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Meet the Faculty & Staff

Andrew Seidler is director of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships. Under his leadership, UT has emerged as one of the nation’s top-producing Fulbright institutions and has had back-to-back Rhodes Scholars, its first Gates Cambridge and Mitchell Scholars, its first Marshall Scholar in 35 years, and, in 2020, a Goldwater national record five scholars. He received the Chancellor’s Ready for the World Citation and has nearly a decade of experience facilitating undergraduate research experiences. Andrew has a bachelor’s degree in history from Colby College and a master’s degree in education and social policy from Northwestern. Prior to UT, Andrew worked as an editor and newspaper reporter; his newswriting was recognized by the Illinois AP Editors Association and the Illinois Press Association.

Dr. Janna Caspersen is URF’s assistant director for undergraduate research and an experienced mixed-methods researcher with a history of working in academic and government research and development. Janna earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Geography at UT, where she was also recognized for her teaching with the Chancellor’s Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award. While pursuing her doctorate degree, Janna worked at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) performing population research and subsequently took a post-doc position with the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Janna’s research and teaching interests include cultural and digital geographies, focusing on narrative dissemination, public memory, social justice, and critical theory.

Dr. Erin Darby is the inaugural faculty director for Undergraduate Research & Fellowships and an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies. Erin is also co-director of the ‘Ayn Gharandal Archaeological Project in southern Jordan, where she has mentored numerous UT undergraduate researchers over the past decade. In 2020, she received the Chancellor’s Award for Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year. Erin has been the recipient of several fellowships supporting her research at the American Center of Oriental Research in Amman, Jordan; the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute, in Nicosia, Cyprus; and at the Damascus and Aleppo Museums in Syria. She has also received a State Department Educational and Cultural Affairs Research Fellowship and an NEH Fellowship for her work at the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem.

Dr. Laura De Furio is URF’s assistant director for fellowships and is on the advisory committee for UT’s Marco Institute. Her research and teaching interests include early modern British women’s writing, archival theory, manuscript culture, and politics. Laura’s book project, Femme Covert: Ciphered Politics in Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1640-1680, offers a literary history of women’s secret politicking recovered from neglected archival materials. Her work has been supported by grants from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. Laura formerly taught in the English Department at the University of Alabama and started her career as a high school teacher in the School District of Philadelphia as a Philadelphia Teaching Fellow.

RK Fauth is URF’s fellowships writing specialist. A Fulbright alumna (South Korea 2016-2017), RK has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Pace University in New York City and earned her master’s degree in English from Georgetown University. RK’s primary research interests include contemporary poetry, creative nonfiction and “witness” literature, and writing about the COVID-19 pandemic. Her creative thesis, The UNPRECEDENTED Project, is a public poetry experiment that circulates torn pages of a 14th c. black plague book through the mail. RK’s writing has been published in POETRY Magazine, Revolution Relaunch, and The Nature of Isolation. She also has essays and poetry forthcoming in an LGBTQ+ anthology, OUT Now: Queer in the New Century.

Julianna Tullos is URF’s program coordinator for undergraduate research and has three years of experience facilitating opportunities for UT undergraduates to pursue and present their research—from the campus to state, national, and international levels. Julianna is also a certified and active SafeZone Trainer at UT and member of the university’s Be Well Committee. Prior to working in Undergraduate Research & Fellowships, Julianna was office manager at WUTK 90.3 FM and earned her bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology.

Sandra Wairimu is URF’s graduate assistant for undergraduate research and a first-year MPH student. As an undergraduate at UT (food science), Sandra was a research assistant on the USDA-funded GetFruved! project, volunteered with a nutrition education outreach program (N.E.A.T.), and served as a ME4UT student ambassador. Sandra moved to the United States from Kenya as a high school sophomore and received her associate’s degree from Pellissippi State, where she worked as an orientation leader and admissions ambassador.