Professor of English Language and Literature
Jessica DeSpain is Professor of English at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is the co-director of SIUE’s IRIS Center for the Digital Humanities. She is the author of Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Reprinting and the Embodied Book (Routledge, 2014), and the lead editor of The Wide, Wide World Digital Edition, an exploration of the reprints of Susan Warner’s bestselling nineteenth-century novel. DeSpain worked with middle school students in East St. Louis to build a digital project about the history and culture of their city. She also directed the NEH-funded Conversation Toward a Brighter Future project, to support middle and high school students in telling digital stories about intergenerational relationships. Her current projects include the NEH-funded Recovery Hub for American Women Writers, which provides support and training for digital recovery projects focusing on the works of American women and Community-Oriented Digital Engagement Scholars, a general education opportunity for underserved students who work alongside community organizations in interdisciplinary teams to address the local manifestations of global issues.
Professor of English Language and Literature
Kristine Hildebrandt is a professor in the Department of English Language and Literature. Her research profile includes language documentation and preservation. She was the principal investigator on three projects funded by the National Science Foundation’s Documenting Endangered Languages program, and previously directed a project funded by the Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project at the School of Oriental and African Studies to document endangered/vulnerable languages of northern-central Nepal. Check out her collaborative work with SIUE faculty and students at: https://mananglanguages.isg.siue.edu/. Dr. Hildebrandt also integrates DH tools and methods into her teaching, bringing Omeka and Word Press approaches to the ways that her students design their research projects.
Research Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities and Social Sciences
Meg Smith is a research assistant professor of digital humanities in the IRIS Center and a historian of medieval and early modern Ireland. She contributes to the Center’s projects in a number of capacities, including digital humanities teaching and training, project development, grant-writing, and community engagement. She completed her PhD in medieval history at Saint Louis University in 2020. Prior to joining SIUE, she worked in digitization at the Barack Obama Presidential Library (2019-2021), where she served as the local lead for the Social Networks and Archival Contexts project. In addition to publications on medieval and early modern Irish history, she has also written instructional materials for SNAC and written and presented on digital humanities tools and projects. Her current project, Legislating Irishness, maps the spatial and social networks of the early modern Irish legal system, using these lenses to explore the strategies of negotiation employed by native Irish litigants under plantation regimes.
Internal Advisory Board
Stacey Brown Amilian
Associate Professor of Geography
Stacey Brown Amilian is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography. Dr. Brown’s research interests center on Health and the Built Environment. Some of her current research includes analyzing the food environment in regards to diabetes rates as well as respiratory hospitalizations and pollution in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Dr. Brown’s teaches a wide variety of courses including courses in medical geography, world regional geography, cartography, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Lora Del Rio
Director for Research, Teaching, and Learning, Lovejoy Library
Lora Del Rio works in SIUE’s Lovejoy Library as Humanities Librarian. She serves as the library liaison to the Departments of Anthropology, English Language & Literature, Foreign Language & Literature, and Philosophy. She specializes in information literacy instruction, honors education, and digital humanities. In 2015, she received funding from the SIUE Conferences and Workshop Award program to host a digital humanities unconference on the SIUE campus. Del Rio organized and facilitated the SIUE THATCamp 2016 Unconference in June 2016. She and Dr. Jessica DeSpain co-authored the book chapter, “Informal Learning Teams and the Digital Humanities: A Case Study of Faculty/Librarian Collaboration” in the ACRL Publication, Undergraduate Research and the Academic Librarian: Case Studies and Best Practices in 2017.
Associate Professor of Computer Science
Gunes Ercal is Associate Professor of Computer Science.
Distinguished Research Professor of Anthropology
Professor Fields’ recent publication is a digital archive with article: “Women’s Leadership in the Lummi Nation” (2017), which is part of Women and Social Movements in Modern Empires to 1820(Alexander Street and SUNY-Binghamton). Forthcoming is the book and media collection Sacred Breath: Pacific Northwest Medicine Teachings, Stories, and Epics with Johnny Moses, Nuu-chah-nulth and Coast Salish (University of Nebraska Press). Fields published with National Heritage Fellow Pauline Hillaire (Lummi Coast Salish, 1929-2016) Rights Remembered: A Salish Grandmother Speaks on American Indian History and the Future(2016) with the media companion “A Century of Coast Salish History” and A Totem Pole History: The Work of Lummi Carver Joe Hillaire with the media companion “Coast Salish Totem Poles”(2013), all with the University of Nebraska Press.
Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Jessica Harris is an Associate Professor of Historical Studies at SIUE. Her research interests include African American urban history, African American social movements, and African American women’s history. She has taught courses such as U.S. History and Constitution: 1877 to Present, History of Black America, and Love, Labor, Liberation: Black Women in the 20th Century.
Associate Dean of Library and Information Services
Lydia Jackson is Associate Dean of Library and Information Services and Assistant to the Provost for Library and Community Engagement.
Director of the STEM Center
Sharon Locke is Associate Professor and Director of the STEM Center. From 2006 to 2008 she was a program director and cluster coordinator in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings at the National Science Foundation. Her NSF program responsibilities included Academies for Young Scientists, Advanced Technological Education, Discovery Research K-12, Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers, Innovation through Institutional Integration, and International Polar Year. Locke has been Principal Investigator for programs to support increased participation of students with disabilities in science, including Earth System Science Works (NSF) and Access Earth (NASA), both based at the University of Southern Maine. She has served as a proposal reviewer for several government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Labor, NASA, NSF, and the South African National Research Foundation.
Professor of History
Jeff Manuel is a Professor in the Department of History. His research focuses on histories of energy, technology, and the environment. Manuel is active in public and oral history, and he is a co-editor of Madison Historical: The Online Encyclopedia and Digital Archive for Madison County, Illinois.
Interim Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Vance McCracken is Interim Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences.
Associate Professor of Mass Communications
Mark Poepsel, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in Mass Communications and primarily studies entrepreneurial and engagement journalism, also known as participatory journalism. He developed an entrepreneurial media course at SIUE and has published textbook chapters on developing entrepreneurial pitches as well as an introductory text on the role of the individual in digital culture. His interest in the Digital Humanities stems from a concern for the preservation of shared truth in the form of a collective consciousness in the Information Age. At a time when information consumers face a constant barrage of misinformation and half truths, it is essential that we establish an historical record of knowledge supported by fact. The Digital Humanities in practice can bridge the gap between historical methods and contemporary efforts to create, nourish and serve the digital public record. This, in turn, can help re-establish a shared culture and shared understanding of local, regional, national and global institutions. This explains why the IRIS Center and its work are so important.
Distinguished Research Professor of English Language and Literature
Howard Rambsy is a professor of literature at SIUE, where he teaches courses on African American literature and comic books. He co-produced The African American Poetry Tracker, and he is the author of Bad Men: Creative Touchstones of Black Writers, among other works.
Professor of Theater
Johanna Schmitz is professor of Theater History in the the Department of Theater and Dance, and leads SIUE’s London Theatre Summer Study Abroad program. Her research interests focus on architectural reconstruction and cultural monumentalism in Shakespeare Studies. She is archivist for the Rose Theatre (1587-c.1605, re-discovered in 1989) in London.
Connie Frey Spurlock
Interim Director, SIU Office of Community Engagement
Dr. Connie Frey Spurlock is a sociologist committed to dismantling hierarchies of oppression and building in their place flourishing relationships. She does this work by centering community-identified goals with meaningful learning experiences for students. Frey Spurlock is interim director for the SIU System Office of Community Engagement (OCE) and founding director of the SIUE Successful Communities Collaborative, a cross-disciplinary program based on the EPIC-N model, an award-winning university-community partnership program that works to advance the needs of communities while training the next generation workforce and leadership. She is also a NCCJ St. Louis Certified Diversity FaciliTrainer and member of the SIUE Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Center. She has been at SIUE since 2004 and is a professor of sociology. Her research and teaching interests center on sustainability, research methods, and community engagement.
Professor of Anthropology
Cory Willmott’s research focuses on museum and visual anthropology with geographical specializations in China and Anishnaabe Great Lakes nations (AKA Ojibwe or Chippewa, and other members of the Three Fires Confederacy, such as the Ottawa aka Odawa, and the Potawatomi). She is a founding, core and former Board member of the Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Culture (GRASAC), a distributed research consortium of over 400 aboriginal community members, academic researchers and museum professionals that has produced a database of Great Lakes heritage items and languages. Current digital scholarship projects include “First People’s Style Map,” an interactive map of fashion heritage items in museum collections that will delineate the regional intertribal distribution of various forms of regalia across North America. Omeka projects in development are “SIUE Museum Exhibits,” a showcase for the holdings of the SIUE University Museum, and “China Middle Kingdom,” a virtual space for digital scholarship focused on Chinese history and culture in collaboration with the Canadian Writers Research Collaboratory (CWRC: https://cwrc.ca/).
External Advisory Board
Jen Cline is an Associate Professor of Sociology and the honors college coordinator at Lewis and Clark Community College.
Robbie Hart is the Assistant Curator of High Elevation Ecology and Ethnobotany at the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Katherine Knowles is a PhD student at Michigan State University and a former Project Manager for the IRIS Center.
Kristen Lillvis is Mary Alice Muellerleile ’60 Endowed Chair in English at St. Catherine University
Matt Meacham is a program manager for Illinois Humanities.
Lauren Mudge is an English teacher and Instructional Technology Coach at Edwardsville High School.
Ben Ostermeier is Digital Services Production & Development Specialist for Human Relations Area Files and a former technician for the IRIS Center.
Ellie Scott is Director of Systems and Strategy at TechSTL.