People Notes October 2021


 Idicula Mathew has joined the Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts as entrepreneur-in-residence. In this role, he will help entrepreneurial students navigate their career and professional journeys, mentor aspiring innovators within the Tufts community, and implement co-curricular programming. Mathew brings deep experience, having led startups to raise venture capital funding. An award-winning entrepreneur, he is co-founder and CEO of Hera Health Solutions, a pharmaceutical device company that specializes in the research, development, and commercialization of long-acting therapeutics through proprietary bioerodible drug delivery implants. 


 Marina Umbaschi Bers, a professor in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, recently published an edited book, Teaching Computational Thinking and Coding to Young Children. The 15-chapter book showcases years of work around computational thinking in early childhood education. Bers is ranked in Mehmet Tekdal’s recent “Trends and development in research on computational thinking” [PDF] among the top five most cited researchers in computational thinking. Michigan State University professor Aman Yadav is in first place with 354 citations, followed by Bers with 300 citations.

Richard Jankowsky, AG95, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Music, has published the book Ambient Sufism: Ritual Niches and the Social Work of Musical Form, a study of the intertwined musical lives of several ritual communities in Tunisia that invoke the healing powers of long-deceased Muslim saints through music-driven trance rituals. It also illuminates the virtually undocumented role of women and underrepresented minorities in shaping the ritual musical healing practices of North Africa. A companion site with audio and visual resources was developed in collaboration with Anna Kijas, head of Lilly Music Library, and is accessible in the Tufts Digital Library. Jankowsky was recently interviewed about the book on the New Books Network.  “Music is not something that accompanies ritual. In these contexts, music really is the ritual; it is the mechanism through which saints and spirits are summoned, and individuals who are participating follow their spiritual journeys,” he said in the podcast. Jankowsky is also affiliated with the Fares Center, the international relations program, and the Middle East Studies program at Tufts.

Cynthia Kinnan, James L. Paddock Assistant Professor in International Economics in the Department of Economics, is co-author of a paper published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, “Measuring the Equilibrium Impacts of Credit: Evidence from the Indian Microfinance Crisis.”

Lynne Pepall, a professor in the Department of Economics and chair of the Department of Community Health, and Daniel Richards, a professor in the Department of Economics, have co-authored Advertising and the Marketplace: An Economics Perspective (Edward Elgar Publishing). Pepall and Richards are also the author of a recent paper published in the Review of Industrial Organization titled “Targeted Value-Enhancing Advertising and Price Competition.”

Peter Probst, a professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture, is the co-editor of a new book titled National Museums in Africa: Identity, History, and Politics (Routledge), with Raymond Silverman and George Abungu. The volume presents close to 20 African scholars and museum professionals critically examining the roles national museums in Africa have played in the societies in which they are situated.


Alex Blanchette, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, has won major prizes for his ethnographic writing. Porkopolis: Animality, Standardized Life, and the Factory Farm (Duke University Press) has been awarded the Diane Forsythe Prize by the Committee for the Anthropology of Science, Technology & Computer and the Victor Turner Prize from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology. In addition, his co-edited volume How Nature Works: Rethinking Labor on a Troubled Planet (University of New Mexico Press) has received the Society for the Anthropology of Work Book Prize. 

Freeden Blume Oeur, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, guest edited a special fall 2021 edition of the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, which commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the publication of The Brownies’ Book, the first major periodical for Black children. Blume Oeur was also recently awarded the 2021 Distinguished Book Award from the Sex & Gender section of the American Sociological Association for his book Black Boys Apart: Racial Uplift and Respectability in All-Male Schools (University of Minnesota Press).

Khary Saeed Jones, a professor of the practice in the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, has been selected as a recipient of support from the 2021 William Greaves Fund for his in-progress film project Night Fight. The fund, launched in 2020 by Firelight Media, supports mid-career filmmakers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities and provides grants for research and development on a feature-length nonfiction film.

Kareem Khubchandani, Mellon Bridge Assistant Professor in the Department of Theater, Dance and Performance, has won the de la Torre Bueno Prize from the Dance Studies Association for IshtyleAccenting Gay Indian Life (University of Michigan Press). His ethnography of gay Indian nightlife in Bangalore and Chicago previously won Outstanding Book of the Year from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. 

Keith Maddox, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, has been awarded the Jenessa Shapiro Award for Contributions to Diversity and Inclusion by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

Ayanna K. Thomas, dean of research for the School of Arts and Sciences and a professor in the Department of Psychology, has been awarded the competitive Psychonomic Society’s 2021 Mid-Career Award. The award is given to mid-career scientists who have made “excellent scientific contributions to the field of experimental and cognitive psychology and related areas.”


Jennica Allen, A11, a community health planning and engagement specialist in the Bureau of Community Health and Prevention with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, is included on the de Beaumont Foundation’s list of 40 under 40 in Public Health, leaders who “reflect the best of the public health field and have made impressive accomplishments in improving the health of communities across the country.” Read more about Allen and her work.

Michael B. Atkins, A76, M80, has been recognized as a Giant in Cancer Care for his work on melanoma. He is deputy director of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Scholl Professor and vice chair of the Department of Medical Oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center. An internationally recognized expert in the management of patients with high-risk and metastatic melanoma or kidney cancer, he co-directs the Melanoma Center at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and the melanoma research program within the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute. He previously co-led the melanoma program at the Dana Farber Harvard Cancer Center and has led major multi-investigator clinical and translational research efforts in melanoma and kidney cancer that have uncovered critical biology of these diseases, and led to the FDA approval of more than 20 new treatments.

Carl Carlsen, A72, has published Brickyard Stories 2.0: A Lynn MA Neighborhood Before and After Urban Renewal, an oral history that follows up on a book he published in 1985—Brickyard Stories: A Neighborhood and its Traditions. Carlsen is a former professor of English at North Shore Community College; read more here.