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Recent Pomona College Faculty Promotions and Reappointments

This year, 19 Pomona College faculty members received promotions and another nine were reappointed. They are: Mark Allen, André Cavalcanti, Eileen Cheng, Vin de Silva, Stephan Garcia, Karl Johnson, Aaron Kunin, Fernando Lozano, Pardis Mahdavi, Daniel Martínez, Gilda Ochoa, Dara Ross Regaignon, Erin Runions, Victor Silverman, Patricia Smiley, Michael Steinberger, David Tanenbaum, Kyla Tompkins, Dwight Whitaker, Tony Boston, Paul, Cahill, Roger Caron, Angelina Chin, Valerie Cowan, Grace Dávila-López, Michael Green, Ann Lebedeff, and Virginie Pouzet-Duzer.  All promotions and reappointments were effective July 1, 2011.

Promotions to Full Professor

Daniel Martínez, professor of biology, joined Pomona College in 1997 and teaches Human Genetics for Non-Majors, Introductory Genetics and Molecular Evolution. In 2010, he was awarded a five-year $1,263,358 grant from the National Institutes of Health for research on “Mechanisms underlying lack of senescence and inducible senescence in members of the genus Hydra.” Senescence is the biological process of aging. Martínez’s research has also been supported by grants from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Mellon Foundation. Articles he has co-written with students have appeared in Molecular Phylogenics and Evolution, Hydrobiologia and PLoS ONE.

Gilda Ochoa, professor of sociology and chair of Latino/a Studies Department, joined the College in 1997. She teaches Chicanos/as in Contemporary Society, Chincanos/Latinas in Education, History and Development of Sociological Theory II: Contemporary Theories, Introduction to Sociology and Los Angeles Communities: Transformations, Inequality and Activism. She twice received the Wig Distinguished Professorship for excellence in teaching. She is the author of two books, Learning from Latino Teachers (2007) and Becoming Neighbors in a Mexican American Community: Power, Conflict and Solidarity (2004), as well as a co-editor of Latino Los Angeles: Transformations, Communities and Activism (2005).

Victor Silverman, professor of history, joined the Pomona faculty in 1993 and teaches U.S. Labor & Working Class History, U.S. Since the Civil War, U.S. in the Middle East, The Historical Film, and Drugs and Alcohol in the Modern World. His book California: On the Road Histories, co-authored with Laurie Glover, is due out this November. He is also the author of Imagining Internationalism in American and British Labor and the editor of Front Page: A Collection of Historical Headlines from the Los Angeles Times: 1881-2003.  In addition, he is a co-director of the EMMY award-winning documentary Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria, which aired nationally on PBS Television in 2006.

Patricia Smiley, professor of psychology, joined the College in 1989, and teaches Child Psychology, Language Development, Introduction to Statistics for Psychology, and the Seminar: Social/Emotional Development. Her research focuses on the language behavior of 1- to 3-year-old children, including requests and self-reference, as a way of exploring their self-development. She is also interested in the contributions of children's temperament and parenting behaviors to the development of motivation in children from 4 to 8 years old.  Her most recent articles have appeared in the journals Language Learning and Development, Social Development and Cognitive Development. Her work has been supported by the Spencer Foundation and the William T. Grant Foundation.

David Tanenbaum, professor of physics and astronomy, joined the Pomona faculty in 1997 and teaches General Physics with Lab, Contemporary Experimental Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Physics in Society: A Critical Analysis of Energy Policy, and Atomic and Nuclear Physics with Lab. His research is in the area of condensed matter physics focusing on growth, characterization, processing and patterning of thin films for solid-state device applications related to solar cells, microscopy and methods for fabricating computer chips. He recently was part of a successful National Science Foundation $546,273 grant for the “Acquisition of a Field-Emission Scanning Electron Microscope for a Primarily Undergraduate Consortium” for the Claremont Colleges. This type of microscope is able to image analyze fibers, cells, particles, minerals, new materials and devices at sizes ranging from inches to nanometers.

Promotions to Associate Professor With Tenure

Mark Allen, associate professor of art and executive director of the Machine Project, teaches Digital Art, Computer Programming for Art, Electron Wrangling for Beginners and Directed Problems in Studio Art. He is a board member of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Artists Advisory Board for the Hammer Museum, where in 2010, he was artist in residence. In 2008, he directed A Machine Project Guide to LACMA, an all-day event at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His work has been supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation, James Irvine Foundation and the Getty Foundation, among other institutions.

André Cavalcanti, associate professor of biology, teaches Introductory Genetics with Lab, Genomics & Bioinformatics with Lab and Computer Programming in Biology. His research focuses on the origin of life and the origin of the genetic code and translation apparatus. His most recent research grant from the NSF was for “Detection and Analysis of Fused Genes in Eukaryotic Cells. His articles have appeared in a number of peer-reviewed journals, and he frequently coauthors articles with students.

Eileen Cheng, associate professor of Chinese, teaches Elementary Chinese, Advanced Readings in Modern Chinese Literature, Gender in Modern Chinese Literature and Urban Imagination: The City in Chinese Literature and Film. Her research focuses on Lu Xun’s reflections on the impact of technology, the literary field and modern life. Her book, Literary Remains: Death, Trauma, and Lu Xun's Refusal to Mourn, is under review.

Vin de Silva, associate professor of mathematics, teaches Linear Algebra, Combinatorics, Vector Calculus, Differential Equations and Modeling and Topics in Geometry and Topology. In 2007, Scientific American recognized his work, with Robert Christ, with a SciAm 50 Award, for their development of new algorithms using mathematical homology to analyze whether a network of randomly distributed sensors has gaps or overlaps in coverage -- adding flexibility to wireless sensor network technology.

Stephan Garcia, associate professor of mathematics, teaches Linear Algebra, Principles of Real Analysis, Functions of a Complex Variable, and Advanced Linear Algebra. In 2009, he was recognized with the Wig Distinguished Professorship for excellence in teaching. His research is primarily in operator theory, which combines the algebraic aspects of matrix theory with the topological subtleties of real analysis and the powerful techniques of complex analysis. He most recently received a NSF grant for his work on “Complex Symmetric Operators – Theory and Applications.” He’s published numerous peer-reviewed articles.

Karl Johnson, the Sarah Rempel and Herbert S. Rempel Professor of Neuroscience and associate professor of biology, teaches Introduction to Cell Chemistry and Cell Biology with Lab, Vertebrate Sensory Systems with Lab. In 2008, he received a Wig Distinguished Professorship for excellence in teaching. His research involves identifying novel genes that are essential for two aspects of nervous system development: how neurons find their proper synaptic targets and how neurons build synapses. He is in the third year of four-year, $519,925 NSF grant for “Investigating the mechanisms of Syndecan function during nervous system development.”

Aaron Kunin, associate professor of English, teaches Literary Interpretation, The English Lyric Before 1700, Shakespeare: The Comedies and Histories, Shakespeare: The Tragedies and Romances, Milton & Visual Culture, Pre-Modern Psychology, and To Defeat Theater. He is the author of three books of poetry: The Sore Throat & Other Poems, The Mandarin, and Folding Ruler Star. His peer-reviewed articles have appeared in PMLA, Modernism/Modernity, Modern Philosophy, Modern Language Quarterly and English Literary History.

Fernando Lozano, associate professor of economics, teaches Economic Statistics, Introduction to Empirical Methods Economics, Principles: Microeconomics, and Urban & Regional Economics. In 2008, he received a Wig Distinguished Professorship Award for Excellence in Teaching. His research focuses on the interaction of immigration and labor supply. His current projects examine how American worker schedule flexibility has changed during the last 30 years; how more stringent U.S. border control enforcement affects immigrants’ labor market outcomes; and how government policies determine the flows of internationally adopted children to the U.S.

Pardis Mahdavi, associate professor of anthropology, teaches Social Anthropology, Applied Anthropology, Methods in Anthropological Inquiry, Medical Anthropology, and Sexuality/Sexual Politics of the Middle East. Her research focuses on gender and sexuality in the Muslim world, sex work and trafficking and sexual politics. She is the author of the recently released Gridlock: Labor, Migration and Human Trafficking in Dubai and Passionate Uprisings: Iran’s Sexual Revolution. She has been a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and a Balzan Fellow, and received additional support for her research from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Asia Society.

Erin Runions, associate professor of religious studies, teaches Biblical Heritage; Life, Love and Suffering in Biblical Wisdom and the Modern World; Gender and Religion; Queer Theory and the Bible; Celluloid Bible: The Bible, Ideology, and Hollywood Film; and Elementary Classical Hebrew. She is the author of How Hysterical: Identification and Resistance in the Bible and Film and Changing Subjects: Gender, Nation and Future in Micah. She is also co-editor of The Labour of Reading: Desire, Alienation and Biblical Interpretation. In addition, she has authored dozens of chapters, articles and reviews.

Michael Steinberger, associate professor of economics, teaches Principles of Macroeconomics, Macroeconomic Theory, Poverty & Income Distribution and Labor Economics. In 2008, he received a Wig Distinguished Professorship for excellence in teaching. His research fields of interest are labor economics, macroeconomics and political economy.  His research has looked at gender, racial and sexual orientation wage and hour differentials, income inequality and wage dispersion, and returns to college education. His work has been supported by the U.S. Census Bureau and the UCLA Williams Institute. In addition, the Census Bureau cited his recent analysis, with Gary Gates, of data from the Census and American Community Survey as a factor in their decision to change accuracy measures regarding same sex couples.

Kyla Tompkins, associate professor of English and gender and women’s studies, teaches 19th-Century Women Writers, Feminist Community Engagement, Literatures of U.S. Imperialism, Transnational Feminist Theory, Seminar in Feminist Theory, and Eating the Other: Race, Gender and Literary Food Studies. Her book Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the Nineteenth Century is slated for publication in 2012. Her most recent chapter “History’s Traces: Personal Narrative, Diaspora and the Arab-Jewish Experience” appeared in Gender, Nation and Belonging: Arab/Arab-American Feminist Perspectives (2010).

Dwight Whitaker, associate professor of physics and astronomy, teaches General Physics Lab, Physics in Society: A Critical Analysis of Energy Policy, Atomic and Nuclear Physics with Lab, Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics. His research falls into two areas: Bose-Einstein condensates of rubidium-87 and investigations of rapid (sub-millisecond) biological movements of different plants and fungi. His 2010 discovery, with Joan Edwards, that sphagnum moss disperses spores using vortex rings, was the first time the phenomenon had been observed in a plant and generated world-wide attention. His work has received support from the NSF, and in 2008, he received Laser Focus World’s Commendation for Excellence in Technical Communication.

Promotion to Associate Professor, Coterminous

Dara Ross Regaignon is director of college writing and associate professor of English. At Pomona, writing and the teaching of writing are college-wide enterprises. The College Writing program offers extensive resources to help faculty and students create vibrant communities of readers and writers, from offering free, one-on-one consultations at any stage of the writing process for students to providing workshops for faculty on topics ranging from Teaching Writing through Content to Making Peer Review Work. She has also taught several ID1 courses for first-year students as well as the courses Writing: Theories, Processes and Pedagogies, and the Victorian Novel. She is working on a book titled Writing Maternity: Mothers and Doctors in an Anxious Age.


  • Tony Boston, assistant professor of physical education and Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field coach
  • Paul Cahill, assistant professor of Romance languages and literatures
  • Roger Caron, professor of physical education and football coach
  • Angelina Chin, assistant professor of history
  • Valerie Cowan, associate professor of physical education and women’s volleyball coach
  • Grace Dávila-López, adjunct professor of Romance languages and literatures
  • Michael Green, assistant professor of philosophy
  • Ann Lebedeff, professor of physical education and women’s tennis coach
  • Virginie Pouzet-Duzer, assistant professor of Romance languages and literatures

The Pomona College faculty is an amazing group of 191 accomplished teacher-scholars. Virtually all faculty at the assistant professor level or higher hold doctoral degrees or appropriate terminal degrees. Nationally, Pomona College is known for its extraordinarily accessible professors (Princeton Review, Newsweek), faculty mentoring and opportunities for students to conduct research with faculty.