Introducing new faculty members

The following are among the new faculty members at the University. Others will be introduced periodically in this space.

Yehuda Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., joins the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences as assistant professor. Ben-Shahar earned a bachelor of science degree in life sciences from Tel-Aviv University in Tel-Aviv, Israel. He earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in entomology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and had several years of postdoctoral experience as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellow at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. His research uses both Drosophila and honeybees to investigate the genetic architecture that underlies specific behaviors such as feeding and mating. He is also interested the evolution of behavior. His research combines behavioral, genetic, genomic, biochemical and molecular techniques.

Peter Benson, Ph.D., joins the Department of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences as assistant professor. He was previously a postdoctoral research fellow in the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology from Vanderbilt University and a doctorate in anthropology from Harvard University. His research interests include medical anthropology, public health, political economy, tobacco, agriculture, transnational migration and social theory, especially intersections between phenomenology, existentialism and cultural anthropology.

Pamela Jakiela, Ph.D., joins the Department of Economics in Arts & Sciences as assistant professor. She earned a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. Much of her work explores the intersection between international development and psychology, focusing on sharing norms, cultural values, ethnic networks, risk-taking and entrepreneurship. She conducts regular fieldwork in Kenya, where she recently completed a study of the emergence of individualist, effort-oriented values. Jakiela also conducts lab experimental studies in the United States. Her recent work in this area explores the importance of contextual cues in sharing decisions.

John Klein, Ph.D., joins the Department of Art History and Archaeology in Arts & Sciences as associate professor. Klein, who has taught at the University of Missouri-Columbia since 1992, brings several areas of expertise to the department’s offerings in modern and contemporary art, criticism and theory through his courses in modern sculpture, Dada and Surrealism, the history and theory of the art museum, modern decoration and decorative arts, and portraiture from antiquity to the present. He is an internationally known specialist in the art of Henri Matisse, Fauvism and modern portraiture. In addition to his book “Matisse Portraits” (Yale 2001), he has published many articles and book chapters on the artist, most recently on the intersection of portraiture and decoration in Matisse’s work for an exhibition in the German cities of Stuttgart and Hamburg.

Robert F. Krueger, Ph.D., joins the Department of Psychology in Arts & Sciences as professor. Krueger is a clinical and personality psychologist interested in understanding the origins of individual differences in personality and psychopathology. His research often employs behavior genetic designs and multivariate quantitative models. Major research goals involve developing comprehensive, empirically-based models of personality and psychopathology applicable in both clinical and research settings. A related research interest involves modeling the ways in which genetic and environmental forces intertwine in the development of human individual differences. Krueger earned a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin.

Claire Solomon, Ph.D., joins the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures in Arts & Sciences as assistant professor of Spanish. She earned a doctorate in Latin American literature from Yale University and a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish and comparative literature from Oberlin College. Solomon previously held a lectureship at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include the relationship of literature and theory, early 20th-century traveling Yiddish Theater companies, literary prostitutes of the Southern Cone, and close reading.

Roy Sorensen, Ph.D., joins the Department of Philosophy in Arts & Sciences as professor. He has interests in the philosophy of language, epistemology and metaphysics, on which he has published a large number of articles. He is the author of six books, for which he is well known: “Blindspots” (Oxford 1988), “Thought Experiments” (Oxford 1992), “Pseudo-Problems” (Routledge, 1993), “Vagueness and Contradiction” (Oxford 2001), “A Brief History of Paradox” (Oxford 2003) and “Seeing Dark Things” (Oxford 2007). He is also on the editorial board of The American Philosophical Quarterly. Sorensen was previously professor of philosophy at Dartmouth College and, prior to that, at New York University, where he served as department chair from 1991-94.

Margit Tavits, Ph.D., joins the Department of Political Science in Arts & Sciences as assistant professor. Her main research areas include comparative European politics, electoral competition, party politics and political institutions. She earned a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh and served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford. Tavits’ publications include “Presidents with Prime Ministers” (Oxford 2009), which considers whether and when presidents in parliamentary systems become influential. Her work has also appeared in various leading journals of political science. Her current research focuses on the development of party organizations and representational linkages in post-communist Europe.