Harvey Mudd Faculty Promotions, Summer 2024

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Promotions and tenure appointments for Harvey Mudd College faculty were approved by the board of trustees at its May meeting.

Promotion to full professor

Jim Boerkoel, a faculty member since 2013, specializes in human robot interaction, artificial intelligence, and interaction design—designing better human computer interactions. He directs the Human Experience & Agent Teamwork Lab (HEATLab), which seeks to develop techniques that augment humans’ own cognitive and physical abilities to create integrated human-agent teams that are more capable than their individual counterparts. With funding from the National Science Foundation in 2020, Boerkoel and Mehmet Ergezer of the Wentworth Institute of Technology developed the Undergraduate Consortium (UC), a one-day consortium with full travel scholarships for undergraduates attending the 2020 and 2021 Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Conferences on Artificial Intelligence. The UC is the first known venue that offers specific programming to equip undergraduates to navigate the academic conference experience as full members of the research community by cultivating a safe environment for practicing and refining skills and providing tools for a successful graduate research career. Boerkoel is Csilla & Walt Foley Professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science.

Professor of Physics Sharon Gerbode and her student researchers focus on two areas at the forefront of experimental soft matter physics: colloids—where microscopic solid particles suspended in a fluid self-assemble into thermodynamic phases; and adaptive biomaterials—where soft microstructured biological tissues actuate complex motions. Gerbode and her team of research students have made some remarkable discoveries. In 2018, they discovered “optical blasting,” which allows people to internally sculpt colloidal crystals and could lead to new ways of modifying material properties. More recently, Gerbode co-authored a paper, “Grain splitting is a mechanism for grain coarsening in colloidal polycrystals,” that was published as a “Letter” in Physical Review E. A research paper is selected as a “Letter” when its findings are deemed high-impact. Their discovery paves the way for better models of crystal growth. Gerbode, a 2016 Cottrell Scholar, joined the Harvey Mudd faculty in 2012.

Vivien Hamilton joined the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts in 2011 and, as professor of the history of science, teaches a wide range of courses in the history of science, technology and medicine, asking questions about the cultural authority of science, the multiple occurrences of seemingly revolutionary shifts in scientific theory and practice in history, and the impact of structures of race, class and gender on the production of scientific knowledge. Her research focuses in particular on medical technologies, including x-rays, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With Brinda Sarathy and Janet Farell Brodie, she edited a collection of essays, Inevitably Toxic? Historical Perspectives on Contamination, Exposure, and Expertise, that examine a diverse set of spaces contaminated by radiation and industrial waste. The work was chosen by the Association of College and Research Libraries for its 2019 list of Outstanding Academic Titles.

Talithia Williams, professor of mathematics, makes mathematics and statistics accessible to millions through her work as a TV host, speaker and author of the book Power in Numbers: The Rebel Women of Mathematics. She is a professor of mathematics and the Mathematics Clinic director. As a researcher, Williams has worked with the World Health Organization to develop a cataract model that improves predictions for cataract surgical rates in African countries. Williams is nationally known for her TED Talk, “Own Your Body’s Data,” in which she equips a mass audience to use statistics—by measuring and recording simple data daily—to take ownership over their health. She runs an annual conference (Sacred SISTAHS) that teaches hundreds of young girls from minority communities about the benefits of studying STEM and how to successfully navigate that path. Among her many awards, including a teaching award from the Mathematical Association of America, Williams recently received the 2024 Rice University Laureates Award, the highest award given by the Association of Rice Alumni. The award recognizes an alum who has demonstrated a deep dedication to Rice University (where Williams received her master’s and PhD in statistics). She joined the Harvey Mudd faculty in 2008.

Appointed for Second, Two-year Term as Assistant Professor

Heather Zinn Brooks, Barbara Stokes Dewey Assistant Professor of Mathematics. Applied mathematics, mathematical modeling, complex systems, nonlinear dynamics, network theory, social systems, mathematical biology.

Anup Gampa, Assistant Professor of Psychology. Social psychology of social movements, racism, capitalism and wealth inequality.

Jamie Haddock, Assistant Professor of Mathematics. Mathematical data science, optimization, applied convex geometry.