The College Welcomes New Faculty for 2023-24
This year, thirty-four new faculty enrich the College of Arts & Sciences with creative ideas in a vast array of topics, including quantum materials, artificial intelligence, moral psychology and misinformation, adding to the College’s collaborative and interdisciplinary nexus of discovery and impact.
Multiple scientists working at the quantum scale joined the College. Physicist Xiaomeng Liu creates quantum materials in his lab and investigates their properties, including performing high-resolution imaging using a quantum microscope. His current focus is on 2D materials -- crystals made of a single layer of atoms, such as graphene.
Physicist Nils Deppe also investigates the quantum realm, in the new frontier of gravitational waves. He’s part of the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) collaboration, providing high-accuracy predictions of what gravitational wave observatories like LIGO, Virgo, and KAGRA detect.
Also in physics Eric Robert Dufresne, with a joint appointment in Materials Science and Engineering, studies biologically-inspired materials design and materials of life. His aim is to reveal novel physical principles that living organisms use to organize molecules into functional nanoscale structures and incorporate them in synthetic systems.
The College’s historic leadership in accelerator physics continues with the appointment of Nigel Lockyer as director of the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based ScienceS and Education (CLASSE), overseeing Cornell’s particle accelerator facilities, research and education. He’ll be pursuing new technology for accelerators with colleagues at Cornell.
In chemistry, Youn Jue “Eunice” Bae's research also lies in the quantum realm, navigating spin dynamics using light. Her goal is to understand the interaction between electron spins and excitons, phonons and magnons in various solid-state materials and use these interactions to dynamically control spins.
Working in the critical field of artificial intelligence, chemist Erik Thiede focuses on the development of algorithms for simulating biomolecules and analyzing biomolecular data. He hopes to share his understanding of AI with students by designing a new graduate course for AI strategies in chemical science.
Xavier Pickett in Africana will enhance the College’s strength in the field of moral psychology. His wide-ranging interests include moral psychology as well as moral philosophy, African American philosophy and Africana religions, and Black radicalism and nationalism. He’s excited, he said, “about contributing to the intellectual life of the birthplace of Africana studies and collaborative opportunities with STEM colleagues.”
Also joining Africana is Ambre Dromgoole, who will be a Provost New Faculty Fellow this year. Her expertise includes African American women’s history, Black feminist theory, religion, ethnomusicology, performance and sound studies. In her current project, she is documenting the Twentieth Century history of itinerant women gospel musicians as a collective.
In the Department of Literatures in English, Jessica Rosenberg’s specialty is early modern English literature; she’s working on a book about the everyday methods that people of Shakespeare’s time used to re-make themselves and the world around them. She’s especially looking forward to teaching courses that connect science and literature.
Lindsay Thomas focuses on 20th and 21st century U.S. literature and culture, critical data studies, digital media and computational approaches to literary and cultural history. Her book project is on the “algorithmic middlebrow,” which tells a technological history of the novel and U.S. publishing since the mid-20th century.
As an author of novels and short stories, NoViolet Bulawayo, M.F.A. ’10, is looking forward to teaching the Writing Workshop for the Department of Literatures in English. She’s also excited about “being part of a vibrant learning community, brilliant colleagues, inspiring students, and Ithaca’s beautiful scenery.”
Mary Loeffelholz, an expert in 19th century American poetry and poetics, will serve as dean of Cornell’s School of Continuing Education. In that role, she’s hoping to develop and teach courses in writing about place, writing for social action, and American poetry.
In psychology, Gordon Pennycook does research at the intersection of cognitive and social psychology, with a particular focus on why we make errors during reasoning and what explains why we believe what we believe. Over the last few years, he’s focused on understanding and combatting misinformation and is looking forward to teaching a course on the psychology of misinformation.
Historian Ruth Lawlor’s interests include the U.S. in the world, military and diplomatic history, international history and the intertwined histories of race, gender, labor and empire. She’s working on a book about the history of the U.S. Army’s management of sexual violence in Europe during World War II.
Rachel Sandwell’s historical focus is on transnational women’s and gender history, African history and histories of decolonization. Her book project, “National Fantasies: Gender and the Making of South Africa,” looks at women’s contributions to the South African national liberation movement and the global anti-apartheid movement.
Also in history, Camille Suárez researches the 19th century U.S. West. She’s finishing a book project, “Colonial State Making,” about the first thirty years of California statehood and the diverse groups of people that shaped the state.
Paraska Tolan-Szkilnik is a historian of 20th century transnational North Africa. Her recent book “Maghreb Noir: the Militant-Artists of North Africa and the Struggle for a Pan-African, Postcolonial Future,” is about Pan-Africanism in 20th century North Africa.
Mathematician Yusheng Luo’s research is in dynamics and geometry. He’s excited by the “intellectually stimulating academic atmosphere, brilliant colleagues and motivated students,” as well as the diverse community at Cornell.
Daniel Stern’s mathematical interests are in differential geometry, partial differential equations and the calculus of variations. Recently he’s been exploiting a mysterious relationship between minimal surfaces and isoperimetric inequalities in spectral geometry to produce new examples of minimal surfaces and get new information about the spectra of natural differential operators.
Mathematician Rachel Webb, a Provost New Faculty Fellow this year, focuses on algebraic geometry, especially problems motivated by Gromov-Witten theory, including moduli of curves and maps. She’s excited about the gorges and the friendly community and teaching Abstract Algebra and Algebraic Geometry.
Yunan Yang's mathematical interests are in numerical analysis, inverse problems, nonconvex optimization, optimal transport and machine learning. She's been exploring the optimal mass transport problem, which seeks the most efficient way of transforming one mass distribution to the other relative to a given cost function.
In the Department of Performing and Media Arts, Mendi Lewis Obadike researches sound art, performance, sound studies, poetry, African and African American studies and media art. She’s working on an immersive sound installation and performance responding to the symbol of the train in African American music and art, as well as a musical satellite reflecting on African American cosmology.
In Asian studies, Shaoling Ma focuses on global China and Southeast Asia, critical theory, media, science, and technology. She’s interested in developing an "Intro to Asia Media Studies" class and courses in specialized topics in operational media, Cold War technocracies and Asian cybernetics.
Also in Asian studies, Drisana Misra focuses on transregional early modern Japan. Her current project is a monograph on the material and intellectual exchanges between the Japanese archipelago, the Iberian Peninsula and the Americas during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Art historian Ana Howie focuses on the art and material culture of early modern Europe (particularly Italy) and its material, economic and human connections within the wider world. Her current research investigates elite women, dress and representation in early modern Genoa through portraits executed by Flemish painters Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck.
In linguistics, Jennifer Kuo researches the learning of sound patterns and representation of paradigms, with a focus on Austronesian languages. She’s using corpus data on change over time (in languages like Malagasy, Samoan, and Maori) to understand how people learn sound patterns.
In Near Eastern studies, Jonathan R. Lawrence, a Provost New Faculty Fellow, focuses on Arabic literature and Islamic studies. His current project is entitled “Narratives of Love: Chastity, Sex and Desire in Medieval Arabic Literature and Thought.”
Neurobiologist Madineh Sedigh-Sarvestani researches the neural computations underlying perception, focusing on understanding how bodily constraints, like the way we move, influence how we perceive the world. She’s excited to work with faculty in other fields to find creative ways to study how the brain and body work together to produce our perceptions and actions.
In comparative literature, Gavin Walker, Ph.D. ’12, works at the intersection of critical theory, continental philosophy and world literature, and politics and aesthetics. He’s currently finishing a new book entitled “The Rarity of Politics: Passages from Structure to Subject.”
In German studies, Mari Jarris, a Provost New Faculty Fellow, works on 19th and 20th century German and Russian literature, feminist and queer theory, transnational socialisms and utopianism. Their current project is “Utopia as Revolution: Marxism’s Queer Pasts and Futures.”
In classics, Cat Lambert focuses on Greek and Latin literature, gender/sexuality studies, queer studies and book history. She’s writing a book about the cultural category of the “bad reader” in Greek and Latin literature from the first two centuries C.E., exploring how élite male authors theorized the relationship between reading, books and the body.
In music, Jean Bernard Cerin specializes in vocal performance. He’s working on The Lisette Project, which traces the history of the oldest song from colonial Haiti and songs written in France and the United States that share its lyrics.
Director of Orchestras Gabriela Gómez Estévez specializes in orchestral music, conducting, and Latin American music. She’s currently researching the orchestral works of composer Margarita Luna García, a prominent figure in 20th century avant-garde music in the Dominican Republic.
Economist Julieta Caunedo specializes in macroeconomics and development; she taught previously at Cornell. She says she’s looking forward to being around motivated and curious scholars, as well as teaching a course on macro-development.