The Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) has recognized Christopher Durr, assistant professor of chemistry, with a 2023 Cottrell Scholar Award. Durr was one of 26 “early career scholars” in chemistry, physics and astronomy chosen by the RCSA via a rigorous peer-review process of applications from public and private research universities and primarily undergraduate institutions across the United States and Canada. Durr’s award project, which incorporates both research and science education, is titled “Exploring the Synthesis and Mechanism of Single-Site and Cationic Group V Catalysts for the Production of Biodegradable Polymers.”
Lawrence Douglas, the James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought and chair of law, jurisprudence, and social thought, was interviewed as an expert source in the National Geographic documentary film Nazis at Nuremberg: The Lost Testimony. The documentary explores never-before-heard testimony delivered at the famous trial and the new details about World War II and the inner workings of the Nazi war machine that it reveals. Watch the documentary trailer and learn more about viewing options. Douglas also appears in two related documentaries: The Devil Next Door, a NetFlix miniseries inspired in part by Douglas’ book The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes Trial, and The Accountant of Auschwitz, available on Amazon Prime.
Brian House, assistant professor of art, was one of 66 artists from across the country selected by the Creative Capital Foundation for a 2023 “Wild Futures: Art, Culture, Impact” Award, which funds the creation of “experimental, risk-taking projects that push boundaries formally and thematically, venturing into wild, out-there, never-before-seen concepts, and future universes real or imagined.” Titled Macrophones, House’s project involves capturing infrasound–sound waves with frequencies so low they are inaudible to the human ear– and subsequently processing and resampling the audio upward into an acoustic range can be heard. Listeners hear infrasound spatially situated in the landscape around them as a means of perceiving distant phenomena associated with the climate crisis, such as calving glaciers and wildfires.
Solsiree del Moral, professor of Black studies and professor and chair of American studies, has been named the Spring 2023 Bacardi Family Eminent Scholar at the University of Florida Center for Latin American Studies. During her time at the Center, del Moral will teach the course “A History of Afro-Latin America,” a course surveying the history of Africans and their descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a special focus on gender and sexuality.
Catherine Sanderson, the Poler Family Professor of Psychology, submitted expert testimony on the psychology of group influence to the House committee investigating the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. Sanderson’s statement was used to help the United States Congress understand the psychological factors that led to the attack on the Capitol.
Olufemi Vaughan, the Alfred Sargent Lee ’41 and Mary Farley Ames Lee Professor of Black Studies, was one of 180 people from around the world named a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow. His project, “Letters, Kinship, and Social Mobility in Nigeria, 1926–1994,” is based on 3,000 family letters from his late father’s library that focus on real-life family stories in colonial and postcolonial Nigeria. The fellows were appointed on the basis of “prior achievement and exceptional promise.”
Kate Follette, assistant professor of astronomy, has received a 2022 Scialog: Signatures of Life in the Universe Collaborative Innovation Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement and the Heising-Simons Foundation. The funding, which promotes interdisciplinary research and community-building between faculty members who have not collaborated before, will support a project proposed by Follette and Jeffrey Marlow, assistant professor of biology at Boston University, titled “From Exoplanets to Microbes: Using Astronomical Image Processing Techniques to Detect Microbes in Astrobiological Contexts.”
Jonathan Friedman, professor of physics and chair of physics and astronomy, has been elected a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), a professional organization for physicists in the U.S. and around the world. Friedman’s fellowship was awarded based on his “pioneering experimental research elucidating the quantum behavior of molecular nanomagnets and significant contributions to undergraduate physics research and education.”
Associate Provost and Associate Dean of the Faculty Pawan Dhingra has been appointed the Nannerl Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professor at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 2022-2023. The Keohane Professorship brings prominent faculty to serve as visiting professors at UNC and Duke for a one-year period, during which they deliver a lecture series and engage students and faculty around areas of shared interest to both institutions. Dhingra's focus will be on anti-Asian violence and how to combat it.
George Greenstein, the Sydney Dillon Professor of Astronomy, Emeritus, received the Richard H. Emmons Award from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for his “innovative methods of mentoring students and other educators, and for his textbook and other writings that explain astronomical developments and ways of thinking.”
Jallicia Jolly, postdoctoral fellow and visiting assistant professor of American studies and Black studies, won a Ford Foundation 2022 Postdoctoral Fellowship that will support the completion of her first book manuscript, Ill Erotics: Black Caribbean Women and Self-Making in Times of HIV/AIDS, which is under contract with University of California Press.
Elizabeth Herbin-Triant, associate professor of Black studies and history, won a Harvard Radcliffe Fellowship for 2022–23 to support a book she is writing about abolition.
Jeeyon Jeong, associate professor of biology, won a National Science Foundation CAREER award, the organization’s most prestigious award for young faculty members, in March.
Min Jin Lee will be inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame on October 18 in New York.
Darryl Harper, John William Ward Professor and chair of music, has released a new album titled Chamber Made. Examining the boundaries between chamber music and jazz, the album is part of a restorative tradition of Black performers upending assumptions about where they “belong” in terms of genre and cultural access.
The National Science Foundation has awarded Ivan Contreras, assistant professor of mathematics, a grant in support of the ninth annual “Gone Fishing” conference in Poisson geometry that the College is hosting in the spring of 2023. The event, the second-largest conference in that particular area of mathematics study worldwide and the largest in North America, will bring together more than 50 researchers from all over the world. In addition to Contreras, Chris Elliott, visiting assistant professor of mathematics, is helping organize the event, as well as several Amherst students.
Rob Benedetto, the William J. Walker Professor of Mathematics and chair of the mathematics and statistics department, received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) grant for investigations that seek to answer open questions in arithmetic dynamics, a field bridging number theory and dynamical systems.
Rachel Bernard, assistant professor of geology, received an NSF EArly-concept (the two capital letters in “early” is the official spelling) Grants for Exploratory Research award to fund a conference that convenes stakeholders for the 50th anniversary of the first national conversation on minority participation in Earth science and mineral engineering.
Anthony Bishop, professor of chemistry, won a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant in support of his project titled “Target-Specific Inhibition and Activation of Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases.”
Sara Brenneis, professor and chair of Spanish, has been awarded a grant from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Center of the Humanities to support her project titled “The Stolperstein Database in Spain.” Also funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the project aims to bring wider national and international attention to Spain’s role in World War II by mapping all of the country’s Stolperstein, which are commemorative brass plaques installed in locations throughout Europe that serve as memorial sites for Jews and non-Jews deported to Nazi concentration camps. The UNH and Mellon Foundation support will enable Brenneis to contribute to the creation of an accessible, multilingual website for students, tourists, residents, family members and others to easily find, recognize and understand the significance of the Stolperstein markers in Spain, and shed more light on Spaniards who were also victims of the Nazis.
Kate Follette, assistant professor of astronomy, was named a 2022 Cottrell Scholar by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA). Her project is titled “Moving Forward: Toward Accurate Recovery and Interpretation of Accreting Protoplanets and a Socially Just Undergraduate Astronomy Curriculum.” Follette is one of 24 early-career scholars in chemistry, physics and astronomy to receive this award.
Amanda Folsom, professor of mathematics, was awarded a National Science Foundation grant for the RUI project “Harmonic Maass Forms and Quantum Modular Form” to study the theory and applications of harmonic Maass forms, their holomorphic parts called mock modular forms, quantum modular forms and related functions. Some components of the projects will be carried out by Amherst student researchers under Folsom’s guidance.
Jonathan Friedman, professor of physics and chair of physics and astronomy, received a Cottrell Plus Singular Exceptional Endeavors of Discovery (SEED) award from the RSCA for his research on spin-clock transitions in silica defects. The Cottrell SEED award is designed to support Cottrell Scholars as they launch exceptionally creative, new research or educational activities with the potential for high impact. Friedman also received a grant with Jacob Olshansky, assistant professor of chemistry, from the NSF for the project “Using Colloidal Nanoparticles to Host Photogenerated Spin Qubit Pairs.”
Victor Guevara, assistant professor of geology, was awarded two NSF grants for research projects:
David Hall, the Paula R. and David J. Avenius 1941 Professor of Physics, received a National Science Foundation award for the RUI project “Topological Excitations in Spin-1 and Spin-2 Bose-Einstein Condensates.”
David Hanneke, associate professor of physics, received a National Science Foundation grant for the RUI project “Optical Clocks for New Physics Searches.”
Nick Holschuh, assistant professor of geology, received two NSF collaborative research awards:
Nicholas Horton, the Beitzel Professor in Technology and Society (Statistics and Data Science), received an NIH grant for research exploring the association between common eating disorders and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Larry Hunter, the Stone Professor of Natural Sciences (Physics), received a National Science Foundation RUI grant for his project titled “Searching for Optical Cycling in TlF and Long-Range Spin-Spin Interactions.”
Sally Kim and Marc Edwards, assistant professors of biology, were awarded a Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant from the National Science Foundation for the acquisition of an integrated Zeiss 980 microscope with Airyscan 2 and FCS to create an advanced microscopy center. The advanced imaging capabilities of this instrument are expected to transform life science research at Amherst, opening new opportunities for student research and promoting interdisciplinary exploration of the microscopic world.
Katerina Ragkousi, assistant professor of biology, won an NIH grant for a project titled “Cell Cycle Regulation of Polarity Proteins in Proliferating Epithelia.” The award will fund research by Ragkousi and her students on how sea anemones organize their first epithelial tissues and how they maintain them during development and growth.
Yael Rice, associate professor of art and the history of art and of Asian languages and civilizations, received a grant from the Persian Heritage Foundation to digitize the Taza Akhbar, an Illustrated History of the Kings of Kabul. Completed in 1817, the manuscript is the only known copy of this text and includes an unusual emphasis on and rich detail about the urban topography of Afghanistan and the ethnography of its peoples.
Elizabeth Aries, the Clarence Francis 1910 Professor in Social Sciences (Psychology), has published a new book titled The Impact of College Diversity: Struggles and Successes at Age 30. Through interviews with 45 Black and white graduates from widely different class backgrounds from the Class of 2009, Aries explores how engagement with racially and socioeconomically diverse classmates during college impacted their lives and helped prepare them for success in the work world.
Javier Corrales, the Dwight W. Morrow 1895 Professor of Political Science, has published a new book titled Autocracy Rising: How Venezuela Transitioned to Authoritarianism. The book revisits theories of democratic backsliding to explain how and why the South American country descended into autocratic rule and economic collapse.
Sean Redding, Zephaniah Swift Moore Professor of History, has published a new book titled Violence in Rural South Africa: 1880-1963. Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, the book investigates how the policies of the white South African state facilitated the rise of large-scale lethal fights among men, increasingly coercive abduction marriages, violent acts resulting from domestic troubles and witchcraft accusations within families and communities, as well as political violence against state policies and officials. Using multiple court cases and documents, the book provides a richer context for the scholarly conversation about the legitimation of violence in traditions, family life and political protest.
Nicholas Horton, Beitzel Professor in Technology and Society, and collaborator Benjamin S. Baumer, associate professor of statistical & data sciences at Smith College, have co-authored a paper published by Harvard Data Science Review. The paper explores the barriers to and opportunities for students with associate’s degrees to pursue bachelor’s degrees and careers in the data science field.
The Cornell University Press has published Nabokov Noir: Cinematic Culture and the Art of Exile by Luke P. Parker, visiting assistant professor of Russian. The book, which explores 20th-century Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov's fascination with early cinema, was also excerpted by The New York Review of Books.
Laure Katsaros, professor and chair of French, has co-edited a volume titled Exactitude: Of Precision and Play in Contemporary Architecture. Based on a fall 2020 Five Colleges international symposium of the same name, the book was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in June 2022. Katsaros’ co-editors include Pari Riahi, associate professor of architecture at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Michael Davis, emeritus professor of art history at Mount Holyoke College.
Kate Sims, professor of economics and environmental studies, published the article “Does land conservation raise property taxes? Evidence from New England cities and towns” in The Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.
Kiara Vigil, associate professor of American studies, has co-launched and will edit a new book series with the University Press of Kansas. Titled The Lyda Conley Series on Trailblazing Indigenous Futures, the project will promote and explore issues of gender and the contributions of women within Native American and Indigenous studies and highlight new scholarship concerning law, culture, literature, and public history.
Jeffers Engelhardt, professor of music, published an article co-authored with Kate Bancroft ’23, Alex Rule ’23 and Charlotte Wang ’24 in Resonance: The Journal of Sound and Culture: “Chorality's Sonic-Social Relationships.”
David Hall, the Paula R. and David J. Avenius 1941 Professor of Physics, published “Topological Superfluid Defects with Discrete Point Group Symmetries” in Nature Communications.
Victor Guevera, assistant professor of geology, published a paper in the journal Science Advances titled “A modern pulse of ultrafast exhumation and diachronous crustal melting in the Nanga Parbat Massif.”
The study, led by Guevara, examined the geologic history of the youngest exposed deep crustal rocks on Earth from the slopes of the most rapidly rising mountain in the world, Nanga Parbat in the northwestern Himalaya range of Pakistan. In comparing the geologic processes that occur at the surface of the earth at Nanga Parbat (such as weathering and erosion of rock) to those that occur tens of miles beneath our feet (the movement of Earth's tectonic plates, for example), Guevara’s work showed that the anomalously rapid geologic rise of rock that formed deep in Earth’s crust at Nanga Parbat is more likely driven by changes in the movement of tectonic plates rather than changes in Earth's climate over the past few million years, as has been previously proposed.
Words for the Heart: A Treasury of Emotions from Classical India, by Maria Heim, George Lyman Crosby 1896 & Stanley Warfield Crosby Professor in Religion and chair of Religion, was published in August by Princeton University Press. Heim's work centers on ancient and classical India. Words for the Heart, a “treasury” or word book, explores 177 “emotion terms” in philosophy, literature, poetry, aesthetics, medical texts, and epic stories in the classical languages of Sanskrit and Pali. The book offers a landscape of emotions and reflection about them that is quite different from what is available in the modern psychology of emotions.
Rebecca Hewitt, assistant professor of environmental studies, published “Sufficient conditions for rapid change expansion of a boreal conifer” in the journal Nature.
Carrie Palmquist, associate professor of psychology, published “Social Cognition and Trust: Exploring the Role of Theory of Mind and Hostile Attribution Bias in Children’s Skepticism of Inaccurate Informants” in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.
Ashwin Ravikumar, assistant professor of environmental studies, and Paul A. Schroeder Rodríguez, R. John Cooper ’64 Presidential Teaching Professor of Spanish, have published an English translation of the Spanish-language book titled Casa Pueblo: A Puerto Rican Model of Self-Governance by Alexis Massol González. Amherst students collaboratively translated the publication, a 40-year history of the internationally renowned community-based organization Casa Pueblo, and Ravikumar and Schroeder Rodríguez then edited the students’ versions and shepherded the book through the editing process with open access publisher Lever Press. Student translators include Abner Aldarondo ’22, Tanya A. Calvin ’20, Lucheyla Celestino ’23, Alexis Chávez Salinas ’22, Corina E. Cobb ’22E, Hubert E. Ford ’20, Molly Malczynski ’22, Joseph A. Ramesar ’20, Kyabeth Rincón ’22, Jeffrey Suliveres ’20, Augusta S. Weiss ’23, Javier F. Whitaker Castañeda ’21.