New Faculty—2012-2013

Avidit Acharya

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Assistant Professor of Political Science

Avidit (Avi) Acharya is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Rochester. Avi completed his PhD in political economy at Princeton University, where he was a Fellow of the Society of Woodrow Wilson Scholars. His research applies game theory to questions in international relations and comparative politics, especially issues in the political economy of development. He has also written on South Asian politics and the measurement of poverty. At Rochester, Avi will teach courses in comparative political economy at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Matthew Blackwell

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Assistant Professor of Political Science

Matthew Blackwell is a political scientist whose work focuses on political methodology and American politics. His research develops approaches to estimating causal inferences in dynamic political situations. In previous work, he has applied these techniques to U.S. statewide campaigns to investigate the effectiveness of negative advertising as a campaign strategy. His work also investigates whether and when there are distinct shifts in campaign contributions over the course of an election season and what types of events lead to these game-changers. Matthew earned his BA from the University of California at Los Angeles in 2005 and his PhD from Harvard University in 2012.

Kristin Doughty

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Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Kristin Doughty earned her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011. She joins the University of Rochester’s Department of Anthropology as well as the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies. Her research is driven by an interest in understanding how people rebuild their social lives in the wake of political violence against a backdrop of national and international reconstruction efforts, with a focus in Africa. Specifically, she is interested in how the emerging global preoccupation with law and human rights as universalizing frameworks for post-conflict reconciliation shapes people’s own efforts to rebuild their lives. Her current work examines the intersection of law, rights, and collective belonging in post-genocide Rwanda. She spent a year working with grassroots genocide courts in Rwanda, called gacaca courts, in which suspects from the 1994 genocide were tried among their neighbors before locally elected judges. Her research has also led her to work with Rwandan mediation committees, a legal aid clinic, and at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. Her dissertation work was funded by the Fulbright Foundation, National Science Foundation, and Wenner-Gren Foundation. Having worked with peace-building and humanitarian workers prior to graduate studies, she brings a focus on applied as well as theoretical concerns to her research questions.

Joshua Dubler

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Assistant Professor of Religion

Josh Dubler earned his PhD in religion from Princeton University, where he specialized in religion in America. His dissertation, written with the support of a prestigious Whiting Fellowship, was an ethnographic study of religious life in a maximum security prison in Pennsylvania. Josh analyzed the ways in which religion is defined and practiced within the confines of a prison not only to give a description of the activities in the chapel, but also to raise larger questions about how religion is defined (for example, by legal and political authorities) and about how it contributes to the formation of various social identities. Josh then went to Columbia University as a multiyear member of the Society of Fellows in the Humanities. During this time he drew on his dissertation to write an important book, The Chapel, about a week in the prison chapel, to be published next spring by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Josh has particular expertise in African- American religions and in Islam in America. His next projects include research on the parallel history of two new religious groups that emerged in prisons in 1970, the New World of Islam and the Church of the New Song, as well as research on the conceptualization of guilt in recent American life. As part of the latter project, he is teaching a new course this semester on guilt as revealed in the films of Alfred Hitchcock. We are delighted to have Josh join our department as assistant professor of religion.

Sina Ghaemmaghami

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Assistant Professor of Biology

Sina Ghaemmaghami is an assistant professor of biology at the University of Rochester. Sina obtained his bachelor’s degree from McMaster University in Canada and his PhD in biochemistry from Duke University. Prior to coming to Rochester, Sina held positions as a postdoctoral fellow and adjunct assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco. Sina’s research seeks to understand the balance between protein expression, folding, and degradation within cells and how this homeostasis is affected by disease. A central focus of Sina’s research are prion diseases—a group of neurodegenerative disorders in mammals, which include Creutzfeldt- Jakob disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease).

Aaron Hughes

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Professor of Religion

Aaron Hughes has been appointed professor of religion. He earned his PhD in religion at Indiana University in 2000. Aaron’s research interests are wide ranging, but he works primarily on Jewish and Islamic philosophy in the medieval and early modern periods. His most recent books are Abrahamic Religions: On the Uses and Abuses of History (Oxford University Press) and Muslim Identities: An Introduction (Columbia University Press), both to appear in 2013. Previous books include Theorizing Islam (2012), The Invention of Jewish Identity (2010), The Art of Dialogue in Jewish Philosophy (2008), Situating Islam (2007), Jewish Philosophy, A–Z (2005), and The Texture of the Divine: Imagination in Medieval Islamic and Jewish Thought (2004). Aaron is also the editor or coeditor of five volumes. He was recently named editor of the journal Method and Theory in the Study of Religion. Aaron will introduce new courses to our curriculum on Jewish Mysticism and The Invention of Modern Judaism. He was the Gordon and Gretchen Gross Professor of Jewish Studies and associate director of the Institute of Jewish Thought and Heritage at SUNY University at Buffalo. Prior to moving to Buffalo, Aaron was professor of religion at the University of Calgary.

Jeremy Jamieson

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Assistant Professor of Psychology

Jeremy Jamieson joins the faculty of the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences following a postdoctoral fellowship in psychophysiology at Harvard University. Jeremy received his BA in psychology from Colby College in 2004 and completed his PhD in social psychology at Northeastern University in 2009. To better understand how social stress impacts our lives, Jeremy’s research examines the biological and psychological forces that impact cognition and affect. He is especially interested in using physiological indices of bodily and mental states to delve into the mechanisms underlying attention, motivation, and emotion regulation. To date, his research has followed three primary lines of inquiry: (1) studying how cognitive appraisals of arousal impact cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses to acute stress, (2) examining how physiological responses to social stress impact risk decisions across the lifespan, and (3) identifying low-level motivational mechanisms underlying the effects of stereotype threat on test performance. As a native Bostonian, Jeremy is an avid sports fan. In addition to following his favorite teams, he enjoys playing hockey and football in his spare time.

John Kessler

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Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences

John Kessler is associate professor in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department. John is a chemical oceanographer who focuses on isotope biogeochemistry to elucidate methane dynamics within the oceanic system as well as across other earth systems. He is driven to conduct this research by a desire to quantify feedbacks associated with global climate change. The oceanic methane system is not only the largest global methane reservoir but also one of the largest global carbon reservoirs. In addition, the oceanic methane system is a dynamic, metastable, and relatively unexplored reservoir that has the potential for large and explosive feedbacks with climate due to the potency of methane as a greenhouse gas. His research strives to quantify sources, sinks, and fluxes of oceanic methane using analytical chemistry measurements with particular emphasis on stable and radiocarbon isotopes. John received his BS in chemistry and mathematics from Gettysburg College. He went on to get his MS and PhD in earth system science from the University of California–Irvine. He has worked previously for the National Institute of Standards and Technology as a research chemist and Princeton University as a postdoctoral research associate. John is coming from Texas A&M University, where he was an assistant professor who spent significant time researching the fate of released hydrocarbons (with particular emphasis on methane) from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Evelyne Leblanc-Roberge

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Assistant Professor of Studio Arts

Evelyne Leblanc-Roberge received her BFA with honors majoring in photography from Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, completing the last semester of her bachelor’s at City University of Hong Kong, China. She had artist residencies at the Red Gate Gallery in Beijing, China, and at the Queen Street Digital Art Studios in Belfast, United Kingdom. In 2011, she completed an MFA in electronic integrated arts from the School of Art and Design at Alfred University, Alfred, N.Y., where she also taught photography.

Evelyne’s work is a study of the physical structures we live in, focusing on the ways we perceive these structures. Spaces and people of her surroundings are inspiring scenarios that she portrays with photography, video, and sound from which she composes animated collages and sitespecific installations. She is interested in the gaps between moving and still imagery. She uses trompe l’oeil techniques as a method for destabilizing vision and making viewers conscious of their vision as an activity where the whole body is involved. The complex simplicity of some of her installations informs a particular sense of humor and an awareness of the absurd. Hovering in the finite border between the real and the fictional, theatrical and mundane, spontaneous and directed, her work offers an alternative view of the world/space we live in, made up of associative readings and imaginative constructions of meaning. Her work has been exhibited and published in Austria, Canada, China, Ireland, Spain, and the United States.

Dan Lu

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Assistant Professor of Economics

Dan Lu joins Rochester as an assistant professor of economics. Dan received her PhD in economics from the University of Chicago and subsequently spent one year as a visiting scholar at Princeton University. Dan’s expertise lies in the field of international economics. Her research focuses on understanding the choices firms make regarding their location decisions, production decisions, and exports abroad. Her work incorporates the heterogeneity of producer type, providing insights into issues of resource allocation, inequality, and regional growth and development within a country. Her research contributes to our understanding of the impacts of globalization on world economies. Dan will be teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses at Rochester.

Alison Peterman

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Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Alison Peterman received her PhD in philosophy from Northwestern University and her MS in physics from the University of Maryland. Her area of specialization is early modern natural philosophy, but she is also interested in philosophy of science and philosophy of physics, and in the history of philosophy more broadly construed. Alison is currently working on a study of Baruch Spinoza’s physics. The 17th century was an exciting period in the development of physics, and while Spinoza has always been a dominant figure in studies of the metaphysics and ethics of the period, the interest and importance of his responses to questions about the nature of matter, motion, force, and physical causation have been less appreciated than those of his contemporaries like Descartes and Leibniz. Alison is trying to fix this by reconstructing and explaining the importance of Spinoza’s views in a way that she hopes will be also be interesting in light of more recent developments in physics and the philosophy of physics. In her free time, Alison likes to travel, cook, play tennis, and ride her bike around Rochester.

Maya Sen

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Assistant Professor of Political Science

Maya Sen joins the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science. Her research interests include statistical methods, law, and race and ethnic politics, and she is currently at work looking at the relationship between race and ethnicity and judicial decision making in the federal courts. In June 2010, she and Jennifer Hochschild were awarded a grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study the relationship between genetics, race, and public policy. Maya received her PhD in 2012 from Harvard University. She also holds an AM in statistics from Harvard and a JD from Stanford Law School. Prior to beginning her graduate career, Maya completed a federal judicial clerkship on the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Brett Sherman

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Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Brett Sherman specializes in philosophy of language, logic, and epistemology. He is interested in the connections between the concepts of meaning, representation, and truth. Specifically, he is working on the construction of theoretical frameworks in which questions about certain kinds of nonrepresentational linguistic meaning can be pursued. He is also developing a theory of knowledge, according to which knowledge is closely interrelated with a certain kind of trust. He received a PhD in philosophy from Princeton University and an AB from Harvard College. He previously held visiting positions in the philosophy departments at the University of Rochester and Brandeis University. He’s very excited to return.

Xi-Cheng Zhang

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M. Parker Givens Professor and Director, Institute of Optics

Xi-Cheng Zhang joined the Institute of Optics on January 1, 2012. Prior to Rochester, he spent 20 years at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he was professor and acting head of the department of physics, applied physics, and astronomy; professor in the department of electrical, computer, and systems engineering; and founding director of the Center for THz Research. He is cofounder of Zomega Terahertz Corp. Graduating from Peking University in 1982, he earned his PhD in physics from Brown University in 1986. A prolific author and speaker, Professor Zhang holds 27 U.S. patents; has published 23 books and book chapters; authored and coauthored more than 300 reviewed scientific papers; and delivered more than 400 colloquia, seminars, and invited conference presentations. Professor Zhang is an internationally recognized scientist and leader in Terahertz science and technology. With a frequency of more than a trillion cycles per second, THz signals occupy an extremely large portion of the electromagnetic spectrum between the infrared and microwave bands. His contribution to the development of terahertz time-domain spectroscopy, together with other leading researchers, has recently altered this scientifically and technologically important but historically inaccessible spectroscopic region. Fundamental research on THz waves has the potential to trigger advances, including nondestructive testing, homeland security, and biomedical applications. Professor Zhang’s vision reflects the Meliora focus as he works with the Institute of Optics to continue and augment its reputation as a jewel in the crown of the University.