These assistant professors have received tenure and been promoted to associate professor: Denise Bruesewitz, environmental studies; Tasha Dunn, geology; Daniel LaFave, economics; Elizabeth McGrath, physics and astronomy; Ronald Peck, biology; Sonja Thomas, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; and Natalie Zelensky; music.
Receiving a promotion to full professor are María Dolores Bollo-Panadero, Spanish; Adrian Blevins, creative writing; Kerill O’Neill, classics; Joe Reisert, government; and Tanya Sheehan, art.
Denise Bruesewitz—Environmental Studies
Denise Bruesewitz is an aquatic ecologist who focuses on nitrogen cycling and its role in fresh and coastal waters. She has developed novel methods for analyzing these cycles, and her research has broad implications—for lakes, rivers, and oceans. Bruesewitz came to Colby in 2012 after earning a Ph.D. in biology at the University of Notre Dame and a B.S. in biology from Winona State University in Minnesota.
Tasha Dunn has been the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Geology since she arrived at Colby in 2014. Her specialty is in understanding the connections between asteroids and meteorites, and in her work, she has resolved a controversial question about the origins of a particular set of meteorites. Dunn received her Ph.D. in geology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and her B.S. in geology from Tulane University.
Daniel LaFave, a development economist, is a well-known and authoritative voice in his field whose work is taught in top graduate economics programs. He received wide acclaim for upending a set of assumptions that had structured much of the work in the field and for proposing an alternative model now widely accepted. Before arriving at Colby in 2012, LaFave earned a certificate in college teaching, thus bringing expertise in best pedagogical practices to Colby. He completed his Ph.D. in economics at Duke University and his B.A in international studies at Boston College.
Elizabeth McGrath—Physics and Astronomy
Elizabeth McGrath was named Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy when she came to Colby in 2012. As an astronomer who studies galaxy formation and evolution, she has analyzed large data sets from the Hubble Space Telescope, and she is part of a team slated to conduct research using the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. She studied at the University of Hawaii, where she earned her Ph.D. in astronomy, and at Vassar College, where she received a B.A. in physics and astronomy.
Ronald Peck, a microbiologist, brought six years of teaching experience, at Lawrence University, and five years of postdoctoral research, at the University of Wisconsin, when he joined Colby’s faculty in 2012. He studies microbes and how they respond to environmental stress, and two of the three papers he published in the top-tier journal in his field were based on entirely new work he’s done at Colby. He received his Ph.D. in biomolecular chemistry from Wisconsin and a B.S. in biology from Linfield College.
Sonja Thomas—Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Sonja Thomas has three primary lines of scholarship: gender and religion in India; a study of the South Asian diaspora into rural America, focusing on Indian priests in Montana; and an exploration of the nature of women’s studies as a field. Thomas has earned three degrees: a Ph.D. in women’s and gender studies from Rutgers University; an M.A. in interdisciplinary humanities from New York University; and a B.A. in English literature from the University of Minnesota.
Natalie Zelensky is an ethnomusicologist, joining Colby’s faculty in 2012 and continuing her research on the popular musical cultures of the Russian diaspora in the United States. She makes original and compelling arguments regarding how immigrants use music to sustain or reconstruct cultural identities in the U.S. Zelensky earned her Ph.D. in music studies, her M.M. in musicology, and her B.M. in piano performance, all from Northwestern University.