Visiting Scholars

Spring 2024: Evren Kutlay

Dr. Evren Kutlay graduated from German teaching Cagaloglu Anatolian High School and Bogazici University Mathematics Department while studying at Istanbul University State Conservatory Piano Department. Afterward, she studied with a full scholarship at the University of West Georgia. She received her MBA and MM in Piano Performance degrees with high honors and worked as a GRA both in the Business and Music departments as well as for the University President’s Business class offered to honors students. During her studies in the US, she was awarded the “Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Scholars Award” for her successful business studies. She received the “Award of Excellence” at GMTA (Georgia Music Teachers Association) piano competition, the “Star of the Year” award from MTNA (Music Teachers National Association), and was invited to become a member of MTNA. She completed her Ph.D. in Musicology at Istanbul University. She is a Full Professor of Music at Istanbul Zaim University and is the Newell Visiting Scholar at Georgia College and State University during Spring 2024.

In addition to her regular solo piano and chamber music concerts throughout Europe and the US, she continues her research in “Ottoman-European and Ottoman-American musical interactions.” She has articles published in nationally and internationally peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, several book chapters, as well as four books, titled Osmanlının Avrupalı Müzisyenleri (European Musicians of the Ottoman Empire), 100 Soruda Osmanlı Müziği (Ottoman Music in 100 Questions), “An Introduction to Western Music History,” and “Géza Hegyei: A Hungarian Musician at the Ottoman Court.” Moreover, she has a solo piano CD recording, Dersaadette Avrupa Müziği (European Music in Ottoman Istanbul), which consists of an archival repertoire of Ottoman Western Music.

 In 2011, she was awarded the WPTA (World Piano Teachers Association) Diploma of Excellence Accredit, the highest esteemed accolade at WPC (World Piano Conference) in Serbia for her paper titled “Ottoman Piano Literature”. In appreciation of her outstanding commitment to introducing the rich heritage of Turkish Culture and History through her research and performances in the area of Music of the Ottoman Empire, she was awarded Special Recognition from the American Congress and commissioned as “Honorary Texan” by the State of Texas. Moreover, November 8, 2013, was proclaimed “Dr. Evren Kutlay Day” by the Mayor of Houston, Texas. In 2017, the Turkish Cultural Foundation (TCF) awarded her the Fellowship in Turkish Culture and Arts to present her paper titled “Hints of Ottoman American Musical Interactions during Nineteenth to Early Twentieth Centuries” at the International Conference on Turkish Arts, Literature, and Culture in New York. She was a Visiting Scholar at Rutgers University American Studies Department in October 2019.

She has been one of the writers of contemporary classical music journals in Turkey, a column writer at the national newspaper Star, and an advisor of several documentary series for the Turkish National Broadcasting Channel TRT and various art institutions. She prepared a classical music radio program called “Müzik Evreninde Yolculuk (A travel in the music universe)” on TRT Radio 3 channel. She founded WPTA-Turkey and is a permanently authorized WPTA International Piano Competition judge.

Spring 2023: James McGrath

Dr. James McGrath is a renowned scholar and expert on Christianity is visiting Georgia College & State University to help further his research about the impact of women on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Dr. McGrath is an expert on Christianity and early Christianity. McGrath is a professor of religious studies and the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair of New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University in Indiana.

Dr. James McGrath giving a recent presentation on the flow of information. “Dr. McGrath was chosen as the Spring 2023 Newell Scholar because of his vast scholarship and disciplinary reputation on the subject of early Christianity, a topic that we believe would be of great interest to our students,” said Eric Tenbus, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “He has a tremendous teaching and publication record and joins us after having spent a semester on sabbatical at Oxford University,” Tenbus said. “We’re very excited to have someone of his academic record bring his expertise on this important and exciting topic.”

McGrath is the 11th Newell Scholar to visit. His course, “Women in Early Christianity,” has been well received by students. “I’ve gotten a good reception here,” McGrath said. “There’s been a lot of academic curiosity and faith-related interest in this subject.” 

He grew up in New York City in a mixed-faith family where one parent was Irish Catholic and the other Jewish. As a teenager, he began to question things and had a personal, religious experience which led to his decision to study more. He got his undergraduate degree at the University of London and Ph.D. from the University of Durham, both in the United Kingdom.

Spring 2022: Carla Walter
Carla Walter

As an independent scholar, Dr. Walter’s interests have always focused on dance—its history, social and psychological influences, and its hidden power to transform. She has published numerous articles and books which amplify dance’s powers as healing, meditative, and influential. Her most recent publication, Sacred Dance Meditations: 365 Globally Inspired Movement Practices Enhancing Awakening, Clarity and Connection (2020, Penguin Random House) is a culmination of research into archeological and anthropological aspects of sacred dance before the Common Era, and a call for acknowledging and revisioning of dance as a spiritual, healing, and meditative path. Visit Dr. Walter’s website to read more about her publications.

Early on in her career when affiliated with Missouri Southern State University as an Associate Professor, Dr. Walter was selected to be an Invited Visiting Professor in Hypermedia Communications at the University of Savoy, in Annecy, France, where she collaborated and conducted research with colleagues on dance and consumer behavior. After this, being supported by Hewlett Grant funds to expand her research as faculty at California Lutheran University, she found that dance had the power to influence feelings of connectedness and belonging and buying behaviors. That line of research resulted in her book Dance, Consumerism, and Spirituality (Palgrave 2015).

A native Californian from Los Angeles, Dr. Walter holds a BA in Economics from the University of California, Riverside, an MBA in Marketing and Management from California State University, San Bernardino, and a PhD in Dance History and Theory, from the University of California, Riverside. During her doctoral research on the history and economics of professional ballet, Dr. Walter did her fieldwork and danced at Stuttgart Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, and the Kansas City Ballet. Her dissertation formed the springboard for her book Arts Management: An Entrepreneurial Approach (Routledge 2014). While completing her doctoral studies, Dr. Walter led West Coast Festival Ballet Theatre, a nonprofit professional performing classical ballet company staging contemporary and classical ballets in southern California, to notable acclaim. As an Arts Bridge Scholar during that time, she taught dance in the public schools bringing much needed calming support to students. As a free-lance ballet enthusiast, she has taught and danced in ballet studios around the world.

Currently, Dr. Walter leads Dance in the Spirit, LLC, where she teaches and choreographs pieces for adults and children for performances of classical ballet and sacred and spiritual dance. Her choreography has been performed with both professional and novice dancers at churches and private venues. Additionally, she speaks and lectures professionally on the different aspects of dance and calls for revision of the academic dance cannon to include “Dance (+ Religious) History” courses as part of the curriculum. With this background and dedication, Dr. Walter will teach The Art and Intersections of Indigenous Sacred Dance and Religious Histories during her appointment as the 2022 Martha Daniel Newell Visiting Scholar.


Spring 2021: Andrew Jewett

The spring 2021 Newell scholar, Dr. Andrew Jewett, has a Ph.D. in History from the University of California at Berkeley. He will be hosted by the Department of History and Geography, though his residency draws interest from disciplines across Georgia College. His course, Identity and Inequality, explores the concept of race from biological, anthropological, economic, and religious histories while incorporating the contexts of colonialism, immigration, oppression and activism. His approach to teaching emphasizes questions of human identity and citizenship and he uses multiple platforms for engaging students. His scholarship focuses on historical studies of cultural authority, specifically regarding race, science, technology, and politics, and he has published extensively in these areas. Professor Jewett has taught at several leading universities, including a decade at Harvard and three years at Boston College as well as shorter positions at Yale, NYU and Vanderbilt. He has also held fellowships from the National Humanities Center, the Cornell Society for the Humanities, the National Academy of Education, and the American Academy for the Arts & Sciences. He is the author of Science, Democracy, and the American University: From the Civil War to the Cold War (Cambridge, 2012) and Science Under Fire: Challenges to Scientific Authority in Modern America (Harvard, 2020). His current project, The Discovery of Environmental Justice, will be the focus of one of his public talks while at Georgia College.

Spring 2020: Michael Lackey

Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris, Michael Lackey is a scholar of biofiction, literature that names its protagonist after an actual historical figure. He has published nine books, including Truthful Fictions: Conversations with American Biographical Novelists (2014), which consists of his interviews with critically acclaimed American biographical novelists such as Joyce Carol Oates, Russell Banks, Julia Alvarez, Michael Cunningham, Joanna Scott, and Jay Parini; and Conversations with Biographical Novelists (2018), which contains interviews with global luminaries like Colum McCann, Emma Donoghue, Colm Tóibín, Rosa Montero, Laurent Binet, Olga Tokarczuk, and many others.

In his scholarly work, Lackey examines the way biofiction functions to diagnose and expose cultural sicknesses and offers alternative ways of political thinking and social being. 

For his research, Lackey has received Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship and was a resident fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Advanced Study. His book African American Atheists and Political Liberation was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title; the University of Minnesota, Morris awarded him its Distinguished Faculty Research Award; and the University of Minnesota named him Distinguished McKnight University Professor.

During his residency, Lackey will teach a course about biofiction. He and his students will moderate two public interviews with prominent biographical novelists and Lackey will give two public presentations about the origins, rise, and evolution of biofiction.

Spring 2019: Carolyn Barber

Dr. Carolyn Barber is the Ron and Carol Cope Professor of Music and Director of Bands at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  In addition to her musical training, Dr. Barber has developed significant interest and expertise in the creative process as it applies to teaching, learning, and the development of artistry. She has demonstrated and elaborated upon her work at venues including the Midwest Clinic, conferences of the College Band Directors National Association, American String Teachers Association, and the National Association for Music Education, state music educators conventions, district training workshops, and masterclass/rehearsal clinics nationwide.

Dr. Barber earned her Doctor of Music in Conducting at Northwestern University, and her Master’s and Bachelor’s in Horn Performance from Yale University and Northwestern respectively. She is recipient of multiple honors, grants, awards, and distinctions for musical and academic achievement. In addition, her writing has been published in the Journal of Band Research, and she is a regular contributor to the Teaching Music Through Performance in Band reference series. Dr. Barber remains active as a horn performer and maintains a robust schedule as a guest conductor throughout the United States and Canada. Her work on the podium includes a special focus on contemporary American wind literature and she has numerous commissions and premieres to her credit. 

Dr. Barber will give public presentations on various facets of music and creativity, with special emphasis on what she has called Flock Innovation, or the combination of the creative process with group dynamics.  She will teach an interdisciplinary course on creative practice and will, in collaboration with Georgia College students, coach young artists in area schools to develop their creative potential.  

Spring 2018: Yael Prizant

Dr. Yael Prizant is a dramaturg, adapter/translator, scholar, and educator.  Before turning to the academy, she worked as a production dramaturg for theatre companies in Los Angeles, including Company of Angels and The Actor’s Gang. She has translated works by two Cuban playwrights, and adapted/produced famous plays for Langlab in South Bend, Indiana. Her book, Cuba Inside Out: Revolution and Contemporary Theatre, investigates the effects of revolution and globalization on personal identity.  It includes close readings of seven Cuban and Cuban-American plays, as well as extensive research on modern Cuba. In 2012, Yael founded UltreiaInc. a non-profit arts organization providing resources for artistic expression. From 2008–2014, she taught in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame.  She earned her Ph.D. in Theatre from UCLA, her M.F.A. in Theatre (Dramaturgy) from UMASS Amherst, and her BA in Dramatic Art from UCSB.  She currently teaches academic writing at Johns Hopkins SAIS Bologna (Italy), works as a translator and editor, and gives private yoga lessons.

Dr. Prizant’s residency will include several public presentations and workshops on diverse topics such as American musical theatre, theatre and science, and translation and adaptation for the stage and screen.  Dr. Prizant will teach an academic seminar, “Cuba: An Artistic Exploration” THEA 4950 T/R 11-12:15, and devise an original student performance using a dramatic form known as Living Newspaper.

During her time here, she will also host free public lectures and performances:

Feb. 12, 2018 at 7 p.m.: “How to Watch an American Musical”
March 7, 2018 at 7 p.m.: “Science On Stage” 
April 10-12, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.: “Devised Living Newspaper Theatre Project” 
April 18, 2018 from 3:30-5:30 p.m.: “Adapting and Translating for Film and Theatre”

Spring 2017: Dr. Eduardo Mercado III
dr. mercado

Dr. Mercado is a Professor of Psychology at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, with expertise in the cognitive neuroscience of learning, memory, and perception. 

A native of Milledgeville, he earned degrees in computer science and electrical engineering from Georgia College and Georgia Tech, before pursuing a Ph.D. in human and animal cognition at the University of Hawaii. There he studied the conceptual abilities of language-trained dolphins as well as the acoustical skills of humpback whales.

As a postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Mercado turned his attention to computational neuroscience and studies of brain plasticity.

Dr. Mercado’s current research on neural and cognitive plasticity has been funded by both the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and described in more than 50 peer-reviewed articles. In 2009, he was named a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. 

Mercado coauthored an innovative undergraduate textbook—Learning and Memory: From Brain to Behavior (currently in its 3rd edition)—that was the first to integrate findings from experimental psychology, behavioral neuroscience, and clinical neuropsychology, as well as the first to fully integrate findings from humans and non-humans. 

Dr. Mercado will give public presentations on his research with whales and dolphins, as well as recent breakthroughs in understanding learning in children with autism and the potential of the human brain to be rewired through training. He will also be leading a community-based search for the smartest dog in Milledgeville.

Spring 2016: Dr. Michael Charles Tobias
Dr. Michael Charles Tobias

Distinguished scholar, Dr. Michael Charles Tobias, earned his Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness at the University of California-Santa Cruz, specializing in global ecological ethics and the interdisciplinary humanities. He is an ethologist/anthrozoologist and historian of ideas, focusing upon humanity’s relationship to the natural world, in both historic and contemporary cultures.

His wide-ranging work embraces art, comparative literature and spirituality, the history of ideas, philosophy, bio-ethics and natural history in the context of a multitude of possible future scientific, geo-political, economic and social scientific scenarios. He is the author of over 50 books and has written, directed and/or produced over 100 films. His works have been read, translated and broadcast throughout the world. He has conducted field research in over 80 countries.

Tobias has been on the faculties of such colleges and universities as Dartmouth, the University of California-Santa Barbara, and the University of New Mexico-Albuquerque. For 16 years Dr. Tobias has been President of an international ecological NGO, Dancing Star Foundation, focused on global  biodiversity conservation, animal protection and environmental education. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Courage of Conscience Prize. Tobias is an Honorary Member of the Club of Budapest.

Dr. Tobias’ most recent book, Hope on Earth: A Conversation, came out for Earth Day 2014 from the University of Chicago Press (with Dr. Paul R. Ehrlich), and his next book Why Life Matters: Fifty Ecosystems of the Heart and Mind, co-authored with his wife Jane Gray Morrison, will be published in the autumn of 2014 by Springer/Switzerland.
In accepting the residency, Dr. Tobias noted, “I am extremely honored to have been selected for this wonderful residency, and look forward to collaborating with the students, faculty and community on a wide range of humble projects, discussions, pro-seminars, events, endeavors and important initiatives.

Spring 2015: Professor Mab Segrest
professor segrest

Professor Segrest was Fuller-Maathai Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at Connecticut College from 2002-2014. She has published articles on Central State Hospital’s history and is working on a book-length study.

In 2004 Segrest was a Mellon Distinguished Professor at the Center for Research on Women/Tulane, and in 2009-2010, a Fellow at the James Weldon Johnson Institute for Civil Rights at Emory. Her 1994 book "Memoir of a Race Traitor" was named Editor's Choice/Lambda Literary Awards, Outstanding Book on Human Rights in North America by the Gustavus Myers Center on Human Rights and nominee for Non-Fiction Book of the Year by the Southern Regional Council.

Her work on Georgia’s state mental hospital is the culmination of three decades of political and intellectual work on the nexus of identity, culture and power in the U.S. South. Segrest explained, “I am thrilled to be able to bring my work back to Milledgeville and to teach and learn with GC students, professors and Milledgeville residents on this institution that has been so central to the city’s history. I think this course will be amazing!”

Spring 2014: Leon Johnson
leon johnson

Leon Johnson is an educator and convergent media artist. His work includes painting, sculpture, installation, performance, food events, print media, video, photography, bookmaking and curatorial practices.  For more information on Johnson’s work, visit

While in residency, he taught a seminar for Georgia College students titled “Taken Aback.” In addition to binding a field-dossier, as Johnson described it, the seminar included “walking and investigating mysteries and histories of the city and inventing maps that chart memory and place… field research across our town, the study of ecological patches, relearning tools, philosophical readings and discussions, community meals, as well as printing and binding our investigations into a final group publication.”  Iain Kerr, professor in the Intermedia program at Maine University and the founder of Spurse, an interdisciplinary collective of architects, biologists and artists, hosted a guest lecture as part of Johnson’s seminar. He also led students on a foraging excursion in support of a field-to-table-dinner in early March.

Blackbridge Hall Gallery featured an exhibition of Johnson’s work and ideas, curated by art major Emily Strickland in completion of her Museum Studies senior capstone.  The gallery housed Johnson’s Open Studio throughout his visit and served as a primary base of creative operations.  At Johnson’s invitation, Jonathan Kung, who runs the food blog and pop up kitchen Kung Food in Detroit, visited campus, held a lecture and hosted a one-night-only pop up restaurant. Kung’s last event was a dinner at Andalusia.

Johnson hosted three open presentations coinciding with the First Friday events in downtown Milledgeville for campus and the Milledgeville community.

Johnson’s partner Megan O’Connell also brought her talents to Georgia College. O’Connell and Johnson run Salt & Cedar letterpress studio in Detroit. O'Connell joined Johnson for the second public presentation and visited classrooms across campus.  O’Connell worked in collaboration with printer and department chair Bill Fisher to produce a limited edition serigraph, commissioned by artist Alison Knowles of a letter written by colleague John Cale.  Johnson’s son, Leander, and Fisher also collaborated on a fine art print edition invited into the portfolio exchange, “Snakes, Swine and Cocks,” curated by Brian Kelly of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  This work and others by Johnson are now housed in the GC Permanent Collection.

Spring 2013: Dr. Caitlin O'Connell-Rodwell
it's all in the telling phrase over elephants

Caitlin O’Connell-Rodwell joined the Georgia College faculty in spring semester 2013 as the inaugural Martha Daniel Newell Visiting Scholar.

O’Connell-Rodwell is a faculty member of Stanford University’s School of Medicine and a world-renowned expert on elephants.

Over the last 20 years, she has dedicated her research to studying elephant communication and how their societies are constructed and maintained.

O’Connell-Rodwell’s research has been published in more than 30 peer-reviewed journal articles and popular magazines including SmithsonianThe Writer and Africa Geographic.

She is also the author of the internationally acclaimed nonfiction science memoir, The Elephant’s Secret Sense and has published An Elephant’s Life, which is a photo book.

O’Connell-Rodwell co-founded and is the CEO of Utopia Scientific, a nonprofit organization dedicated to research and science education.

Her other interests include ecology, health, women’s issues and art.