National Honors Pour in for Grinnell Faculty Members

July 19, 2021

Grinnell College faculty members have been selected for a number of prestigious awards, fellowships, and scholarly prizes over the past few months. These honors will help advance faculty research projects across several academic disciplines, further opportunities for students, and provide well-deserved recognition and acknowledgment of the reputation, professionalism, and expertise of Grinnell’s faculty.

Fredo Rivera
Fredo Rivera, assistant professor of art history

“We are delighted to have so many Grinnell College faculty members receive recognition for their scholarly pursuits,” says Elaine Marzluff, interim dean and Breid-McFarland Professor of Science. “To have our faculty honored with some of the most competitive and respected grants and awards speaks to their dedication and the significance of their research.”

In addition to recognizing the value of their research, these grants provide real and needed support for research travel, instrumentation, compensation for students and other research staff, as well as time to research and write.

Many grants also support mentorship opportunities that further professional growth. For example, Fredo Rivera's Institute for Citizens and Scholars grant involves mentorship by a senior scholar, and Nicole Eikmeier's Scialog fellowship will connect her to a scholarly community of potential collaborators working on the same problem (the spread of zoonotic diseases).

Bolstering the Student Experience

Ultimately, these grants, and the opportunities they afford, will help shape future learning and intellectual engagement at the College and contribute to the student experience in myriad and meaningful ways.

“Many grants that Grinnell faculty receive directly involve students,” says Susan Ferrari, assistant dean and director, Office of Corporate, Foundation, and Government Relations. “It's quite common for grants to pay for MAP students [Mentored Advanced Projects, or MAPs as they are known, are research or creative projects Grinnell students carry out in collaboration with a faculty member] or hourly research assistants and to support their travel to conferences. Even grants that don't directly support students may enhance their research experiences.”

Charlotte Christensen
Charlotte Christensen, associate professor of physics

Because teaching and research are so intertwined at Grinnell, grants that help faculty members grow their research programs also tend to have an impact on their courses. For instance, a professor might win a small grant to do archival research, and then they and their research students might study the archival materials together. Additionally, the College has acquired cutting-edge research instruments due to external grants, and these instruments will continue to be used in student-faculty research for years to come.

“Some of our research grants even directly involve the curriculum,” explains Ferrari. “Peter-Michael Osera and Charlotte Christensen have both won the National Science Foundation's CAREER award for teacher-scholars. These grants include both research and educational components, so in addition to conducting research in program synthesis and galaxy formation (respectively), they will also undertake major curricular projects — in Charlotte's case, extending computational work across the physics curriculum.” 

All of this supports Grinnell’s culture of research and collaboration and cuts across all academic disciplines. Because of this, students — as early as their first year —work closely with accomplished faculty in their ongoing research endeavors, complete research projects in their courses, and explore all areas of academic inquiry.

Learn about some of the honors faculty recently received below; visit the Faculty Awards and Accomplishments page for a more detailed look at the many honors faculty have received and to learn more about their work.

Guggenheim Fellowship and National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend Grant —
John Garrison, professor of English and Chair of the Peace and Conflict Studies Concentration

John Garrison
John Garrison, associate professor of English

The Guggenheim Fellowship is awarded to artists, scholars, and writers who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. It’s one of the most selective fellowships in existence. The most recent faculty member to win a Guggenheim while employed at Grinnell was Dan Kaiser in 1985.

Both the fellowship and stipend will support Garrison’s work that explores the interplay between desire and memory in Shakespeare’s poetry. The research uniquely combines perspectives from a variety of disciplines, including the early modern memory arts, neuroscience, and psychoanalysis.

National Humanities Center Fellowship, Humanities Unbounded Visiting Faculty Fellowship from Duke University, and Getty Research Institute Fellowship —
Vance Byrd, Frank and Roberta Furbush Scholar, and Associate Professor of German Studies

Vance Byrd
Vance Byrd, associate professor of German studies

The National Humanities Center Fellowship, awarded to humanities scholars whose work is shaping the future of their fields, is among the most selective award in the humanities. This year’s class consists of 36 fellows drawn from a pool of 638 applicants.

The award will support Byrd’s work on his second monograph, Listening to Panoramas: Sonic and Visual Cultures of Commemoration. By studying panoramas, a type of art form that combines images with sonic and theatrical components and were widely used in commemoration in the U.S. and Germany, Byrd’s project will provide new insights into the politics of commemoration, race, and national imagination.

Byrd was also awarded a Humanities Unbounded Visiting Faculty Fellowship from Duke University. He will collaborate with a variety of Duke faculty members as he works on the manuscript for the panoramas project.

He was recently awarded a Getty Research Institute Fellowship allowing him to join other scholars, artists, and cultural figures from around the world to work in residence at the Institute on projects that bear upon its annual research theme. This year’s theme is “The Fragment.”

Fulbright Scholar Grant —
Shuchi Kapila, Professor of English

Shuchi Kapila
Shuchi Kapila, professor of English

Kapila was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to travel to India to complete the research for her second book, which is about the Indian partition of 1947. The book will explore the partition through the memories of survivors, the “postmemory” of the children and grandchildren of survivors, and formal memorialization efforts.

The Fulbright grant support multiple trips to India over a two-year period, which paves the way for Kapila to conduct interviews with the descendants of partition survivors, revisit the museum of the partition, and collaborate with colleagues in India, particularly scholars at the Center for the Study of Violence, Memory, and Trauma at Delhi University.

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