Name: Nina Emery
Title: Assistant Professor
Area of study: philosophy of physics
Research focus: Nina Emery’s research focuses on the intersection of metaphysics and the philosophy of physics. She is especially interested in the question of how and to what extent our best scientific theories, especially quantum mechanics and relativity theory, should inform our understanding of time, probability and laws of nature. She also works on the question of how and to what extent standard scientific practice relies on appeals to extra-empirical theoretical virtues such as simplicity and explanatory power. Emery’s other interests include the philosophy of language, the philosophy of religion, epistemology and applied ethics.
What drew you to your area of study: I’ve always been interested in foundational questions about what the world is like — what is the nature of time and space, what are the fundamental constituents of reality, what does it mean to say that something is a law of nature. As a result, as an undergraduate, I double-majored in physics and philosophy. But ultimately I chose to be a philosopher because it seemed to me that there was more of an opportunity to be a generalist. Although my research is in a fairly specific area — metaphysics and philosophy of physics — I get to teach material that relates to, and have colleagues who are working on, topics in ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy and more.
What appeals to you about being a professor at Mount Holyoke: The opportunity to teach such a diverse group of brilliant undergraduate students and to work on a campus with such a strong sense of community.
What are your proudest accomplishments, academic or other: I’m very proud of finding a way to balance an active research career, which includes giving talks all over the U.S. and Europe, with being a caring and invested teacher and having a family. I have a 2-year-old son and a baby girl on the way!
Favorite things about the campus and region: The outdoor activities! I love to hike, run, climb, ski and bike. Also, all the farms. I grew up on a farm in northern Connecticut and am an avid gardener.
Reading material: My favorite authors are Marilynne Robinson, Annie Dillard and David Mitchell.
Read more about Nina Emery.