2017 Chancellor Faculty Fellows

Biographies of 2017 Chancellor Faculty Fellows

Julia Phillips Cohen, associate professor of Jewish studies

Research Focus: Modern Jewish, Sephardic & Ottoman Empire History

Professor Cohen researches a variety of topics in modern Jewish history, the comparative urban histories of Europe and the Middle East, Jewish-Muslim relations, and the Ottoman Empire.

She is the author of Becoming Ottomans: Sephardi Jews and Imperial Citizenship in the Modern Era (New York: Oxford Press, 2014). Together with Sarah Abrevaya Stein, Cohen is also co-editor of Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700-1950 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014).

Cohen has served in leadership capacities for the Association for Jewish Studies and the International Journal of Middle East Studies.

Carlos Grijalva, associate professor of health policy

Research Focus: Vaccine Policy, Pharmacoepidemiology, Infectious Disease

Professor Grijalva’s research interests include the evaluation of medications’ safety and effectiveness; the design of observational studies; and the methodologies for comparative effectiveness research.

Grijalva is experienced designing and conducting studies of medications effects using large databases, and his research focuses on the assessments of medications used for diabetes, opioid analgesics, biologic medications, vaccine-preventable respiratory diseases – especially pneumococcal and influenza infections – and the evaluation of the effectiveness of vaccination and other preventive programs. He has published more than 140 peer-reviewed articles and mentored several junior investigators.

Terry Maroney, professor of law

Research Focus: Role of Emotion in Law

Professor Maroney researches law and human behavior, law and emotion, juvenile justice, and judicial excellence. She was selected as a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University to pursue a theoretical and empirical investigation on the role of emotion in judicial behavior and decision-making; she will continue that work as a 2017-19 Vanderbilt University Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow.

Her scholarship on judges’ emotions—including “Angry Judges,” “Emotional Regulation and Judicial Behavior” and “The Persistent Cultural Script of Judicial Dispassion”—has been widely read by both judges and scholars of judicial behavior.

David Merryman, associate professor of biomedical engineering

Research Focus: Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Mechanobiology, Cell & Soft Tissue Biomechanics

Professor Merryman researches how mechanical forces or deformations after cellular signaling, phenotype, and biosynthetic function. Specifically, Merryman and his lab are interested in cardiovascular mechanobiology and in particular, heart valves.

Merryman Mechanobiology Lab also focuses on potential therapeutic strategies against heart valve disease and pulmonary hypertension via serotonergic receptors, percutaneous interventions for heart valve disease, and mechanically tunable biomaterials for cardiovascular tissue engineering. The lab has been or is supported by the American Heart Association, NIH, and NSF.

Jesse Peterson, associate professor of mathematics

Research Focus: Von Neumann Algebras

Professor Peterson’s primary research interest lies in the area of von Neumann algebras and their applications to related fields such as group theory and orbit equivalence ergodic theory. He is a member of the Mathematics department’s Noncommutative Geometry and Operator Algebras research group and a co-organizer of the weekly Subfactor Seminar as well as of the annual Noncommutative Geometry and Operator Algebras Spring Institute held at Vanderbilt.

Renã A. S. Robinson, associate professor of chemistry

Research Focus: Proteomics & Alzheimer’s Disease

Professor Robinson researches the role that peripheral organs—such as the heart, liver and kidneys—play in Alzheimer’s. Her lab looks for changes in the proteins that these organs produce that are carried to the brain and might trigger the disease, demonstrating its systemwide complexity, and her lab studies the role of lipid-related proteins in Alzheimer’s and their contribution to health disparities in the disease.

These areas require high-throughput analytical methodology and Robinson and her lab specialize in developing novel proteomics approaches involving mass spectrometry that are useful for analyzing complex biological tissues.

Seth Smith, associate professor of radiology and radiological sciences

Research Focus: Translational Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Professor Smith’s research is focused on translation of advanced, quantitative MRI methods into human diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Optic Neuropathies focusing on quantitative assessment of the spinal cord and optic nerves at both high and low field strengths. Specifically, Smith is focused on ultra-high field (7T) CEST, Diffusion (conventional diffusion tensor and advanced diffusion weighted MRI), Magnetization Transfer, and quantiative T2.

Since 2010, he has served as Director of the Center for Human Imaging at Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science.

Sonya Sterba, associate professor of psychology and human development

Research Focus: Quantitative Psychology

Professor Sterba’s research topics include latent variable models for longitudinal and cross-sectional data, mixture models, and multilevel models, with a focus on advancing developmental psychopathology research. She focuses on methodological issues that commonly arise in psychology applications — particularly in the context of developmental psychopathology research.

Her research involves developing methods to handle alternative kinds of missing data when fitting mixture models, studying how mixtures can be used to recover interactive relationships, and disseminating pedagogical information about mixtures to clarify how they can be interpreted in practice.

Tiffiny Tung, associate professor of anthropology

Research Focus: Anthropological Bioarchaeology

Professor Tung examines mummies and skeletons from archaeological contexts to evaluate the health and disease status of ancient populations from the Peruvian Andes. Her primary research focuses on the ‘bioarchaeology of imperialism’, which includes the study of paleopathology and violence-related trauma to elucidate the impact of imperialism on community health and lifeways and individual life histories. Her ongoing research in the Peruvian Andes examines how Wari imperial structures (AD 600 – 1000) affected, and were affected by, heartland and hinterland communities, documenting such things as diet and disease, migration patterns, body modification practices, rates of violence, and specific kinds of culturally mediated violence.

Geoffrey Woodman, associate professor of psychology

Research Focus: Cognitive Neuroscience

Professor Woodman’s research examines how mechanisms of visual attention and visual working memory influence how we interact with the world around us. Specifically, how the primate visual system performs figure-ground segregation, attentional deployment during the processing of complex scenes, temporary storage of information in visual working memory, and cognitive control during task performance. To study how brains perform these feats, Woodman’s Vanderbilt Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory uses a variety of methods.

Jamey Young, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering

Research Focus: Metabolic Engineering

Professor Young applies engineering, biochemistry, and molecular biology to quantitatively analyze and redirect cellular metabolism. In particular, the Young Lab uses an approach called metabolic flux analysis (MFA) to quantify the rates, or “fluxes”, of intracellular metabolic pathways in a variety of cell models of relevance to medicine and biotechnology. In addition to tool-oriented research aimed at Enhancing MFA Methodologies, Young and his lab are actively pursuing research in four specific application areas: Diabetes & Obesity, Cancer Metabolism, Cell Culture Engineering, and Photosynthesis Research.