Dean of Faculty Ngoni Munemo recognized eight faculty members with Dean’s Scholarly Achievement Awards in three categories — career achievement, early career achievement, and notable year — at the May 14 faculty meeting.

These awards recognize individual accomplishment and reflect a richness and depth of scholarship and creative activity across the faculty.

Doran Larson, the Edward North Chair of Greek and Greek Literature and professor of literature and creative writing, received the Career Achievement Award.

Mo Alloush (economics), Nadya Bair (art history), and Jesse Weiner (classics) were honored for Early Career Achievement.

Notable Year Achievement awards went to Rob Kantrowitz ’82 (mathematics and statistics), Sharon Rivera (government), Julie Starr (anthropology), and Mahala Stewart (sociology).

Award descriptions and a list of previous recipients may be found on the Dean of Faculty site.

Career Achievement Award

Doran Larson
Edward North Chair of Greek and Greek Literature and Professor of Literature and Creative Writing

Colleagues describe Larson’s scholarship and accomplishments as “dizzying and varied,” “stunning,” and “worthy of recognition for their example of intellectual depth and moral urgency.”

Larson published Inside Knowledge: Incarcerated People on the Failures of the American Prison in January (NYU Press). He also founded the American Prison Writing Archive (APWA), an open-source archive of first-person narratives created by incarcerated individuals and prison workers that illustrates the reality of imprisonment in the U.S.

Begun at Hamilton following publication of his 2014 book Fourth City: Essays from the Prison in America, the APWA continues to grow and includes thousands of nonfiction works. A department colleague noted, “[Larson] is helping to shape the prison reform movement and champions prison education, a passion that grows out of his having taught writing workshops at Attica back in the 1990s [and] early 2000s.”

Quoting a nomination, Munemo said, “[Larson] has been able to turn poetics into practice through the American Prison Writing Archive. It promises to change the way society views and treats prisoners and will be used by researchers for decades to come. The nominator called APWA Larson’s ‘biggest legacy,’ and it is something that will permanently distinguish Hamilton.”

Another person described the archive as “a nationally groundbreaking work of historical significance,” and still another credits Larson for “making a singular and singularly compelling case for prison reform.”

“[He is] a true public intellectual,” a nominator wrote. “But this is also the reinvention of a person who had an extremely successful earlier run as a creative writer: he has published two novels, a novella, and 14 stories — and he has four refereed scholarly articles about literature. [His] most recent project … is a non-fiction meditation/memoir that promises to pull together the creative writer and the political reformer.”

Early Career Achievement Award

Mo Alloush
Assistant Professor of Economics

Colleagues called Alloush “an impressive scholar and contributor to a vibrant research environment,” “a future leader of the department,” “a very thoughtful and talented teacher, and an energetic mentor to his junior colleagues both within and outside of the … department.”

Munemo noted that Economics Chair Stephen Wu recently completed extensive background research to prepare for an external review of the department. Wu said Alloush’s “scholarly record is one of the strongest (if not the strongest) out of all junior faculty members in development economics at any liberal arts college.”

In 2022, Alloush was awarded a $40,000 USAID grant to study measurement and data-focused issues related to poverty traps and resilience among poor households. That year, he was a visiting scholar at the University of California San Diego, where he continued his ongoing research at the intersection of urban poverty, violence, and psychological wellbeing.

Alloush has nine publications in peer-reviewed journals, each of which has received numerous citations. Of other papers in progress, “one of them has the potential to be his biggest hit, as it is the first paper to bridge two particular strands of research within the area of in-utero exposure and economic outcomes,” a nominator wrote.

Nadya Bair
Assistant Professor of Art History

Just over a year ago, The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded Bair $60,000 for her second book project, Reinventing Documentary: Cornell Capa and the International Center of Photography.

Bair’s nominators wrote that she “has established an extraordinary record of scholarship that distinguishes her as a rising star in the interdisciplinary field of the history of photography.” Her first book, The Decisive Network: Magnum Photos and the Postwar Image Market won the 2021 PROSE Award in Media and Cultural Studies.

In 2023, The Art Institute of Chicago Field Guide to Photography and Media included Bair’s entry on “Collaboration,” which appeared alongside contributions by well-known critics and photographers. She also wrote an essay in Facing Black Star, published last June by MIT Press, that examines the circulation of press photographs from Nazi Germany to the Black Star photo agency in New York in the late 1930s.

Bair has published articles in leading peer-reviewed journals, and her essays have appeared in peer-reviewed collection edited by distinguished scholars in her field. “Every indication is that Bair is becoming an important scholar of international reputation at an early stage of her career,” her nominators wrote.

Jesse Weiner
Acting Chair and Associate Professor of Classics

Munemo said Weiner’s department colleagues describe him as “astoundingly productive.” Over the past 10 years, he has published 19 scholarly articles or chapters, with four more forthcoming this year. He has also written pieces aimed at more general audiences, contributed book reviews and encyclopedia entries, co-edited two volumes, and given innumerable conference presentations and invited talks.

“The range of topics is as impressive as the volume,” a nominator wrote. Another added that subjects “have included everything from traditional figures in classics to Frankenstein, Eminem, and even Ted Cruz.”

She continued, “[He] has produced an outstanding body of work … that makes connections across disciplines and engages with contemporary issues. His CV exemplifies what liberal arts scholarship should look like — squarely situated in the liberal arts tradition but engaging with the issues that matter to us today.”

Weiner excels at “keeping his finger on the pulse of the transformations of the field in recent years. As such, he seems to embody the principles of scholarship in the liberal arts and to be eminently deserving of recognition for his research achievements,” the colleague wrote.

Notable Year Achievement Award

Rob Kantrowitz ’82
Marjorie and Robert W. McEwen Professor of Mathematics

In honoring Kantrowitz, Munemo quoted the American Mathematical Society: “Mathematicians tend to publish at rates that are modest compared to some other sciences” and “time to publication is typically much longer that in other STEM fields.” 

“All that makes the recent scholarly activity of [Kantrowitz] that much more remarkable,” Munemo said. He noted that since 2020, Kantrowitz has authored or co-authored seven published papers in refereed research journals, including four in 2022 to 2023. His work has appeared in Elemente der Mathematik, The Australian Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications, and the international research journal Rendiconti del Circolo Matematico di Palermo. 

One of the articles was praised by a reviewer as “an exemplary contribution to the extensive literature on this well-worn subject … and very well-written” — no surprise since [Kantrowitz] received his bachelor’s degree from Hamilton, Munemo observed.

In another article, which focuses on the “topic of approximation and is central to mathematical analysis,” is “a common thread between courses that Kantrowitz teaches regularly and some of his recent research. In fact, the idea for the article originated from a problem during a Functional Analysis course he taught in the spring of 2021,” Munemo noted.

Sharon Rivera
Sidney Wertimer Professor for Excellence in Advising and Mentoring, Professor of Government
Director of Russian Studies

Munemo noted that among other activities in 2023, Rivera “published four articles, launched a digital human rights project, and continued her work as PI for an international survey project.”

In August, Rivera authored “The Views of Russian Elites on Military Intervention Abroad” as part of a special issue of the Russian Analytical Digest (RAD) devoted to explaining the “Ideological and Conspiratorial Underpinnings of Russia’s War Against Ukraine.”

She co-authored “Why No Collective Action by Russian Mothers?” that appears online as part of “The Russia Files,” published by the Wilson Center. Another article, “The Views of Russian Elites on Military Intervention Abroad,” was published in an issue of Russland–Analysen. It was based on data collected in 2020 by the Survey of Russian Elites, a project directed by Rivera with support from Hamilton’s Levitt Center and National Science Foundation.

Rivera also co-authored “The Child-Rearing Scale as a Measure of Authoritarianism in a Non-Western Context: Evidence from Mass and Elite Surveys in Russia” in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research.

Additionally, Rivera and a colleague in the Art Department helped launch a human rights digital project, which included creation of a new course. It began with a four-day intensive training session sponsored by the Levitt Center and received grant funding from two sources. “Once again, we have the pleasure of recognizing a colleague whose scholarship is directly related to her teaching,” Munemo concluded.

Julie Starr
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Starr’s book Modified Bodies, Material Selves: Beauty Ideals in Post-Reform Shanghai was published last July by the University of Washington Press. Munemo reported that her nominators describe the work as “an especially prestigious venue for monographs in anthropology, Asian studies, and gender studies.”

Her colleagues in the Anthropology Department said the monograph was awarded a subvention for additional promotion by the Association of Asian Studies because the book is likely to inspire interest in the field, Munemo noted. They said the University of Washington Press also nominated Starr’s work for the Margaret Mead Award of the Society for Applied Anthropology for a monograph that reaches publics beyond the discipline.

A colleague at another institution called Starr’s book “methodologically innovative and teeming with original insights and observations,” and a second said the text “contributes a critical feminist perspective to the study of China’s beauty economy and the global wellness industry.”

Munemo noted that Starr was awarded tenure at the March board meeting.

Mahala Stewart
Assistant Professor of Sociology

Mahala Stewart’s The Color of Homeschooling: How Inequality Shapes School Choice was published by NYU Press in 2023. The book, which is based on more than 100 interviews with homeschooling parents, exposes the racial differences in homeschooling and what that might mean for the nation’s educational system. Its findings contradict many commonly held beliefs about the rationales for homeschooling.

Munemo said one of Stewart’s nominators said the book “builds on thought-provoking ideas advanced in a prior article and positions her as a national expert on the burgeoning educational trend of parents opting to homeschool their children.” A reviewer said the book is “written with great clarity and empathy” and “shows how homeschooling emerges as a key site for protecting children and privilege, with many important lessons for families, educators, and researchers.”

Munemo quoted another review that said, “[The book] is a careful and nuanced examination of the sometimes wrenching decisions mothers make to ensure their children receive a good education. This beautifully written book will shape future academic and policy discussions about the choices families make when attempting to navigate public education.”

And, he said, a third reviewer wrote, “The Color of Homeschooling captures the different priorities, constraints, and resources families are operating with in trying to raise children and navigate educational systems today.”

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