(From upper left) Professors Mary Heskel, Michael Prior, William Mitchell, Morgan Sleeper, Serdar Yalçın, Leslie Myint, Robin Shields-Cutler

Seven Macalester professors have been awarded tenure. They are: Mary Heskel, Biology; Michael Prior, English; William Mitchell, Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science; Morgan Sleeper, Linguistics; Serdar Yalçın, Art and Art History; Leslie Myint, Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science; and Robin Shields-Cutler, Biology. 

Professor Heskel studies plants and how they respond to the effects of climate change in Arctic, forest, and urban ecosystems. Her current research projects examine the effects of ash tree removal in neighborhood environments in the Twin Cities and climate change impacts in Arctic Norway and Alaska. Dr. Heskel teaches Ecology and the Environment, Arctic Ecology, Plant Ecophysiology, and Big Data in Ecology. She grew up in Vero Beach, Florida and earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in education from City College of New York, and a doctorate in ecology, evolution and environmental biology from Columbia University. 

Professor Prior is a poet with an expertise in Asian North American literature. His poetry explores generational memory and cultural trauma, especially in relation to the incarceration of Japanese Canadians and Japanese Americans during the Second World War. His most recent collection, “Burning Province,” was published by Penguin Random House in 2020 and won the Canada-Japan Literary Prize and the B.C. and Yukon Book Prize for poetry. His third book of poems will explore mixed-race Japanese Canadian and Japanese American identity, and the responsibility borne by younger Nikkei generations in the caretaking and shaping of collective memory. Professor Prior teaches a variety of creative writing and literature courses including Introduction to Creative Writing, Asian-American poetry, and Asian-American literature. From Vancouver, he earned his B.A. in English Literature from the University of British Columbia, his M.A. in English Literature from the University of Toronto, and his M.F.A. in poetry from Cornell University.  

Professor Mitchell is a mathematician with expertise in fluid mechanics. His current research examines more efficient ways to solve mathematical equations that describe how tiny swimmers like bacteria move through viscous fluids. Dr. Mitchell teaches calculus, differential equations, computational linear algebra, and math modeling. From Scandia, Minnesota, he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from St. Olaf College, a master’s degree from University of Alaska, Fairbanks and a doctorate in mathematics from University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

Professor Sleeper is an expert in musicolinguistics, Patagonian Welsh, and language in Japanese popular media. His current research focuses on the musicolinguistic landscapes of the genre of music called vaporwave – the music of abandoned shopping malls. Dr. Sleeper teaches introductory courses in linguistics, as well as Syntax, Linguistics Analysis, Language and Music, and the capstone, Field Methods. From Miami, Florida, he earned his B.A. in linguistics and Asian languages and cultures from Macalester College and his doctorate in linguistics from University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Professor Yalçın is an expert in the art and archeology of ancient Western Asia with a focus on art and identity and artistic interconnections in the ancient world. His current research project examines the impact of ancient Western Asian traditions on the formation of early Greek temples. Dr. Yalçın teaches courses on pre-modern art history, including arts and architecture of Ancient Egypt, Western Asia, the Islamic World, and Byzantium and Medieval Europe. From Istanbul, Turkey, he earned his B.A. in psychology and M.A. in history at Bogazici University, and his doctorate in Near Eastern art and archeology at Columbia University. 

Professor Myint is a biostatistician who focuses on the analysis of biological data and causal inference, or policy evaluation. In some of her work, Dr. Myint collaborates with researchers who study kidney disease to help them better understand biological data. Her most recent publication highlighted how a tool well-known in biostatistics could also be employed by economists. She teaches introductory courses in statistics, as well as Statistical Machine Learning, Intermediate Data Science, Causal Inference, and Epidemiology. From Wallingford, Pennsylvania, she earned her B.S. in biomedical engineering and applied math and statistics from Johns Hopkins University, and her doctorate in biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Professor Shields-Cutler is a microbiologist who uses laboratory and high performance computing techniques to understand how microbes interact with humans and other animals. He is currently researching the microbiomes of endangered mantled howler monkeys to understand what is happening to their populations in Costa Rica. He also collaborates with clinical researchers to look at how human gut bacteria may contribute to the success of treatments such as bone marrow transplant and antiretroviral therapy for HIV. Dr. Shields-Cutler teaches genetics, microbiology, computational biology, and biochemistry. From Stillwater, Minnesota, he earned his B.A. in biological chemistry from Grinnell College and his doctorate in molecular microbiology and microbial pathogenesis from Washington University in St. Louis.

December 12 2023

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