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Faculty Highlights

Our faculty members in the College of Humanities and Sciences are an amazing group of educators, academics and researchers. Here are just a few news highlights from the year.

david chester

David Chester, Ph.D., (Psychology) appeared in an episode of NOVA on Nov. 20, 2019. The PBS award-winning documentary series dedicated an episode to “The Violence Paradox” and Chester spoke on the pleasure of revenge. Chester's research seeks to understand the psychological and biological processes that motivate and constrain aggressive behavior.

andrew chesnut

Andrew Chesnut, Ph.D., (World Studies) an internationally recognized expert of Latin American religious history and leading scholar on the Mexican folk saint Santa Muerte, provided insight into Santa Muerte for the film “Bad Boys for Life,” starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. His work ensured that the folk saint personifying death would be portrayed accurately.

Tressie McMillan Cottom

Thick: And Other Essays” by Tressie McMillan Cottom, Ph.D., (Sociology) was nominated for the National Book Award for Nonfiction. Cottom's book, published by The New Press, is a collection of essays that offers a multifaceted portrayal of the experience of black womanhood, exploring topics including beauty, media, money and pop culture. Cottom was also awarded the 2020 Public Understanding of Sociology Award by the American Sociological Association (ASA). The ASA awards are conferred on sociologists for outstanding scholarship, teaching, practice and advancing the public understanding of sociology.

adin lears

Adin Lears, Ph.D., (English) was awarded a Society for the Humanities Fellowship at Cornell University for the 2020-21 academic year. Lears will be one of seven fellows. The fellows spend their time in research and writing during the residential fellowship, and are required to participate in a weekly seminar. This year’s theme is “fabrication.”

andrew murphy

Andrew Murphy, Ph.D., (Political Science) was awarded a Visiting Fellowship at the British Library’s Eccles Centre for American Studies. The award supports a month of archival research in the British Library that is related to Murphy’s new project on political martyrdom, focused on three early modern figures: Algernon Sidney (a great hero of the American founders), who was executed in 1683; Mary Dyer, a Quaker who was executed in Boston in 1660; and King Charles I of England, who was famously beheaded in 1649.

Brooke Newman

A Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica” by Brooke Newman, Ph.D., (History), was a finalist for the prestigious 2019 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, one of the most coveted awards in the study of the African American experience.

michelle peace in her lab

Michelle Peace, Ph.D., (Forensic Science) was featured on Sanjay Gupta’s “Weed5: The CBD Craze” on CNN. The show premiered on Sept. 29, 2019 and featured Peace discussing her research and the risks associated with the unregulated CBD market. Peace and her research were also profiled in the New York Times.

gregory smithers

Gregory Smithers, Ph.D., (History) was awarded a prestigious four-year Global Professorship from the British Academy for a “project [that] seeks to explore how threats to our well-being posed by climate change can be addressed by drawing upon indigenous knowledges rooted in the deep past,” specifically looking at the homelands of the Cherokee in the Appalachians of the United States, and those of the Ngarigo and Walgal peoples of the Great Dividing Range in Australia. The fellowship is worth $1 million.

katharine moore tibbetts

Katharine Moore Tibbetts, Ph.D., (Chemistry) received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers.

mimi winick

Mimi Winick, Ph.D., (English) was named a research associate for Harvard's Women's Studies in Religion Program for the 2020-21 academic year. Mimi's project is titled "Ecstatic Inquiry: Women’s Writing on Religion in Britain, 1890–1930" and this project recounts how the first generation of British women academics fashioned humanistic research into a spiritual practice.


book cover for dessert passions short stories by zakiyatou oualett halatine

Patricia Cummins, Ph.D., (World Studies) translated a collection of short stories, "Desert Passions," (L’Harmattan) from Zakiyatou Oualett Halatine's "Passions du desert." The collection is an inward look at the Tuareg people of the Timbuktu region, their environment, their practices and beliefs.

Joshua Eckhardt, Ph.D., (English) authored “Religion Around John Donne” (Penn State University Press), that examines the religious texts and books that surrounded the poems, sermons and inscriptions of poet and preacher John Donne.

Kathleen Graber (English) published a new collection of poems, “The River Twice,” (Princeton University Press, 2019) that is described as an “elegiac meditation on impermanence and change.”

Sonja Livingston (English) published a collection of essays, “The Virgin of Prince Street: Expeditions into Devotion,” (University of Nebraska Press) that chronicled her relationship with the Catholic Church.

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