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Dean's Scholarly Achievement Awards Announced


Dean of Faculty Suzanne Keen recognized nine faculty members with Dean’s Scholarly Achievement Awards in three categories at the May 5 faculty meeting.

Shelley Haley, the Edward North Chair of Classics, and Professor of Classics and Africana Studies, received the Career Achievement Award.

Assistant Professor of Geosciences Cat Beck, Assistant Professor of Philosophy Alex Plakias ’02, and Assistant Professor of Anthropology Colin Quinn were honored for Early Career Achievement.

Notable Year Achievement awards went to Associate Professor of Theatre Mark Cryer, Edgar B. Graves Professor of History Kevin Grant, Associate Professor of Religious Studies Quincy Newell, Associate Professor of Religious Studies Seth Schermerhorn, and Assistant Professor of Computer Science Darren Strash.

Award descriptions and a list of previous recipients may be found on the Dean of Faculty site.

Career Achievement Award

The Career Achievement Award marks significant achievement throughout the course of a scholar’s career.
Shelley Haley
Shelley Haley

Quoting a nominator, Keen said Shelley Haley “has changed the nature of [her] field” and is a “pioneer in transforming long-accepted views in a truly ancient discipline.”

“[Haley] has long been an authority on the topics of race and gender in the antiquities — indeed, she has been one of its first and most important scholars of color, and has drawn attention to both the lack of diversity in the subject and amongst its practitioners,” Keen noted. “Her work has filled these gaps in extraordinary ways, revealing both the complexities of race in antiquity, and the importance of the study of the classics by African American scholars.”

In 2018, Haley was the inspiration for a seminar at Princeton University on Racing the Classics, which brought together the most prominent scholars in the field. In addition, she was elected president of the Society for Classical Studies last year, and the Hamilton College Classics Club recently founded an undergraduate research journal in her honor.

“Her colleagues at the College recognize her for her extraordinary mentoring of young faculty, her dedication to her students, and to her modeling of truly interdisciplinary and creative scholarship,” Keen said.

The Early Career Achievement Award

The Early Career Achievement Award recognizes faculty at the advanced assistant or associate professor level.
Catherine Beck
Catherine Beck

In describing Cat Beck, Keen said, “Since coming to Hamilton, she has published eight peer-reviewed publications, with two more under review or revision, and has presented 35 papers or posters at professional meetings, many of them with Hamilton students as co-authors. [She] has also aggressively pursued external grant funding opportunities to support her research.”

Beck’s research ranges from reconstructing environmental conditions throughout the past 18 million years in the East African Rift Valley to understanding the paleoclimatic history of the Adirondacks. Likewise, her work spans the fields of sedimentology and invertebrate paleontology to stable isotope geochemistry.

Alexandra Plakias ’02
Alexandra Plakias ’02

In 2019, Alex Plakias published Thinking Through Food: A Philosophical Introduction. Keen said the book “is praised by its reviewers for lucid writing and extraordinary range.” Plakias has also published nine essays, with an additional six reviews and encyclopedia entries. A recent essay, published in the top journal in the field, was singled out by Oxford University Press and a popular philosophy blog as one of the best essays of the year.

“Plakias … has been showing us how to think differently and better on a host of topics, including relativism, publishing without belief, and the especially intriguing topic of moral disgust, since arriving here just six years ago,” Keen said.

Colin Quinn
Colin Quinn

Of Colin Quinn, Keen noted that he “has established a strong record of articles in peer-reviewed journals (many at the forefront of the discipline), chapters in volumes, successful grant-funded proposals, and many more scholarly works already in the pipeline.” The dean also noted that Quinn routinely involves Hamilton students in fieldwork, contributing to both experiential and global learning.

In 2019, Quinn published a chapter in Handbook of Evolutionary Research in Archaeology, co-authored with Professor Nathan Goodale an article in American Antiquity, co-authored a piece in Advances in Archaeological Practice, and in March published an article in Antiquity titled Rethinking time, culture and socioeconomic organisation in Bronze Age Transylvania.


Notable Year Achievement Award

The Notable Year Achievement Award marks particular achievement in the past year.
Mark Cryer
Mark Cryer

Describing Mark Cryer, Keen said, “Exceptional years take many forms. [Cryer] began 2019 by having his eyes gouged out while being held down … six times a week and saying he ‘enjoyed it every time.’” The dean was speaking of Cryer’s performance in the role of Gloucester in the Saratoga Shakespeare Co.’s production of King Lear, which was called “excellent” by the Albany Times Union. Keen said Cryer also performed in an international film, a feature film, and in a major production at the Redhouse Theatre in Syracuse.

Kevin Grant
Kevin Grant

In 2019, Kevin Grant published Last Weapons: Hunger Strikes and Fasts in the British Empire, 1890-1948. “Early praise for this book is remarkable,” Keen said. “One reviewer calls it ‘brilliant,’ ‘masterful,’ and ‘beautiful … demonstrating a rich command of theoretical and historical scholarship.’ Another calls it a ‘remarkable study of sacrifice in modern politics, a deeply humane meditation.’ We call it just another year in the remarkable scholarly life of Kevin Grant.”

Quincy Newell
Quincy Newell

Quincy Newell published Your Sister in the Gospel: The Life of Jane Manning James, a Nineteenth-Century Black Mormon. The book is described by publisher Oxford University Press as “the first scholarly biography of Jane Manning James or, for that matter, any black Mormon.” Keen noted Newell’s other accomplishments last year: publishing both a monograph and a peer-reviewed essay; a dozen invited talks and three conference papers; and co-editing an issue of a prestigious journal. “This is on top of having already published two books and eight other articles over the course of her academic career,” Keen noted.

 Seth Schermerhorn
Seth Schermerhorn

Seth Schermerhorn in 2019 published Walking to Magdalena: Personhood and Place in Tohono O’odham Songs, Sticks, and Stories, a monograph with the most important publisher in the subfield. “One reviewer praises the book’s ‘methodological sophistication, sound original arguments, ethic sensitivity, and even a good dose of self-aware, self-deprecating humor,’ adding that he expects the book to become ‘a young classic in the study of Native American Christianity,’” Keen said.

Darren Strash
Darren Strash

In describing Darren Strash, Keen said, “In his first full year at Hamilton, [he] published seven peer-reviewed articles in top-tier venues such as the Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing. One of [Strash’s] nominators wrote that ‘publication in this journal alone would be notable in any year,’ let alone in combination with six other peer-reviewed publications. This ‘experimental theoretician’ straddles theoretical work in algorithms and experimental work that confirms the theoretical results with empirical findings.”

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