May 20, 2005

Incoming faculty to bring their talent to Chicago in coming year

Deans of the University's humanities, social sciences, biological sciences, and physical sciences divisions are finalizing their faculty appointments for the coming academic year. Although the divisional offices said there were still several outstanding prospects they could not yet announce, they named various new instructors, assistant, associate, and full professors who will make the University their home next year.

The only new full professor in the humanities division slated to teach at the University next year is Mark Hansen (English), currently an associate professor in English at Princeton University. Hansen, who teaches courses on cultural theory and media studies, is currently working on two projects, "Becoming-Human" and "Fiction After Television." Franklin Lewis, currently an associate professor of Persian language, literature, and culture at Emory University has been named to an associate professor position in the Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations department. Lewis is also leaving his post as director of undergraduate studies at Emory's department of Middle Eastern and South Asian studies.

There are 14 confirmed new assistant professors in the humanities division for nearly as many departments, with scholarly interests ranging from ancient Chinese literature to 20th century Russian art and contemporary criticism. Ten recently received Ph.D.s, with three coming from the University of California-Berkeley and two from Harvard University.

The social sciences division has currently hired four full professors, including returning political scientist Michael Dawson, who was the subject of an April 12 Maroon article ("Former U of C Professor Will Return From Harvard in July"). The others are Jean Decety (psychology), professor and head of the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Washington; John A. List (economics), professor in agricultural and resource economics at the University of Maryland; and Stephen Raudenbush (sociology), professor at the University of Michigan's School of Education and Survey Research Center. The division also named a number of assistant professors to these four departments, as well as Micere Keels to human development.

Decety, whose research interests include human neuroanatomy and neurophysiology, is working on several papers, including one titled "The Power of Imagination." List focuses on using field experimental methods in economics, and his research has been cited in The Economist, The Economic Report of the President, Nature, and Business Week. Raudenbush, who studies school and classroom effects on student learning through statistical methods, has also been named chair of the University's new Committee on Education.

John Mark Hansen, dean of the social sciences division, said that some offers would not begin until next fall, citing Alberto Simpser, a prospective assistant professor in political science. Simpser, a doctoral candidate at Stanford finishing his dissertation on democratic accountability and electoral corruption, will begin in the fall of 2006.

The biological sciences division has named only two new members: Rita Nanda (medicine), an instructor specializing in hermatology and oncology who received her M.D. and completed her residency at the University, and Michael Glotzer (molecular genetics and cell biology), an associate professor from the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna, Austria. Glotzer, who headed a research group at RIMP on the mechanism of cytokinesis, says that his lab will continue to investigate that process. "We are using a combination of forward and reverse genetics, biochemistry, and live cell imaging," he wrote, "to address the following unsolved problems: How is the cleavage furrow positioned? How does the contractile ring assemble and function? How does the central spindle assemble and function? How is completion of cytokinesis achieved?"

The first positions named in the physical sciences division are in the mathematics, astronomy, and statistics departments, and include one professor, Wilhelm Schlag (mathematics). Schlag, a professor at the California Institute of Technology, has written several papers on the Schrodinger equation and operators and was awarded the Caltech Graduate Student Council's Best Teacher Award for 2003-2004. Hsiao-Wen Chen (astronomy), who, as assistant professor, is currently the sole appointment to his department. Chen is a Hubble Fellow at MIT's Center for Space Research, whose extant projects include the study of interstellar and intergalactic media in the distant universe. The statistics department has hired Mathis Drton, currently a post-doctoral in mathematics and biostatistics at Berkeley, as an assistant professor. The other appointments made in the division include three instructors and two assistant professors (mathematics).