Margaret Gentry, interim vice president, academic affairs and dean of faculty, announced the appointment of new faculty for the 2016-17 academic year, including nine tenure-track appointments, 17 visiting professors and instructors, five lecturers and two teaching fellows.

New tenure-track appointments are Vikranth Bejjanki, psychology; Angela Blum, chemistry; Kristen Burson, physics; Alexsia Chan, government; Viva Horowitz, physics; Kira Jumet, government; Siobhan Robinson, psychology; Pavitra Sundar, literature and creative writing; and Rachel White, psychology.

In addition, three faculty members who joined Hamilton in prior years have been named to tenure-track positions:  Anne Feltovich, classics; Celeste Day Moore, history; and Julie Starr, anthropology.

Vikranth Rao Bejjanki received his B.S. in computer engineering and B.A. in cognitive science from the University at Buffalo, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in brain and cognitive sciences from the University of Rochester. He comes to Hamilton from Princeton University, where he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. Bejjanki’s research is concerned with examining the neural and computational mechanisms that allow humans to learn from their experiences. He uses a range of methods, including psychophysics, computational modeling and functional neuroimaging, to study learning at multiple levels of analysis. Bejjanki’s published work can be found in journals such as Nature Neuroscience, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Neural Computation and the Journal of Vision.

Angela Blum holds degrees in chemistry from Lewis & Clark College (B.A.) and the California Institute of Technology (Ph.D.). At Caltech, she used techniques in physical organic chemistry to elucidate the molecular interactions responsible for activating essential neuroreceptors that bind important neurotransmitters, key pharmaceuticals and nicotine. As a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, San Diego, she developed a general method to improve the efficacy of peptide-based therapeutics by packaging them as high-density brush polymers. Blum’s research at Hamilton will focus on materials approaches to controlling bacterial behavior and pathogenicity. Her work will be highly interdisciplinary, borrowing tactics from synthetic organic chemistry, chemical biology and materials chemistry.

Kristen Burson received her bachelor’s degree in physics from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota.  She earned her MA and Ph.D. from University of Maryland-College Park where she studied the surface structure and properties of novel materials for nanoelectronics using scanning probe microscopy.  Following her Ph.D., she taught physics for a year at Gettysburg College.  Most recently, Burson pursued research on the atomic scale structure of glass at the Fritz-Haber Institute in Berlin, Germany, through an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship.  In addition to her scientific interests, she has published on students’ perceptions of office hours and has been involved in physics education outreach, particularly focused on promoting women in physics.

Alexsia Chan received a B.A. from Rutgers University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.  She comes to Hamilton after serving as a Mellon C3 Postdoctoral Fellow at Middlebury College.  Her working papers include “Public Services and Social Control in China,” “Regulating Private Alternatives to Public Services in China,” and “Will Germany back out of TTIP?: The Puzzle of Domestic Opposition and its Power to Influence Negotiations” (with Beverly Crawford).  Chan is proficient in Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese.

Viva R. Horowitz joins Hamilton in the Physics Department. She built dynamic artificial cells as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard and designed optomechanical gyroscopes as a postdoctoral research scholar at Caltech. Horowitz earned her Ph.D. in physics at UC Santa Barbara, where she built a new tool for magnetic imaging using the quantum bits in optically levitated nanocrystals of luminescent diamond. She graduated with a B.A. in physics from Swarthmore College.

Kira Jumet received her A.B. in international relations and Middle East studies from Brown University, her M.A. in Middle East studies from the American University in Cairo, and her Ph.D. in political science from Rutgers University. Jumet’s research focuses on protest mobilization leading up to and during the 2011 and 2013 Egyptian uprisings, including the relationship between emotions and protest participation. She was previously the director of development at the American Iranian Council and has taught at the College of Staten Island, Rutgers University and Marymount Manhattan College.

Siobhan Robinson earned her B.A. in psychology from the University of Rochester and her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Washington.  After completing a NIH-funded Postdoctoral Fellowship she taught at Dartmouth College and Oberlin College.  Her animal-based research employs both classical and innovative techniques to investigate the neuroanatomy and the neurochemistry underlying goal-directed, but maladaptive learning and decision-making.   Recent efforts focus on the neurobiology and also the pathology within the hippocampal memory system; a collection of brain regions that allows us to form and maintain rich, complex memories.  The ultimate goal of the research is to better understand the neurobiology underlying behavioral and cognitive deficits such as those observed in persons with substance dependence, anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Pavitra Sundar studied psychology and English at Ithaca College then received her doctorate in women’s studies and English from the University of Michigan. Her work in postcolonial studies there led to a project on the construction of gender, sexuality and nation in Bollywood soundtracks. She continued thinking, teaching and writing about film and sound during a New England sojourn, when she held a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at Dartmouth College. Sundar then returned to Michigan for six years to teach at Kettering University. At Hamilton, Sundar will teach courses in global film and literature.

Rachel White received her B.A. from Wellesley College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. She recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship and teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. As a child psychologist, White examines the development of self-control from the preschool years through adolescence. She is particularly interested in how children use play and other imaginative strategies, like taking another person’s perspective, to better regulate their thoughts, behaviors and emotions. White’s recent work can be found in journals such as Child DevelopmentDevelopmental Science, and the Journal of Educational Psychology. She has been an advisor to Sesame Workshop, PBS KIDS, the Minnesota Children’s Museum, and schools across the country.

Visiting faculty members for 2016-17 are:  Ashley Bohrer, philosophy; Chen-An Chou, Eat Asian Languages and literatures; Christa Christ, psychology;  Tracy Cosgriff, art history; Jessica Fellmeth, biology;  Mike Hsu, economics;  Andrew Jones, chemistry; Meredith Madden, education studies; Michael O’Hara, economics; David Perkins, mathematics;  Timothy Recuber, communication;  Jacquelyn Rische, mathematics; Sam Rosenfeld, government; Sarah Spisak , chemistry; Mike Tsang, economics; Sara Walsh, theatre; Tony Wayne, government; and Jeanne Willcoxon, theatre.

New lecturers are George Baker ’74, government; Christopher Briggs, biology; Penelope Dane, communication; Lorena Molina, art; and Frank Vlossak ’89, government.

Two new teaching fellows have joined the faculty:  Morgane Guillou, French, and Yu-Ping Tai, Chinese.


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