College welcomes new faculty

College welcomes new faculty

calendar icon13 Jul 2022    

Clockwise from upper left:  Andy Belser, Ellen Hebden, Alessio Olivieri, Dan Novy and Sophie Isaak.
Clockwise from upper left: Andy Belser, Ellen Hebden, Alessio Olivieri, Dan Novy and Sophie Isaak.

Lincoln, Neb.--The Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts welcomes the following new faculty this fall. 

Andy Belser
Dean and Professor

Andy Belser is the new dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts. He came to Nebraska from the University of Arizona, where he was director and professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Television and led arts and medicine initiatives. 

Prior to Arizona, he was a professor of movement, voice and acting at Pennsylvania State University, where he taught and researched at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and performance. He was also founding director of the Arts and Design Research Incubator, where he mentored artists, designers and scientists in the research and creation of art and science projects targeted for further funding and presentation at national and international venues. 

His creative endeavors are many and varied, and he has directed theater works spanning from reimagined classics to devised works. He recently launched the Stories Travel project, engaging youth from regional Latinx and indigenous communities in film, sound and performance projects to help them imagine their stories as important elements of potential university study and beyond. As a principal investigator on the National Institutes of Health-funded iLookout for Child Abuse, he wrote and directed films to educate child care workers. He also created film and theater projects for a National Science Foundation-funded project educating citizens about environmental and social concerns around gas drilling in Pennsylvania. 

Belser received a Bachelor of Arts in communication arts and theater from Grove City College, a Master of Arts in theater from Villanova and a Master of Fine Arts in directing from Virginia Tech.

Ellen Hebden
Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology

Ellen Hebden comes to Nebraska from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where she was visiting assistant professor of music and anthropology. She has also held visiting positions at Eastern Illinois University and Beloit College. 

She completed a joint Ph.D. in cultural anthropology and ethnomusicology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has an M.M. in ethnomusicology from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. 

Her research examines the intersections of music and dance performance, gender and sexuality, and mobility politics. Her current book project, “Beauties in Motion: Performance, Affect and the Gendered Politics of Mobility in Mozambique,” documents the innovative ways in which dancers pursue mobility amidst political, economic and social restraints, by foregrounding the aesthetic innovations, play and feminine beauty practices that are central to “tufo” and its performance. Her secondary project on “veteranos”—night clubs for the elderly in northern Mozambique—examines listening, dancing and DJing practices to understand the relationship between aging, memory and care.

Sophie Isaak
Assistant Professor of Printmaking

Sophie Isaak comes to Nebraska from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, where she was a visiting assistant professor.

After graduating from the University of Vermont with a degree in English and studio art, Isaak went on to receive an M.A. and M.F.A. in printmaking from the University of Iowa.

Bound to intense colors, awkward and surprising forms and idiosyncratic compositions, Isaak utilizes printmaking, drawing and painting techniques to create complex compositions. Her work has been displayed nationally in several solo and juried exhibitions. Most recently Isaak has exhibited at the Richard D. Baron Gallery in Oberlin, Ohio; Ortega y Gasset Projects in Brooklyn, New York; and Collar Works in Troy, New York.

Isaak has completed artist residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Zea Mays Printmaking. In 2021 she served as a visiting artist at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire, wherein she completed a print project and curated an exhibition of contemporary printmaking. Isaak is a member of the Mid-American Print Council and Southern Graphics Council International. She has taught printmaking at Skidmore College, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lesley University and Oberlin College.

For more on Isaak and to see her work, visit her website at  

Dan Novy
Assistant Professor of Emerging Media Arts

Dan Novy (also known as NovySan) comes to Nebraska from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, where he was a research scientist working to decrease the alienation fostered by traditional passive media consumption; to increase social interaction through transparent, interconnected and fluid media; and to create enriched, active, and inspired immediate experiences.  

Novy received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theatre and a Master of Arts degree in theatre history, with a double emphasis in the technical history of the theatre and shamanic ritual performance in pre-agrarian societies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his Master of Science and Ph.D. in media arts and science from MIT.

He is the former chair of the Visual Effects Society's Technology Committee, former visiting scientist at Magic Leap, and co-instructor of the Media Lab's "Science Fiction-Inspired Prototyping" and "Indistinguishable from Magic" classes.

For more on Novy, visit his website at

Alessio Olivieri
Assistant Professor of Music History

A native of Italy, musicologist and classical guitarist, Alessio Olivieri is a research associate at the Center for Iberian and Latin American Music (CILAM) at the University of California Riverside. Before coming to Nebraska, he served as a guitar instructor at Nebraska Wesleyan University and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and as an associate instructor at the University of California Riverside.

His research examines realism and verismo in the Spanish musical theater at the crossroads of the 19th and 20th centuries, with particular emphasis on the Spanish realist operas informed by Italian verismo.

Other research interests include Italian chamber romances (art songs) of the 19th century —with his book “Le romanze da salotto di Michele Bellucci. Le edizioni a stampa e i manoscritti autografi” (2010). His graduate thesis, titled “Il Tenebrismo: la chitarra della noche oscura da Manuel de Falla ad Angelo Gilardino,” introduced the concept of “tenebrism” as a new poetic in the 20th century guitar repertoire. Olivieri has presented his scholarship at national and international conferences in the U.S., Italy and Australia.

As a professional classical guitarist, he has performed throughout the U.S., Italy, Australia and New Zealand, especially as a duo with his wife, soprano Elisa Ramon.

Olivieri is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at the University of California Riverside, and he a holds a Master of Music in classical guitar performance from Manhattan School of Music (New York City), a Master of Music (summa cum laude) in music publishing, a diploma in classical guitar, and a Bachelor of Music in musicology from the Cesare Pollini Conservatory in Padua, Italy.