San Diego State University College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Meet nine new faculty members joining PSFA

New faculty join six Schools bringing diverse experience and research focuses

September 26, 2018

By Angelena Lufrano

This Fall, the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts welcomes nine new faculty members to the School of Communication, the School of Music and Dance, the School of Public Affairs, the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, the School of Art + Design, and the School of Theatre, Television, and Film. Each new member contributes a diverse background and set of skills that enhance each School’s overall mission.

Colter Ray - School of Communication

Colter Ray earned his doctorate at Arizona State University in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. He is a member of the National Communication Association, the International Association for Relationship Research, and the Western States Communication Association.

His research focuses on social support following a cancer diagnosis and aims to improve communication between cancer patients and their supporters. Specifically, he focuses on the “dark side” of supportive interactions including instances of unwanted support, or times when supporters engage in social avoidance instead of communicative support. His recent research includes investigating psychological anxiety and psychological stress related to communicating support, as well as reasons why people may choose to not support those they know with cancer.

“Dr. Ray’s research on supportive communication for people with cancer pushes boundaries by challenging common misperceptions about support in the context of serious health issues,” said Dr. Heather Canary, director of the School of Communication. “His research conducted in the new Human Communication Laboratory within the School of Communication is theoretically-based, inter-disciplinary, and of fundamental importance to a variety of patient and provider groups.”

Tiffany Ann Dykstra-DeVette - School of Communication

Before joining San Diego State University, Dykstra-DeVette was an Assistant Professor of Communication at West Virginia University. She is passionate about researching and teaching organizational communication and critical/cultural theory. She uses qualitative and rhetorical field methods to examine non-profit and humanitarian organizational practices, tensions and paradoxes, and digital media discourses.

Some of her current research focuses on addressing communicative processes of dissolution in a local non-profit, critical activist discourses in response to anti-refugee sentiment in Appalachia, and the structuration of sexual harassment in higher education.

“Dr. Dykstra-DeVette uses her research and teaching to address pressing issues of immigrant and refugee communities,” said Dr. Canary, director of the School of Communication. “Her approach as an organizational communication scholar focuses on communication structures and processes that influence experiences of empowerment, community, and possibilities.”

“I am so pleased to welcome Drs. Tiffany Dykstra-Devette and Colter Ray to the School of Communication,” said Canary. “These assistant professors are true rising stars in the communication discipline.”

Karen Koner - School of Music and Dance

Karen Koner is a specialist in instrumental music education, teaching undergraduate courses focusing on K-12 teaching strategies, rehearsal techniques, lesson planning, and curriculum. She holds a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction in Music Education from the University of Maryland and additional degrees from the University of Arizona.

Dr. Koner’s research focuses on topics related to music teacher education, particularly in current practices, trends, and needs of K-12 music teachers. She presents her research and work locally and internationally through conferences like the International Society for Music Education and The Society for Music Teacher Educators.

“Dr. Koner’s research interests encompass topics related to music teacher education, with a particular interest in current practices, trends, and needs of K-12 music educators,” said Scott Lipscomb, director of the School of Music and Dance. “She has published work in refereed music education journals on topics such as music teacher demographics, burnout, and professional development needs of the K-12 music educator. She brings with her a constructivist approach to teaching and learning, where students work on constructing their knowledge through ‘hands on’ experiences, such as field work in the K-12 surrounding schools and completing undergraduate research projects.”

Michael Gerdes - School of Music and Dance

Michael Gerdes has been the Director of Orchestras at San Diego State University since 2013, where he is responsible for conducting the SDSU Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Opera Orchestra, Musical Theater Ensemble, and Combined Choral and Orchestral Ensembles. In 2014, he was selected by the San Diego Union Tribune as one of three “Faces to Watch” in Classical Music.

San Diego Story reviewed his performances with the SDSU Symphony, calling them “highly sensitive and thoughtfully layered,” and his conducting “refined, dynamically nuanced” and “restrained but unmistakably lucid.” At SDSU, he is committed to creating a thriving orchestral community.

Anna Kim - School of Public Affairs

Anna Kim, born and raised in Los Angeles and a proud product of the L.A. public school system, continues to work primarily with public schools today. Before coming to San Diego State University, Kim worked as an assistant professor of Housing and Community Development at the Georgia Institute of Technology School of City and Regional Planning. She received her BA in Gender and Feminist Studies from Claremont McKenna College, her MA in Ethnic Studies from UC San Diego, and her doctorate in Urban Planning from UC Los Angeles. Her research focuses on immigrant participation in the informal economy and ethnic labor markets, as well as community economic development and health outcomes related to the man-made environment.

“Anna is a creative and refreshing scholar who focuses on immigrant and refugee integration in U.S. cities and in planning processes and decision-making,” said Dr. Sherry Ryan, director of the School of Public Affairs. “She adds a wonderful complement to our faculty and we look forward to her continuing productivity here at SDSU.”

Sandra Ponting - L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management

Sandra Ponting has more than 15 years of experience in a variety of sectors including hospitality and tourism industry research, government planning and policies, and higher education. She specializes in research which examines emotional labor, industry professionalization, organizational identity change, and professional identity construction, all within the context of hospitality and tourism workforce development. She earned her BA in Tourism Management, and doctorate in Leisure and Tourism Studies from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia.

Ponting lectured internationally in Australia and the Fiji Islands on subjects such as sustainable tourism and strategic management in tourism. In 2012, Sandra brought her skills to San Diego State University as a lecturer for sustainable tourism and introductory hospitality and tourism courses. By 2015, Sandra was appointed Assessment Coordinator of the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, where she continues to work to refresh the School’s mission and recreate program learning goals and degree learning outcomes.

“Sandra is a dream fit for the Payne School,” said Carl Winston, director of the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. “Her rigorous scholarly work directly supports both our research agenda and our curriculum. I am especially intrigued by her work in professional identity in the field of meeting and event professionals. I predict she will be producing seminal work in this emerging area of academic study. Further, as a past lecturer in our school, we see student evaluations that tell us she is an excellent teacher with very high standards. Her commitment to excellence and collaboration suggest a long and productive career at SDSU.”

Junichi Satoh - School of Art + Design

Junichi Satoh is an interdisciplinary maker of all things focused on placemaking. He has been in training as an artist, designer, architect, teacher, chef, and a farmer, among other things, in order to find better ways for humans to live.

Satoh taught internationally in China, Japan, and Italy, as well as nationally in New York and Georgia before bringing his talents to San Diego. He also guest lectured at prestigious universities such as Harvard and Columbia.

“Junichi Satoh is not your typical designer,” said Kotaro Nakamura, director of the School of Art and Design. “His vast and diverse experience which ranges from graphic to architectural design sets him apart and makes him a valuable addition to our School. Junichi is known for his strong collaborative process and his willingness to cross boundaries between programs and schools. He is a perfect addition to the School of Art + Design where a new generation of students seeks to explore different subjects simultaneously.”

Jesca Prudencio - School of Theatre, Television and Film

Jesca Prudencio is a director, choreographer, and community-based artist focused on creating highly physical plays and documentary theater, nationally and internationally. She works to develop theatrical works that humanize issues and explore tensions between cultures. As the former Education Director and current Associate Artist/Lead Trainer for Ping Chong + Company, Prudencio has experience as a writer, director and associate on numerous interdisciplinary and documentary theater projects across the country.

Before coming to SDSU, Prudencio taught at UC San Diego, in New York, as well as in Thailand and the Philippines. Some of her recent productions include Vietgone (San Diego Repertory Theatre), FAN: stories from the brothels of Bangkok (Thailand), and A&Q: the war on drugs (Philippines). Prudencio is the inaugural recipient of The Julie Taymor World Theater Fellowship and Artistic Director of People of Interest.

“Professor Prudencio has taught at institutions in the USA and around Asia,” said Dr. ‘Niyi Coker, director of the School of Theatre, Television and Film. “Her directorial work draws on her wealth of these international experiences.” Learn more about her at

Brian Hu - School of Theatre, Television and Film

Brian Hu received his BA in Film Studies and Economics from UC Berkeley, his MA in Film, Television and Digital Media from UCLA, and his doctorate in Film, Television and Digital Media with a concentration in Asian American Studies from UCLA. His research interests include Chinese-language cinemas, Asian American media, and stardom and global film cultures. His book Worldly Desires: Cosmopolitanism and Cinema in Hong Kong and Taiwan is forthcoming from Edinburgh University Press.

“Dr. Brian Hu is renowned as a Film festival curator,” said Dr. Coker, director of the School of Theatre, Television and Film. “He is currently the artistic director of the Pacific Arts Movement which produces the popular San Diego Asian Film Festival.”

In his role as artistic director, Hu researches Asian and Asian-American cinema and attends film festivals around the world in order to bring the best films to “inspire meaningful and progressive conversation here in San Diego,” he said in a 2016 interview with the San Diego Union Tribune.

“We are quite fortunate to have these two dynamic and gifted artists and academics join the TTF family here at SDSU,” said Coker. “Both are creating global footprints in the areas of theatre and cinema. Both professors are clearly transformative individuals who will undoubtedly become role models that mentor and inspire SDSU students. We are indeed thrilled to have them as teachers, artists, and colleagues in the School of Theatre, Television, and Film.”

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

More PSFA Stories