Dean of Faculty Patrick D. Reynolds announced the appointment of two of Hamilton's most outstanding teacher-scholars to endowed chairs. Professor of Biology David Gapp was appointed to the Silas D. Childs Chair, and Professor of Psychology Jonathan Vaughan was appointed to the James L. Ferguson Chair. Both were effective July 1.
In making the announcement Reynolds noted that “The Childs Chair… calls for someone to instruct about agriculture. It is Dave Gapp’s work on the College 235, Food for Thought course and 1812 garden with Frank Sciacca that makes him particularly suited for this chair.” Gapp is also well-known for organizing “Science Exploration Days” which bring classes of elementary school students to Hamilton for guided tours and short lessons in various areas of science. Hundreds of local elementary school students have participated over the past 20 years.
In appointing Vaughan to the Ferguson Chair, Reynolds said the criteria states “Members of the Hamilton faculty will be appointed on the basis of their teaching effectiveness, involvement with their discipline, and their own intellectual breadth,” and noted that Vaughan has close to 60 publications. Vaughan manages Hamilton students’ involvement with the cooperative education program at the New England Center for Children (NECC). It is a semester-long program at NECC in Southborough, Mass., through which Hamilton students interested in applied psychology and education can gain practical experience in special education and its applications, working intensively with children diagnosed with autism and other developmental disorders.
In the Biology Department, Gapp concentrates on comparative endocrinology of reptiles, with a focus on the action and evolution of gastrointestinal and pancreatic hormones. He has written and reviewed manuscripts for notable journals including The Journal of Comparative Endocrinology and Physiological Zoology, and he has received research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Gapp's research focuses primarily on turtles and alligators, examining factors controlling insulin and gastrin release and looking particularly at seasonal aspects of pancreatic hormone release in turtles.
His recent identification of “diabetes” in a local population of snapping turtles may provide an interesting model to pursue the study of this serious metabolic disease that affects a significant portion of the American population.
An experimental psychologist, Vaughan focuses his research on the selection of motor movements; eye movements and attentional processes; learning and cognitive neuropsychology. His current work, funded by an AREA grant from the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Strokes, (with colleagues David Rosenbaum of Pennsylvania State University and Ruud Meulenbroek of the Nijmegen Institute for Cognition and Information) has resulted in computational models that describe performance in tasks such as reaching, grasping, and tapping.
Vaughan has collaborated with Hamilton colleague Penny L. Yee in facilitating the use of computer applications in psychological research, their most recent efforts being tutorial materials for using the PsyScope program for teaching and research in cognitive psychology. Vaughan is also editor of the international quarterly, Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, published by the Psychonomic Society.