Ten Columbia Faculty Members Receive Guggenheim Fellowships

April 15, 2012

Ten Columbia faculty members have won 2012 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowships in recognition of their “exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.”

Columbia’s new Guggenheim Fellows are among 181 selected from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants. The John Simon Memorial Guggenheim Foundation was established in 1925 to “add to the educational, literary, artistic and scientific power” of the United States, “and also to provide for the cause of better international understanding.”

Guggenheim fellows receive a cash award, which they can spend as they wish. The amounts vary, as they are adjusted to the needs of each recipient. Since 1925, there have been more than 17,300 Guggenheim Fellows, including Nobel Prize Winners, Poet Laureates and other major prizewinners.

The ten Columbia Guggenheim Fellows are:

Timothy Donnelly, associate professor of writing at Columbia, is also a 1998 graduate of the School of the Arts and won the prestigious Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award earlier this year for "The Cloud Corporation." He recently received a fellowship from the New York State Writer’s Institute.

Stephen S. Hall, adjunct professor at the School of Journalism, is a Brooklyn-based writer whose work centers on the intersection of science and society. He has written numerous essays, stories and books, including most recently, "Wisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience," which grew out of a 2007 cover article in "The New York Times Magazine"—where he served as an editor.

Jennifer S. Hirsch is professor and deputy chair for doctoral studies in the department of sociomedical sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health. Her research spans from the anthropology of love to gender, sexuality and migration and how it relates to sexual, reproductive and HIV risk practices.

Matthew L. Jones, associate professor of Contemporary Civilization in the department of history, is currently writing a philosophical, technical and labor history of early to modern calculating machines with the support of the National Science Foundation. He is also working on a book project, "Love, Inclination and Inertia," about the intertwined history of natural and social cohesion, from the late scholastics to Emilie Du Châtelet.

Janna Levin, associate professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College, is a theoretical physicist and a writer. She has contributed to an understanding of astrophysical black holes, the cosmology of extra dimensions and gravitational waves in the shape of spacetime. Levin integrates scientific themes in both fiction and nonfiction. Her second book, "A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines," won the PEN/Bingham Fellowship for Writers that “honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work…represents distinguides literary achievement.” It was also a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway award for “a distinguished work of first fiction.” She also wrote the popular science book "How the Universe Got Its Spots."

Jodi Melnick is a dance lecturer at Barnard College. She is a NYC-based choreographer, dancer and teacher who received the Jerome Robbins New Essential Works Grant, a Foundation for Contemporary Arts grant, a 2011 Grants to Artists Awards and two Bessie Awards for sustained achievement in dance. Her work has been presented at Dance Theater Workshop, The Kitchen and La Mama. She danced with the Twyla Tharp Dance Company from 1990-1994, and again in 2009. She continues to perform with choreographers Sara Rudner, Susan Rethorst, John Jasperse (creating ‘Becky, Jodi, and John’), Jonathon Kinzel, Vicky Shick and Liz Roche. In 2005, she revisited working with Donna Uchizono, creating and performing in a trio with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Melnick performed as a guest artist with the Trisha Brown Dance Company and since 2002 has been an assistant director to Ms. Brown—creating and restaging two operas.

Christia Mercer, the Gustave M. Berne Professor of Philosophy at Columbia, specializes in the history of early modern philosophy with a focus on sixteenth century Platonism, history of science, metaphysics and philosophical methods. Her books include "Leibniz's Metaphysics: Its Origin and Development." She is the recipient of the 2008 Great Teacher Award given by the Society of Columbia Graduates.

Alex Mincek received his doctorate in Music Humanities from Columbia. He is a composer and performer, whose music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Miller Theatre and the Strasbourg Musica Festival.

Kate Soper, assistant adjunct professor of music, is a composer, performer, vocalist and managing director for Wet Ink—a new music ensemble dedicated to seeking out adventurous music across aesthetic boundaries. She has received awards from the Fromm Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Music Theory Society of New York State and ASCAP. She will be a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in 2012-13.

Benjamin Taylor is an assistant adjunct professor of writing at the School of the Arts. His published works include "Into the Open," "Tales Out of School" (winner of the Harold U. Ribalow Prize) and "The Book of Getting Even," a "Los Angeles Times" favorite book of the year. His next book "Naples: Declared" is scheduled for release in May 2012.