New Faces at the AHA
Meet Whitney E. Barringer, Lauren Brand, and Nicholas Kryczka
The AHA is pleased to welcome Whitney E. Barringer, Lauren Brand, and Nicholas Kryczka, who have joined the AHA as staff to work on Mapping the Landscape of Secondary US History Education, part of the Teaching History with Integrity initiative.
Whitney E. Barringer joined the project as a researcher in July. Whit earned all three of her degrees in history, beginning with a BA at the University of Central Arkansas and an MA and PhD from the University of Mississippi. Her dissertation was on the intellectual history of mental illness and mental institutions in Europe and the US South, with a focus on the institutional and political history of Mississippi’s mental institutions between 1855 and 1910. Pedagogically, she is interested in the way films and other kinds of art can be used to critically engage with ideas and emotions in US history.
Whit previously worked as a visiting instructor at the University of Central Arkansas and as a freelance history editor. As an instructor, she was engaged and energized by the effort to understand the state of historical education and sought to understand how to better historical education for not just students and educators but the future of democracy in the United States. “The Mapping the Landscape project provided a great opportunity to combine my career trajectory with my deep personal interest in the betterment of historical education through clarifying, substantive, fair analysis,” Whit told Perspectives.
Outside work, Whit enjoys exploring cuisines by cooking with flavors and techniques new to her. She also enjoys writing and playing independent tabletop role-playing games as a way to improve and expand her capacity for imagination and empathy. In addition, she is “interested in the way role-playing games can be used in the classroom to help students connect with historical education.”
Whit enjoys playing independent tabletop role-playing games as a way to expand her capacity for imagination and empathy.
Lauren Brand also started in July as a researcher. Lauren completed her master’s and doctoral degrees from Rice University before working in academic publishing at the Journal of Southern History and Presidential Studies Quarterly. She was an assistant professor at her undergraduate alma mater, Southern Nazarene University, for five years before coming to work for the AHA. Her primary field of research is the history of Native peoples in the trans-Mississippi west in the 19th century, though she mainly taught first-year world history courses.
Lauren was excited by the opportunity to return to research at the AHA because of the importance of the Mapping the Landscape project. She believes that the project will have a large impact on the conversation about history education in public schools. “The opportunity to contribute to a publication that could bring some empirical grounding to the often-fraught conversations about public history education was too good to pass up,” she told Perspectives. Lauren has been interested in the AHA since she was a faculty member advising undergraduate history majors. There, she kept a copy of the AHA’s Careers for History Majors on her desk to share with students so they could see how the history discipline could support their career goals in a variety of ways.
Lauren has been interested in the AHA since she was a faculty member advising undergraduate history majors.
In her free time, Lauren enjoys reading science fiction and fantasy novels, particularly the work of Brandon Sanderson, whom she has read since his first novel, Elantris, came out in 2005. She also enjoys cooking meals that allow her to learn new recipes as she transitions to a vegan diet. Yoga and Pilates workouts also keep her occupied, as “nothing feels better after a long day hunched over a microfilm machine than a deep yoga stretch.” In addition, she is an avid fan of international television, from British period pieces to Korean and Thai dramas.
In April, Nicholas Kryczka joined the AHA as research coordinator for the Mapping the Landscape project. Nick earned his history PhD from the University of Chicago in 2019, where he subsequently worked as a postdoctoral teaching fellow in the social sciences. His research focused on urban space, racial ideology, and education policy. His work has been published in History of Education Quarterly, the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, and will appear in forthcoming edited volumes from the University of Illinois Press and Oxford University Press.
Before his doctoral studies, Nick earned his BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his teacher licensure and MA in history from Northeastern Illinois University. His 10-year career as a high school social studies teacher in Chicago public schools and subsequent experience in developing a K–12 history curriculum for the Newberry Library and the Chicago Collections Consortium piqued his interest in Mapping the Landscape. “With a career that has spanned K–12 social studies and academia, I was especially excited to work on this project,” Nick said.
Nick’s 10-year career as a teacher in Chicago public schools piqued his interest in Mapping the Landscape.
As a parent of two boys on the northwest side of Chicago, Nick spends much of his free time with his family playing basketball, walking their dog, cooking, directing their Cub Scout Pack, hiking, camping, and exploring the city. In his preparenting days, he took multiweek backpacking treks with friends worldwide. “Traveling remains a passion that I try to share with my kids,” Nick told Perspectives.
Together, Whit, Lauren, and Nick bring a wealth of knowledge and experiences to the AHA and the Mapping the Landscape of Secondary US History Education project. Please extend them a warm welcome!
Lizzy Meggyesy is research and publications assistant at the AHA.
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