Colby introduces 10 new faculty members this fall, each joining the Mayflower Hill community as tenure-track assistant professors. While some are experienced teachers and others have newly minted doctorate degrees, each bears exceptional credentials and strong interdisciplinary backgrounds. Together, they promise to bring world-class scholarship and fresh perspectives to the academic landscape at the College.
“These new faculty members are teacher-scholars of tremendous promise,” said Provost and Dean of Faculty Margaret T. McFadden. “We are delighted to welcome them into Colby’s extraordinary culture of teaching and learning, and we are confident that they will contribute in important ways to strengthening and expanding our curriculum, bringing new fields of study and exciting new scholarly approaches to our students.”
Ayomikum “Ayo” Adeniran (mathematics) researches graph theory and combinatorics, a field of mathematics concerned with problems of selection, arrangement, and operation within a finite or discrete system. It’s also primarily concerned with counting, both as a means and an end in obtaining results, and it has applications ranging from logic to statistical physics, from evolutionary biology to computer science. At Colby, he’ll teach courses in both graph theory and combinatorics. Adeniran hails from Nigeria and earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Texas A&M University. He has just finished a postdoctoral fellowship at Pomona College.
Kelly Brignac (history), a native New Orleanian, specializes in Atlantic history, particularly the 19th-century French Atlantic world. Her first book project studies the mechanisms French administrators used to force Africans to continue working in the plantation economy after the abolition of the slave trade and slavery from 1800 to 1850. Brignac will teach a survey course that offers an overview of the commercial, political, and human connections that stitched together societies and people across the Atlantic Ocean from 1492 to the 1890s. She previously taught at Vanderbilt University and at Harvard, where she earned her Ph.D. in history in May 2021.
Carl Cornell (French and Italian) is a scholar of modern and contemporary France. He conducts research on how French cities rework their industrial pasts and use cultural initiatives to create livable public spaces in light of climate change and deindustrialization. His research lies at the intersection of French culture studies, urban studies, and the environmental humanities. At Colby, he’ll teach a course on sustainability in/of cities across the French-speaking world from a cultural studies perspective. Cornell earned his Ph.D. in French, with a specialization in French culture and society, at Penn State in 2018. He joins Colby after teaching at Williams College.
Inga Kim Diederich (history) has research interests in Korean studies, the history of medicine, and race and nationalism studies. Her work focuses on the historical development of modern Korean ethnonationalism and its medico-scientific dimensions, specifically the role of blood in the formation of Korean national identity. She’ll teach a course introducing the history of East Asia from antiquity to the present that concentrates on the development of a broad East Asian world system; she’ll also teach the course Desiring Asia: Gender and Sexuality in East Asia. Diederich earned her Ph.D. in history, concentrating in modern Korean history, from the University of California San Diego, where she taught extensively in the history department.
Nicholas Jacobs (government) studies the American presidency and federalism. His first book, What Happened to the Vital Center, examines the partisan consequences of the administrative presidency, as it has grown since the 1960s. As a visiting assistant professor at Colby, he’s working with a team of students and runs the interstate inequality project. The initiative works to categorize several million financial transactions from the federal government each year to better understand how government spending decisions disparately target state and local governments important for the president’s partisan coalition. At Colby, Jacobs teaches courses on American political development, American political economy, and constitutional reform. He earned his Ph.D. in government from the University of Virginia.
José Martinez (music) comes to Colby from the University of Texas, Austin, where he earned his doctorate in music composition with an emphasis on electroacoustic music. He works with digital audio, sound design, and audio production; his performance combines his knowledge in percussion instruments with the computer as a whole instrument. Martinez’s creative work examines the relationship between traditional music practices from the Afro Caribbean and modern trends like experimental music, free improvisation, and the inclusion of technology. Among the courses he’ll offer are music theory through the Digital Audio Workstation and advanced classes in digital sampling and culture, live coding for performance, and digital instrument design.
Stephanie Owen (economics) studies the economics of education, aiming to understand reasons and remedies for educational inequalities along various dimensions, including gender and socioeconomic status. She will teach a course on the economics of education to introduce students to how economists think about educational choices and evaluate educational policies. She’ll also lead a senior seminar called Access, Affordability, and Equity in Higher Education, which will study disparities in educational attainment by income and race, their implications, and potential policy solutions to close gaps in educational access. Owen studied at the University of Michigan, where she earned her Ph.D. in economics and public policy.
Ekaterina Seregina (economics) is an econometrician specializing in financial econometrics, forecasting, and high-dimensional statistics. Her research exploits the recent developments in statistics and machine learning to develop theoretical, empirical, and methodological contributions to the areas of asset management, portfolio allocation, and macroeconomic forecasting. Her first course offerings at Colby will include a sequence of corporate finance courses. Seregina previously taught courses in the stock market, macroeconomics, statistics, and econometrics at the University of California Riverside, where earlier this year she received a Ph.D. in economics with a specialization in advanced econometrics.
Dyani Taff (English) examines gender, political power, and the maritime environment as represented in primarily English cultural texts from the 16th and 17th centuries. Her first book is titled Gendered Seascapes and Monarchy in Early Modern English Culture; her current project is about the afterlives of the sea monsters Scylla and Charybdis that will examine the entanglement of notions about race, gender, and monstrosity with notions about environments. At Colby, she’ll teach courses that examine the long histories of race, gender/sexuality, class, and ability-based prejudices through discussion of old plays, poems, and narrative fiction. Taff previously taught at Ithaca College and at the University of California Davis, where she earned her Ph.D. in English literature.
James Taylor (classics) researches how inhabitants of the ancient Mediterranean interpreted and responded to environmental change. His current book project investigates how the observation of geological processes led classical authors to imagine deeper timescales than those made possible by the shallow reach of recorded history and collective memory. Having previously taught at Hamilton College and Harvard, at Colby he’ll teach the course Environmental Approaches to Antiquity that discusses how ancient Greeks and Romans, despite radically different views of nature, asked many of the same questions we do today: How long can the Earth support human life? How will environmental change influence human migration? Taylor earned his Ph.D. in classical philology at Harvard in 2020.