8 Faculty Receive Tenure, 6 Promoted

Olivia DrakeJuly 9, 201212min

The Wesleyan Board of Trustees has awarded tenure to eight faculty members. Additionally, four associate professors and two adjunct faculty members also have been promoted.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth and Rob Rosenthal, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, announced the promotions, which were effective July 1.

Newly tenured faculty, promoted from Assistant to Associate Professor

Gloster Aaron, associate professor of biology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, arrived at Wesleyan in 2006, following five years as a post-doctoral researcher at Columbia University. Aaron studies the brain’s synaptic circuitry to better understand communication patterns in the neocortex. His most recent research examines mechanisms involved in the propagation of seizures between the two hemispheres of the brain. Aaron’s work has been published in Science, Neuroscience and Synapse. He received a B.A. from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Nadja Aksamija, associate professor of art and art history, came to Wesleyan in 2007, after spending three years as an assistant professor at Colgate University. A recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, she is author of several major articles and a co-edited volume, as well as a curator of the Renaissance cartography section at the new Museo della Storia di Bologna. The majority of her current scholarship investigates late 16th Century villa architecture and the cultural significance of landscape in the Counter Reformation era, as epitomized by her forthcoming monograph, An Adriatic Renaissance: The Culture and Ideology of the Villa in Sixteenth-Century Dubrovnik, slated for publication by Yale University Press in 2013. Aksamija holds a B.A. from Beloit College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University.

Sally Bachner, associate professor of English, has taught at Wesleyan since the fall of 2003. Her recently published book, The Prestige of Violence: American Fiction, 1962-2007 (University of Georgia Press, 2011), is concerned with the way in which, beginning in the 1960s, major writers of American fiction have placed trauma and violence at the thematic center of their works while simultaneously considering violent trauma to be inaccessible to explicit linguistic representation. Bachner is currently working on a book about the representation of female embodiment in American fiction in this same period. It examines the way decades of ongoing “liberation” for women have failed to resolve the cultural, political, and economic problems women’s bodies pose. She received her B.A. from Reed College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University.

Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, joined the Wesleyan faculty in the fall of 2005. Her work lies in the field of human cognition and development, with a primary focus on quantitative thinking. Specifically, she studies intuitive understandings of numerical and mathematical concepts. Her current research explores sources of developmental change in children’s numerical and spatial reasoning. She also conducts a second line of research in the area of social cognition. Since arriving at Wesleyan, she has published 11 peer reviewed articles and been awarded a prestigious NSF CAREER award. Previously, as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, she published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Barth received her A.B. from Bryn Mawr College and a Ph.D. from MIT.

Daniella Gandolfo, associate professor of anthropology, arrived at Wesleyan the fall of 2006. Her research interests include anthropology of cities, urban social movements, and theory and history of anthropology. Currently, she is examining Lima’s informal economy and government efforts to formalize businesses in the city. Her first book, The City at Its Limits (University of Chicago, 2009), is an ethnographic account of urban renewal and social unrest that integrates multiple perspectives—personal, sociological, historical, and theoretical. This book, which grew out of her doctoral work at Columbia University, received an Honorable Mention, from the Society for Cultural Anthropology, for the Gregory Bateson Book Prize. In addition to her Ph.D. from Columbia, she holds a B.A. from Universidad Católica, in Lima, and an M.A. from the University of Texas.

Phillip Resor, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, began teaching at Wesleyan in 2004. Combining field measurements with computational modeling, Resor’s research focuses on understanding rock deformation with a focus on faulting and fault-related folding.  His research has received support from the NSF, NASA and American Chemical Society as well as industrial sponsors. He has published results in internationally recognized journals including the Journal of Structural Geology and Earth and Planetary Science Letters. He earned his A.B. at Dartmouth College, his M.S. at the University of Wyoming, and his Ph.D. at Stanford University.

Elise Springer, associate professor of philosophy, arrived at Wesleyan in 2003. She specializes in moral philosophy, with particular focus on the social interactions and evolving concepts by which moral life is shaped. Further interests include pragmatist philosophy, feminist ethics, and ecological theory. Her first book, Communicating Moral Concern: An Ethics of Critical Responsiveness (forthcoming from MIT Press), offers a reflective account of how we redirect one another’s moral attention and understanding. Springer’s current research agenda is focused on the role of metaphorical patterns in moral cognition. She holds a B.A. from Wesleyan and a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut.

Deb Unferth, associate professor of English, came to Wesleyan in the fall of 2009, after five years of teaching at the University of Kansas. A successful writer of fiction and creative non-fiction who has twice been selected for the Pushcart Prize, she has published more than 60 stories in highly respected publications such as Harper’s, McSweeney’s and The Chicago Review, as well as a volume of short stories, Minor Robberies (2007). For her acclaimed novel, Vacation (2008), Unferth was awarded the Eighth Annual VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. Her most recent book, Revolution (2011), which “tells the funny and poignant story of the year the author ran away from college with her idealistic boyfriend and followed him to Nicaragua to join the Sandinistas,” was named a Finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. She holds a B.A. from the University of Colorado and an M.F.A. from Syracuse University.

Promotions from Associate to Full Professor

Petra Bonfert-Taylor, professor of mathematics, has been teaching at Wesleyan since 1999. She conducts research on quasiconformal symmetries and extremal problems, an area of study within the fields of geometric analysis and hyperbolic geometry. Her research program has attracted significant funding support from the NSF. Bonfert-Taylor has authored 21 research publications, has co-organized five conferences (including two dedicated to advancing the role of women in mathematics), and has delivered 23 invited addresses and 14 seminar presentations. Recently, in collaboration with Edward Taylor, she began pursuing scholarly inquiry into the mathematics of medical imaging. Petra holds a Ph.D. from Technical University of Berlin, and served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan before coming to Wesleyan.

Eric Charry, professor of music, arrived at Wesleyan in 1998, following six years of teaching at UNC-Greensboro. His scholarship centers on ethnomusicology, with specialties in West Africa and the US. He has authored Mande Music (University of Chicago, 2000), edited Hip Hop Africa (Indiana University, 2012), published over 40 chapters, articles, encyclopedia entries, reviews, and CD notes, and curates Wesleyan’s Virtual Instrument Museum. His work on the emergence of an avant garde in jazz will be published by the University of Chicago Press, and he is working on a manuscript on music in downtown New York in the 1950s and 60s. In 2011 he directed an NEH Summer Institute, Ethnomusicology and Global Culture, at Wesleyan. Charry earned his B.Mus and M.Mus from the New England Conservatory and Ph.D. from Princeton University.

Stephen Devoto, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, began teaching at Wesleyan in 1997, after completing postdoctoral apprenticeships at Duke University Medical Center and the University of Oregon. His research in developmental biology focuses on the molecular mechanisms of muscle specification and differentiation, using the zebrafish as a model organism to understand vertebrates in general. His work has been published in some of the top journals in the field, including Developmental Biology, Development, and Evolution and Development. Devoto received his Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University and his B.A. from Haverford College.

Edward Taylor, professor of mathematics, came to Wesleyan in 2001. He studies the subject of hyperbolic manifolds within the broader fields of hyperbolic geometry and topology. He has recently opened up, in collaboration with Petra Bonfert-Taylor, an additional research program in the mathematics of medical imaging. Taylor’s research has received substantial NSF funding, he currently serves as a program director at the NSF, and was previously an NSF postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, University of Kentucky and University of Connecticut. He completed his B.S. at Brown, his M.A. at UT-Austin and his Ph.D. at SUNY-Stony Brook.

Promotions of Adjunct faculty

Geoff Wheeler will be promoted to adjunct professor of physical education. Wheeler has coached the men’s soccer team since 1999. He has led the team to four NCAA tournament appearances in the past seven years and was named NESCAC men’s soccer coach of the year in 2005 and 2009.

Patrick Tynan will be promoted to adjunct associate professor of physical education. Tynan has served as head women’s crew coach since 2009, leading them to a 9-3 dual race record in 2012, including an upset of Trinity’s nationally fifth-ranked squad.