Skip to main content

Four Faculty Members Receive Endowed Chair Appointments

Fall foliage on campus of Swarthmore College

At the recent meeting of the Board of Managers, the following faculty members were appointed to endowed chairs: Eric Jensen (Physics & Astronomy), Walter Kemp Professor of Natural Science; Nick Kaplinsky (Biology), Isaac H. Clothier, Jr. Professor of Biology; Dominic Tierney (Political Science), Claude Smith Chair of Political Science; and Liliya Yatsunyk (Chemistry & Biochemistry), James H. Hammons Chair of Chemistry.

Eric Jensen

Eric JensenEric Jensen,  a widely respected expert in the fields of star formation, young stars, and exoplanets, also teaches about climate change in the Environmental Studies Program. His research interests include extrasolar planets, or planets that orbit other stars, and astrobiology, the study of the origin and distribution of life in the cosmos. Jensen also works with NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite mission, which surveys the sky for planets by detecting small eclipses that occur when planets pass in front of their host stars, and frequently provides expert commentary on astronomy news for WHYY and KYW.

An experienced administrator, Jensen was the inaugural director of the Aydelotte Foundation and currently serves as the Interim Dean for Academic Success.

Nick Kaplinsky

Nick KaplinskyNick Kaplinsky's research focuses how plants handle extreme temperature fluctuations without moving. In his words, “to ensure food security in the next century, it will be vital to understand how plants sense and respond to high temperature stress in order to develop crop varieties which can be deployed on a globally warming planet.”

Kaplinsky's introductory biology lectures dive deeply into the molecular intricacies of genetics and photosynthsis while making vital connections to broader issues, such as food biotechnology. Research in his lab has been supported by the Friedman Fund, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH). Students who trained in his lab are known to be well-prepared for diverse post-Swarthmore trajectories.

Dominic Tierney

Dominic TierneyDominic Tierney is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and a former contributing editor at The Atlantic. He has published four acclaimed books: Failing to Win: Perceptions of Victory and Defeat in International Politics, published in 2006 with Dominic Johnson (and won the International Studies Association award for the best book of the year); FDR and the Spanish Civil War: Neutrality and Commitment in the Struggle that Divided America in 2007, considered “a model of superb diplomatic history"; How We Fight: Crusades, Quagmires, and the American Way of War in 2010; and The Right Way to Lose a War: America in an Age of Unwinnable Conflicts in 2015.

Tierney has taken on the role of public intellectual, and his pieces have also appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and NPR. He also recently served as co-chair of the Strategic Plan Working Group on Leadership in a Multiracial Democracy and the World.

Liliya Yatsunyk

Liliya YatsunykLiliya Yatsunyk is an outstanding scholar with an internationally recognized independent and undergraduate-centered research program focused on unusual DNA structures which may act as therapeutics for cancer and other diseases. Her lab strives to determine the structural details of DNA and DNA-ligand complexes and understand the reasons behind structural diversity of DNA. Yatsunyk has received funding from the National Institute of Health and the Dreyfus Foundation.

She actively collaborates with researchers whose expertise and resources complement her work and provides extraordinary opportunities for the students, such as at Institute Curie, University College London, and with biologists from the University of Pennsylvania and University of Pittsburgh. Yatsunyk has mentored 50 Swarthmore students in her research lab, many of whom are co-authors on publications, and maintains a robust website dedicated to student accomplishments in her lab.

Submissions Welcome

The Communications Office invites all members of the Swarthmore community to share videos, photos, and story ideas for the College's website. Have you seen an alum in the news? Please let us know by writing