Cornell College welcomes 9 new faculty 

With the start of its 167th academic year this week, Cornell College welcomes not just students but nine new faculty members teaching a wide range of subjects. 

New faculty 2019-20
New Cornell faculty for 2019-20 (from left): Megan Altman (philosophy), Timothy Porter (art), Christopher Hagan (psychology), Khristin Landry-Montes (art history), Drew Muscente (geology), Megan Goldberg (politics), Maria Fernanda Diaz-Basteris (Spanish), Catherine Volle (biology and chemistry), and Ajit Chavan (computer science).

Megan Altman (philosophy) teaches ethics, 19th and 20th century continental philosophy, Latin American philosophy, and feminist philosophy. She is a co-editor (with Hans Pedersen) of “Horizons of Authenticity in Phenomenology, Existentialism, and Moral Psychology” (Springer, 2014), and she is currently developing a Heideggerian ethics of hope that explores different ways of reckoning with ethical issues that result from uprootedness, diaspora, forced existential isolation and loneliness, exile, and emigration. Ph.D., philosophy, University of South Florida, Tampa. 

Ajit Chavan (computer science) teaches introductory, intermediate, and advanced courses such as Data Structures and Algorithms, Computer Organization, and Operating Systems. His main research interest is parallel and distributed systems. He is also interested in developing big data applications and designing infrastructure to store and process large datasets. Other areas of interest are machine learning and data science. Ph.D., computer science, Auburn University, Alabama. 

Maria Fernanda Diaz-Basteris (Spanish) teaches introductory, intermediate, and advanced language courses. She studies Puerto Rican artists’ and art collectives’ representations of race, war, diaspora, crisis, trauma, and colonization, and believes comics, zines, and graphic novels are well-suited for giving form to memory and identity in contemporary Puerto Rican cultural production. Ph.D., Latin American and Caribbean literatures and cultures, University of California, Davis. 

Megan Goldberg (politics) teaches introductory and advanced American politics courses, as well as courses in research methods. She studies the dynamics of state and local politics in an increasingly nationalized political environment, and in particular how local and state-level candidates can overcome unfriendly electoral districts. She employs machine learning methods to make use of text and social media data to answer these questions, as well as public opinion data and survey experiments. Ph.D., political science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Christopher Hagan (psychology) teaches Fundamentals of Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Multicultural Psychology, Senior Seminar, Research Methods, and Personality Theories. He and his lab study suicide and related behaviors including murder-suicide, suicide terrorism, and non-suicidal self-injury. Ph.D., clinical psychology, Florida State University. 

Khristin Landry-Montes (art history) teaches pre-Columbian art and architecture, Global Contemporary Art, and Art of Border Walls and Spaces. She is an affiliated researcher and project facilitator with InHerit (Indigenous Heritage Passed to Present)—through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—and works with InHerit on an international curriculum-development project in Yucatan, Mexico. Ph.D., art history, University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Drew Muscente (geology) teaches introductory and advanced courses in sedimentary (“soft rock”) geology. He and his students study the fossil record to better understand the evolution and preservation of ancient marine animal life. This research involves a mix of field and laboratory work on fossil specimens as well as an array of computational methods applied to large databases. Ph.D., geoscience, Virginia Tech.

Timothy Porter (art) teaches introductory and intermediate art with an emphasis on digital art. In his artistic practice, he focuses on data culture and its societal repercussions. Recent exhibitions include the Cairo Video Festival, Anthony Philip Fine Art in New York, and Slate Arts and Performance in Chicago. MFA, print media, Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Catherine Volle (biology and chemistry) teaches introductory and advanced courses in biology and chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry. She and her students use chemical techniques to investigate biological problems. They investigate new and exciting ways to kill bacteria and how viral proteins can disrupt non-canonical DNA structures. Ph.D., molecular and cellular biology and biochemistry, Brown University.