Women and Gender Studies

Varner Hall, Room 217
371 Varner Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4485
(location map)
(248) 370-2154


The Women and Gender Studies Program attracts faculty from a variety of departments across Oakland University.  In your classes, you will encounter professors who share a commitment to teach interdisciplinary courses rich in diversity and who enjoy empowering Oakland students to think in new and exciting ways.
Headshot of Valerie Palmer-Mehta

Valerie Palmer-Mehta, Ph.D. - Interim Director

Dr. Valerie Palmer-Mehta is Professor of Communication and Interim Director of Women and Gender Studies. Her research investigates the discursive strategies women employ to influence and transform public culture, intellectual traditions, and every day practices. Her research has been published in a variety of journals such as Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, International Journal of Communication, Text and Performance Quarterly, Communication, Culture and Critique, Women's Studies in Communication, and QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking. This academic year, she is teaching Gender Communication and the WGS capstone course.

Ami Harbin, Ph.D., Assistant Director

Ami is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Women and Gender Studies. She also is the Assistant Director of the Women and Gender Studies program. Her research interests are in the areas of feminist philosophy, health care ethics, and moral psychology. Her current projects focus on disorientation and ethics, and bioethical questions surrounding queer sexualities, mental health, and palliative care. Read more.
Phone:  (248) 370-3301

Kathy Patterson-Hawes, M.A.

Kathy holds a Master's Degree in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Women's Studies from Eastern Michigan University. She also earned a Bachelor's degree in General Studies with a concentration in Women's Studies at Oakland University. She teaches Introduction to Women and Gender Studies and  Global Women, Global Issues.

Email:  patters2@oakland.edu

Lacey Story, M.A.

Lacey earned her Master's Degree in Women and Gender Studies from Eastern Michigan University. She earned her Bachelor's Degree with a major in Sociology and a minor in Women's Studies from Oakland University. She teaches Introduction to Women and Gender Studies and Introduction to LGBT Studies. She also oversees the internships for WGS. For more information, contact Lacey at story@oakland.edu.
 Lynn Bernardi

(248) 370-2154

WGS Executive Committee Members

Affiliated Faculty Members
Headshot of Fabia Battistuzzi

Dr. Fabia Battistuzzi is Assistant Professor of Biology. Her research focuses on understanding when and how species have evolved and investigate the connections between their genetic innovations and variations in environmental conditions. Among all species, microbes span the largest duration of Earth history and are extremely metabolically and ecologically diverse. These characteristics make them a powerful resource to investigate evolutionary mechanisms over long (billions of years) and short (millions of years) timescales while tracing the origin of important ecological innovations such as pathogenicity and the origin of infectious diseases. She regularly teaches courses on genetics, evolutionary biology, and principles of evolutionary medicine. Learn more:
https://oakland.edu/biology/top-links/directory/battistuzzi https://oakland.edu/biology/news/2016/oakland-university-professor-examines-evolution-of-infectious-disease-with-nih-grant

Headshot of Amy DeBaets

Dr. Amy DeBaets is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, where she teaches in the medical humanities and clinical bioethics curriculum. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, where she taught clinical and research ethics to graduate and osteopathic medical students. Dr. DeBaets was a Faculty Scholar in the University of Chicago Program on Medicine and Religion from 2013-2015. Dr. DeBaets earned a Ph.D. at Emory University in religion with a focus on ethics and society, as well as a graduate certificate in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. She also holds M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary, an M.A. in Bioethics from Trinity International University, and B.A. and B.S. degrees from Truman State University. Dr. DeBaets teaches reproductive ethics as well as gender, sexuality, and health within OUWB School of Medicine. She also conducts research on ethics in obstetrics and reproductive health. Dr. DeBaets is a member of the advisory board of the Conference on Medicine and Religion. She is a member of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities, where she co-leads the Religion, Spirituality, and Bioethics Group. She is also a member of the American Academy of Religion, where she serves on the steering committee of the Transhumanism and Religion Group, and Societas Ethica: The European Society for Research in Ethics. Learn more:

 Headshot of Andrea Eis

Andrea Eis is Professor of English, and Director of the Cinema Studies Program. Her research and creative works focus on film production, film and the visual arts, avant-garde and experimental film, and photography. Her artworks have appeared in exhibitions all over the world, including solo exhibitions in Paris and Athens, and her film, Penelope’s Odyssey, was screened at film festivals in Toronto, Lake Worth, Venice and Rome. Learn more:

 Headshot of Rebekah Farrugia

Dr. Rebekah Farrugia is Associate Professor of Communication with a specialization in media studies. She teaches a range of communication courses focusing on the relationship between media and culture. Her scholarship explores the politics and intersections of gender, community, and place in contemporary music genres such as electronic dance music and hip hop. In 2012, Dr. Farrugia published Beyond the Dance Floor: Female DJs, Technology and Electronic Dance Music Culture. Her current research project is an ethnographic project about a women-centered, community-based hip hop movement in post-bankruptcy Detroit. She regularly teaches Media, Gender, and Sexuality, and in Fall 2017 will be teaching Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Popular Music. Learn more:

Headshot of Rebecca Mercado Jones

Dr. Rebecca Mercado Jones specializes in critical/cultural communication. Her research focuses on how economic, political, and geographical encroachments influence the way women narrate their life course. She uses ethnographic and life history interviewing research methods to understand how women speak about home, identity, and embodiment in a variety of cultural contexts. She teaches courses such as Multicultural Communication, Race and Communication, Introduction to Communication Studies, Performance Communication, Family Communication, and Cultural Theory. Dr. Mercado Jones completed her undergraduate education at Central Michigan University, where she was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. She obtained a master’s degree in Communication Theory and Research, a Women and Gender Studies Graduate Certificate, and a doctorate specializing in Rhetoric and Public Culture from Ohio University.  When she is not doing “school” work, she likes to travel and dance. Learn more:

Headshot of Angela Kaiser 

Dr. Angela Kaiser is Associate Professor of Social Work. Her research focuses on social capital in organizations and communities, grassroots organizing, capacity building in organizations and communities, and culture and civic participation. She has published articles on topics including experiences of low-income housing and homeownership and race, ethnicity, and relationship dynamics in faith-based organizations. She regularly teaches courses on social welfare policies, multicultural social work practice, and Intro to LGBTQ Studies. Learn more:

Headshot of Laura Landolt

Dr. Laura Landolt is Associate Professor of Political Science. Her research focuses on human rights, foreign policy, international relations, and the Middle East. She has published numerous articles on Middle East politics, gender and development, foreign aid, social movements, and NGOs/INGOs. She regularly teaches courses at the intersection of political science and feminism, including Gender and International Relations. Learn more:
https://oakland.edu/Assets/Oakland/polisci/files-and-documents/faculty-cv/Landolt_Web_CV.pdf https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Laura_Landolt

Headshot of Heidi Lyons

Dr. Heidi Lyons is Associate Professor of Sociology. Her research focuses on family, population, social demography, sex and gender, quantitative and qualitative methods, intimate dyad, and life courses. She has published articles on young adult casual sex behavior, identity, and peer relationships and adolescent girls’ sexual behavior. She regularly teaches courses in Human Sexuality, Population and Society, Sociology of the Family. Learn more:

Headshot of Erin Meyers

Dr. Erin Meyers is Associate Professor of Communication. As a researcher, she explores how the rise of digital or “new” media technologies, most notably the Internet, has shifted everyday engagements with media and, in turn, ruptured traditional understandings of interplay between media texts, the cultural institutions that create and distribute these texts, and the audiences who engage with them. In April 2013, Dr. Meyers published her first book, Dishing Dirt in the Digital Age: Celebrity Gossip Blogs and Participatory Culture. The book explores the rise of celebrity gossip blogs in the mid-2000s and their impact on celebrity media and culture. Examining six popular American gossip blogs--including Perez Hilton, Pink is the New Blog and Jezebel--at a peak moment of influence, the book explores how technological affordances of new media enable the merging of the social practice of gossip with the practice of reading, creating an evolving participatory and community-based media culture that continues to transform celebrity culture in the digital age. She teaches a range of communication courses focusing on the relationship between media and culture, including Media, Gender, and Sexuality. Learn more:

Headshot of Karen Miller

Dr. Karen Miller is Associate Professor of History. She is a specialist in modern American political history, broadly concerned with how public policy is formed at the national level. She is currently writing a history of Detroit during World War II; this study focuses on how the growing population of Detroit reacted to industrial and social policies implemented during the war.  She regularly teaches courses at the intersection of history and gender studies, including Women in Modern America. Learn more:

Headshot of Mark Navin

Dr. Mark Navin is Associate Professor of Philosophy. His research focuses on topics in social and political philosophy, ethics, and bioethics, including ethical questions surrounding vaccination and vaccine refusal, and ethical and political questions about food, gender, and international ethics. His book, Values and Vaccine Refusal: Hard Questions in Epistemology, Ethics and Health Care, was published in 2016. He regularly teaches courses in philosophy of law, global justice, ethics, and health care. Learn more:

Headshot of Valerie Palmer-Mehta

Dr. Valerie Palmer-Mehta is Professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at Oakland University. Her intellectual interests sit at the intersection of Rhetorical Studies and Gender/Sexuality Studies. Her current research investigates the discursive strategies women employ to influence and transform public culture, intellectual traditions, and everyday practices. She also analyzes the rhetorical construction of women's ways of knowing and being, as well as their methods of resistance, in the media. Her overarching goal is to identify and assess the creative methods by which women question entrenched orthodoxies and establish new paradigms and values--and the level of resistance they receive when doing so. She teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses including Introduction to Communication Studies; Rhetorical Theory; Persuasion; Rhetorical Criticism; Women, Power & Persuasion; Multicultural Communication; Field Experience in Communication, and Feminist Rhetorical Theory. She is the recipient of the OU Honors College Inspiration Award, the Elizabeth Youngjohn Teaching Award, and the Phyllis Law Googasian Award. She currently serves as the Communication Program Director, as a member of the Academic Conduct Committee, and the Women's Leadership Institute Advisory Board. She also sits on the editorial boards of Southern Communication Journal and Women's Studies in Communication. Learn more:

Purdie photo

Dr. Michele Parkhill Purdie is Associate Professor of Psychology at Oakland University. Her primary research interests concern the predictors and consequences of sexual assault perpetration and victimization, with a particular emphasis on childhood trauma, substance use, and emotion regulation. She has established a strong program of research that utilizes on both survey and experimental methodologies in examining predictors of past sexual aggression and the likelihood of engaging in sexual assault perpetration in the future.  She regularly teaches courses in social psychology, research methods, health psychology, and behavioral health. She is also the co-founder of the Violence and Abuse Resource Consortium at OU, which serves as a clearinghouse for university, local, state, and national anti-violence information. The VARC is a dynamic, collaborative resource connecting students, faculty, practitioners, and community members conducting anti-violence work. Thus, the VARC positions Oakland University as the heart of an important scholarly and community endeavor for compiling and sharing anti-violence information.  Learn more:

 Jo Reger

Dr. Jo Reger is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work and Criminal Justice at Oakland University. Her books include Everywhere and Nowhere: Contemporary Feminism in the United States (2012, Oxford University Press), Identity Work in Social Movements with Dan Myers and Rachel Einwohner (2008, University of Minnesota Press), Different Wavelengths: Studies of the Contemporary Women’s Movement (2005, Routledge). She recently published articles on the rise of global Slut Walks and her current project is on the role music played in the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Read more.

Email:  reger@oakland.edu

Headshot of Phyllis Rooney

Dr. Phyllis Rooney is Professor of Philosophy. Her research focuses on feminist philosophy, epistemology, philosophy of science, and logic. She has published numerous articles in the area of gender and argumentation, and her contributions have included specific arguments advancing the constructive understandings of reason, knowledge and science that feminist scholarship in a variety of disciplines has produced. She regularly teaches courses in Theories of Knowledge, Knowledge and Power, Philosophy of Gender and Logic. Learn more:

Headshot of George Sanders

Dr. George Sanders is Associate Professor of Sociology. His research focuses on sociology of religion, stratification, research methods, and theory. He has published numerous articles on the connection of religious institutions to capitalism, understandings of death and the contemporary U.S. funeral industry, and masculinity. He regularly teaches courses at the intersection of sociology and feminist theory, including Sociology of Gender and Queer Social Theory. Learn more:

Headshot of Anne Switzer

Anne Zacharias is Associate Professor in the Kresge Library.  She specializes in Social Sciences and Outreach.  She provides library outreach to Oakland University and collaborates with its surrounding communities on events such as OU's African American Celebration and Poetry Slams. She also promotes diversity initiatives both in the library and campus-wide, and is liaison to Sociology & Anthropology, Social Work, Criminal Justice and Women & Gender Studies programs.  Learn more:  

Headshot of Anja Wieden

Dr. Anja Wieden is Assistant Professor of German. Her research focuses on the narration and discourses of rape in postwar German literature. From 2010 to 2014, she worked both as program coordinator of German and faculty advisor for the summer study abroad program in Münster at the State University of New York at New Paltz. She teaches a variety of classes, ranging from beginning to advanced language, literature and culture as well as Business German. Learn more: