Gabriel Ayoola

Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies

Gabriel Ayoola joins the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS) faculty as Professor of Afroamerican & African Studies this fall.

He received his PhD in Comparative Literature and Intercultural Studies from the University of Georgia and his Masters in African Languages and Literature from the University of Wisconsin. His teaching career started in 2009, and he currently has two book projects in progress: “Meandered-Hero: A Novel of Resilience and Fortitude” (An English Translation of D.O Fagunwa’s Ìrèké- oníbùdó) and “Ajé, The Yorùbá goddess of Wealth, Commerce and Prosperity.”

He has also published chapters in various books, and encyclopedia entries published in the Encyclopedia of the Yoruba and a review essay published in the Yoruba Studies Review. 

This fall, Dr. Ayoola is teaching two courses — Elementary African Languages I (AAS 125) and Intermediate African Languages I (AAS 225).  BIO

Justine Davis

LSA Collegiate Postdoctoral Fellow 

Justine Davis joins DAAS this fall as an LSA collegiate postdoctoral fellow. She received her PhD in Political Science at the University of California - Berkeley, and a dual-language Master’s degree at the American University of Paris in international relations, conflict resolution and civil society development. She also did her Fulbright in the Côte d'Ivoire, where she worked with the ministry of education. 

Her research centers around challenges to democratization in Sub-Saharan Africa. This semester, she is working on publications to submit for publication in journals and launched two projects, one of which is about COVID and securitization in Guinea. BIO

Brian Klein

Assistant Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies , American Culture, and Program in the Environment

Brian Klein, assistant professor of Afroamerican and African Studies, American Culture, and Program in the Environment, joins DAAS faculty this fall.

He received his PhD from the University of California - Berkeley from the Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management. He also has worked at the Woodrow Wilson Center, the World Bank and the Peace Corps headquarters in Washington D.C.. Prior to joining DAAS, he enlisted with the Peace Corps and lived in Madagascar as an environment volunteer. 

His research centers around political ecology and researching governance in Madagascar’s resource sectors with plans to extend to other African countries. This semester, he’s teaching a First-Year seminar in reconsidering African environments. BIO

Scott Poulson-Bryant

Assistant Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies

Scott Poulson-Bryant is a cultural historian and critic with areas of specialization in African American popular culture and Performance Studies. His teaching and research focuses on Hollywood film, black popular music, 20th and 21st century U.S. drama, genre fiction, gender and sexuality studies, and creative nonfiction writing.

He received his B.A. in American Civilization from Brown University and completed his M.A in English and Ph.D. in American Studies from Harvard, where he also taught in the Program in History and Literature and received numerous certificates of distinction in teaching. BIO

SaraEllen Strongman

Assistant Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies

SaraEllen Strongman joins the DAAS faculty as an Assistant Professor after having spent two years as an LSA Collegiate Postdoctoral Fellow. She received her Ph.D. in Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 2018.

She is an interdisciplinary scholar working at the intersection of Black Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies. She researches and writes about Black feminisms, Black women's political and cultural history, and African American literature. Her current project “The Sisterhood: Black Women, Black Feminism, and the Women’s Liberation Movement” traces the development of U.S. Black feminism in the 1970s and 1980s. BIO

Jessica Walker

Assistant Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies and American Culture

Jessica Walker joins DAAS faculty as an Assistant Professor, teaching two seminars — a first-year and a senior seminar — on African American food waste and food belonging. 

She graduated in 2016 from the University of Maryland’s American studies department, where she also earned a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies. Her research interests lie primarily in African American material culture with a focus on food as a lens to study culture, region and identity. She is also currently working on a book project on the cultural history of soul food. BIO