Faculty Fellows

What is an ACTI Faculty Fellow?

2020 ACTI Faculty Fellow, Prof. Leon Wiebers

ACTI is committed to dialogue and collaboration amongst the disciplines throughout a Catholic University. This interdisciplinary focus allows scholars from across all of the University's Colleges and Schools to participate in this fellowship opportunity. ACTI Fellowships are available for continuing Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty with a preference for at least one of the fellowships to be given to proposals from faculty outside the disciplines of Philosophy and Theology.

ACTI Fellowships provide LMU faculty with opportunities to complete a substantial research/creative project or to concentrate effort at a critical phase of a research/creative project that is consistent with the mission of the Academy of Catholic Thought and Imagination. Such projects may take diverse forms: developing, critically engaging, expanding, adding to, questioning, or explaining aspects of the Catholic intellectual tradition or its various concerns; entering into dialogue with Catholic thought or imagination from the perspective of a different faith tradition or no faith tradition; using the resources of the Catholic tradition to understand and respond to pressing contemporary issues; developing a creative work in dialogue with the imaginative and intellectual framework of the Catholic tradition, and so forth.

This year, ACTI will prioritize projects that discern the following topics:

  • Diversity
  • Equity
  • Inclusion

The ACTI Faculty Fellowship application period for the Spring 2023 academic semester is now closed. ACTI has chosen two distinguished scholars based on the merit of their proposals. We welcome Aurorae Khoo of the School of Film & Television and Ace Vo of the College of Business Administration.

See below for bios and project descriptions for previous years' ACTI Faculty Fellows, in addition to our latest cohort.

  • Project Title: "Examining Role and Public Perception of Artificial Intelligence in the US Criminal Justice System"

    Ace Vo is an Assistant Professor of Information Systems and Business Analytics at Loyola Marymount University.


  • Project Title: "The Art, Faith, and Political Activism of John August Swanson"

    Dr. Cecilia González-Andrieu is a Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University.


  • Project Title: "The Victorian Search for the Historical Origins of Art in Magic and Ritual"

    Dr. Amy Woodson-Boulton is a Professor of History at Loyola Marymount University.


  • Project Title: "Paradox and Community"

    Dr. Anna Harrison is an Associate Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University.

    She teaches classes in late antique and medieval western European Christian thought and practice. Her book, “Thousands and Thousands of Lovers”: Sense of Community Among the Nuns of Helfta (forthcoming, Cistercian Publications) concerns the ideas and attitudes of a highly intellectual household of nuns who composed the largest collection of female-authored literature in the thirteenth century. As an ACTI Fellow, she will work on Paradox: Bernard of Clairvaux’s On Loving God and Its Influence, a guide to the thought of one of the twelfth-century’s most creative and influential thinkers, with attention to the animating role paradox plays in virtually his every major theological and spiritual consideration. 


  • Project Title: "Health Care and Conscientious Objection"

    Dr. Christopher Kaczor (rhymes with razor) graduated from the Honors Program of Boston College and earned a Ph.D. four years later from the University of Notre Dame. A Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Kaczor is a former Federal Chancellor Fellow at the University of Cologne and William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program at Princeton University. His twelve books include The Gospel of Happiness, The Seven Big Myths about Marriage, A Defense of Dignity, The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church, The Ethics of Abortion, O Rare Ralph McInerny: Stories and Reflections on a Legendary Notre Dame Professor, Thomas Aquinas on the Cardinal Virtues; Life Issues-Medical Choices; Thomas Aquinas on Faith, Hope, and Love; The Edge of Life, and Proportionalism and the Natural Law Tradition. Dr. Kaczor’s views have been in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, National Re view, NPR, BBC, EWTN, ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, MSNBC, TEDx, and The Today Show.

  • Project Title: "Unfolding the History and Story of the Del Valle Family Vestments"

    Dr. Leon Wiebers has designed productions in the United States and internationally. He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar to South Korea examining traditional dress. His work encompasses musical theatre, dance, opera, and straight plays. Recent credits: Oslo for the Pioneer Theatre, Dance pieces for BodyTraffic, an LA-based modern company, at the Hollywood Bowl, Empire, a new musical for La Mirada Center for the Performing Arts, The Secret Garden for Cincinnati Playhouse and Center Stage in Baltimore, The Music Man for Glimmerglass Festival and the Royal Opera in Oman and The King and I for the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, and Il Trovatore for the Sacramento Opera. He is a long-term collaborator at California Music Circus whose productions include: A Chorus Line, The Wizard of Oz, Show Boat, Anything Goes, I Do, I Do, Spamalot!, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 42 Street, My Fair Lady, Gypsy, Guys and Dolls, Kiss Me, Kate, Jekyll and Hyde, Aida, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Grease, West Side Story, The Fantasticks and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Other companies include the San Francisco Opera Center, Georgia Shakespeare Festival, the English National Opera, the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, the Getty Museum and Portland Center Stage. Awards include: The Carbonell Award, Fulbright Research Grant to Korea, Back Stage West Garland and LA Weekly Awards for Three Sisters for Interact Theatre, LA and an LA Ovation Award for Ubu Roi at A Noise Within. He is member of United Scenic Artists, Local 829 and a national board member for the Costume Society of America.

  • Dr. Joseph LaBrie is a Professor of Psychology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. He holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Southern California, as well as masters degrees in Mathematics and Theology from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and the Jesuit... School of Theology at Berkeley respectively. Dr. LaBrie is a nationally recognized researcher/scholar on adolescent and emerging adult (college student) development. His research has focused on causes, prevention, and intervention of risk behaviors including alcohol abuse, drug use, risky sexual behavior, and violence. He has studied the emerging role of social networking sites in risk behaviors with these populations. Dr. LaBrie has received research grants totally more than $9.7 million dollars from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Education, and the Alcoholic and Beverage Medical Research Foundation. Further, he is the author of over 150 peer-reviewed empirical scholarly articles. His Heads UP Responsible Drinking Program was honored with the Model Prevention Program for College Campuses Award by the US Department of Education in 2007. Further, Dr. LaBrie received the APA Division on Addictions (Division 50) Early Career Award for scientific contributions to addictive behaviors research and the Loyola Marymount University Third Annual Rains Award for Excellence in Research. He is a licensed clinical psychologist who also maintains a private practice.

  • Dr. Steven Mailloux is President’s Professor of Rhetoric at Loyola Marymount University. Previously, he taught rhetoric, critical theory, and U.S. cultural studies as Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Chancellor’s Professor of Rhetoric at the University of California, Irvine. He also served... in several administrative positions during his years at UCI including Associate Dean of Humanities for Graduate Study, Acting Director of the UC Humanities Research Institute, Director of the Critical Theory Emphasis, and Interim Chair of English and Comparative Literature. For the latter position, he received on-the-job training as Chair of English at Syracuse University when that department initiated a comprehensive reform of its literature curriculum in the direction of critical theory and cultural studies.

  • Project Title: "Concealing and Revealing the Holy: Icons in Rome"

    Dr. Kirstin Noreen received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1999. With a specialization in medieval art, she has recent publications on the Roman church of Sant'Urbano alla Caffarella, the ritual use of icons, and the revival of Early Christian and medieval art in the sixteenth and seventeenth... centuries.

    Her current research integrates her interest in Italian medieval and Baroque art by examining the visualization and replication of sanctity during the period of the Counter-Reformation as expressed in the popular resurgence of medieval cult images. Dr. Noreen has received various grants to support her research, including an American Council of Learned Societies, Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship (2004-2005); a National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend (2004); and a Fulbright Grant for Graduate Study Abroad (1997-1998).

    She has presented her work at various venues, such as the International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo, MI), the International Medieval Congress (Leeds, England), the Medieval Academy of America, Renaissance Society of America, Sixteenth Century Studies, and the College Art Association.

  • Project Title: "After Charlottesville: Racism, Supersessionism, and Catholic Theology"

    Dr. Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier is Associate Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. She specializes in Asian/Asian American theology, comparative theology, feminist theology, Hindu-Christian studies, and interreligious dialogue. A mixed Japanese-German American Catholic... background full of saints and ancestors, a Midwest upbringing, and an abiding love of science fiction/fantasy/horror/dystopian worlds make her particularly interested to integrate critical theory, feminist theory, multiracial theory, and popular culture studies into her Catholic theological work.

  • Project Title: "Flannery O'Connor and Religious Knowledge"

    Jason Baehr is a Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Baehr works at the intersection of virtue theory and epistemology, especially “virtue epistemology,” which is an approach to the philosophical study of knowledge that focuses on intellectual virtues like curiosity, open-mindedness, intellectual humility, intellectual courage, and intellectual tenacity. Baehr’s monograph on virtue epistemology, The Inquiring Mind: On Intellectual Virtues and Virtue Epistemology, was published by Oxford University Press in 2011. His project extrapolates a distinctive religious epistemology from several of Flannery O’Connor’s stories and situates it vis-à-vis the theoretical landscape in contemporary religious epistemology. He intends to show how this epistemological model challenges epistemic egalitarianism – and does so with considerable plausibility. He will also argue that, for O’Connor, something like moral humility (as distinct from intellectual or epistemic humility) is an intellectual or epistemic virtue.

  • Project Title: “The Composition of Place-Time”

    Paul Harris is a Professor of English whose scholarship and teaching reflect a deeply curious spirit, and he has relished the academic and professional freedom to pursue a rich range of intellectual interests. He has published essays in literature and science, chaos/complexity theory, literary theory, neuroscience, architecture, constraint-based writing, Bergsonian philosophy, and the interdisciplinary study of time. He has published on canonical American authors (Poe, Melville, Faulkner), and 20th century European writers (Beckett, Perec, Calvino), and has become a recognized specialist on Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers of Los Angeles. His recent publications and teaching focus on Big History and his current manuscript project uses Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy to theorize an “itinerant spirituality.” His project comprises a scholarly essay that integrates contemplative practice, contemporary ecophilosophy, and creative artistry as it explores and gives a new iteration to the notion of composition of place. Changing place to "Place-Time" implies a dynamic relation to space, a temporal or historical understanding of a place. The essay will proceed by unpacking four ways of understanding the 'composition of place-time': 1) composition as contemplative practice in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, with an additional temporal dimension-the place is contemplated in terms of how it came to be, and what it might become; 2) composition of place­time as an active and formative interaction with a specific environment-composition as gardening, caring for a place; 3) composition of place-time as a material theory of how place and time compose a dynamic whole; 'place-time' is coined as an embodied, earth-centered version of the abstract geometry of general relativity space-time; 4) composition of place-time as the process of giving aesthetic expression to one's contemplative, active, and cognitive engagement with a specific environment-just as contemplative "composition of place" in the Spiritual Exercises is followed by journal reflection on one's experience, here contemplative composition is followed by written composition (or other forms of aesthetic expression).

  • Project Title: “Contemplation and Imagination: Finding God in All Things”

    Jane Brucker is a professor in the Department of Art and Art History whose contemplative sculpture, installation, and performance art has been exhibited at venues nationally and internationally. Her pedagogical focus has been teaching students ways of knowing and being by using attention and an awareness of interior states to access original ideas or a deeper sense of oneself. In her own words, “It is the essence of generating Ignatian conversar – an intimate conversation between the student and the Divine. For these students finding their truest work and helping them access what is meant by the Ignatian motto, ‘finding God in all things,’ has been helpful no matter where they are on their aesthetic or spiritual journey.” Her project includes writing a chapter for the book The Mindful Eye: Contemplative Pedagogies in Visual Arts and creating a large-scale installation inspired by Ignatian Imaginative Contemplation.

  • Project Title: “Business and the Common Good”

    James Plecnik recently joined LMU’s accounting faculty as an assistant professor. Plecnik earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting with a minor in philosophy from Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina and both a master’s degree in taxation and a Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Memphis. He is a CPA with experience in both public accounting and small businesses. His research interests include tax avoidance, individual taxation, corporate taxation and ethics. James taught individual taxation and introductory accounting classes during his time as a doctoral student in the Fogelman College of Business at the University of Memphis. His research has been published in various tax journals, and he has presented at multiple academic conferences and CPE events. Drawing on the works of Jacques Maritain and Aristotle, Plecnik’s project will apply the definition of the ‘Common Good’ to modern business practices at both the theoretical and empirical levels.

  • Project Title: “Law, Social Thought, and the Cemetery, 1000-1220”

    Anthony Perron is an Associate Professor in the History Department. His research focuses on medieval church history and law with a particular emphasis on northern Europe. He has published articles on Latin-Christian Scandinavia in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, as well as a chapter on the papacy for the Cambridge History of Christianity. His current work examines notions of ecclesiastical community and authority in local and regional canon law from eleventh to the early thirteenth century. His project as an ACTI Fellow in Fall 2016 investigates the developing canon law on cemeteries in this period. This research traces the growing concern over such issues as transgressive behavior in graveyards and burial of the “unworthy dead,” all seen in the context of changing perceptions of the “society of the dead” and an increasing emphasis on the obligations of the living to the departed.



    Project Title: “Bound for the Sky: The Salton Sea and the Impossibilities of American Environmentalism in the Borderlands”

    Traci Brynne Voyles is an assistant professor of Women’s Studies. Voyles received her PhD in ethnic studies from the University of California, San Diego in 2010, and was a visiting assistant professor of history at the University of California, Davis. Her research interests revolve around environmental justice, environmental history, race, gender, and sexuality. She is the author of Wastelanding: Legacies of Uranium Mining in Navajo Country (University of Minnesota Press, May 2015), which explores the history of uranium mining as a process of “wastelanding,” a racial and spatial process of rendering an environment and the bodies that inhabit it pollutable. Her current research explores the environmental history of the Salton Sea. Her ACTI sponsored project will allow her to develop crucial themes in the project that touch on both Catholic teachings about environmentalism and social justice, and the relationship between the Catholic Church and Native Nations in California history.


  • Víctor Carmona is an associate professor in the Biology Department who focuses his research on the ecology and evolution of species interactions in the tropics. His dedication as a teacher-scholar is evident in his service to his students and colleagues and in his participation in LMU’s Mission & Ministry Faculty & Staff Immersion Trip to El Salvador. Informed by his time as a Fulbright Scholar at the Universidad de El Salvador in 2012, his project, “Jesuit Science in Latin America: Revolutionizing Academic Tourism in the Evolution of Social Justice,” will engage science, global study, social justice, and Pope Francis’ encyclical call to transformative contributions of teacher-scholarship of ecological systems and the environmental justice in human systems.


  • Erin C. Stackle is an assistant professor in the Philosophy Department. Professor Stackle specializes in ancient Greek philosophy, especially Aristotle. She also does work in early phenomenology, especially on the thought of Edmund Husserl. Recently, her Aristotelian research has focused on the problematic nature of courage as an Aristotelian virtue, the inherently social nature of our most basic identity, and how we can meaningfully apply mathematical claims to perceptible things. Her ACTI fellow project will investigate whether there is anything uniquely Catholic in how St. Thomas Aquinas interprets Aristotle's treatment of health in his Metaphysics.


  • Kelly Younger is a professor in the English Department and an award-winning playwright with works staged off-Broadway, regionally, and internationally. At LMU, Younger conducts workshops in play writing, teaches courses in the survey of drama, and leads seminars on modern and contemporary playwrights, as well as a FFYS in Fairy Tales. Critical book publications include Dionysus in Ireland: Irish Adaptations of Greek Tragedies, and Beth Henley in an Hour as well as numerous articles on classical to contemporary theatre. His project, TRIGGER WARNING, is a full-length play about a Jesuit professor grappling with issues of academia and “words that inflict as well as instruct.” Younger will dramatizes the Catholic intellectual tradition in action and engage a national conversation in higher education by developing a play for performance at universities and theatres across the country.



    Matthew R. Petrusek is an assistant professor in the Department of Theological Studies.  He holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Masters of Arts in Religion from Yale University.  Dr. Petrusek’s interests and specializations include meta ethics, the intersection of philosophical and theological ethics, Christian ethics, ethics and political theory, natural law, virtue theory, human rights, distributive justice, domestic and international poverty, and globalization. His project, The (In)vulnerable Soul: Catholicism’s Essential Contribution to the Idea of Human Dignity, draws on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition to develop a distinctively Catholic conception of human dignity that can also serve as a normative model for other secular and religious views of universally equal human worth.


  • Rebecca Sager is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology. She holds a doctorate and masters of Sociology from the University of Arizona. Her work looks at the intersection of religion, politics, and social movements. She has published a number of articles on this topic and her book, Faith, Politics, and Power: The Politics of Faith-Based Initiatives (Oxford), looks at the role conservative evangelical movement actors played in promoting the faith-based initiative at the state level. Her project, Are You Better Off Alone?: Religious and Secular Partnerships in Social Service and Political Outreach researches the partnerships between Catholic and secular groups in political organizing and social services. She will investigate questions such as: Do religious activists like working with secular leaders or do they feel it is compromising their values? Do secular activists feel like they have to give up too much to work with religious leaders or that religion infuses too much of their work?


  • Thomas M. Ward is an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy. He holds a doctorate in Philosophy from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Master's degree in Theology from the University of Oxford. His primary areas of specialization are medieval philosophy and philosophical theology, and he is the author of John Duns Scotus on Parts, Wholes, and Hylomorphism (Brill, 2014). His project, God, Morality, and Modality, will investigate theological accounts of the foundations of modality and morality. This project's exchange between medieval and contemporary thought speaks of the relevance of this work for bringing the resources of medieval Catholic thought into dialogue with contemporary academic debates.