Smith College welcomes new faculty members


Theresa Brock, Assistant Professor of French Studies, earned his doctorate. in French and Francophone Literature with a minor in Women’s Studies from Pennsylvania State University. Her area of ​​research specialization is early modern studies, and her academic interests include environmental humanities, visual media, and science and technology. Brock’s book manuscript, “The Visionary Queen: Justice, Reform, and the Labyrinth in Marguerite de Navarre,” draws on religious studies, literary criticism, and gender studies to examine the representation of women as Agents of Institutional Reform in the Early Modern Period. The book is under contract for publication by the University of Delaware Press in their Early Modern Feminisms series. Prior to coming to Smith, Brock taught at Penn State’s World Campus and Williams College.

Shiya Cao, Mass Mutual Assistant Professor of Statistical and Data Sciences, earned his doctorate. degree in information technology from the Business School of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Her research focuses on disability inclusion and broader social inclusion topics using quantitative, qualitative and design science methods. She has conducted research from the critical perspective of designing information systems to improve the process of workplace accommodation for employees with disabilities. She has also conducted digital accessibility research regarding data-driven decision-making to integrate accessibility guidelines into college curricula. She has an upcoming co-authored book chapter titled “The Chains That Bind: Gender, Disability, and IT Accommodations.” Cao is excited to further explore these areas of research with Smithies and help them pay attention to the human, social, and emotional elements of data science.

Kaitlyn Cook, Assistant Professor of Statistics and Data Science, received his BS in Mathematics/Statistics from Carleton College and his AM and Ph.D. degrees in Biostatistics from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. His research focuses on the development of methodology for monitoring and analyzing cluster-randomized trials with interval-censored endpoints. Cook’s work aims to develop a comprehensive suite of statistical methods and software that will allow researchers to conduct infectious disease studies without having to resort to modifications of this underlying data structure. His teaching interests include biostatistics, survival analysis, generalized linear models, and clustered data analysis. Before coming to Smith, Cook was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute.

Claire Leavitt, Assistant Professor of Government, earned his doctorate. in government from Cornell University in 2021. Specializing in American institutions, her research focuses on congressional-executive relations (including the oversight process), partisan polarization, and the effects of political violence on government. behavior of elected officials. Leavitt spent the 2019 calendar year in Washington, D.C. serving as a congressional oversight member on the majority staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. During the 2021-2022 academic year, she served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science and Political Studies at Grinnell College.

Monica Lopez Orozco, Assistant Theater Professor, has a master’s degree in theater from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has worked on stages across the country, including in Chicago. Notable institutions include: Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater and Utah Shakespeare Festival. Lopez Orozco has also appeared in numerous commercials and on television in various episodes of “Chicago Med” (NBC) and “Soundtrack” (Netflix). She last appeared last winter in “Heisenberg” at the Northern Stage. Previous directing credits include “The American Life of Dieguito Rivera y Kahlo” with The Vagrancy’s Michigan Chapter (virtual reading, summer 2021) and “Failure: A Love Story” (spring 2021) and “Nowhere” (spring 2022), a new work developed by students, at Oakland University, where she served as a Visiting Assistant Professor from 2019-2022. As an educator and scholar, Lopez Orozco has focused on decentering traditional theater training practices in order to incorporate and elevate the voices of marginalized perspectives and uphold linguistic justice in voice acting training. She is currently researching energy work-based practices to interrogate the connection between mind and body and its ability to heal, promote the well-being of the whole being for the performer, and stimulate creative flow.

Yancey Orr, associate professor of environmental science and policy, earned his doctorate. in Cultural and Environmental Anthropology from the University of Arizona and MA and BA degrees from Yale University. Prior to joining Smith, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland. He has researched and worked with indigenous communities in the Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia and the United States. Her work explores how environmental insights, knowledge, and action emerge in indigenous, agrarian, and post-industrial societies in Southeast Asia and North America. He used a combination of multisensory ethnography and cognitive science experiments to describe how symbols and interactive experience produce different types of auditory, visual, and conceptual knowledge and ignorance. Her current research examines class and bias in the perception and use of the environment. One aspect of this project is research into how environmental biases are embodied through digital media. As part of this work, Orr directed the Environmental Sensory Lab at the University of Maryland.

Stephanie Jarvi Steele, Assistant Professor of Psychology, graduated from Smith College in 2007 and is a licensed clinical psychologist in Massachusetts who studies self-harm thoughts and behaviors in high-risk psychopathology. She got her doctorate. in Clinical Psychology from Boston Suffolk University and completed his predoctoral clinical fellowship at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School. Steele then completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Boston University in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, where she worked on a large clinical trial exploring the effectiveness of transdiagnostic cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment alcohol consumption and comorbid anxiety disorders. Steele founded and directed the Behavioral Assessment of Self-Injury Laboratory (BASIL) at Williams College, where she recently served as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. She is excited to bring BASIL to Smith to continue her studies aimed at elucidating risk factors and preventive interventions for self-harming thoughts and behaviors with the help of Smith’s students. She is expected to regularly teach abnormal psychology and research methods.

Becca Thomases, math and statistics teacher, earned his doctorate. in mathematics in 2003 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to joining Smith, she was a professor and vice chair for graduate studies in the Department of Mathematics at the University of California, Davis. His research focuses on data-driven analysis and numerical simulations of partial differential equations with applications in life sciences and engineering. Recently, she has been looking at how microorganisms, such as sperm and other flagellated organisms, move through mucus and other sticky, gooey environments. Thomases has led initiatives to increase active learning in math classrooms and created a teaching assistant training program that addresses topics such as understanding the role of diversity in classrooms and developing concrete strategies to create inclusive classrooms. An applied mathematician, Thomases is excited to bring new interdisciplinary research projects in applied mathematics to Smith College students.

Jorge Vásquez, Assistant Professor of Economics, earned his doctorate. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research lies in the area of ​​applied microeconomic theory, where he exploits theoretical tools as well as insights from behavioral economics, industrial organization, law and economics to better understand economic mechanisms and social phenomena. Vásquez has worked on a wide range of topics, including crime, bitcoin, monopoly regulation, and interdependent preferences. More recently, he has become interested in the spread of misinformation on social media. Prior to joining Smith, Vásquez served as a senior economist at the Bank of Canada and an assistant professor of economics at Wesleyan University.

Pun Winichakul, Assistant Professor of Economics, earned her M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from the University of Pittsburgh and his bachelor’s degree in psychology and economics from Grinnell College. He is an applied microeconomist whose primary research interests lie at the intersection of public and behavioral economics. Winichakul uses a mix of experimental and observational data to explore questions that highlight how society can improve the quality of public resources and access to them for disadvantaged communities. He is particularly interested in the economics of nonprofit institutions, including their funding, workforce, and service impact. Other areas of interest include the economics of immigration.


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