Six Faculty Members Receive Promotion

Announcements7 MIN READ

Three are elevated to full professor and three rise to associate professor

Portraits by Ashley L. Conti
June 21, 2023

On the recommendation of President David A. Greene, six faculty members have been promoted. Those promoted to full professor status are Tariq Ahmad, biology; Valérie Dionne, French; and Hong Zhang, East Asian studies.

Promoted to associate professor status are Elena Monastireva-Ansdell, Russian; Stacy-ann Robinson, environmental studies; and Stacey Sheriff, writing.

Professor of Biology Tariq Ahmad

Tariq Ahmad—Biology

Tariq Ahmad is a neuroscientist conducting research in two primary areas, both using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. One research area centers on the effects of a mutant form of a gene associated with hereditary frontotemporal dementia in humans. The other area is on ethanol sedation and recovery and its effects on the circadian rhythm. Since receiving tenure in 2016, Ahmad has published six articles in highly respected journals and two important, invited review papers in prominent books.

As chair of the Biology Department during three challenging years, he has effectively managed to mitigate the effects of high enrollments and Covid’s impact on teaching and research. He mentors students as the faculty advisor for the Asian students’ group, the Colby Muslim Society, the badminton and cricket clubs, and the Posse Class of 2020. He is also the faculty liaison to the softball team.

Ahmad holds a Ph.D. in genetics from Notre Dame, an M.Sc. in medical biotechnology from the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India, and a B.Sc. from Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh.

Professor of French Valérie Dionne

Valérie Dionne—French

Valérie Dionne is  a scholar of the work of Michel de Montaigne, a philosopher of the French Renaissance, and an authoritative commentator on questions of the law and of legal philosophy and theory in Early Modern France. She has published nine articles in top-tier journals since receiving tenure in 2014, and she has completed much of a forthcoming book manuscript on early modern tragedy.

Since 2017 Dionne has been the director of the Oak Institute for Human Rights and instrumental in increasing its impact on the intellectual and cultural life at the College. She has also promoted the goals of the Center for the Arts and Humanities by organizing two annual humanities themes and has served as co-chair of the Department of French and Italian.

Dionne holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Princeton University in French literature and culture and a B.A. from the University of Montreal in classics and history.

Elena Monastireva-Ansdell
Associate Professor of Russian Elena Monastireva-Ansdell

Elena Monastireva-Ansdell—Russian

Elena Monastireva-Ansdell is a scholar of the cinema of the Soviet Union and the former Soviet republics. Her research explores the ways that filmmakers from the many ethnically and culturally diverse territories of Central Asia in the post-Soviet era are beginning to tell their own stories in film. An innovator in her field, she has introduced colonial and post-colonial studies methodologies to the study of this region and has also helped found a new field in environmental film studies, with a focus on the environmental devastation wrought by the Soviet Union on Central Asia.

She came to Colby in 2009 and has played a key role in a small department while contributing to the Cinema Studies Department and the Humanities Division. She supports global programs at DavisConnects, mentors Fulbright applicants, and sustains programs in the Waterville area to share Russian culture with local schools and community groups.

Monastireva-Ansdell holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literatures from Indiana University, an M.A. in Russian language and literature from the University of Iowa, and a B.A. in English language and literature from Pyatigorsk Linguistic University in Russia.

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Stacy-ann Robinson (Photo by Gabe Souza)

Stacy-ann Robinson—Environmental Studies

Stacy-ann Robinson is a specialist in international environmental policy, with particular focus on climate justice in the Global South. Her interdisciplinary research explores the intersections of environmental security, climate adaptation, climate mitigation, climate justice, and loss and damage, with a focus on Small Island Developing States. Since arriving at Colby in 2019, she has published 26 peer-reviewed papers, 18 as lead author and 12 with Colby student coauthors, in journals such as Nature, Nature Climate Science, and WIREs: Climate Science

She has played key roles in developing a proposal for a public policy major and for environmental humanities programs at Colby. She single-handedly led Colby’s successful application for Observer status in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and helped guide the College’s delegation to COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, last year. 

Robinson earned a Ph.D. in global environmental change at the Australian National University, an M.Sc. in international development from the University of Manchester (UK), a diploma in oceans law and policy from the Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy (Greece), a postgraduate diploma in environmental diplomacy from the University of Geneva (Switzerland), and a B.Sc. in international relations and political science from the University of the West Indies. 

Associate Professor of Writing Stacey Sheriff

Stacey Sheriff—Writing

Stacey Sheriff is a teacher of writing whose scholarship takes the form of producing scholarly articles and program-building work that draws on her expertise as a writing program administrator. Her scholarly publications have been analyses of the research she conducted to build Colby’s Writing Program, bringing together scholarship from many different sub-fields of writing pedagogy that connects to questions of how to build effective writing programs. Her papers have been published in high-profile venues, and she is well-known for sharing this work at conferences in her field.

She came to Colby in 2012 as the inaugural director of the new Colby Writing Program, now the Writing Department, and helped to design the curriculum and build the structures to support it. Her work enabled the creation of the current first-year writing requirement, and she established an entire faculty development program and trained faculty in all disciplines on how to teach writing.

Sheriff holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English from the Pennsylvania State University and a B.A. in English and environmental studies from Dartmouth College.

Professor of East Asian Studies Hong Zhang

Hong Zhang—East Asian Studies

Hong Zhang is an anthropologist of China with interests that include work on changing labor migration patterns and their effects on women’s lives and marriage choices; globalization and the development of NGOs in China; the one-child policy and its ramifications for aging and patterns of eldercare; and popular culture and digital humanities. Her scholarship has a deep grounding in ethnographic fieldwork, conducted for more than 30 years in the same communities.

She received tenure in 2007 and chaired the East Asian Studies Department for six years. Her service reflects a commitment to fostering intellectual exchange and mutual understanding between China and the rest of the world. She’s served as faculty coordinator for a large Freeman Foundation grant that sponsored student-led outreach to local schools and has given public talks on issues in contemporary China in public libraries across Maine.

Zhang holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University, an M.A. in English from Wuhan University, and a B.A. in English from Huazhong Normal University.