Nine members of the Bucknell University faculty will begin the 2018-19 academic year with new professorships or reappointments to endowed positions.
The honors recognize and reward outstanding work by some of Bucknell's most accomplished teacher-scholars. Funded by external gifts, endowed academic positions provide resources to advance faculty research and benefit the University in perpetuity.
Presidential Professorships, created by grants from the Hewlett and Mellon foundations, were awarded to two professors, whose three-year terms begin this September:
Professor Richard Kozick '86, electrical & computer engineering, has taught at Bucknell since 1993, and has established a distinguished record of teaching, scholarship and service to the College of Engineering. A prolific researcher who publishes frequently, his work focuses on areas that improve medical data analysis and interpretation.
During his professorship, Kozick will focus his research on detecting brain networks using MRI data (with the Geisinger-Bucknell Autism & Developmental Medicine Center) and medical imaging with ultrasound (with Oxford University). He plans to use his Presidential Professorship funding to support related summer undergraduate research, travel to Oxford and travel to conferences to share his results.
Professor Carol White, religious studies, joined the University in 1994. Her latest book, Black Lives and Sacred Humanity: Toward an African-American Religious Naturalism (Fordham University Press, 2016) was recognized as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice. A sought-after speaker, White publishes her scholarly work at a "blistering pace," in the words of a longtime colleague. She was honored with the Class of 1956 Lectureship for Inspirational Teaching in 2003.
White will use her professorship funding to work on a new book that expands her scholarship in religion and science, with a focus on the theoretical significance of religious naturalism for addressing current social problems that emerged from Enlightenment thought. She plans to pursue archival research in the United Kingdom at the Royal Society of London, the National Museum, and the libraries of Oxford and Cambridge universities.
Seven other faculty members were appointed to chairs or professorships that begin in September:
Professor Matthew Higgins, civil & environmental engineering, was reappointed to the Claire W. Carlson Chair in Environmental Engineering. As Carlson chair since 2013, he has used support from the position to turn a wetland site at nearby Ard's Farm, a working farm with a local foods market and restaurant, into a collaborative educational and scholarship resource for the University and local community. Engineering and biology classes have incorporated the wetland into coursework, highlighting its interdisciplinary appeal.
Higgins plans to broaden the scope of the wetland project by incorporating sustainable environmental engineering related to his research on optimizing renewable energy production from biogas and recovering resources from waste streams. He would also like to further the implementation of sustainable approaches in developing countries by seeking solutions that incorporate the humanities, social sciences and engineering.
Professor Ali Karjoo-Ravary, religious studies, joins the faculty this year as the inaugural recipient of the Josephine Hildreth Detmer & Zareen Taj Mirza Professorship in Islamic Studies. His scholarly focus is the post-classical Islamic intellectual tradition and its adaptation to popular literature, music and art.
Karjoo-Ravary plans to use his funding to pursue research for his upcoming book project, tentatively titled Muhammad's Kingship: The Performance of Monarchy in the Islamic East, focusing on the performance of kingship in the late medieval eastern Islamic world. He will travel to Beirut, London and Istanbul to procure books and manuscripts for this research, which will examine the interactions between different languages, genres and art forms in fashioning the self-image of an ideal monarch. In particular, he will study the adaptation of the metaphysics of a 12th-century Andalusian mystic named Ibn al-'Arabi to multilingual love poetry, and trace the afterlives of a network of eastern Anatolian scholars whose collective work precipitated some of the major ideological turns of the early modern period.
Professor Janice Mann, art & art history, was reappointed to the Samuel H. Kress Professorship in Art History. A member of the faculty since 1995, Mann previously held the Kress position from 2008 to 2013. Her academic expertise centers on viewership and the impact of art on the populace, which she has examined in the context of medieval churches and the worshipers who visit them.
Mann seeks to expand her research focus with a new project devoted to the way digital technologies, portable devices and social media are changing how people create, display and understand the visual arts. Her analysis will focus on how viewers experience interactive displays, "selfie-friendly" museum environments, and works of art driven by artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Mann's funding will support travel, research, writing and publishing her work in a multimedia format.
Professor Skip McGoun, management, was reappointed as the William H. Dunkak Chair of Finance. McGoun joined the Bucknell faculty in 1987 and has held the Dunkak chair since 2001. His worldview "exemplifies the study of management as a liberal art," according to one colleague. This is evident in McGoun's approach to scholarship in finance and accounting, which incorporates interdisciplinary and critical perspectives framed in cultural, anthropological, sociological, psychological, historical, architectural and economic contexts.
During his new term as Dunkak chair, McGoun plans to complete work on his paper "Dancing the Dow," which centers on a choreographed work set to music generated by the Dow Jones Industrial Average. He also aims to continue his studies of the visual culture of finance — how the profession uses architecture and design to communicate with the public and its own practitioner — and to begin formal studies on the current and historical lifestyles and cultures of finance.
Professor Chinelo Okparanta, English, received the Margaret Hollinshead Ley Professor in Poetry & Creative Writing. Her fiction has appeared in prestigious literary venues, including Granta and The New Yorker, and she was named to Granta's 2017 list of "Best Young American Novelists," a renowned once-in-a-decade honor. A colleague describes her as an inspirational teacher who has opened up the world of fiction writing to students across all of the University's disciplines, including engineering and management.
Okparanta plans to use her Ley funding to conduct travel research for her novel-in-progress, which is set in a utopian/dystopian fictional country in Africa. She will travel to Kenya, Swaziland, Ghana, Senegal and a Caribbean country. Okparanta's travels will inform her development of a new course that will teach students to write fiction set in cultures outside of their own, with the purpose of truly seeing the nuances and substances of places.
Professor Adam Schwartz, the inaugural Holmes Professor in Management, is beginning his first year of teaching at Bucknell. He has an interest in technical and fundamental stock market efficiency and has published a model that compares the price patterns of current stocks with patterns exhibited by all stocks ever traded in the U.S. to determine if the patterns exhibited in the past can prove predictive. His current research applies option theory to a variety of problems including valuation of flexibility in making retirement decisions, such as the option to delay claiming Social Security benefits until age 70.
Schwartz plans to use his Holmes funding to expand his stock market modeling project to include a larger dataset. He hopes to advance the Student-managed Investment Fund program and develop an interdisciplinary course focused on investment and the arts.
Professor Stuart Young, religious studies, received a National Endowment for the Humanities Chair in the Humanities. A faculty member since 2009, he is recognized for his groundbreaking scholarship on the relations between Buddhism and the silk culture in premodern China. His first book, Conceiving the Indian Buddhist Patriarchs in China (University of Hawaii Press, 2015) established Young as "one of the best scholars of Chinese Buddhism of his generation."
Young will use his NEH funding to pursue research for his second book, tentatively titled The Fabric of Monasticism: Buddhism in the Silk Cultures of Medieval China. This interdisciplinary project explores the material cultural dimensions of Buddhist monasticism, the religious dimensions of Chinese commodity culture and the relationships between the two.