8 Faculty Awarded Tenure

In its recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure on eight faculty members, effective July 1, 2015. They are: Associate Professor of Sociology Robyn Autry, Associate Professor of Government Sonali Chakravarti, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Amy MacQueen, Associate Professor of Music Paula Matthusen, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Rich Olson, Associate Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen, Associate Professor of Economics Damien Sheehan-Connor, and Associate Professor of Classics Eirene Visvardi.

Brief descriptions of their research and teaching appear below:

Associate Professor Autry is a cultural sociologist with broad interests in collective identity, memory, and visual culture. Her research on the ways in which the past is constructed and represented at museums has been published in several journals. Autry’s book, Desegregating the Past: The Public Life of Memory in South Africa and the United States, analyzes clashes around the development of history museums in both countries as a window into the desire for particular personal and collective orientations toward the past (Columbia University Press, forthcoming). She teaches courses on comparative race and ethnicity, the future, and memory and violence.

Associate Professor Chakravarti’s research draws on the history of political thought in order to investigate contemporary questions of justice. Her first book, Sing the Rage: Listening to Anger after Mass Violence (University of Chicago Press, 2014), was based on her research on transitional and restorative justice and the constructive role anger can play in transforming relationships between victims and perpetrators and cultivating trust between citizens. She offers courses on the moral basis of politics, transitional justice, what is the good life, and modern political theory.

Associate Professor MacQueen is a geneticist and molecular cell biologist whose research focuses on meiosis, the process of splitting and recombination of genetic material that occurs when reproductive cells are formed. Her work seeks to understand the fundamental cellular mechanisms of these events, which may ultimately clarify how errors arise in this process, which can lead to birth defects such as Down syndrome. MacQueen has received significant NIH grant support and has published several high-impact papers on her research in this area. She teaches courses on cell biology and advanced labs in molecular biology and genetics.

Associate Professor Matthusen is an acclaimed experimental composer who works in a wide variety of media, including electro-acoustic and acoustic music, and sound installations. Her work explores relationships between physical and musical spaces and engagement with individual and cultural memory. She has received numerous honors including being named a 2014-2015 recipient of the prestigious Elliott Carter Rome Prize in Composition, and has secured 20 commissions for original compositions. She directs the Toneburst Laptop Ensemble and offers courses on tonal harmony and experimental music.

Associate Professor Olson’s research uses X-ray crystallography and other biophysical methods to study the structure and function of proteins that are central to health and disease. His work, supported by a significant NIH grant, seeks to discover how otherwise benign bacteria transform into dangerous human pathogens. Olson’s highly-cited 2011 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the structure of a pore-forming toxin associated with cholera has had a significant impact on the field. He teaches courses on membrane protein structure and signal transduction.

Associate Professor Rasmussen’s research is in the robust area of arithmetic algebraic geometry, a central area of mathematics research that uses geometric approaches to solve problems of number theory. He studies the absolute Galois group through its representations on geometric objects. His work focuses especially on the arithmetic properties of elliptic curves and abelian varieties possessing unusual structure. Professor Rasmussen teaches courses on abstract algebra, multivariable calculus, and discrete mathematics.

Associate Professor Sheehan-Connor earned an MD prior to his PhD in economics, and his research combines these two areas of expertise by using applied econometric tools to perform economic evaluation of public policies with likely health impacts. His work has focused on the welfare economics of bone marrow donor registries, and most recently, on public policies concerning vehicle safety. He recently published an article on “Environmental Policy and Vehicle Safety: The Impact of Gasoline Taxes” (Economic Inquiry, 2015). He offers courses on economic theory, microeconomic analysis, public economics, and healthcare economics.

Associate Professor Visvardi’s research on Greek literature, and in particular, Athenian tragedy, focuses on the role of emotions in classical Athens, and how emotions—especially pity and fear—were manifested, collectively, by the choruses in Greek tragedy. Her work combines literary criticism, ancient and modern psychological and political theory, and, most recently, historiography. She is the author of Emotion in Action: Thucydides and the Tragic Chorus (Brill Mnemosyne Supplements, 2015). She offers language courses in Greek, as well as courses on Greek drama and its reception, and gender and sexuality in ancient Greek culture.