Meet Dartmouth's Newest Teacher-Scholars

Thirty new faculty members joined the Dartmouth community this year.

Dartmouth welcomes 30 new tenured or tenure-track faculty members to the College community this academic year. Like their fellow faculty members, these new professors embrace curiosity—the questions they seek to answer are at the heart of their teaching and research.

Provost Joseph Helble says their enthusiasm for inquiry and the discovery of new knowledge will have a tremendous impact on students' continued development as critical thinkers and creative leaders.

"These teacher-scholars join a faculty committed to actively engaging and collaborating with students in the classroom, in the lab, and in the field. Together, these new faculty colleagues will inspire students to stay curious, ask big questions, and pursue connections that spark their own intellectual interests," he says.

Learn more about Dartmouth's newest tenured or tenure-track faculty and the role curiosity plays in their work.

 

Asher Auel, MathematicsAaron McKenna, Molecular and Systems Biology
Richard Beaudoin, MusicColin Meyer, Engineering
Nicole Borges, Medical EducationAinsley Morse, Russian
Eric Chyn, EconomicsClaudia Olivetti, Economics
Rolando Coto, LinguisticsTheresa Ong, Environmental Studies
Siddharth George, EconomicsJonathan Phillips, Cognitive Science
Marnie Halpern, Molecular and Systems BiologyPaul Robustelli, Chemistry
Nicholas Jacobson, Biomedical Data ScienceBenjamin Ross, Microbiology and Immunology
Claudia Jakubzick, Microbiology and ImmunologyWilliam Scheideler, Engineering
Elizabeth Kassler-Taub, Art HistoryJordan Schoenfeld, Business Administration
Iyabo Kwayana, Film and Media StudiesSharmistha Sikdar, Marketing
Jiwon Lee, EngineeringSarah Slotznick, Earth Sciences
Yan Li, EngineeringMorten Sorensen, Finance
Juhani Linnainmaa, Business AdministrationTor Wager, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Jason Lyall, GovernmentDarryl Wilkinson, Religion

 

 

Asher Auel

Assistant Professor of Mathematics

  • PhD, University of Pennsylvania
  • MS, University of Paris XI
  • BA, Reed College

My research is in algebraic geometry and number theory. I am interested in systems of polynomial equations: Do they have a solution? If so, can we parameterize all the solutions? Can a computer do this in reasonable time? The interplay between new techniques from topology, complex analysis, pure algebra, and computation makes this area exciting, where 21st-century techniques are being used to address open problems posed in the 19th and early-20th centuries.

On curiosity: In my teaching, I try to appeal to students' natural spirit of inquiry by leading with a curious observation, outlining what we might know and not know at the outset, and only then proceeding to uncover the mathematical structures present at the heart of the problem. This way, the process of discovery is motivated by our curiosity about the unknown.

 

 

 

Richard Beaudoin

Assistant Professor of Music

  • PhD, Brandeis University
  • MA, Royal Academy of Music, London
  • BA, Amherst College

My recent research involves spectrographic micro-timing analyses of individual recordings, emphasizing the expressive content of small—often overlooked—sounds made by the body of the performer and their instrument. My work draws from and contributes to the fields of music theory, analytic aesthetics, composition, and sound studies. My micro-rhythmic analyses also give rise to new compositions, including commissions from Boston Lyric Opera, the Kreutzer Quartet, Sound Icon, Annette Dasch, Claire Chase, Dashon Burton, and Roomful of Teeth.

On curiosity: I am curious about what we ignore when we listen to music. Small abrasions in the voice, the sound of musicians breathing, the fingers tapping on instruments—when you pay attention to these so-called "extraneous" sounds, they prove to be extraordinarily expressive and revealing.

 

 

Nicole Borges

Chair, Department of Medical Education

  • PhD, Indiana State University
  • BA, Boston University

My focused program of research has been dedicated specifically to medical student and physician career development and the study of cognitive and noncognitive factors influencing students' choice of a specialty within the occupation of medicine. My medical education research interests include characteristics of medical students, medical specialty and career choice, student success, team-based learning, and health topics related to medical education.

On curiosity: I am involved with a team of researchers investigating career inflection points. We are using Career Construction Theory (CCT) as the interpretive lens to characterize how individuals adapt to their careers. Curiosity is one of the dimensions of CCT that we are examining in our qualitative inquiry of career trajectories of academic pediatricians.

 

Eric Chyn

Assistant Professor of Economics

  • PhD, University of Michigan
  • MA, University of Michigan
  • BA, Baylor University

My primary research fields are labor and urban and public economics. In my recent work, I have studied the effects of government programs and policies on children.

On curiosity: Curiosity is the driving force behind my research and my teaching. As a researcher, I seek to provide new answers to questions. As a teacher, I strive to stimulate curiosity by asking students to address questions based on what we cover in lectures and assignments.

 

 

Rolando Coto

Assistant Professor of Linguistics      

  • PhD, University of Arizona
  • BA, University of Costa Rica

I work with Indigenous language revitalization and with the intersection of revitalization, documentation, and natural language processing. I use computer algorithms to accelerate the grammatical description of Indigenous and minority languages, and to create tools for the speakers of these languages to take control of the production and dissemination of learning resources. I have worked in Latin America (Bolivia, Mexico, Costa Rica), the southwestern United States, and Polynesia (New Zealand/Aotearoa and the Cook Islands).

On curiosity: We are all naturally curious about language: Can animals learn it? Are there such things as untranslatable words? Why is it so easy for children to learn language and so hard for adults to do the same? When will computers and robots speak as we do? I am passionate about transforming this curiosity into rigorous science and about working with students to transform it into a critical and socially conscious praxis of the disciplines they dedicate themselves to.

 

 

Siddharth George

Assistant Professor of Economics      

  • PhD, Harvard University
  • BSc, London School of Economics

I study development economics, a subfield of economics that is concerned with the economic lives of the poor, why poverty persists, and how to reduce it.

On curiosity: Curiosity plays a role in shaping what I find interesting. But good development economics projects are not just interesting; they also focus on issues that are important to the economic lives of the poor. I hope to use both criteria—interestingness and meaningfulness—in deciding what to work on and teach.

 

 

Marnie Halpern

Professor, Chair of the Department of Molecular and Systems Biology

  • PhD, Yale University
  • BSc, McMaster University

I have long been interested in how the nervous system forms and is wired up correctly during development, and how these events underlie behavior. My lab uses the zebrafish because it is a vertebrate with accessible and transparent embryos and is amenable to genetic techniques. We are currently studying left-right differences in a conserved region of the brain, how they influence neural activity in other brain regions, and their functional significance.

On curiosity: Curiosity is what drives us to tackle challenging research questions and not give up until we have a satisfying answer.

 

 

Nicholas Jacobson

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Data Science

  • PhD, Pennsylvania State University
  • MS, Pennsylvania State University
  • BA, Truman State University

My work focuses on the utilization of technology, such as smartphones and wearables, to assess and treat anxiety and depressive disorders. I utilize and deploy machine-learning models to enhance assessment strategies and to deliver scalable personalized treatment to these populations.

On curiosity: Curiosity is fundamental to almost all that I do. Curiosity motivates me to conduct new studies and develop new methods and treatments.

 

 

Claudia Jakubzick

Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

  • PhD, University of Michigan
  • BS, University of Florida

My research focuses on understanding the diverse functional roles of mononuclear phagocytes. Mononuclear phagocytes acquire and present foreign antigens to adaptive immune cells, and therefore are critical components of host response in the respiratory tract. They also play roles in many pulmonary diseases, including cancer, infections, asthma, COPD, and interstitial lung diseases. Since there are currently no known effective therapies that specifically target mononuclear phagocytes, understanding the unique roles they play may offer promising leverage points in shaping the immune response toward tolerance or immunity.

On curiosity: Curiosity plays a huge role in my work, and why we dig deeper and deeper into deciphering the unknown questions of humankind.

 

 

Elizabeth Kassler-Taub

Assistant Professor of Art History

  • PhD, Harvard University
  • AM, Harvard University
  • AB, Princeton University

I am a historian of art, architecture, and urbanism in early modern Italy. My research focuses on the transcultural exchange of artistic and architectural knowledge in the Mediterranean, with a special interest in the relationship between Italy, Spain, and the Islamic world during the 16th century. In my writing and teaching, I explore subjects from the early-modern experience of empire to contemporary theories of global art history.

On curiosity: In art history, curiosity is a visual drive: We are in the business of looking, and of looking deeply. My role isn't just to teach students how to look at a painting or a building, but to help them uncover why it is that we look at something in the way that we do. I encourage students to question the assumptions that they bring to the table as viewers and as inhabitants of urban spaces. How can interrogating our experience of the visual world make us more curious observers of our own identities?

 

 

Iyabo Kwayana

Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies

  • MFA, Northwestern University
  • MFA, University of California, Los Angeles
  • BA, Spelman College

I incorporate sensorial and immersive techniques in cinematography, directing, and editing in order to mobilize and emphasize the more discreet, often hidden aspects of film narratives that compel viewers toward an immersive experience. The experiential quality of my films focuses on rituals of locality and the rhythms born out of those rituals; in the process, I highlight moments of trance and transcendence in which latent, surreal or fantastic elements within the mundane become activated and more visible. My cinematography is preoccupied with the dynamic intersubjective connection between camera operator and my subject. To that end, I reference ancient cosmologies and science as theoretical frameworks to explore inter-subjectivity, optics and filmmaking. My research and teaching approach span across theoretical and practical disciplines, yet the theoretical aspects are intended to enhance the practical skills needed for film and media making.

On curiosity: In directing and in cinematography, using the phrase "what if" is an important entry point into seeing what is possible when working on a creative project.

 

 

Jiwon Lee

The Ralph and Marjorie Crump Assistant Professor of Engineering

  • PhD, University of Texas at Austin
  • BA,  University of California, Berkeley

I was trained as a molecular biologist and chemical engineer with specific training and expertise in immunoengineering, immune profiling, and protein engineering. My research focuses on the human immune system and understanding how the pathogen-specific, tumor-specific, or self-reactive antibody molecules impact human health and disease. I am interested in applying this knowledge as guidance to engineer personalized antibody-based therapeutics, as well as vaccines.

On curiosity: Curiosity is what drives my research.

 

Yan Li

Assistant Professor of Engineering

  • PhD, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • MA, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  • BA, Yanshan University

My primary research interests are in the area of mechanics of advanced materials, involving multiscale/multiphysics modeling, integrated computational/experimental approaches for next-generation material design, and application of material science and solid mechanics in advanced manufacturing.           

On curiosity: I believe curiosity drives innovation. I always like my students to think outside the box and be creative about problem-solving.

 

 

Juhani Linnainmaa

Professor of Business Administration

  • PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
  • MBA, Helsinki School of Economics
  • BA, Helsinki School of Economics

My research is in finance: the performance and behavior of mutual funds, institutional investors, and individual investors; beliefs and conflicts of interests of financial advisers; and questions related to how different assets, such as stocks, are priced.

On curiosity: I try to make the topics I teach more interesting by invoking curiosity through current events. For example, "Why did Beyond Meat's share price fall by 20% last week in one day? Do you think that this price move made sense if markets are 'efficient'? Let's think about this..."

 

 

Jason Lyall

James Wright Chair in Transnational Studies
Associate Professor of Government
Director, Political Violence FieldLab  

  • PhD, Cornell University          
  • BA, Simon Fraser University

My policy-relevant research focuses on the drivers and effects of political violence in modern war. For example, I am currently investigating the relationship between inequality and the battlefield performance of armies in wars since 1800. I also conduct field research in conflict settings like Afghanistan, where I am working to understand how exposure to violence affects decision-making and support for armed groups among civilians trapped between warring parties.

On curiosity: Curiosity plays an enormous role in both my research and teaching. Most of my research has been guided by puzzles that arise during fieldwork in Afghanistan and other conflict settings. Experiencing the same problems as these populationshow do I navigate these checkpoints?helps illuminate gaps in our understandings and theories of civilians in wartime. I try to impart the same puzzle-solving ethic in my courses. All of my lectures and seminars are organized around theoretical or empirical puzzles that we approach from multiple angles. Rather than impose a single viewpoint, I want to expose the students to diverse accounts to help them form, revise, and defend their own positions on pressing issues in world politics.

 

 

Aaron McKenna

Assistant Professor of Molecular and Systems Biology 

  • PhD, University of Washington
  • MS, Boston University
  • BS, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Our laboratory's goal is to map animal development, from its single-cell origins to the diverse cell-types and tissues in the body, or from a single transformed cancer cell to a full tumor mass. We use both experimental and computational methods to tackle this central question in biology, with the long-term goal of improving treatments and patient outcomes.  

On curiosity: Curiosity is why I'm here. Biologists get to ask, and hopefully answer, fundamental questions about how living things operate. My engineering background got me into genetics, but the chance to go after these fundamental questions is what keeps me going day after day.

 

Colin Meyer

Assistant Professor of Engineering    

  • PhD, Harvard University
  • MASt, Cambridge University
  • BA, University of California, Berkeley

From snowpack evolution to the flow of glaciers, I study the mechanics of snow and ice systems. I am particularly interested in frozen sediments beneath glaciers, the shell structure of icy satellites, and snow evolution during melting.

On curiosity: Fluid motion is beautiful, captivating, and inspiring. Seeing waves in clouds or bands on glaciers makes one curious about their formation. I promote this in the classroom through lab experiments and field excursions. As a researcher, I aim to let interesting and inspiring phenomena lead the investigations rather than techniques or methods.

 

 

Ainsley Morse

Assistant Professor of Russian Language and Literature                      

  • PhD, Harvard University
  • MA, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • BA, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

I work primarily on 20th-century Russian literature. My particular specialization is unofficial poetry and literary-artistic communities during the Soviet period.      

On curiosity: I can't imagine doing this kind of work if I wasn't driven on by curiosity! Students regularly report that my curiosity is contagious in the classroom, but there is no greater thrill than encountering a student bursting with genuine intellectual curiosity of her/his own.

 

 

Claudia Olivetti

Professor of Economics          

  • PhD, University of Pennsylvania
  • Laurea, University of Rome, "La Sapienza"

I study the evolving economic role of women in the U.S. and across developed economies, and intergenerational mobility and marriage institutions in historical perspective. For example, the gender pay gap exists across the education distribution, but it is generally far greater at the top. Why? How do these gaps arise, and what might reduce or eliminate them? I am currently exploring these issues using a large data set of U.S. establishments and households.       

On curiosity: Curiosity is the driver of scholarship in general, and I am no exception. I enjoy the process of discovery tremendously. As a teacher, I find it rewarding to stimulate in my students the same curiosity about the subject I love.

 

 

Theresa Ong

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

  • PhD, University of Michigan
  • MS, University of Michigan
  • BA, Williams College

I study the ecology of food systems, or interactions between people, the environment, and communities of organisms in agriculture. I am particularly interested in the relationship between cities, food, and large-scale social and environmental disturbances. My research combines mathematical models with lab and field experiments to understand how food systems respond to socio-environmental stressors, including climate change and economic recessions. The goal is to leverage an understanding of complex systems in creating more sustainable and socially just food systems.      

On curiosity: One of the main reasons I decided on a career in academia was the intellectual freedom to develop and explore new ideas. I think curiosity is essential to good science, and a quality that cannot be taught, but must be fostered.

 

 

Jonathan Phillips

Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science       

  • PhD, Yale University
  • BA, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

My research draws on a broad range of the methods employed across psychology, philosophy, linguistics, and computer science to better understand questions about how humans think about non-actual possibilities, sometimes called "possible worlds." I study both how people think about possibilities themselves and how the possibilities we consider influence the general way we think, from where we decide to eat lunch, to the language we use, to the causal and moral judgments we make.        

On curiosity: When we are curious, we start exploring the many things that might be the case, even if we aren't sure whether they actually are. When we learn, we go from thinking of something as a mere possibility to understanding it as part of the way things actually are. My work focuses on understanding which possibilities we are curious about, whether we are trying to figure out the cause of some event, solve a difficult puzzle, or just think about what we want for dinner.

 

Paul Robustelli

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

  • PhD, University of Cambridge
  • BA, Pomona College

My research group will develop computer simulation techniques to obtain atomic-level descriptions of the motions of highly dynamic intrinsically disordered proteins. This research will contribute to the development of new paradigms that account for conformational disorder in molecular recognition and may provide new avenues to therapeutic interventions in diseases associated with disordered proteins.         

On curiosity: In my career, I have always been drawn to the frontiers of structural biology. My research interests generally develop by asking, "what biologically important protein states cannot currently be described in atomistic detail by existing techniques, and what new approaches might make obtaining these descriptions possible?"

 

 

Benjamin Ross

Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology          

  • PhD, University of Washington
  • BA, Lewis & Clark College

I seek to understand the mechanisms that bacteria residing in the human gut use to compete or cooperate with neighboring bacteria. I'm interested in how these interbacterial interactions influence the composition of the microbiome, both in health and in diseases in which the microbiome is perturbed, such as cystic fibrosis. My long-term goal is to rationally manipulate gut microbiota composition.    

On curiosity: Curiosity drives my passion for science. I have a very broad scientific background, from using nematodes to study the development of the germline, to evolutionary biology using fruitflies, to the study of Lyme disease bacteria inside ticks, and now to the human gut microbiome. Curiosity drove each of these transitions and sustained me during moments when I doubted I'd made the right move.

 

 

William Scheideler

Assistant Professor of Engineering

  • PhD, University of California, Berkeley
  • BSE, Duke University

My research focuses on developing new materials and nanomanufacturing methods for high-performance printed and flexible devices, including low-power sensors and energy harvesting for hybrid electronics. Research in these areas serves our greater mission of sustainable nanomanufacturing for energy-efficient electronics.           

On curiosity: Intellectual curiosity is the foundation of innovative experimental research. My research group develops new energy and sensing technologies, but our work is grounded in the fundamental exploration of nanoscale materials and devices. In my teaching, I hope to inspire engineering students to apply their skills of analysis and design to deeply understand the physical systems around them. Developing this physical intuition is the most powerful (and fun!) part of becoming an engineer.

 

 

Jordan Schoenfeld

Associate Professor of Business Administration   

  • PhD, University of Michigan  
  • BS, Miami University

I study how managers interact with large shareholders. Specifically, my research focuses on financial contracts and the role of information in the financial markets. I teach these subjects as well as courses tailored toward startup founders.          

On curiosity: Curiosity is the gravity that brings me into the office every day. It's what drives my teaching style and research.

 

 

Sharmistha Sikdar

Assistant Professor of Marketing

  • PhD, Cornell University
  • MA, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata
  • BA, Calcutta University          

My research focuses on developing statistical and machine-learning methods to solve empirical problems in marketing. Some of the applications of my research methods include predicting customers' multichannel engagement and purchase behavior, and competitive price dynamics on e-commerce platforms.

On curiosity: Curiosity is a very important element in my work as well as my teaching methods. I am curious about what my colleagues are working on, their research, and their teaching styles. I am also very keen to learn about the experiences and knowledge that my students bring into the classroom through class discussion.

 

 

Sarah Slotznick

Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences

  • PhD, California Institute of Technology
  • MS, California Institute of Technology
  • SB, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

My research centers on using iron-bearing minerals in ancient rocks to understand the co-evolution of Earth's surface environments and life and the fidelity of the rock record in preserving ancient signatures of biological and environmental processes. Integrating magnetic, textural, and geochemical tools with field observations, I probe questions spanning Earth history from the modern to billions of years ago, with each time period providing distinct perspectives into the interaction of the biosphere and the Earth.          

On curiosity: Studying Earth history and the co-evolution of the environment and life addresses a fundamental question: How are we here? Curiosity continues to play a role in my research as I delve into the details of this grand question, from picking field sites with intriguing prior observations to pushing my research in new directions as I find gaps in the current knowledge about a topic.

 

 

Morten Sorensen

Associate Professor of Finance

  • PhD, Stanford University
  • MA, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • BA, Aarhus University, Denmark 

I was at Stanford in the heart of Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom and bust and became very interested in entrepreneurial finance, so my dissertation was about venture capital investing in startups. Since then, my research has broadened to span entrepreneurial finance, venture capital, and private equity investing. I also have a side project about the personalities and career trajectories of top managers, primarily CEO and CFOs, in both startups and established companies.
 
On curiosity: I have always been fascinated by trying to understand how the world works. One of my earlier memories, I was probably 5 or 6 years old, I was looking at all the trucks on the road and trying to understand how they determined where they were coming from and where they were going. Did somebody keep track of them all? How did they do that? And what if two trucks went to the same place by mistake, or missed a place? Gradually, this evolved into an interest in economics and the interaction and coordination of agents in the market economy, especially in financial markets. But even today, the driving force in my research and teaching is still to understand how the world actually works. When startups are founded, how do they evolve from a vague idea in the shower to a full-fledged company with products and paying customers? When investors provide capital to a company, what are their concerns and considerations, and how is the deal actually structured?

Tor Wager

 

The Diana L. Taylor Distinguished Professor of
Psychological and Brain Sciences

  • PhD, University of Michigan
  • BA, Principia College

Neuroimaging-based models of the brain pathways underlying pain, stress, emotion, and empathy—and studies of how interventions influence these pathways.

On curiosity: It's vital!

 

 

Darryl Wilkinson

Assistant Professor of Religion

  • PhD, Columbia University
  • MSt, University of Oxford
  • BA, University of Oxford

I focus on the archaeology of religion in the Indigenous Americas (especially Peru and New Mexico), including both the ancient and colonial periods. My research examines the material culture (e.g., art, iconography, ceramics, and architecture) of Indigenous societies, particularly the Incas, and uses such evidence to better understand their ritual interactions with the wider landscape.   

On curiosity: Archaeology is a process in which we have to try to understand past worlds from the very limited and partial fragments that survive in the present. When the worlds in question existed thousands of years ago, and contained cultures that thought about things in a very different way from modern people, it becomes an even more challenging process. As an archaeologist, I often find myself faced with patterns in the evidence that people left behind, and puzzling over how to make sense of it all. Unless you are inherently curious about the missing pieces, it is difficult to find that kind of work intellectually engaging. It is a bit like having a jigsaw that will never be complete, and so you constantly find yourself wondering about what sort of pictures could be made by filling in the blank spaces in different ways.