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We Are Pitzer's New Faculty Members

This year Pitzer College welcomed the largest group of new faculty members since its founding. The eight distinguished faculty members bring with them excellent scholarly credentials, awards and honors, as well as publication and service experience. Their backgrounds and areas of expertise will serve to enhance the already strong field groups to which they belong. Among the group is the College’s first art historian.

Bill Anthes | Assistant Professor

Bill AnthesField Group: Art History
Current Courses Taught: Artist as Traveler; Tradition and Transformation in Native North American Art and Culture; Theories of Contemporary Art; Art Since 1960
Education: PhD, American Studies, University of Minnesota; MA, Art History, University of Colorado; BFA, Art History, University of Colorado
Research Interests: Contemporary Native American art and visual culture, and issues of transnationalism in contemporary art
Of Note: I think that my most important publication is my book, Native Moderns. It’s a contribution to a vital new, interdisciplinary field looking at contemporary indigenous cultures in a comparative context, and part of an effort to revise and expand the histories of modernism and modernity.
Reason for Coming to Pitzer: I came to work at Pitzer to collaborate with students and faculty engaged in a global dialogue about contemporary art and culture.

Sumangala Bhattacharya | Assistant Professor

Sumangala BhattacharyaField Group: English and World Literature
Current Courses Taught: Survey of British Literature; Rule Britannia: Imperialism and Victorian Literature and Culture; Literary Theory as a Critique and Expression of Society; First-Year Seminar: On the Trail of the Vampire
Education: PhD, English Literature, University of Southern California; MA, English Literature, University of North Texas; AB, Physics, Smith College
Research Interests: Nineteenth-century British literature and culture, with a focus on issues of gender and colonialism; gothic literature and other popular literary forms of the nineteenth century; currently working on a monograph on discourses of hunger in the Victorian period
Of Note: My essay “Coding Famine: Famine Relief and the British Raj in Rudyard Kipling’s ‘William the Conqueror’” (forthcoming, Clio) expresses in a short compass the main themes of my research interests: the intermixture of literature and history in the constructions of gender, race and class in Victorian culture.
Reason for Coming to Pitzer: I think Pitzer students are particularly receptive to my approach to teaching. I believe teaching should be about the dynamic exchange of ideas between all the participants in a classroom, not the delivery of content packaged for efficiency and convenience—a sprawling buffet of ideas, not little, protein bars of concepts and facts. My students this semester seem to be intellectual risk-takers, braving uncertainty, refusing to settle for the comforts of the familiar—and that makes for a wonderful experience.

Melissa Coleman | Assistant Professor

Melissa ColemanField Group: Biology (Joint Science Department of The Claremont Colleges)
Current Courses Taught: Behavioral Neurobiology
Education: PhD, University of Alabama at Birmingham; BS, Samford University
Research Interests: Neural basis of behavior, cellular neurobiology and birdsong
Of Note: I published an article titled “Synaptic Transformations
Underlying Highly Selective Auditory Representations of Learned Birdsong” in the Journal of Neuroscience 24, No. 33 (2004).
Reason for Coming to Pitzer: I am so excited to have the opportunity to teach at Pitzer, within the Joint Science Department. The thing that most attracted me to the Joint Science Department is the interaction between chemists, physicists and biologists. In addition, I was impressed with the active involvement of students in scientific research within the department, which substantially strengthens the learning experience of the students.

Milton Machuca | Assistant Professor

Milton MachucaField Group: Modern Languages, Literature and Cultures (Spanish)
Current Courses Taught: In Quest of God in Latin America; Introductory Spanish; Intermediate Spanish
Education: PhD, Anthropology, Temple University; MA, Anthropology, Temple University; Licenciatura in Psychology, Universidad Centroamericana, El Salvador
Research Interests: Latin America and the Caribbean, indigenous people of Latin America, Mexican and Central American migration to the U.S.
Of Note: As a graduate student at Temple University, I received the Senior T.A. Consultant Award for the academic years 1997-8 and 1998-9. As a Visiting Assistant Professor at Swarthmore College, I received the 2004 Intercultural Center Faculty Recognition Award for support of and commitment to the students of the Intercultural Center.
Reason for Coming to Pitzer: As a Latin American with a background in psychology and anthropology as well as experience teaching Spanish and anthropology at a small liberal arts college, coming to Pitzer College was a logical continuation of my career. Pitzer’s small physical size but large reputation was a strong element of attraction; how these features interface with the larger context of The Claremont Colleges also captured my interest. Finally, Pitzer’s emphasis on social responsibility as a core value within an interdisciplinary, intercultural and international framework convinced me that Pitzer would be an excellent place to work. So far, aside from confirming my initial expectations, I have discovered that at the heart of Pitzer’s academic experience is the student-faculty ratio.

Jessica McCoy | Assistant Professor

Jessica McCoyField Group: Art
Current Courses Taught: Studio:Beginning Drawing and Design; Beginning Painting
Education: MFA, University of Wisconsin, Madison; MA, University of Wisconsin, Madison; BS, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Research Interests: Figurative painting and the value of aesthetics
Of Note: I received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Fellowship in 2003-4.
Reason for Coming to Pitzer: Pitzer College is truly one of the most innovative schools in the country. I can’t think of a better place to teach a discipline that is defined by change and originality.

Adrian D. Pantoja | Associate Professor

Adrian PantojaField Group: Political Studies & Chicano/a Studies
Current Courses Taught: Latino Politics; Immigration Policy and Transnational Politics; First-Year Seminar: Immigration and Race in America
Education: PhD, Political Science/American Politics and International Relations, Claremont Graduate University; MA, International Relations, Claremont Graduate University; BA, Political Science, University of San Francisco
Research Interests: Latino politics, immigration and race relations
Of Note: In 2004 I published an article in Political Research Quarterly titled “Beyond Black and White: General Support for Race Conscious Policies Among African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Whites,” for which I had been awarded the Best Paper on Black Politics by the Western Political Science Association in 2002. I was also awarded the Best Paper on Latino Politics by the Western Political Science Association in 2005 for my article titled “At Home Abroad? The Dominican Diaspora in New York City as a Transnational Political Actor.” The paper will be forthcoming in Political Research Quarterly.
Reason for Coming to Pitzer: Before deciding to come to Pitzer, I had other attractive offers, including the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Fellowship at the University of Michigan. Having attended a small Jesuit liberal arts university as an undergraduate, I was anxious to be in an environment where undergraduate education, diversity and social change are all valued. Of course no Chicano urban surfer could resist returning to Los Angeles, the heart of Aztlán and the Latino community.

Edith Vásquez | Assistant Professor

Edith VasquezField Group: English and World Literature
Current Courses Taught: Survey of American Literature to 1880; Anatomy of Drama; Latino Literature: Through Time and Across Borders; First-Year Seminar: Writers, Identities and Communities
Education: PhD, English and World Literature, University of California, Riverside; MA, Comparative Literature, University of California, Riverside; BA, English, University of California, Los Angeles
Research Interests: World poetry and poetics, literature of the Americas, Chicana/o and Latina/o writing
Of Note: I wrote a chapter titled “The Body as Parchment in the Poetry of Lorna Dee Certanves,” which appeared in Unveiling the Body in Hispanic Women’s Literature: From 19th-Century Spain to 21st-Century United States, edited by Renee Sum Scott and Arleen Chiclana Y Gonzalez and published by Mellen Press in 2006.
Reason for Coming to Pitzer: Pitzer’s commitment to integrated and applied learning, community action and cultural empowerment spoke to my own personal passions. Also, the possibilities for constructing alternative approaches to learning have been well-tested at Pitzer. I think the environment at Pitzer permits for eccentricity and imagination.

Anna Wenzel | Assistant Professor

Anna WenzelField Group: Chemistry (Joint Science Department of The Claremont Colleges)
Current Courses Taught: Organic Chemistry and Advanced Laboratory in Chemistry
Education: NIH Postdoctoral Scholar,
Caltech; PhD, Harvard University; BS, University of California, San Diego
Research Interests: Asymmetric catalysis, organometallic chemistry and organic synthesis
Of Note: I published an article with E.N. Jacobsen titled “Asymmetric Catalytic Mannich Reactions Catalyzed by Urea Derivatives: Enantioselective Synthesis of b-Aryl-b-Amino Acids” in the Journal of the American Chemical Society 124 (2004). I also co-wrote a book chapter with A.K. Chatterjee and R.H. Grubbs titled “Olefin Cross-Metathesis” in Comprehensive Organometallic Chemistry III: Review of the Literature 1993-2005, edited by I. Ojima and T. Hiyama and published by Elsevier Ltd. (Oxford) in 2006.
Reason for Coming to Pitzer: I am very excited to be beginning my first year at Joint Sciences. Joint Sciences presents a unique opportunity to engage in multidisciplinary research within a cohesive faculty community. In addition, as the program draws from three unique institutions (including Pitzer!), I have the opportunity to work with a diverse student body to develop a range of research initiatives. Most of all, the presence of an active, inquisitive student body at Joint Sciences was central to my selection, as it makes teaching and research all the more enjoyable!