October 21, 2009

October 2009 People Notes


Randall Akee joined the Department of Economics in the School of Arts and Sciences this fall as an assistant professor. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2006 and is joining Tufts from the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Bonn, Germany, where he was a research associate and member of the Migration Program. He is also a research fellow at the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. Akee’s primary teaching and research fields are development economics and labor economics. He has been studying and writing about topics such as the economics of immigration and the effect of income levels on child development among American Indians who live in reservations with casinos.

Erik Dopman joined the biology department in the School of Arts and Sciences this fall as an assistant professor. He completed his doctoral degree in ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University in 2005. Dopman comes to Tufts from Harvard University, where he was an NIH Kirschstein National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Daniel Hartl. His research focuses on the genetics of natural populations, including the molecular basis of speciation and the consequences of large-scale structural mutations for trait variation. In addition to his funding from the NIH, he previously received support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s prestigious STAR program. Dopman has published multiple articles examining the genetics of natural populations, and he serves as a reviewer for various journals.

Brian Epstein has joined the Department of Philosophy in the School of Arts and Sciences as an assistant professor. He comes to Tufts from Virginia Tech, where he had been an assistant professor of philosophy since 2004, after earning his doctorate from Stanford. He specializes in the philosophy of language, the philosophy of social science and metaphysics and has interests in Kant, Wittgenstein, the philosophy of music, the history of analytic philosophy and epistemology. He has published papers in a number of journals on topics that range from the theory of linguistic reference to the way that the relationship between individuals’ characteristics and those of the social groups to which they belong bears on the mechanisms of social change.

Peniel Joseph joins Tufts as professor of history in the School of Arts and Sciences. He comes from Brandeis University, where he was an associate professor of history and of African and Afro-American studies. He received his Ph.D. in American history from Temple University. His research interests include African American history, race relations, intellectual history, civil rights and the Black Power movement. He has received numerous awards, most recently the Charles Warren Center Fellowship for the Study of North American History at Harvard University in 2008. Joseph is the author of many publications; his book Waiting ’til the Midnight Hour: a Narrative History of Black Power in America (Henry Hold, New York, 2006) received the W.E.B. Du Bois Book Award. He sits on the editorial board of several academic journals, including Transformations in Higher Education: The Engaged Scholar.

Joshua Kritzer has joined Tufts as an assistant professor of chemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences. He received his Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry from Yale University in 2005. Since then, he has been an NIH National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Kritzer’s research combines chemistry, molecular biology and genetics to screen for new molecules and new mechanisms to fight human disease, including cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. He has published several peer-reviewed articles and serves as a reviewer for the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Penn Loh came to Tufts in September as professor of the practice in the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning in the School of Arts and Sciences. Previously he was executive director of Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE), a Roxbury-based environmental justice group. He holds an M.S. in environmental science and policy from the Energy and Resources Group of the University of California at Berkeley and a B.S. in electrical engineering from MIT. Before joining ACE, he was a research associate at the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security in Oakland, Calif., and a research analyst at the Tellus Institute for Resource and Environmental Strategies in Boston. Loh has published widely on environmental and social justice issues and has served on numerous committees and boards, including the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council’s health and research subcommittee. He is a board member of the New World Foundation and the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board.

Danilo Marchesini joined Tufts this September as an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences. He comes from Yale University, where he was a postdoctoral associate in the astronomy department since 2004. He received his Ph.D. in astrophysics in 2004 at S.I.S.S.A.-I.S.A.S in Trieste, Italy. Marchesini’s research interests include galaxy formation and evolution, dark matter distribution in galaxies and radio-loud active galactic nuclei and their unification. He has successfully submitted 21 grant proposals, and for his most recently approved grant, he is serving as principal investigator on the Hubble Space Telescope Cycle-17 proposal. He has 30 refereed publications.

Christine McWayne joins Tufts as an associate professor in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development in the School of Arts and Sciences. She comes from New York University, where she was recently tenured and promoted to the rank of associate professor of applied psychology. McWayne received her Ph.D. in psychology in education from the University of Pennsylvania. She has served as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on several grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Her most recently funded grant is titled “Developing Parent-Derived Measures of Parenting Competence for Low-Income African Americans.” She has published in several peer-reviewed publications, including Journal of School Psychology, Early Childhood Research Quarterly and the American Journal of Community Psychology. McWayne recently received the Reviewer of the Year Award from the Journal of School Psychology and currently serves as associate editor of the publication.

Matthew Panzer joined the School of Engineering this fall as an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering. He earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 2007, and since then has been a postdoctoral research associate at MIT, where he worked to develop a nanoscale patterning process for thin metal films using ordered arrays of quantum dots. He also studied novel quantum dot-metal oxide semiconductor structures for infrared photodetectors, photovoltaics and light-emitting diodes. Panzer has received many awards and fellowships, including an IGERT for Nanoparticle Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowship and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

Kurt Pennell joined the School of Engineering in September as a professor of civil and environmental engineering and department chair. Prior to coming to Tufts, he spent 14 years at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he was promoted to the rank of professor in 2005. He received his Ph.D. in soil and water science from the University of Florida in 1990. Pennell’s research interests include the environmental fate and neurotoxicity of engineered nanomaterials and organic contaminants; development and testing of groundwater remediation technologies; the role of persistent organic pollutants in neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s Disease; and the influence of neuroactive steroids on seizure frequency during pregnancy. He has been the recipient of many awards, including the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Career Award and the Outstanding Service Award from the Soil Physics Division of the Soil Science Society of America. Pennell is associate editor of the Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, a board-certified environmental engineer and a registered professional engineer in Georgia.

Dennis Rasmussen has joined Tufts as an assistant professor of political science in the School of Arts and Sciences. He received his Ph.D. in political science in 2005 and his M.A. in 2002, both from Duke University. His first book, The Problems and Promise of Commercial Society: Adam Smith’s Response to Rousseau (Penn State University Press, 2008), received an honorable mention for the Delba Winthrop Award for Excellence in Political Science, and his articles have appeared in the American Political Science Review, History of Political Thought and the Adam Smith Review. His current book project is titled In Defense of the Enlightenment Project. Rasmussen was a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University in 2007–08 and more recently served as assistant professor of political science at the University of Houston.

Susan Sánchez-Casal is the new resident director of the Tufts-in-Madrid program. She holds an A.B. in comparative literature and M.A. and Ph.D. in Spanish, all from the University of California at Riverside. She has been an associate professor and chair of the Department of Hispanic Studies at Hamilton College, and was resident director of the Hamilton Academic Year in Spain. Sánchez-Casal sits on the executive committee of the international research project, the Future of Minority Studies. She is the author of numerous articles and translations, and is the co-editor of Twenty-First-Century Feminist Classrooms (2002) and Identity in Education (2009).

Emilia Simeonova is a new assistant professor of economics in the School of Arts and Sciences. She received her Ph.D. in economics in 2008 from Columbia University, where she also received an M.A. and M.Phil. She came to Tufts from the Institute for International Economic Studies at Stockholm University in Sweden, where she was an assistant professor of economics. Simeonova’s fields of study are applied microeconomics, health economics and the economics of aging and retirement. In particular, she has been researching causes of the racial mortality gap and the effects of marriage on the survival of the chronically ill. Her most recent projects investigate the effects of hospital charity care on infant health and the effects of natural disasters on pregnancy outcomes.

Simon J. Steel is the new resident director of the Tufts-in-London and Tufts-in-Oxford programs. He holds a B.Sc. (Hons.) in physics and astronomy from the University of Sussex, an M.A. in physics from Brandeis University, a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the National University of Ireland and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from Oxford University. From 1998 to 2002, he was resident dean of students at Currier House at Harvard College. Most recently, as an education specialist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, he has been involved in the development of education programs for NASA and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. He has a particular interest in special-needs audiences and is co-author of the first Braille book on modern astronomy, Touch the Invisible Sky.

Heiwai Tang joins the economics department in the School of Arts and Sciences as an assistant professor. He received his Ph.D. in economics from MIT in 2008, and is joining Tufts from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where he was an assistant professor of economics. Tang’s teaching and research focus on the macroeconomic aspects of international trade and finance. In particular, he has been researching labor markets, institutions and trade patterns; spillovers from foreign direct investment; and the impact of mass migration on Hong Kong’s labor market.


Astier Almedom, director of the International Resilience Program of the Institute for Global Leadership, was invited to co-chair a seminar on “Building Trust: Development Cooperation” during the seminar week of the European Forum Alpbach in late August. She also participated in the “Resilience Retreat” from August 29 to 31, hosted by Ambassador Irene Freudenschuss-Reichl, Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs director general for development cooperation. The retreat was part of the “Political Symposium” of the European Forum Alpbach. Almedom also was invited to give a fireside chat to Alpbach Medica, a student organization active in public health advocacy, with more than 40 students in attendance.

Elisabeth E. Bennett, an assistant professor of medicine and director of education at Baystate Medical Center, a Tufts-affiliated hospital in Springfield, Mass., has been appointed editor for a theme issue of the refereed journal Advances in Developing Human Resources (ADHR). This issue will focus on the emergence of Virtual Human Resource Development. ADHR is published by Sage and sponsored by the Academy of Human Resource Development.

Eric Chaisson, director of the Wright Center for Science Education, gave the Collins Lecture at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital. His topic was “A Physicist Ponders Life.”

John Coffin, professor of molecular biology and microbiology at the School of Medicine, has been chosen to present the Howard Temin Memorial Lectureship on October 14 as part of the mini-symposium “Comparative Models of Leukemia and Lymphoma” at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Coffin received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in the laboratory of Howard Temin.

Ioannis D. Evrigenis, assistant professor of political science in the School of Arts and Sciences, is the recipient of the 2009 Delba Winthrop Award for Excellence in Political Science for his book Fear of Enemies and Collective Action.

Kevin P. Gallagher, senior researcher at the Global Development and Environment Institute, gave a series of presentations to the investment subcommittee of the U.S. Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy in Washington, D.C., in September.

Kenneth R. Lang, professor of astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences, was invited by the International Astronomical Union to present a lecture at the international conference “Astronomy and Its Instruments Before and After Galileo,” held in Venice from September 28 to October 3. The conference marked the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first turning a telescope toward the heavens. Lang’s lecture, “The Serendipitous Nature of Astronomical Discovery,” focused on how astronomy is mainly an instrument-driven science, governed by unexpected findings using new technology and novel telescopes that were designed for other purposes.

Paul D. Lehrman, coordinator of music technology in the Department of Music in the School of Arts and Sciences, will present a paper at the October 10 conference of the Audio Engineering Society in New York about using Nintendo Wii remotes as musical instruments and controllers. The paper grows out of work he has done in his course “Electronic Musical Instrument Design” and with students in the Electronic Music Ensemble at Tufts.

Michael Levin, A92, a professor of biology in the School of Arts and Sciences, has received a two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Mental Health Institute for a research project on “Automated Analysis of Learning and Memory for Neuro-Development Studies.” The goals are to create a next-generation, fully automated, parallelized, real-time machine vision and environmental control system to enhance the study of brain function and to enable nootropic drug screening in vertebrate systems and to use this platform to investigate the cognitive consequences of laterality inversion.

George McNinch, an associate professor of mathematics in the School of Arts and Sciences, was an invited speaker at the conference “Algebraic Groups and Invariant Theory,” held August 30 to September 4 at the Centro Stefano Franscini, a conference center near Ascona in Ticino, Switzerland.

Sergei Mirkin, professor of genetics and molecular biology and holder of the White Family Chair in Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences, has received a four-year grant from the National Institutes of Health for his work on replication of simple DNA repeats. More than two dozen human hereditary diseases are caused by uncontrollable expansions of simple DNA repeats within individual human genes. They include debilitating neurological disorders, such as Huntington’s disease, fragile X mental retardation, myotonic dystrophy, Friedreich’s ataxia and others. Mirkin hopes to unravel molecular mechanisms responsible for the phenomenon.

Leon Reijmers, an assistant professor of neuroscience at the School of Medicine, is one of 55 recipients of the National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award. Reijmers is investigating the way memories are stored in the brain, specifically focusing on the proteins involved in long-term memory storage.

Adam South, G11, received a fellowship from the National Science Foundation to do research this past summer in Taiwan. He worked in the lab of Ping-Shih Yang, a professor of entomology at National Taiwan University in Taipei, investigating chemical defenses and characterizing nuptial gift production in Taiwanese fireflies. Read more about South’s work with fireflies at http://enews.tufts.edu/stories/1586/2009/09/22/SeeingtheLight.

Robert J. Sternberg, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, was elected president of the Federation of Associations of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, formerly known as the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences. His term will be for six years — two as president-elect, two as president and two as past president — starting on January 1, 2010. The federation encompasses 22 behavioral and brain sciences associations, representing several hundred thousand members. Among the associations in the federation is the American Psychological Association, of which Sternberg is a past president.

Jasmien T. Vancollie, A12, won a contest this summer offered by the People’s Choice Awards. She spent a week at United Talent Agency, a Los Angeles talent agency, attending red carpet premieres and other events, which gave her an inside look at the entertainment industry. Vancollie won the contest by submitting a video pitch of why she deserved to win, which was voted on by her peers.

Sampathkumar Veeraraghavan, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering, was recently honored with an Outstanding Student Humanitarian Prize and a People’s Choice Prize by IEEE, one of the world’s leading professional associations for the advancement of technology. Veeraraghavan received the award as part of the association’s inaugural IEEE Presidents’ Change the World Competition, which recognizes students who use engineering, science, computing and leadership skills to develop solutions to real-world problems. Veeraraghavan’s award-winning project is a health information system he developed under the direction of Professor Karen Panetta. The system is capable of providing extensive information for people living with disabilities.

Arthur Winston, director emeritus and professor of the practice at the Gordon Institute, is co-chair of an international conference to be held in Dublin in April 2010 titled “Transforming Engineering Education: Creating Interdisciplinary Skills for Complex Global Environments.” The conference will offer a road map for academia, industry and government on how to shape future engineering curricula and how to incorporate technology-driven topics in law, business and social science. The conference is sponsored by IBM and the IEEE, with co-chairs from each organization. The IBM co-chair is Jai Mennon, an IBM fellow and vice president for technical strategy and vice president of global university programs. Winston is a recipient of the Bernard M. Gordon Prize, awarded by the National Academy of Engineering. He is also a past president of the IEEE and a fellow of the IEEE and IET and president of the United Engineering Foundation.

Timothy A. Wise, director of the Research and Policy Program at the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE), presented a paper on trade liberalization and the global food crisis in Geneva on September 30 at the World Trade Organization’s annual public forum. GDAE co-sponsored the session, with the Geneva-based South Centre, on “Multilateralism, Our Global Crises and Strategies for the Future.”

Hyunmin Yi, assistant professor of chemical engineering, and Diane Souvaine, professor and chair of computer science in the School of Engineering, together with colleagues from MIT, received a National Science Foundation grant for their project “Geometric Algorithms for Staged Nanomanufacturing.”