Yeshiva University Grants Tenure to 17 Faculty; Two Appointed Full Professors
The Yeshiva University Board of Trustees recently awarded tenure to 17 faculty members across the University’s undergraduate and graduate schools.
At Yeshiva College, Dr. David Lavinsky, associate professor of English; Dr. Ran Shao, associate professor of economics; Dr. Josefa Steinhauer, associate professor of biology; and Dr. Avraham Leff, professor of computer science, have received tenure. In addition, the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology’s Dr. Catherine Eubanks, associate professor of psychology; Sy Syms School of Business’s Dr. Shu Han, associate professor of information systems; and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law’s Dr. Deborah Pearlstein, professor of law, have all been awarded tenure.
At YU-affiliated Albert Einstein College of Medicine, tenure was conferred on Dr. Luciano D’Adamio, professor of microbiology and immunology; Dr. Yousin Suh, professor of genetics; Dr. Bin Zhou, professor of genetics; Dr. Jose Pena, professor of neuroscience; Dr. Ganjam Kalpana, professor of genetics; Dr. Antonio DiCristofano, professor of developmental and molecular biology; Dr. Hannes Buelow, professor of genetics; Dr. Ulrich Steidl, professor of cellular biology; Dr. Kartik Chandran, professor of microbiology and immunology; and Dr. Michael Ross, professor of medicine and chief of the renal division.
Two professors, Dr. Jeffrey Gonzalez, professor of psychology at Ferkauf, and Dr. Daniel Rynhold, professor of Jewish philosophy at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, were promoted to the rank of full professor.
“YU faculty are true teacher/scholars who balance their dedication to students with a passionate commitment to scholarship and research,” said Dr. Selma Botman, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We welcome and celebrate the newly tenured members of our community.”
At Yeshiva College, Lavinsky’s research concerns medieval intellectual and literary history, focusing on England and the specific case of the Wycliffite Bible, the first full translation of Latin biblical manuscripts into English. This is the subject of his forthcoming book, The Material Text in Wycliffite Biblical Scholarship: Inscription and Sacred Truth (Boydell & Brewer, 2017). His other projects include articles on medieval heresy and autobiographical testimony; the circulation of early printed editions of the Bible predating the King James version; and the place of rhetoric in the medieval university curriculm, as well as an exploration of the relationship between medieval and modern Jewish thought.
“A large part of what I love doing is working in the archives with original books and manuscripts, which always involves making some kind of discovery, even if it doesn’t yield new scholarship or result in publications,” said Lavinsky. “I’m also focused at the moment on exploring new or neglected archives—those, for instance, in small colleges or universities, public records offices, foundations, and other such places.”
In his research, Shao explores one of the most basic questions of economics: how does one efficiently allocate resources in complex environments? His research focuses on the fields of mechanism design—which borrows an approach from engineering to create economic incentives or mechanisms to propel players toward desired objectives—and search and matching, which closely studies markets involving a large number of players (for instance, a labor market with jobseekers and employers, or a marriage market with men and women).
Shao’s current projects include expanding his previous work on how to mitigate the so-called “free-rider” problem facing by a policymaker when providing public good to individuals with privately known valuation of the good, and an examination of how the social interaction of a society affects the co-movement and return predictability of local assets, and how the return predictability may vary with local business cycles and different investor sentiments. “What excites me is to understand and untangle a complicated phenomenon through research, satisfy my own curiosity, and contribute to the discovery or development of knowledge,” said Shao. “The most meaningful and memorable experience is seeing the difference I make as students gain new insights, become genuinely interested in learning, and develop an economic way of thinking about real-world issues.”
Steinhauer’s research focuses on the roles phospholipids play in animal development and physiology, using the fruit fly as a model. Her findings indicate that phospholipids are important for male fertility, which may suggest the need for further research into how drugs like aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may affect fertility in humans (these drugs alter the metabolism of phospholipids). Recent data from the Steinhauer lab suggests that phospholipids also play an important role in the aging process.
“It’s exciting to see a field grow as new discoveries contribute to our understanding, and it’s wonderful to take part in that process and to see how my work fits in with that of other labs,” said Steinhauer. “Conducting scientific research is a profound experience because we are learning about the most fundamental rules that govern life as we know it.”
Before joining the Yeshiva College computer science department, Leff spent more than 25 years conducting research for IBM. His work focused on the areas of application performance (data middleware and algorithms) and improving application development productivity (tools and programming models). Leff’s most recent paper notes the reality that modern applications cannot be built monolithically: they must interact with other web-services. He raises the question of how such applications can function effectively given the various failure modes that occur on the Internet, and presents an approach in which developers use middleware to detect and resolve issues that may occur as an application runs.
“Computer science problems are inextricably embedded in our daily life and infrastructure—there are so many opportunities to do interesting research that can make a difference in people’s lives,” said Leff.
In her research on psychotherapy processes and outcomes at Ferkauf, Eubanks is particularly interested in how therapists can build and maintain good working relationships (or “alliances”) with patients who struggle with interpersonal relationships. Her process includes studying interactions between therapists and patients to observe how they build alliances and repair problems (or “ruptures”) in the relationship.
“If a therapist and patient can work together to address and resolve the rupture, then ruptures can become powerful opportunities for positive change: patients, especially patients with interpersonal difficulties, can gain a new experience of repairing an interpersonal problem and building a stronger relationship based on honesty, trust, and respect,” Eubanks said. “My colleagues and I conduct and research a form of supervision called alliance-focused training, which aims to help therapists recognize when an alliance rupture is occurring, tolerate the feelings of anxiety or frustration the rupture may evoke in the therapist, and then talk about the rupture with the patient in an open, nondefensive way.”
She added, “I care a great deal about therapy and I care a great deal about research, and I am excited and fortunate to be able to combine these passions. My research is very near to clinical experience. Translating what we observe into clinically useful feedback for therapists is very rewarding.”
At Sy Syms, Han’s work focuses on the value of information technology (IT) to business, especially how IT facilitates and enables innovations, including technological innovations and the introduction of new products and services. Her research also explores the factors that have influenced the industry to move from a product to services-based model, and why some companies succeed better than others in that atmosphere.
“Especially in the field of information systems, new technologies emerge everyday and so do new ways of using technologies,” said Han. “It is exciting to be able to apply research methodologies and tools to examine how technologies change the world around us. I’m impressed by the dedication, resilience and intellectual curiosity my students have shown me. I think it is such intellectual curiosity and courage that create radical innovation and change.”
Pearlstein’s areas of expertise are constitutional and international law, focused on issues of national security and the separation of powers. Among her projects are an analysis of how law functions to constrain national security policy makers in the U.S. executive branch and an examination of whether core principles of the international law of war need to adapt to address the demands of global counterterrorism and other 21st century security threats. “I’ve always been fascinated by the role law plays in our society, particularly the idea that law – a system of rules and reason – could mitigate the effects of some of humanity’s most basic impulses surrounding the use of force,” said Pearlstein. “Today, legal issues in this field – when can a state lawfully use military force, what are our options for responding to a threat, who can we target or detain – are the subject of news headlines every day. It is a critical moment both for engaging these questions, and for examining more broadly whether the post-World War II system of law we’ve built can survive and mature.”
In addition to her work in the field, Pearlstein has found her time in the classroom at Cardozo incredibly rewarding. “That moment when you see someone encounter an idea they’ve never thought of before – that’s why I became a teacher,” she said.
At Ferkauf, Gonzalez focuses on using clinical health psychology to better understand the management of chronic illness and to develop and test interventions that can improve health outcomes in chronic illnesses, especially diabetes. He also seeks to understand the linkages between chronic illness and mental health problems, like depression, as well as disease-specific emotional distress – that aspect of living with a life threatening condition and managing its demanding treatment regimen that can often feel like an emotional burden.
While he manages two separate National Institutes of Health-funded projects exploring these questions, Gonzalez also enjoys his role as a mentor of students in Ferkauf’s clinical psychology – health emphasis doctoral program. “I think I’m most excited by the potential for positive impact,” he said. “Type 2 diabetes represents a coming storm that many of us are ignoring. If current trends continue, children born today will have a 1 in 3 chance of developing diabetes in their lifetimes. Though treatment advances have been numerous, too few individuals being treated for diabetes meet recommended targets for control through lifestyle change and medication management. I’m most excited by doing work that can contribute to addressing that problem.”
Rynhold explores conceptual questions that arise in the field of Jewish philosophy, incorporating approaches from across the historical spectrum. He is currently co-writing a book on a few surprising similarities in the thought of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Nietzche, expected to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2018. “I discovered that the popular image was a profound misrepresentation of Nietzsche’s views, and actually found many of his ideas quite compelling and very close to views that Rav Soloveitchik expresses,” said Rynhold. “What excites me about my research is that feeling one gets when one makes strange and wonderful discoveries like that.”