Four faculty members honored for teaching and scholarship

In what has become a signature College tradition, four Mount Holyoke faculty members were honored for their scholarship and teaching at a March 2 ceremony.

In what has become a signature College tradition, four Mount Holyoke faculty members were honored for their scholarship and teaching at a March 2 ceremony. Receiving Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Awards for Scholarship were Katie Berry, associate professor of biochemistry, and Iyko Day, Elizabeth C. Small Professor of English and chair of both critical social thought and English. Renae Brodie, professor of biological sciences, and Karen Remmler, Mary Lyon Professor of Humanities and chair of German studies, received Mount Holyoke College Faculty Awards for Teaching.

The recipients received citations, presented by Interim President Beverly Tatum and Provost Lisa Sullivan, and delivered remarks.

Discussing Berry’s research, which explores RNA-protein interactions in bacteria, Sullivan said, “What sets her apart from her peers is her extraordinary ability to mentor undergraduate students in research. She has approached the mission of ‘research-as-teaching’ with thoughtful intentionality.”

“I’ve always done my best work when designing projects for undergraduate students to participate in — projects that fall in the center of the Venn diagram for ‘genuinely interesting to me’ and ‘tractable for undergraduate hands,’” Berry said in her remarks. “We would not have covered nearly as much ground without the curiosity and dedication of the 29 students who have come through my lab since I started here.”

Tatum noted Brodie’s success as both scholar and teacher, focusing in part on Brodie’s work on “developing a class on race and biology that explores the intersection of race and biological research from 1500 to today in Europe and the U.S.”

“Students find this course ‘eye-opening,’” Tatum said.

Brodie, an ecological physiologist, also touched on this work: “Biologists can help with this apparent conundrum (of what race is) by explaining how the diversity we see today came to be. The evidence for this story comes from fossils, art, tools, our genome and the exciting new field of paleogenomics. I recognize that our story is not the only one, but it is an essential update to harmful versions we have told in the past.”

Sullivan pointed to Day’s scholarly depth and breadth. “She has — in the last two years alone — published some seven articles in journals, edited volumes and magazines, appeared on three podcasts and television shows, edited two book series, served as an invited speaker no less than 10 times and begun two books.”

Day, whose focus includes Marxism and racial capitalism, colonialism and nuclear antipolitics, pointed to Marx in her comments.

“His emphasis on relation guides so much of my thinking about how race is a social relation, Indigeneity is a social relation, gender is a social relation and how class is a social relation,” she said. “In our current moment, we have seen all evidence that global systems of empire, militarism and capitalism are deeply anti-relational and anti-life; they are accountable only to abstract notions of value and profit.”

“Karen Remmler is rigorously attentive to each element of what makes a complete and accessible classroom experience. There is no bottom to her energy and drive to support our students,” Tatum said of the scholar whose work has focused largely on transnational memory in the aftermath of atrocity and war in European contexts.

Reflecting on 33 years at Mount Holyoke, Remmler said, “I love the liberal arts, and I love teaching students to help them find their voice, struggle with complex analyses and see themselves being part of a globally intertwined world in which they develop tools and have options they didn’t dream of before they entered Mount Holyoke.”

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