New Faculty Members

Top row (from left): Shamma Alam, Heather Bedi and Jeff Engelhardt. Bottom row (from left): Holley Friedlander, Jason Gavenonis and Katie Oliviero.

Top row (from left): Shamma Alam, Heather Bedi and Jeff Engelhardt. Bottom row (from left): Holley Friedlander, Jason Gavenonis and Katie Oliviero.

New faculty members: 2014-15 

Dickinson added six new tenure-track professors this semester with research and teaching interests ranging from energy activism to the nature of the mind. Read their brief bios below.

Shamma Alam
Assistant Professor of International Studies

Shamma Alam received his Ph.D. in economics in June 2014 from the University of Washington–Seattle. He received his B.A. in economics from Franklin & Marshall College and M.A. in economics from the University of Washington. His research interests are in development, health and population economics with particular focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Previously, he has worked for the development organizations Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank. Currently, he is involved in collaborative work with researchers at the Landesa, BRAC University and BRAC Institute of Global Health.

Heather Bedi
Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

Heather Bedi received her Ph.D. in geography from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Cambridge Political Economy Society Scholar. She holds a B.A. in environmental studies and in diplomacy and world affairs from Occidental College and an M.Sc. from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.

Grounded in political ecology and development, her research examines how mining, land and industrialization projects are experienced and contested in South Asia and the United States. She has published on Special Economic Zones and land-use protest, the fallacies of mining environmental impact assessments and the human rights and agricultural implications of resource extraction.

As an UKIERI Visiting Fellow in Mumbai in 2014, she researched the judicialization of environmental claims in India. An advocate of place-based learning and teaching, Bedi’s nascent research examines energy activism through the lens of hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania.

Jeff Engelhardt
Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Jeff Engelhardt earned a Ph.D. in philosophy in February 2011 from Georgetown University, where he was a University Fellow. In the same month and year, he earned a graduate certificate in cognitive science from Rutgers University, contributing while there to Zenon Pylyshyn’s Visual Attention Lab. He holds B.A. degrees in philosophy and classical languages from Saint Peter’s College. Engelhardt has published on the philosophical mind-body problem, on the cognitive science of visual attention and on the nature of causation. At Dickinson, he will continue work on philosophical and scientific questions concerning the nature of minds and begin a project on the nature and psychological bases of covert social constructs.

Beyond his research, Engelhardt is interested in good parenting, metafiction, soccer and activism promoting the interests of women and gender, sexual and romantic minorities. Before coming to Dickinson, Engelhardt was chair of philosophy at Siena Heights University from 2011 to 2014.

Holley Friedlander
Assistant Professor of Mathematics

Holley Friedlander earned her Ph.D. in mathematics in September 2013 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Before coming to Dickinson, she spent one year as a visiting assistant professor at Williams College.

Her research is in number theory. Current projects include computations and applications of Weyl group multiple Dirichlet series. 

She has been recognized for excellent teaching with the University of Massachusetts Residential First-Year Student Choice Award in 2010 and the Mathematics and Statistics Departmental Distinguished Teaching Award in 2012 and is a 2014-2015 Mathematical Association of America Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) Fellow.

Jason Gavenonis
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Jason Gavenonis received a B.A. in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Boston College in 2010.

At Boston College, he worked on the development of new tandem catalytic processes involving ruthenium-catalyzed olefin metathesis in the laboratory of Marc L. Snapper.

He then moved to Tufts University, as an NIH-IRACDA postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Joshua A. Kritzer. There he studied the use of conformationally constrained (“stapled”) peptides as inhibitors of cancer target Hsp90 and developed computational techniques to discover new peptide inhibitors of other protein-protein interactions.

His research interests include the development of new synthetic methods to constrain these flexible peptides into well-defined geometries, the combination of computational and synthetic chemistry to mimic the spatial organization of peptides presented by nature and the application of these techniques toward drug targets in rare diseases.

Katie Oliviero
Assistant Professor of Women's & Gender Studies

Katie Oliviero holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in gender studies from UCLA and a B.A. in women’s studies from Dartmouth College. She is a recipient of Emory University’s 2010-2012 Feminism and Legal Theory Project postdoctoral fellowship, as well as a 2012-2014 ACLS New Faculty Fellowship at the University of Colorado.

Her teaching specializations include transnational feminisms, immigration, sexuality studies, law, social movements and cultural analysis.

Oliviero’s book, The Political Life of Vulnerability: How Narratives of Risk Influence Immigration, Gay Rights and Abortion Politics, builds from these specializations and is out for review. Her publications appear in Debating Same-Sex Marriage in the Lesbian and Gay Movement (Minnesota UP 2013), Feminist Formations (2013, forthcoming), Signs (2011), and Women's Studies International Forum (2009).

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Published October 17, 2014