Thirteen new professors start year at Williams

All of us remember applying to college: the essays, the interviews, the endless waiting. Thirteen new faculty members here at Williams recently underwent a similar process and in some ways even more difficult.

This fall the College announced the appointment of 13 new assistant professors. They were chosen by their respective departments over hundreds of other applicants.

“I went through first a telephone interview with the department chair, and then an interview in January that involved teaching a ‘review session’ and giving a lecture on my research,”Assistant Professor of Chemistry Joseph Chihade said.

The new professors considered many of the same criteria students do when they decided to apply for a position here. Some of them also appreciated Williams for its similarities to their own alma maters.

“I went to Wesleyan as an undergrad, and I liked that a lot,” Assistant Professor of Economics Jon Bakija said. “The educational experience here is probably quite similar, although perhaps a bit less weird.”

Chihade agreed, “[Williams has] a strong tradition of doing research with undergraduates. I was an undergrad at Oberlin, and was very interested in ending up at a place like that in those ways.”

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Barbara Lerner noted that she liked the “closeness between students and faculty,” something that was missing at the University of Massachusetts, where she taught for nine years.

Many of the new faculty members have earned their PhD’s in the last few years; some are even expected to receive them later this year. “New faculty bring new ideas,” Lerner said. “The sciences are changing very quickly.”

“What’s best is a nice distribution of ages, with some master-teachers, some whippersnappers like myself, and plenty of people in between,” Chihade said.

The new faculty members are:

nAssistant Professor of Romance Languages Jennifer Austin, who received her BA from Earlham College in 1991, her MA in linguistics from Cornell University in 1996 and is a candidate for a PhD in linguistics at Cornell;

nAssistant Professor of Economics Jon Bakija, who received his BA from Wesleyan University in1990 and will receive his PhD in economics from the University of Michigan in 1999;

nAssistant Professor of Psychology Talia Ben-Zeev, who received her BA from Rhode Island College in 1991, and her PhD in cognitive psychology from Yale University in 1997;

nAssistant Professor of Chemistry Joseph Chihade, who received his BA from Oberlin in 1989, his PhD. in chemistry from Columbia University in 1996 and did his post-doctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology;

nAssistant Professor of Japanese Shinko Kagaya, who received his BA from Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo, Japan in 1989, received his MA in East Asian languages and literature from the Ohio State University in 1991 and is a candidate for a PhD at the Ohio State University;

nAssistant Professor of Computer Science Barbara Lerner who received her BS in computer science and mathematics from Moravian College in 1981 and her PhD in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1989;

nAssistant Professor of Art Peter Low, who received his BA from the University of Toronto, Ontario in 1994, his MA from the Johns Hopkins University in 1995 and is expected to receive his PhD from Johns Hopkins in 1999;

nAssistant Professor of Economics Stephen Meardon, who received his AB in economics from Bowdoin College in 1993 and his MA in economics from Duke University in 1997;

nAssistant Professor of Classics Vassiliki Panoussi, who received his BA from the University of Athens, Greece in 1989 and his PhD in Classics from Brown University in 1998;

nAssistant Professor of Mathematics Jerome Reiter received his BS from Duke University in 1992 and is expected to receive his PhD in statistics from Harvard University in 1999;

nAssistant Professor of Psychology Marlene Sandstrom, who received her BA from Yale University in 1991 and her PhD in clinical psychology from Duke University in 1995;

nAssistant Professor of Economics Anand Swamy, who received his BA from the University of Delhi in 1983, his MA in economics from the Delhi School of Economics in 1985 and his PhD in economics from Northwestern University in 1993 and;

nAssistant Professor of Japanese Kasumi Yamamoto, who recieved her BA from Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan in 1980, her MA in linguistics from Cornell University in 1994 and is expected to receive her PhD in linguistics from Cornell University in 1999