Prof. Mir Bowring [chemistry] uses molecular models of chiral cobalt complexes to illustrate the origins of the field of coordination chemistry.
Prof. Mir Bowring [chemistry] uses molecular models of chiral cobalt complexes to illustrate the origins of the field of coordination chemistry.

Newly Tenured Faculty Bring Ideas and Innovation to Reed

Get to know ten professors making exceptional contributions to the college’s mission.

By Anna Johnson | September 28, 2022

The board of trustees recently awarded tenure status to ten remarkable professors.

Hearty congratulations are in order for Betsey Behr Brada [anthropology, 2015–], Kelly N. Chacón [chemistry, 2015–], Victoria Fortuna [dance, 2015–], Tom Landvatter [Greek, Latin, and ancient Mediterranean studies & humanities, 2015–], Mónica López Lerma [Spanish & humanities, 2015–], and LaShandra Sullivan [anthropology, 2016–], who reached this milestone in fall 2021; and Mir Bowring [chemistry, 2016–], Sam Fey [biology, 2017–], Radhika Natarajan [history & humanities, 2014–], and Michelle Wang [art history & humanities, 2015–], who joined the ranks in fall 2022.

These professors hold an impressive array of accolades, awards, and grants and epitomize the college’s dedication to rigorous scholarly pursuit, critical thinking, and creativity. 

To achieve tenure a professor must demonstrate excellence in all aspects of teaching and be an active scholar in their academic discipline. Outside the classroom they must also contribute to campus life and community through department and committee service.

“I am delighted for the college and for these ten faculty members,” shared Prof. Kathy Oleson, the dean of the faculty. “They are true teacher-scholars—they are not only contributing in impressive ways to their academic fields but also, and more importantly, they are fantastic teachers who are transforming Reed students’ lives. They are dedicated to ensuring that all students are thriving in our intellectually-challenging environment. With this new class of tenured faculty, Reed is in good hands.”

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Prof. Betsey Behr Brada

 Betsey Behr Brada is a cultural anthropologist specializing in health and medicine in southern Africa. Her upcoming book, Learning to Save the World: Global Health Pedagogies and Fantasies of Transformation in Botswana (Cornell University Press, 2023), relies on fieldwork gathered in the midst of Botswana’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. The more than two years of ethnographic data that inform this manuscript also resulted in an American Ethnologist article that won her the 2013 Clark Taylor Paper Prize. Her work has also garnered support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the Fulbright-Hays program, among others.

Her global health expertise proved to be especially applicable during the COVID-19 pandemic, as she engaged students on such topics as the management of epidemics and the connection between zoonotic diseases and climate change. She earned her PhD in 2011 from the University of Chicago and went on to serve at Princeton University’s Global Health and Health Policy program before coming to Reed.

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Prof. Kelly Chacón

Kelly Chacón is a chemist who has carved a niche at Reed by being unapologetically themself and creating space for underrepresented identities to thrive in the field of chemistry. They were recently recognized by the American Chemical Society in a special magazine issue highlighting the stories of trailblazing LGBTQ+ chemists, is a current Henry Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award Nominee, were awarded the Ed Stiefel Early Investigator Award, and have also been the recipient of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) most prestigious award for pre-tenure faculty. This and other significant awards from the likes of the Murdock Charitable Trust have been a huge boon for their metal ion research, which has implications for tempering bacterial resistance to antibiotics and bioremediating harmful atomic compounds in the environment.

They have leveraged their success not only to make discoveries in the lab, but also to invest in students. “Kelly is in large part the reason why I consider myself a competent and relatively independent scientist,” said Segovia Garcia ’21, who worked alongside the professor on the proposal that snagged the NSF grant in 2020. “She gave me a spot in her lab when I had almost no prior experience and let me run free.”

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Prof. Victoria Fortuna

Soon after joining Reed’s dance department in 2015, Victoria Fortuna started imagining how her experience with an innovative dance collective in Argentina could help students and the broader community experience dance in a new way. Launched in 2016, the resulting Community Dance at Reed project is a space where participants inhabiting all types of bodies and with all levels of experience can not only express themselves through physical movement but also through crucial discussions about society, culture, and identity.

Her recent book Moving Otherwise: Dance, Violence, and Memory in Buenos Aires (Oxford University Press, 2019) won the de la Torre Bueno First Book Award from the Dance Studies Association. She also recently co-edited a special section of Theatre History Studies titled “Commingled Histories: Theatre & Dance,” and is working on an upcoming book that aims to explore the connection between concert dance and racial identity in 20th century Argentina.

Fortuna is a decorated scholar who has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, New York Public Library, Fulbright, Society of Dance History Scholars, and Latin American Studies Association. Before coming to Reed she earned a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University.

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Prof. Tom Landvatter

Tom Landvatter has been living quite a GLAMorous life as a Professor of Greek, Latin, and Ancient Mediterranean Studies (now known as GLAM) since coming to Reed in 2015. He is a Humanities 110 lecturer, a key contributor to Reed’s annual Latin Forum for local high schoolers, and the recipient of several significant fellowships and grants. Tom’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and a Fulbright award, and focuses on the archaeology of death and burial and the archaeology of imperialism.

Outside of the classroom he can be found excavating ancient history at archaeological dig sites around the world, in particular Egypt and the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. He is currently co-director of the Pyla-Kousopetria Archaeological Project’s (PKAP) excavations at the site of Vigla, Cyprus, a rare Hellenistic fortification that could help shed new light on human life during the era of Alexander the Great. The project’s archaeological field school has proved to be fertile ground for intrepid Reedies since 2018.

Prof. Landvatter holds a PhD in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan and BA’s in History and Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies from Penn State University.

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Prof. Mónica López Lerma

With an array of degrees in film, literature and law, Mónica López Lerma designs and teaches a variety of interdisciplinary courses at Reed in Spanish and the humanities. Thanks in part to her involvement on the Film and Media Studies Committee, students will soon be able to graduate with the brand new Film and Media Studies minor.

As an educator she is known for disrupting students’ preconceived notions of law as a system of rules and inviting them instead to consider the complex relationship of law to culture, history, aesthetics, and politics. Her lessons are unique on campus due to their infusion with a blend of methods and materials from legal theory, law, and humanities.

As a scholar she is regarded for her 2021 book Sensing Justice through Contemporary Spanish Cinema: Aesthetics, Politics, Law (Edinburgh University Press). In addition, she was the editor-in-chief of No-Foundations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Law from 2012-2017 and currently sits on its editorial board.

Her PhD is in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan, but her two law degrees have allowed her to teach around the world at distinguished law schools in Finland, Canada, and Kyrgyzstan, among others.

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Prof. LaShandra Sullivan

LaShandra Sullivan is a quadrilingual anthropologist who came to Reed in 2016 and has made an impact on campus by serving on several Reed committees, cultivating discussion through the Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies (CRES) Colloquium, hosting high-caliber guest lecturers, and excelling in engagement with students. In a review of her methods one student said, “Of all the classes I've taken at Reed, Sullivan's classes have been, by far, the most influential to my thinking and behavior.”

She conducts ethnographic fieldwork on the ground in Rio de Janeiro and in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The latter informed both her dissertation and a forthcoming book, Unsettling Agribusiness: Indigenous Land Struggle in Center-West Brazil (University of Nebraska Press).

Prior to Reed she completed a PhD in anthropology at the University of Chicago and taught at Purdue University.

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Prof. Mir Bowring

Mir Bowring is an organometallic chemist known for making high level chemistry research accessible to students. Bowring's research program, funded most recently by a grant from the American Chemical Society, reveals the invisible mechanisms of chemical reactions with applications to producing greener fuels like hydrogen.

Bowring has recently published papers with Reed undergraduate coauthors on air-free glassware and on large isotope effects in organometallic chemistry, and their inorganic chemistry class participates in their research on reclaiming palladium from road dust.

Bowring earned a BS in chemistry from Yale University before working as a high school chemistry teacher. They went on to earn a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Washington and Yale University.

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Prof. Sam Fey

Sam Fey is an ecologist who studies how populations and communities respond to, and are shaped by, environmental variation. Most of Sam’s research involves organisms that inhabit aquatic ecosystems including fish, crustacean zooplankton, and their phytoplankton prey (the microorganisms we have to thank for generating about half the globe’s oxygen supply).

Prof. Fey’s research is supported by the National Science Foundation, and has incorporated efforts of  Reed College students who work both in a lab and field settings. Since 2017, Sam has published 17 peer reviewed articles involving 8 different Reed student co-authors.

In addition to his ecology course offerings and running the lab, he also advises independent studies and senior thesis students on projects on a wide array of topics ranging from  understanding the causes of mass fish die-offs, the consequences of microplastics, and the effects of urbanization of coyotes.

Prior to joining the faculty at Reed he studied biology at Hamilton College and went on to earn a Ecology and Evolutionary Biology PhD from Dartmouth College before working as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. When Sam’s not teaching or researching ecology, he enjoys spending time outside with his family including his dog and officemate, Watson.

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Prof. Radhika Natarajan

Prof. Radhika Natarajan is a historian of Modern Imperial Britain whose article “Performing Multiculturalism: The Commonwealth Arts Festival of 1965” was published by The Journal of British Studies. Her monograph Empire and the Origins of Multiculturalism examines engagements between social workers and migrants to Britain from the decolonizing empire, and will be published by Oxford University Press. In addition, she is co-authoring an introduction to imperialism with John Munro for Columbia University Press, as well as writing a children's history of the British Empire.

Before starting her career at Reed in 2014 as Assistant Professor of History and Humanities, Natarajan obtained her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Her scholarship and pedagogy incorporate the experiences of colonial subjects in order to both expand the range of actors and activity in the imperial past and to show how contemporary inequalities have been structured by colonialism.

Alumnus Mayaki Kimba ’20 notes that the professor’s methodology drastically reconfigured his approach to studying history and perception of the present. “Taking classes with Prof. Natarajan made me understand the analytical invalidity of distinctions between domestic and imperial histories,” he says, adding, “This has transformed how I see and understand the world.”

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Prof. Michelle Wang

Michelle Wang received a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley before coming to Reed as an assistant professor of art history and humanities in 2015. At Reed she broadens students' understanding of the art and archaeology of tenth century BCE to third century CE China, with an emphasis on early notational systems. 

In a review of Prof. Wang’s approach one art student said, “Michelle has high expectations, but is such an amazing professor that you become grateful for it as you grow.” They added, “She has an amazing personality and will make you feel engaged and interested in everything she teaches.” 

Prof. Wang’s research interests include artisanal practice, history of technology, excavated texts, and mortuary culture. Her current book project reflects her interest in material culture and explores the multifaceted nature of early Chinese maps.

Tags: Academics, Institutional, Professors