2018-19 New Faculty

 

Sonya Auer

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology

I am an evolutionary ecologist with a passionate interest in understanding how animals acquire and use energy to cope with changes in their environment over ecological and evolutionary time scales. I’ve studied birds and fish all over the world but most recently was working in Scotland where I was studying the energetics of juvenile salmon in small mountain streams. This work was part of a fun collaborative project aimed at understanding whether and how salmon help their offspring by dying on the spawning grounds. Next year, I’ll be teaching two really interesting courses here at the college – Conservation Biology (F) and Global Change Ecology (S). More

Amanda Bergold

Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology

Amanda Bergold is a social psychologist who studies how the principles of psychology can be applied to the legal system. In her doctoral studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center, CUNY, her dissertation work examined how diversity impacted the quality of jury deliberations. She has spent the past two years in a fellowship with the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice based at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Her work at the Quattrone Center has focused on using facial recognition algorithms to improve the quality of eyewitness lineups. This work is featured in her recent publication, forthcoming in Law and Human Behavior.

Jacek Blaszkiewicz

Visiting Assistant Professor of Musicology

I am a historian of nineteenth-century French music with broad interests in urban soundscapes, empire and colonialism, opera and operetta, and the relations between musical aesthetics and municipal politics. My forthcoming book project tells the sonic history of Paris during the Second Empire (1852-70). The construction of new boulevards, the demolition of old neighborhoods, the cancan spectacles, the World’s Fairs, and the street markets all offer resonant stories about music’s entanglement with urbanization, capitalism, and the historiography of Paris. I completed a PhD in musicology at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, where my research was supported by a Fulbright fellowship and an Alvin Johnson AMS 50 fellowship from the American Musicological Society. Outside of academia I remain an unapologetic Francophile, and enjoy accompanying French art song on the piano, hosting language exchange groups, and baking patisserie with my wife.

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Alice Bradley

Assistant Professor of Geosciences

Alice Bradley’s research sits at the intersection of engineering and climate science, where she studies how to observe changes in sea ice environments. Her research includes small, low-cost sensors, novel field approaches, unmanned aircraft (drone) based sensing, and integrating in situ and satellite-based observations. She comes to Williams College from a postdoctoral research position at Dartmouth College and a PhD in the remote sensing of sea ice from the University of Colorado Boulder. In addition to research and teaching in earth and environmental sciences, she enjoys cross-country skiing and making things.

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Julia Bryan-Wilson

Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor of Art History

Julia Bryan-Wilson, who will be at Williams in 2018-19 as the Robert Sterling Clark Professor, is professor of modern and contemporary art at UC Berkeley and director of the Berkeley Arts Research Center. She researches contemporary art in the Americas through the lenses of artistic labor, feminist and queer theory, and critical race studies. She is writing on a book about the monochrome black wood sculptures of Louise Nevelson. More

Xizhen Cai

Assistant Professor of Statistics

I was born and raised in Lanzhou in China. I came to US after graduating from Zhejiang University and I received my Ph. D degree in Statistics at Penn State University in 2014. Prior to joining Williams College, I worked as an Assistant Teaching Professor of Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University from 2014-2016 and as a Postdoctoral Fellow Research Associate at Temple University from 2016-2018. My research focuses on statistical techniques to resolve issues with large and high dimensional datasets. I studied variable selection methods for survival models and in network analysis, estimation and inference procedures of time-varying features with intensive longitudinal data. I am also interested in analyzing the rhetorical styles in English text data. I enjoy very much working with students both in the classrooms and on research topics in statistics.

Don Carlson

Visiting Professor of Economics

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Nicholas Carr

Richmond Visiting Professor
See webpage

Gregory Casey

Assistant Professor of Economics

I am interested in long-run economic outcomes and their relationship to prominent public policy debates. Much of my research is in the field of environmental macroeconomics. I investigate questions like: ‘how will climate change affect the economy?’ or ‘how can public policy interventions limit carbon emissions?’. I am also interested in the relationship between technology and labor market outcomes. For example, I study the effect of automation on unemployment and inequality between workers and capital owners. I am currently finishing up my PhD in economics at Brown University. I attended Hamilton College as an undergraduate and am looking forward to returning to a liberal arts environment. For more detailed information on my background and research papers, please see my website.

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Mel Chen

Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor of Art History

Jason Cieply

Visiting Lecturer in Russian

Jason Cieply is an enthusiast of Russian culture interested in the ways revolution makes us think, feel, and speak. He completed his PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures at Stanford University in 2016 and is currently at work on his book project, Voices of Enthusiasm: Revolutionary Emotion and Interclass Imitation in Soviet Narrative Fiction. His research explores one state of mind historically associated with revolutionary societies — enthusiasm  — and the Soviet artists, who shaped and were shaped by it in the first years of the Soviet project.  At Williams Cieply is teaching two courses focusing on the relationship between artistic experimentation, revolutionary politics, and subjectivity in twentieth-century Russian culture, as well as courses in Russian language. His recent publications include the article, “The Silent Side of Polyphony: On the Disappearances of ‘Silentium!’ from the Drafts of Dostoevskii and Bakhtin” (Slavic Review).

Matthew Clasen

Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology

Howard Dean

Bennett Boskey Distinguished Visiting Professor of Leadership Studies, Spring ’19
See bio and twitter

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Phoebe Donnelly

Stanley Kaplan Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Political Science and Leadership Studies Program

Phoebe Donnelly’s research interests are at the intersection of security and gender. Her regional focus is on East Africa and last year she did research on armed groups in Kenya and Uganda. Phoebe did her graduate work at The Fletcher School at Tufts University and her undergraduate degree is from The University of Wisconsin-Madison. Phoebe recently co-authored a report for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) based on research she helped lead on women and violent extremism in Somalia. To learn more about Phoebe’s research and teaching you can visit her website.

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Hali Edison

Visiting Professor, Center for Development Economics

Hali Edison comes to Williams after a long career in Washington DC at the International Monetary Fund and the Federal Reserve Board. She was also an economic advisor at the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Norwegian Central Bank. She enjoys conducting research and has published widely in academic journals, focusing mainly on issues in international finance. Dr. Edison has taught at the University of Bergen, University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University and at the IMF Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the London School of Economics. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family, playing golf, and traveling.

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Brahim El Guabli

Assistant Professor of Arabic Studies

Brahim El Guabli was born and raised in a small Berber village in southeast Morocco, and is proud of his roots as an immigrant, a Muslim, and a first-generation college student. Upon completing his training as a bilingual teacher (French and Arabic) in the highly selective Ouarzazate Teacher Training School in 1999, he was assigned to teach in remote villages in the High Atlas mountains. Noticing the needs of the rural communities, Brahim started numerous educational projects to spread literacy and started school libraries in these isolated communities. Committed to exploring the links between research, social justice and learning, which deeply informed his graduate work in Comparative Literature at Princeton University, Brahim is eager to design and lead study projects that involve community service. His research project, which stemmed from his own memories of political repression, attempts to unravel the connections between traumatic pasts, the rewriting of history and the exercise of citizenship in post-state-violence contexts. Examining the notions of disappearance and invisibilization, Brahim makes an argument for literature’s central role in empowering the victims of violent pasts through memory and archive creation practices. Brahim’s work has appeared in book chapters and academic journal articles, including a special issue he co-edited of The Journal of North African Studies on violence and the politics of aesthetics in the Maghreb. Brahim taught different language and content courses at Swarthmore College, Bryn Mawr College, and Princeton University (AI). He enjoys cooking, reading, walking in his neighborhood community, and spending time with his family.

Kevin Flaherty

Lecturer in Astronomy

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Prisca Gayles

Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in Africana Studies

Bethany Hicok

Lecturer in English

Dr. Bethany Hicok is currently Professor of English and Director of the Honors Program at Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA, where she has taught since 2001. She will join the English Department at Williams College in the fall as a Lecturer. She teaches courses in modern poetry, modernism, critical theory, gender, women’s and sexuality studies, and interdisciplinary courses on genetics and literature, utopias, and Ancient Greek literature and justice. She is the author of two critical books on American poetry, Elizabeth Bishop’s Brazil (University of Virginia Press,2016), and Degrees of Freedom: American Women Poets and the Women’s College, 1905-1955 (Bucknell 2008), which focuses on the poetry of Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, and Sylvia Plath. She is also co-editor of a collection of essays, Elizabeth Bishop in the 21st Century (University of Virginia Press 2012). She has published a number of essays on modern poetry and two book chapters on teaching. She led an NEH Summer Seminar for College and University Professors, Elizabeth Bishop and the Literary Archive, at Vassar College in June 2017, and she was a participant in the 2010 NEH summer seminar on Brazilian literature held in São Paulo, Brazil.

She received her BA in English, cum laude, from Russell Sage College and her MA, MAT and PhD from the University of Rochester.

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Olesya Ivantsova

Visiting Lecturer in the Graduate Program in Art History

Olesya Ivantsova is currently finishing her PhD in German Studies at McGill University. Her research interests include literary representations of cities, travel literature, literature of the Weimar Republic, and German-Russian cultural relations.

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Susanne Ryuyin Kerekes

Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in Religion and Asian Studies

2018-2020 Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in Religion and Asian Studies
Buddhism in Thailand is experienced, practiced, lived, promoted and perpetuated in very material ways! My research celebrates the rich and eclectic materiality of this religious tradition that is so often deemed immaterial. In addition to the material “stuff”, agency, and networks (“New Materialism”) that constitute contemporary Thai Buddhist practice, I also study nineteenth-century Thai manuscripts, and am beginning a new project on Thai Buddhist amulets, magic, and astrology. Apart from these topics, I have taught an in-situ spring-break course related to Thai Buddhism and business for the past four years through the Lauder Institute/Wharton of the University of Pennsylvania, where I am currently finalizing my dissertation as a PhD candidate with a specialty on Buddhism and material culture. Even though I did not have the opportunity to live in a monastery (women are not allowed to ordain as nuns in Thailand), I have lived for three years without a cell phone and I continue to live without social media. I prefer old-school “social media”: rendezvous usually over tea, talking instead of texting, and (my favorite) snail mail. More information is available here.

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Herbert Kessler

Croghan Bicentennial Professor in Biblical and Early Christian Studies, Fall ’18

I come out of retirement to serve as Croghan Professor after teaching medieval art history at the University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Emory, and, once before, at Williams. The course I am offering is designed to probe ideas underlying my forthcoming book Experiencing Medieval Art, which shifts focus away from the traditional methods I learned as a Ph.D. student at Princeton and onto the object of art itself. Focusing on the issues of materiality, beauty, and performance I have been studying during the past two decades, “The Medieval Object” asks the question: How did art engage medieval subjects in the perception of their world and contemplation of the Divine?

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Lu Kou

Visiting Assistant Professor of Chinese

My name is Lu Kou. I am a literary scholar and medievalist. I will receive my Ph.D. in pre-modern Chinese literature in May 2018 from Harvard University with a secondary field in Classical Philology. My current project on courtly writings from medieval China examines the “discursive battles” waged among different court centers during the Period of Disunion (420–589). I explore how “words”—both spoken and written—became “weapons” wielded by court elites to prevail in the fierce power struggles and to construct their states’ political/cultural legitimacy. My teaching interests include Chinese poetry, fantastic narratives, and Chinese language, with a particular interest in the transformation of pre-modern literature in the modern/contemporary world.

Alicia Maggard

Postdoctoral Fellow in Maritime History

Alicia Maggard is a historian of the 19th c. United States with particular interests in the history of technology, political economy, and the relationship between material infrastructures and state power. Her research focuses on shifting state-industrial relations and the rise of the U.S. as a maritime industrial power. She looks forward to teaching in a thoroughly interdisciplinary program and to supervising student research on the maritime past.

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Murad Mumtaz

Assistant Professor of Art

Murad Khan Mumtaz examines historical intersections of art, literature and religious expression in South Asia. His primary research focuses on devotional portraiture with a special interest in representations of Muslim saints in early modern India. He is also an artist trained in the traditional practices of North Indian painting, which he exhibits, researches and teaches internationally.

A native of Lahore, Murad was educated at Pakistan’s National College of Arts, where he first studied Indo-Persian painting. He later completed an MFA in visual art at Columbia University. He recently received his PhD from the University of Virginia.

Eli Nelson

Assistant Professor of American Studies

See website

Sarah Olsen

Assistant Professor of Classics

Sarah Olsen received her PhD in Classics from UC Berkeley in 2016 and she is thrilled to join the faculty at Williams after teaching for two years at Amherst College. Her research focuses on ancient Greek performance culture, especially as it relates to the representation of dance and music in literature. She is currently working on a book entitled The Unruly Body: Dance, Literature, and Culture in Ancient Greece, which explores the importance of solo dance as a source of creativity and transgression in Greek literature. She has also written articles on topics like sexuality and narrative in the ancient novel, the construction of genre in archaic Greek song, and the representation of female sympotic entertainers in Greek art and literature. When not at work on her teaching or research, she enjoys hiking, camping, and attending local dance and theater productions.

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Anna Plantinga

Assistant Professor of Statistics

Anna Plantinga is currently finishing her Ph.D. in Biostatistics at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on the development of statistical methods for genomic and microbiome data. In particular, she is exploring ways to account for data structure and incorporate phylogenetic or functional information in microbiome analysis. Besides statistics, she enjoys playing viola, hiking and camping, and board games.

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Kailani Polzak

Assistant Professor of Art

Bob Rawle

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Bob Rawle is an incoming assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry. He attended Pomona College as an undergraduate, received his PhD in biophysical chemistry at Stanford University, and was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Virginia, studying the biophysics of influenza virus and Zika virus. His research interests are focused on the molecular events that underly virus entry into host cells and on the biophysical chemistry of lipid membranes. In his spare time, Bob transforms into a terrifying blue ice dragon and chases his young children around the house.

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Eli Remolona

Visiting Professor of Economics

Before joining the Williams faculty, Eli Remolona was the regional head for Asia and the Pacific of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which is popularly known as the “central bank for central banks.” Until 2008, Eli was Head of Economics for Asia and the Pacific for the BIS. He joined the BIS in Basel, Switzerland, in 1999 and for six years served as Head of Financial Markets and Editor of the BIS Quarterly Review. Before that, he was Research Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where he worked for 14 years, covering country risk and international financial markets. He has taught at Columbia, NYU and the University of the Philippines and has published scholarly papers on financial markets and international finance. He has a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University.

 

Shantee Rosado

U.S. Afro-Latinidades Fellow In Latina and Latino Studies

Shantee Rosado is a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her B.A. (Cum Laude) in sociology and psychology from Macalester College in 2009 and her M.A. in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. Shantee’s work examines racial and ethnic identities and inequalities in Latin America and the United States. She also has interests in social movements, with an emphasis on movements for racial justice and Black land rights. Her current project qualitatively addresses how 1.5- and second-generation Puerto Ricans and Dominicans negotiate the meaning of race and Blackness in two regions of the country: a majority-Black county in Pennsylvania and a majority-Latino region in Florida. Aside from research, Shantee has taught several courses while at the University of Pennsylvania, including Race and Ethnic Relations and a graduate-level course titled Cross-Cultural Awareness. In her spare time, Shantee enjoys long-distance running and listening to Hip Hop and Salsa.

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Dylan Schneider

Visiting Assistant Professor of Music

See webpage and more

Pallavi Sen

Assistant Professor of Art

Pallavi Sen is from Bombay, India. She works with installation, printmaking, textiles, Instagram, and intuitive movement. Current interests include inner lives of birds and animals, South Asian costumes, domestic architecture, altars, deities, skate/bro culture, style, pattern history, toxic masculinity, friendship + love, lovers as collaborators, farming and the artist as farmer, work spaces, work tables, eco-feminism, love poems, the gates to Indian homes, walking, and cooking deliberately. Completely devoted to material and craft, she works with all sustainable surfaces and tools.

In addition to teaching, she has worked as an artist assistant, a book repairer, a museum researcher, bench jeweller, textile designer, quilter, graphic designer, visual merchandiser, laser technician, shop attendant, printshop assistant, resident advisor, and matte-maker for a frame shop. She also runs a food project, LUNCHY!, which includes group meals, Instagram cooking tutorials, and an anti-waste, anti packaging cooking manifesto. Her primary motivation is to build objects that live in the world + indulge her senses without poisoning soil/water/air/body with their material parts and timeline.

She received her MFA in Sculpture + Extended Media from VCU, and has been an artist in residence at Ox-Bow School of Art, Mildred’s Lane, Woodstock Byrdcliffe Artists Guild, Wormfarm Institute, Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, Yale Summer School of Art & Music, and Flux Factory. In the absence of a permanent studio, this is how she made most of her work, and met almost all her friends.

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Yana Skorobogatov

Assistant Professor of History

I am a historian of Russia and the Soviet Union. My current book manuscript is a history of the Soviet death penalty after 1954. In addition to my interests in topics related to criminal justice, I am fascinated by the idea of Soviet communism’s afterlife, a theme I will explore in my second book project about the transition from communism to capitalism on the island of Sakhalin, in the Russian Far East. I come to Williams College by way of California, where I received my PhD in History from the University of California, Berkeley in 2018. There I taught courses on the history of incarceration, global history, and the history of Modern European and America. I spend my free time running and swimming outside, dabbling into journalism, and brainstorming an article-length think piece about my life as a first-generation Russian-American citizen.

Ben Snyder

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Ben completed his PhD in sociology at the University of Virginia and taught at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand prior to joining Williams. His research and teaching interests include work and economic life, culture, morality, emotions, technology, surveillance, and temporality. His book The Disrupted Workplace: Time and the Moral Order of Flexible Capitalism (2016, Oxford University Press) is an ethnographic comparison of the relationship between capitalism, time, and moral life among long-haul truck drivers, Wall Street financial traders, and unemployed job seekers. Currently, Ben is investigating how emerging police surveillance technologies, such as predictive policing and wide area persistent surveillance, create time machines that present American cities with new opportunities and ethical dilemmas. Ben’s classes focus on making the turn from social critique to social action, and often involve building bridges between the classroom, student activism, and publics outside the academy. He is especially excited to work with students who want to engage in unabashedly utopian thinking about the future.
More

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Greta Snyder

Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Greta comes to Williams by way of New Zealand; there, she spent five great years as a lecturer (assistant professor) in political science and international relations at Victoria University of Wellington, and did four of the “great walks.” Her research focuses on activism, identity politics, and inter-group equity. Right now, she is working on project that considers how ideas about ecology from various disciplines might shift or inform political theorizing about racial equity. In the future, she plans to write a book about the different ways that transnational activists exercise power. Greta loves sketch comedy — one of the articles she has published is about Chappelle’s Show — and movies that are so bad they are good. While she has savored her time in New Zealand, she is excited to be returning to the U.S. and to be joining the members of the Williams community in discussions about power, social ecology, activism, and equity. If you are interested in previewing the courses Greta will teach or learning more about her work, you can check out her website.

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Matthew Swagler

Visiting Assistant Professor of History

Matt Swagler received his PhD in History from Columbia University and
has taught courses on African history and politics at New York
University and the City University of New York. Based on his research
in Congo, Senegal, and France, Matt currently studies how student and
youth organizations in Africa fought for a radical restructuring of
their newly-independent countries from the 1950s through the 1970s. In
addition to teaching and writing about Africa, he likes to spend as
much time as possible with his one year-old son and organizing for
social justice.

Owen Thompson

Assistant Professor of Economics

Owen Thompson is an economist working on topics related to labor markets, health, discrimination and public policy. More information can be found on his personal homepage.

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Maria Udén

STINT – Research Scholar

See webpage

Lawrence Wills

Croghan Bicentennial Professor in Biblical and Early Christian Studies

I am a scholar of religion, focusing on ancient Judaism and Christianity. I received my doctorate from Harvard Divinity School, and have taught at Harvard, Wesleyan, Episcopal Divinity School, and for the past two years as visiting professor at Brown. In spring 2019 I will be at Williams as the Croghan Bicentennial Visiting Professor in Religion.
My interest has been in narrative, mainly ancient novellas—popular in the ancient world among Jews, Christians, Greeks, and Romans, but largely unknown today! My other main interest is in the social world and identity constructions of ancient Jews and Christians.
I am now completing a commentary on the Book of Judith, an ancient Jewish novella, and am writing a book on ancient Jewish and Christian identity and their negotiation and eventual separation. One of my hobbies, which ties my interests together, is a fascination with popular culture—ancient, modern, and cross-cultural.

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