Faculty & Staff

For general inquiries, please contact us at bis@vcu.edu or by phone at 804-828-4036.

Our offices are located at 818 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23220.


Zach HilpertDr. Zachary Hilpert
Director of Interdisciplinary Studies

Zach Hilpert joined the Interdisciplinary Studies Program in August of 2017 after teaching in VCU’s Department of Focused Inquiry for six years. A native South Dakotan who has made his home in Virginia for more than a decade, Dr. Hilpert earned his Ph. D. in American Studies from the College of William and Mary in August of 2014, specializing in American history, urban studies, and visual culture. His diverse scholarship has explored topics ranging from the visual depiction of urban disaster in the United States, to presidential visits to the state of Mississippi. Dr. Hilpert has taught courses ranging from “Interdisciplinary Foundations” and the BIS Senior Capstone at VCU, to “The History of the American South” and “History and Memory in the Urban Landscape” at previous institutions. An enthusiastic teacher and interdisciplinarian, he works to draw real and sustainable connections between the vital skills built in the college classroom, and the world outside the university’s walls.

Dr. Mariah CrilleyDr. Mariah Crilley
Interim Associate Director and Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies

Mariah Crilley joined the Interdisciplinary Studies Program in January 2020 after teaching in VCU's Department of Focused Inquiry. She has also taught composition, rhetoric, and American literature at Duquesne University and West Virginia University, where she completed her PhD in 2019. Her dissertation drew on ecocriticism, disability studies, and the medical humanities to investigate how diseases like syphilis and smallpox shaped early American bodies and bodies of literature. She has published on malaria and the colonization of the American West, modern health wearables, and Superman and Huntington's disease. Like her research, Dr. Crilley's pedagogy emphasizes agency, inclusivity, and accessibility. Teaching critical thinking, research, writing, and interdisciplinarity as verbs and practices, she strives to build an accessible learning environment that enables all students to succeed.

Photo of Martha HarperMartha Harper
Senior Academic Advisor, Interdisciplinary Studies

Martha began her second career in higher education in 2004 when she returned to school at Virginia Commonwealth University as a nontraditional student. Martha studied History, Religious Studies and Counselor Education, all while working as special advocate and advisor for off-campus students at VCU. This ranged from adult learners and apartment dwellers, to commuting first year students. She worked with the Wellness Resource Center and the University College during her graduate program to create community and lead Common Book discussions for Off Campus Freshmen.  

After earning her M.Ed. in Counselor Education with a concentration in College Student Development, Martha opened a Center at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville TN for Adult, Nontraditional and Transfer Students affectionately known as the A.N.T.S. Center. She returned to VCU in 2017 to her beloved Richmond, and to advise students in the School of Business. When she saw the BIS Advisor position opened, she jumped at the chance to use her own interdisciplinary background to support students in their creative goal planning and to be part of the University College.

She currently serves as the Chair of a national knowledge community to advise higher education professionals on best practices for supporting the educational goals of Adult Learners and Student with Children. This is administered through the Equity and Inclusion Division of NASPA the premier organization for Student Affairs professionals.

Tim Marker

Academic Advisor, Interdisciplinary Studies

Tim Marker joined the Interdisciplinary Studies program as an Academic Advisor in October 2019. He previously worked for three years at VCU as a graduate student advisor in the Wilder School and as a first year undergraduate undeclared advisor in VCU Student Success. Prior to working at VCU, Tim served as an undergraduate advisor in the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus and worked as an undergraduate Honors College advisor for St. Cloud State University. Tim earned his Masters degree in College Counseling and Student Development from St. Cloud State University in 2014 and his Bachelor's degree in History from Northern Michigan University in 2011. Through his various roles, Tim brings a unique and interdisciplinary approach to advising by combining practices in Person-Centered counseling with a focus on fostering self-authorship, helping to guide students towards writing their own narrative of how they will accomplish their educational and professional goals.   

Richard Quarshie

Academic Advisor, Interdisciplinary Studies

Richard Quarshie joined the Interdisciplinary Studies Program in September 2019 after successfully completing the Master of Arts in Communication and Development program at Ohio University. Originally from Ghana, West Africa, his interests involve using communication as a tool to foster the growth and development of individuals and society as a whole. Prior to attending Ohio University, he earned a Master’s Degree in Development Communications with a focus on Health Communications at the Ghana Institute of Journalism. Having a profile that is informed by trans-Atlantic experiences in very different cultural contexts makes his academic background unique.

He enjoys working in multi-disciplinary fields ranging from communications and media to information technology and in the last five years, education. He is also passionate about motivating and guiding young students to move past the challenges before them in order to become successful.

Virginia Commonwealth University

The Interdisciplinary Studies Program

818 West Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23284

Phone: 804-828-4036

Updated: 2/10/2020

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