2019-20 New Faculty

 

William Binnie

Visiting Assistant Professor of Art

Born 1985, Dallas TX. Lives and works in Williamstown MA and Brooklyn NY.

William Binnie’s work prods the American mythos: the imagery enshrouding a land with a complex and often dark and troubling past and present, cloaked in a smokescreen of stoic heroism—as well as larger concerns surrounding notions of power, nationalism, bigotry, war, land, death, and the visual markers connected to each. Distilling a pictorial language from a range of sources–film, photography, politics, history, quotidian life–he aims to examines these topics, predominantly through painting and drawing, in order to approach the social constructs that underpin them. This altering, colliding, and reconfiguring of images allows the artist to mine the complicated and often paradoxical nature of these issues, allowing space for connections between a range of imagery compiled over many years. His work straddles a quiet bleakness and subtle humanism, rendering a fraught balance between hope and despair, doubt and belief. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, most recently in exhibitions at MassMoCA and the deCordova Museum. See more

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Casey Bohlen

Visiting Assistant Professor of History and Religion

Casey Bohlen received his PhD in History from Harvard University, and has previously taught at Bucknell University (Visiting Assistant Professor, 2017-2019). He is currently writing a history of the 1960s religious left, which explores everything from Catholic priests who burned draft cards with homemade napalm, to the rabbis and ministers who ran the nation’s largest illegal abortion referral service. More broadly, his scholarship and teaching focus on the history of American religion, modern U.S. politics and social movements, and intellectual history. When not in the classroom, Casey can usually be found in the great outdoors with his partner, Eliza, and one-year-old daughter, Hazel.

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Johanna Breiding

Assistant Professor of Art

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Josh Carlson

Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics

See webpage

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Ralph Chami

Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics

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Franny Choi

Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in English

Franny Choi is the author of two books of poetry, Soft Science (Alice James Books, 2019) and Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014). She completed an MFA in Poetry at the University of Michigan, where she won Hopwood Awards for poetry and playwriting and served as a Zell Fellow. Her recent work explores the interactions between the technologies of late capitalism and queer, Asian American identity, through a feminist and Posthumanist lens. Franny has taught creative writing in a wide range of settings, in K-12 schools and at the secondary level, as well as through organizations such as Project VOICE and Inside Out Literary Arts in Detroit. In addition to poetry, she writes plays and essays and serves as an editor for the News, Politics, and Social Justice section at Hyphen Magazine. A former organizer who is passionate about building literary community, she founded the Brew & Forge Book Fair, a social justice movement fundraising project. Alongside fellow Dark Noise Collective member Danez Smith, she co-hosts the Poetry Foundation’s podcast VS.

Eliza Congdon

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Eliza Congdon has a PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of Chicago and has taught at Bucknell University (Assistant Professor 2017-2019) and Williams College (Visiting Assistant Professor 2016-2017). She is interested in how children learn novel ideas from their own actions and hand gestures as well as from the actions and hand gestures of those around them. We all spontaneously gesture while we talk, but in young learners, those gestures can reveal implicit, unspoken ideas that the children are not yet able to verbalize out loud to a teacher or parent. In this way, we know that gestures are an integrated and crucial part of the cognitive and linguistic system. Her work investigates when and how we can harness these special properties of gesture to help children gain insights in problem-solving scenarios in ways that spoken instruction alone cannot. Her primary domain of interest for this research with children is mathematics, as she believes that early success (and confidence) in math for both boys and girls is a vital foundation for all later academic successes. If you are interested in doing research with Eliza, please reach out and say “hi!” On a more personal level, Eliza is thrilled to be returning to the Purple Valley with her partner, Casey, and they both look forward to introducing their young daughter, Hazel, to the joys of the region including skiing at Jiminy Peak in the winters and hiking in the Berkshires in the summers.

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Christine DeLucia

Assistant Professor of History

I am a historian who focuses on Native American/Indigenous and early American topics. My research, teaching, and writing involve community collaborations, decolonizing approaches to archives, museums, and knowledge circulation, and socially transformative ways of connecting past, present, and future. My first book, Memory Lands: King Philip’s War and the Place of Violence in the Northeast (2018), re-examines a seventeenth-century colonial conflict and Indigenous resistance movement, and traces how its legacies have shaped diverse societies, politics, conceptions of heritage, and the land itself for more than four centuries. Before coming to Williams I was a member of the history faculty at Mount Holyoke College, where I enjoyed collaborating with students and curators on material culture interpretation and public history. In 2018-2019 I held a research fellowship at Chicago’s Newberry Library to work on my second book, a study of Native communities’ complex modes of dwelling, adaptation, and sovereignty in the eighteenth-century Northeast. I completed a Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale, an M.Litt. in Environmental History at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and an A.B. in History and Literature at Harvard. See more

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Tomas Ekholm

STINT – Research Scholar, Fall ’19

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Wayne Escoffery

Visiting Artist in Residence in Jazz Activities, Spring ’20

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Caroline Fowler

Lecturer in the Graduate Program in Art History, Fall ’19

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Graham Giovanetti

Assistant Professor of Physics

Eva Goedhart

Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics

Dr. Eva Goedhart was born in the Netherlands, but grew up mostly in Virginia. She earned her doctoral degree from Bryn Mawr College, just outside of Philadelphia, studying various methods for solving Diophantine equations. When away from her research, she loves to spend time with her family outside in the garden and inside crafting and crocheting. You can visit her webpage for more details

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Manuel Gonzales

Visiting Assistant Professor of English

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Cynthia Holland

Assistant Professor of Biology

Anne Jaskot

Assistant Professor of Astronomy

Anne Jaskot graduated from Williams in 2008 and went on to complete a PhD in Astronomy at the University of Michigan. She is returning to Williams after working as a Teaching and Research Fellow at Smith College and a Hubble Fellow at UMass-Amherst. Her research focuses on understanding the first billion years after the Big Bang, a period of time when ultraviolet light from early galaxies ionized most of the universe’s hydrogen gas. She uses the Hubble Space Telescope to study rare, nearby galaxies, similar to these early galaxies, to investigate how their ultraviolet light is produced and how it escapes into intergalactic space. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, choral singing, and crossword puzzles.

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Anuj Kapoor

Visiting Assistant Professor of English

I work in the fields of postcolonial and transnational cultural studies, global literature and film, as well as critical theory. My research in these fields centers on the ways the study of culture, narrative, and aesthetics, across a variety of media, can contribute to interdisciplinary scholarship on the globalization of political violence, especially as it relates to representations of precarious and dispossessed communities in the Global South. As a teacher, I try my best to design courses that are expansive in their geographical and historical reach. In the classroom, I tend to focus on the ways that the texts we read can help us better understand and address the larger theoretical, historical, and cultural dilemmas that surround us everyday. I am thrilled to be teaching at Williams, especially given the opportunity to work with students who are committed to the intellectual value and social relevance of the humanities in reimagining our shared but highly unequal world.

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Sohaib Khan

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Religion, Spring ’20

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Ilya Khodosh

Visiting Lecturer in Theatre

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Anne Leonard

Lecturer in the Graduate Program in Art History, Fall ’19

Anne Leonard, Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Clark Art Institute. Before coming to the Clark, Anne was senior curator of European art and director of publications and research at the Smart Museum of Art and lecturer in art history at the University of Chicago. She received her PhD from Harvard University with a focus on nineteenth-century European art. Her exhibitions have covered topics including French and Japanese color prints, Western American survey photographs, and the nineteenth-century printmaker Félix Buhot. She has also published in The Art Bulletin, Print Quarterly, Nineteenth-Century French Studies, and several edited volumes. She is co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Music and Visual Culture (2014) and of a book series on the same topic, also with Routledge.

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Neil Leonard

Arthur Levitt, Jr. ’52 Artist-in-Residence, Fall ’19

Tat-siong Liew

Croghan Bicentennial Professor in Biblical and Early Christian Studies, Fall ’19

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Samuel McCauley

Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Sam McCauley is interested in algorithms and data structures, especially on algorithmic insights that address practical performance considerations.  This includes topics like external-memory algorithms, similarity search, and scheduling.  Sam got his PhD from Stony Brook University, and has worked at universities in Denmark, Israel, France, Singapore, and Hong Kong.  Outside of work he is interested in the sport of fencing. See more

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Brittany Meché

Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in the Environmental Studies Program

Brittany Meché is the Gaius Bolin Fellow in Environmental Studies at Williams College. She is currently a PhD Candidate in Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is completing her dissertation entitled “Securing the Sahel: Nature, Catastrophe, and the Empire of Expertise.” The project explores the intersections of transnational security projects and environmental politics amid the afterlives of empire in West Africa. Brittany’s research interests include: French and US empire, postcolonial West Africa, theories of authority and expertise, environmental history, and narratives of disaster/catastrophe. Her work has appeared in Antipode and Society and Space. Brittany holds a B.A. from New York University and an M.A. from The New School. In her spare time, Brittany can be found traveling, cooking, dancing, and dreaming of one day adopting a dog.

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April Merleaux

Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

April Merleaux, visiting assistant professor of environmental studies, has a B.A. in history from Reed College, a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University, and an M.S. in Agriculture, Food, and Environment from the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Before joining the Williams College faculty, she taught at Hampshire College and at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Dr. Merleaux researches and teaches about the politics of food, agriculture, and the environment; domestic and international policy; the cultures of capitalism, race, and empire; immigration and ethnicity; rural history; and transnational, historical, and cultural research methods. She is currently researching the environmental and agrarian history of the war on drugs in the United States, Latin America, and Asia from the 1920s through the 1990s. Her first book, Sugar and Civilization: American Empire and the Cultural Politics of Sweetness (University of North Carolina Press, 2015) tells the story of sugar from the Spanish American War through the New Deal of the 1930s, describing how workers and consumers in multiple locations learned produced and ate huge quantities of sugar.

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Olivier Meslay

Lecturer in the Graduate Program in Art History, Fall ’19

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Shaoyang Ning

Assistant Professor of Statistics

See website

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Kevin Ohi

Margaret Bundy Scott Professor of English, Spring ’20

Rowan Phillips

W. Ford Schumann Visiting Professor in Democratic Studies, Spring ’20

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Shanti Pillai

Assistant Professor of Theatre

I am a scholar, artist, and writer (BA Anthropology and International Relations, Stanford University; MA Asian Studies, UC Berkeley; PhD Performance Studies, NYU). I am proud to have taught students hailing from multiple disciplines and some 30 countries over the course of my career. Most recently I was Asst. Prof. in the Dept. of Theatre Arts at California State University at Long Beach. From 2005-2015 I worked for extensive periods in Cuba, collaborating with actors, dancers, musicians, and visual artists to create and perform in original works. In 2015 I co-founded Third Space Performance Lab to explore collaborative art making and how underlying principles of traditional Indian performance forms can inform experimental, theatrical languages. My current book project, supported by a Fulbright research fellowship in 2018, is about women, feminist politics, and contemporary performance in India. My other areas of research interest include urban studies, cultural policy, decolonizing research methods, and youth cultures. Most significantly, I am a great admirer of cats. I have learned many things from them.

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Shivon Robinson

Assistant Professor of Psychology

My research interests focus primarily on understanding the neural basis of mood and addiction disorders. I completed my graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania, where I used mouse models to examine the intersection of brain stress and reward circuitry in the manifestation of depressive-like behavioral phenotypes. Most recently, my work has centered around investigating the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the neurodevelopmental and long-term outcomes of early-life opioid exposure and withdrawal. Outside of the lab, my biggest creative outlet is music. I’ve played viola in several orchestral and chamber groups over the years, and more recently have begun to learn how to play banjo.

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Bruce Rutherford

Class of 1955 Visiting Professor of International Studies, Spring ’20

I’m a political scientist who focuses on the Middle East. I’ve lived in Egypt for a little over six years and written or co-written two books about that country. I am currently working on two projects: a study of the different paths of political change in the Arab world after the Arab spring; and an analysis of China’s growing role in the Middle East. I’ve been on the faculty at Colgate University for several years, where I teach courses on the Middle East and a seminar on democratization. There is further information about me on Colgate’s website.

Alberto Sandoval-Sanchez

Bennett Boskey Visiting Professor of Latina/o Studies

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Kirsten Scheid

Clark Oakley Fellow

Kirsten Scheid pursued a PhD in Anthropology at Princeton University with a focus on the founding of the Lebanese nation through art institutions. She researches art at cross-cultural encounters and has undertaken projects featuring Lebanese, Palestinian, and Balinese art worlds. The essay for which she is best known, “Necessary Nudes: Hadatha and Mu`asara in the Lives of Modern Lebanese,” led to her curating an exhibition, “The Arab Nude: The Artist as Awakener,” in Beirut (2016), with over 100 works of a forgotten genre. Her writing can be accessed here.

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Eun Young Seong

Visiting Lecturer in Japanese

Kelly Shaw

Associate Professor of Computer Science

Kelly Shaw is a computer architect, with particular interests in parallel architectures and the boundary between hardware and software. She received her graduate degrees from Stanford University and has been a faculty member at the University of Richmond and at Reed College. Recently, Shaw’s research has been related to the Internet of Things. She enjoys collaborating with students on research and working to make computer science a more diverse and inclusive environment.

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Jason Simms

Visiting Lecturer in Theatre, Fall ’19

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Shikha Singh

Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Dr. Shikha Singh received her doctorate from Stony Brook University. Before joining Williams, Dr. Singh spent a year teaching at Wellesley College as an assistant professor. Her research interests lies at the intersection of computer science and economics. In particular, her work is in the area of algorithmic game theory and focuses on analyzing how incentives and rational behavior influence the outcome of algorithms. She also works on designing efficient algorithms and data structures for big data. In her free time, Dr. Singh enjoys cooking, hiking, and doing yoga. See more

Matthew Smith

Sterling Brown ’22 Visiting Professor of Africana Studies

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Stephanie Steele

Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology

Dr. Stephanie Jarvi Steele received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Suffolk University, where she also taught courses in general psychology and developmental psychopathology. Dr. Steele’s research is focused on furthering understanding of the psychiatric correlates that maintain self-injurious thoughts and behaviors. She is also interested in the role of identity in the context of risk behaviors, personality psychopathology, and laboratory-based behavioral methodology. Dr. Steele completed her clinical residency at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and her postdoctoral training at Boston University, where she worked on a large clinical trial exploring efficacious treatments for co-occurring alcohol use and anxiety disorders. In addition to her teaching and research activities, Dr. Steele enjoys all things related to traveling, snowboarding, and cooking.

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Ben Thuronyi

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Ben Thuronyi is a biochemist and synthetic biologist. He studied chemistry and philosophy at Swarthmore College. He received his PhD from UC Berkeley, where he incorporated fluorinated molecules into metabolic pathways with Prof. Michelle Chang. His postdoctoral work in Prof. David Liu’s group at the Broad Institute focused on directed evolution to make new genome editing tools. At Williams, his research group will aim to develop an extremely fast-growing bacterium, Vibrio natriegens, as a synthetic biology workhorse and biocatalyst. In the lab, he loves spreadsheets, individually capped 8-well tube strips, and science equipment that comes from the grocery store. He also enjoys folk dance, the video games of his youth, and spending time with the two-, three- and four-legged members of his family.

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Cécile Tresfels

Assistant Professor of French

Hi, I’m Cécile and I use she/ her pronouns.
I study the history of cognition and emotions as well as the intersection of gender, race and religion in 16th century French literature.

I did my Ph.D. at Stanford where I taught a wide range of language and literature courses and received thorough training in second language acquisition pedagogy. In my dissertation “The Fear Within: The Apprehensive Self in 16th century French Literature” I explored how fear and knowledge were intertwined in the Renaissance.

I see teaching and research as interconnected entities. My goal is to establish connections between the 16th century and the present in order to understand the long history of contemporary forms of discrimination. Born and raised in Reunion Island, a French colony in the Indian Ocean that now has the status of oversea department, I aim for my research in early modern colonialism and imperialism to be in dialogue with contemporary postcolonial studies.

With the invaluable help of social justice activists and educators, I try to develop inclusive pedagogies in collaboration with students, in order to reshape the way knowledge is defined and transmitted in the classroom.

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Amanda Turek

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Amanda Turek is an organic chemist interested in catalysis and mechanism. A Wisconsin native, she studied chemistry at the University of Wisconsin—Madison as an undergraduate before pursuing her doctorate with Prof. Eric Jacobsen at Harvard University, where she studied the effects of hydrogen bonding interactions on electron transfer chemistry. In her postdoctoral work with Prof. Scott Miller at Yale University, she carried out mechanistic studies of a new peptide-based catalyst. At Williams, her research group will develop and study a new class of light-activated catalysts, with the goal of enabling new organic reactions and investigating the mechanism of this catalysis. Amanda is also a serious pianist with a deep love for music (especially Beethoven), is always glad to settle down with a good book (usually fiction), and is happiest when spending time with family.

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Elizabeth Upton

Assistant Professor of Statistics

I am currently finishing my PhD in Statistics at Boston University. My research focuses on network science; particularly, adapting regression methodologies to network-indexed data. I enjoy applied statistics and find collaborating on research projects with other members of the scientific community to be especially rewarding. Before attending BU, I taught high school math and stats for three years. Outside of school and work, I enjoy spending time with my family, skiing, and cheering on the New England Patriots. See more

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Chen Wang

Visiting Assistant Professor of Chinese

Robert Wiesenberger

Lecturer in the Graduate Program in Art History, Fall ’19

Robert Wiesenberger is Associate Curator of Contemporary Projects at the Clark Art Institute. His interests range widely across modern and contemporary art, design, and architecture. Before moving to the Berkshires he was, from 2013 to 2018, Critic at the Yale School of Art. From 2014–16, he was Stefan Engelhorn Curatorial Fellow at the Harvard Art Museums. He is coauthor of Muriel Cooper (MIT Press, 2017). Robert holds a B.A. in history and Germanic studies from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in art history from Columbia University. His current research focuses on the animal in contemporary art.

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Aaron Williams

Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Stephen Winter

Visiting Lecturer in Art, Fall ’19

I am Stephen Winter. A black queer independent film director, writer, producer, consultant and occasional actor. My latest project is the Webby Award nominated “Adventures In New America” which is the first sci-fi, political satire, Afrofuturistic buddy comedy, serialized for New Americans in a new and desperate time. My websites are stephenwinter and nightvalepresents. My degrees are from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and New York University and have taught at Cornell, Williams and CUNY Brooklyn College. I teach through a combination of common sense and instinct.