Meet Our New Faculty

Meet Our New Faculty

The Women’s Studies Department warmly welcomes their new faculty:

Alicia C. Decker, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies

Alicia C. Decker held a joint appointment in the Department of History and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Purdue University. She received her Ph.D. in Women’s Studies from Emory University in 2007. She also has a master’s degree in Gender Studies from Makerere University in Uganda and a BA in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota. Her research and teaching interests include gender and militarism, African women’s history, sustainable development, and global feminisms. She is the author of In Idi Amin’s Shadow: Women, Gender, and Militarism in Uganda (Ohio University Press, forthcoming 2014), and co-author with Andrea Arrington of Africanizing Democracies: 1980 to the Present (Oxford University Press, 2014). Her scholarly articles have appeared in the International Journal of African Historical Studies, Women’s History Review, Journal of Eastern African Studies, History Teacher, and Afriche e Orienti, as well as various edited book collections. She has been invited to present her research at the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia), the University of Zadar (Croatia), the Bellagio Center (Italy), the University of Bologna (Italy), the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa), Makerere University (Uganda), and the University of Roskilde (Denmark), as well as numerous universities and conferences throughout the United States.

Decker is currently working on a new book titled Public Secrets: A Gendered History of Enforced Disappearance in Post-Colonial Africa. Using transcripts from various truth commissions and commissions of inquiry from across the continent, as well as other types of archival and ethnographic data, this project explores the ways in which gender influences patterns and experiences of forcible abduction by the state. Decker is particularly interested in looking at disappearance, and other forms of political violence, as gendered scripts that are enacted by the state in order to maintain a certain performance of power. She is also curious about the ways in which various communities “read” these scripts, and how they engage with such knowledge, across space and time. Her study involves comparative research in multiple African countries, including South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, and Algeria.

She will be starting with the Women’s Studies Department at Penn State in the fall of 2014.



Michelle McGowan, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Bioethics

Michelle L. McGowan will be joining us at Penn State in Spring 2015. She currently is an Assistant Professor of Bioethics and a member of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program Faculty at Case Western Reserve University. She received her B.A. in Sociology from Boston College, and a Ph.D. in Women Studies from the University of Washington. Dr. McGowan completed a predoctoral fellowship in ethical, legal, and social aspects of human genetics and biotechnology at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Science, Technology and Society in Graz, Austria, and postdoctoral training in bioethics at the Center for Genetic Research Ethics and Law at Case Western Reserve University. She currently serves as an associate editor for the journal Human Reproduction.

Dr. McGowan’s research is focused on the social and ethical implications of reproductive and genetic technologies in the United States. She is particularly interested in the motivations of users of reproductive and genetic technologies and how they conceptualize the risks and benefits of their use. She is also interested in how the perspectives of users of novel technologies can contribute to bioethical discourse and the development of social policy. Her recent scholarship has focused specifically on participation in egg donation, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, fertility preservation, carrier screening, and direct-to-consumer and clinical genomic testing. Dr. McGowan teaches courses on reproductive ethics, ethical aspects of genetics and genomics, international women’s health issues, qualitative research methodologies and critical readings in bioethics.

“My interest in the academic field of Women’s and Gender Studies began when I enrolled in an Introduction to Feminisms course as an undergraduate at Boston College. I was hooked after just one class! This course, coupled with my volunteer work with a homeless shelter for women and my strong interest in the politics of reproductive health, put me on a path to major in Sociology and minor in Women’s Studies at Boston College. I was so taken with the field that I subsequently pursued a PhD in Women’s Studies at University of Washington, and my research today engages feminist epistemologies, methodologies and topics pertaining to women’s engagement with biomedicine. Women’s and Gender Studies has had a transformative impact on my personal and professional life.”

She will be starting with the Women’s Studies Department at Penn State in the spring of 2015.


AnneMarie Mingo, Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Women’s Studies

AnneMarie MingoAnneMarie Mingo is currently a Post Doctoral Scholar in African American Studies Department at Penn State. She received her BS in Business Administration from Florida A&M University; MBA from Rollins College; M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary; and Ph.D. in Ethics and Society at Emory University.  Her dissertation was entitled “Black Churchwomen’s Lived Theology and Liberative Social Ethics during the Civil Rights Movement,” in which she constructed a theology and ethic from oral histories gathered from Black religious women who were active in the Movement. Her research interests include 20th Century Black Freedom Struggles with a specific focus on the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and South African Apartheid Movement, socio-religious activism of Black women, and theological and ethical influences in social movements. She also writes in areas of Black Church activism, peace and reconciliation, and the influence of Black music and media on social activism.

She will be starting her new position in the African American and Women’s Studies Departments in the fall of 2014.



Courtney Morris, Assistant Professor African American Studies and Women’s Studies

Courtney Morris is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Rice University. She completed her doctorate in the African Diaspora Graduate Program in Social Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin in May 2012. Morris also holds a certificate in gender studies and has an extensive background in community based research and activism. Her research has focused on Afro-Nicaraguan women’s activism in post-Sandinista Nicaragua. Morris has done extensive ethnographic field research on both the Atlantic and Pacific regions of the country and her analysis will offer new insights into the racialized dynamics of feminist politics in contemporary Latin America. Morris’ theoretical contribution, drawing from black feminist traditions and current debates in critical race theory, offers new insights to women’s and gender studies, and places several of these conversations in transnational perspective.

She will be starting her new position in the African American and Women’s Studies Departments in the fall of 2014.