Faculty Tenure and Promotions Announced

Editorial StaffJune 5, 202424min
1200x660 spring witn

It is with great pleasure that the University announces the promotions of 22 faculty members, effective July 1, 2024:

The following faculty were conferred tenure by the Board of Trustees:

In addition, 15 faculty members are being promoted:

Please join us in congratulating all of them! Brief descriptions of their areas of research and teaching appear below:

Charles Barber, Professor of the Practice in Letters

Professor Barber is an author of literary nonfiction who writes about contemporary health care and criminal justice issues. He has published five books, including most recently, In the Blood: How Two Outsiders Solved a Centuries-Old Medical Mystery and Took on the US Army (Grand Central, 2023), and his work has appeared in numerous journals including The New York Times, The Nation, Salon, and Scientific American Mind. He offers courses on longform narrative, the family memoir, crime writing, narratives of illness and recovery, and writing about the self and from experience. 

Katie Brewer Ball, Associate Professor of Theater

Professor Brewer Ball’s scholarship focuses on performance, visual culture, feminist theory, queer studies, Black and Indigenous aesthetics, and psychoanalysis. Their book, The Only Way Out: The Racial and Sexual Performance of Escape (Duke University Press, April 2024), explores the American fascination with the escape story and makes a powerful argument about the diverse ways contemporary artists illuminate the concept of escape from minoritarian.perspectives. They offer courses on performance studies and curation, queer performance theory, and writing on and as performance. 

Joan Cho, Associate Professor of East Asian Studies

Professor Cho is a political scientist whose research focuses on democratization, authoritarianism, and social movements, particularly in South Korea. Her book, Seeds of Mobilization: The Authoritarian Roots of South Korea’s Democracy (University of Michigan Press, 2024) examines the roles of industrialization and tertiary education in South Korea’s nonlinear path to democracy. Her work has been published in Electoral StudiesJournal of East Asian Studies, and Studies in Comparative International Development. She teaches courses on challenges to democracy in East Asia, social and political changes in Korea, and Korean politics through film. 

Anthony Ravindra Cummings, Philip ’71 and Lynn Rauch Professor of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Environmental Management

Professor Cummings, who will join the Bailey College of the Environment and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences this coming fall, is a scholar who uses geospatial modeling and remote sensing to examine land-cover dynamics, land use, and climate primarily in Guyana, South America. His work has been published in Professional Geographer, International Journal of Geo-Information, Human Dimensions of Wildlife, and Ecological Indicators. He is a National Geographic Explorer and was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. He teaches courses on the global environment, remote sensing fundamentals, and global change and its challenges.

Anthony P. Davis, Professor of the Practice in Chemistry 

Professor Davis, whose former students now number in the thousands, instructs and advises students at the outset of their scientific education through the general chemistry lecture and laboratory courses, a foundational curriculum for all STEM-related fields. He has also created two upper-level elective courses in analytical chemistry, opening access to a subject area important to virtually every subdiscipline of chemistry, and he has offered first-year seminar courses on the topic of chemophobia. Before coming to Wesleyan to complete his Ph.D., he served in the United States Coast Guard, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander, and he taught chemistry to the cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Tushar Irani, Professor of Letters and Professor of Philosophy

Professor Irani’s scholarship focuses on Greco-Roman philosophy. He is the author of Plato on the Value of Philosophy: The Art of Argument in the Gorgias and Phaedrus (Cambridge University Press, 2017), co-editor of Philosophy as a Way of Life: Historical, Contemporary, and Pedagogical Perspectives (Wiley, 2020), and has published in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, the Journal of the History of Philosophy, and Brill’s Plato Studies series. He teaches courses on the ancient world, virtue ethics and moral psychology, and introductory and advanced courses on philosophy as a way of life. He received the Binswanger Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2023 and serves as faculty director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship at Wesleyan.

Jeffers Lennox, Professor of History

Professor Lennox is a historian of the colonial period in Northeastern America who examines history through a lens that centers the importance of Indigenous nations and geographies. He is the author of two books, including most recently, North of America: Loyalists, Indigenous Nations, and the Borders of the Long American Revolution (Yale University Press, 2022). He is the recipient of a 2023-24 National Endowment of the Humanities fellowship, and a 2018 Clio Award for Atlantic History by the Canadian Historical Association. He offers courses on Canadian Indigenous resistance and settler colonialism, uprisings in North America, and Indigenous worlds in North America.

Valerie L. Nazzaro, Professor of the Practice in Quantitative Analysis

Professor Nazzaro is a statistician whose research interests include biostatistics, public health, missing data techniques, and educational research. Her work has been published in journals including Statistics Education Research JournalJournal of College Science TeachingHousing Policy Debate, and Frontiers in Microbiomes. She teaches courses on applied data analysis, data visualization, and statistics, and she provides statistical consulting to students and faculty across academic departments for many interdisciplinary projects.

Pavel V. Oleinikov, Professor of the Practice in Quantitative Analysis

Professor Oleinikov serves as the associate director of the Hazel Quantitative Analysis Center, as a student mentor and teacher, and as a consultant who works closely with faculty and students across all academic divisions to integrate and analyze data. His work has been published in Digital Philology, Political Communication, and Applied Network Science. He teaches courses on text mining, big data, network analysis, applied vectors and matrices, working with Excel and VBA, SQL and databases, and Python.

María Ospina, Professor of Spanish

Professor Ospina is a scholar of contemporary Latin American culture and a fiction writer. Her recent novel, Solo un poco aquí (Literatura Random House, 2023), received the 2023 Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize, and is scheduled to be published in English (Scribner), German, Italian, and Portuguese in 2025. She is the author of a collection of stories, Azares del cuerpo, published in Latin America and Spain, and in translation in Italy and the United States (Variations on the Body, Coffee House Press, 2021). Her scholarly work includes a book and several articles on memory, violence, and the environment in Colombian culture. She teaches courses on contemporary Latin American literature, film and visual arts, and creative writing in Spanish, and is a 2022 recipient of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

George Mathew Paily, Associate Professor of the Practice in Physics

Professor Paily is responsible for the pedagogical development and continuity of the general physics course sequence and associated laboratory courses. Under his guidance, this sequence has been transformed to a smaller-section model that now uses active learning techniques, and the sequence is flourishing. He also teaches courses on tensors and general relativity, quantum physics, and classical dynamics.

Mirko Rucnov, Associate Professor of the Practice in Film Studies

Professor Rucnov is a filmmaker whose most recent short film, Farewell to the Wind (2021) was screened around the world including in Ghana, Thailand, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Portugal, and South Africa. He teaches a production course focused on the fundamentals of lighting, staging, cinematography, editing, and visual storytelling, as well as the year-long advanced filmmaking senior thesis course. He has also helped develop Film Workshop into a major center for film production, overseeing the creation of fiction shorts and music videos each spring semester.

Iddrisu Saaka, Associate Professor of Dance

Professor Saaka is an internationally recognized West African dance choreographer, teacher, and drummer whose research helps to educate, challenge, and interrogate misconceptions about Africa. His work has been performed at premier venues including Jacob’s Pillow, the In-Out International Dance Festival, the Mama Africa Music and Dance Festival, and at the Dance Studies Association National Conference. His most recent piece, “Red Line” (2023), premiered at Wesleyan and has since been performed around the state. He teaches West African Dance I, II, and III, and recently co-taught Transforming Bodies: Movement and Agency in West Africa.

Roberto Saba, Associate Professor of American Studies

Professor Saba is a historian of the 19th-century United States and its various relations with foreign peoples at home and abroad. His book, American Mirror: The United States and Brazil in the Age of Emancipation (Princeton University Press, 2021), investigates how American and Brazilian reformers worked together to ensure that slave emancipation would advance the interests of capital. It has received numerous awards, including the Albert J. Beveridge Award from the American Historical Association. His courses take a transnational approach to topics such as capitalism, nationalism, colonialism, exploration, and popular culture.

Aradhana (Anu) Sharma, Professor of Anthropology

Professor Sharma is a political anthropologist whose scholarship focuses on state power, governance, social movements, and citizenship in South Asia. Her recent book, A Technomoral Politics: Good Governance, Transparency, and Corruption in India (University of Minnesota Press, 2024) is an ethnographic study of the complicated politics and paradoxical effects of good governance reforms. Her work has been published in numerous journals, including American Ethnologist, Current Anthropology, and Political and Legal Anthropology Review. She teaches courses on the anthropology of food justice, the state, development and disasters, and migration and refuge, as well as on ethnographic methods and cultural analysis.

Michael James Slowik, Professor of Film Studies

Professor Slowik is an interdisciplinary scholar of archivally-based aesthetic history, with a focus on sound in American cinema. His most recent book is Defining Cinema: Rouben Mamoulian and Hollywood Film Style, 1929-1957 (Oxford University Press, 2024), which examines Mamoulian’s films and theoretical writings. His work has been published in many journals including Hitchcock Annual, Journal of Film and Video, and The Soundtrack. He teaches courses on American filmmaking under censorship, the history of global cinema, the Western film genre, and the history of film sound.

Daniel Smyth, Associate Professor of Letters

Professor Smyth is an interdisciplinary philosopher whose research focuses on Immanuel Kant, aesthetics, late Medieval and Early Modern European philosophy, and the history and philosophy of mathematics. His book, Intuition in Kant: The Boundlessness of Sense (Cambridge University Press, 2024), examines the relationship between Kant’s theory of intuition and infinitary mathematics. His work has been published in Archiv für die Geschichte der Philosophie, the Canadian Journal of Philosophy, and the Journal of Aesthetic Education. He offers courses on the great books, aesthetic theory, modern and early modern philosophy, Nietzsche, and Kant.

Tracy Heather Strain, Professor of Film Studies

Professor Strain is a Peabody award-winning and Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker whose work highlights underrepresented voices and little-known histories. She has researched, written, directed, and produced nine nationally-broadcast documentaries, including Zora Neale Hurston: Claiming a Space (2023) and Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart (2017), which received numerous awards. Her work has received funding from many organizations including the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Ford Foundation. She teaches courses on documentary production, storytelling, and history.

Erika A. Taylor, Professor of Chemistry

Professor Taylor is a chemist whose research at the intersection of chemistry and biology focuses on biologically active and medically relevant molecules, and the study of enzymes. She has received grant funding for her research from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and the U.S. Department of Education, among others, and her research has been published in numerous journals, including Biochemistry, Journal of Chemistry Education, Journal of Biological Chemistry, and Scientific Reports. She teaches courses on biomedicinal chemistry, biochemistry, environmental chemistry, and organic chemistry, and is a 2018 recipient of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Helen B. Treloar, Professor of the Practice in Neuroscience and Behavior

Professor Treloar’s teaching is marked by a desire to demystify biological processes and help students understand the underlying molecular basis of complex biological phenomena. She has created five new courses that are now key to the Neuroscience and Behavior curriculum, including a research methods course that provides students with critical preparation for higher-level laboratory courses. She teaches courses on neurohistology, cell biology of the neuron, chemical senses, neurodevelopmental disorders, and neurobiology of neurological disorders.

Min-Feng Tu, Associate Professor of the Practice in Physics

Professor Tu is responsible for the pedagogical development and continuity of the introductory physics course sequence and associated laboratory courses. She introduced many innovative pedagogical methodologies grounded in the latest physics education research, including increasing emphasis on in-class problem-solving and methods for targeting conceptual misunderstanding of students, which have completely transformed this sequence. She also teaches courses on classical dynamics and a graduate course on quantum mechanics

Camilla Zamboni, Adjunct Associate Professor in Italian

Professor Zamboni’s teaching focuses on innovative design and methods. She is a leader in the production and use of games as a part of language-learning pedagogy, and has developed a course on educational gaming, and regularly leads Italian board game nights where students and faculty play tabletop games together in Italian. In response to student concern about textbook costs, she also developed her own original curriculum, Assaggi, for her intermediate Italian course, combining open educational resources with materials she created. She offers courses in elementary and intermediate Italian, as well as educational gaming courses.