The Board of Trustees of Williams College voted to promote 10 faculty to the position of associate professor with tenure. Promotions will take effect July 1, 2024, for Daniel Barowy, Computer Science; Mari Rodríguez Binnie, Art; Xizhen Cai, Statistics; Amal Eqeiq, Arabic Studies; Galen Jackson ’09, Political Science; Katharine Jensen, Physics; Murad Khan Mumtaz, Art; Anna Plantinga, Statistics; Robert Rawle, Chemistry; and Saadia Yacoob, Religion.
Daniel Barowy, Computer Science
Daniel (Dan) Barowy is a computer scientist whose research centers on designing improvements and important new features in programming languages. The audience for his work extends not only to his professional community, where he has presented multiple award-winning invited papers at conferences in his field, but to end users faced with practical programming tasks. As part of his research program, Barowy has developed a number of successful collaborations, has been awarded a research grant from the National Science Foundation, has co-authored papers with multiple Williams students, and has mentored many more students at all stages of their education. He has taught extensively at the introductory level of the computer science curriculum, and has also developed important new upper-level electives in programming languages as well as in computer security. He has already served on multiple college-wide committees during his time at Williams, has been an important contributor to his department in areas of curriculum and student support, and has even developed software in his “Hour of Code” project to introduce elementary school students to the art of computer programming.
Mari Rodríguez Binnie, Art
Mari Rodríguez Binnie is a scholar of modern and contemporary art in Latin America. Her research deals with the development of artistic practices within the political, economic and cultural transformations of the postwar era, with a focus on the intersection between artistic experimentation and political critique, as well as on the complex relationships between artists and art institutions. Her forthcoming book, The São Paulo Neo-Avant-Garde: Radical Art and Mass Print Media in Cold War Brazil, examines how emerging artists in São Paulo, Brazil created innovative art using newly available inexpensive mass print technologies like photocopy and offset printing between 1968 and 1985, during Brazil’s military dictatorship. She has also published essays in important journals in her field and authored numerous exhibition catalogs. She teaches courses that examine modern and contemporary artistic practices in Latin America and also those that investigate particular themes in modern and contemporary art worldwide. Working together with the artist William Binnie, she created and raised funds to support an emergency residency program at MASS MoCA for artists from Puerto Rico suffering from the devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Maria.
Xizhen Cai, Statistics
Xizhen Cai is a statistician whose research interests have resulted in a number of papers in top journals in her field over recent years. These projects range from theoretical work developing more effective techniques to model “ultra-high dimensional data,” to using novel mediation models to better predict health behavior data over time, to machine learning-aided analysis in the area of text-based analysis. She has also contributed to statistics pedagogy through creation of materials for broad use in statistical modeling courses. She has co-mentored a summer research group of undergraduates with statistics colleagues on a project applying machine learning and statistical similarity tools in the area of forensic analysis of shoeprints. Courses she has taught range from Statistics 101 to upper-level electives in areas including statistical modeling, regression theory, and statistical learning and data mining. She has served on numerous college committees, including the Faculty Compensation Committee and Committee on Academic Standing, as well as departmental activities such as organizing colloquia, participating in hiring committees, advising student organizations, and serving on the department’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee.
Amal Eqeiq, Arabic Studies
Amal Eqeiq is a scholar of Arabic and comparative literature whose research examines the roles of art, language and culture in the political emancipation of minoritized communities, subalternized groups and Indigenous peoples worldwide. In addition to publishing in academic journals and other media, she has recently completed a groundbreaking monograph, Indigenous Affinities: Comparative Study in Mayan and Palestinian Narratives, that investigates and articulates connections between two different communities, Mayans in Chiapas, Mexico, and ’48 Palestinians–Palestinian citizens of Israel–through the conceptual lens of affinity. Using such diverse materials as murals, fiction, poetry and personal interviews, she looks at questions of indigeneity, settler-colonial violence, militarized states, capitalist dispossession and environmental destruction. She is also a widely published translator and author of creative nonfiction. Her teaching includes a range of courses in Arabic language, Arabic literature and comparative literature. Beyond her extensive service to the recently formed Arabic Studies Department and the Comparative Literature Program, she has served on a number of college committees, including the Faculty Compensation Committee and the Committee on Priorities and Resources.
Galen Jackson, Political Science
Galen Jackson ’09 is a political scientist who works in international relations and security studies. His book, A Lost Peace: Great Power Politics and the Arab Israeli Dispute, 1967-1979, interrogates the actions and motivations of the United States and the Soviet Union during a critical period of Middle Eastern history, with insights relevant to today’s international conflicts. In addition, he has authored multiple articles and book chapters and has edited a book on the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war. He is embarking on new work on the role that cyber threats and information security may play in international politics. At Williams, he has taught courses on international relations both at the introductory level and in separate courses focusing on the Middle East and the “cyber age,” as well as courses on America and the world, international security, the nuclear revolution, and a tutorial on the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is active in both the political science department and the Leadership Studies program. He has been a part of the Stanley Kaplan Program in American Foreign Policy and has served on the Athletics Committee.
Katharine Jensen, Physics
Katharine (Kate) Jensen is an experimental physicist working in the area of “soft” condensed matter. Her research focuses on materials characterization, interfaces between materials, and adhesion and deformation. Her teaching includes an introductory mechanics course and courses for juniors and seniors on topics in statistical mechanics and thermodynamics. Outside the classroom, she serves as the college’s pre-engineering advisor and participates on the college’s Committee on Educational Affairs. She also contributes to physics departmental conversations around topics of curriculum and student mentoring. In addition, Jensen serves in leadership roles in her professional organizations, has given many invited talks and produced multiple publications and conference submissions, all with significant student participation. The National Science Foundation currently supports her work in biophysics and the study of polymer deformation and adhesion, and she is the recent winner of a national young investigator award in the sub-field of adhesion science.
Murad Khan Mumtaz, Art
Murad Mumtaz is a scholar of South Asian art, architecture, and visual and material culture. His research focuses on Mughal and other forms of Indo-Muslim painting, exploring how figurative painting, especially images of ascetics, was intimately linked to a unique Indo-Muslim religious expression that had a wide circulation across South Asia. His recent book, Faces of God: Images of Devotion in Indo-Muslim Painting, 1500–1800, examines these paintings, many of which have received little attention in previous scholarly works, in their larger context though close consideration of philosophical and religious writings, contemporaneous literary works (including poetry and Sufi romances), and devotional practices. Mumtaz has also published numerous articles and reviews in edited volumes and top journals in his field. His teaching ranges from survey courses on Asian and Buddhist art to courses on the art of the book and the practices and techniques of painting in South Asia. He is also a practicing painter who has participated in more than 30 group and solo exhibitions around the world. In addition, he has worked with the college’s art museum and Special Collections to expand their South Asian holdings.
Anna Plantinga, Statistics
Anna Plantinga is a biostatistician whose research is focused on applying state-of-the-art tools to study the human microbiome, the community of bacteria that lives in and on all humans. She has developed collaborations with medical professionals across the country where she often serves as lead statistician in research projects furthering our understanding of how the microbiome is connected to disease risk and health. She has also published statistical methods papers which demonstrate improved modeling strategies. She has formed collaborations internally, publishing papers and co-mentoring a group of undergraduates in the summer research program with Williams Statistics colleagues. Plantinga has mentored numerous statistics majors and co-authored multiple journal articles with students. She also contributes to programs to enhance the visibility of women in STEM at Williams and beyond. In addition to teaching introductory courses for students outside of the statistics major, she has also introduced several upper-level electives to the curriculum. At Williams, Plantinga is a member of the advisory board for the Program in Public Health, has been involved in hiring committees and has developed an online system to streamline her department’s extensive teaching assistant hiring process.
Robert Rawle, Chemistry
Robert (Bob) Rawle is a chemist who works at the interface between immunology and membrane biophysics. He studies biological systems–viruses and the process of early infection. With his research students he has investigated how viruses such as Ebola, Zika and swine flu bind and fuse to host cells, also studying the details of lipid membrane biochemistry. His research is supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, and he is an active member of several external collaborations. He has published multiple journal articles with Williams student co-authors. At Williams he serves as the liaison to the student advisory committee and an active contributor to the department’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts as well as recent department efforts to enact important curricular changes. He is the lead instructor for the first offering of the first course in the newly re-designed Chemistry curriculum. Rawle has also served on multiple college committees, including the Committee on Academic Standing and the Winter Study Committee.
Saadia Yacoob, Religion
Saadia Yacoob is a scholar of gender and sexuality in Islam and a historian of Islamic law. Her forthcoming book, Beyond the Binary: Gender and Legal Personhood in Islamic Law, examines the role of gender in early Islamic texts, making the bold claim that, in Islamic law at that time, there was no such thing as a “woman” or a “man” in a legal sense. In her next book project, she will provide line-by-line translations of and commentary on Mukhtasar al-Quduri, an 11th-century Islamic legal text which is highly relevant today as it is still cited in modern discussions of marriage and divorce laws. At Williams, Yacoob has taught 11 different courses in religion, many of them cross-listed with other departments and programs, ranging from introductory to capstone courses. Her courses cover topics including intersections between religion in general (and Islam in particular) and law and gender, centering ideas and people that are more often at the margin. She has also served on the Committee on Undergraduate Life, the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid, the Honor and Discipline Committee and the Faculty Steering Committee.
Published January 22, 2024