New FAS faculty reflect diversity and excellence

Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) will welcome 35 new colleagues this academic year — a group of world-class researchers and teachers whose work is expanding the horizons of a range of fields, including African American studies, mathematics, computer science, and theater.

The cohort of new ladder faculty includes both tenured professors and newly minted Ph.Ds. Its members demonstrate Yale’s commitment to building a diverse faculty of exceptional scholars, said FAS Dean Tamar Szabó Gendler.

“One of the great joys of serving as the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences is the opportunity to identify the best scholars and recruit them to Yale, and I’m excited to welcome this diverse group of new ladder faculty,” Gendler said. “Our aim is to provide them the resources they need to both thrive in their research and inspire our undergraduates with their teaching.”

Twenty-six of the 35 new hires joined the FAS ladder faculty this fall. Five will hold visiting appointments at Yale for 2021-2022 before joining the ladder faculty, and four others will arrive in January. Twelve are tenured. The group features senior faculty in the Department of African American Studies, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, and the Program in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration — areas of growing interest among students, Gendler explained.

The new hires include a strong group of junior faculty members in the humanities, including history, English, philosophy, and Slavic languages, and enhance the university’s strength in the qualitative sciences, such as computer science, mathematics, and chemical and electrical engineering, Gendler said.

Several of the new faculty members contribute intellectual breadth to the Department of History, bringing expertise in regions throughout the globe, she said. Alvita Akiboh, assistant professor of history, studies the history of U.S. colonies in the Caribbean and Pacific. Hussein Fancy, associate professor of history, focuses on the social and intellectual history of religious interaction in the medieval Mediterranean. Hannah Shepherd, assistant professor of history, specializes in modern Japan and its colonial empire.

The new faculty bring new perspectives on age-old subjects, such as race and the environment. Jonathan Howard, assistant professor of English and African American Studies, examines western ideas about race and nature, probing their entangled influence on a modern world in ecological peril. His work blends the literary and intellectual traditions of the African diaspora with the environmental humanities.

The group also features theatrical star power. Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, professor in the practice of theater and performance studies, was a 2016 recipient of Yale’s Windham-Campbell Literature Prize for Drama and a MacArthur Fellowship. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his plays “Gloria” and “Everybody” in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

Scholars of music and art have joined the faculty. Braxton Shelley, a musicologist who specializes in African American popular music, is a tenured associate professor in the Department of Music, the Institute of Sacred Music, and the Divinity School. Morgan Ng, assistant professor of the history of art, uncovers lost connections among architecture, visual culture, craft, and the technical arts, focusing on Renaissance Italy, but drawing links to Northern Europe and the wider world.

Among new faculty in the social sciences, Julia Leonard, assistant professor of psychology, studies the cognitive, neural, and computational representations underlying children’s learning and motivation.

Three new hires in mathematics include Lu Wang, a professor of mathematics and a geometric analyst specifically interested in geometric flows and their applications.

Charalampos Papamanthou, associate professor of computer science, is one of three new hires in the Department of Computer Science. His work centers on applied cryptography and computer security with a special focus on technologies, systems, and theory for secure and private cloud computing.

The new FAS faculty showcase Yale’s commitment to recruit and retain a diverse and excellent faculty, Gendler said. In December 2019, President Peter Salovey approved a five-year renewal of the university’s Faculty Excellence and Diversity Initiative (FEDI), which was launched in 2015, increasing the program’s budget by 70%, from $50 million to $85 million.

“Our investment in recruiting an excellent and diverse FAS faculty is paying off,” Gendler said. “These new ladder faculty members not only reflect excellence across a broad range of disciplines, they feature the diversity of perspectives and experiences necessary to sustain a rich and vibrant academic community.”

 

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