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Six Receive Dean's Scholarly Achievement Awards


Dean of Faculty Suzanne Keen presented Dean’s Scholarly Achievement Awards to six faculty members in three categories at the May 7 faculty meeting.  Alan Cafruny, the Henry Platt Bristol Chair - International Affairs and Professor of Government received the Career Achievement Award; Assistant Professor of Physics Kate Brown and Assistant Professor of Sociology Jaime Kucinskas were honored with Early Career Achievement; and Notable Year achievement awards went to Professor of Africana Studies Heather Merrill, Associate Professor of Literature and Creative Writing Jane Springer, and Assistant Professor of Classics Jesse Weiner.

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

The Dean's Scholarly Achievement Awards recognize individual accomplishment but reflect a richness and depth of scholarship and creative activity across the entire faculty. 

Career Achievement Award

Alan Cafruny
Alan Cafruny
Alan Cafruny, the Henry Platt Bristol Chair - International Affairs and Professor of Government

The Career Achievement Award marks significant achievement during the course of a scholar’s whole career. Describing Cafruny, Keen said, “Just in the last decade this faculty member has published a 2017 book, two edited collections, seven peer-reviewed articles, and a dozen invited chapters in books. This career achievement winner began teaching at Hamilton in 1988 and rose through the ranks here, doing visiting professorships in Europe and taking a Fulbright in Moscow.

“Educated at Kenyon College, University College London, and Cornell, this faculty member has built an international reputation in his field of European affairs, comparative politics, and international political economy, and has become a public intellectual, contributing to media weekly and dailies’ discussion of the transatlantic relationship, the Trump presidency and prospects for trade wars, the debt crisis in the EU, and many other compelling topics.

“Recognized for a notable year in 2017 for the publication of his co-authored Palgrave Macmillan book, The European Union and Global Capitalism: Origins, Evolution, Crisis, Alan Cafruny gave eight lectures the following year, including appearances in London, Moscow, and Warsaw.

“As befits a scholar of his stature, Alan serves his profession at the highest level on advisory boards, on peer-review panels, and as a doctoral dissertation supervisor, but not to the diminution of devoted service to Hamilton College. Alan (led this semester’s DC Program, not for the first time.) He has mentored a Posse cohort, chaired his department, served on COA, and directed the Model UN and Model EU, among other significant contributions,” Keen concluded.

Early Career Achievement Awards

The Early Career Achievement marks significant achievement at the advanced assistant or associate professor level.

 Katherine Brown (Jones-Smith)
Katherine Brown
Assistant Professor of Physics Kate Brown

Keen said, “Already a member of a journal’s editorial board and a member of the prestigious Foundational Questions Institute is the author of 22 papers, half of which feature undergraduate co-authors. The citations of this scholar’s work made her the first of her generation to earn a top 10 place on our Google Scholar roster.

“Her articles appear in the best journals, including Nature and Physical Review A, D, and E (representing three different subfields!) and she has published a solo-authored paper in the world’s oldest scientific journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

“An invited speaker whose work on Jackson Pollack excited the interest of science journalists, this faculty member has developed an ingenious course on Physics and Art that employs the rich resources of the Wellin,” Keen said.

Jaime Lee Kucinskas
Jaime Lee Kucinskas
Assistant Professor of Sociology Jaime Kucinskas

Keen noted, “Her teaching and research center on the intersections of the sociology of religion and spirituality, social movements, cultural and organizational change, elites, and inequality. Publishing at the rate of an article a year in major journals, in 2016, 2017, and 2018, early in 2019 this steady contributor published a book at Oxford. The Mindful Elite has already been widely and favorably reviewed. It has been receiving serious attention both from academics and from practitioners in the mindfulness movement.             

Keen shared an academic opinion of the significance of the work, from a published review: “Challenging conventional wisdom about social movements, [this work] turns attention away from outsiders and confrontational tactics to focus on the contemplative movement, led by privileged institutional entrepreneurs who have used insider—consensus-based tactics to take Buddhist practices ‘mainstream’—thus changing the meaning of mindfulness. A must-read for scholars of religion and movements, and anyone interested in cultural appropriation and transformation.”

Notable Year Achievement Awards

The Notable Year Achievement marks particular achievement in the past year, for up to three faculty members. 

 Heather Merrill
Heather Merrill
Professor of Africana Studies Heather Merrill

Professor of Africana Studies Heather Merrill authored over a dozen articles, a prior book and an edited collection. She had a notable year in 2018 with the publication by Routledge of her book, Black Spaces: African Diaspora in Italy. In a review, Daphne Lamothe of Smith College called Black Spaces “a vital investigation of African migrant experiences in contemporary Italy,” noting that the book provides “a formidable account of the workings of race and nation, power and relation in the modern era.”

Jane Springer
Jane Springer
Associate Professor of Literature and Creative Writing Jane Springer

Dean Keen said of Associate Professor of Literature and Creative Writing Jane Springer, “This writer’s first and second books were prize-winners, but she grabbed the gold ring as a southern poet with her publication of Moth in 2018.”

According to the publisher’s description of the book, the poems — shaped poems, prose poems, and poems with unusual structures — focus on “the role of women in a chaotic world,” examining “serious subjects, including our destruction of the environment, the widening and divisive gulf between socioeconomic classes, and the further injustices thrust upon those already suffering in society.

“Simultaneously heartbreaking and lighthearted, these masterful poems gracefully delve into the complexities of our lives.”

Jesse Weiner
Jesse Weiner
Assistant Professor of Classics Jesse Weiner

Assistant Professor of Classics Jesse Weiner in 2018 “published six journal articles and book chapters, on subjects ranging from philological explorations of ancient literature, to sexuality and gender studies, from poetic personae to hip-hop to interpreting modern cityscapes,” said Keen.

“This would be a big year for any active scholar, but this young professor rocketed onto Kirkus Review’s 2018 holiday gift guide with his co-edited collection, Frankenstein and its Classics: The Modern Prometheus from Antiquity to Science Fiction, published by Bloomsbury Academic, to which he contributed an introduction and a chapter, ‘Frankenfilm,’” Keen said.

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