Lear to Direct the Collegium

Jonathan Lear, John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor of Social Thought, Philosophy, and the College, has been appointed the Roman Family Director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society. Lear succeeds David Nirenberg, dean of the Division of the Social Sciences. Lear studies philosophical conceptions of the human psyche from Socrates to the present. A graduate of Yale UniversityCambridge University, and the Rockefeller University, he also trained as a psychoanalyst at the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis. Lear is a recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship.


Beilock Named Vice Provost, Publishes Book

Provost Eric D. Isaacs announced that Sian Beilock, professor of psychology and a member of the Committee on Education, will serve as vice provost for academic initiatives. She will work with the deans, chairs, faculty, and deputy provosts to help coordinate academic programs that span multiple divisions, schools, and institutes, such as urban science, energy, and the environment. Beilock will also publish her latest book, How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel (Simon and Schuster), in January 2015. In the book she draws on her own research to take on the conventional understanding of the mind, arguing that our bodies “hack” our brains.


New Faculty

This year the Social Sciences Division welcomed eight new faculty members 

Department of Economics

After several years at MITMichael Greenstone, LAB’87, rejoined the Division as the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics and the College and director of the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago. He received his PhD from Princeton in 1998 and is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served as chief economist for President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers in 2009–10. Greenstone studies air quality in developing countries and conducts research to estimate the costs and benefits of environmental quality.

Benjamin Brooks, assistant professor, earned his PhD at Princeton earlier this year. A microeconomic theorist, he studies the effects of information and beliefs on economic outcomes. He also investigates the robustness of standard economic models when an assumption of common knowledge is relaxed, and he is developing algorithms to compute the equilibrium values sets of stochastic games.

Thibaut Lamadon, assistant professor, focuses on macro labor, equilibrium search, and dynamic contracting. He has recently evaluated the Canadian welfare system’s Self Sufficiency Program and examined how unpredictable events in the workforce affect wage contracts between workers and firms. Lamadon received his PhD from University College London, where he received an outstanding teaching assistant award.

Department of History

Ada Palmer, assistant professor, is a cultural and intellectual historian focusing on the long-term evolution of ideas and mentalities. Palmer specializes in the early modern period, particularly the Italian Renaissance and postclassical reception of classical philosophy. She also studies ancient, medieval, and modern intellectual history. Palmer earned her PhD from Harvard University in 2009.

Department of Political Science

Robert Gulotty, assistant professor, focuses on international political economy and political methodology. He researches the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the World Trade Organization, global production, and regulatory cooperation against a framework of institutional design, imperfect competition, and property rights. Gulotty will join the University in July 2015 after completing a fellowship at the Stanford Center for International Development.

Monika Nalepa, assistant professor, studies institutions of transitional justice, democratic transitions, and legislative politics, with a focus on Eastern Europe. Her book Skeletons in the Closet: Transitional Justice in Post-Communist Europe(Cambridge University Press, 2010), received the American Political Science Association’s Outstanding Book Award and the Best Book Award in the comparative democratization section. Nalepa earned her PhD from Columbia University in 2005.

Department of Psychology

Marc Berman, assistant professor, studies the relationship between individual cognitive, affective, and neural processing and the social and physical environment. He uses computational neuroscientific and statistical models to quantify the person, the environment, and their interactions, hoping to develop a better understanding of those relationships in order to improve human health and well-being. Berman earned his PhD from the University of Michigan in 2010.

Jennifer Kubota, assistant professor, uses neuroscience and behavioral research methods to identify the neural and psychological mechanisms of prejudice and discrimination. Her research has received support from the National Institute on Aging and the Ford Foundation. Kubota earned dual PhDs in neuroscience and social psychology from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2010.

Alex Shaw, assistant professor, investigates the origins and nature of human social cognition, with a focus on conceptions of fairness, social reputation, and ownership. Informed by theoretical and empirical approaches from social psychology and behavioral economics, Shaw’s research spans development, social psychology, and moral psychology. He received his PhD from Yale University in 2013 and is a research fellow in the Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He will join the Division in July 2015.