People

Directors

Eleanor R. Townsley

Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Sociology and Director of Nexus; Chair of Sociology and Anthropology

Eleanor Townsley is interested in the role of intellectuals in social life. She teaches a range of courses in social theory, media, gender, and social science research methods. Her recent work considers the rise of media meta-commentary in democratic deliberation, the social reorganization of expertise, and the changing social roles of academics as public intellectuals. Townsley served as associate dean of faculty from 2012 to 2016 and is the faculty director of the Nexus Curriculum to Career program. 

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Eleanor Townsley

Faculty

Katherine Aidala

Director of the Fimbel Maker & Innovation Lab; Professor of Physics

Katherine Aidala employs creative techniques with the atomic force microscope to study a wide range of nanoscale devices and materials, with applications in solar energy, data storage, and biotechnology.  Her work has been supported by grants from the NSF and she received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2010.  Beyond the standard physics curriculum, she teaches Gender in Science and Science in the Media, and regularly gives talks on the under-representation of women in science.

Katherine Aidala

Elif Babül

Associate Professor of Anthropology; on leave spring 2021

Elif Babül’s research is informed by her long-term interests in everyday forms of state power and political authority, formation of governmental subjectivities, constitution and contestation of legality and legitimacy, and the interaction between national and transnational mechanisms of governance.  Babül teaches classes in political and legal anthropology, anthropology of human rights, ethnographic research methods and writing, Middle Eastern societies and cultures, and Muslim minorities in Europe and the U.S.

Elif Babul, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Valerie Barr

Jean E. Sammet Professor of Computer Science; Chair of Computer Science

While actively pursuing the application of software testing to artificial intelligence systems, Valerie Barr promotes the interdisciplinary application of computing through a combination of changes to computer science curricula and courses, as well as research and course collaborations with faculty from the full range of disciplines within the liberal arts. She is very active in the computer science education community and has led significant diversity efforts for the Association for Computing Machinery.

Valerie Barr

Rick Feldman

Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, Organizations and Society; Entrepreneurship Coordinator

Following a blended career of business, social action and academia, Rick Feldman continues to span and integrate the arenas of industry and regional economics, start-up and social enterprise entrepreneurship, education, and policy development in local and global arenas. His current focus is on all aspects of entrepreneurship and social enterprise development, and his current course offerings reflect this range and integration, by focusing on global and local challenges from which opportunities for solutions can emerge through innovation and entrepreneurial leadership.

Rick Feldman Visiting Lecturer, Entrepreneurship, Organizations, and Society

Sarah Frenette

Director of Early Childhood and Elementary Teacher Licensure Programs; Teacher Licensure Coordinator

Sarah Frenette is an early childhood educator, and a teacher educator. She serves as the Director of Early Childhood and Elementary Teacher Education and is the Coordinator of Teacher Licensure for Five Colleges, Inc. She takes pride in working with pre-service teachers that aspire to teach learners of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy, inclusion, curriculum design and reflective practice. Frenette is also the track chair for the Education Policy and Practice Nexus. She learns something new about teaching and learning, and about herself each day.

Photograph of Sarah Frenette

Michael D. Robinson

Professor of Economics; on leave fall 2020

As an applied econometrician, Mike Robinson uses economic analysis to answer questions about the world. The author of many articles, book chapters, and reviews, Robinson is primarily interested in labor economics. Much of his research has centered on wages and income, with a focus on the economics of discrimination.

Michael D. Robinson Chair of Complex Organizations, Chair and Professor of Economics

Steven Schmeiser

Associate Professor of Economics; on leave spring 2021

Steven Schmeiser uses game theory and microeconomic theory to study a wide variety of topics including group formation, regulation, internet advertising, consumer behavior, and corporate law. Schmeiser has published in journals such as The International Journal of Industrial Organization, The Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, and Economics Letters. At Mount Holyoke, Schmeiser teaches courses on game theory, accounting, and corporate governance.

Steven Schmeiser

Kevin Surprise

Visiting Lecturer in Environmental Studies; on leave fall 2020

Kevin Surprise’s research explores the political economy of global climate change. His recent work examines the material and discursive processes shaping solar geoengineering technology and policy in the U.S., and the implications of solar geoengineering for climate governance. Ongoing research analyzes the connections between solar geoengineering research, climate security discourse, and the U.S. military’s “command of the commons.” As a geographer interested in the ways in which politics, economy, and power intermingle with and shape environments, he teaches courses on international development, political ecology, capitalism and climate change, and environmental justice.

Sabra Thorner

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Sabra Thorner is a cultural anthropologist who has worked with Indigenous Australians for over 15 years, focusing on photography, digital media and archiving as forms of cultural production and social activism. She is broadly interested in visual/media anthropology, digital cultures, anthropology in/of museums, Indigenous Australia and Indigenous art/media worlds, intellectual property and cultural heritage regimes, ethnographic and documentary film, and art and society. She is currently working on her first monograph, on Indigenous photography in Australia, as well as a collaborative edited collection on the revitalization of Aboriginal arts in southeastern Australia.

Photo of Sabra Turner

Kenneth H. Tucker, Jr.

Helen P. Bibbero Professor of Sociology; on leave fall 2020

Kenneth Tucker’s teaching and research interests include sociological theory, historical sociology, social movements, social inequality, and contemporary media.  He is the author of five books, most recently Workers of the World Enjoy! (2010), and many articles, including The Political is Personal, Expressive, Aesthetic, and Networked: Contemporary American Languages of the Self from Trump to Black Lives Matter (2017).  His current research focuses on the creation of a distinctive upper class culture in late nineteenth century New England and an exploration of the rise and cultural significance of contemporary populism, in particular the appeal of Donald Trump.

Kenneth H. Tucker

Lan Wu

Assistant Professor of History

Lan Wu is a historian of early modern China with a focus on borderlands. She received her PhD in the History-East Asia Program from Columbia University in February 2016. Lan’s research focuses on the role of religion in imperial formation in China. Her current book project examines how marginal communities in inner Asia grew stronger, as China expanded its territory in the eighteenth century. 

Lan Wu

Ayca Zayim

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Ayca Zayim's research lies at the intersection of economic and political sociology, and the sociology of globalization and development. In particular, she studies power dynamics between global finance and central banks in emerging economies. Based on extensive field research in a global financial center, London, and two emerging economies, South Africa and Turkey, she explores how the power of finance operates in central banking under financial globalization. Her research has been supported by the Center for Engaged Scholarship, the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, and the Mellon-Wisconsin Fellowship. Her future research aims to unpack knowledge production by financiers at global brokerage firms and investment banks.

Photo of Ayca Zayim

Staff

Katie Walker

Coordinator, Nexus Program & Foundation Relations and Sponsored Research

Katie supports the Director of the Nexus Program, two faculty members in the instruction of College 211 (a post-internship course), and the Nexus track chairs. In addition, she supports several academic and curricular initiatives, including the Lynk (a curriculum-to- career initiative which includes a funded internship experience) and LEAP Symposium. Katie also provides assistance with proposal preparation, grant stewardship, database management and reporting activities for Foundation Relations and Sponsored Research.

Katie Walker