Nadia Pawelchak McDonald, who received her PhD from Florida State University in 2014, once told a student “if you like anything aesthetic, then you like the humanities.” Like many undergraduates who struggle with liberal arts courses, this science major had expressed frustration at having to memorize what she considered irrelevant content. As a scholar with a background in science and art, Nadia has made it her goal to show students that the humanities are relevant for everyone.
Nadia is a writing and humanities tutor and academic specialist in the Learning Commons at Tallahassee Community College and an online art history professor for the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. She tutors undergraduates, leads grammar and editing workshops, and assists faculty, focusing on the specific needs of individual students. Nadia’s favorite part of the job is “helping students find the strength within themselves,” watching them progress from outsiders to engaged participants in the liberal arts. Her passion for teaching has in turn expanded her own appreciation for the arts and humanities.
Before coming to FSU, Nadia earned degrees in studio art and medieval art history, with minors in biology and Anglo-Saxon literature and history. She completed her MA at the University of Connecticut, where she also gained experience as an instructor, teaching English composition throughout her graduate training. Nadia returned to the Sunshine State to earn her PhD in Art History at FSU, advised by Dr. Paula Gerson. Inspired in part by her undergraduate work in biology, her dissertation, “Medieval Art, Audiences, Embodied Responses, and Cognitive Theory,” applies neuroscience and cognitive psychology to the study of how medieval objects were understood by their audiences. Nadia is currently working on an essay on medieval art history and neuroscience to be included in Cognitive Sciences and Medieval Studies: An Introduction (forthcoming in 2019 from University of Wales Press).