MCLA Faculty Accomplishments


Every year, MCLA’s faculty members write, edit, and contribute to papers and articles, receive awards and grants for their research, are quoted as experts, and contribute to their community, among other accolades. We are proud to present this list of accomplishments for the 2019-20 academic year.


Dr. Ann Billetz, professor of biology

Dr. Billetz coordinated the 2019 Massachusetts PKAL Network Summer Meeting, which focuses on best practices in STEM teaching and was hosted by MCLA. Billetz and fellow MCLA biology professors Dr. Justin Golub and Dr. Christopher Thomas presented at the meeting.

Paige Howard and Dr. Eric Doucette, assistant professor of biology

Howard and Dr. Doucette were awarded a grant to support botanical research in the MCLA Forest. The award was funded by the Les Mehrhoff Botanical Research Fund, administered by the New England Botanical Club.

Dr. Doucette was a co-author of Grasses and Rushes of Maine, published by the University of Maine Press.

Dr. Nicole Porther, assistant professor of biology

Dr. Porther and students in her Research Methods in Epidemiology course developed and implemented the MCLA Food Recovery Program. Students collaborated with Dining Services and the MCLA Food Pantry to recover and package pre-consumed food for distribution there. 

Dr. Porther also received a Title III grant to establish a mentoring program for the MCLA Women Of Color Initiative (WOCI). Activities include a book club facilitated by Professor Emeritus Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed, mental health and self-care workshops, and weekly “Tea and Chill” gatherings with, on average, 20 WOC meeting for tea, snacks, and conversation.

Maryann Schroder, adjunct faculty member

Schroder’s Human Growth and Development course at MCLA was designated as a Course of Distinction at the 14th annual Massachusetts Colleges Online (MCO) Conference on eLearning. Schroder, and MCLA professors Dr. Anne Goodwin and Dr. Gerol Petruzella presented at the conference.


Dr. Carolyn Dehner, professor of chemistry, department chair

Dr. Dehner coordinated the 2018 and 2019 Berkshire Bank Summer STEM Academy, which serves as a bridge program for first-year students interested in STEM fields. Highlights included a field trip to the Albany Nanotech Complex and a roundtable dinner with local professionals. MCLA Professors Chris Thomas, Carolyn Dehner, David Eve, Daniel Shustack, Justin Golub, Nicole Porther, Erin Kiley, Kebra Ward, Sharon Claffey, Tom Byrne, Pete Hoyt, and Anne Goodwin offered academic sessions. The program is funded by a grant from Berkshire Bank.


Drs. Anne Goodwin, Anna Jaysane-Darr, Nicole Porther, and Elena Traister

Drs. Goodwin, Jaysane-Darr, Porther, and Traister implemented a grant-funded “Campuses for Environmental Stewardship” project involving collaborative teaching efforts and community outreach around the issue of food insecurity. Student projects associated with this work were presented at the Food Insecurity & Sustainability Mini Conference during the spring MCLA Undergraduate Research Conference.

Drs. Chris Thomas, Erin Kiley, Nicole Porther, Sara Steele, Carolyn Dehner, Dan Shustack, and David Eve

Drs. Thomas, Kiley, Porther, Steele, Dehner, Shustack, and Eve developed and delivered a team-taught TIER III capstone course titled Food Insecurity. The course looked at the issue of food insecurity as it exists in Berkshire County through the lens of the various disciplines. The course was funded by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s STEM Starter Academy proposal with Berkshire Community College as the lead and MCLA the partner institution.


Dr. Elizabeth Hartung, associate professor of mathematics

Dr. Hartung was awarded a bilateral research grant for work with Nino Basic at the University of Primorska in Slovenia. This two-year collaborative grant will be funding joint work in chemical graph theory. The grant was awarded by ARRS, the Agency of Research of the Republic of Slovenia.

Dr. Hartung also co-authored the paper “Combinatorial Generation Via Permutation Languages,” which was accepted for publication and presentation at SODA, the Symposium for Discrete Algorithms in January 2020. This paper was co-authored by Dr. Hartung, Hung P. Hoang (ETH Zurich), Torsten Mutze (TU Berlin), and Aaron Williams (Williams College). 

Modern Languages 

Dr. Graziana Ramsden, professor of modern languages

Dr. Ramsden presented "Teaching with Canvas" at the North Eastern Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL), in New York City, in February 2020.


Dr. Emily Maher, associate professor of physics, department chair

While working on the MINERvA Experiment, located at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Dr. Maher and her colleagues published six papers explaining their research on experimental neutrino interactions and simulations of these interactions. Dr. Maher has served as the Calibration Coordinator on the MINERvA experiment for the last five years.

Dr. Maher also was accepted to and attended the Partnership for the Integration of Computation in Undergraduate Physics (PICUP) NSF at the University of Wisconsin River-Falls, sponsored-workshop where she worked with experts to develop a plan to include more computation in the MCLA physics major.

Dr. Kebra Ward, assistant professor of physics

Dr. Ward, assistant professor of physics, co-authored the paper “Routes to singlet exciton fission in rubrene crystals and amorphous films,” which was accepted for publication in the refereed journal AIP Advances. This paper was co-authored by Dr. Ward, Drew Finton, Eric Wolf, Vincent Zoutenbier, and Ivan Biaggio (all of Lehigh University).

Dr. Ward also accompanied MCLA students Kiah DaViega ‘21, Amalia Badohu ‘21, Reshawna Maine ‘20, and Robert Leonard ‘23 to the 2019 Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Congress (PhysCon), a quadrennial event that brings together physics students, alumni, and faculty members for three days of frontier physics, interactive professional development workshops, and networking. It is the largest gathering of undergraduate physics students in the world!


Dr. Maria Bartini, professor of psychology, and Meg Richardson '20, Randi Rocca '21, Alyssa Keegan '20, and Ashley Wilson '20

Dr. Bartini had two conference presentations with students accepted for the Eastern Psychological Association Annual Meeting, which took place virtually in June 2020. A poster, titled “Parents Behaving Badly? Naturalistic Observations at Youth Soccer Games” was developed with Bartini, Meg Richardson '20, Randi Rocca '21, Alyssa Keegan '20, and Ashley Wilson '20. A paper and talk at the conference titled “Parent Behavior at Youth Soccer: Relations between Parent Comments and Player Perceptions” was presented by Bartini, Meg Richardson '20, Randi Rocca '21, Alyssa Keegan '20, and Ashley Wilson '20. 

Kabas Elmeligy ’20, Nicole Nadeau ‘19, and Dr. Thomas Byrne, professor of psychology

A paper Dr. Byrne, Elmeligy, and Nadeau submitted to The Psychological Record, a refereed journal published by Springer, was accepted for publication. Elmeligy and Nadeau dedicated hundreds of hours to this project over the course of 18 months and contributed substantially to the conceptualization, data collection, data analysis, and write-up.

Kabas Emeligy ‘20, Nicole Nadeau ‘19, Brianna Lamb ‘18, and Dr. Thomas Byrne

In May 2019, MCLA students Kabas Emeligy, Nicole Nadeau, Brianna Lamb, and Dr. Byrne traveled to Chicago and presented the poster “Don’t let go: An analysis of short-duration presses in rats responding under fixed-duration schedules” at the convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International.

Kara Adams ’19 and Dr. Thomas Byrne

Adams and professor Dr. Byrne published the paper “Histamine alters environmental place preference in planaria” in the refereed journal Neuroscience Letters. 

Dr. Byrne published the paper “Control of response duration by delayed reinforcers: A systematic replication” in the refereed journal Behavioural Processes, describing an experiment on delayed reinforcement.

Dr. Sharon Claffey, professor of psychology

Professor Claffey led a discussion session titled “Building Meaningful Relationships with Students” at the Society for the Teaching of Psychology 2019 Annual Conference on Teaching in Denver, Colo., in October 2019. Along with Dr. Becky Benjamin, she led a group discussion about the techniques they use to get to know their students and keep them engaged in the classroom experience. They discussed the importance of these techniques and how they are received by students.

Dr. Deborah Foss, professor of psychology

Dr. Foss was elected to the Board of Directors at The Brien Center in North Adams, and began her term in September 2019.

Dr. Benjamin Wood, associate professor of psychology

Dr. Wood presented a paper titled “Conflicted about apocalyptic belief: Analyzing self-deceptive speech” at the Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements Conference in Bedford, United Kingdom, in June 2019. 


Dr. Gerol Petruzella, visiting assistant professor of philosophy

In 2019, Dr. Petruzella served on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, developing and releasing for public comment the second edition of Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems. Since autonomous and intelligent systems (A/IS) affect human identity, data and agency very differently than other technologies, the goal of the project is to prioritize applied ethics questions, or values-driven design methodologies, needed at the beginning of any manufacturing process to examine end user values beyond assessing risk or harm. Ethically Aligned Design informs the development of the IEEE P7000™ Standards Projects. 

In 2019, Dr. Petruzella's work was published in the edited volume Lessons Drawn: Essays on the Pedagogy of Comics and Graphic Novels. His chapter, "Death in Ancient Philosophy and the Sandman Series: A Case Study in Inquiry-Based Learning," explores how Neil Gaiman’s classic Sandman graphic novel series is pedagogically valuable in exploring the tensions inherent in discussing death, from a philosophical perspective.


Dr. Dale Borman Fink, professor of education

Dr. Borman Fink presented a session on his research on elementary school recess at the annual conference of the American School Health Association in Cincinnati, Ohio, in October 2019, with his co-author, Catherine L. Ramstetter. With Ramstetter, Dr. Borman Fink also published "Ready for Recess? The elementary teacher's perspective" in American Educator, Vol. 42, no. 4, in Winter 2018-19 and ”Even if they're being bad, maybe they need a chance to run around: What children think about recess” in the Journal of School Health, Vol. 88, No. 12. December 2018.

Dr. Clio Stearns, assistant professor of education

Dr. Stearns’ paper, “Let Them Get Mad: Using the Psychoanalytic Frame to Rethink SEL and Trauma-Informed Practice,” is forthcoming in the Bank Street Occasional Papers Series. She presented at an invited symposium on SEL and Social Justice at Radcliffe in November 2019, and served as editorial board member for Integrating Social Justice Education in Teacher Preparation (eds. Stephanie Logan and Courtney Clausen, ICI Global, 2020). Her book review “The complexities of development: A review of Lisa Farley’s Childhood Beyond Pathology” and article “Show Your Work:  Math Curricula, Knowledge and Rehumanizing Pedagogy” were published in fall 2019 in Pedagogy, Society and Culture.

English and Communications

Dr. Caren Beilin, assistant professor of English and communications

Dr. Beilin published a book, Blackfishing the IUD, a work of creative nonfiction that explores reproductive health and gendered medical gaslighting. In November 2019 she entered this book into the public record with her presentation at the FDA’s Immunology Devices Panel. Blackfishing has since received recognition from literary institutions such as LA Review of Books, Fence, The New Inquiry, and The Paris Review, and Dr. Beilin has been invited to present on this work (for students of literature and medicine) at San Francisco State University, Naropa University, and the University of Mary Washington.

Dr. Amber Engelson, associate professor of English and communications, department chair

Dr. Engelson published a book chapter, “‘I Have No Mother Tongue’: (Re)Conceptualizing Rhetorical Voice in Indonesia” in the Routledge Handbook of Comparative World Rhetorics and presented a conference paper titled “From Equitable Access to Cosmopolitan Engagement: What U.S.-based Scholars Might Learn from Indonesian Scholars” at Penn State’s Writing Education Across Borders Conference in September, 2019.

Dr. Victoria Papa, assistant professor of English and communications

Dr. Papa’s essay, “’Clean, Original, Primitive’: Sexual Radicalism, Race Consciousness, and the Case of Harlem’s Queers,” has been accepted for publication on the Print+ platform of Modernism/modernity. Papa made presentations at the MLA International Symposium, Modernist Studies Association, and the Association for the Study of the Arts of Present and co-organized Slow: A Symposium in Praxis & Theory in collaboration with MASS MoCA, for which she received a Faculty Fellow Mellon Grant via MCLA’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

Dr. Jenna Grace Sciuto, associate professor of English and communications

Dr. Sciuto received an NEH grant to participate in a research institute on José Martí at the University of Tampa. Her article on William Faulkner’s racially ambiguous bootleggers was published in Southern Comforts: Drinking and the U.S. South (LSU Press). She presented at the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha conference, and she chaired a roundtable, “Experiences of Emerging Women, Trans, and Non-Binary Scholars in the Academy” at the NeMLA Convention. Three of Sciuto's articles have been accepted for publication in New Faulkner Studies (Cambridge University Press), an anthology on Ernest Gaines's work (University Press of Mississippi), and The Global South.

Fine and Performing Arts

Dr. Christine Condaris, professor of music

Dr. Condaris received a music grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and gave two presentations, “A Compositional Approach for Music Education” and “Creating a Digital Exhibition of the Artifacts from the Village of Dafni, Greece: A Work in Progress” at the 2019 Eurasia Research International Conference on Teaching, Education and Learning, in Rome, Italy. Dr. Condaris also published “Μια επιστροφή στην προγονική πατρίδα μου” in the ΜΕΣΟΤΟΠΙΤΙΚΑ ΝΕΑ, March edition. She was featured as a guest on the Morning Drive Pittsfield Community TV/WTBR radio show hosted by Bill Sturgeon, and is a board member of Berkshire Music School, the Elizabeth Freeman Center, and is an advisory board member to liberal arts and sciences at Mount Wachusett Community College.

Gregory Scheckler, professor of art

Professor Scheckler’s science-fiction story, “Confluent Equations,” was published in the limited-edition anthology by artist Laura Christensen, THEN AGAIN: Vintage Photography Reimagined by One Artist and Thirty-One Writers. The anthology includes stories and poems by noted authors Jorie Graham, Paul Park, Akiko Busch and many others.

History and Political Science

Amanda Laury Kleintop, assistant professor of U.S. History 

Dr. Kleintop spent the Spring 2020 semester in New Haven, CT, as a faculty fellow at the Gilder Lehrman Center for Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. There, she revised her manuscript, The Balance of Freedom: Abolish Property Rights in Slaves during and after the US Civil War. She was also awarded a Wallace Johnson First Book Program Fellowship from the American Society for Legal History (ASLH) to support this work. She presented research from the manuscript at Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center, Yale’s Macmillan Center for Visiting Scholars, and the Ohio Valley History Conference in Frankfort, Kentucky. 

This summer, Kleintop received a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend to complete further research on The Balance of Freedom. She received two additional grants for her project: the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation Early Career Scholar Fellowship from the ASLH and the Congressional Research Grant from the Dirksen Congressional Research Center.

Kleintop also presented on the North Adams Archives, an online archive project, at the American Historical Association in New York City in January 2020. The presentation focused on the North Adams History Harvest collaboration with Professor Ely Janis and historical organizations and non-profits in North Adams. In Spring 2019, students in Kleintop’s Introduction to Public History course added to the online archive digitized archival materials about North Adams history. MCLA students in Dr. Janis’s Historical Methods and Theories class in Fall 2018 and staff at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art collected these materials from North Adams community members during events at the North Adams Public Library and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in Fall 2018 and winter 2019.

Kleintop contributed to her field by publishing a book review on The Loyal Republic: Traitors, Slaves, and the Remaking of Citizenship in Civil War America by Erik Mathison, in the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Vol. 118, No. 1 (Winter 2020): Appalachia.

Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work 

Dr. Ingrid E. Castro, professor of sociology, department chair

Dr. Castro published the coedited book Child and Youth Agency in Science Fiction: Travel, Technology, Time (Lexington Books, 2019), including a coauthored introduction chapter “Girl Zombies and Boy Wonders: The Future is Now!” and single authored chapter “The Emergence of Agency after Bionuclear War: Posthuman Child – Animal Possibilities.”

She also delivered the keynote address “Renditions of Agency: Something to Say/Hear, Somewhere to Go/Stay, Someone to Be/Become” at the 15th annual Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, February 2020. Dr. Castro was also elected to a three-year post as Council Member for the American Sociological Association's Section on Children and Youth.

Dr. Anna Jaysane-Darr, assistant professor of anthropology

Dr. Jaysane-Darr’s paper, “Enabling and Disabling Emotional Diversity: Negotiating Autism Spectrum Disorder in Therapeutic Encounters” was published in the journal Children & Society as part of a special issue on “Children and Youth as Emotional Suspects,” edited by Rachael Stryker (CSU East Bay) and Elsa Davidson (Montclair State University).

Dr. Jaysane-Darr is also serving as a humanities scholar on the research and performance project “Diary of a Confused Immigrant” in collaboration with Juliet Najjumba of Africano (Waltham, Mass.) and Dr. Walter Leutz of Brandeis University, funded by a Mass Humanities Grant awarded in 2019.

Dr. Mohamad Junaid, assistant professor of anthropology

In 2019, Dr. Junaid published two journal articles and a book chapter: “Counter-maps of the Ordinary: Occupation, subjectivity, and Walking under Curfew” published in Identities; and “Disobedient Bodies, Defiant Objects: Occupation, Necropolitics, and the Resistance in Kashmir” in the Funambulist. “To be Kashmiri in the Present: politics, ethics, and history in the work of Akhtar Mohiuddin” was published in the anthology A Desolation Called Peace (HarperCollins). Dr. Junaid gave invited lectures at Columbia, Princeton, Yale, Florida International University and Colorado College, among others. In addition, Junaid’s op-ed pieces appeared in The Globe Post, TRT World, and Asia Dialogue, and he was interviewed on South African Broadcasting Corporation, NPR, South China Morning Post, and Public Radio International, as well as other journalistic outlets.

Interdisciplinary Studies

Dr. Rita Nnodim, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies

Dr. Nnodim gave a conference presentation titled “Outcast Voices in the Underbelly of the City – Anosh Irani’s The Cripple and his Talismans: Navigating Bombay’s streets and finding a humanism in ‘awe of the other’ while searching for a lost arm” at the MLA (Modern Language Association) International Symposium at Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Lisbon, Portugal, in July 2019.