Soon all your TAs bios will be here; clicking on their names will lead to a secure link to contact them via email. They all want to hear from you, so visit this page often!

Bryan Black

Bryan Black bought his drumset as soon as he started high school, and began playing in bands just as early. He’s supported musicians in bands ranging as widely as progressive metal and ska, distinguished jazz ensembles in New Zealand, to “Christian folk”…and even some of the hesitant stylings of your own Dr. Carson. He doesn’t favor playing any particular type of music, favoring instead the adventure of adapting his style of accompaniment to whatever tune or musical practice comes his way. However, he has found jazz to be one of the most exciting musical genres because of its constantly evolving and malleable nature.

Bryan is on a temporary break from a career as a film-maker, to pursue his jazz research and developing performance practices as a percussionist more intensively.

Joe Cantrell

Joe Cantrell is a musician and multi-media artist specializing in sound art, installations and performances inspired by the nexus of technology and entropy. He is fascinated by the incessant acceleration of technology and media, the ownership of same, and our interactions with the waste these processes produce.

As a performer, Cantrell incorporates numerous musical disciplines and utilizes diverse instrumentation and techniques, including re-purposed devices, tape destruction, feedback, process pieces and computer generated sounds, as well as more traditional instrumentation. Currently he works on performance systems based on controlled feedback loops using obsolete and discarded equipment. Cantrell has been featured at the 2005 CEAIT festival at the REDCAT theater in Disney Hall. In 2006, he received a multi-year grant from the Creative Capital Foundation for CALLSPACE, a collaborative sound installation that highlights inaccessible spaces.

Joe Cantrell currently pursues an MFA in Digital Arts and New Media program at the University of California Santa Cruz. For more information on Cantrell’s projects, pieces, visit

Leslie Chavez

Leslie Chavez is currently studying Literature with an emphasis in Modern Literary Studies in her second year at UC Santa Cruz. She has gained experience as a writer and editor while working for the Pioneer Press and has worked as a development intern at a Los Angeles based, non-profit, literary press. She is currently the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Matchbox Magazine, a UC campus wide literary/arts magazine. Leslie is also a respectable clarinetist, and when circumstances require it, she can fake her way around a mandolin.

Chavez’ recent research investigates the cultural and political transformations affecting the U.S. during the 1960s. This historical research also supports her long-range interest in artists like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Simon and Garfunkel, as well as the 1960s “comeback” careers of Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry.

Monica Deeb

Monica is a scholar of American Studies hailing from Santa Clara, CA…but her sense of native belonging is hybridized, between the Bay Area and Santa Cruz. She is one of two student representatives for the American Studies Department this year. Ms. Deeb’s scholarship addresses issues in culinary entertainment and popular culture, and the socio-psychological structure of comedy. Her recent research lends special focus on Zach Braff and Donald Faison, and Patrick Dempsey when he’s having a good hair day. She hopes to apply her studies to post-academic careers in education and health-care. Deeb has done volunteer work in both fields, including tutoring multi-cultural and bi-lingual fourth graders in reading and writing, and volunteering at the Palo Alto Veteran’s Hospital.

Deeb’s musical investigations center on Swing and Tin-Pan Alley, with new developing interests in hip-hop and R&B. She is also a competent choral and operatic alto. If you want a good grade in this class, remind her of Christmas, the color pink, or long walks on the beach (unless the weather sucks). Monica is conversant in Spanish and French, and fluent in Arabic and English.

Sarah Francis

Sarah Francis is a scholar of American history. Her musical experience includes “playing flute, 4th through 7th grade, which [she] quit to pursue [her] social agenda.” Though this is where the bulk of her hands-on musical experience ends, she thinks she is qualified to help teach a class about American popular music because she “goes to shows” and “was one of 25 people at a secret Joanna Newsom show one time — it was so intimate.” Additionally, she excels at Velvet Underground trivia and has aspirations of one day playing the cello.

(Francis is also a big reader and likes to write as well. She’s very friendly and enjoys being helpful; please don’t hesitate to ask her questions!)

Belinda Hsueh

Although Belinda Hsueh is a business major, she is also known to be an amateur historian, connoisseur of the arts, music, and popular culture in the U.S.. Her experience with music started with rhythmic tapping against her mother’s womb. She is a classically trained pianist, but one instrument was just not enough, and she later found her true calling with the clarinet. Her performances as a clarinettist range from the Pasadena Rose Parade to the Inauguration of President Bush in Washington D.C. Her expert knowledge on “what’s in and what’s out” pretty much gives her the upper hand on the subject of American popular culture. Her qualifications on good taste extend to everything from hip-hop and R&B to old-school pop.

As a Meyers-Briggs “ISFP” personality type, she is always willing to help others and gains satisfaction in doing so—so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Belinda loves taking long walks with her MP3 player, in order to find herself. Unfortunately, her MP3 player was destroyed in a tragic shower accident, and her life has not been the same since. And if you ever catch her bustin’ out her phone camera to take pictures of the majestic clouds above, don’t mind her.

Amy Mayper

Amy Mayper has spent most of her life unlearning the dance moves she acquired while subjected to Tom Petty concerts at age 3. Part of her therapy has included dancing onstage at multiple consecutive “Fountains of Wayne” concerts. In January of this year, after a few undisclosed settlements out-of-court, she was declared a member of the band. When pressed in recent interviews, however, some band members dispute this version of events.

A short-story writer, Mayper has temporarily set aside her dance moves in favor of the word processor. She especially enjoys writing bizarre and unsettling short stories and then watching her family’s shocked expressions as they read them. Mayper’s non-fiction work includes analyses of Clytemnestra in Aeschylus’ “Oresteia” and an examination of contrastive lighting in the Hitchcock film “Vertigo.”

In her spare time, Amy Mayper can often be found practicing karate, reading Greek mythology, and spending way too much time and money on eccentric baking projects. She is very excited to be a T.A. for U.S. Popular Culture and is looking forward to working with you and to learning some cool new stuff about American music.

Adriana Moosekian

Adriana Moosekian is an popular culture scholar with current leanings toward Italian Studies and a recent research emphasis on American culture, history, and music. Moosekian is particularly interested in the 1960s psychedelic rock era, and the effects that the political movements of the time had on popular music.  She is an enthusiast of all types of music, but is currently working on theories to explain the inherent superiority of Bob Dylan, and (to the extent they were influenced by Dylan), the Beatles. She is the youngest known person who claims to have personally met a clear majority of members of both the Beatles (3/4) and the original Supremes (2/3). Her claims, however, are disputed. (Haters. Pay no attention.)

Moosekian is gospel singer, pianist, and guitarist in her leisure time. After attempts to learn the early music of Ani DiFranco, she is contemplating surgery to add a sixth finger to her right hand.

Daniel Muñoz

Daniel Muñoz holds a BA in music theory with a minor in philosophy from CSU Fullerton and an MA in musicology from UC Riverside; he is now a second year PhD student in the cross-cultural musicology program at UCSC. Daniel’s research spans many topics such as: the history of music theory, philosophies of music and music aesthetics, cultural notions of consonance and dissonance, alternative methods of musical analysis, intermedia theory, music and identity, sound art, audio culture, and noise.

Also a composer, Mr. Muñoz’s works include a Clarinet Trio (1998, performed at CSUF in 1999), a String Quartet (2000, performed at UCR in 2005), and an installation called Space Study #1: Vestigial Nipples (2005) for four-channel sound. As an improviser, he has worked with the UCR Free Improvisation Ensemble, and his own group in LA called Cheston (named after Charlton Heston for his choice lines in Planet of the Apes). As a performer, Daniel fronted a rock group in the OC called Fallopia, in which he played electric guitar and sang. More recently he performed electric guitar for Glenn Branca’s Symphony #13 “Hallucination City” (performed at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, 2006).

One of Daniel’s favorite musical activities is karaoke. He has sung in various cities throughout the US, though he really enjoyed his time singing in Berlin in the summer of 2008. Daniel wishes everyone good grades.

Andrew Pascoe

Andrew earned his Sc.B. in Mathematics from Brown University.  He then worked at an engineering firm developing a variety of medical products, and received a qualification to perform scientific tests on human subjects (and that’s one thing he has in common with Dr. Carson. So watch out.).  He also once worked at another infamous organization, but he can’t tell you what he did there.  After discovering that math was just too easy, he decided to study composition, sound design, and interactive installation for a couple of years.  He is now an M.F.A. candidate in UCSC’s Digital Arts and New Media program.

Pascoe’s art has a focus on math and technology illuminating biological concepts.  For example, one of his compositions uses human biological rhythms as part of the score. Another work, an interactive installation, uses a genetic algorithm as an example of how our inadvertent actions push evolution in new directions.  His philosophy of art is based around Kantian noumena and phenomena, with a sprinkling of the Schopenhauerian assertion that music is the purest of arts.  His musical influences include, but are not limited to: Bach, Beethoven, John Cage, Mozart, Palestrina, Steve Reich, and Iannis Xenakis.  His list of musical anti-influences would most likely just offend people. As you can tell from this bio, Andrew has a superb taste in music which is beyond reproach.

Beth Ratay

Beth Ratay is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has a Master of Music in Composition from Arizona State University, where she also was a teaching assistant in Music Theory. Beth also has a Bachelor of Music in Composition, with a minor in German Language and Literature, from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has had pieces premiered by the Phoenix Symphony Chorus, the University of Colorado Wind Ensemble, Venezuelan flutist Javier Montilla, and the Arizona State University Concert Band. Recordings of her music are available at

Ratay’s musical interests include the relationship of language and music, especially the rhythms of natural speech, focusing on German, English and Czech, and the history and future of the concert band and wind ensemble. Ratay is an accomplished flutist and singer, and had performed with the Arizona State University Wind Ensemble, the Phoenix Symphony Chorus and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. She is also a widely respected Guitar Hero virtuoso.

Joanna Rockwell

Joanna Rockwell is Santa Cruz-area trumpet player with a background in marching bands and jazz. Her primary vocation is in the visual arts, where she specializes in non-digitial graphic media like pen-and-ink, acrylics, and charcoal. She has illustrated a children’s book, and has begun developing a conceptual approach to transferring her skills to animation work. She is also an aspiring teacher and has served school districts as a part-time and volunteer elementary educator.

Joanna is passionate about her recent research in U.S. Popular Culture, and is very excited to work as a teaching assistant for this course. She is looking forward to hearing your thoughts about the material and hopes that everyone feels comfortable asking her any questions they may have!