Williams announces tenure for eight faculty members.

Williams College has announced the promotion of eight assistant professors to the rank of associate professor with tenure, effective July 1, 2022. They are Matthew Chao (economics), José Constantine (geosciences), Christophe Koné (German), Joel Lee (anthropology), Ralph Morrison (mathematics), Justin Shaddock (philosophy), Daniel Turek (statistics) and Aaron Williams (computer science). 

Matthew Chao is a behavioral economist whose research investigates how psychological motives can affect decision-making and markets. His research blends observational data with experiments conducted online, in the laboratory, and in the field, and it has included multiple studies examining how different psychological and economic motives can influence physician decision-making.

Chao’s research has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation, and his scholarship has been published in peer-reviewed journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Journal of the American Medical Association­

At Williams since 2015, his courses include Principles of Microeconomics; Behavioral Economics and Public Policy; and Behavioral Economics: Theory and Methods. He received a B.A. from Dartmouth College in 2006 and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 2015. 

José Constantine is a geomorphologist whose research centers on surface processes on the Earth, the evolution of river systems and the role that land use and climate change have in these processes. Using field observations, laboratory analysis and remote sensing to study and model these phenomena, Constantine and his students have studied the impact of these changes on human populations. 

This work contributes to the area of environmental justice, as highlighted by a recent paper appearing in the journal Geology and by a recently-awarded National Science Foundation grant that supports research for studying the causes and impacts of severe flooding in the community of Centreville, Ill., on the Mississippi River floodplain.

At Williams since 2016, he has taught introductory courses such as Global Warming and Landscapes as well as advanced courses in geomorphology and in geographical information systems. He received a B.S. from the College of William and Mary in 1999 and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2008.

Christophe Koné is a scholar of German culture from the 19th through the 21st centuries, with research interests that include literature, film, opera, dance and visual art. He has published several articles, and his forthcoming book, Uncanny Creatures: Doll Thinking in German Culture, unfolds a history of thinking about the blurred lines between the human and the “humanlike” over two centuries, considering dolls, automata and puppets in art and culture, from Freud to contemporary fashion photography.

At Williams since 2013, he teaches German language courses as well as literature courses in German. He also teaches German arts and culture in translation. His courses— including German Comics; Black Europeans; and Dolls, Puppets and Automatons—connect German with other other academic units at the college, including Africana studies, comparative literature, English, and women’s gender and sexuality studies.

Koné received an M.A. from the Universite Lumiere Lyon 2 in 2006 and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University in 2013. 

Joel Lee is an anthropologist working on questions of caste and inequality in South Asia. His book Deceptive Majority: Dalits, Hinduism, and Underground Religion was published by Cambridge University Press in 2021 and considers how stigmatized castes have navigated the politics of religious majoritarianism in colonial and postcolonial north India. In several articles he has investigated the implications of caste for emotion and environment, and his forthcoming second book, co-edited with K. Satyanarayana, examines a range of questions about caste concealment.

His work has been supported and recognized most recently by the American Institution of Indian Studies, and he is a recent recipient of the Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award. Lee employs techniques drawn from anthropology, history, linguistics, semiotics and translation. His courses—including How to Be Human; The Sacred in South India; Sensing Society; and Waste and Value—are characterized by the use of fieldwork and ethnographic research. 

Lee received a B.A. from Kenyon College in 1998 and Ph.D. in 2015 from Columbia University. 

Ralph Morrison ’10 is a mathematician who works in tropical geometry, a relatively new research area within the field of algebraic geometry. Tropical geometry seeks to connect geometric descriptions with polynomial equations. 

After graduating from Williams in 2010, he received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2015. Since joining the faculty at Williams in 2016, he has taught mathematics courses at all levels of the curriculum, from introductory calculus and discrete math courses to special topics courses in graph theory, computational algebraic geometry and tropical geometry. 

His research papers have appeared in the Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics, Discrete Mathematics and the Electronic Journal of Combinatorics, among other publications. He has co-authored 11 papers with his undergraduate students. 

He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a highly competitive National Science Foundation grant to support his ongoing research on chip-firing games on graphs. 

Justin Shaddock is a historian of philosophy whose research provides new insights into Kant’s theoretical philosophy and his moral theory. He has published extensively on Kant’s notion of objectivity and his theory of matter and form. He has recently presented his research at Brown University, Cambridge University and the University of Chicago, and at meetings of the North American Kant Society and the International Kant Congress.

At Williams he teaches courses on the history of Modern European philosophy. His courses include Freedom and Society; History of Modern European Philosophy; Existentialism; Hegel and Marx; Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason; and Kant’s Ethics. 

He has advised several thesis students, many independent studies, and the recipient of a Mellon-Mays Fellowship, which is a program that seeks to boost racial and socioeconomic diversity by preparing undergraduates for careers in academia. Many of his advisees have gone on top M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Philosophy.

He received a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 2004 and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2011.  

Daniel Turek is a statistician whose work focuses on the Bayesian approach to statistical inference. This approach involves developing prior distributions for a set of parameters that describe large data sets and then evolving these parameter distributions once these data have been analyzed and sampled. 

He is one of the core members of a team that has developed and maintained an influential algorithm package (Nimble) employed extensively by statistical researchers throughout the world. In addition, he collaborates with teams of ecologists to study, sample and model animal populations.  

At Williams since 2016, he has taught everything  from introductory statistics courses to upper-level electives in statistical computing and Bayesian statistics. He has been published in many journals—most recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and a technical paper on the development of the Nimble algorithm. 

He received two B.S. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003 and a Ph.D. from the University of Otago in New Zealand in 2013. 

Aaron Williams is a scientist whose interests are at the intersection of discrete mathematics and computer science. Williams’ work has focused on combinatorial patterns that provide practical strategies for efficient computation, and computational complexity results that put limits on these advances. 

His work has appeared in the ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms and Fun with Algorithms conferences, and the The Art of Computer Programming book series.

At Williams, he has added puzzles and games to the Theory of Computation course, and student-driven research projects have grown into original, published research.  In the summer and winter, his students have been exploring retrogame archeology, which examines the machine code of retro video games to understand how they disguised the strict computational limits of their respective platforms.  

He received two BMath. degrees from the University of Waterloo in 2001 and an MMath. in 2003, and a Ph.D. from the University of Victoria in 2009.

Published February 2, 2022