Department of English & Fine Arts Faculty

Select faculty members have made their CVs available online:

  • Leadership
  • Full Professors
  • Associate Professors
  • Assistant Professors
  • Instructors

Department Head

Candice Pipes’ research and teaching interests include 20th Century American literature with a focus on African American literature and narratives of trauma and violence.  She has course directed the senior core course on War literature and the Introduction to American Literature seminar and has taught enrichment courses on Violence Against Women in Literature and Protest Literature. 

Deputy Head

Thomas Coakley is a former squadron commander who has served as a Joint Staff policy advisor, space operator, and aviator. His teaching and academic interests include creative writing, contemporary literature, conceptions of military culture, and the role of the humanities in the ethical development of Airmen.

Deputy Head for Human Resources

Max Despain’s research and teaching interests include memory and identity in autobiography and fiction at the turn from the 19th to the 20th Century women’s literature.  She also publishes on Willa Cather, food literature, and young adult literature, focusing on topics of identity.  She teaches the Senior core English course as well as American Literature and other English Major’s courses.  She is a board member of the Willa Cather Foundation.


A generalist as the sole art professor and gallery curator, Pam Aloisa teaches drawing, painting, and several art lecture courses.  Several movements inspire her painting style-- a synthesis of European Symbolist, German Expressionism,  and American modernism.

Donald Anderson is drawn to literature of the contemporary sort, in particular, memoir, short fiction, creative nonfiction, and war literature. He has edited USAFA’s international journal of the humanities, War, Literature & the Arts since 1989.

Ross Gresham’s interests include modern British and American literature, Shakespeare, and genre writing.

Richard Lemp’s research and teaching interests are in comparative literature, literary criticism, the literature of Quebec, and problems of translation.  He also serves as the Senior Civilian Advisor to the Department Head.   

Professor Steven Olsen-Smith holds the Holland H. Coors Endowed Visiting chair in digital humanities for the current academic year. He is General Editor of Melville's Marginalia Online and teaches courses in literature and writing and digital literary studies.

Ann Reagan’s current research focuses on music and musicians during the Holocaust.

Andrea Trocha-Van Nort lived in France and taught English and economics in private schools, private universities, and four different public universities over fifteen years.  She relocated to the United States in 2007 to accept a position with the Department of English and Fine Arts at the United States Air Force Academy, where she currently holds the rank of associate professor.  Dr Van Nort’s research focuses on Renaissance literature and Shakespeare studies, though her scholarly interests range from classical literature to war literature in general.

Professor Thomas Vargish has published books and articles on nineteenth and twentieth century literature and cultural history.  He also teaches film.

Wilson Brissett (PhD, University of Virginia) specializes in early American
literature, religion, secularism, and literature, and Anglophone African
literature. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Early American
Literature, English Literary History, Christianity and Literature, and The
Atlantic. His current book project, The Evangelical Innovation, studies the
intersection of new histories and modern race theories in eighteenth-century
evangelical literature.

Lori Davis Perry's research and teaching interests include British
literature of the long eighteenth-century and the early modern period, the
intersection of religion and science, intellectual and artistic
representations of violence, and anti-Semitic tropes in literature and
culture. Her research projects focus on Elizabeth Singer Rowe, Jonathan
Swift, John Milton, Edmund Spenser, and William Shakespeare. She has taught
a variety of courses, including the British Literature I survey course
(Beowulf to the Romantics), Eighteenth-Century British Literature, Spenser
and Milton, Utopian and Dystopian literature from the Sixteenth- to
Twentieth-centuries, Renaissance drama, Anglo-Saxon and Early Medieval
Literature and Philology, Jane Austen Novels and Film Adaptations, the Bible
as Literature, and the Literature and Culture of Vietnam, in addition to the
core courses of Introductory Composition, Introduction to Literature,
Advanced Composition and Speech, and War Literature and Public Speaking.

Gina Iberri-Shea’s research interests include cross-cultural communication, academic student speech, and debate across the curriculum. She is the Academy’s Director of Forensics.


David Buchanan’s research and teaching interests include Native American literature, the literature of war and violence, and the work of the rhetorician Kenneth Burke. He also flies as an instructor pilot in the Academy’s Powered Flight Program.

Richard Johnston’s research and teaching interests include British Romantic literature and culture, poetry, drama, literature and science, literature and religion, and literature and the visual arts.  Current projects include essays on the poetry of Yusef Komunyakaa, critical and pedagogical implications of rereading, and the uses of creative writing in the college literature classroom.  Dr. Johnston earned his doctorate from Harvard in 2013 and has taught at the US Military Academy and at Wofford College.  He currently serves of the Marshall Scholarship Selection Committee for the Houston Region.

Gregory Laski (BA University of Notre Dame, PhD, Northwestern University) teaches and writes about nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American literature, African American literature, political philosophy, critical race theory, and cultural studies. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Callaloo, African American Review, J19, Pedagogy, and Approaches to Teaching Charles W. Chesnutt. He recently completed a book manuscript entitled Untimely Democracy: The Politics of Racial Progress in American Literature after Slavery. He is now at work on his second book: a comparative study of the lives and writings of William Faulkner and W. E. B. Du Bois. For more on his research and teaching, visit:

Kasey Lowery is interested in the intersection of trauma, British Romanticism, and gothic fiction.  She is also studying the importance of computer gaming in fiction, life, and the digital humanities.  Kasey is working with our Coors Chair Professor Steven Olsen-Smith to create a digital humanities center at USAFA.

Melody Pugh researches writing-related learning transfer and students’ out-of-school literacy practices.  She applies qualitative research methods to questions about the social significance of reading and writing, and is currently developing an administrative interests related to writing across the curriculum and writing in the disciplines.


Jessica Hellmann’s research and teaching interests include Ecocriticism and Literature of the American West.

Megan Kahn is a 38P (Force Support Officer) and received her MA in English from Rutgers University. Her research and teaching interests include eighteenth-century women in war and Young Adult Literature.  She is the OIC of the USAFA Mountaineering Club.

Jes Lopez’s research and teaching interests include 20th century American Literature, John Steinbeck, the American Dream, and cultural influences of literature. She earned her Master of Arts degree in English through a joint program with The University of Charleston and The Citadel in 2008.

Sharon Lynn’s research and teaching interests include late medieval literature, anchorism and heresy in the late medieval Church, and underrepresented literatures. Her pedagogical interests include syllabus design, diversity in the classroom, and the role of feedback in the writing process.

Melody Pugh researches writing-related learning transfer and students’ out-of-school literacy practices.  She applies qualitative research methods to questions about the social significance of reading and writing, and is currently developing an administrative interests related to writing across the curriculum and writing in the disciplines.

Sean Purio’s research and teaching interests include the literature of war and violence and the short story. He received his MA in Literature from the University of Colorado Boulder and is currently the editor of the cadet journal Icarus. His primary job in the Air Force is a Personnel Officer.

Keidrick Roy’s research and teaching interests include rhetoric, African American literature, critical theory, semiotics, and ascetic/monastic culture. He received his Master of Arts in English with a concentration in rhetoric at the University of Arizona and serves in the nuclear operations career field in the United States Air Force.

Major Michelle Ruehl is a 2003 grad from USAFA where she earned her B.S. in English. She went on to fly C-130s, MC-12s, and is an Instructor Pilot in the T-53. She earned her M.A. in Psychology from North Central University and her M.A. in English from the University of Colorado. She also earned a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification and has taught English in various orphanage schools in Nepal, Tanzania, Ghana and Afghanistan. She specializes in creative non-fiction, theater, and post-colonial African literature. She is a singer-songwriter with her father’s band and she works on the side as a Horse Therapy Instructor for children and veterans. She lives with her husband Justin, who flies for Southwest Airlines, and her four-footed “kids” Kodiak and Captain Jack Sparrow.

Maj Ulmer is a USAF Academy graduate, class of 2001.  After earning his BS in English there he went on to become a AF pilot.  Amidst his 12 years flying active duty, he completed his MA from SUNY Stony Brook in New York.  Now, back at USAFA, he teaches War Literature to our 1st class cadets.  He is also involved with the powered flight program at the airfield and an officer in charge to the Cadet Rugby Team. 









U.S. Air Force Academy, USAFA, CO 80840, (719) 333-1110 DSN: 333-1110, 31 Aug 16
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