Research and Discovery
Four Awarded Tenure
Six faculty members were approved for tenure by Hamilton’s Board of Trustees at its recent meeting. They include Catherine Beck (geosciences), Erica De Bruin (government), Susan Jarosi (art history), Jaime Kucinskas, (sociology), Alexandra Plakias ’02 (philosophy), and Jesse Weiner (classics).
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. With the granting of tenure comes the title of associate professor. All will be effective July 1.
Geoscientist Catherine Beck (Ph.D., M.S., Rutgers University; B.S., Tufts University) focuses her research on reconstructing Quaternary Period paleoenvironments from sedimentary and stratigraphic records. In particular, she investigates how sediments from the East African Rift Valley preserve changes in paleoclimate and paleoenvironment through space and time.
Beck’s work is strongly based in field research and continental scientific drilling, and she is particularly interested in coupling the study of lake sediments with paleoecology and stable isotope analyses in an effort to better constrain the conditions in which early hominins evolved. Her work is supported by the Hamilton Isotope Lab, which Beck directs with the support of instrument technician Bruce Wegter.
In 2018, Beck hosted a workshop at Hamilton titled Drilling Deeper for Connections between Environmental Change and Evolution funded by EarthRates, a National Science Foundation-sponsored Research Coordination Network.
Erica De Bruin’s (Ph.D., M.A., Yale University; B.A., Columbia University) research interests include civil-military relations and civil war. Her work focuses on the dynamics of military coups, the spread of militarized policing, and the ways in which armed groups build legitimacy.
The author of How to Prevent Coups d’état: Counterbalancing and Regime Survival (Cornell University Press, 2020), her work also has been published in the Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and Foreign Affairs. She has been featured in such media outlets as New Yorker, New York Times, Washington Post, Vox, and Slate.
For the 2020-21 academic year, De Bruin is serving as a non-resident fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point. She also is working on a National Science Foundation-funded project on the determinants of civilian support for armed groups, as well as a project on the global spread of militarized policing. She worked previously as a research associate in U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and New America Foundation in Washington, D.C.
Susan Jarosi (Ph.D., Duke University; M.A., University of Illinois at Chicago; B.A., University of Virginia) specializes in art and visual culture since 1950. Her research and teaching interests include art and social justice, trauma studies, performance art, economic histories of the arts, and interchanges between art and science.
Jarosi previously taught at the University of Louisville, where she held joint faculty appointments in the Women’s & Gender Studies Department and the Fine Arts Department. One of her current scholarly projects is “Prima Galleristas: Mapping Female Dealers in Mid-Twentieth Century Manhattan,” which examines how the commercial enterprise and cultural agency of female dealers shaped the urban landscape of art in the United States in the second half of the 20th century.
Jaime Kucinskas (Ph.D., M.A., Indiana University, Bloomington; B.S., Colorado College) has research interests that span the sociology of morality, religion, inequality, social movements, and cultural and organizational change.
Her book The Mindful Elite (Oxford University Press, 2019), on the emergence and efficacy of the mindfulness movement in the United States, was awarded an Honorable Mention for the American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Book Award in the Sociology of Religion section. A chapter from the book also was given the section’s Graduate Student Paper Award in 2013.
Kucinskas continues to study how spirituality is embedded in different social and institutional contexts. She is also conducting research on federal civil servants’ responses to times of rapid change and chaotic leadership.
Alexandra Plakias ’02 (Ph.D., University of Michigan; M.A., University of California, Santa Cruz; A.B., Hamilton College) spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Aberdeen, in Scotland. Her research focuses on issues in moral psychology, such as the role of evolution and culture in our moral values.
Plakias has written about moral relativism and the role of empirical research in philosophical theorizing. In 2019, she published Thinking Through Food: A Philosophical Introduction (Broadview Press), which focuses on philosophical issues surrounding food production and consumption.
Plakias has three forthcoming publications: “Beetles, Bicycles, and Breath Mints: How ‘omni’ are omnivores?” in Stirring the Pot, Oxford University Press; “Metaethics: Traditional and Empirical Approaches” in The Blackwell Companion to Experimental Philosophy; and “Experimental Philosophy” in Oxford Online Handbooks of Philosophy.
Jesse Weiner’s (Ph.D., M.A, University of California, Irvine; B.A., New College of Florida) research and teaching interests encompass Greek and Latin epic poetry, drama, and, especially, the many ways in which classical antiquity continues to inform modernity.
Earlier this month, he published the essay “Mutable Monuments and Mutable Memories in Lucan’s Bellum Civile and the Former Yugoslavia” in Landscapes of War in Greek and Roman Literature (Bloomsbury Academic).
Weiner has worked as a Latin consultant for Hollywood films and as a scholar with the Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives program. He previously taught classics at Illinois Wesleyan University, California State University Long Beach, and the University of California, Irvine.
Four Awarded Tenure