2011-12 Wesleyan's Newly Tenured Faculty & Faculty Appointed to Endowed Professorships

Newly tenured faculty, promoted from Assistant to Associate Professor

Gloster Aaron, Associate Professor of Biology and Neuroscience & Behavior, arrived at Wesleyan in 2006, following five years as a post-doctoral researcher at Columbia University. Gloster 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. Gloster’s work has been published in Science, Neuroscience and Synapse. He received his BA from Oberlin College and PhD 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 sixteenth-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. Nadja holds a BA from Beloit College and an MA and PhD 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. Sally 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 BA from Reed College and her MA and PhD from Princeton University.

Hilary Barth, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience & 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 eleven 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. Professor Barth received her AB from Bryn Mawr College and a PhD 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 PhD from Columbia, she holds a BA from Universidad Católica, in Lima, and an MA 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, Phil'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 AB at Dartmouth, his MS at the University of Wyoming, and his PhD 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. Elise’s current research agenda is focused on the role of metaphorical patterns in moral cognition. She holds a BA from Wesleyan and a PhD 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 tremendously successful writer of fiction and creative non-fiction who has twice been selected for the Pushcart Prize, she has published more than sixty 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), she 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 BA from the University of Colorado and an MFA 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. Petra 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 PhD 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 (www.wesleyan.edu/music/vim). 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. Eric earned his BMus and MMus from the New England Conservatory and PhD from Princeton.

Stephen Henri Devoto, Professor of Biology and Neuroscience & 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. Stephen received his PhD from The Rockefeller University and his BA 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. Ed’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 BSc at Brown, his MA at UT-Austin and his PhD at SUNY-Stony Brook.


Promotions of Adjunct faculty

Geoff Wheeler will be promoted to Adjunct Professor of Physical Education. Geoff 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. Patrick 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.


Endowed Professorships

The following faculty have been appointed to endowed professorships:

Anthony Braxton, Professor of Music, was awarded the John Spencer Camp Professorship of Music, established by a Wesleyan Trustee in 1929. Anthony Braxton has been a member of the Wesleyan faculty since 1990. A recipient both of the Guggenheim (1981) and MacArthur (1994) Fellowships, as well as the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2006), Anthony is lauded inside and outside the classroom.   As a multi-instrumental performer and composer, he is a seminal figure in contemporary music whose contributions have been extolled by critics for the past half-century. In a New York Times review last fall, Anthony was described as “a force in the American avant-garde since the 1960s, when he emerged in his native Chicago as a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.” AllMusic.com states that he has “covered just about every conceivable area of creativity during the course of his extraordinary career” and “created music of enormous sophistication and passion that was unlike anything else that had come before it,” arguing that the “best of his work is on a level with any art music of the late 20th century, jazz or classical.”   Anthony continues to actively perform and record with ensembles of varying sizes and configurations. A prolific composer, he is credited with over 350 works to date.

Neely Bruce, Professor of Music, was awarded the John Spencer Camp Professorship of Music, established by a Wesleyan Trustee in 1929. Neely Bruce began teaching at Wesleyan in 1974. He has previously chaired the Music Department and for twenty years directed The Concert Choir and Wesleyan Singers. Neely's service extends beyond the campus; he served as chorus director for Connecticut Opera for sixteen years and is director of music at South Congregational Church. During his nearly four decades in Middletown, Neely has achieved substantial success as both a composer and pianist. In 2002, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors presented CONVERGENCE, a series of three composed parades that is Neely’s largest work to date, to an enthusiastic audience of 10,000. Among his other works are three full-length operas, twelve hours of piano music, and a choral setting of the Bill of Rights. He has also composed original musical scores for PBS’s The American Experience, as well as for two documentaries about African Americans in Connecticut, for CPTV. His work has received the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Connecticut Humanities Council and many other agencies.   As a pianist, Neely is known for his recordings of American music from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He first attained prominence as one of seven harpsichordists for the 1969 premiere of HPSCHD by John Cage and Lejaren Hiller. The performance of Henry Brant's Orbits that he conducted at the Guggenheim Museum was listed by New Yorker critic Alex Ross as one of the “ten memorable performances of 2009.” The first chair of the New England Sacred Harp Singing Convention (1976), Neely describes his mission as working “indefatigably to promote American music of all periods.”

Jill Morawski, Professor of Psychology, Science in Society, and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, is the new Wilbur Fisk Osborne Professor. The Osborne Professorship was established with a gift from Wesleyan’s 1861 class valedictorian. Jill Morawski came to Wesleyan in 1980 and has served the institution in many capacities during her tenure here. She is director of the Center for the Humanities, previously served as chair of the faculty, and has also chaired Women’s Studies and Psychology.   Jill’s research interests concern the history of modern psychological sciences, with a focus on the scientific practices accompanying claims about the nature of subjectivity and the moral commitments of scientific psychology. She has played a prominent role regarding the development of these fields in her discipline, having served as president of both Division 24 (Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology) and Division 26 (History of Psychology) of the American Psychological Association where she also was elected a Fellow. Her research has been supported by grants from the NSF, NEH, SSRC and Mellon Foundation.   In addition to her historical work, Jill has written extensively on gender issues, the psychology of women, and the psychological dimensions of reproductive technologies. Her book, Practicing Feminisms, Reconstructing Psychology: Notes on a Liminal Science (University of Michigan Press), which surveys the developments and possibilities of feminist psychology, received the William James Book Award from the General Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association. The James prize is awarded annually, in recognition of works that “provide a coherent framework that stands as a creative synthesis of theory and fact from disparate areas and demonstrates an essential underlying set of themes that serve to unify or integrate the field.”

Laurie Nussdorfer, Professor of History and Letters, was appointed to the William F. Armstrong Professorship, established in 1921 with a gift from Armstrong’s estate. Laurie Nussdorfer has been teaching at Wesleyan since 1986. She is a past director of the College of the Letters and presently serves as vice-president of the Society of Italian Historical Studies. Her research has received the support of the American Academy in Rome, SSRC, NEH, ACLS and the American Philosophical Society.   Laurie is a historian of early modern Rome (1500-1800), whose research explores a wide range of topics in political, social, and cultural history from popular politics, print culture, urban space, and legal practices to artists' organizations and men's households. Her first book, Civic Politics in the Rome of Urban VIII (Princeton University Press, 1992), was characteristically grounded in deep and patient archival research. In it she revised received scholarly opinion to demonstrate how civic political life thrived even under papal absolutism.   Most recently, she authored Brokers of Public Trust: Notaries in Early Modern Rome (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), a landmark in the social study of writing and writers, and the development of legal evidence and the early modern state. Laurie’s current project is “The Male City: Men and Masculinities in Baroque Rome,” in which she examines the experience of men in a city where they significantly outnumbered women and explores the meanings of manhood under a regime ruled by a celibate clergy. 

Joel Pfister, Professor of English and American Studies, formerly Kenan Professor of the Humanities, was recognized with the Olin Professorship, established in 1863 to fund a professorship of “rhetoric and English literature.” Joel Pfister joined Wesleyan's faculty in 1987. He has been central to the success of American Studies and English, and has served as chair of both departments.   His books are The Production of Personal Life: Class, Gender, and the Psychological in Hawthorne's Fiction (Stanford University Press, 1991), Staging Depth: Eugene O'Neill and the Politics of Psychological Discourse (University of North Carolina Press, 1995), Individuality Incorporated: Indians and the Multicultural Modern (Duke University Press, 2004), Critique For What? Cultural Studies, American Studies, Left Studies (Paradigm Publishers, 2006), and The Yale Indian: The Education of Henry Roe Cloud (Duke University Press, 2009). And he co-edited Inventing the Psychological: Toward a Cultural History of Emotional Life in America (Yale University Press, 1997).  His scholarship has been supported by fellowships from ACLS and the Rockefeller Foundation, as well as other organizations.   Joel has been globally engaged in his research and pedagogy. Last summer, he was a Visiting Professor in the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies in the Graduate School in the Freie Universitat in Berlin. This summer, he will serve on the faculty of the West-China Faculty Enhancement Program in American Studies, co-sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the China Association for the Study of American Literature, and will teach American literature as American Studies to Chinese college and university professors in Xi'an, China.

Joe Siry,Professor of Art History is now the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of the Humanities (a position also held by Clark Maines). These professorships were established in 1976, with an endowment from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust. Joseph Siry is professor of modern architectural history and chair of the Department of Art & Art History. He joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1984, and received Wesleyan's Binswanger Award for Teaching Excellence in 1994.   Joe is an accomplished historian of American architecture, whose work has been funded by the NEH, the Getty Research Institute, the Mellon Foundation, and the Graham Foundation. He has published four books, three of which focus on different aspects of the architectural history of Chicago, a key locus in American architectural development.   His books are Carson Pirie Scott: Louis Sullivan and the Chicago Department Store (University of Chicago Press, 1988), Unity Temple: Frank Lloyd Wright and Architecture for Liberal Religion (Cambridge University Press, 1996), The Chicago Auditorium Building: Adler and Sullivan’s Architecture and the City (University of Chicago Press, 2002), which won the 2003 Society of Architectural Historians' Alice Davis Hitchcock Award for best book by a North American scholar, and Beth Sholom Synagogue: Frank Lloyd Wright and Modern Religious Architecture (University of Chicago Press, 2012).