Arts & Sciences names new chairs, directors

Six new department and program heads have been named in Arts & Sciences this fall.

Michele Boldrin, Ph.D., the Joseph Gibson Hoyt Distinguished Professor of Economics in Arts & Sciences, succeeds Ping Wang, Ph.D., the Seigle Family Professor in Arts & Sciences, as chair of the Department of Economics;

Randall L. Calvert, Ph.D., the Thomas F. Eagleton University Professor of Public Affairs and Political Science, succeeds Wayne Fields, Ph.D., the Lynne Cooper Harvey Distinguished Professor of English and American Culture Studies, as director of the American Culture Studies Program;

T.R. Kidder, Ph.D., professor of anthropology, succeeds Richard J. Smith, Ph.D., the Ralph E. Morrow Distinguished University Professor, as chair of the Department of Anthropology;

Kathryn G. Miller, Ph.D., professor of biology, succeeds Ralph Quatrano, Ph.D., interim dean of Arts & Sciences and the Spencer T. Olin Professor, as interim chair of the Department of Biology;

Vincent B. Sherry, Ph.D., professor of English, succeeds David A. Lawton, Ph.D., professor of English, as chair of the Department of English; and

Douglas A. Wiens, Ph.D., professor of earth and planetary sciences, succeeds Ray Arvidson, Ph.D., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor, as chair of the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences.

In addition, Arts & Sciences will welcome a seventh new director Jan. 1, when Gaylyn Studlar, Ph.D., succeeds Charles Barr in the Program in Film & Media Studies. Studlar’s biography will be in the Record next semester.

Michele Boldrin, Economics

Boldrin is an economist whose wide range of interests has taken him from his native Italy to dozens of countries and universities as a scholar and teacher.

After earning a doctorate from the University of Rochester, Boldrin taught at the University of Chicago; University of California, Los Angeles; Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management; Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Spain; the University of Minnesota; and the Santa Fe Institute. He joined the WUSTL faculty in 2006.

Boldrin’s research interests focus on the theory and application of dynamic general equilibrium models as well as the role technological innovation plays on economic growth. He has written on economic growth, business cycles, asset pricing, the welfare system, innovation theory and technological progress, search theory, the labor market, intellectual property, fertility and international trade.

He is a fellow of the Econometric Society, an associate editor of Econometrica, an editor of the Review of Economic Dynamics and the book review editor of Macroeconomic Dynamics. He also is a research fellow of Centre for Economic Policy Research (London) and Fundacion de Estudios de Economia Aplicada (Madrid), and an economic adviser to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and to the Bank of Japan.

His fourth and latest book, “Against Intellectual Monopoly,” argues for the elimination of patents and copyrights. It is co-authored with WUSTL colleague David K. Levine Ph.D, the John H. Biggs Distinguished Professor in Economics.

Randall L. Calvert, American Culture Studies

Calvert, a specialist in American politics and in positive political theory, joined the faculty as a professor of political science in October 1999.

He also taught at WUSTL as assistant professor from 1979-1985 and as associate professor from 1985-87. In 1984-85, he was a postdoctoral fellow in political economy at Carnegie Mellon University, and he spent 1990-91 as a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

Before returning to WUSTL, he was the Don Alonzo Watson Professor of Political Science at the University of Rochester, serving as department chair from 1991-96.

Calvert earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematical analysis in the social sciences from the University of Kentucky in 1975 and a doctorate in social science from the California Institute of Technology in 1980.

He is the author of the 1986 monograph “Models of Imperfect Information in Politics.” His articles on American legislative and electoral politics and on positive theory are published in a variety of leading journals, including The American Political Science Review and The American Journal of Political Science.

Over the past decade, his research has concentrated on game-theoretic general models of leadership and social institutions. His current research and teaching focus is on game-theoretic models of deliberation based on the coordination of expectations; and on the politics of territorial acquisition in the United States.

Calvert chaired the American Political Science Association’s Organized Section on Political Economy and served on the section’s council from 1994-96; he now co-edits its newsletter, The Political Economist.

T.R. Kidder, Anthropology

Kidder has been at Washington University since 2003. He earned a doctorate from Harvard University in 1988 and previously was professor of anthropology at Tulane University in New Orleans.

He is interested in North American archaeology and geoarchaeology. His work concerns subsistence studies, paleoecology, paleoclimate, the formation of hierarchical social systems and the histories of complex hunter-gatherers.

Kidder especially is interested in the emergence of social complexity and the relationship between climate change and landscape evolution, and the effects these have on human cultures.

A recent area of study has been exploring the emergence and decline of mound building among complex hunter-gatherer cultures in eastern North America. He has been working at several mound sites in the lower Mississippi Valley, including the well-known Poverty Point site in northeastern Louisiana.

His studies have led into the fields of historical ecology and, more recently, climate history. Kidder is studying how global climate change between 5000-400 B.C. affected civilizations.

Evidence for these studies comes from extensive geological and soil mapping, archaeological investigations and an intensive program of coring in the Mississippi Valley of North American and the Yellow River Valley in China. This research is ongoing, and Kidder plans to expand it in the next few years.

Kathryn G. Miller, Biology

Miller has been a faculty member in the biology department since 1989. Miller, whose specialty is cell biological aspects of Drosophila development, earned a doctorate in biochemistry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1981 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Lawrence University in 1974. Studies in the Miller laboratory address actin cytoskeletal roles in the development of cell specializations and differentiated cell function using Drosophila as a model system. Actin-based specializations are important in many types of differentiated cells within multicellular organisms. Generation, maintenance and function of actin structures required in specialized cells are not well understood.

The Miller lab uses genetics, molecular manipulations in transgenic animals, imaging in vivo, biochemistry and cell biological techniques to understand how actin structures form and their function in specialized cells.

Much of Miller’s work is aimed at identifying molecules that cooperate with actin capping protein and myosin VI in a variety of cellular contexts to modulate actin structure formation and function.

Because actin is highly conserved and actin structures function in fundamental processes in all cells, the information obtained is widely applicable.

Vincent B. Sherry, English

Sherry joined the department in 2007 after serving as the Distinguished Professor of English at Villanova University from 2005-07 and the Pierce Butler Professor of English at Tulane University from 2004-05. He was a member of Villanova’s English faculty from 1980-2004.

Sherry said high on his departmental agenda in the next few years include the tasks of increasing the number of undergraduate English majors and providing a more developed experience — social as well as intellectual — for students in the program.

He teaches and writes about literary modernism in Britain and Ireland. A current project is the book “Dying Generation: Modernism, Decadence, and the Inspiration of Last Days.” The work, he said, traces the relation between “high” modernism and the “decadence” of the writers and painters of the later Victorian Age, mapping out the main lines of continuity and change over the long turn of the century. He also is writing the Blackwell biography of Ezra Pound.

His publications include “The Uncommon Tongue: The Poetry and Criticism of Geoffrey Hill” (Michigan 1987); “Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, and Radical Modernism” (Oxford 1993); “James Joyce; Ulysses” (Cambridge 1995, and reprinted in 1997, 2000; second edition 2004); and “The Great War and the Language of Modernism” (Oxford 2003, reprinted in 2004, 2006).

In these works, and throughout his career, Sherry said he has focused on bringing a “historically informed understanding to the modernist project.”

Sherry earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1970 from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree in 1974 and doctorate in 1979, both in English language and literature, from the University of Toronto.

Douglas A. Wiens, Earth & Planetary Sciences

Wiens earned a doctorate in geological sciences in 1985 from Northwestern University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Wheaton College in 1980 and has been a faculty member of the University since 1984.

Wiens oversees 23 faculty members in a department recognized widely for its expertise, being ranked in the top 20 programs nationally in geochemistry, geophysics and planetary sciences.

Wiens’ specialty is seismology and geophysics. He has studiedearthquakes, tsunamis and volcano eruptions in the western Pacific using instruments deployed on the ocean bottom and on the Tonga, Fiji and Mariana islands. He also has studied mountain building as well as seismic signals from sudden ice stream movement in Antarctica.

Recently, it was announced that Wiens will head the seismology research team of an ambitious international effort to map and analyze an unknown part of Antarctica.

The project is called Antarctica’s Gamburtsev Province after the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains, which are the main feature of the region. Wiens, teamed with Patrick Shore, lecturer and instrumentation specialist in earth and planetary sciences, and graduate students David Heeszel and Amanda Lough, will install 26 seismographs on the frozen surface of central Antarctica.

This part of the world is a geological mystery because the mountains are covered with more than a mile of ice, so the topography is unknown and there aren’t any rock samples to analyze. As part of the celebration of International Polar Year, this international effort will map what lurks beneath the ice using radar and seismic imaging. Last year, Wiens and a group of WUSTL researchers installed 10 seismographs in the same general region.