News of the Collegesummer2007

Professors Receive Research Grants

breenMichael P. Breen, associate professor of history and humanities, has been awarded a $4,000 Franklin Research Grant by the American Philosophical Society for work on his new book, “Priests of the Law”: Lawyers, Law & Social Change in Europe (1500-1800). He has also received a three-month fellowship from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. In his first book, Law, City, and King: Legal Culture, Municipal Politics, and State Formation in Early Modern Dijon (University of Rochester Press, 2007), Breen explored the place of law in early modern French political culture. Building on this research, he is now examining the historical processes that made the law, legal institutions, and legal culture dominant features of Western European society. Breen is analyzing both published and manuscript sources to highlight the ways in which lawyers helped create institutions and concepts that Europeans increasingly accepted as alternatives to other forms of social regulation and dispute resolution. Breen has been a member of the Reed faculty since 2000. leibmanLaura A. Leibman, professor of English and humanities at Reed since 1995, received a $5,000 Summer Stipend Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities for “Converso: The Religious Life of the Sephardim of Colonial Newport.” Leibman’s project is to provide the first in-depth analysis of the variety of religious literature used and written by Jews in colonial America, and to place this literature in the context of larger changes occurring in Sephardic religion during the period. Leibman and research assistant Suzanna Goldblatt ’07 also received a $9,500 Ruby Grant for Faculty–Student Collaborative Research in the Humanities this summer from Reed. The grant supported their archival research on the Sephardic community that lived in Newport, Rhode Island, during the eighteenth century. Through this case study, Leibman hopes to expose the ways in which the Newport community challenges our understanding of both the history of American Judaism and eighteenth-century religious life in New England.
rennSuzy Renn, assistant professor of biology, has received a two-year grant of $42,000 from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust’s Research Program for the Life Sciences to support her work on African cichlid fishes. Renn’s project aims to discover whether the evolution of complex behaviors in cichlid fishes—for example, aggressive territorial behavior or monogamous bi-parental care—is the result of divergence in gene sequence in the same genes each time the behavior has evolved, or, conversely, whether it is caused by divergence in different genes each time. The novelty of her current project, says Renn, is that she will be looking at 12,000 genes at the same time, whereas researchers in the past have been limited to a few genes at a time. Renn will work with two Reed students each summer on the project, using a genomic tool called a microarray. “While this won’t solve ‘the cichlid problem,’” says Renn, referencing a phrase coined by the late evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr, “it will put us one step closer to understanding the molecular basis of adaptive evolutionary radiation.” Renn has been a member of the Reed faculty since 2006.