Faculty Grants 2013-2014

Leticia Arroyo Abad (Economics) and colleagues from Dennison, Wellesley, Furman, and Williams have been awarded funding from the AALAC consortium (Alliance for the Advancement of Liberal Arts Colleges), the successor to the  Mellon 23 program, for a collaborative workshop that will be held at Middlebury in the spring of 2015. The workshop, titled The Economic History of Race, Class, and Gender,  will bring together participants from 10-15 institutions to explore recent advances in the economic history of race and ethnicity, gender, class, and other facets of inequality. They plan to take advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of economic history to foster dialogue about these elements of inequality with other disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, political science, philosophy, and history.

Will Pyle (Economics) has received funding from Russia’s National Research University Higher School of Economics’(HSE) International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development, which will provide support for three years. He will be participating in a research project titled Collective Action in the Business Community and giving a couple of lectures per year to students at the HSE.

Mark Spritzer (Biology) has been awarded an R15 research grant through the National Institutes of Health’s AREA (Academic Research Enhancement Award) program. This grant will support work to investigate the effect of testosterone replacement on the spatial working memory of hypogonadal aged male rats. It will fund research equipment, supplies, and travel to conferences and will involve at least 18 undergraduate research assistants over the next three years.

Sujata Moorti (Gender, Sexuality, & Feminist Studies) has been awarded residencies at two institutions in support of her 2014-15 leave and her research titled Science and Gender in New Media. During the fall she will be a Research Associate at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center at Mount Holyoke College, where she will contribute to their focus on Feminist Science and Technology Studies. In January 2015 she will begin a five-month residency  as Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at McGill University in Montreal.

Brett Millier (English and American Literatures) has been awarded a grant to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute titled Mortality: Facing Death in Ancient Greece, which is  sponsored by the Institute for Humanities Research at the University of California at Santa Cruz in collaboration with the Athens Centre in Athens, Greece where the program will be based. The institute encourages the study of mortality in ancient Greece as the basis for comparative study across cultures, disciplines, and historical periods. During the institute, Brett’s goal is to both enhance her teaching in CMLT 101 and develop a comparative interdisciplinary course on the issues raised in the Institute's readings and discussions.

Will Amidon (Geology)  has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled Rediscovering Geochronology. The grant will enable Will to spend four months during his 2014-15 leave in Lorraine, France at the Centre de Recherches Petrographiques and Geochemiques fulfilling personal and professional goals related to doing geochronological research and incorporating new techniques into project-based based learning at Middlebury.     

Elizabeth Morrison (Religion)  has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled In the Company of Pilgrims:   The “Four Great Places” of the Life of the Buddha. The grant will enable Elizabeth to travel to northern India and Nepal to visit sites significant in the life of the Buddha and the history of the Indian Buddhist tradition. The  goal of this project is to deepen her understanding of the early Indian Buddhist tradition while observing and experiencing the phenomenon of contemporary global Buddhist pilgrimage. The experience will enhance the full range of the classes she teaches in Asian religions.     

Febe Armanios (History) has been awarded a Fellowship from the Gerda Henkel Foundation (Germany) in support of her research this summer in Turkey, Cyprus and Lebanon. The research relates to her 2014-15 leave and to her new book project, titled Satellite Ministries: The Rise of Christian Television in the Middle East. The project investigates the rise of Christian broadcasting in the region, from its American evangelical roots in the early 1980s to its more indigenous representations today.

Timothy Billings (English & American Literatures, Comparative Literature Program) has been awarded an Enduring Questions grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support the development of a new course on the topic of “What is lost (& found) in translation?” Students will explore the fundamental philosophical, sociological, and linguistic questions raised by translingual communication such as: How much does language determine how we think? How much of language is culture? What is unique to translating sacred texts, poetry, “exotic” languages, and dead languages? Is anything “untranslatable”? Are translators traitors, drudges, or artists? Can machines translate? Students will survey the history of theoretical writing on translation while comparing multiple translations of coherent sections from major works such as the Bible, Greek & Latin poetry, Tao Te Ching, and One Thousand and One Nights among others. The course will be offered twice during the next two years.

Erik Bleich (Political Science) has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar Program research grant and a fellowship through the European Institutes for Advanced Study (EURIAS) at the Collegium de Lyon (France) in support of his 2014-15 leave project titled Restricting Racist Speech in France: How Courts Draw the Line Between Free Speech and Hate Speech. He will work on a book examining how French courts distinguish between forms of racist speech that are protected and prohibited in this thorny area for liberal democracies. His fellowship in Lyon provides support and a home base for 10 months as he pursues this research. For the Fulbright, he will be affiliated with the Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) in Paris.

Sandra Carletti (Italian) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled The United Tables of Italy: Pellegrino Artusi and the Unification of Italy in the Kitchen. The grant will enable Sandra to travel to Italy during her 2014-15 leave to do research at the Pellegrino Artusi library in Forlimpopoli, Emilia-Romagna, which houses the archives for the iconic cookbook that Artusi published just thirty years after the official unification of Italy. She plans to examine documents and collect materials to enhance her teaching of Italian culture and history and to support creation of a new course on the intersection of literature, food, and language in the representation of Italian identity.

Laurie Essig  (Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled “Bury Their Hearts”: The Homosexual as foreign Pollution in Russia. The grant will fund a trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg, during which Laurie will meet with colleagues, experts, and LGBT and feminist activists to further explore how the figure of the homosexual is being used in nationalist politics and rhetoric as a sign of foreign pollution and disease. This trip will also  provide Laurie with the opportunity reacquaint herself with “all things Russian” including Russian academic culture, in an effort to prepare for doing research in Russia in the future and being able to update her work on sexual citizenship in Russia in order to expand her teaching to include global sexualities.

Sujata Moorti (Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled Transnational Surrogacy and Feminism. The grant will enable Sujata to travel Bengaluru, India, during her 2014-15 leave to visit surrogacy centers that draw people from a wide variety of countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.    She plans  to witness interactions between all parties involved in the practice of surrogate parenthood  in her quest to better understand this transnational practice and the feminist responses to it. This experience will enable her to update her course “Mobile Women: Transnational Work Patterns” and will also affect other courses that touch on transnational feminism.  

Eilat Glikman (Physics) has received a grant from Research Corporation, a private foundation that aids basic research in the physical sciences. This research will study growing super-massive black holes (aka quasars) and the effects they have on their host galaxies. Since all galaxies are believed to grow a black hole at some point in their history, this research will help explain how the galaxies we see today, such as the Milky Way, formed their detailed structure. At least three undergraduates will be involved in this work over the next two to three years. The project is titled Quasar/Galaxy Co-Evolution Caught in the Act: Understanding the Physics of Feedback.

Michael Sheridan (Sociology-Anthropology) has received a Dumbarton Oaks Project Grant for a project titled Ethnobotany, symbolism, and property rights institutions in tropical agrarian societies. The grant will support his ongoing research on botanically similar plants that delineate property lines, mark graves, and symbolize peace throughout tropical Africa, the Caribbean and Oceania. During his 14-15 leave, he will revisit St. Vincent, Cameroon, and Tanzania for ethnographic fieldwork on these plants and expand the project to Polynesia. “Boundary plants” remain meaningful despite social and ecological change because they embed both property rights and social values into landscapes. The resulting work will describe the symbolic, social, and ecological commonalities of these plants in agrarian societies, and explore how these focal points of property, identity, and meaning shape tropical landscapes.

Jessica Teets (Political Science) has been awarded a grant to conduct a one year outreach program  in a local elementary school with a goal of promoting awareness of China and sparking an interest in learning more about China on the part of the students and teachers at the school; the program will be designed so that it can be taken over by organizations with other afterschool programs. This Outreach Grant marks the culmination of support that Jessica received through her selection in 2011 as a Public Intellectuals Program fellow of the  National Committee on US-China Relations.

Frank Winkler (Emeritus Professor, Physics) has been awarded funding from the NASA-funded Space Telescope Science Institute for a his role in a collaborative research project led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins University. This project, involving new  observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, is titled Discovering and Characterizing the Young Supernova Remnant Population in M101. The team will use will use the new data, archival Hubble images, and data from other space- and ground-based observatories to better understand the types of stars and general environment that lead to stellar explosions known as supernovae.

Will Amidon (Geology) has received funding from the Scottish University Environmental Research Center as part of a collaborative research project on the paleo-seismic history of the Hat Creek Graben in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. The overall project is funded by Pacific Gas & Electric in order to better understand earthquake and other hazards related to their dams and other infrastructure in the area. At least four undergraduates will be involved in this research.

Clarissa Parker (Psychology & Neuroscience) has received a 2013 NARSAD (National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression) Young Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation that wholly funds her project titled Genome-Wide Association for Conditioned Fear in the Diversity Outbred Mouse Population. The grant provides materials and supplies for two years of research into genetic influences on fear in mice, which may have implications for anxiety disorders in humans.

James Calvin Davis (Religion) has been awarded a Seminar Grant from Bringing Theory to Practice, an organization working in conjunction with the Association of American Colleges & Universities to support campus initiatives that focus on engaged learning and students' civic development.  The grant will underwrite a Winter Term retreat to further develop a new Middlebury initiative called Privilege & Poverty, a curricular program on economic inequality that will serve as a laboratory for pedagogical innovation, co-curricular learning, and the broader exploration of higher education's civic mission.

Eilat Glikman (Physics) has received funding from the NASA-funded Space Telescope Science Institute to continue her ongoing research related to observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope. The main goal of this project, titled Testing the Merger Hypothesis for Black Hole/Galaxy Co-Evolution at z-2, is to image the host galaxies of rapidly growing black holes to test whether galaxy mergers provide the necessary fuel that feed the growing black holes.

Leticia Arroyo Abad (Economics & IPE) was awarded the Franklin Research Grant by the American Philosophical Society and the Arthur H. Cole Grant  by the Economic History Association to fund her sabbatical project The Fiscal Roots of Latin American Inequality. Leticia will spend some time in the archives in Madrid and the spring semester as a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics.

Maggie Clinton (History) has been awarded a grant from the Center for Chinese Studies in Taipei, Taiwan in support of her 2013-14 leave. The grant provides round-trip travel and support for three months in Spring 2014 at the Center, where she plans to conduct research and complete the manuscript for her book project Revolutionary Nativism: Fascism and Culture in China, 1925-1937.

Daniel Scharstein (Computer Science) has been awarded a grant through the National Science Foundation’s RUI mechanism for his project titled Image Matching in the Wild. The project aims to improve the way that stereo-vision and optical-flow algorithms work in the presence of common challenges such as reflective surfaces, lighting changes, imperfect calibration, and unknown acquisition conditions. The award will fund materials and supplies for three summers of research, conference travel, and research stipends for six undergraduate students.

Vermont Genetics Network grants for Research in the Biomedical Sciences
Middlebury College is one of the baccalaureate partner institutions participating in a major grant from the National Institutes of Health to the University of Vermont. This grant continues the Vermont Genetics Network support that has been a significant source of funding for faculty and student research in the past decade. This year, Mark Spritzer (Biology) received support for ongoing research related to adult neurogenesis (title: Effects of Social Interactions on Hippocampal Neurogenesis in Adult Male Rats). The grant provides funding for summer effort in 2013 and includes a stipend for one undergraduate student; another of his students will receive a stipend through a separate VGN grant.

The Jack Miller Center has awarded the College a grant to help with the expenses of Constitution Day events to be held at Middlebury in September.  This grant is the result of a proposal submitted by Murray Dry and Keegan Callanan (both Political Science) and will augment resources for this event available from the Department of Political Science, EIA Civic Engagement, and the Pre-Law Program. The Jack Miller Center is “dedicated to enriching education in America’s founding principles and history."