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Home / News / Meet Our New Faculty: Part 1

Meet Our New Faculty: Part 1

Posted on August 15, 2013

This fall, the college has welcomed a number of new faculty members, spanning fields from math to English, dance to chemistry. These newly appointed scholars and researchers promise to become valued members of their departments. Discover who specializes in the impact of socioeconomic inequalities on adult health, who loves the writing of Truman Capote, and who’s trekked through the Indian Himalayas.

We’ll publish the remainder of these profiles in September; stay tuned.

Karen Abbott
Assistant Professor, Department of Biology

Research/scholarship focus
I build and analyze mathematical models of ecological processes to answer questions about how species interactions, climate, and other factors influence ecological communities.

Previous positions
Assistant professor, Iowa State University, 2009-2013; postdoctoral researcher, University of Wisconsin, 2006-2009

Education
PhD, ecology and evolution, University of Chicago, 2006; BS, mathematics and biology (double-major), Vanderbilt University, 2001

Recent publications, compositions or other works
With R.S. Telemeco and F.J. Janzen: “Modeling the effects of climate-change induced shifts in reproductive phenology on temperature-dependent traits.” American Naturalist (2013).

With R.T. Gilman, N.S. Fabina, and N.E. Rafferty: “Evolution of plant-pollinator mutualisms in response to climate change.” Evolutionary Applications (2012)

The dynamical effects of interactions between inducible plant resistance and food limitation during insect outbreaks.” Insect Outbreaks Revisited (2012)

Most influential book you’ve read, and why it was important in your life
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. The layers of nuance in what should be a classic story of good-versus-evil capture the complexities of life better than anything else I have read.

Outside interests
Running, ultimate frisbee, hiking, camping, singing in the car where no one can hear me.


David Ake
Professor and Chair, Department of Music

Research/scholarship focus
Jazz and other popular musics of the past 100 years or so.

Previous positions
Director, School of the Arts, University of Nevada, Reno 2011-2013; chair, Department of Music and Dance, University of Nevada, Reno, 2004-2005; faculty member, University of Nevada, Reno, 1999-2013

Education
PhD, musicology, UCLA, 1998; MA, ethnomusicology, UCLA, 1996; MFA, jazz piano, California Institute of the Arts, 1987; BM, studio music and jazz, University of Miami, 1983

Recent publications, compositions or other works
Recording: Bridges (CD), Posi-Tone Records, 2013

Publications: Co-edited with Daniel Goldmark and Charles Hiroshi Garrett: Jazz/Not Jazz: The Music and Its Boundaries (University of California Press, 2012)

Jazz Matters: Sound, Place, and Time since Bebop (University of California Press, 2010)

Most influential book you’ve read, and why it was important in your life
Can’t—or don’t want to—point to one single book. I’ve gone through periods where I read everything I could get my hands on by one writer (Emerson, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Steinbeck, Kerouac, Thomas Wolfe). The cumulative impact of that immersion-type reading is likely more profound than picking any one of the books. (If pressed, I might go with Brothers Karamazov). I would prefer to single out one recording: Keith Jarrett, Concerts: Bremen/Lausanne, which I first heard as a senior in high school, September 1978. It’s a three-LP set. I sat in the orange beanbag chair in my bedroom (Rolling Meadows, Ill.) listening to all six sides, over and over. I couldn’t believe that one was allowed to play piano like that. Completely blew my mind and changed my life. That recording no longer moves me like it did back then, but it’s very possible that I would not be sitting here had I not heard that music at that time.

 

Outside interests
Hanging with my wife and 7-year-old son; watching the Chicago Cubs (lose); good food, beer, and wine



Jenný Brynjarsdóttir
Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics

Research/scholarship focus
Statistical methodology. In particular, Bayesian methodology and hierarchical modeling, dimension reduction methods for large spatio-temporal datasets, environmental statistics, sensitivity Analysis, uncertainty quantification and model discrepancy. Interest in a wide range of applications, especially in climate, paleoclimate and ecology.

Previous positions
Postdoctoral associate, jointly at the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI) and the Department of Statistical Science, Duke University, 2011-2013

Education
PhD, Statistics, The Ohio State University, 2011; MSc, Statistics, The Ohio State University, 2008; MSc, Industrial Engineering, University of Iceland, 2002; BSc, Mathematics, University of Iceland, 1999

Recent publications, compositions or other works
With L. M. Berliner: “Dimension-reduced modeling of spatio-temporal processes.” (2013-submitted)

With A. O’Hagan: “Learning about physical parameters: The importance of model discrepancy.” (2013-submitted)

With L. M. Berliner: “Bayesian Hierarchical Modeling for Temperature Reconstruction from Geothermal Data.” Annals of Applied Statistics (2011)

Most influential book you’ve read, and why it was important in your life
I can’t say that one single book has been the most influential or important in my life, rather that the mosaic of books I have read over the years influences who I am and how I see the world. Favorites include Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mýrin (Jar City: A Reykjavik Thriller) by Arnaldur Indridason, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and Híbýli Vindanna (Where The Winds Dwell) by Böðvar Guðmundsson.

Outside interests
Enjoy playing the piano, playing board games and hiking in Iceland.


Ananya Dasgupta
Assistant Professor, Department of History

 

Research/scholarship focus
My areas of scholarly interests, broadly defined, cover colonialism, nationalism, religion and modernity in South Asia (with special emphasis on Islam), cultural histories of capitalism and popular resistance, and subaltern studies. My current book project traces the emergence of the concept of labor as the touchstone of Muslim politics in the Indian province of Bengal during the late colonial period; it analyzes cultures of leftist populism and its links with religion, thereby necessitating a rethinking of the historical processes of secularization as well as communalization in relation to movements of nationalist self-determination.

Previous positions
PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania.

Education
PhD, South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 2013 (expected); MPhil, Jawaharlal Nehru University, 2004; MA, English, Jawaharlal Nehru University, 2001

Recent publications, compositions or other works
PhD dissertation: Labors of Representation: Cultivating Land, Self, and Community among Muslims in Late Colonial Bengal

MPhil thesis: Making Mira: Negotiating Historiography and Hymnody

Most influential book you’ve read, and why it was important in your life
I was first exposed to Marx’s Capital (Vol. 1) as a 20-year-old. Having engaged with the text for over a decade now—in thinking with it and against it, in re-readings and productive misreadings—Capital remains for me an entry point into the thought-worlds and praxis of feminism, critical race theory, and post-colonial politics.

Outside interests
I have worked as a journalist and a travel writer in a former life. I love trekking in the Indian Himalayas. I’m proficient in various South Asian languages including Bengali, Hindi and Urdu.


Julia A. Dobrosotskaya
Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics

Research/scholarship focus
Applied analysis, harmonic analysis, sparse representations, PDE, diffuse interface models, signal/image processing, biomedical applications.

Previous positions
Postdoctoral research associate, University of Maryland, Norbert Wiener Center for Harmonic Analysis and Applications, 2009-2013

Education
PhD, mathematics, University of California, Los Angeles, 2009; MA, mathematics, University of California, Los Angeles, 2004; MS, mathematics, Voronezh State University (Russia), 2003; BS, mathematics, Voronezh State University (Russia), 2001)

Recent publications, compositions or other works
With A. Bertozzi, “Analysis of the wavelet Ginzburg-Landau energy in image applications with edges,” SIAM Journal on Imaging Sciences. (2013)

With M. Ehler, W. Czaja and R. Bonner, “Bleaching photo-kinetics modeling leading to high resolution maps of rod rhodopsin in human retina.” (in review)

With J. Benedetto, W. Czaja, T. Doster, K. Duke and D. Gillis, “Integration of heterogeneous data for classification in hyperspectral satellite imagery,” Proceedings of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation. (2012)

Outside interests
Psychology, learning techniques, hiking, roller-blading, supporting child wellness and animal protection organizations



Justine Howe
Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies

Research/scholarship focus
I specialize in contemporary Islam, with a particular focus on Muslim communities in the United States. My research interests include gender and authority, contemporary approaches to the Qur’an, Islamic law and ethics, and religious practices in everyday life.

Education
PhD, religious studies, Northwestern University, 2013; MA, anthropology and sociology of religion, University of Chicago Divinity School, 2007; BA, history, Williams College, 2003

Recent publications, compositions or other works
I recently completed my dissertation, The Construction of American Islam: Gender, Tradition and Authority in Suburban Chicago, which will serve as the basis for a book manuscript.

Other recent publications include:

Review of Abdullahi Gallab, The First Islamic Republic (Ashgate 2008). Islamic Africa (2011)

Review of Thomas Csordas, ed. Transnational Transcendence: Essays on Religion and Globalization, (University of California 2009). Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale (2010)

Most influential book you’ve read, and why it was important in your life
Karen McCarthy Brown’s Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn was one of the first ethnographies I read as a college student, and it sparked my interest in female religious authority, narrating everyday experience, and theorizing the category of religion.

 

Outside interests
I enjoy playing tennis, cooking, traveling, and chasing after my toddler son.



Zhicheng Jing
Assistant Professor, Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences

Research/scholarship focus
My research combines mineral physics techniques and theoretical modeling to explore the physical and chemical properties of Earth and planetary materials under high pressure-temperature conditions. I then apply these material properties to understand the structure, dynamics, and evolution of Earth and other planets.

Previous positions
Postdoctoral scholar, Center for Advanced Radiation Sources, The University of Chicago, 2010-2013

Education
PhD, geological sciences, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, 2010; MPhil, geological sciences, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, 2005; MS, geophysics, Department of Geophysics, Peking University, China, 2003; BS, Geophysics, Department of Geophysics, Peking University, China, 2000

Recent publications, compositions or other works
With
S. Karato. “Effect of H2O on the density of silicate melts at high pressure: Static experiments and the application of a new equation of state.” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (2012)

With S. Karato. “A new approach to the equation of state of silicate melts: An application of the theory of hard sphere mixtures.” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (2011)

With S. Karato. “The density of volatile bearing melts in the Earth’s deep mantle: the role of chemical composition.” Chemical Geology (2009)

Most influential book you’ve read, and why it was important in your life
The most influential book I have read is Astronomy in the volumes of One Hundred Thousand Questions, a series of books in Chinese for answers to a wide range of science questions. I started to read it when I was in the fourth grade. That was the first time that I learned about other planets, stars and galaxies in the universe. After reading the book, I wanted to become an astronomer. This perhaps explains why I am now working in the field of Earth and planetary sciences.



Nathan Kruse
Associate Professor, Department of Music

Research/scholarship focus
Adult music education, ethnographic traditions of community music, and school-university partnerships

Previous position
Assistant professor of music education, University of North Texas, 2007-2013

Education
PhD, music education, Michigan State University, 2007; MME, University of New Mexico, 1999; BME, Butler University, 1994

Recent publications
“‘Without U, it’s just kulele’: Experiencing leisure and ‘ohana in an intergenerational ukulele club.” International Journal of Community Music (2013)

“Locating The Road to Lisdoonvarna via autoethnography: Pathways, barriers, and detours in self-directed online music learning.” Journal of Music, Technology, and Education. (2012)

Most influential book you’ve read, and why it was important in your life
There are several books, actually. The Bible, and anything by Ray Bradbury, J.D. Salinger, Tony Hillerman, and Mary Roach. All of these books come with life lessons, both profound and light. They teach us how to treat one another, warn us of the dangers when we don’t, and provide wonderfully sardonic, much-needed humor.

Outside interests
Photography, baking, t’ai chi, and bowling



Jennifer Karas Montez
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

Research/scholarship focus
My research focuses on socioeconomic inequalities in adult health and mortality within the United States. It has addressed topics such as why the longevity benefits of education are greater for men than for women, why differences in longevity across education levels have grown among women since the mid-1980s, and whether the association between education and longevity is better explained by a human capital or credential perspective.

Previous positions
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar, Harvard University, 2011-2013

Education
PhD, sociology, University of Texas at Austin, 2011; MA, sociology, University of Houston, 2004; MS, statistics, Purdue University, 1994; BS, mathematics, Purdue University, 1992

Recent publications, compositions or other works
WIth A. Zajacova. “Explaining the Widening Education Gap in Mortality Risk among U.S. White Women.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior (2013)

With A. Zajacova. “Trends in Mortality Risk by Education Level and Cause of Death among White Women in the United States from 1986 to 2006.” American Journal of Public Health (2013)

With R.A. Hummer and M.D. Hayward. “Educational Attainment and Adult Mortality in the United States: A Systematic Analysis of Functional Form.” Demography (2012)

Most influential book you’ve read, and why it was important in your life
The Fountainhead
by Ayn Rand. Its emphasis on intellectual fulfillment inspired me to quit my private-sector job of more than 10 years to pursue a PhD in sociology.

Outside interests
Crossfit training and rock climbing