Brandeis welcomes new faculty to campus

A total of 22 new tenured and tenure-track faculty members and postdoctoral faculty fellows have joined the Brandeis community this academic year.

The appointees span 16 different academic departments across campus and represent a breadth of new intellectual capital at the university.

"I'm very pleased to welcome this group of scholars and educators to our Brandeis family," Brandeis University Provost Lisa Lynch said. "They will take on some of the toughest questions in their respective fields and be invaluable sources of knowledge for our student body."

The following tenured and tenure-track faculty have arrived or will be arriving to campus this academic year:

Division of Arts and Sciences

American Studies/Music

Paula Musegades (Ph.D., Brandeis University, 2014), Assistant Professor of American Studies and Music. After completing her Ph.D., Musegades served as a Florence Levy Kay Fellow in Music and American Culture at Brandeis. Musegades is a musicologist with interests in Hollywood film music, American music, popular music, and 20th century music. Her current research examines American composer Aaron Copland and his role in Hollywood film music.


Patricia Alvarez Astacio (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Cruz, 2015), Lecturer for the 2017-18 academic year. Assistant Professor of Anthropology, effective July 2018. Since completing her Ph.D., Alvarez Astacio has served as a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Rice University. Alvarez Astacio’s research interests include visual anthropology, documentary/ethnographic filmmaking, Latin America, indigeneity, capitalism, and the senses. Her current book project "Moral Fibers: Making Fashion Ethical" explores the Peruvian alpaca wool supply chain analyzing how indigenous women artisans and their aesthetic traditions are interpolated into “ethical fashion” manufacturing networks. Alvarez Astacio’s next project is an ethnography and film on the color magenta, exploring its symbolic, cultural, racial, gender, political and industrial life.


Sebastian Kadener (Ph.D., The University of Buenos Aires, 2002), Associate Professor of Biology. Kadener’s research examines gene expression and its relationship to behavior. After completing his doctoral studies at The University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, he spent six years as a postdoctoral fellow at Brandeis before moving to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem to start his own laboratory. He comes to Brandeis from the Biological Chemistry Department of the Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. Kadener is the recipient of several grants, among them a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant, which he was awarded in 2015.


Maya Eden (Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2011), Assistant Professor of Economics. Since completing her Ph.D., Eden has served as an economist at the World Bank in the Development Economics Research Group and the Macroeconomics and Growth Team. Eden studies a combination of economic growth, development and monetary economics.

Jean-Paul L’Huillier (Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2010), Assistant Professor of Economics, effective January 2018. Since completing his Ph.D., L’Huillier has served as Assistant Professor at Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance, a research institute in Rome. L’Huillier’s research focuses on understanding business cycles.


Emilie Diouf (Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2016), Assistant Professor of English. Diouf’s research expertise is in anglophone and francophone postcolonial African literatures and film with an emphasis on gender, feminist theory, and trauma theory. Her interests also extend to Caribbean literatures. Her dissertation was entitled “Wounded Storytellers: The Politics of the Traumatic Voice in African Women Refugees Testimonies.” This fall, Diouf will teach the course “The Globalization of Nollywood.”

Fine Arts

Muna Guvenc (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2014), Assistant Professor of Fine Arts, appointment effective January 2018. Since completing her Ph.D., Guvenc has served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. Guvenc’s research interests include land and identity politics, social justice, urban mobilizations, postcolonial architecture and urbanism (with a regional focus on the Middle East and North Africa), comparative analyses of urban inequality and housing across the globe, and the interaction between social movements and new forms of neoliberal urban governance.


Max Mishler (Ph.D., New York University, 2016), Assistant Professor of History. Mishler’s current book project, "The Atlantic Origins of Mass Incarceration: Punishment, Abolition, and Racial Inequality," explores the intertwined history of slave-emancipation and the birth of the modern penitentiary in the Atlantic world. He specializes in the history of the Atlantic world, with a focus on slavery, abolition, punishment, and capitalism. Since receiving his Ph.D., Mishler has served as a Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Columbia University.


Jonathan Touboul (Ph.D., École Polytechnique, 2008), Associate Professor of Mathematics, appointment effective January 2018. Touboul received the Habilitation à diriger les recherches, the highest academic degree in France, from the University Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris 6) in 2015. His research areas include neuroscience (brain, behavior and cognition) and mathematics; his Ph.D thesis was entitled “Stochastic and Nonlinear Models in Neurosciences.” He has held postdoctoral appointments at the University of Pittsburgh and at The Rockefeller University, and is currently group leader of the Mathematical Neurosciences Team in the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology of the Collège de France. Touboul takes up his Brandeis appointment in the spring semester of 2017-2018.


Erin Gee (Ph.D., Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Graz, 2007), Assistant Professor of Music. Gee joins Brandeis having served as assistant professor of Composition-Theory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign since 2012. Gee is known for her series of compositions entitled “Mouthpieces,” which “use non-traditional vocal techniques, devoid of semantic language, to construct intricate and subtle patterns of a diverse array of vocal sounds.” Her works are taught in the composition and musicology programs of universities such as MIT, University of Pennsylvania, Smith College, and Mills College, and she has lectured at Harvard, UC Berkeley, Dartmouth and Wellesley. Gee’s awards for composition include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, the 2008 Rome Prize, the 2015 Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and more. She has written works on commission for the Zurich Opera House, Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, American Composers Orchestra, and many others. In January 2014 she was cited by Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, as being one of the most influential composer-vocalists of the 21st century.

Near Eastern and Judaic Studies

Suleyman Dost (Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2016), Assistant Professor of Classical Islam. Dost’s research interests include Qur’ānic Arabic, Arabic paleography, Qur’ānic exegesis, and early Islamic history. His dissertation, “An Arabian Qur’ān: Towards a Theory of Peninsular Origins,” aimed to identify the social and religious context of the Qur’ān in the Arabian Peninsula through pre-Islamic epigraphic and literary source materials. This fall he will teach “Introduction to the Qur’ān” and “Muhammad: From Early Muslim Accounts to Modern Biographies.”


Björn Penning (Ph.D., University of Freiburg, Germany, 2009), Assistant Professor of Physics. Penning is an experimental particle physicist whose research focuses on the search for dark matter (DM), a form of matter that has yet to be directly observed. Penning searches for DM particles in underground detectors, and at colliders, including the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at CERN in Geneva. This fall, Penning is teaching the courses “Particle Physics” and “Particle Phenomenology.”

Marcelle Soares-Santos (Ph.D., University of Sāo Paulo, Brazil, 2010), Assistant Professor of Physics. Soares-Santos is an astrophysicist whose research interests encompass cosmology/particle astrophysics and high energy physics. She is particularly interested in the physics underlying the accelerated expansion of the universe, and is heavily involved in the Dark Energy Survey collaboration (DES), which is a survey of the southern galactic sky aimed at understanding the mysteries of the dark universe.

International Business School

Bhoomija Ranjan (Ph.D., University of Rochester, 2017), Assistant Professor of Marketing and Data Analytics. Professor Ranjan began her graduate education with a Master of Science in Mathematics and Scientific Computing from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India. She then proceeded to receive an MA in Economics, an MS in Business Administration, and a Ph.D. in Marketing from the University of Rochester. Professor Ranjan’s research uses data analysis to estimate demand, preferences and location decisions for products and brands. In 2016 she received a Center of Excellence in Data Science Fellowship.

Heller School for Social Policy and Management

David Weil (Ph.D., Harvard University), Professor and Dean of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Weil is an internationally recognized expert in employment and labor market policy. He co-founded and co-directed the Transparency Policy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and has advised international organizations as well as government agencies at the state and federal levels. He is also the author of more than 100 articles and five books, including, most recently, "The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It," which examines how practices like outsourcing change business organizations and erode relationships between employers and their workers. Prior to joining the Heller School, Weil served as the administrator of the Wage and Hour Division at the United States Department of Labor under President Obama.

The following postdoctoral faculty fellows have arrived or will be arriving to campus this academic year:

African and Afro-American Studies/Health: Science, Society, and Policy

Wangui Muigai (Ph.D., Princeton University, 2017), Florence Kay Levy Fellow in Race, Science and Society with the rank of Lecturer. Muigai’s research interests include the history of science and medicine, and race and health. Her dissertation examines infant mortality in African American communities from the era of slavery to the Great Migration.

American Studies

Cory Hunter (Ph.D., Princeton University, 2016), Arts and Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow in American Studies with the rank of Lecturer. Hunter comes to Brandeis from the University of Virginia, where he recently completed a two-year pre-doctoral fellowship at the Carter G. Woodson Institute. In addition to his doctorate in Musicology, Hunter holds a Master's in Divinity degree from Yale University and a Bachelor's in Vocal Performance from the Eastman School of Music. His research focuses on how twentieth- and twenty-first-century gospel artists have used their music to deconstruct traditional theologies and redefine how their followers understand God.


Vivian Solana (Ph.D., University of Toronto, 2016). Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Comparative Revolutions with the rank of Lecturer. Solana’s doctoral dissertation entitled "The Fifth World’: International Intervention and the Aftermath of Revolution in the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic" investigates the outcomes of the Saharawi revolution in Saharawi refugee camps located in Southern Algeria. Solana earned a M.A. in Social Anthropology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid Campus de Cantoblanco, in Madrid, Spain in 2009, and a M.A. in Anthropology of Development and Social Transformations at the University of Sussex Upper Lewes Road, in Brighton, UK, in 2005.


Manijeh Moradian (Ph.D., New York University, 2014), Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Comparative Revolutions with the rank of Lecturer. Moradian’s dissertation was titled "Neither Washington Nor Tehran: Political Cultures of Iranian American Un/Belonging (1953–2009)." Her research focuses on political cultures of the Iranian diaspora in the U.S. Moradian earned a M.F.A. in creative non-fiction at Hunter College, CUNY in 2007, and a B.A. in English and American Literature at Brown University in 1998.

Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Vanessa Lovelace (Ph.D., University of Connecticut, 2017), Allen-Berenson Fellow in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies with the rank of Lecturer. Lovelace’s dissertation was titled "For I Saw Black Spirits Engaged in Battle”: Genealogies of Liberty and Embodied Black Freedom Trails." Her research interests include gender and women’s studies; African American and Africana studies; critical ethnic and area studies; feminist studies; legal and political geographies; transnational justice; and American political thought. Lovelace earned a M.A. at the University of Connecticut in 2011, and a B.A. at University of California, Santa Cruz in 2008.

Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies/German, Russian and Asian Languages and Literature

Leanne Day (Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle, 2017), Florence Kay Levy Fellow in Asian American Pacific Islander Studies with the rank of Lecturer. Day’s dissertation was titled "Empire’s Imagination: Race, Settler Colonialism, and Indigeneity in ʻLocal’ Hawaiʻi Narratives." Her research interests include 20th and 21st century American literature; U.S. empire, nationalism, and imperialism; Asian American studies; indigenous literary studies and theory; Kānaka Maoli identity and literature; American race relations; U.S. ethnic studies; gender and sexuality studies; and cultural studies.

South Asian Studies

Shilpa Phadke (Ph.D., Social Sciences, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, 2011), Madeleine Haas Russell Visiting Professor in the South Asian Studies Program, appointment for the spring semester, 2018. Phadke is the foremost researcher in India on gender, sexuality and public space. Phadke has served on the faculty at the School of Media and Cultural Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Science in Mumbai since 2007. Phadke is the author of many publications including her book, "Middle-Class Sexuality: Construction of Women’s Sexual Desire in the 1990s and Early 21st Century Mumbai, and the co-authored book, “Why Loiter: Women and Risk on Mumbai Streets."

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