Faculty News

Welcome, New Faculty

This fall, Bennington welcomed seven new full-time faculty members to the College. 

Levi GonzalezImage of Levi Gonzalez

Faculty member in Dance

At Bennington, "the students' engagement and self-direction in their learning process is very inspiring to me, and the dynamism of that exchange is inspiring my teaching," said Gonzales. "I am also thrilled by the ability to be creative with the curriculum, incorporating my own current artistic interests and research and being able to respond to what students' want as well, rather than adhering to a pre-determined and static set of curricular requirements."
For Fall 2020, he is teaching Movement and Language: Colliding Bodies and Words, a class that looks at the combination of movement and language in performance works. In this course, students are looking at various artistic approaches from a variety of contemporary artists via video, texts, and guest artists via Zoom, while also creating their own independent performance studies and projects. In the second half of the term, Gonzales will be teaching Why Bodies Matter: An Introduction to Dance Studies, which introduces students to the academic field of Dance Studies. This course seeks to explore the ways the body in motion contributes to the creation of culture and often disrupts traditional and hierarchical structures of power and the dominance of the written word and language in academia.
In the spring, Gonzales plans to teach a course that looks at global practices in dance, often lumped under the problematic umbrella category of "world dance," and the politics and potentials of transnational circulations of dance forms. He will also be teaching a movement practice class that explores how the focus of our attention affects our dancing and performing. 
Gonzales recently completed writing an article about choreographer Donna Uchizono for a new book about Women in Dance, which will be published by the National Choreographic Center of Akron. He also showed a new work-in-progress last fall and winter in Los Angeles at Highways Performance Space and Pieter Performance Space. 

Favorite Place Around Bennington:

"I love the field between Jennings, CAPA, and VAPA. We spent a day moving out there with Dance MFA Fellow Maura Gahan that was truly magical. I also love walking in the Mile-Around Woods just north of campus. In general, the lush landscape of trees, lakes, and rolling hills provides lots of space for self-reflection, contemplation, and regeneration." 

Blake JonesImage of Blake Jones

Faculty member in Biology

Blake Jones teaches courses in Biology, with an emphasis on integrated organismal biology.

"To be super specific, I consider myself a behavioral ecophysiologist," said Jones. 

In Fall 2020, Jones is teaching The Biological Sex Mosaic and Experimental Biology: Behavioral Physiology.

In Spring 2021, Jones will teach courses in Neuroscience and Ornithology.

"One of the best ways to learn science is to do science," said Jones. "I am excited to contribute to Bennington's ethos of experiential learning." 

Jones is part of an International Research Coordination Network (RCN) funded by the National Science Foundation called The Manakin Genomics RCN, which addresses the evolutionary implications of sexual selection from the level of the genome to the ecosystem using Manakins, a family of birds found in tropical forests, as a model clade. More on Jones's recent research projects can be found on his professional website.

Recent publications include:
Jones BC, Nguyen LT*, DuVal EH (2020) Testing the developmental hypothesis of the HPA axis in a tropical passerine: dampened corticosterone response and faster negative feedback in nestling lance-tailed manakins (Chiroxiphia lanceolata). General and Comparative Endocrinology 113639

DuVal EH, Jones BC (2020) I’ll have what she’s having; a comment on Davies et al. Behavioral Ecology araa081

Bebus SE, Jones BC, Schoech SJ (2020) Link between past threatening experience and future neophobic behaviour depends on physiological stress-responsiveness. Animal Behaviour 167:233–241

Makowicz AM, Daniel MJ, Jones BC, Rivers PR, Dye MK, Meredith R, Guerrera AG, Kettelkamp S, Whitcher C, DuVal EH (2020) Foundations and Frontiers in Mate Choice Review of: Rosenthal G. 2017. Mate Choice: The Evolution of Sexual Decision Making from Microbes to Humans. Evolution 74:1575–1583

Bebus SE, Jones BC, Anderson RC (2020) Development of the corticosterone stress response differs among passerine species. General and Comparative Endocrinology 291:113417 

Jones BC, DuVal EH (2019) Mechanisms of social influence: a meta-analysis of the strength and modifiers of social information in mate choice decisions. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7:390 (Invited Special Issue Article).  

Jones BC, DuVal EH (2019) Direct and indirect effects of the El Niño Southern Oscillation on development and survival of young of a tropical passerine. Oecologia. 190:485–496.  

Jones BC, DuVal EH (2019) Artificial incubation does not affect the post-hatch development, health, or survival of the Lance-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia lanceolate), a tropical passerine. The Condor: Ornithological Applications 121:1–10. 

Favorite Place Around Bennington:

"I enjoy visiting the pond by VAPA and Dickinson. As a backyard naturalist, I've enjoyed the microcosm of diverse wildlife and behavior I've observed so far. I look forward to becoming familiar with its full, 4-season rhythm over the coming years."

Paul La FargeImage of Paul La Farge

Faculty member in Literature

Paul La Farge teaches courses in Literature and Creative Writing. For Fall 2020, he is teaching Horror Fiction and Film and Tristram Shandy and the Pointless Novel

"For me, the great thing about teaching at Bennington is working with the Bennington students," said La Farge. "I taught a class here in the spring of 2015, and I was amazed at how serious an enthusiasm the students bring to their classes. I’m still amazed. The undergraduates here are real minds, following the paths of their own curiosity, and they’re completely unafraid to assert their own beliefs and to ask challenging questions." 

In spring 2020, La Farge was a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. Though his fellowship was ultimately cut short by the pandemic, he was there long enough to fall in love with Berlin, and even to get some work done.

At present, La Farge is working on a young adult fantasy novel. "It’s not even an ironic ‘fantasy’ novel—it’s pretty serious about doing what it does," said La Farge. "It takes place in a world with magic. There may even be a unicorn, although it won’t be your standard unicorn."

Jim MahoneyImage of Jim Mahoney

Faculty member in Computer Science

Jim Mahoney teaches courses in Computer Science. For Fall 2020, he is teaching the basics of coding in Introduction to Computer Science, as well as a Computer Systems course that looks at the details of a unix operating system.

In Spring 2020, he intends to again teach the high-demand Intro to Computer Science, as well as an Algorithms course.

Mahoney comes to Bennington from Marlboro College, where he first taught physics and astronomy, and then computing, for over thirty years.

"I'm enjoying working with students at Bennington," said Mahoney. "While I've only met a handful so far, a number of them are doing impressive work."

Outside of his teaching, Mahoney has done community outreach at Brattleboro's hatchspace.org, setting up a CNC milling machine and showing people how to use it—a project he hopes to connect with Bennington's 3D modeling program in the future. 

Mahoney is also passionate about Argentine tango, which he organized, taught, and traveled regularly to Montreal to dance. Though these extras are currently on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions, Mahoney still teaches online from his home near Brattleboro.

Mina NishimuraImage of Mina Nishimura

Faculty member in Dance

Mina Nishimura joined Bennington's faculty along with her husband, Kota Yamazaki, who comes to Bennington as a regular Dance guest artist.

This term, Nishimura is teaching two sections of Movement Practice: Beginning Dance Technique and Advanced Dance Technique. Yamazaki is teaching Non-Stop Moving and Dance Teleportation: Beyond Space and Time

In Spring 2020, Nishimura and Yamazaki will teach Introduction to Butoh and Beyond Butoh.

"Through dance, we can explore, experiment, and take a journey into the unknown together with students," said Nishimura. "We’re also big fans of Bennington’s hands-on approach, and community spirit!"

Mina Nishimura is the 2019 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award (FCA Award) recipient, and her latest work, Hi, Merce! I Have a Question was commissioned by and premiered at NYU Skirball Center. Her current research pivots around “ghostly body,” and she plans to premiere a new work on campus next spring.

Kota Yamazaki is the 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient and the 2018 New York Dance and Performance Awards (The Bessies) nominee in Outstanding Production. His new work, Fog, Nerves, Future, Ocean, Hello (echoes), in collaboration with Footnote New Zealand Dance, will start touring in the mid-October in New Zealand.

Favorite Place around Bennington:

"We love to go to Lake Paran every morning to start the day fresh, and we also appreciate decent-quality sushi at Price Chopper! The super fresh vegetables and breads from Earth Sky Time Community Farm also wow us every time."

Özge SavaşImage of Ozge Savas

Faculty member in Psychology

Özge Savaş teaches courses in Psychology. In Fall 2020, she is teaching Migration, Identity, & Belonging and Psychological Study of Sex and Gender.

In Spring 2020, Savaş will be teaching The Personal, and Political, which will examine the meaning of political and politics broadly, and examine the role of power and hierarchies in our personal lives and in our relationships with others; and Intersections in Black Feminist Movements and Research, which will trace back the history of Intersectionality as a theory and practice within Black Feminist Thought and learn how it traveled into psychology and how it’s used in research today.

"The thing that excites me the most about teaching in Bennington is how the institution encourages and supports the students and faculty to think together unconventionally," said Savaş. 

Recently, Savaş has been a collaborator on The Global Feminisms Project, a digital archive of interviews with women's rights activists all around the world. The project began in 2002 and recently received additional funding from the Humanities Collaboratory of the University of Michigan. Savaş's role in the project has been to think about ways of using the archive for teaching in college. The lesson plans she prepared have recently been published on the website and are available to instructors across disciplines from all around the world.

Favorite Place Around Bennington:

"My favorite place on campus for now is the lawn. I love sitting there in the quiet of the morning and let the vast openness drive my imagination."

Emily WatermanImage of Emily Waterman

Faculty member in Psychology

Emily Waterman teaches courses in developmental psychology. In Fall 2020, she is currently teaching Child Development and the Magic of Adolescence.

In Spring 2020, she plans to teach a course on statistics for social science and a course on the third decade of life.

"The thing I most love about teaching is helping students discover their interests and create their own contribution to their field," said Waterman. "At Bennington, I am most excited about helping students with their Plan Process and capstone work."

Waterman is currently a co-investigator on the Rapid City Family Project, which comes with a grant from the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) to develop and evaluate a program to promote family strengths and prevent adverse childhood experiences (ACES).

Since she started at Bennington in July, Waterman has had two papers published. "A program to improve social reactions to sexual and dating violence disclosures reduces posttraumatic stress in subsequently victimized participants" has been published in Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, and "High school students’ perceptions of school personnel’s intentions to help prevent teen sexual and dating violence: Associations with attitudes and intended behaviors" is forthcoming from Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Favorite place around Bennington:

"My favorite 'local attraction' is my drive to work because the surrounding mountains and scenery are incredible."