Faculty and Staff Directory

Name Title Email Address
Cooper, Brandon Assistant Director & Lecturer bcooper@tamu.edu
Brandon Cooper
Office: Academic Building 301D
Phone: 1-979-845-7940
E-mail: bcooper@tamu.edu

Brandon Cooper joined Texas A&M’s English Language Institute in June 2013 as a lecturer, and was named the assistant director in 2015. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts in English, he has earned a Master of Arts in Theology with an emphasis in biblical languages from Houston Baptist University and a Master of Arts in English with an emphasis in linguistics from Sam Houston State University. Additionally, he has engaged in post-graduate study of Modern Hebrew at Cambridge University and is completing a PhD in linguistics from the University of South Carolina where he also earned a certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in 2013. He is currently writing his dissertation on Afro-Texan folk speech.

Brandon has taught a variety of courses at the post-secondary level for six years in both ESL and non-ESL contexts. ESL courses taught include Beginner and Intermediate Advanced Reading, Intermediate Advanced & Advanced Grammar, and Advanced Oral Skills. Non-ESL courses include Critical Reading & Composition, Rhetoric & Composition, Introduction to the Humanities, and Technical Writing. Brandon has prepared poster presentations, invited talks, conference presentations, publications, and scholarly contributions. Noteworthy among these are his contributions to the Corpus of American Civil War letters (Ellis & Montgomery) and a forthcoming, coauthored publication titled “When did Southern American English really begin?” (Montgomery, Ellis & Cooper 2014). In addition to his specialization in dialects of American English, especially those of the American South and Southwest, Brandon has studied Spanish, Hebrew (Biblical and Modern), Koine Greek, and Latin.

Downey, Mike Interim Director & Lecturer m-downey@tamu.edu
Mike Downey
Office: Academic Building 301C
Phone: 1-979-845-7908
E-mail: m-downey@tamu.edu

Mike L. Downey has been intimately involved with writing for most of the past 30 years. He has been an ELIN lecturer since 2006, was named assistant director in 2010, and began serving as the interim director in 2015. In addition to a focus on teaching ELIN advanced composition courses, Downey has taught all levels of composition as well as reading, vocabulary, and grammar and helps lead the institute-wide composition evaluation exercise twice a semester. A freelance writer since 2003, Downey has taught composition courses at Blinn College and Howard College, served as a lecturer for beginning and senior-level journalism courses at Texas A&M, and taught high school English in three school districts. He has a B.A. and M.A.T. in English from Angelo State University and completed course work toward a Ph.D. in English at Texas A&M. An award-winning newspaper reporter, Downey also spent 18 years as a science and education writer in communication offices for various Texas A&M University System institutions.

Kaspar, Joey Business Coordinator II joeykaspar@tamu.edu
Joey Kaspar
Office: Academic Building 301B
Phone: 1-979-845-7949
E-mail: joeykaspar@tamu.edu

Joanna (Joey) Kaspar joined ELIN in September 2013 as the Business Coordinator. Joey was also a student worker and conversation partner during her graduate studies in 2011. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Landscape Architecture, and her master’s degree in Urban Planning.

Joey worked in Colorado Springs, Colorado at N.E.S. Inc. as a Landscape Architect before attending graduate school.  During graduate school, she studied at the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. Joey’s research, heavily conducted in Spanish, focused on the built environment’s effect on demographic patterns and their cultural implications. After graduation in 2011, she went on to work as a city planner for League City, Texas. Joey worked to improve the city’s economic and long-term community development through land use applications.

Joey’s international experience has been a mix of research, volunteer, and independent traveling. She has had the opportunity to see much of Europe, Central America, Australia, New Zealand, North America, South America, and light travels in Indonesia. Her experiences abroad have equipped her to work and relate to international students at ELI.

McIntyre, Catherine Lecturer cmcintyre@tamu.edu
Catherine McIntyre
Office: Bolton 303
E-mail: cmcintyre@tamu.edu

Catherine A. McIntyre joined the English Language Institute in spring 2006. Ms. McIntyre has taught every subject area and level, focusing on culture, vocabulary development, and composition for the basic and intermediate levels. She earned a Master’s of Education from Regent University with a certificate in TESOL. Previously she taught English with Laubauch Literacy Mission, Army Community Services, and other local organizations across five continents. She also worked as a high school substitute and Adult Basic Educator in Prince William County School of VA, full time as an ESL teacher in Bryan TX ISD, and as a specialty tutor for Associate Degree Nursing ESL students at Blinn Community College. Since joining the ELI faculty, she has co-presented locally and in Costa Rica on accelerating English acquisition for parents and educators with ChildreNinos, and on improving spelling for ESL students in Tx TESOL Regional and State conferences. She has presented on ELI programs to the TAMU International Graduate Student Association, Reveille Club of Houston, the Noon Lion’s Club, and the Houston Aggies Lunch Club. She has served since 2006 as the TAMU Faculty Advisor to The Wells Project, a student organization that raises funds to build fresh water wells for impoverished villages in Africa and South America. The Wells Project began at TAMU and has spread across the US to more than 20 other universities and has built more than 30 wells.

Payne, Ginessa Lecturer glawsonpayne@tamu.edu
Ginessa Payne
Office: Bolton 303
E-mail: glawsonpayne@tamu.edu

An applied linguist, Ginessa (Lawson) Payne enjoys the challenge of using linguistics to solve real-world problems, such as anticipating and preventing miscommunication, particularly with adult learners of English. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Yale University with distinction in the major. After working in a technical writing company developing user guides and educational software, she earned a Master’s in Applied Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language from UCLA, studying under applied linguists such as Lyle Bachman (language assessment), Marianne Celce-Murcia (grammar and discourse analysis), Donna Brinton (pedagogy), and Janet Goodwin (second-language pronunciation). Her efforts to study other languages (Chinese, Latin, Spanish, and Russian) have given her insights into the language learning process, as well as respect and compassion for her ESL students. Her travels have taken her to Taiwan, China, Puerto Rico, Russia, Scandinavia, and Germany. 


Ginessa has taught ESL in higher education (UCLA, Houston Community College, Northern Virginia Community College, and George Mason University) and in other contexts (high school summer camp, test prep tutoring, business language training, and workshops for professionals). She has taught beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels and discrete skills: reading, writing, speaking, listening, as well as grammar and vocabulary. She has rated the SPEAK exam, measuring oral skills of international teaching assistants, for UCLA and for GMU. At Texas A&M University’s intensive English program, she serves as the chair of the accreditation committee; she has been trained by the accrediting agency CEA (Commission on English Language Program Accreditation) and volunteered as a site reviewer. Ginessa is active in the professional association Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and has co-presented on topics ranging from spelling instruction to textbook adoption. She considers it a joy and privilege to work with motivated, mature, intelligent people from around the world, to improve their communication and help them reach their goals. Her students’ success is her success.

Peters, Regina Lecturer regina.peters@tamu.edu
Regina Peters
Office: Bolton 302A
E-mail: regina.peters@tamu.edu

Regina Peters has been teaching English Composition classes since 2002. She began her career as a teaching assistant at Purdue University while she pursued her Master’s of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. After graduating in 2005, she moved back to Texas and taught developmental writing courses at Prairie View A&M University. Most recently, she has relocated to the Bryan/College Station area where she taught composition and developmental writing courses at Blinn College. In addition to holding her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, she also has a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Redlands where she completed a double major in Creative Writing and Spanish.

Pulak, Sema Lecturer sema@tamu.edu
Sema Pulak
Office: Bolton 305D
E-mail: sema@tamu.edu

Sema Pulak holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Bosphorus University (Istanbul, Turkey), Diplome de Langue in French Literature and Art History from L’Alliance Francaise (Paris, France), and an M.A. in Spanish Literature with a minor in Education from Texas A&M University. She is a multilingual linguist (Turkish, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Latin) and translator with over twenty years of language instruction and translation experience. Mrs. Pulak has resided and attended schools (Germany and France) and traveled in various countries abroad, which are necessary components for effective teaching in a second language. She has been an instructor at the English Language Institute at Texas A&M University since 1999, teaching all subject areas at all levels. Among her professional interests are idiom/word etymology, and the application of affective filter/motivation through humor and skits to create an ideal classroom atmosphere. Sema Pulak has been the senior Archaeological Illustrator for the Institute of Nautical Archaeology since 1982, and her artwork has been published in major archaeological journals and books.

West, Virginia Lecturer vbwest@tamu.edu
Virginia West
Office: Academic Building 440
Phone: 979-845-7622
E-mail: vbwest@tamu.edu

Virginia West earned her master’s degree in Intercultural Communication from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in 1987 and a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) in 1981. West became part of the faculty at the Texas A&M University English Language Institute in 2000 after 10 years of part-time free-lance editing and full-time parenting. At the University of Pennsylvania, West studied sociolinguistics under Dell Hymes, Nessa Wolfson, Teresa Pica, Nancy Hornberger, and other pioneers in the sociolinguistics field. Her research studies focused on speech patterns of Korean immigrant women in inner city Philadelphia, comparisons between lay midwife-patient speech patterns and medical doctor-patient speech patterns, and the differences between American Sign Language and English. At the University of Massachusetts, West studied under Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, currently the director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National African Art Museum, who inspired her to pursue issues of race, gender, and intercultural communication.

Prior to moving to Texas in 1990, West interned and then worked full-time as a policy research associate for the Center for Women Policy Studies (CWPS) in Washington, DC from December 1987 to March 1990. She did research and writing on math and science programs for women and girls of color. As a representative of CWPS, West attended U.S. House of Representative committee hearings, was on a committee to recommend women presidential appointees to George H.W. Bush, supervised interns, and contributed to several reports on standardized testing discrepancies for women and girls of color. After moving to College Station, West volunteered at the Race and Ethnic Studies Institute in the TAMU Department of Sociology.

At the English Language Institute, West has taught advanced reading, intermediate writing, basic, intermediate, and advanced oral skills, intermediate listening, intermediate vocabulary, advanced grammar, and American culture to students from across the globe. Pursuant of her interest in intercultural relationships, West expanded the Conversation Partners, developed the Classroom Partners program, and created the American Culture and Customs Class to orient new students to American life. West served as ELI Curriculum Coordinator for the Institute in 2005. West currently specializes in teaching oral language production and acquisition at the basic, intermediate, and high intermediate levels. For the past two years West has been a reviewer on the Western Europe Screening Committee for the National Fulbright Scholarship English Language Teaching U.S. Student Assistantship program through the Institute of International Education.

Wilson, Valerie International Student Advisor I vfwilson@tamu.edu
Valerie Wilson
Office: Academic Building 301A
Phone: 979-845-9516
E-mail: vfwilson@tamu.edu

Valerie joined ELI as a student worker while she was attending Texas A&M studying Telecommunication. She returned as after graduating in 2015 and is now International Student Advisor I. Although Valerie is originally from South Texas, she now happily calls College Station her home along with her husband and their cat. Valerie is a member of NAFSA Association for International Educators.

Winking, Marisa Administrative Assistant mkwinking@tamu.edu
Marisa Winking
Office: Academic Building 301A
Phone: 979-845-9516
E-mail: mkwinking@tamu.edu

Marisa Winking is a new Aggie joining the ELI as Administrative Assistant. She received a BA degree in psychology while living in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband and two boys. As the daughter of an Air Force Pilot, Marisa spent her formative years abroad in England, Germany, and Turkey. She has spent the last several years working as a local pastry chef, after receiving a chef de Patisserie diploma from the Culinary Institute Le Notre and continues her passion to master the art of the European patissier. Marisa enjoys meeting and engaging with international students and finds it easy to connect with others through discussions of their traditional and ethnic cuisine.