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Qais Akbar Omar (GRS’16), a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program, has published a much-praised memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story. He recalls how the violence and tumult of civil war jolted his family, who, despite losing relatives, their home, and possessions, continued to nurture his wish to attend a university.

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New Faculty 2012/13

Each year, the College of Arts & Sciences recruits leading scholars and researchers from around the world to grow the ranks of its faculty. The faculty members listed below arrived new on campus for the 2012-13 academic year.


Assistant Professor John Marston

John M. (Mac) Marston is an archaeological scientist specializing in the study of plant remains (paleoethnobotany) as a means of learning about climate change adaptations, environmental change, and agricultural decision-making in the ancient Eastern Mediterranean. Marston comes to BU after spending two years as a postdoctoral fellow in archaeology and environmental change at Brown University. He has taught interdisciplinary courses that bridge environmental studies and archaeology, including environmental archaeology and archaeology and paleoecology of coastal and island environments at Brown and at UMass Boston. Marston has two books in preparation, one of which, Method and Theory in Paleoethnobotany, has been accepted by University Press of Colorado. Marston has a BA from Washington University in St. Louis, and MA and PhD degrees from University of California Los Angeles.


Assistant Professor Trevor Siggers

Trevor Siggers’s research interests include systems biology of the immune and inflammatory systems, gene regulation in immune and inflammatory systems, inflammatory diseases, transcriptional networks, DNA-binding of transcription factors and transcriptional regulatory complexes. He currently is working on integrative biochemical and genomic approaches to study gene regulation in the immune and inflammatory systems. Siggers uses computational and experimental approaches to examine gene regulation at multiple levels. At the molecular level, he examines how transcription factor proteins binding together on DNA control elements integrate signaling events and direct gene transcription, a process commonly referred to as the cis-regulatory logic. Siggers comes to Boston University from Harvard, where he was the recipient of an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biological Informatics and an NIH/NIAID K22 Award. He has a PhD in biology from Columbia University.


Assistant Professor Aaron Beeler

Aaron Beeler joined Professor John Porco’s laboratory at Boston University as a postdoctoral fellow and was named associate director of the Boston University Center for Chemical Methodology and Library Development (CMLD-BU) in 2009. Beeler has been an integral contributor to CMLD-BU, the mission of which is to develop organic chemistry methodologies for the synthesis of complex molecules that are evaluated for biological activity. Beeler’s recent achievements include the development of a microfluidic platform that has been utilized in the discovery of new reactions and complex molecular scaffolds for application in the synthesis of small molecule arrays. Beeler will bring his multidisciplinary expertise and experience in organic chemistry, engineering, and biology to address problems in medicinal chemistry related to human health, including the use of microfluidics technology and organic synthesis to discover and optimize small molecules to develop new therapies for diseases such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, cystic fibrosis, and cancer. Beeler has a PhD in medicinal chemistry from the University of Mississippi.

Earth & Environment

Assistant Professor Michael Dietz

Michael Dietze is a plant ecologist specializing in spatial heterogeneity in forest landscapes, including the effect of canopy gaps on ecosystem processes. Dietze has pioneered new computational methods for ecosystem modeling and has studied the effects of changing climate and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations on forest ecosystems. He has published frequently and effectively in top journals such as Global Change Biology, Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences and Ecological Applications. Before coming to Boston, Dietze was an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  He holds BA and PhD degrees in biology and ecology from Duke University and was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University.

Assistant Professor Robert Kennedy

Robert Kennedy is an outstanding researcher in the domain of environmental remote sensing.  Kennedy has developed innovative approaches for monitoring forest environments that have significantly improved the characterization of the disturbance, health and recovery of forest ecosystems; his research already is facilitating new strategies for resource management. Before coming to Boston, Kennedy was senior research assistant professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University. Kennedy has a BS in biology from the University of Houston, an MA in environmental, population and organismic biology from the University of Colorado, and a PhD in forest science from Oregon State University.


Assistant Professor Juan Ortner

Juan Ortner is an economic theorist with interests in industrial organization, political economy, and corporate finance. Much of his current research explores dynamic bargaining theory and mechanism design.  In particular, he is studying the dynamic pricing of durable goods when firms face uncertainty about their future production costs.  He also is conducting research on legislative negotiations, with particular attention to the causes of legislative gridlock. Ortner has BA in Economics from Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (Buenos Aires, Argentina) and a PhD in economics from Princeton University.

Assistant Professor Francesco Decarolis

Francesco Decarolis is an economist working in the field of industrial organization and specializing in markets that are organized as auctions. Using a broad array of reduced form and structural econometric techniques, he empirically analyzes how firms react to the rules of the auction markets in which they operate. For instance, he has studied how an auction format often used in public procurement induces firms to collude,  he and has developed statistical tests to detect collusion in this market. He currently is applying an analogous approach to the case of Medicare Part D to quantify how the cost of this program is driven by the distortions induced by public subsidies on insurance prices.  Decarolis is a regular visitor at Microsoft Research New England and at the Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance and  has been a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania. Decarolis earned his PhD in economics at the University of Chicago and comes to BU after three years as an assistant professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin.


Assistant Professor Jonathan Foltz

Jonathan Foltz’s dissertation, “Modernism and the Narrative Cultures of Film,” argues that anxieties about the film medium prompted modernist authors such as Virginia Woolf and H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) to write self-reflexive fictions about cinema that illuminate, and helped to formulate, their own narrative experiments.  Foltz has published essays about film and literature in such journals as Modernism/ Modernity and Screen. He has also written film-related reviews for the Los Angeles Review of Books and Not Coming to a Theater Near You. Foltz comes to Boston after serving as a visiting researcher at the Centre for Modernism Studies at the University of New South Wales.  He has a BA in literature and theology from Bard College and a PhD in English from Princeton University.

Professor of English and Associate Provost Elizabeth Bergmann Loizeaux

Elizabeth Bergmann Loizeaux specializes in modern poetry, twentieth-century Irish literature, textual studies, and the relations between literature and the visual arts. She is the author of Yeats and the Visual Arts (1986; reprinted in 2003) and Twentieth-Century Poetry and the Visual Arts (2008); she also co-edited Reimagining Textuality: Textual Studies in the Late Age of Print (Wisconsin, 2002).  Before coming to BU to serve as associate provost, Loizeaux was a professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she also served as director of undergraduate studies and ultimately as associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Arts and Humanities. She has a BA in English from Mount Holyoke College and MA and PhD degrees in English from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Professor of the Practice of Playwriting Kate Snodgrass

Kate Snodgrass’s appointment as Professor of the Practice of Playwriting occurs simultaneously with the English Department’s incorporation of the Playwriting Program, which she serves as director. Her plays include the widely anthologized, award-winning Haiku, and The Glider, nominated for the American Theatre Critics Association’s Steinberg New Play Award and winner of the 2005 Independent Reviewers of New England Award for Best New Play.  Snodgrass is the Artistic Director of both Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and the Elliot Norton Award-winning Boston Theater Marathon (which she co-founded). Earlier this year (2012), Snodgrass was awarded the Elliot Norton Award Prize for Sustained Excellence, the Boston theater community’s highest honor. Snodgrass has a BA in English literature from Kansas University, a BA in speech and drama from Wichita State University, a postgraduate Certificate in Acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and an MA in creative writing from Boston University.

International Relations

Assistant Professor Cornel Ban

Cornel Ban specializes in international political economy, with a special focus on international economic organizations, the transnational diffusion of economic ideas and institutions, and the politics of economic crises in European peripheries.  His doctoral dissertation, which focused on the spread of neoclassical economic ideas and institutions in Spain and Romania following systemic crises, sought to uncover the mechanisms through which they were adapted to local conditions. He has already published several refereed journal articles and book chapters.Before coming to Boston, Ban was a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University, where he served as deputy director for development studies. Ban has a law degree from Romania’s Babes-Bolyai University and a PhD in political science is from University of Maryland, College Park.

Assistant Professor Renata Nicole Keller

Renata Keller’s research and teaching interests focus on Latin American international relations, particularly the connections between foreign and domestic politics, the dynamics of the Cold War, and U.S. relations with Latin America. Her dissertation and current book project analyze Mexico’s relations with Cuba and the United States in the decade after the Cuban Revolution. Keller has received grants and fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Philanthropic Educational Organization. She has published several articles in refereed journals and edited volumes, including one in the leading Latin American Studies journal, Latin American Research Review. She has presented her work at regional, national, and international conferences, and done archival research in five countries. She earned BAs in Spanish and history at Arizona State University and a PhD in Latin American history at the University of Texas at Austin.

Mathematics & Statistics

Assistant Professor Konstantinos Spiliopoulos

Kostas Spiliopoulos’s research centers on stochastic processes. He studies problems with multiple time scales and large deviations. His work on these problems is aimed both at establishing powerful new mathematical theory and at solving applied problems in stochastic optimal control, rare events in chemistry, mathematical finance and credit risk, and wave front propagation in thin waveguides. The methodology he uses draws from partial differential equations, asymptotic analysis, Monte Carlo methods, stochastic differential equations, and particle methods. Before coming to Boston, Spiliopoulos was the Prager Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics at Brown University. He has a BS in applied mathematics from the National Technical University of Athens in Greece and MA and PhD degrees in mathematical statistics from the University of Maryland.

Assistant Professor Si Li

Si Li is an algebraic geometer and mathematical physicist. His central research focuses on mathematical aspects of string theory; he also has studied Calabi-Yau manifolds, mirror symmetry, Gromov-Witten theory, and enumerative geometry. The ideas and methods Li brings to these problems come from various parts of geometry, algebra, and number theory, including elliptic curves. His interests also span topological quantum field theory, renormalization group theory, quantum Ginzburg-Landau theory, and super-symmetric gauge theory. Before coming to Boston, Li was the Boas Assistant Professor at Northwestern University. He has BS and MPhil degrees in mathematics from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, PRC, and a PhD in mathematics from Harvard University.

Modern Languages & Comparative Literature

Assistant Professor Yoon Sun Yang

Yoon Sun Yang’s research provides a gender-conscious account of the rise of modern Korean fiction, one that also calls into question dominant accounts of the “rise of individualism” in Korean literature. Yang argues that a genre of popular fiction centered on the portrayal of domestic women, the “sin sosol,” which is generally excluded from the category of modern fiction altogether, is actually an essential link in the transition from traditional to modern literature: women characters in the “sin sosol” personify the historical processes that paved the way for the appearance of an individual in modern Korean fiction. She currently is at work on a book titled The Rise of Modern Korean Fiction: From Domestic Women to Sentimental Men, 1906-1917.  Yang brings excellent Japanese language skills and knowledge of Japanese literature to her work. Before coming to Boston, Yang was assistant professor of Korean studies at Arizona State. She holds two MA’s in comparative literature, one from SUNY Stony Brook and one from Yonsei University in Korea, and a PhD in East Asian languages and civilizations from the University of Chicago.

Political Science

Assistant Professor Katherine Levine Einstein

Katherine Levine Einstein’s work explores how race and political segregation affect the quality of public policy in major metropolises. She has found that, when political and racial boundaries coincide, the quality of public policy suffers. For example, when a predominantly minority city is surrounded by politically separate white suburbs, coordinated transportation planning does not occur, leaving a patchwork of bus lines that do not connect, poor quality rail services and similar problems. Conversely, when racial and political boundaries do not coincide, more effective and coherent approaches to solving metropolitan problems are adopted. Einstein comes to BU from Harvard University, where she earned a PhD in government and social policy. She did her undergraduate work at Yale, where she graduated magna cum laude with distinction in the major.


Assistant Professor Peter Blake

Peter Blake is a developmental psychologist who already has produced a number of influential publications, including five articles in refereed journals, including Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B and Cognition; he also is first author of an invited chapter in the journal New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development. Blake has made numerous presentations at national and international scientific meetings and spearheaded the development of the Evolution and Development (EvoDevo) Seminar Series at Harvard University. Blake has a BA in English and religion from the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, an MBA from Boston University, and an EdD from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in human development and psychology.


Associate Professor Anthony Petro

Anthony Petro studies historical and contemporary developments in modern Christianity, focusing in particular on religion, gender and sexuality, and on religion and medicine in the United States. His current project, After the Wrath of God: AIDS, Sexuality, and American Religion, investigates the history of American religious participation in the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and early 1990s. Petro examines how mainline and evangelical Protestants, Catholics, and gay and lesbian AIDS activists figured the epidemic through religious and moral terms and demonstrates how their public discussions of AIDS informed national and international debates about sexuality and HIV prevention. Petro co-chairs a five-year seminar on global perspectives on religion and HIV/AIDS for the American Academy of Religion. Before coming to  Boston, he served as assistant professor/faculty fellow in the Religious Studies Program at New York University. He has a BA in religious studies from Georgia State University, an MA in the social sciences from the University of Chicago, and a PhD in religion from Princeton University.

Romance Studies

Assistant Professor Daniel Erker

Daniel (Danny) Erker has focused his research on the varieties of Spanish spoken in New York City, studying how the interaction among speakers from Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Puerto Rico, along with the surrounding English-speaking community, has given way to a fascinating amalgam Erker and other linguists call “New York Spanish.” Erker’s appointment in the Department of Romance Studies at Boston University means that the principle site of his research will shift to the fast-growing Boston-area Spanish-speaking community. His courses in Spanish linguistics and general linguistics, including “The Sounds of Spanish” and “The Structure of Spanish,” will enhance the curriculum of the Department of Romance Studies, as well as that of BU’s undergraduate and graduate linguistics programs. Erker holds s BA from Marquette University, an MA from the CUNY Graduate Center, and a PhD in linguistics from New York University.