Each week since the start of the semester we've been highlighting Bryn Mawr's newest faculty members. The College supports faculty excellence in both research and teaching and is committed to social justice and inclusion in the classroom and in the community at large.
Department of Physics
Broadly speaking, my primary research interests are in the physics of galaxy evolution and dynamics. Spiral galaxies in the local universe have several common characteristics, yet many fundamental questions remain unanswered. A few of these are: What is the nature of spiral structure? What is the typical lifetime of a spiral pattern and what causes its disruption? To what degree do spiral arms drive the formation of major structural components of a galaxy? Each of these outstanding questions represents a topic that is central to understanding spiral galaxy evolution and which I explore in my research. I find great joy in extracting the fundamental physics from otherwise complex processes. This means that I typically take an analytic approach in order to shed light on some of the more perplexing results from simulated and observed data.
Department of Philosophy
My primary areas of research are in the philosophy of science, the philosophy of biology, and the philosophy of mind (especially cognitive science). My current research focuses on the metaphysical and epistemological issues surrounding scientific explanation, the use of highly idealized and abstract models in science, and the positive roles that idealizations play in scientific theorizing. A central question that drives much of my work is: how does science use idealizations (falsehoods) and abstractions (omissions) in positive ways to provide explanations of the phenomena we observe and produce understanding of the world around us? Much of my research focuses on examples from biology—especially adaptationist and population genetics explanations that employ highly idealized mathematical models. However, I aim to use these examples to draw broader lessons about the philosophical issues surrounding scientific modeling more generally. Moreover, I investigate similarities and differences in the ways concepts like explanation and understanding are used across different sciences; e.g. how the use of highly idealized models in biology compares with their use in physics and economics. Within the philosophy of mind, my research focuses on the nature of mental concepts and how they can be realized in the processes postulated by cognitive scientists.