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Six Faculty Awarded Tenure


Six faculty members were approved for tenure by Hamilton’s Board of Trustees during a recent meeting. The board awarded tenure to Katherine (Kate) Brown (physics), Courtney Gibbons (mathematics), Gbemende Johnson (government), Alexandra List (psychology), Max Majireck (chemistry), and Seth Schermerhorn (religious studies)

The granting of tenure is based on recommendations of the vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, and the committee on appointments, with the college president presenting final recommendations to the board of trustees. With the granting of tenure comes the title of associate professor. All were effective July 1.

Kate Brown is a theoretical physicist who studies cosmology, fundamental physics and interdisciplinary science. Her first publication appeared in Nature and debunked claims that fractal analysis could be used to identify authentic drip paintings by Jackson Pollock.

Since then Brown has published (under maiden name Jones-Smith) on diverse topics such as gravitational radiation arising from cosmological phase transitions, mathematical analogies between ordinary conducting materials and certain models of dark energy, and non-Hermitian theories of quantum mechanics.

In the past year, Brown co-authored a paper published in the New Journal of Physics, she was named to the international editorial board of the Journal of Physics Communications, and was inducted as a member of the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi).

She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of New Mexico, her doctorate at Case Western Reserve University in 2010, and went on to a postdoctoral research position at Washington University in St. Louis.

After earning a bachelor’s degree at Colorado College, Courtney Gibbons received her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she studied homological properties of modules over quadratic algebras.

Her work appears in the Journal of Pure and Applied Algebra, the Journal of Commutative Algebra, the Journal of Symbolic Computation, and others. She codes for Macaulay 2, an open-source algebra software package.

While at Hamilton, Gibbons has developed a research program involving undergraduates in her work in commutative algebra, and their joint work appears in the Journal of Algebra and its Applications and, soon, in the International Journal of Algebra and Computation.

Gibbons offers a speaking-intensive course on Number Theory with Applications and will soon offer a senior seminar in Computational Algebra.

Courtney Gibbons

“The ‘post-tenure’ goal that I'm most excited to pursue is building a math research experience for undergraduates (REU) at Hamilton.”

She is a member of the Policy and Advocacy Committee for the Association for Women in Mathematics, as well as the faculty advisor to the Hamilton student chapter of the AWM, and is current president of the Phi Beta Kappa Epsilon Chapter of New York.

Gbemende Johnson’s research interests are American institutions, judicial politics, and executive branch politics. She also has interests in race and politics and political theory. Her work has appeared in outlets such as the American Journal of Political Science, Vanderbilt Law Review, and States Politics & Policy Quarterly.

Johnson’s current research explores the litigation of executive privilege in federal courts and the way in which politicization affects the rulemaking process. She previously received a grant from Rutgers’ University Center on the American Governor to examine state Supreme Court deference to executive power.

In November, Johnson and Assistant Professor of Sociology Jaime Kucinskas convened top national scholars on the Administrative Presidency at the 2018 Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management annual conference in Washington D.C.       

Gbemende Johnson

“Tenure ... affords the ability to continue longer-term/trajectory projects and I look forward to expanding my research agenda on executive-judicial power conflicts and controversies

An article co-authored by Johnson, “Race, Crime, and Emotions,” was published in Research and Politics in September.

She received a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State Univeristy and her doctorate in political science from Vanderbilt University.

Alexandra List received a National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award for both her doctoral and post-doctoral research. List’s research has focused on understanding how we perceive and attend to visual, auditory and haptic information in our environment. She uses a variety of human cognitive neuroscience techniques.

Her work has been published in various journals, including Cognition, Brain, the Journal of Vision, Neuropsychologia and the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. List earned her bachelor’s degree in cognitive science and doctorate in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Max Majireck

“With the luxury of tenure, I do plan to expand my research into new areas and think about pursuing more high-risk, high-reward projects over the long term.”

Max Majireck completed his postdoctoral research in chemical biology at Harvard University and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, designing small molecules to study disease biology, particularly cancer. He was selected for a fellowship from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 

At Hamilton, he combined his passion for teaching, mentoring and research by designing a new course to highlight the role of organic synthesis in human health. He's also designing a research program that investigates new chemical transformations to produce tool compounds for studying neurological disorders. Majireck earned his bachelor’s degree at Grove City College and a doctorate in organic chemistry from Penn State.

He will serve as a Posse mentor for the Miami Class of 2023.

He said, “I'm looking forward to more of the same - fantastic students to teach, ample time (and funds) to play in the research lab, and meaningful service. With the luxury of tenure, I do plan to expand my research into new areas and think about pursuing more high-risk, high-reward projects over the long term.”

Seth Schermerhorn specializes in the interdisciplinary study of indigenous traditions, particularly in the southwestern United States. Although he has worked with several indigenous nations, he works most extensively with the Tohono O’odham Nation in southern Arizona earlier this year he published Walking to Magdalena: Personhood and Place in Tohono O'odham Songs, Sticks, and Stories, University of Nebraska Press, 2019.

He co-organized and presented on a panel in the Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit at the American Academy of Religion (AAR) Annual Meeting in Denver in December. Last fall, Schermerhorn published a chapter titled “O’odham Songscapes: Journeys to Magdalena Remembered in Song,” in Indigenous Religions, edited by Graham Harvey and Amy Whitehead. The book is part of Routledge's Critical Concepts in Religious Studies series.

Schermerhorn teaches classes on indigenous traditions, Native American religious freedom, indigenous ecologies, pilgrimage, and global Christianities. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Colorado State University, an M.A. at the University of Colorado, and completed his doctorate at Arizona State University.

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