Six faculty members begin tenure-track appointments across the disciplines this academic year, and 10 others embark upon three-year appointments.
Receiving tenure-track appointments:
Assistant Professor of Music James Blasina, who began teaching at Swarthmore in 2015, moves into a tenure-track appointment. His teaching and research interests include chant and liturgy, gender studies, the Middle Ages, boy bands, musical theater, and popular music in the former Yugoslavia. Blasina taught as a fellow at Harvard University and as a lecturer at the College of the Holy Cross. In addition to his scholarly interests, he is a pianist, choral singer, and director.
Assistant Professor of Computer Science Vasanta Chaganti is interested in building resilient and secure network systems of the future. Her research focuses on three broad themes: design and evaluation of next-generation network architectures; device and content mobility in the internet; and performance modeling and data analysis of large-scale networks. She participated in analysis of a massive open-source dataset of wireless measurements of body area networks with applications to mobile health. Her research is guided by real-world problems to inform new paradigms in the design and implementation of network systems.
Assistant Professor of Biology Karen Chan begins her tenure-track appointment this spring. She is interested in combining experimental and modeling techniques to understand the role of individual behaviors in shaping population-level ecological interactions. Most recently an assistant professor at the University of Washington, Chan focuses on the early life stages of marine invertebrates, including functional morphology of marine plankton and its evolutionary implications. As an educator, she is interested in developing instructional techniques to boost students’ understanding of and interest in the scientific process.
The teaching and research of Assistant Professor of Political Science Sam Handlin focuses on the comparative politics of developing countries, with a regional emphasis on Latin America and a substantive focus on democracy, authoritarianism, and electoral politics. Handlin is the author of State Crisis in Fragile Democracies: Polarization and Political Regimes in South America (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and the author/editor of Reorganizing Popular Politics: Participation and the New Interest Regime in Latin America (2009). His work has also been published in numerous academic journals.
Kathryn Riley ’10
Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Kathryn Riley '10, who began teaching at Swarthmore in 2016, moves into a tenure-track appointment. Research in her group involves the development of analytical techniques for the characterization of nanomaterials and their dynamic transformations in biological and environmental matrices. Specifically, Riley and her team are developing a suite of in situ electrochemical, spectroscopic, and separation technologies to monitor and quantify silver nanoparticle (AgNP) dissolution, aggregation, and protein corona formation.
Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy Hillary Smith’s research interests include materials physics, energy storage materials, phonon dynamics, and condensed matter physics. Smith was most recently a visiting scientist at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). Before that, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the California Institute of Technology, where she developed and tested graphene-based materials for hydrogen physisorption. Among her outreach activities was volunteering as a “STEM Superstar” at the Project Scientist camp for girls.
Receiving three-year academic appointments:
Rebecca Black '08
Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Rebecca Black '08 recently earned a doctor of philosophy in mathematics from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a specialty in algebraic geometry. She also earned a master of arts in applied linguistics from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a bachelor of arts in mathematics and linguistics with high honors from Swarthmore. In 2016, she earned a Department of Mathematics Graduate Teaching Award from the University of Maryland, College Park, as well as an All S.T.A.R. Fellowship.
Jason Box returns to Swarthmore as head men’s tennis coach/instructor, Department of Athletics and Physical Education. Box had been the head coach of both the men's and women's teams at Millsaps College in Mississippi since 2011. He was the ITA Regional Coach of the Year in 2018 on both the men's and women's side, and had two male student-athletes advance to the NCAA National Championship as individuals. In 2018, his men's squad went 17–7, and the women’s went 15–7. In 2007–08, Box served as leave-replacement head coach at Swarthmore while longtime and now-retired coach Mike Mullan was on a sabbatical.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Tom Crawford recently completed a Ph.D. in mathematics at Boston College. There, he served as a primary instructor on subjects such as principles of statistics for the health sciences, finite probability and applications, and calculus, and was teaching assistant at his undergraduate alma mater, Williams College. He received the Boston College Dissertation Fellowship (2018), the Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award (2014 and 2016), and the Presidential Doctoral Fellowship (2012). He also coached Boston College's men's Ultimate Frisbee team for four years.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Black Studies Shani Evans is interested in the sociology of education, social class, urban inequality, and qualitative methods, among other topics. She recently earned a Ph.D. in education, culture, society, and sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. While at Penn, Evans won a National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship, a writing fellowship, and a fellowship from the American Sociological Association (ASA) Minority Fellowship Program to attend the annual ASA meeting.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology Youssef Ezzyat uses neural recordings and behavioral experiments to study human memory encoding and retrieval. He was most recently a postdoctoral fellow and senior data scientist at the University of Pennsylvania. He earned a Ph.D. in psychology from New York University, where he received the Douglas and Katharine Fryer Thesis Fellowship, and a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Princeton University. Among the classes he has taught or assisted with are Scientific Computing for Psychology; Big Data, Memory, and the Human Brain; and Fundamentals of Neuropsychology.
The research interests of Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology Molly Flaherty include signed and spoken language acquisition, language emergence, numerical cognition, cognitive development, and effects of variation in early childhood language environment. She seeks to better understand the developing mind by closely examining the structure of language. Flaherty also investigates the effects of one’s specific early language environment on language and tracks the emergence of linguistic structure in the individual child during typical language learning. She was a Newton International Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art Tiffany Lee specializes in East Asian and modern Chinese art, visual culture, and the history of photography. In the fall, she will teach Asian Art: Past and Present and Replication in Chinese Art. Among her publications are “Between Nation and Curation: The Shanghai International Photographic Art Exhibition, 1934–1937” (article, in progress) and “One, and the Same: The Photographic Double in Republican China,” in Portraiture and Early Studio Photography in China and Japan (London: Routledge, 2017). She holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University and an M.A. in visual studies from the University of California, Irvine.
Assistant Professor of Dance Stephanie Liapis’s professional career in the performing arts spans nearly 20 years, including work with revered New York City companies. Liapis’s choreographic research focuses on creating and presenting original, collaborative works often incorporating elements of digital sound and video to create a complete visual and sonic experience on stage. Her most recent collaboration involved bringing contemporary dance to the concert stage with the Harry Partch Institute at the University of Washington, and her work has been presented in New York City, Seattle, Phoenix, Switzerland, and Singapore, among other places. She is the 2018 Velocity Dance Center Artist-in-Residence in Seattle. Photo by Nico Tower
Visiting Assistant Professor of Chinese Benjamin Ridgway’s research interests include classical Chinese poetry, the life and poetry of Su Shi, travel literature, urban space in pre-14th-century literary texts, and word and image relationships in Chinese poetry and painting. He has begun a project on how the city of Hangzhou became an imperial capital in the 12th and 13th centuries and the role that literary works played in fixing or contesting this new urban identity. One part of this project has been published as a chapter in the volume Senses of the City: Perceptions of Hangzhou & Southern Song China. He was previously a visiting assistant professor of Chinese at the University of Puget Sound.
Joe Small '05
Assistant Professor of Dance Joe Small ’05 is interested in taiko drumming (contemporary and folk), choreography and percussion, Japanese dance and music forms, and Asian-American cultural practices. He is a taiko drum artist whose creative work applies elements of postmodern choreography and performance art. While based in Southern California from 2014 to 2017, he co-founded Small Mountain Studios, instructed at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute, and was a guest choreographer at Santa Monica College. Small also performed in mixed-disciplinary works, including Mishinnah Production's Iphigenia: Book of Change, Tetsu Production's Batare, and LA-based The Industry’s production of Galileo. As a solo artist, Small has performed and taught throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Spain, Switzerland, and Japan.