Gulnisa Nazarova is a John D. Soper Teaching Professor at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global & International Studies. She is an ethnic Uyghur born in Kyrgyzstan. Gulnisa grew up and graduated from a high school in Uzbekistan, obtained her bachelor's and master’s degrees in Russia, and received her PhD in Kazakhstan. Her teaching career started in 1987 after she graduated from Ivanovo State University in Russia. She taught Russian Language and Literature at the high school level for two years before pursuing her PhD at the Institute of Uyghur Studies at the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan. After Gulnsia defended her dissertation on Uyghur lexicology in 1992, she accepted a position as Senior Lecturer at the Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies where she worked until 2005 before coming to the United States.
Gulnisa Nazarova was invited to teach intensive Uyghur at Indiana University in 2005 for the Summer Language Workshop, and due to the success of the course, the Department of Central Eurasian Studies offered her to continue teaching the Uyghur language during the academic year, in addition to employing her as a curriculum materials developer at the Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region (CeLCAR). In 2015, Gulnisa Nazarova received the Trustees Teaching Award in the At-Large NTT Faculty competition. As of July 2021, she was promoted to the rank of Teaching Professor and has been appointed as the Director of CeLCAR.