Faculty Advisory Committee
Elizabeth Cook, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science
Assistant Professor Elizabeth Cook is an urban ecosystem scientist with interdisciplinary expertise in social and natural sciences, including ecology, cultural geography, and sustainability sciences. Her research focuses on future urban sustainability and human-environment feedbacks. She seeks to advance a broader understanding of cities through the integration of trans-disciplinary frameworks, mixed methods, and a comparative approach with examples from cities in Latin and North America.
Elizabeth earned her PhD at Arizona State University where she was an NSF-funded Fellow in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program. She was previously awarded a Chilean National Commission on Science and Technology (CONICYT) Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia and served as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Urban Ecology in the Environmental Studies Department and the Urban Systems Lab at The New School where she taught Climate Justice and Urban Ecology.
Margaret Ellsberg, Senior Lecturer in English
Margaret Ellsberg joined the English Department at Barnard in 1988, and except for a year as a visiting professor at Vassar, has been at Barnard ever since. Her undergraduate degree is from Harvard-Radcliffe and her graduate degrees from Harvard. Before arriving at Barnard she served for one year as a visiting professor at Wellesley.
At Barnard, Margaret has steadily taught the departmental survey, Major English Texts, a First-Year Seminar called 'Ethnicity and Social Transformation," and a seminar called 'Literary Approaches to the Bible,' plus several other courses. She recently conducted a group independent study on 'Vampyres in English Literature and Global Film,' and has for seven years taught a popular seminar called 'The American Cowboy and the Iconography of the West.' Since 2015, she has been a visiting scholar at the Huntington Research Center in San Marino, CA, using their Langer Collection on the American West, and through that connection, she has become a member of two corrals--The Los Angeles Westerners and the Huntington Westerners.
Off-campus, she has served for 28 years as a very active board member of the Hudson Valley Writers' Center in Sleepy Hollow NY, where she also serves as a senior editor of their small-imprint poetry press.
In 2017, Margaret published two books--The Gospel in Gerard Manley Hopkins [Plough Publishers] (She has also published Created to Praise: The Language of Gerard Manley Hopkins [Oxford University Press]--; and Riding Out [Kattywompus Press], a collection of my poetry.
Maria de la Paz Fernandez, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Professor Fernandez joined the faculty of Barnard College in the Summer of 2019. She is a member of the Neuroscience and Behavior Department at Barnard, an affiliate member of Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute, and faculty in the Columbia University Doctoral Program in Neurobiology and Behavior (NBB). She is the chair of the public outreach committee for the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms (SRBR). Other professional affiliations include Society for Neuroscience, Genetics Society of America and International Society for Neuroethology. She teaches courses on general neuroscience and the neurobiology of social behaviors, and the senior thesis seminar on neuroscience.
Before joining Barnard, she was the head of the Behavioral Neurobiology lab at the IBioBA- Max Plank Society Partner Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After completing her doctorate at the University of Buenos Aires, she obtained a Fellowship from the Pew Program in Biomedical Sciences to conduct her postdoctoral training at the Neurobiology Department at Harvard Medical School. She received the Distinction in Teaching Award from Harvard University’s Derek Bok Center and the Young Investigator Award from the International Society for Neuroethology, among other research scholarships and awards.
Her research areas focus on sexual dimorphism in the brain and behavior and sleep/wake cycles.
Sandra Goldmark, Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Theatre and Director of Campus Sustainability and Climate Action
Sandra Goldmark is a teacher, designer, and entrepreneur whose work focuses on innovative and sustainable engagement with material culture. She is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice in the Department of Theatre at Barnard College, and has designed sets and costumes for theatres around the country. She also serves as Barnard’s first Director of Campus Sustainability and Climate Action. Sandra is also the Founder of Fixup (formerly Pop Up Repair), a social enterprise that employs local theatre artists and other makers and technicians to fix household items, re-envisioning repair as a viable and necessary part of a sustainable circular economy. Fixup uses an innovative business structure to create a practical alternative to use-and-discard culture, by making it easy for people to take care of what they have, reduce waste from new manufacturing, and create local jobs. In theatre, campus sustainability, and repair, Sandra’s multi-disciplinary approach focusses on creating innovative solutions, especially about the things we choose to make, buy, use, and discard (both onstage and off), and the way those choices impact our environment and our daily lives. Sandra has a BA in American History and Literature from Harvard College, and an MFA in Design from Yale School of Drama.
Rebecca Jordan-Young, Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Rebecca Jordan-Young is an interdisciplinary feminist scientist and science studies scholar whose work explores the reciprocal relations between science and the social hierarchies of gender, sexuality, class, and race. Her forthcoming book, Testosterone: An Unauthorized Biography, coauthored with Katrina Karkazis, will soon be published by Harvard University Press (tentatively slated for spring 2020). So familiar that it can go by a single initial, T is at once a mercurial cultural figure and a specific molecule. She and Katrina take aim at received wisdom about T in six domains—female reproduction, aggression, risk-taking, power, sports, and parenting—show that stories about T don’t just seem to naturalize gender differences, but class, and racial distinctions, too.
Her first book, Brain Storm: The flaws in the science of sex differences (Harvard University Press 2010), was the first systematic analysis of human studies bearing on the “brain organization” hypothesis, the idea that early hormone exposures “hardwire” sex differences into the human brain. Tracing definitions and measures across the studies, she found that the research overall doesn’t support the idea that human brains are “organized” for gender and sexuality by early hormone exposures. Brain Storm won a Distinguished Book Award from the Association for Women in Psychology (2011) and has been translated into French (Belin Press, 2016).
She’s a core member of the international Neurogenderings Network, and enjoys collaborating with colleagues in fields that range from cognitive and developmental neuroscience, developmental biology, and physical chemistry to cultural anthropology, political science, history, and sociology. Her puplications appear in neuroscience, public health, medical, social science, and feminist journals, as well as in popular outlets like the New York Times, The Guardian, and Discover Magazine.
Erika Kitzmiller, Term Assistant Professor in Education
Erika Kitzmiller, Term Assistant Professor in Education, is a historian of race, inequality, and education whose scholarship examines the historical process and current reform efforts that have contributed to inequality today. In addition to teaching at Barnard, she is a research affiliate with the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her first book, The Roots of Educational Inequality: Philadelphia and Germantown High School, 1907 - 2014, will be published with the University of Pennsylvania Press in December 2021.
Kitzmiller's scholarship has been published in the Harvard Educational Review and Teachers College Record, as well as in Dissent, the Hechinger Report, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Reuters. She is also a co-author of the Green New Deal for Public Schools with an interdisciplinary group of scholars led by Dr. Akira Drake Rodriguez.
Kitzmiller has received funding for her work from Harvard University, the National Academy of Education, the National Science Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and others.
Debra Minkoff, Professor of Sociology, Chair of the Department of Sociology
Debra Minkoff joined the faculty of Barnard in 2005, after teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle. She also has taught at Yale University and held visiting positions at the University of Munich and the Humboldt University of Berlin.
Professor Minkoff’s work focuses on the organizational dimensions of social movements and political activism in the U.S. Her earlier research traces the civil rights and feminist movements, developing a new approach that emphasizes the ecology of national political and civic organizations. She has written on such topics as the structure of protest cycles in the U.S., organizational change and failure among national political organizations, and the role of national social movements in American civil society. More recently her research has investigated such questions as how funding by elite foundations shapes the field of organizations seeking to consolidate the gains of the feminist and civil rights movements, and how much variety exists in the organizational models available for citizen advocacy at the national level in the U.S.
Her article "Conceptualizing Political Opportunity" (with D.S. Meyer) received the 2005 Best Published Article Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements.
At Barnard, Professor Minkoff’s teaching includes such courses as "Social Movements, Funding Social Change: A Research Practicum, and the Junior Colloquium."
Premilla Nadasen, Professor of History
Premilla Nadasen has published extensively on the multiple meanings of feminism, alternative labor movements, and grass-roots community organizing and is most interested in visions of social change, and the ways in which poor and working-class women of color fought for social justice. Her most recent book, Household Workers Unite, examines how African American domestic workers in the U.S. strategically used storytelling to develop a political identity and through their organizing reshaped the landscape of labor organizing. She is currently writing a biography of South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba.
Nadasen is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and serves on the scholarly advisory committee of the New York Historical Society's Center for Women's History. She is past president of the National Women’s Studies Association and was a Fulbright Visiting Professor at Oxford University in 2019. She is the 2020 inaugural recipient of the Ann Snitow Prize for outstanding feminist activist and intellectual work.
Professor Nadasen has bridged academic and activist work by making her scholarship accessible to people outside the university. She has been a museum consultant, has written op-eds for newspapers and on-line outlets, and served as expert witness before the New York State Assembly Committee on Labor as well as the federal Department of Labor. She collaborated with the Institute for Policy Studies and the National Domestic Workers Alliance on the “We Dream in Black Project” to mobilize Black domestic workers in the South.
J.C. Salyer, Director of the Human Rights Program and Assistant Professor of Practice, Anthropology and Human Rights
J.C. Salyer is an anthropologist and a lawyer whose work focuses on law and society, immigration law, climate change, and social justice. He is also the staff attorney for the Arab-American Family Support Center, a community-based organization in Brooklyn, where he runs the organization’s immigration clinic. He is a co-organizer of Pacific Climate Circuits, a three-year symposium at the Columbia University Center for the Study of Social Difference, which considers issues relating to climate change in the Pacific through the lens of the social sciences and humanities. His current research is on issues of migration, human rights, and sovereignty relating to the Australian government’s policy of placing asylum seekers in a detention center on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.
Rae Silver, Professor of Natural and Physical Sciences
Rae Silver is the Helene L. and Mark N. Kaplan Professor of Natural & Physical Sciences and the head of the Silver Neurobiology Laboratory. Since 1976, Professor Silver has been a member of Barnard’s faculty and has taught courses in Quantitative Reasoning, Neuroscience and Psychology. The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Mental Health, and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Office of Naval Research, are among the organizations that have supported her research.
Over the course of her career, Professor Silver has held many positions on committees in services to the educational community, the scientific and research community, and the Barnard and Columbia communities. Currently, she is a US Representative and serves as Vice-chair on the Council of Scientists for the Human Frontiers Science Program and a member of the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine Forum on Neuroscience. Her work as Senior Advisor at the National Science Foundation helped to create a series of workshops to examine opportunities for the next decade in making advances in Neuroscience through the joint efforts of biologists, chemists, educators, mathematicians, physicists, psychologists and statisticians. She served as co-chair of the NASA committee that prioritized biological research for the International Space Station. She is a fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Her two research areas focus on sleep-wake cycles and their neural bases, and on immune – nervous system interactions in the brain.
Nick Smith, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Studies
Nick R. Smith is a scholar of urban transformation and planning. His work explores the city as an institution and planning as a process of institution building. Combining the perspectives of new institutional economics, development anthropology, and urban sociology, Smith investigates how urbanization inscribes the “rules of the game” into the space of the city. Using a combination of ethnography, spatial analysis, and archival research, he primarily pursues these processes through investigations of peri-urban villages—contexts of instability, liminality, and rapid change where new forms of urbanization are produced and contested.
Over the past decade, Smith’s work has focused on peri-urban China, where he has conducted extensive research on the development and planning of village communities. His recently published book, entitled The End of the Village: Planning the Urbanization of Rural China, investigates an epochal shift in Chinese urban policy that aims for the near-total urbanization of China’s territory and population.
Smith is currently Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University. Prior to joining Barnard, he was a founding member of the Urban Studies faculty at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. At Barnard, he teaches a variety of courses in the Architecture Department and the Urban Studies Program, including Urban Elsewheres, Urbanizing China, and Key Debates in Urban Planning and Policy.
Smith received his A.B. (East Asian Studies), A.M. (Architecture), and Ph.D. (Urban Planning) from Harvard University. He has also held visiting positions at Oxford University (Oxford China Centre), Chongqing University (Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning), and Renmin University (History). Smith’s work has been supported by the National Science Foundation (USA), the Fulbright Scholarship, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Kaifeng Foundation, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, the Ministry of Education (PRC), and the Ministry of Science and Technology (PRC). In 2011 and 2012, Smith served as Secretary of the International Association for China Planning. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Urban China Research Network and serves on the editorial boards of Transactions in Planning and Urban Research and Dialogues in Urban Research.
Joan Snitzer, Senior Lecturer in Art History and Visual Art
Joan Snitzer joined the Barnard Faculty in 1986, after working as studio artist and exhibiting her work in the US and abroad. She is the Director of the Visual Arts Program in the Department of Art History and has held this position since 2001.
Professor Snitzer’s work is focused on painting as a method of visual communication and democratization of social and personal beliefs. She has exhibited her work at MoMA, MoMA PS1, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, David Nolan Gallery, Zürcher Gallery, and other venues in the US, Mexico, Puerto Rico, France, Scotland, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Japan, and India, among others. In addition to her studio work, Snitzer has worked in a number of organizations that provide support for women and underrepresented visual artists.
At Barnard, Snitzer’s courses include “Imagery and Form,” a course providing historical theory for contemporary art practices; “Studio Painting,” a laboratory for experimentation in methods of communication through painted visual forms; and “Advanced Studio,” a course for majors in visual art who are developing professional portfolios. She received the Margaret Mead Award for her teaching and in 2006. Further information can be found on her personal website, http://joansnitzer.com.
Dr. Rebecca Wright, Director of the Vagelos Computational Science Center and Druckenmiller Professor of Computer Science
Dr. Rebecca Wright is the Druckenmiller professor of Computer Science and director of the Vagelos Computational Science Center at Barnard. Her research is primarily in the area of information security, including cryptography, privacy, foundations of computer security, and fault-tolerant distributed computing. Dr. Wright serves as an editor of the International Journal of Information and Computer Security and of the Transactions on Data Privacy, and is a member of the board of the Computer Research Association's Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W). She received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Yale University, a B.A. from Columbia University, and an honorary M.E. from Stevens Institute of Technology. She is a Fellow of the IEEE and a Distinguished Member of the ACM.