Four junior faculty members named recipients of Poorvu Innovation Award

The four Yale faculty prizewinners will receive support to dedicate the summer to research essential to their development as scholars and teachers.
Shirin Bahmanyar, Anastasia Eccles, Amaleah Hartman, and Jim Wood

From left, Shirin Bahmanyar, Anastasia Eccles, Amaleah Hartman, and Jim Wood.

Four Yale faculty members — Shirin Bahmanyar, Anastasia Eccles, Amaleah Hartman, and Jim Wood — have been named recipients of the 2022–23 Poorvu Family Fund for Academic Innovation award, an annual prize that recognizes innovative teaching.

The award, given to outstanding junior faculty members at Yale who have demonstrated excellence in teaching in undergraduate programs, enables them to dedicate the summer to research essential to their development as scholars and teachers.

The recipients, all of whom are members of Yale's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, will be honored during an event to be hosted later this semester by Yale College Dean Pericles Lewis. The Yale Poorvu Family Fund for Academic Innovation is administered by the Yale College Dean’s Office.

Shirin Bahmanyar is an associate professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology (MCDB). Her lab is interested in understanding how cells are compartmentalized by internal membranes. Her current research focuses on how the chemical composition of membrane lipid molecules determines the functions and dynamic properties of cellular compartments. She received the 2022 Women in Cell Biology Junior Award in Research Excellence for her “exceptional scientific contributions to cell biology.” She teaches two courses that reach more than 200 Yale College STEM and non-STEM students each year: an upper division “Cell Biology” course for MCDB majors and “Biology, the World and Us” for non-science majors. She incorporates graphics, props, and storytelling to enhance relatability for student engagement and to present complicated topics in an accessible, digestible, and inclusive manner.

Anastasia Eccles is an assistant professor of English who studies British 18th-century and Romantic fiction, with a particular interest in the connections between aesthetic and political experience. Her current project, Perverse Attachments: Reading Fiction Around 1800, considers how certain modes of reading — being held in suspense, feeling complicit, cringing, and longing for a different plot — shaped the formation of democratic political subjectivities in an era of mass revolution. She has also written on the reception of the novelist Laurence Sterne in Russia. She teaches courses on the literature of suspense, fiction and the emotions, theories of reading, and genres of fiction beyond the novel, among other topics.

Amaleah Hartman is a Yale Ph.D.-trained stem-cell biologist passionate about molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, as well as scientific teaching, communication, and course design. Hartman is currently a lecturer for Yale’s Foundations Biology series, which is taught to mostly first- and second-year undergraduates, many of whom identify as first-generation and/or low-income and frequently are undecided in their academic and career trajectories. While teaching full-time at Yale, Hartman has taught large lecture courses in introductory cell biology, genetics, and developmental biology with an emphasis on active learning and accessibility, with three years of experience in coordinating, planning, and designing courses. Most recently, Hartman has undertaken teaching laboratory courses in genetics and microbiology for upper-level biology majors.

Jim Wood is an associate professor of linguistics who studies syntax and its interactions with semantics and morphology, with a special emphasis on Icelandic and dialect variation in English. His work on the Icelandic language covers a wide range of phenomena, much of which revolves around issues of case marking and verb phrase structure. In 2012, he came to Yale and took on a leading role in the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project, which focuses on “syntactic microvariation” in English — tiny differences among dialects of English. In this area, he has worked and published on the syntax of numerous constructions, and he has been developing new ways of investigating, mapping, and quantitatively analyzing syntactic dialect variation. Students in his first-year seminar “Mapping the dialects of American English” went on to co-write a mapbook with him, which is available online.

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