contexts since receiving her M.A. from the School for International Training. Prior to her work at Indiana University South Bend, the University of Tennessee Knoxville and the University of Pittsburgh, Meyer’s experience includes teaching in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, El Salvador and Japan. Meyer’s research interests focus on materials and curricular development, with related research interests in assessment and curriculum design at the programmatic level.  

“Every context brings new opportunities: I am very excited to see how my experiences and capabilities will contribute to CMU courses – and to learn from CMU students and colleagues,” Meyer said.

Lama Nassif, associate teaching professor, Arabic studies (CMU-Q)

Lama NassifLama Nassif joins the CMU community as an associate teaching professor in Arabic studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. This fall, she will teach 82-313 Topics in Modern Arabic Language, Literature, and Culture and 82-414 Arabic for the Professions I.

In 2022-2023, Nassif was a Teaching and Learning Resources Fellow at Queen Rania Foundation (QRF) – Education Endowment Foundation in Amman, Jordan. She has previously taught Arabic, second language acquisition (SLA) and sociolinguistics at Williams College, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, The University of Texas at Austin and Middlebury College, and was a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania in 2018-2019. 

Nassif’s research interests include noticing and attention in second language (L2) development, sociolinguistic development in L2 Arabic acquisition and the interface between L2 research and pedagogy. Her work appears in peer-reviewed, international journals. 

“At CMU, I am looking forward to working with students and colleagues on CMU-Q and Pittsburgh campuses and learning from their expertise and experiences. I’m keen on advancing Arabic research and pedagogy, and look forward to working with colleagues toward this goal,” said Nassif.

Ting Su, adjunct instructor, Chinese studies

Ting SuTing Su joins the Department of Modern Languages from the University of Michigan, where she earned her degree in Asian Studies. Her thesis, "Historicizing Tibetan Dance in China: Contact Zones and Cross-Ethnicity Collaborations," was awarded the Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant, Center for World Performance Student Summer Research Grant, and Lieberthal-Rogel Center Summer Research Award at the University of Michigan.

In her research, Su delves into Tibetan cultural heritage through dance performance, illuminating its role as a conduit between Tibetan and Chinese cultures across time and space. Ting's research interests encompass Chinese studies, performance studies, and cultural studies.

At Carnegie Mellon University, Su will engage in a close collaboration with the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, working to redesign the "Elementary Chinese" course and harnessing AI technologies like ChatGPT to enhance the instruction of Chinese language and culture in university classrooms.

Lihong Zhang, adjunct instructor, Chinese studies

Lihong ZhangLihong Zhang received her Master’s in Applied Second Language Acquisition from the Department of Modern Languages in 2021, where she focused on teaching Chinese and Japanese. Zhang has also been a staff member at CMU since 2018, most recently working in the Tepper School of Business.

This fall, she will be teaching the department’s Intermediate Chinese I course. “My goal of teaching is to help students to build confidence in their language skills while developin a broader understanding of the culture that goes beyond just words and grammar," Zhang said.

Sing Zhang, adjunct instructor, Chinese studies

Sing ZhangSing Zhang will be a part-time adjunct instructor for Chinese Calligraphy: Culture and Skills, one of the Department of Modern Languages' most popular courses. Zhang is a certified teacher in mainland China with a deep passion for classroom instruction. She also currently serves as Associate Director, Alumni and Constituent Engagement at Carnegie Mellon University. 

“Calligraphy is more than just writing; it’s a dance of ink and spirit, an embodiment of the harmony between mind and brush,” said Zhang. “I believe this course will provide students with a unique opportunity to explore and appreciate the rich heritage of Chinese culture, and develop a deeper understanding of China’s history, traditions, and values.

In addition to academic training in elementary education and Chinese calligraphy, Zhang earned a Master of Education in Higher Education Management from the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education in Education Policy and Social Changes at the Pitt School of Education.