(From left) Profs. Kyle Ormsby, Adam Groce, Alison Crocker, Anna Ritz, Andrew Bray, and Lucía Martínez Valdivia were all granted tenure by the Board of Trustees.
(From left) Profs. Kyle Ormsby, Adam Groce, Alison Crocker, Anna Ritz, Andrew Bray, and Lucía Martínez Valdivia were all granted tenure by the Board of Trustees.

Six Outstanding Professors Earn Tenure

Teacher-scholars represent wide range of disciplines and expertise.

By Katie Pelletier ’03 | April 15, 2020

We are pleased to announce that the board of trustees has granted tenure to six outstanding Reed professors: Andrew Bray [mathematics 2015–], Alison Crocker [physics 2014–], Adam Groce [computer science 2014–], Lucía Martínez Valdivia [English and humanities 2014–], Kyle Ormsby [mathematics 2014–], and Anna Ritz [computational biology 2015–]. 

These professors are first and foremost dynamic and effective teachers, but they have also distinguished themselves in their fields and won prestigious grants, awards, and honors. Several have collaborated with one another on interdisciplinary projects; and two are known for competitive athletics, recently clocking speedy finishes in the Reed 5K. Their promotions are testament to their outstanding contributions to the college, to their fields, and most especially to their students. 

Prof. Nigel Nicholson, the dean of the faculty, notes that he is impressed by their achievements and promise. “Having seen seven cohorts of recently tenured faculty members, I feel like I say this every year, but the achievements and the levels at which the newer faculty members operate are astounding. These faculty members are terrific teachers and distinguished researchers, and also devoted to the college. Reed is safe in their hands.”

He adds, “I also want to note that the computer science and computational biology positions were made possible by gifts from trustees, alumni, parents, and friends. This kind of collaboration makes a lasting impact on the curriculum and allows us to bring in such fine faculty members.”

Prof. Andrew Bray

Andrew Bray is a statistician known for his innovative and creative teaching methods. His research includes span spatial statistics, statistical computing, and data science. Recently he partnered with Prof. Ritz [computational biology] and Prof. Groce [computer science] on a National Science Foundation grant to develop new ways to enable the analysis of sensitive data while ensuring that privacy is maintained. He is a fellow with the OpenIntro Project, a nonprofit dedicated to making textbooks and educational products that are free, transparent, and lower barriers to education. He did his undergraduate work at Duke University in history and oceanography and completed his PhD in statistics from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a member of the reviews editorial board at the American Statistician/Journal of the American Statistical Association and the creator of a statistical software package in R called "infer".

Prof. Alison Crocker

Alison Crocker is an astrophysicist with an impressive record of research and dedication to involving Reed students in her research. These achievements recently garnered her the prestigious Lynwood W. Swanson Promise for Scientific Research Award from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust. Her research focuses on the physics of star formation in nearby galaxies. She works on connecting what we know about the gas in galaxies (the precursor to star formation) to what we know about the stars that actually form. Her current mission, she says, is to understand the neutral carbon line emission from local galaxies using data from the Herschel Space Telescope. Crocker studied physics and mathematics at Dartmouth College, attended the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and went on to earn her DPhil in astrophysics at Oxford. Before coming to Reed in 2014, she completed two postdoctoral positions at the University of Massachusetts and the University of Toledo. She was instrumental in establishing Reed’s astrophysics program and has been an inspiring mentor to women and underrepresented groups in the sciences. She is also a competitive athlete in orienteering, and has represented the US in international competitions.

Prof. Adam Groce

Adam Groce is a cryptographer who is known for his popular and demanding computer science courses and for involving Reed students in his research. His work focuses on database privacy and devising methods to allow large databases of private information (e.g., medical records) to be used by researchers without compromising the privacy of individuals whose information is contained within those databases. He is interested and teaches about cybersecurity policy questions and investigates applying game theory to cryptography. He recently won a National Science Foundation grant with an interdisciplinary team, which included Prof. Ritz, and Prof. Bray, to develop new ways to protect personal data vulnerable to inadvertent exposure. Groce earned bachelor's degrees in mathematics and political science from MIT, and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Maryland. His position at Reed was made possible by generous support from trustees, alumni, parents, and friends.

Prof. Lucía Martínez Valdivia

Lucía Martínez Valdivia is a professor of English and Humanities known for her outstanding Hum 110 lectures and demanding classes on a broad range of poetry, literature, and theory. She researches early modern English poetry and non-dramatic prose, in particular how sixteenth- and seventeenth-century poetry intersects with music, history, and religion. She is currently completing her first book, Common Meter: A Revised History of English Poetry, 1548–1948, and has published essays in English Literary History, Notes & Queries, and Gathering Force: English Literature in Transition (Cambridge 2019). Her op-eds have appeared in The Washington Post and the Oregonian. She holds a Bachelors of Music in violin performance from Florida State University, an MA from Columbia, and her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

Prof. Kyle Ormsby

Kyle Ormsby is a mathematician who studies topology, especially homotopy theory and its interactions with algebraic geometry. He is a dedicated teacher and mentors students on topics ranging from topological quantum field theory to modular forms to algebraic K-theory. For the latter he obtained a National Science Foundation grant for a summer program, The K-group, in which a small summer research team at Reed focused on Milnor-style K-theories and their applications in number theory, algebraic geometry, and motivic homotopy theory. He runs a summer math visualization program with Reed students called "Project Project." He earned his PhD from the University of Michigan, was a visiting scholar at the University of Oslo and at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California, and worked as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT. He is one of two topologists in the math department; the other is Prof. Osorno, with whom he has hosted conferences at Reed and recently won a grant from the National Science Foundation to do research in homotopy theory, a branch of mathematics that uses the tools of algebra to explore the otherworldly terrain of topology.

Prof. Anna Ritz

Anna Ritz is Reed’s first computational biologist. She was recognized for outstanding mentorship by the National Center for Women and Information Technology with the Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award. She has won nearly $2 million in grants, including a highly prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award, and has compiled an impressive publication record. Her research focuses on designing algorithms to model biological systems, concentrating on the ways diseases such as cancer affect these systems. She won a National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant to computationally analyze cellular signaling pathways, and a grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to develop computational methods to identify “driver” genes whose mutations may be responsible for cancer progression. She has collaborated with colleagues such as Prof. Derek Applewhite [biology], with whom she won a $589K grant from the NSF to find new proteins involved in cell shape change, and she collaborated with Prof. Bray and Prof. Groce on a project that received an NSF grant to develop new ways to protect personal data vulnerable to inadvertent exposure. She holds a PhD in computer science from Brown University. Her position at Reed was made possible by generous support from a group of Reed trustees.

Tags: Academics, Diversity/Equity/Inclusion, Giving Back to Reed, Institutional, Professors