The College Welcomes New Faculty

The College of Arts & Sciences welcomes 16 new faculty members this year, each of whom will help form the College’s nexus of big ideas, foundational methods, and colliding and intertwining disciplines.

The interdisciplinarity so fundamental to the College’s approach is reflected in the number of joint appointments, two involving Latina/o studies, itself an interdisciplinary program. The research of Sergio Garcia-Rios (government and Latina/o studies) crosses disciplines: he’s working on a book that investigates the formation and transformation of Latino identities and the political implications of these transformations. Karen Jaime’s (performing and media arts and Latina/o studies) interests span numerous fields including Latina/o performance, film, and culture, and LGBT and queer studies; she’s particularly looking forward to teaching Hip-Hop Theater and the Politics of Performance.

Another addition to the PMA faculty, Samantha Sheppard, is also interested in cinema studies. She’s working on a project titled “Sporting Blackness: Race and Embodiment in Sports Films” and an edited collection, “From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry.”

Two new faculty members will join two of the College’s other interdisciplinary departments: Kevin Gaines in Africana Studies, who’s looking forward, he says, to teaching a course on the intersection of African American literature and social science; and Ann Johnson in Science & Technology Studies, whose current research interests include the role of engineers in the early American republic and the implementation of new technologies in the developing world.

Three of the College’s new faculty reach across colleges in truly cross-disciplinary roles. "The fertilization of ideas and opportunities for collaboration created by such appointments are what makes Cornell such a special place," says Senior Associate Dean Ted O’Donoghue, one of the founders of the interdisciplinary field of behavioral economics, that had its start at Cornell.

Chemist Jeremy Baskin, a pioneer of innovative chemical approaches to probe cell biology, is striving to develop new molecular imaging methods; he holds joint appointments with the College’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and the Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology.

Andrei Marmor holds an appointment with the Department of Philosophy as well as the Law School; he has graduate degrees in both fields. He’s looking forward to teaching courses that focus on moral issues and that explore contemporary research in the areas of moral, political, and legal philosophy.

Katherine Kinzler holds an appointment in the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts & Sciences as well as the Department of Human Development in the College of Human Ecology. Given the nature of her research – studying the social consequences of growing up in a multilingual environment and investigating how children view language as marking social and national groups – it’s no surprise that what she’s most looking forward to at Cornell is “joining a highly collaborative and welcoming community that strives for open intellectual inquiry and values asking questions with real-world impact.”

Perhaps the most famous of the College’s joint appointments was Cornell President Elizabeth Garrett, who held an appointment in the Department of Government, as well as the Law School and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. We mourn her loss and invite you to visit her Memorial Page.

The College’s commitment to both heritage and invention is reflected in this year’s new faculty as well. Julia Chang of the Department of Romance Studies, is an expert in 19th-century Spanish literature and culture; she’s able to show her students how the past and present intersect, in classes such as Feminismos, arising out of her gender and feminist studies interests. Penny von Eschen of the Department of History, also demonstrates in her work the value of heritage and history, in classes such as Thinking in Global and Transnational Dimensions and History Through Literature. Her current book project is “Rebooting the Cold War: A Cultural History of Western Triumphalism and Nostalgia.”

Robert A. DiStasio Jr., chemistry and chemical biology, is focused on the development, implementation, and application of novel methodologies to extend the frontiers of electronic structure theory in complex condensed-phase environments. Justin Wilson, also in chemistry, focuses on the utility of radioactive and non-radioactive metal complexes in medicine for both therapeutic and diagnostic applications. Hojoong Kwak, Ph.D. ‘13, will join the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics faculty in January 2016. His RNA research is helping scientists reach a deeper understanding of natural and disease states and how to repair malfunctioning at the molecular level.

Faculty are actively engaged with critical issues facing the United States, and the world. Two new China experts in the government department will help expand the reach of the China and Asia Pacific Studies (CAPS) program and build on its strength in public engagement. Jessica Weiss and Jeremy Wallace come to Cornell from Yale and Ohio State University, respectively. They’re active both academically and as public intellectuals and have published commentary in important media like the New York Times and the Washington Post. Weiss has testified before Congress; Wallace hosts China Lab, a podcast discussing current research on China.

With the addition of these 16 new faculty, the College’s strength will grow even deeper in the arts, the sciences, the social sciences and humanities.