Carleton Announces Faculty Promotions

The Carleton College Board of Trustees recently approved the promotion of eleven faculty members, effective September 1, 2012.

Feb. 29, 2012

The Carleton College Board of Trustees recently approved the promotion of eleven faculty members, effective September 1, 2012.

The following faculty have been promoted from associate professor to professor: Robert P. Dobrow, professor of mathematics; Deborah S. Gross, professor of chemistry; Bereket Haileab, professor of geology; Greg Hewett, professor of English; Silvia L. López, professor of Spanish; and Kimberly Smith, professor of political science and environmental studies.

Robert P. Dobrow, professor of mathematics, earned his PhD in mathematical sciences from The Johns Hopkins University and was later awarded an NSF grant to do postdoctoral work at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He earned his BSc in history and political science from the Regents External Degree program at the State University of New York (SUNY)-Albany. Dobrow joined the Carleton faculty in 2001; he teaches courses primarily in probability and statistics. Dobrow has worked to develop the statistical program at Carleton, which now offers a statistics track in the mathematics major. Dobrow’s scholarship has broadened out from his original research in stochastic processes to applications in statistics. He has involved students in two projects with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and, during a sabbatical at the Mayo Clinic, he worked with statisticians and doctors there on problems in statistical genetics and pharmacokinetics. Dobrow is active in the probability community and for many years maintained a popular internet site called The Probability Web.


Deborah S. Gross, professor of chemistry, earned her PhD in chemistry from the University of California-Berkeley in 1996, after receiving a BA in chemistry from Haverford College. She carried out research as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California-Riverside before joining the Carleton faculty in 1998. Gross teaches courses at all levels in the chemistry department; the courses all emphasize getting students engaged directly with acquiring and analyzing data in the lab or in the field. Gross’s research program, which has involved 22 undergraduate researchers and has been funded by the NSF, the EPA, the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, and the European Science Foundation, seeks the information needed to provide critical insights into the human health effects of particulate matter as well as elucidate the highly uncertain effect of these particles on global climate. This collaborative work has been carried out with researchers from a variety of universities and national laboratories in the US and Europe, and has led to numerous publications and conference presentations, many of which involve undergraduate researchers from Carleton.


Bereket Haileab, professor of geology, earned his PhD in geology from the University of Utah in 1995, MSc from the University of Utah in 1988, and BSc from the University of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in 1983. He joined the Carleton faculty in 1993. Haileab is committed to broadening access to the sciences for all students. He is noted for two specific aspects of his commitment to effective teaching: an unparalleled enthusiasm coupled with the ability and aggressiveness to inspire, motivate and include even the most uninterested of students. Haileab is a volcanologist, geochemist and petrologist by training and has worked in diverse geological studies in East Africa. His main research is studying tephra layers of Pliocene-Pleistocene deposits from East Africa and their applications towards the understanding of the stratigraphic history of the Turkana Basin where many important hominid fossils have been discovered. He is best known for his geological mapping of volcanic ashes in Northern Kenya, Southern Ethiopia, Central Ethiopia, the Middle Awash Valley and the Afar Triangle. As a geochemist, Haileab has developed a course and laboratories that analyze water chemistry.


Greg Hewitt, professor of English, earned a Doctor of Arts in English from SUNY-Albany in 1989, where he received a university-wide Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Award. In 1983 he earned a Master of Arts in English from the University of California-Davis. Hewett received his BA with honors in history and art history from SUNY-Binghamton in 1980. Prior to coming to Carleton in 1998, he taught at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, the University of Oslo (as a Fulbright professor), and Hamline University. At Carleton, Hewitt regularly teaches creative writing at all levels, as well as courses in American literature and poetry. Hewett has published four books of poetry, three of which were released since he came to Carleton. These books have won, or been finalists for, multiple awards, including the Triangle Publishing Award and the Lambda Literary Award. In addition, his second book, Red Suburb, was a Book Sense 76 Poetry pick, and his most recent book, darkacre, made the Poetry Society of America’s bestseller list. His poems have appeared in many journals, several anthologies, and twice on the Web site Poetry Daily.


Silvia L. López, professor of Spanish, earned her PhD in comparative literature with emphases in Latin American and German literatures from the University of Minnesota. Previously she earned her MA from the University of California-Santa Barbara and her BA from Santa Clara University. Born and raised in Latin America, she lived in El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Brazil before coming to the United States. She joined the Carleton faculty in 1997. At Carleton, López teaches a variety of courses that explore the modern literary and cultural worlds of Latin America, as well as Spanish language classes at all levels. López started the Spanish department’s first service-learning program in the Northfield public school district. López’s scholarship focuses on the particular expressions of cultural and literary modernity in Latin America. Her articles and book chapters have appeared internationally in Spanish, Portuguese and English. She serves on the editorial board of Mediations and of A Contracorriente and has served on executive committees of the Modern Language Association and the Latin American Studies Association.


Kimberly Smith, professor of political science and environmental studies, began her academic career by studying cultural anthropology at the University of Michigan. Drawn to fields that focus on many disciplinary perspectives, she turned to the study of law, receiving a JD from the Boalt School of Law at the University of California-Berkeley in 1991. She earned her PhD in political science from the University of Michigan in 1997, writing a dissertation that explored how the political values of the American founders were translated into democratic practices during the early years of the American republic. Smith taught at Tuskegee University for two years before coming to Carleton. At Carleton, Smith offers courses that explore the values underlying our political institutions, helping students to understand how those values shape and are shaped by our political practices and governmental structures. In 2009, she was appointed half-time to the College’s environmental studies program, which has allowed her to strike a balance between courses on constitutional law and courses in environmental studies.


The following faculty have been promoted from assistant professor to associate professor: Palmar Álvarez-Blanco, associate professor of Spanish; Devashree Gupta, associate professor of political science; Pavel S. Kapinos, associate professor of economics; Meera Sehgal, associate professor of women’s and gender studies and sociology; and Sarah J. Titus, associate professor of geology.


Palmar Álvarez-Blanco, associate professor of Spanish, earned her Licentiate in Spanish philology from the University of Valladolid in Spain, before moving to the US, where she received her MA in Spanish literature from Villanova University and her PhD from the University of Colorado-Boulder, in 2006; she joined the Carleton faculty later the same year. Álvarez-Blanco teaches at all levels of the curriculum, from introductory language classes to upper-level courses on contemporary Spanish film and literature. In her research, Álvarez-Blanco is a pioneer, charting the rich and complex territory of contemporary Spanish fiction. She has co-edited a collection of essays featuring contributions from both creative writers and scholars, co-edited a special issue of the journal Letras Hispanas on New Trends in Contemporary Peninsular Spanish Narrative, and published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals and essay collections. She is currently at work on a book manuscript entitled Paradigms of (In)stability: Nostalgic and Counter-nostalgic Narrative in the Twenty-First Century.


Devashree Gupta, associate professor of political science, earned her AB in government with honors at Georgetown University in 1996, and her MA in international relations from the University of Chicago in 2000. She received her PhD in government from Cornell University in 2008, with specialization in comparative politics and international relations. Gupta joined the Carleton faculty in 2006. In her courses, she creates rigorous and often fun opportunities for her students to master the sophisticated quantitative, qualitative, and comparative methodologies that yield the most productive insights in political science. Positioned at the crossroads of comparative politics and sociology, Gupta’s research focuses on developing a more nuanced and empirically grounded understanding of the social and political dynamics shaping nationalist movements, especially those in Northern Ireland, South Africa, and the Middle East.


Pavel S. Kapinos, associate professor of economics, graduated summa cum laude from Hanover College in 1999, and then moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he earned his MA in finance and his PhD in economics. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Wesleyan University, Kapinos joined the Carleton faculty in 2005. The central focus of his teaching is macroeconomics, with particular attention to the intermediate macroeconomic theory course required for economics majors. Kapinos's scholarly interests are centered on two issues in monetary policy: how to best set monetary policy in dynamic settings; and how to explain the so-called "price puzzle," that, counter to most standard models, higher interest rates seem to be associated with increases in inflation rather than decreases. His papers have appeared in top journals and he has also been published in well-regarded economics education journals on pedagogical tools for macroeconomics developed in part with Carleton students. Kapinos has been described as "a rare bird" at a liberal arts institution, someone who makes important contributions in answering the big questions of macroeconomics.

Meera Sehgal, associate professor of women’s and gender studies and sociology, received a BA in 1986 and an MA in 1988 in sociology from the University of Poona in India. Sehgal later attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she received the MS in 1993 and PhD in 2004 in sociology. She taught for two years at the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Women’s Studies before coming to Carleton in 2005. Sehgal’s appointment and teaching responsibilities are split between the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Sehgal’s scholarship concerns the intersection between feminism, social movements, and South Asian studies. In her publications, she has sought to make sense of how Indian women become zealous participants in violent right wing Hindu Nationalist groups. More recently, Sehgal’s work has turned toward an ethnographic study of SANGAT, the 30-year-old South Asian women’s network committed to transnational peace in response to nationalist and religious fundamentalist movements.

Sarah J. Titus, associate professor of geology, earned her BA in geology and environmental studies at Oberlin College, and her MS and PhD in geology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She joined the Carleton faculty in 2006. Titus teaches courses such as Structural Geology, Tectonics, and Geophysics. Not one to rest on her laurels, Titus sets yearly goals that have helped her master the craft of teaching and become widely recognized as a rigorous and highly effective teacher. The passion Titus brings to her teaching is also reflected in her current research on the development of student visualization skills. This is a particularly important topic in a field where mastery of spatial visualization is essential for student success. This research is paired with scholarship on the San Andreas Fault in California and other transform faults in Cyprus and Iceland. Titus has been particularly successful in producing numerous publications and her work appears in prominent venues including the Journal of Structural Geology, Geology, and Lithosphere.

For more information, contact the Carleton College Dean of the College Office at (507) 222-4303.

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