CoAS Welcomes New Faculty

October 5, 2011 — The College of Arts and Sciences warmly welcomes four new tenure-track faculty members this term: Dr. Scott Barclay, head of the history and politics department; Dr. Tali Gidalevitz, assistant professor of biology; Dr. Nathan Hanna, assistant professor of English and philosophy; and Dr. Sean O’Donnell, professor of biology.

Scott Barclay

Dr. Scott Barclay

Department Head, History and Politics

Hometown: Brisbane, Australia
Degree: Ph.D. Political Science, Northwestern University
Research Interests: Law & society, law & public policy, lesbian and gay rights, and state politics and policy

Q: What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
A: New books on my Kindle – I am terrified of being caught on a plane or train without the possibility of escaping into the joy of reading.

Q: What did you do before joining Drexel?
A: I just completed a two-year rotation as a Program Officer for the Law and Social Science Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF). In that capacity, I guided grant proposals from political scientists, sociologists, anthropologists, and social psychologists through the complex NSF review process. [Prior to his appointment at the NSF, Dr. Barclay was an associate professor in the departments of Political Science, Public Administration and Policy, and Women's Studies at the University at Albany, State University of New York.]

Q: What was the most memorable class you ever took as an undergrad?
A: I went to university planning to be a journalist, but on my first day I took an Introduction to Political Science class taught by a Yale-trained professor, Bruce Stinebrickner. He began the class by simply saying, “Politics is about power and we political scientists want to know all about who gets that power.” And I thought two things: “That is a hugely, cool question” and “He treats me like I am a political scientist even though it is my first day.” And, after that, he had me hooked on political science.

Q: What made you want to become a professor?
A: Understanding our place in the world is a complex puzzle that challenges the very core of our identity as individuals. To get the opportunity to be in a position to grapple with those ideas on a daily basis with new and different groups of students and to do so in different societies across the globe is something that is impossible to resist.

Q: What do you hope to add to the CoAS community?
A: At heart, I am a scholar rather than simply a political scientist. So I look forward to better connections to the students and my colleagues in the other departments in CoAS, who can teach me new ways to see the world from their perspective.

See him in action: CoAS Dean’s Seminar Series: “Where are the Activist Judges in Same Sex Marriage?” October 12, 2011, 3:30 – 5:00 PM, Disque 109

Tali Gidalevitz

Dr. Tali Gidalevitz

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology

Hometown: Novosibirsk, Russia
Degree: Ph.D. Pathology, University of Chicago
Research Interests: Understanding the basic nature of protein misfolding, its effect on cellular and organismal fitness, and its role in conformational diseases and aging.

Q: What you did before coming to Drexel?
A: I got my Bachelor’s degree at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, then worked in several labs as a technician before joining the University of Chicago for graduate school. There, I worked in the laboratory of Dr. Argon, studying molecular chaperones that assist protein folding in the endoplasmic reticulum. During this time, I also had a chance to learn some biophysical approaches to protein folding as a visiting student in Dr. Radford’s lab at the University of Leeds, UK. For my postdoctoral studies in Dr. Morimoto’s lab at Northwestern, I switched gears once again and learned to use genetics and model organisms: I studied how protein misfolding and aggregation affected the protein folding environment using C. elegans models of conformational diseases.

Q: What is your favorite book?
A: Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Q: What’s one thing every student who plans on taking one of your classes should know about you?
A: I believe that understood material stays in their heads much longer than memorized material.

Q: What do you hope to add to the CoAS community?
A: I hope that my lab will add many possibilities for students to participate in hands-on research and thus develop a life-long interest in and appreciation of science. I will introduce a new model organism, C. elegans, which allows for great applications such as imaging protein behavior in live animals throughout their lifespan, genome-wide approaches, testing the role of natural variation in disease processes, etc. Because of the multidisciplinary nature of the research on protein misfolding, I hope to develop collaborations with scientists both in and outside of Drexel Biology, thus creating opportunities for non-biology students to bridge fields and get involved in biological research.

See her in action: CoAS Dean’s Seminar Series, April 25, 2012, 3:30 – 5:00 PM, Disque 109

Nathan Hanna

Dr. Nathan Hanna

Assistant Professor, Department of English and Philosophy

Hometown: St. Petersburg, FL
Degree: Ph.D. Philosophy, Syracuse University
Research Interests: Ethics, philosophy of law, and political philosophy; most interested in legal punishment and its justification

Q: What is your favorite book?
A: Non-Academic: The Cairo Trilogy, Naguib Mahfouz; Academic: A Theory of Justice, John Rawls

Q: Who is your idol or who inspires you?
A: (Well, it’s not one person but…) I really admire those participating in the Bard Prison Initiative. The BPI is a program in NY State that tries to provide quality education to prison inmates. It’s met with remarkable results.

Q: What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?
A: Philosophical conversation.

Q: What’s one thing every student who plans on taking one of your classes should know about you?
A: I don’t take myself seriously, but I take philosophy seriously – and I expect students to do it. That is, I expect them to think hard about the subject and to discuss things in class. I don’t lecture much.

Q: What did you do before joining Drexel?
A: Uihlein Fellow of Ethics at Lawrence University, in Appleton, Wisconsin (a three-year postdoc)

Q: What do you hope to add to the CoAS community?
A: I hope to get students to think hard about subjects they’ve probably not thought a lot about, to learn to do so well, and to develop the courage to challenge common sense and convention.

See him in action: CoAS Dean’s Seminar Series: “Is Legal Punishment Morally Justified?" November 9, 2011, 3:30 – 5:00 PM, Disque 109

Sean O'Donnell

Dr. Sean O'Donnell

Professor, Department of Biology

Hometown: Originally, Warminster PA; grew up in Naugatuck, CT
Degree: Joint Ph.D. Entomology/Zoology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Research Interests: Animal behavior, tropical ecology, and neurobiology

Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Thai cuisine. Also love good Italian and an occasional cheesesteak. [And] dark chocolate.

Q: What course would you be most excited to teach at Drexel and why?
A: Tropical field ecology— a similar course transformed my life in graduate school; I look forward to passing that experience on.

Q: Which current event or issue do you think students should know more about?
A: Biological conservation and directional global change.

Q: What’s one thing every student who plans on taking one of your classes should know about you?
A: [I have] very high-energy [and a] passion for what I teach.

Q: What did you do before joining Drexel?
A: [I was a] professor in psychology for 15 years at the University of Washington; 3 years as a postdoc at the University of California, Davis before that.

Q: What do you hope to add to the CoAS community?
A: Infusing biological research with love of the natural world.

Hopefully you caught Dr. O’Donnell’s Dean’s Seminar, “Army Ants: Top Predators, Ecological Keystones, Superorganisms,” on September 28th. If you missed it, be sure to check out some of his work here!