Tenure Awarded to 12 Professors

Newly Tenured Undergraduate Faculty Represents Expertise in Multiple Fields

Dr. Naomi Grunhaus, a scholar of Biblical exegesis, researches the incorporation of rabbinic traditions in the linguistic works of Jonah Ibn Janah and Radak. Dr. Bruno Galantucci, a cognitive scientist, designs experiments to study how humans establish and develop novel forms of communication. And Dr. Tamar Avnet, a marketing and consumer behavior expert, investigates how people use and rely on their feelings and emotions to help them make purchasing decisions.

Dr. Naomi Grunhaus

They are three of 12 professors who have been newly promoted and tenured at Yeshiva University. Grunhaus is now an associate professor of Bible at Stern College for Women. Galantucci has been promoted to associate professor of psychology at Yeshiva College. And Avnet has become an associate professor of marketing at the Sy Syms School of Business.

YU confers tenure based on faculty members’ teaching, research, publication and service to their departments and the University as a whole. The award of tenure includes promotion from assistant to associate professor. The faculty who were granted tenure this year represents expertise in eight fields of study: economics, psychology, biology, chemistry, French, marketing and management, neuroscience, and academic Jewish studies.

“Tenure is awarded to faculty who have made a long-term contribution to the teaching of our students and have conducted leading research in the field,” said Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, vice provost for undergraduate education at YU. “It’s not a reward for past service, but an investment in someone whose academic life in their field will be significant and who will enhance our academic quality and reputation. This year’s crop is all top people who know how to teach and relate to our students and identify with our mission as a University, and it is partly as a result of this that our students get into top graduate schools and fellowship programs.”

Dr. Tamar Avnet

“For an academic, tenure is a stamp of approval from one’s university, as well as from the academic world at large, since scholars from outside one’s own university are consulted,” said Grunhaus. “Because my field is Jewish Studies, it is especially important to me that the tenure is at Yeshiva, which, as a religious institution with yeshiva-educated students, is my ideal teaching environment. It is my hope that as a tenured member of the faculty I can serve as part of the group effort to transmit the excitement and the interest of Jewish studies.”

For Avnet, YU’s unique mission played a similarly critical role in her decision to pursue tenure at the University. “The reason I joined YU, and especially the Sy Syms School of Business, is because I believe in its vision of Torah U’madda,” she said. “As a researcher it is very important to me to work in a place that appreciates knowledge and advancing science and yet is able to keep its Jewish traditions and combine these two elements well. I believe Sy Syms is well on its way to becoming a great business school and I am proud to be a part of its faculty.”

Dr. Bruno Galantucci

The character of the student body played a role in Galantucci’s decision to seek tenure at Yeshiva University. “I very much enjoy working with YU students,” he said. “They are delightfully engaging and doing research with them is a great source of motivation and inspiration for me. I also enjoy the enterprise of building up the psychology department, together with my wonderful colleagues.”

In addition to Grunhaus, Galantucci and Avnet, tenure has been awarded to the following:

Dr. Gaetano Bloise, professor of economics, Stern College

Bloise is a mathematical economist who comes to YU from the University of Rome III, where he was a professor of economics. His recent papers include “Asset Prices, Debt Constraints and Inefficiency,” “Fragility of Competitive Equilibrium with Risk of Default” and “Unsecured Debt, Price Volatility and Welfare: A Recursive Approach.”

Dr. Sumanta Goswami, associate professor of biology, Yeshiva College

Goswami, who received his PhD in biochemistry at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, has led classes on a range of subjects that include animal physiology, cancer biology, immunology and stem cells. His research focuses on the identification of biomarkers that can predict metastasis, drug and radio resistance in breast cancer patients, targeting micro-metastasis in breast cancer and the identification and characterization of breast cancer stem cells.

Dr. Shalom Holtz, associate professor of Bible, Yeshiva College

Holtz is an Assyriologist and biblical scholar interested in Mesopotamian literature and law and their relationships to biblical and post-biblical writings. He has authored “Neo-Babylonian Court Procedure” (Leiden: Brill, 2009), a comprehensive typological study of the documentation surrounding lawsuits during the last period of native rule in Mesopotamia and the beginning years of its incorporation into the Persian empire.

Dr. Jenny Isaacs, associate professor of psychology, Yeshiva College

Isaacs has a PhD in clinical psychology with a certification in child, marriage and family therapy. She is engaged in programmatic research within the field of social and personality development, focusing largely on child and adolescent peer relations, antisocial development and associated social cognitions. Isaacs has taught a wide variety of classes including Abnormal Psychology, Statistics, Advanced Research in Psychology, and Psychology of Death and Dying.

Dr. Rachel Mesch, associate professor of French, Yeshiva College; Chair, Department of Languages, Literature and Cultures

Rachel Mesch works at the crossroads of modern French literature and history. Her new book, Having it All in the Belle Epoque: How Women’s Magazines Reimagined the Modern French Woman (forthcoming from Stanford University Press) considers efforts to balance feminism and femininity in the early twentieth century. She has published articles on women writers of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and is the author of The Hysteric’s Revenge: French Women Writers at the Fin de Siècle (Vanderbilt University Press, 2006). In addition to French language classes, she teaches classes on French literature and culture from the Enlightenment to the Belle Epoque.

Dr. Chaya Rapp, associate professor of chemistry, Stern College

Rapp received her PhD in theoretical chemistry from Columbia University and has been a member of Stern’s department of chemistry and biochemistry since 1999. Her research interests involve using a range of computational methods, including molecular and quantum mechanics, molecular dynamics, and docking, to address problems related to protein structure and function. In 2011, she was awarded an NIH R15 grant for her proposal entitled “Computational Modeling of Post-translational Modification in Proteins.”

Dr. Margarita Vigodner, associate professor of biology, Stern College

Vigodner, who received her PhD from Tel Aviv University, conducts research in the field of spermatogenesis, male fertility and reproductive health. She has also been awarded a three-year grant ($500,000)  from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study targets of symoylation in germ cells and received a five-year grant ($500,000) from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) to study the effect of tobacco smoke on male fertility.

Dr. Kamran Khodakhah, professor of neuroscience, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Khodakhah received his PhD in pharmacology from University College, London, and directs a highly productive and innovative research program on normal and abnormal brain function at Einstein. A distinguishing feature of his research is its contribution to the understanding and treatment of complex cerebellar diseases, endowing his work with a high level of translational potential. Khodakhah has obtained substantial external funding, including multiple NIH research project grants and foundation grants from the Ataxia-Telangiectasia Children’s Project, as well as three NIH R01 grants.

Dr. Jianfeng Jiang, associate professor of chemistry, Yeshiva College

Jiang received a PhD in chemistry from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and teaches chemical analysis and chemistry of metals at Yeshiva College. His research focuses on the structures and functions of the active sites of metallo-enzymes by the synthesis and reactivity studies of the active sites’ structural analogue complexes. Jiang recently received a three-year National Science Foundation- Research in Undergraduate Institutions grant for $110,000 from a chemical catalysis program.

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