Students of Carolina’s newest faculty will learn about the interaction of law and identity in public education, corporate tax policy, women’s health and birth outcomes, autism spectrum disorder and much more. Plus, they’ll find out how they might help others with their new knowledge.
That expertise and teaching come from some of the dozens of faculty members who began work this summer at Carolina’s academic and health affairs schools.
Here’s a look at six of them.
Osamudia James joined the UNC School of Law as a professor.
She comes to Carolina from the University of Miami School of Law, where she was professor of law, Dean’s Distinguished Scholar and associate dean for diversity, equity and community.
James’ academic interests include how race influences the distribution of public education in America. “That interest produces scholarship, service and teaching that focuses not just on equality in education, but on equality in American society more broadly,” she said.
Examining the American school system as a reflection of the country’s spoken and unspoken values, James said, “helps me tell the story of who we are as a society and what our hopes and ambitions are as a country. My work can feel personal because I parent two children in the school system; my desire to see a better education system for them, and for other young people, keeps me motivated.”
James’ work has appeared in many leading law journals, including Michigan Law Review, and she contributes regularly to The New York Times, The Washington Post and Ms. Magazine. She was a 2014 co-recipient of the Derrick A. Bell Jr. Award from the Association of American Law Schools.
James received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a juris doctorate from the Georgetown University Law Center and a master of laws degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she served as a William H. Hastie Fellow. Previously, she was an associate with King & Spalding in Washington, D.C.
John Gallemore, a triple Tar Heel, has returned to the Kenan-Flagler Business School as an associate professor.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree in business administration at Kenan-Flagler, Gallemore earned a doctorate in accounting from Carolina. He taught at the University of Chicago from July 2014 until his return to UNC Kenan-Flagler this semester. His research explores how corporate tax policy and enforcement shape the economic and financial reporting behavior of businesses. “The goal of my research is to provide policymakers, such as politicians and tax authorities, with insight into how their policies impact firms, their stakeholders and broader society,” Gallemore said.
Gallemore’s recently published papers include findings that IRS tax enforcement can encourage greater bank lending to small businesses by improving the accuracy and trustworthiness of information in corporate tax returns. He’s also shown that managers’ expectations over future tax policy materially affect their investment decisions. “In particular, firms reduce their capital investment if they believe that tax policy might change in the near future,” he said.
“I love learning, and academic work means that I get to learn every day,” Gallemore said. “I enjoy working on topics that bridge corporate taxation with other branches of accounting and economics — this type of research allows me to broaden my knowledge.”
Coming to Kenan-Flagler is a return home for Gallemore. “I grew up in North Carolina. I love the school and the people here, and I am excited to help educate the next generation of Tar Heels.”
Karen Sheffield-Abdullah is an assistant professor in the UNC School of Nursing.
Before joining the faculty, she spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow in the UNC School of Medicine’s physical medicine and rehabilitation department. “My research focuses on developing strategies to reduce the long-term health effects of psychological trauma, anxiety and depression on women’s health and birth outcomes,” she said. Her interests include the bio-psycho-social benefits of self-compassion, mindfulness and other mind-body therapies as additions to conventional treatments.
She’s mentored undergraduate and graduate students within and outside Carolina Nursing for the past 10 years and instructed Carolina students as a predoctoral fellow and postdoctoral fellow.
“My approach to clinical teaching is to guide learners to think critically and analytically across three learning domains: cognitive, affective and psychomotor,” Sheffield-Abdullah said. “I use novel and engaging technology as a core teaching method to increase rigor, relevance and relationship building. To promote inclusivity, I encourage all voices and perspectives to be shared, heard and valued in class.”
One main reason Sheffield-Abdullah joined the faculty is the opportunity to work with multidisciplinary teams to reduce disparities in stress-related adverse outcomes for Black women. “The research possibilities to improve quality of life, well-being and health outcomes for Black women are endless in an institution such as Carolina. I am excited to be a part of it,” she said.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in physics from Connecticut College, Sheffield-Abdullah received a master’s degree in nurse-midwifery at Yale University and a doctorate in nursing at Carolina. She is a registered nurse and certified nurse-midwife.
Jessica J. Walsh joined the UNC School of Medicine’s pharmacology department as an assistant professor.
Walsh and her laboratory team mimic genetic mutations associated with autism spectrum disorder to identify which brain regions, circuits and cell types underlie symptoms in individuals diagnosed with ASD, such as impaired social interactions, communication or repetitive behavior.
“The overall goal and hope of my lab is to use our basic findings to aid in the development of more targeted and efficacious therapies tailored to treat specific behavioral impairments,” Walsh said. “One way to achieve this is to bridge the gap between basic science researchers and the clinical worlds by forging more collaborations and encouraging forums that bring together various perspectives.”
Walsh said that Carolina’s pharmacology department is the ideal setting for pursuing her research. She cited the department’s exceptional faculty, collaborative environment and “stellar” students. “Additionally, the UNC Neuroscience Center provides a framework where members of the neuroscience community, dispersed throughout departments and schools, can interact and share ideas. This integrative center is attractive because it fosters opportunities for my lab to grow intellectually and technically from the swath of expertise of its members.”
Walsh, who strives to be a supportive mentor, views scientific education as a creative process grounded in novel experimental design and execution. “I encourage students to not accept knowledge blindly, but to think critically and be inquisitive about what they study.”
Walsh has a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Columbia University. She earned a master’s degree in biomedical sciences and a doctorate in neuroscience from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Before joining the faculty at UNC, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University.
John Wiesman directs the executive doctoral program in health leadership in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.
Wiesman is also professor of the practice in the health policy and management department. He comes to Carolina after serving as the state of Washington’s secretary of health from 2013 until 2021. He led an 1,800-person agency and oversaw a $1.1 billion budget, while proposing, advocating for and implementing public health policy. During that time, he was an adjunct instructor for Gillings.
Wiesman said that he hopes to combine his experience with his students’ passions for social and systemic changes that improve health and equity. “My teaching interest is to grab students with what happens in the real world so that the textbooks and coursework come alive,” he said. “How do you actually get a policy passed by the legislature? How do you implement anti-racism efforts in an organization you lead? What really happens when you are meeting with your governor as you determine if you should close essential businesses to stop COVID?”
After securing a bachelor’s degree from Lawrence University, Wiesman earned a master’s degree in public health from Yale University. He then received a doctorate from UNC Gillings.
Wiesman said that he hopes to mirror the same faculty engagement and co-learning environment that inspired him while he was a student here.
Teshanee Williams joined the UNC School of Government as a new assistant professor.
Before her faculty appointment, Williams was a research fellow at the school for two years. Her research focuses on inquiries related to partnerships between nonprofits and the public sector, as well as public participation in decision-making processes. “My goal is to produce research that is informed by the real world while also helping to inform the real world,” Williams said.
In addition to advising nonprofit organizations, local government officials and collaborative partnerships, Williams will teach courses in nonprofit management, research methods and program evaluation, and she will research nonprofit-local government relations and social equity issues.
After her undergraduate days, she took a break from academics to raise a family and find her true vocation. She volunteered as a research assistant at NC State to explore the idea of becoming a mental health counselor, then realized that she wanted to research ways to solve systemic problems.
“I wanted to focus on research that identifies solutions to systemic issues that affect individual people in their daily lives. Academic work allows me to creatively identify solutions to issues affecting marginalized populations and help improve communities.”
Williams is particularly interested in research on nonprofits because they exist to meet all types of social service needs. “These organizations play a major role in doing ‘the work, for the people,’” she said.
Williams’ experiences at the school helped seal her decision to join the faculty. “I enjoy doing research that helps to inform and create impact. The school is unique in its approach to engaging in academic research. I was extremely intrigued by the balance between engaged scholarship and peer-reviewed research.”
As a research fellow, she saw that people in the school demonstrate a public service mindset in everything they do. “I witnessed this level of commitment, both in person and virtually,” she said. “As public administrators, we do the work that we do to improve our communities while also improving the field of public administration.”
Williams earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from NC State University.