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People News, June 2024

Research & Inquiry

Read about the latest accomplishments of Smith students, faculty, staff, and alums

Two people walking down a campus path in the summer.

Published June 4, 2024

The 2024 faculty teaching award recipients announced at Rally Day in February were Susan Voss, Achilles Professor of Engineering, and Susanna Ferguson, assistant professor of Middle East studies. The Gavel award for staff members went to Julian Martineau, cook’s assistant at Dawes House, and Martha Potyrala, administrative assistant in the dance department.

 Five student artists created works for this year’s Spring Bulb Show at the Botanic Garden of Smith College with the support of Lynne Yamamoto, Jessie Wells Post Professor of Art. The installation “Botanical Imagination” included artworks by Dan Dao ’24Avery Maltz AC ’25Yasmine (Yaz) Porath ’24, Celosía Rae Tilghman ’24, and Finn Walsh ’25J. 

Sirohi Kumar ’26 is co-author of “Changing electronic use behavior in adolescents while studying: An interventional psychology experiment,” published in March in The Journal of Emerging Investigators. Kumar, who is majoring in statistical and data sciences, completed her research while in high school. 

Juliana Makonise ’25 was among the winners of the Beyond GDP Essay Competition sponsored by the SDG Lab at UN Geneva. Makonise was invited to Geneva, Switzerland, to share her perspective on moving beyond GDP with leaders and experts from the United Nations, member states, academia, and civil society. 

Sa’mya Wilson ’24 has been awarded a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant for her poetry workshop program, “Peace In, Peace Out Alameda County.” Wilson, who earned her Smith degree in Africana studies and English, will focus her project on BIPOC and LGBTQ+ transitional-age youth who are facing housing-related hardships and other challenges. Smith’s Lewis Global Studies Center is a partner in the Projects for Peace program, now located at Middlebury College.

German Alvarado, director of culinary services at Smith, has been appointed to the board of Communities Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, a regional nonprofit that works to strengthen farms and engage the community in building a local food economy. Alvarado previously served as a Smith chef, with prior work experience in farm-to-table restaurants, including playing a role in the opening of Esselon Café in Hadley.

Dining services chef Christine Depault represented Smith at the National Association of College and Food Services culinary competition in April in Buffalo. She received a Bronze Medal for her pan-seared branzino topped with lemon herb vinaigrette over seared shrimp and bulgur salad, cauliflower and leek puree. 

Playwright Naveen Bahar Choudhury, assistant professor of theatre, has been selected as a member of the 2024 Writers Lab by Ma-Yi Theater Company in New York City.  Choudhury’s work has been produced by Ensemble Studio Theatre and The Public Theater, among others. She is also a librettist and lyricist.

Benita Jackson, professor of psychology, is co-author of “Neighborhood eviction trajectories and odds of moderate and serious psychological distress during pregnancy among African American women,” published in March in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The work explores how high neighborhood eviction rates affect the mental health of Black mothers. 

Aaron Kamugisha, Ruth J. Simmons Professor of Africana Studies, has been named a 2024–25 National Humanities Center Fellow. He is one of 31 scholars chosen from 491 applicants this year to receive fellowships for research projects in the humanities. Kamushiga’s project is titled “Bewildering Coloniality: Austin Clarke and the Twentieth Century Black Atlantic World.”

Daphne Lamothe, professor of Africana studies and Smith’s next provost, is the author of Black Time and the Aesthetic Possibility of Objects (University of North Carolina Press), a work analyzing the cultural power of Black global art. 

Kelly Link, Elizabeth Drew Professor of English Language and Literature, has published her first novel, The Book of Love: A Novel, about three teens who become pawns in a supernatural power struggle. Link is a short story author and Pulitzer Prize finalist.

“Clearstories,” an exhibit of photography and poetry co-created by Naila Moreira, lecturer in English language and literature, was on view earlier this spring at R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton. The exhibit juxtaposed detailed photographs of animal remains with poems. 

Ruth Ozeki ’80, professor emerita of English language and literature and Grace Jarcho Ross 1933 Professor of Humanities, spoke in April on “Innovations in Storytelling,” the final event in this year’s Spring Humanities Festival at the University of Rhode Island Center for the Humanities. 

Lindsay Poirier, assistant professor of statistics and data sciences, has published “Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Exposure Risks in U.S. Carceral Facilities 2022,” in the American Journal of Public Health. The study examines risks that U.S. prisoners face of exposure to dangerous chemicals in drinking water. 

Loretta Ross, associate professor of the study of women and gender, appeared as a commentator in an MSNBC documentary film The Story of Cancel Culture. The film, produced by Trevor Noah, aired in April. Ross is also the recipient of a $25,000 grant award from the New York Women’s Foundation for “The Smith College Initiative for Human Rights and Democracy.”

Lucie Schmidt, Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics, presented research earlier this year at Hamilton College about the relationship between Social Security benefits and child well-being. Her talk was part of the Colgate-Hamilton Economics Seminar Series.

Meg Thacher, senior lab instructor in astronomy, gave a talk at the West Springfield Public Library about April’s solar eclipse. Thacher, who is also an award-winning children’s book author, co-hosts regular stargazing events on campus with astronomy students. 

Andrew Zimbalist, Robert A. Woods Professor Emeritus of Economics, was interviewed on The Option podcast about an inflection point for college sports.

La Mer, a play by Ayibatari Owei ’21, was one of four works featured in a festival earlier this year at Abingdon Theatre Company in New York. Owei earned her Smith degree in theatre.

Theanne Griffith ’08, now an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology at the University of California Davis, has been named a 2024 Sloan Research Fellow. Griffith, who majored in neuroscience and Spanish at Smith and earned a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, will be conducting research that explores possible connections between spatial self awareness and neurogenerative diseases. 

Garrett Bradley ’07 is the recipient of a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for her work in film and video. Bradley, who has earned praise for multimedia work that blends elements of documentary and fiction, holds a Smith degree in religion and an M.F.A. from UCLA. Her first documentary feature, Time, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2020 and earned Bradley a Sundance award for best director. 

Popular Theory, a new movie by Ali Scher ’07, opened in theaters in February. Scher, who majored in English language and literature at Smith, got her break in the movie business in 2016 with the release of Jessica Darling’s It List. 

Elizabeth Bennett ’05 is the new executive director of Groundworks Collaborative social service nonprofit in Brattleboro, Vermont. Bennett, who formerly served as the organization’s director of development and communications, majored in anthropology at Smith and earned a master’s degree in nonprofit management and social justice from the School for International Training.

Rhode Island State Senator Meghan Elizabeth Kallman ’05 is co-author of The Conceivable FuturePlanning Families and Taking Action in the Age of Climate Crisis, a conversational guide for families. Kallman earned her Smith degree in sociology, a master’s degree in social science and history from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. from Brown.

Emma Mulvaney-Stanak ’02 is the new mayor of Burlington, Vermont. A former member of the Vermont State House, she served as chair of the Vermont Progressive Party from 2013 to 2017, and on the board of several nonprofits. The founder of a social change consulting business, Mulvaney-Stanak earned her Smith degree in government and a Ph.D. from Temple University.

Eileen Thompson M.S.W. ’88 is a new board member of On the Rise, a Cambridge Massachusetts–based day shelter for women and transgender/nonbinary people recovering from homelessness. Her experience includes stints as a staff social worker at Boston College and director of the counseling center at Wheelock College.

Dale Robinson Anglin ’86 is the head of Press Forward, a new journalism organization supported by a coalition of philanthropic groups, including the MacArthur Foundation. Anglin, who majored in Afro-American studies at Smith and earned a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California Berkeley, has more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector.

Leecia Roberta Eve ’86 has joined the board of directors of Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corp. Eve, who is a partner with Ichor Strategies consulting firm, majored in Afro-American studies and government at Smith and earned a master’s and a law degree at Harvard University.

Elaine Bromka ’72 portrayed First Ladies Johnson, Nixon, and Ford in “Tea for Three,” a one-woman show performed at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach, California. Bromka, an award-winning actress, earned a bachelor’s degree and a master of arts degree in theatre at Smith.