if you are a contributor and have not submitted a bio, please email one to pender at vt dot edu


Brandon Buckner–a painter, musician, and graphic designer–designed the O.C.E.L.O.T. site banner. He approaches art production as a journalistic activity with subject matter ranging from the seemingly grandiose to the seemingly inconsequential. While pulling from everyday occurrences, memories, personal/familial history, news events, hopes, dreams, and anxieties, Buckner combines imagery and ideas from various sources (photos, internet, newspapers, television, etc.) as a means of visually interpreting both his immediate and socio-cultural surroundings. He creates paintings, drawings, videos, photographs, prints, web-based projects, and collaborative works (with both Paintallica and The Moving Crew) as a means of exploring the role of humor within the creation of art works. Brandon is currently living in Chattanooga, TN where he is co-owner/designer for The Hot Chocolatier, Inc., working as a framer at a frame shop/gallery, and as an adjunct instructor between The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Chattanooga State Technical Community College.You can see more of his work and interests at

Dan Lawson offered consultation during the initial stages of site design and serves as the site’s proofreader. He is a doctoral candidate in the Rhetoric and Writing program. His interests include critical pedagogy, visual rhetoric, comics, and ideology. He has taught ENGL 1105, ENGL 1106, and H1204.

Tim Lockridge handles the site’s technical wizardry. A PhD student and the GTA Assistant to the Writing Center Director, Tim has taught First-Year Comp, Intro to Creative Writing, Writing for the Web, GEDI Workshops, FDI Workshops, and spends his summers working as an Academic Dean for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. Tim’s writing has appeared in magazines like Mid-American Review, The Pinch, DIAGRAM, and Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture. His digital home is at

Matthew Vollmer spearheaded the campaign for the site, came up with the acronym and suggested the monocle and top hat to Brandon. He also generated (with the help of the GTAs) the questions for the FAQ and hounded people to submit materials, which he then organized and put up on the site. As an Advanced Instructor, a GTA advisor, and Co-Coordinator of GTA Education, he has taught First-Year Comp., Business Writing, Intro to Creative Writing, Fiction Writing, and Advanced Fiction Writing at Virginia Tech. His writing has appeared in a number of magazines, including Paris Review, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, Epoch, and Colorado Review. He is the author of a book of stories called Future Missionaries of America. Visit him online at or check out his Tumblr at


Lissa Bloomer has an MA from Virginia Tech in English Literature, an MA from Hollins University in Children’s Literature, a flock of laying hens, honey bees, 5 cats, a dog, a fish, 3 children, a husband, and loves gardening, cooking, and is also a professional organizer and potter. She is currently writing a book on parenting and is an avid CrossFitter. She lives in a Victorian monster old house in Radford, and has taught here for 21 years.

Jess Broaddus is a fiction writer and GTA in writing instruction at Virginia Tech. She received her B.A. in English from Davidson College in 2006 and anticipates receiving her MFA from Virginia Tech in the spring of 2011. Jess has worked at the University of Virginia Young Writers Workshop for five years, most recently in 2010 as Summer Assistant Director.

Katherine Combiths has been teaching Freshman Composition at Virginia Tech for six years after graduating with a M.S. in English from Radford University and one year of teaching at Roanoke College in Salem, VA. She began teaching Technical Writing after taking a graduate course in Teaching Tech Writing at VT. She has three children and two grandchildren. She currently co-edits a journal affiliated with the National Council of the Teachers of English.

Sean Conaway, projected MFA recipient of 2012 with a focus on fiction, not so much a compulsive liar as a compulsive fibber, both of which are better than compulsive gambling in his book (although he does that, too), used to get busted all the time by his parents for what he even then insisted was a fib; as punishment, they would spank him with a large wooden spoon which also functioned as a spaghetti sauce stirrer until he grew too large for spankings, at which point they began taking away the keys to his car, which he never thought fair–he had bought that car with his own lawn mowing money, after all.  Anyway, he hasn’t got much better at fibbing since, which worries his advisor.

Jennifer Cover is a fourth year PhD student and former Composition Program Assistant. Before coming to Virginia Tech, she taught Composition as a lecturer at North Carolina State. Jennifer’s courses focus on writing in different genres and different disciplines and
revolve around student-centered projects.

Katie Fallon writes creative nonfiction with an emphasis on nature, travel, and wildlife. Since 2004 she has been an Instructor in the English Department at Virginia Tech, though she’s on-leave for the 2009-2011 school years to work on writing projects. Katie has taught several different courses at VT, including Creative Nonfiction, Introduction to Creative Writing, and Introduction to English Studies, in addition to First-year Composition courses. In the Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 semesters Katie taught pilot sections of English 1105 and 1106 offered as part of VT’s Earth Sustainability program. Katie is obsessed with birds.

Diana George came to Virginia Tech in 2005 to direct the composition program. Before that, she was in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at Michigan Technological University directing writing programs and teaching in the graduate program when she wasn’t shoveling snow or cursing blackflies. Currently, she is Professor of Rhetoric and Writing and Director of the Writing Center for Virginia Tech. In between, she walks her Golden Retrievers, cans tomatoes, and bakes truly good pies. If you want to know more:

Jared Gibbs just completed his English MA this May, winning the VT English Department’s award for outstanding thesis, and receiving a nomination for the award for outstanding graduate teaching by an MA student. He is currently pursuing a teaching career. Prior to his English studies, Jared received a BA in Piano Performance from Virginia Tech in 2004 and spent a few years as a “musician” in New York, generally not making any money. A native of Blacksburg, Jared resides in Christiansburg with his wife, Natalie, who teaches band at the middle school. They share their small house with an English setter, Hannah; she is better than your dog.

Paul Heilker got his PhD so he could teach first-year composition courses for a living.  He directed VT’s composition program for 10 years and once won a big-timey award for his teaching of introductory courses.  His big goals now are to get his band on Austin City Limits and to qualify for the Boston Marathon (not necessarily in that order).

Lauren Jensen is the author of “Love & Basketball,” a ten-page, single-spaced,
center aligned, heart clip art included masterpiece that she wrote for Freshmen
English at Hope College where she failed to receive her M.R.S. degree, but was
granted with a B.A. and unemployment that led her to Oregon where she worked in a woodshop for two years, found solace in bright orange disposable ear plugs,
sanded off part of her right index finger, and decided to return to school
where she received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Virginia Tech and
learned to love run-on sentences because they have the ability to just keep
running and running like Paul will be in his quest to qualify for the Boston
Marathon and have his chance at Heartbreak Hill.

Kate Kimball graduated with an MFA from Virginia Tech.  Her work has appeared in journals such as, Ellipsis, Kestrel, Weber Studies, and Visions-International.  She currently resides in Salt Lake City, UT.

Jenny Lawrence lives in Radford with her high school math teacher husband and two boys, Eli and Max, across the street from another English faculty, Elizabeth Bloomer (Bloomer encouraged her to apply to VT AND to make an offer on her house– so Jenny’s patiently waiting to see from her what she should do next).  In the 90’s, she endured brief stints of high school and middle school teaching, which made her a better person.  She loves Tech students, writing center work, and teaching composition.

Alice LoMascolo received her BA in English as well as her MA in English with a concentration in Medieval Literature at Virginia Tech. She has been affiliated with the English department for many years as an undergraduate and then graduate student.  She became an instructor in 1999.

Elizabeth Mazzolini received her PhD in English at Penn State in 2006.  She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech.  Prior to that, she was an Assistant Professor of English at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  She has been teaching college writing classes since 1998.  Currently, Elizabeth teaches advanced writing classes like Professional Writing and Science Writing, as well as freshman composition.  She also teaches classes in cultural studies, cultural theory and science studies.  Elizabeth has essays in Theory & Event and Cultural Critique.

Aileen Murphy is the author of a chapbook of poetry, There Will Be Cats, from Finishing Line Press.  She is the Assistant Director of Creative Writing at Virginia Tech and the Director of the Blue Ridge Writing Project.

Kelly Pender always wanted to be a writer.  But the chances of that happening seemed slim.  So she got a PhD in rhetoric and composition. Now she writes about writing and teaches courses in rhetoric, editing, and critical theory.

At Virginia Tech, Katy Powell teaches first-year writing, research methods, literacy, autobiography, and women’s and gender studies.  She has also taught first-year writing at Louisiana State University, and University of Louisville. In addition, she has taught business and technical writing at University of Maryland and Northern Virginia Community College.

Suzanne Reisinger has taught in the English Department at Virginia Tech since Heck was a pup.  In addition to first-year writing, she teaches classes in American and Southern literature.  She has advised Graduate Teaching Assistants for the past five years, and has learned much in the process.

Vanessa Ruccolo has been teaching Freshman Composition with the VT English Department since 2006. She finds prewriting exercises and guided workshops invaluable, and she does not allow her students to use meaningless words like “very,”  nice,” and “a lot.” In order to explain how to write effectively, Vanessa often compares essay writing to delivering a comedy routine or making a case in court. She also likes to act out punctuation.

Molly Scanlon graduated from York College of Pennsylvania in 2006 with a B.A. in Professional Writing. She received an M.A. in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Maryland in 2008 and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing at Virginia Tech. Her research interests include the history and politics of composition studies, as well as visual rhetoric, both in the classroom and in extracurricular writing communities. Her personal interest in comics has brought her to the study of dominant discourse and alternative discourse—in the ways it can be defined and identified, and the rhetorical potential allowed by the affordances of the mediums which it occupies. In her first-year writing classes she tries to incorporate her research interests by introducing students to ever-broadening definitions of writing, literacy, and text. Her current project includes research on the genre of comics journalism vs. traditional mass media journalism, photography theory and the photodocumentary tradition, as well as myths and metanarratives of American culture.

Chelsea Skelley earned her BA in English and Cultural Studies from Chatham University. Currently, she is working towards her MA in English and a certificate in Women & Gender Studies. Her areas of interest are modern American & African American literature, popular culture, gender studies, and ecocriticism. Her current research focuses on issues of race, class, and gender in American cultural texts, specifically exploring these issues in fictional and non-fictional post-Katrina texts. She is also exploring the potentialities of feminist pedagogy in the academy. When she’s not reading, writing, or teaching, you can find her (like any movie geek) watching movies.

Julia Clare Tillinghast-Akalin grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, studied poetry as an undergraduate at Sarah Lawrence College, and spent the last few years before coming to Virginia Tech living, writing and teaching English in Istanbul, Turkey. Before Composition, she spent years teaching ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages), both in this country and abroad. She is a poet whose work has appeared most recently in Northern Passages and Sou’wester, and as a translator, along with Richard Tillinghast, of Dirty August: Selected Poems of Edip Cansever, from Talisman Press. She lives in Blacksburg with her son, Hamza.

Ed Weathers began his teaching career with six years at Memphis State University in 1971. He ended it in 2010 after seven years at Virginia Tech. In between, he was a magazine writer and editor for 27 years (Memphis magazine, Tennis magazine, Golf Digest). He’s now retired but is available to guest-teach an occasional class. Specialty: Writing style issues.

Amanda Zubillaga is a GTA as well as a MFA fiction candidate at Virginia Tech. Since she is new to teaching composition, her utmost goal is to encourage her students to view writing in new ways. Some of her most frequent comments on student writing: simpler is better, be specific, and you are allowed to use the word “I.”

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