October 23, 2017
Super-resolution microscopy, pre-Columbian Mesoamerican deity sculptures, site-responsive
theater, mobile and wearable computing, socioeconomic stratification in schools, amputee
gait patterns and early medieval Buddhist texts are just a few areas of expertise
brought to Skidmore this fall.
In all, 36 scholars from more than 20 disciplines (and from Canada, China, India, Israel, South Korea, Sri Lanka and the US) have joined the ranks of Skidmore's 300-strong faculty, for a student-faculty ratio of 8:1 and intimate, engaged classes of which 94% have 16 or fewer students.
One newcomer is Yubo Hou, who studied at Xiamen University in the south of China before earning a PhD at the
University of Connecticut. A biologist, she says bioinformatics has become "essential
for genomic and molecular biology research, but is also having a major impact on knowledge-based
drug design, forensic DNA analysis and agricultural biotechnology." The best part
of being at Skidmore? Besides its "friendliness and versatility," it's not having
to write her name in Chinese, which requires 27 strokes.
Ruth McAdams, who taught last year at Bogazici ("boh-AH-zee-chee") University in Istanbul, is
a scholar of 19th-century British literature, especially historical fiction, theory
of the novel, life-writing and composition. She is currently writing How the Victorians
Invented the Regency: Historicizing the Recent Past and teaching two sections of first-year
writing on the theme of gender. She holds a PhD from the University of Michigan. Also
an oboist, she's eager to "jam with other classical musicians."
Branding and advertising expert Guy Mastrion is a founder of Saratoga's Palio Communications and of Brandforming (offering design, campaign and digital work). He is Skidmore's new Harder Professor of Business Administration. His thoughts on Skidmore's "Creative Thought Matters" catchphrase? "Creativity in business is widely recognized as an asset but also widely misunderstood. It deserves more airtime, and there are many fundamental skills to be learned that will help Skidmore students no matter their career paths." Mastrion says, "Professionally, I turn emotional chaos into meaningful ideas. Personally, I turn meaningful ideas into emotional chaos, as I'm the father of two teenage girls." He earned a BFA in communications design at Parsons School of Design.
A collegiate cross-country runner and a jogger with Jordie, a dog he adopted at a
craft beer festival, Victor Guevara is passionate about "exhumed metamorphic rocks." He recently earned a PhD at Virginia
Tech and has already taken his students to the New England Intercollegiate Geological
Conference, including a weekend camping trip through the White Mountains. He says,
"A few miles off of Skidmore's campus toward Daniels Road State Forest [video], you cross a fault that juxtaposes 500-million-year-old sedimentary rocks against
1.1-billion-year-old metamorphic rock, in which you can see large garnet crystals
and flaky, shiny biotite—a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of mountain belts
For Marisol Diaz, the mountains in her hometown of El Paso, Texas, have served as her north star.
Without them, she admits that she has no sense of direction and may get lost on campusso
be on the lookout. But she's the one leading the way when it comes to social justice
in education, specifically how schools often maintain and perpetuate socioeconomic
stratification through various teaching methods and practices. Diaz earned a PhD in
curriculum and instruction from New Mexico State University and also a 2014 award
for exemplary teaching from the National Association of Multicultural Education.
More fun facts about incoming faculty:
Anthropologist Joowon Park earned a PhD at American University and researches migration, refugee settlement
and the politics of humanitarianism. A native of South Korea who spent his childhood
in Kenya, he threw the ceremonial first pitch [video] at the Korean World Series last year.
Political scientist Megan Turnbull, a Brown University PhD, shares a birthday with Fidel Castro (and her brother with
Benito Mussolini). No wonder her research and teaching focus on political conflict,
violence, development and democratization.
Madushi Raththagala confesses that she'd like to take 20-minute naps after lunch. Given that the Michigan
State University PhD is a biochemist working on understanding the structure-and-function
relationships of proteins at the molecular level, perhaps a little shut-eye is warranted?
Mary Roberts, in health and exercise sciences, says, "I'm a Canadian, and I've been told I apologize
a lot. Sorry!" One thing the PhD candidate at the Université de Montréal shouldn't
apologize for is her research focused on gait biomechanics and helping amputees.
Anthropologist Bernardo Ramirez Rios earned a PhD at Ohio State University but is a proud Chicano from California. He
specializes in sports, migration and identity. Also, "I know it's rather judgmental,"
he says, "but I do not trust people who do not like tacos. Tacos are delicious. #FACTSMATTER"
Mathematician Julie Douglas, with a PhD from the University of Michigan, has devoted her professional life to
developing statistical tools that identify genetic risk factors for medically important
traits and common diseases such as breast cancer. She has also jumped out of an airplane
twice—once with a parachute that opened and once with one that did not. May we suggest
staying on the ground?
John Diresta, who earned an MFA at Northwestern University, is particularly keen on theater for
social justice, queer theater, and 20th-century American naturalism. Plus he wants
the campus community to know that he offers reasonable prices for his homemade yogurt,
bacon and jam. "Great holiday gifts!"
Amy Oh earned a classics PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is an
expert in the literature and social history of the waning Roman Empire, especially
in the late 300s to early 400s. In grad school, she made her own social history by
playing keyboards for a Pink Floyd/John Denver cover band called Wish You Were Here
to Take Me Home, Country Roads.