Prizes honor outstanding junior faculty

Yale College Dean Mary Miller will host a dinner on Dec. 11 to honor the recipients of three annual awards for outstanding junior faculty: the Arthur Greer Memorial Prize, the Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Prize, and the Poorvu Family Award. Each prize carries an award of funding to support further research.

The names of the recipients and their prize citations follow.

Arthur Greer Memorial Prize

The Arthur Greer Memorial Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Publication or Research is awarded to a junior faculty member in the natural or social sciences.

Rene Almeling is an assistant professor in her third year in the Department of Sociology. Her research interests lie at the intersection of gender, medicine, and markets. She uses a range of qualitative, quantitative, and comparative/historical methods to examine questions about how gendered norms influence the value of bodily goods and bodily processes, how medical knowledge and technology shapes embodied experiences, and how the medical profession wields its cultural and regulatory power in these arenas.

Mary-Louise Timmermans, an assistant professor now in her fifth year in the Department of Geology & Geophysics, focuses on studies and mentoring that concern one of the biggest gaps in the climate sciences: the dynamics, circulation, and ultimate fate of the Arctic Ocean. Our knowledge of the Arctic’s role in climate change is remarkably poorly understood, which makes Timmermans’ work all the more fundamental to climate change research. The questions she asks about the age, history, and climate implications of the deep Arctic Ocean are some of the most fundamental and yet still enigmatic in the climate sciences. Through her research, she has discovered that the stratified deep waters of the Arctic Ocean preserve a record of ancient ocean properties including salinity and oxygen content extending back centuries — a unique record unmatched by other climate proxies. She will use measurements of the Arctic Ocean today to deduce past stratification; this will be a major advance in global climate change studies.

Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Publication

The Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Publication or Research is conferred upon outstanding junior faculty members in the humanities.

Fabian Drixler, an assistant professor in the Department of History, has been recognized in large part for his recently published book: “Mabiki: Infanticide and Population Growth in Eastern Japan, 1660-1950.” The book represents a genuinely bold and exciting intervention, which transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries and shows how much can be gained from thoroughly integrating quantitative methods with those of cultural and social history. He is an extremely talented young scholar, whose work blends some of the best aspects of the social sciences and the humanities

Catherine Nicholson, an assistant professor in the English Department, was recognized in honor of her book “Uncommon Tongues: Eloquence and Eccentricity in the English Renaissance,” which sharply revises the belief, central to much Renaissance literary scholarship, that eloquence conjures community. “Eloquence is no one’s native tongue,” she states in her book — a theory she explores using the various areas of English humanism and its relationship to the classical past. Nicholson is drawn to 16th-century literature because of its self-consciousness and the strangeness of its ambitions, and she continues to share that fascination with the students in her Renaissance English literature courses.

Paul Grimstad, an assistant professor in the English Department, recently published “Experience and Experimental Writing: Literary Pragmatism from Emerson to the Jameses.” The book claims that “American philosophers Charles Peirce, William James and John Dewey arrived at their separate accounts of experience through a belated formalizing of compositional methods already at work in Emerson’s Journals and Essays, Poe’s invention of the detective story, Melville’s novels ‘Moby-Dick’ and ‘Pierre,’ and Henry James’s late style.” To support his claim, Grimstad pulls from a variety of sources, such as poems, novels, private journals, personal correspondence, reviews, essays, anecdotes, and manuscripts. Ultimately, Grimstad has written a book that engages with literary criticism, cultural history, and philosophy, offering new insights and prompting deep discussions.

Zareena Grewal is an assistant professor of American studies, religious studies, and ethnicity, race, & migration. Grewal’s rich and riveting book “Islam is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority” is currently in press, slated for publication this December with New York University Press. The heart of Grewal’s book is the extensive fieldwork that she conducted on global networks of Islamic pedagogy in Cairo, Amman, and Damascus. Along with her articles and documentary film, this groundbreaking book positions Grewal as a leading scholar of Muslim America and the imagined communities of global Islam.

Poorvu Family Award for Interdisciplinary Teaching

The Poorvu Family Award for Interdisciplinary Teaching was established to recognize and enhance Yale's strength in interdisciplinary teaching. It provides the means for distinguished junior faculty in interdisciplinary fields to conduct essential summer research.

Marcus Hunter is an assistant professor in sociology, holds a courtesy appointment in African American studies, and is also a faculty affiliate of women, gender and sexuality studies and LGBT studies at Yale University. His first published book, “Black Citymakers: How the Philadelphia Negro Changed Urban America,” revisits the Black Seventh Ward neighborhood immortalized in W.E.B. DuBois’ “The Philadelphia Negro” and follows the transformation of the neighborhood from predominantly black at the beginning of the 20th century into a largely white upper-middle-class and commercial neighborhood. His course “Intersectional City: Identity and Inequality in Urban America” poses questions related to inequality, crime, gender, sexuality, education, homelessness, and redevelopment, and through the class discourse encourages students to consider each issue through a multitude of perspectives.

Crystal Feimster, assistant professor of African American studies and American studies, goes above and beyond the usual course framework and relies on a remarkable range of fields, readings, methods, and modes of learning and analysis. Her course on “Interdisciplinary Approaches to African American Studies” uses critical race theory as a starting point to consider social science and the humanities, and the intersections between them, having students read materials from sociology, philosophy, history, literature, and law. In her freshman seminar, “Twentieth-Century African American Freedom Movements,” students visit the Beinecke Library and beyond; in 2011 the entire class, accompanied by Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry, took an overnight field trip to explore the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. The most common words in the glowing student evaluations she receives are “challenge” and “change.” One student went so far as to say that Feimster “gave me a vocabulary to talk about race,” and another that her teaching “gives you a very fundamental and powerful understanding of what really drives change and social movement.”

Molly Brunson, now in her fifth year as an assistant professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, specializes in 19th-century Russian prose fiction, with additional expertise in Russian art, especially 19th-century realist painting. Although her degree from Berkeley is in Slavic languages and literatures, she is also a thoroughly trained art historian. As a result of her dual interests, interdisciplinary teaching that links literature and visual culture has been an integral part of all of the undergraduate courses she has taught at Yale. For example, her “Literature and Painting in the Age of Tolstoy” course was a Freshman Seminar offered in fall 2009 that featured frequent visits to the collections at the Yale University Art Gallery and Yale Center for British Art. Brunson’s courses are thoughtfully and rigorously designed, in addition to being highly innovative. She not only works with materials from different disciplines, but also has the students engage the methodological and theoretical issues inherent in interdisciplinary studies.