Along with promoting current faculty and granting tenure to eight faculty members, Lafayette also welcomed many new tenure-track faculty this semester. Faculty members come from a wide variety of disciplines and hope to enhance the learning environment for students across campus.
Assistant professor of mathematics Sunita Chepuri is one of the new tenured faculty. She is currently doing research in combinatorics, that is, the mathematics of discrete objects. More specifically, it focuses on algebraic combinatorics.
Chepuri wrote in an email that the sense of community drew her to Lafayette.
“I really wanted to teach in a place that values teaching and encourages the kind of student-faculty relationship that I enjoyed as an undergrad at a small liberal arts college,” Chepuri wrote. “I also love how committed Lafayette is to making everyone affiliated with the college feel part of the community.”
Chepuri added that she hopes to contribute by getting to know students and creating a more welcoming learning environment in the math department.
“I want to encourage my students to think and reason logically,” Chepuri wrote. “Doing this is very uncomfortable – we would all rather be given an algorithm that we can use to blindly produce the ‘right answers’. However, real learning happens when we sit in that uncomfortable place and struggle to figure out exactly what is is happening and why.
She also wrote that while her current goal is to get tenured, she would also like to be more involved with the Hanson Center for Inclusive STEM Education.
“I have known so many people who have felt left out in math and want to work to change that culture in the future,” she wrote.
Another new professor on the tenure track is Assistant Professor of Government and Law Stephanie Chan. She is continue her research on immigration, race, and political participation, in the hope that her work will result in a book. Chan wrote in an email that she was drawn to Lafayette because of the personal relationships the professors are able to build with the students.
“I hope to share my knowledge of politics with the students in my classes. Currently, I teach Introduction to American Politics,” Chan wrote. “It’s great to discuss contemporary political issues with my students.”
Chan echoed Chepuri’s goal of fostering a more inclusive space in which students can learn and share their thoughts.
“In my classes, I aim to foster a respectful and interactive classroom environment where students can recognize how politics has influenced their lives and discuss their views thoughtfully,” Chan wrote.
Another recently hired faculty member on the tenure track, Assistant Mathematics Professor Farhan Abedin ’11, is a Lafayette alumnus. He found his passion for mathematics during his time as Leopard and entered a PhD program immediately after graduation. He is actually the search for the quantitative properties of solutions to nonlinear elliptical partial differential equations (PDEs).
“When I started looking for university jobs a few years ago, I focused on institutions where faculty value both research and teaching. Lafayette has always been good at finding that balance, so when I was offered the job here, it was very easy for me to say yes,” Abedin wrote in an email.
Abedin aspires to positively influence students just as his own instructors have done for him.
“I hope I can inspire my students to find beauty and value in a liberal arts education,” he wrote.
In terms of the type of class he wants to foster, Abedin hopes to push students out of their comfort zone.
“I like to challenge my students but also keep the material accessible and have fair assessment criteria,” Abedin wrote. “It’s definitely a balancing act, so students can expect me to do my best to strike the right balance.”
Although it’s only been a few weeks since Abedin started teaching, his favorite thing about Lafayette is how hard the students work in the classroom.
“So far, I am very encouraged by the tenacity and drive my students have shown, especially when tackling advanced mathematical concepts,” Abedin wrote.
Other new tenured professors include Assistant Professor of Stage Design Jake Salgado, Assistant Professor of Psychology Jessie Greenlee, Assistant Professor of Biology Ezra Lencer and Assistant Professor of Sociology Rui Jie Peng.