This fall, Lafayette welcomes 11 new professors, bringing the College’s total to 213 full-time, tenure-track faculty members.
Over the past several years, the College has been hard at work on the initiative in the 2007 strategic plan to increase the size of the permanent faculty by 20 percent and decrease the student-to-faculty ratio from 11:1 to 10:1.
Six of this year’s incoming professors represent new positions. So far, Lafayette has allocated or hired 15 new faculty positions and has commitments for four more, bringing the total to 19. The strategic plan calls for 35 new faculty positions. The College has also hired the first professors specifically assigned to the interdisciplinary programs in engineering studies and international affairs.
Robert Blunt comes to Lafayette from the University of Chicago, where he earned his Ph.D. in anthropology, completing his dissertation on a ritual history of postcolonial Kenya. He joins the faculty as an assistant professor of religious studies. Blunt has taught a variety of anthropology courses, with a focus on African culture. He has conducted ethnographic research in Kenya on several occasions, and has served many times as a court expert for Kenyan asylum seekers in the U.S. Blunt is fluent in Kishwahili, as well as Biblical Hebrew and Attic Greek.
Benjamin Cohen is a new assistant professor of engineering studies and is the first professor hired specifically for the College’s interdisciplinary program. He was most recently a visiting assistant professor at the University of Virginia, where he taught courses on technology, nature, and sustainable communities, and on environmental and engineering ethics. He is currently working on a book about the cultural effects of the industrialization of food in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, and has given numerous presentations on the topic of agricultural policy and food production. He has also been an associate editor of the book series, “History for a Sustainable Future” from MIT press. Cohen received his Ph. D. in science and technology studies from Virginia Tech.
Michael Feola, assistant professor of government and law, comes to Lafayette from Williams College, where he was a visiting professor of political theory. He has also taught at Duke, Northwestern, and Stanford universities, and authored a chapter in the forthcoming book Kant and the Question of Community. Feola’s areas of specialization include modern political theory, politics and economy, critical theory, continental political theory, and politics and aesthetics. He is a proficient speaker of German and Spanish, and can also read French. Feola has a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.
Nestor Armando Gil joins the art department as an assistant professor after teaching at Bowdoin College. Gil’s artwork has been shown in numerous solo exhibitions in galleries in Maine, North Carolina, and Florida, and he has exhibited his projects throughout the United States. (See www.nestorarmandogilprojects.com for examples of his work.) Gil has an M.F.A. in studio art from the Univeristy of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Rachel Goshgarian, who earned her Ph.D. in history and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University, joins the faculty as an assistant professor of history. Goshgarian comes to Lafayette from Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey, where she was a senior fellow in the university’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations. Her areas of expertise include Armenian and Anatolian culture, on which she has published and presented extensively. Goshgarian is also proficient in a number of languages needed for researching old texts, including Arabic, Armenian, and Turkish. She is currently at work on Ahis. Futuwwa and the City: Urban Culture and Inter-Faith Interaction in Late Medieval Anatolia.
Brett Hendrickson joins the religious studies department as an assistant professor. He holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Arizona State University and has taught courses in ethics and religion at Eden Theological Seminary and Southwest Illinois College, among other institutions. Hendrickson has presented several papers at academic conferences and has published in a peer-reviewed journal. His primary research interests include the history of Christianity in the Americas, with expertise in Latino and Latin American religions in the borderlands, and he is fluent in Spanish.
Justin Hines, assistant professor of chemistry, was most recently a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow in the biochemistry department of University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Iowa State University. Hines has published a number of articles on his research in academic journals and has given several academic presentations. His research has focused on prion biology—prions being proteins that can hijack the cellular machinery of a chaperone to become heritable elements. In 2010, Hines was named by the National Academies as an Education Mentor in the Life Sciences, and received several teaching awards at Iowa State.
Jeffrey Liebner joins the mathematics department as an assistant professor. A statistics specialist, Liebner has extensive knowledge of the R/S-plus statistical program, and his research has been published in the Journal of Statistical Software. Liebner is interested in statistical applications to neuroscience. He earned his Ph.D. in statistics from Carnegie Mellon University, where he was also a teaching assistant for several statistics courses.
Lauren Myers, assistant professor of psychology, comes to Lafayette from Bryn Mawr College, where she was a visiting assistant professor, teaching several psychology courses. Among her research interests are children’s understanding of intentionality, and spatial and mapping development. She has authored several academic articles and has given many research presentations at conferences. She currently has several research projects underway with undergraduate student collaborators, including work on children’s understanding of gestures and children’s advanced theory of mind and symbol-understanding. Myers earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Penn State University.
Michael Nees also joins the psychology department as an assistant professor, following postdoctoral research at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He taught psychology courses at Spelman College, where he also served as a faculty adviser for honors research projects. Nees research interests include auditory perception, assistive technologies, and internal representations in working memory. He has published several journal articles on his research related to schizophrenia, and has given a number of conference presentations on his auditory research. Nees earned his Ph.D. in psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Angelika Von Wahl joins the faculty as an associate professor of international affairs after leaving a similar position at San Francisco State University, where she taught for the past 10 years. She is the first professor hired specifically for the College’s interdisciplinary program. A native of Germany, Von Wahl received a Ph.D. in political science from Free University Berlin. Von Wahl specializes in comparative politics of Western Europe and the U.S.; welfare states and social policy; and gender and politics; as well as in transitional and restorative justice; global human rights; and Western European politics. She has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and is currently working on a book comparing the politics of reparations in Germany, Japan, and the United States.