Campus News

Six Professors Named to Chaired Professorships

Story posted July 30, 2007

Bowdoin President Barry Mills recently announced that four professors have been named to full chaired professorships while two have been named to term chairs.

Those who hold named chairs are entitled to draw funds each year for the support of research and teaching. Those faculty members are: William Barker, professor of mathematics; Rachel Connelly, professor of economics; Nathaniel Wheelwright, professor of biology; and Mary Lou Zeeman, professor of mathematics.

Two newly endowed chairs were created to support associate professors in their timely progression to the rank of full professor. They are Eric Chown, professor of computer science, and Enrique Yepes, professor of Romance languages.

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William Barker, professor of mathematics, has been named the Isaac Henry Wing Professor of Mathematics. Barker joined the Bowdoin faculty in 1975. He earned his bachelor's degree from Harpur College of Arts and Sciences at SUNY–Binghamton and his doctorate from MIT. Barker's scholarly interests include geometry, harmonic analysis on reductive groups and lie theory. He was a visiting professor at Yale University and a featured instructor in Ken Macrorie's Twenty Teachers (Oxford University Press, 1983). Barker has received six National Science Foundation Grants, including "Lie Theory and Continuous Symmetry in the Undergraduate Curriculum," co-written with Roger Howe of Yale University in 1996. Read about some of Barker's research.

The Isaac Henry Wing Professor of Mathematics chair was established in 1906. Wing told President Hyde his reasons for making the gift were " aid the coming...students in the prosecution of those studies in which my own youth especially delighted....In a sense, I feel myself as now having a vested interest in what Bowdoin's mathematicians may accomplish in the indefinite future."

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Rachel Connelly, professor of economics, director of the Gender and Women's Studies Program and faculty liaison to the Center for Learning and Teaching has been named the Bion R. Cram Professor of Economics. Connelly joined the Bowdoin faculty in 1985 and twice has served as chair of the economics department. Connelly earned her bachelor's degree from Brandeis University and both her master's and doctorate from the University of Michigan. She has held positions of NSF/ASA Fellow at the U.S. Census Bureau and was a visiting professor at People's University in Beijing and Peking University, Institute for Population Research. Connelly's area of research is at the intersection of demographics and labor markets. She has published articles on the effect of broad demographic trends on the labor market decisions and on the economics of child-care. Her research considers both sides of the market — the demand for child-care on the part of families with young children and the labor supply of child-care workers. Read about some of Connelly's research.

The Bion R. Cram Professorship in Economics was established in 2006 in support of compensation, research and teaching expenses and sabbaticals for a faculty member in the Department of Economics. The fund was created by Bion R. Cram of the Bowdoin Class of 1937 in memory of Economics Professor Warren B. Catlin, one of Cram's favorite teachers.


Nathaniel Wheelwright, a professor of biology, has been named the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Natural Sciences. Wheelwright joined the Bowdoin faculty in 1986. He earned his bachelor's degree at Yale and his doctorate at the University of Washington-Seattle. Wheelwright has served as director of the Bowdoin Scientific Station on Kent Island, New Brunswick, and was a visiting Fulbright professor at the University of Botswana, a visiting scientist at the Institute Natural Resources, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, and a member of the graduate faculty at the Organization for Tropical Studies, Costa Rica. His research interests include behavioral ecology and population biology of birds, coevolution of animals and plants, island ecology, plant reproductive ecology, tropical ecology and conservation biology. Among Wheelwright's grants and awards are a Davis Conservation Fund Grant in 2005 and National Science Foundation Grant in 2001. In 1986, he began a long-term study of Savannah Sparrows on Kent Island, researching the avoidance of inbreeding, the acquisition and heritability of song, incubation rhythms of experienced and inexperienced birds, post-fledging parental care and mate choice. Other long-term research on Kent Island includes the reproductive ecology of insect-pollinated island plants and the population biology of Tree Swallows. Read about some of Wheelwright's research.

The Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Fund for Academic Excellence, was established in 1998 to support the compensation, research and teaching expenses, and sabbaticals of a senior professor in the natural sciences. It was renamed the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professorship of Natural Sciences in 1999. The first professorship was appointed in 1999 to Allen Tucker, who recently retired. The fund was established anonymously in honor of Robert M. Bass, the Texas financier.


Mary Lou Zeeman, a professor of mathematics, has been named the R. Wells Johnson Professor of Mathematics. Zeeman joined the faculty in 2006. She earned both her bacherlor's and master's degree from Oxford University and her doctorate from the Unviversity of California–Berkeley. Zeeman's research interests include dynamical systems, mathematical biology, population dynamics, hormone cycles, neuroendocrine systems and hypothalamus-pituitary interactions. She has taught at the University of Texas–San Antonio, the University of Michigan and Cornell University. Zeeman has won research grants for her work in mathematical biology and in the mathematical and statistical modeling of in vitro fertilization. Read about some of Zeeman's research.

The R. Wells Johnson Professorship of Mathematics was established in 2007 in support of compensation, research, teaching expenses and sabbaticals for a faculty member in the department of mathematics. The professorship honors R. Wells Johnson, Isaac Henry Wing Professor of Mathematics Emeritus, who was appointed to the Bowdoin faculty in 1964 and retired in 2005.


Eric Chown, a professor of computer science, has been named the Samuel S. Butcher Associate Professor in the Natural Sciences. Chown came to Bowdoin College in 1998. He earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Northwestern University and his doctorate from the University of Michigan. Besides teaching computer science courses in artificial intelligence, cognitive architecture and computer programming, Chown also enjoys researching the learning in humans and machines. In 2001 he was awarded a five-year National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Grant that was used to buy specialized robots for his project "Computational Models of Space in Navigation and Other Domains." Chown has used these robots in several of his classes and heads the Northern Bites RoboCup team, which is part of an international joint project to promote research in artificial intelligence, robotics, computational perception and related fields. Read about some of Chown's research.

The Samuel S. Butcher Professorship in the Natural Sciences was established in 2007 in support of compensation, research and teaching expenses, and sabbaticals for a faculty member in the Natural Sciences. This professorship honors Professor Samuel S. Butcher, professor of chemistry emeritus, who was instrumental in the creation and leadership of the environmental studies program at the College in the 1970s. Professor Butcher was appointed to the Bowdoin faculty in 1964 and retired in 1997.

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Enrique Yepes, a professor Romance languages and director of Latin American studies, has been named the Peter M. Small Associate Professor (of Romance Languages). Yepes joined the Bowdoin faculty in 1996. Born in Colombia, Yepes earned his licentiatura (B.A. equivalent) from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana and his doctorate from Rutgers University. His teaching interests include Latin American cultures, 19th- and 20th-century Hispanic literature, Colombian society and Caribbean studies. His research centers around contemporary Latin American Poetry, Latin American short fiction, and cultural and film studies. He has published articles on contemporary Spanish-American short-short story, Ecuadorian and Colombian literature and classroom semiotics. His book Oficios del goce: Poesía y debate cultural en Hispanoamérica (1960-2000) [Practices of Pleasure: Poetry and Cultural Debate in Spanish America] (Fondo Editorial Universidad Eafit, 2000) studies Hispanic poetry from the Caribbean, Central and South America and the U.S. written during the last four decades of the 20th century, in the frame of contemporary cultural debate and social transformation. Read about some of Yepes' research.

The Peter M. Small Professorship was established in 2007 by Peter M. Small of the Class of 1964. The annual income of the fund will be used in support of compensation, research and teaching expenses, and sabbaticals for a faculty member to fill a chair in any discipline or program at any rank for a specified number of years. The chair is to be administered to provide the greatest amount of flexibility in advancing the curriculum.

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