Luther College announces the appointment of seven new faculty members for the 2018-19 academic year

September 28, 2018

Luther College announced the appointment of seven new faculty members for the 2018-19 academic year.

New faculty include Brita Carbonell, Brian Hiester, Julia Kelto Lillis, Melissa Martinez, Linda Silber and Mark Thorne.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,005, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college’s website:

Brita Carbonell

Brita Carbonell of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has been appointed as an instructor in the nursing program.

Previously, Carbonell was a registered nurse at Allina Health-United Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she provided direct patient care as a registered nurse in the Intensive Care Unit. She also works as a nurse educator and assisted living registered nurse for Ebenezer/Fairview Health Services, providing orientation and nursing education to new and existing employees. She also is the cofounder, board president and class leader for National Alliance on Mental Illness NE Iowa.

Carbonell received her Bachelor of Arts in nursing and biology from Luther in 2010. She is working on receiving a Master of Science in Nursing in adulty gerontology-acute care nurse practitioner through Walden University.

Brian Hiester

Brian Hiester of Boulder, Colorado, has been hired as a visiting assistant professor of biology.

Most recently, Hiester was a post-doctoral fellow in the Kennedy lab at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus. While there, he investigated the mechanisms of protein trafficking during neural plasticity. His work was recently published in the journal Cell Reports.

Hiester earned a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Colby College in Waterville, Maine. He received a Ph.D. in molecular, cellular and developmental biology in 2012 from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Julia Kelto Lillis

Julia Kelto Lillis has been hired as a visiting assistant professor of religion.

Prior to joining the Luther staff, Lillis was a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Virginia, where she taught undergraduate and graduate seminars and conducted research. She taught courses at Duke University and Duke Divinity School during her Ph.D. program.

Lillis earned a Bachelor of Arts in music, Greek and ancient studies from St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, in 2004. She completed Master of Divinity and Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. In 2017, she earned a Ph.D. in religion from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, with her major area of specialization in early Christianity.

Melissa Martinez

Melissa Martinez of Flowermound, Texas, has been hired as a visiting assistant professor of political science.

Most recently, Martinez taught introduction to international relations at the University of North Texas. She also has taught a research design workshop and introduction to peace studies, all at the University of North Texas. While working on her master’s, she was an editorial assistant for the “American Political Science Review” at North Texas.

Martinez received a Bachelor of Arts in international relations from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, in 2012. She received a master’s in political science from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, in 2016. This past spring, she received a Ph.D. in international relations and comparative politics from the University of North Texas.

Linda Silber

Linda Silber of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been named as a visiting assistant professor of sociology.

Since 2016, Silber has been a full-time visiting professor of sociology and criminal justice at the New Mexico Highlands University in Rio Rancho and Santa Fe, New Mexico. She’s also been an adjunct sociology instructor at Central New Mexico Community College since 2014. From 2007 to 2014, she taught sociology at Union College, Barbourville, Kentucky. While at Union College, she received the Excellence in Teaching Award, 2013-14; Research Fellowship, 2012-13; and Most Contributing Faculty or Staff Award, Co-Curricular Award, 2010-11.

Silber received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and English from The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington. She received her master’s and Ph.D. in sociology, with a minor in feminist studies, from the University of Minnesota. She also has studied conversational Spanish and completed coursework on how to design and teach online and hybrid courses.

Mark Thorne

Mark Thorne of St. Louis, Missouri, has been named as a visiting assistant professor of classics.

Since 2015, Thorne has been a visiting assistant professor of classics at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. From 2008 to 2015, he was an assistant professor of classical languages and the director of the Latin program at Wheaton College in Illinois. Prior to that he was a visiting lecturer in the classics department at Cornell College in Mount Vernon.

Thorne earned a Bachelor of Arts in antiquities from Missouri State University in 2000. He received his master’s in classics in 2002 and Ph.D. in classics in 2010, both from the University of Iowa. He attended Classical Summer School at the American Academy in Rome in 2003.