President David A. Greene, in consultation with the Committee on Promotion and Tenure and Provost and Dean of Faculty Margaret McFadden, and the approval of the Board of Trustees, has awarded tenure to six faculty members based on their distinguished scholarship, capabilities as teachers and mentors, and dedicated service to the College and the community.
These assistant professors have received tenure and been promoted to associate professor: Megan Cook, English; Christel Kesler, sociology; Dale Kocevski, physics and astronomy; Damon Mayrl, sociology; Loren McClenachan, environmental studies; and Gianluca Rizzo, Italian studies.
“These exceptional faculty members are all terrific teachers, influential scholars, and active and generous participants in the Colby community,” said McFadden. “They have accomplished so much, and I am absolutely delighted that they are joining the senior faculty.”
Megan Cook is an internationally respected scholar of medieval English literature whose work is seen as innovative, original, and based on meticulous archival research. She has amassed an exemplary record of scholarship in medieval studies that includes publication of a monograph on the history of the reception of Chaucer’s work in the top academic press in her field and six scholarly articles in top-tier journals. Her work has been supported by major grants such as a $1-million grant from the Mellon Foundation to establish, along with collaborators, an entirely new Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography. She has also been contracted by Cambridge University Press to produce a new edition of Chaucer’s The Legend of Good Women, a high-profile assignment typically given to more senior scholars. Cook earned a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in English and American literature from New York University, and a B.A. in English and political science from the University of Michigan.
Sociologist Christel Kesler studies socioeconomic inequality, international migration, and social policy, all central areas of research in sociology. Her work is particularly concerned with the complicated relationships between migration and inequality, and with the ways those relationships are influenced by social policy choices. Kesler, who came to Colby after teaching for six years at Barnard College, is respected around the world as a quantitative sociologist who can explain how inequality is structured for immigrants across Europe in ways that are timely, relevant, and have had a great impact on the field. She has published 11 peer-reviewed articles in highly ranked journals, and her work is widely cited by leading scholars. Kesler holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley and a B.A. in German and sociology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Dale Kocevski is an astronomer who studies the relationship between supermassive black holes and galaxy formation. His research on galaxy formation and growth has made significant contributions to his field and persuasively challenged long-standing conventional wisdom. Of the 167 papers he has coauthored, he has been the lead on 35 of them—all published in one of the top three astronomy journals. Highly collaborative, he has worked on scholarly teams studying data from the Hubble Space Telescope, and he has been central to building the new CEERS collaboration, which will use the James Webb Space Telescope. Kocevski wins competitive observing time on important telescopes and, since arriving at Colby in 2014, has been awarded observing grants that total more than $1.6 million, of which more than $300,000 has come to Colby. His M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in astronomy were awarded from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and his B.S. in physics and astronomy came from at the University of Michigan.
Damon Mayrl is a sociologist of culture, religion, and politics, widely recognized as a leading young sociologist in the several different subfields in which he works. Called an “agenda-setter among social science historians,” his publications include 11 articles in top-tier scholarly journals, four book chapters, and a monograph, which won the distinguished book award of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, the leading professional society in this field. His work exhibits a sophisticated mix of theoretical depth, original archival research, methodological innovation, and empirical richness, and his work is widely cited by scholars across his various subfields. He is also a sought-after reviewer for top-tier journals and academic presses. Mayrl taught at Spain’s Universidad Carlos III de Madrid for five years prior to joining Colby’s faculty. He earned a Ph.D. and an M.A. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, and a B.A. in sociology from Yale University.
Marine biologist Loren McClenachan is a historical ecologist who focuses on marine fisheries conservation. Her groundbreaking work uses historical data to identify ecological baselines, to document changes in ecosystems and fisheries management, and to apply observations to support marine conservation and sustainable fisheries. Twenty-nine of her 37 peer-reviewed articles were completed at Colby, and all of them were published in highly ranked journals. She was honored with a Sloan Early Career Research Fellowship in 2013, and the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation named her a 2019 Marine Fellow, one of only eight recipients worldwide that year. The National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other fellowships have supported her research with more than $500,000 in external grants. She received her Ph.D. in marine biology at the University of California at San Diego and her M.S. in environmental studies from the University of Oregon. Her B.A. in environmental studies was awarded by Middlebury College.
Gianluca Rizzo is an accomplished and versatile literary critic, translator, and creative writer who has developed a strong Italian Studies Program and a vibrant and welcoming Italian culture on campus. His prolific scholarly and creative work spans an astounding range of topics and genres—he has published eight scholarly articles in first-rate, peer-reviewed journals, as well as six book chapters. He has also edited or co-edited five anthologies, produced three critical editions, and published many translations of poetic works. A monograph on Italian neo-avant-garde theater and poetry of the 1950s through the 1970s is forthcoming from the University of Toronto, the top North American press in Italian studies, and his own poetry has been widely published. Called “prodigiously accomplished,” he is widely recognized as a leading scholar of his generation, making significant, influential contributions to his field. Rizzo holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles and a Laurea in Scienze della comunicazione from the University of Bologna.
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