Meet 10 of our new Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences faculty as they talk about choosing their respective fields and what they are working on at Boston College this year.


 

Benedetta Flebus

Benedetta Flebus

Assistant Professor, Physics

Ph.D.
Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Where did you grow up?
A small country town (200 people!) in Northern Italy, close to the Slovenian border.

What's your favorite pastime?
I love yoga and watching documentaries.

What made you decide to go into your field?
Of the subjects I enjoyed in high school, I realized I could only understand physics through more formal study.

Of what work or publication are you most proud?
My first paper, on spin superfluidity in magnetic systems.

What will you work on this year?
Topological effects and twistronics in newly discovered two-dimensional magnetic materials.


 

Michael Glass

Michael Glass

Assistant Professor, History 

Ph.D.
Princeton University 

Where did you grow up?
Colorado Springs, Colorado 

What's your favorite pastime?
For most of my life, I’ve been consumed with soccer. Currently, playing with my infant daughter and reading magazine essays occupy my time. 

What made you decide to go into your field?
While teaching high school, I became interested in the roots of educational inequality. My approach to studying these issues as a historian uses storytelling as a form of argument.

Of what work or publication are you most proud?
I have an article coming out next year tracing how local governments grew dependent on municipal bonds to fund their operations, which has become especially relevant in light of the current economic crisis. 

What will you work on this year?
I will be writing a book that examines the long history of racial segregation and educational inequality by comparing different suburbs on Long Island during the decades after World War II. 


 

Alyssa Goldman

Alyssa Goldman

Assistant Professor, Sociology

Ph.D.
Cornell University

Where did you grow up?
Newton, Massachusetts

What's your favorite pastime?
Spending time with family and seeing the world through the eyes of my kids. And running when I have time.

What made you decide to go into your field?
Before graduate school, I wanted to better understand how and why our social relationships shape health. I was amazed at how the social world profoundly influenced nearly every aspect of individual well-being.

Of what work or publication are you most proud?
A recent publication on parent-child relationships and older adults’ health. Writing and revising this paper was challenging and pushed me to develop many skills that I will utilize in the future.

What will you work on this year?
I will be expanding on research projects from my dissertation that examine how personal social networks intersect with various dimensions of social inequality.


 

Siddhartan Govindasamy

Siddhartan Govindasamy

Professor, Engineering

Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Where did you grow up?
Penang, Malaysia

What's your favorite pastime?
Spending time with family and friends.

What made you decide to go into your field?
As a child of schoolteachers, I was exposed to the power of education at an early age, and it propelled me into academia. Wireless communications drew me as a means for engineering and technology to improve people’s ability to connect with each other.

Of what work or publication are you most proud?
I am most proud of my engineering publications that have resulted from collaborations with undergraduate students.

What will you work on this year?
I will be helping to establish the new Human-Centered Engineering program at Boston College.


 

Kevin Lotery

Kevin Lotery

Assistant Professor, Art History

Ph.D.
Harvard University

Where did you grow up?
Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, CA

What's your favorite pastime?
Hanging out with my cat, Bunny. After two years with her, I’m beginning to understand what artist Carolee Schneemann meant about learning from the nonhuman rhythms, ways of looking, and creativeness of her cats.

What made you decide to go into your field?
In college, my art history teacher and mentor encouraged me to write about the interplay between the work of mourning and the production of art. This is still at the core of what I do.

Of what work or publication are you most proud?
My recently published book, The Long Front of Culture: The Independent Group and Exhibition Design, which theorizes the medium of exhibition making from the standpoint of an unruly assortment of young British artists, architects, and writers in 1950s London. 

What will you work on this year?
I’m in the early stages of work on cross-disciplinary, utopian tendencies in Jewish diasporic art, film, and literature after World War II.

 

Karin Alina Nisenbaum

Karin Alina Nisenbaum

Assistant Professor, Philosophy

Ph.D.
University of Toronto

Where did you grow up?
Mexico City, Mexico

What's your favorite pastime?
Dancing salsa, long bike rides, and cooking meals for friends.

What made you decide to go into your field?
There is so much to say in response to this question, so I’ll just share one of my favorite quotes, by Bertrand Russell: “The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.”

Of what work or publication are you most proud?
My recent book, For the Love of Metaphysics: Nihilism and the Conflict of Reason from Kant to Rosenzweig

What will you work on this year?
I am working on a new project about post-Kantian moral perfectionism.


 

Renée Laurel Pastel

Renée Laurel Pastel

Assistant Professor, Communication

Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley

Where did you grow up?
Buffalo, NY and Newton, MA

What's your favorite pastime?
Watching far too much television, sketching, and writing and making short films.

What made you decide to go into your field?
I came to film and media studies from an interest in acting, but realized that I loved trying to understand how contemporary visual culture is informed by and understood in a historical view.

Of what work or publication are you most proud?
My doctoral dissertation, “War in Pieces: Narrative Figures Across Media in the ‘War on Terror,’” which represented years of extensive research.

What will you work on this year?
Revising my dissertation into a book and publishing a few articles, including one drawn from the dissertation.


 

Christy Lee Pottroff

Christy Lee Pottroff

Assistant Professor, English

Ph.D.
Fordham University

Where did you grow up?
Horton, Kansas

What's your favorite pastime?
I love making things. After a day of writing and reading, there’s nothing more satisfying than weaving a rug, binding a book, or cooking an elaborate meal. 

What made you decide to go into your field?
Reading and recovering old stories helps me learn how to live as a better and more empathic person in the present. 

Of what work or publication are you most proud?
The article I’m revising now on the intertwined publication histories of Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and the third edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.

What will you work on this year?
My book, Citizen Technologies: The U.S. Post Office and the Transformation of American Literature, which shows how the post office helped to invent early American literature.


 

Jean-Baptiste Tristan

Jean-Baptiste Tristan

Associate Professor, Computer Science

Ph.D.
University of Paris

Where did you grow up?
Paris, France

What's your favorite pastime?
Learning about pure mathematics and ancient civilizations. 

What made you decide to go into your field?
Two books inspired me in high school: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter and Logique, informatique, et paradoxes by Jean-Paul Delahaye.

Of what work or publication are you most proud?
I am most proud of a recent publication that I co-authored, “Unlocking Fairness: A Trade-off Revisited.”

What will you work on this year?
I plan on designing better tools to help data scientists understand their data, and also hope to further explore how group theory can help design better machine learning algorithms.


 

Huiqing (Jane) Zhou

Huiqing (Jane) Zhou

Assistant Professor, Chemistry

Ph.D.
Duke University 

Where did you grow up?
Shandong Province, China

What's your favorite pastime?
I love swimming and playing board games.

What made you decide to go into your field?
An introductory biology course in high school on Mendelian genetics, and a college biochemistry class on telomeres.

Of what work or publication are you most proud?
Two papers from my doctoral and postdoctoral research on DNA and RNA: the first on why DNA could be chosen as genetic material and the second on how chemically modified RNA participates in biological processes and diseases.

What will you work on this year?
I will be working on the newly developed chemical biology platform to better understand the biochemistry of epitranscriptomics and its implications in disease formation and therapeutics.