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Nine new faculty join the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

The school welcomes a superb group of scholars.
New SHASS faculty members include: (top row, l-r) Martin Beraja, Dave Donaldson, and Amah Edoh; (middle row, l-r) E. J. Green, Simon Jäger, and Eric Klopfer; (bottom row, l-r) Justin Reich, Miriam Schoenfield, and Lisa Parks.
New SHASS faculty members include: (top row, l-r) Martin Beraja, Dave Donaldson, and Amah Edoh; (middle row, l-r) E. J. Green, Simon Jäger, and Eric Klopfer; (bottom row, l-r) Justin Reich, Miriam Schoenfield, and Lisa Parks.
Photos courtesy of the faculty members.

Dean Melissa Nobles and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences recently announced the newest members of the SHASS faculty. They have diverse backgrounds and vast knowledge in their areas of research, which include counterfactual economic models, philosophy of mind, educational gaming, and global media. They are:
Martin Beraja is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). He received his PhD in economics from the University of Chicago in 2016. Upon graduating, he spent one year as a postdoc at the Louis A. Simpson Center for the Study of Macroeconomics and the Department of Economics at Princeton University. Beraja is a macroeconomist who studies economic fluctuations and growth. In his dissertation, he developed a method for evaluating counterfactual policy changes in a way that is robust across models whenever researchers are uncertain about features of these models that are difficult to distinguish in the data. In other work, he has focused on bringing theory and micro-data together in order to discipline quantitative exercises that shed light on how the aggregate economy responds to shocks. He is currently studying how forms of technical change that complement certain types of skills shape the dynamics of inequality and productivity growth in economies where workers with such skills are scarce.

Dave Donaldson is a professor of economics. He obtained an undergraduate degree in physics from Oxford University and a PhD from the London School of Economics. He is a co-editor at the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics and a program director at the International Growth Centre. Donaldson’s teaching and research specializes in the fields of international trade, development economics, and economic history. He and collaborators have investigated topics such as the welfare and other effects of market integration, the impact of improvements in transportation infrastructure, how trade might mediate the effects of climate change, and how trade affects food security and famine. This research was awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in 2013 and the John Bates Clark Medal in 2017.

Amah Edoh joins the MIT faculty as assistant professor of African Studies in the Global Studies and Languages section (GSL), having completed a postdoc in the section in 2016-2017. She received the PhD in 2016 from MIT’s Program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS). Edoh’s research focuses on how “Africa” is produced as a category of thought through material practices across African and non-African locations. Her current book manuscript is a multi-sited ethnography following the transnational trajectory of Dutch Wax cloth, a textile designed in Holland for West African markets since the 19th century. The manuscript examines how ideas about Africa and its place in the world are negotiated through visual and material forms and practices along the cloth’s path from design studio to dressed bodies.
E. J. Green earned a PhD in philosophy along with a cognitive science certificate from Rutgers University in 2016, and was a Bersoff Fellow at New York University from 2016 to 2017. Green’s research addresses topics at the intersection of philosophy of mind and cognitive science, with a particular focus on perception. His papers have examined the perceptual experience of shape properties, the nature of perceptual reference, and the structure and function of perceptual object representations. His research interests also include foundational issues within the philosophy of cognitive science, such as the format of mental representations and the border between perception and cognition.

Simon Jäger is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). He studied economics at the University of Bonn and the University of California at Berkeley and received his PhD in economics from Harvard University. Prior to joining MIT, he spent a year as a postdoc at the Institute on Behavior and Inequality in Bonn, Germany. His research focuses on topics at the intersection of labor and public economics as well econometrics and combines experimental and quasi-experimental methods with large, administrative datasets to shed light on the functioning of labor markets and the origins and consequences of inequality.

Eric Klopfer is professor and director of the Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade at MIT. He is also a co-faculty director for MIT’s J-WEL World Education Lab. His work uses a design-based research methodology to span the educational technology ecosystem, from design and development of new technologies to professional development and implementation. Much of Klopfer's research has focused on computer games and simulations for building understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. His lab has produced many software platforms for others to create games and simulations. He recently completed a book, “Resonant Games,” about the design of educational games along with others in his lab. He has a PhD in zoology from the University of Wisconsin and a BS in biology from Cornell University.

Justin Reich is a learning scientist who received his EdD from Harvard University in 2012 and served as the Richard L. Menschel HarvardX Research Fellow before coming to MIT. Reich is the director of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab where he investigates the complex, technology-rich classrooms of the future and the systems that prepare educators to thrive in those settings. He a faculty associate of the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and his writings have appeared in Science, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Educational Researcher, The Washington Post, Inside Higher Ed, the Christian Science Monitor, and other publications.

Lisa Parks is a global media scholar whose research focuses on: satellite technologies and media culture; critical studies of media infrastructures; media, militarization, and surveillance; and experimental methodologies. She earned her PhD at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and was senate faculty and department chair of film and media studies at the Univerity of California at Santa Barbara before arriving at MIT. Parks is the author of "Cultures in Orbit: Satellites and the Televisual" (Duke University Press, 2005) and the forthcoming "Coverage: Vertical Mediation and the War on Terror," and is co-editor of "Life in the Age of Drone Warfare" (Duke University Press, 2017), "Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructures" (Illinois University Press, 2015), "Down to Earth: Satellite Technologies, Industries and Cultures" (Rutgers University Press, 2012), and "Planet TV: A Global Television Reader" (New York University Press, 2003). She is director of the new Global Media Technologies and Cultures (GMTaC) Lab.

Miriam Schoenfield studied mathematics, neuroscience, and philosophy at Brandeis University as an undergraduate and received her PhD in philosophy from MIT in 2012. After spending some time at the University of Texas at Austin and New York University she is excited to return to Cambridge as faculty. Her research is focused primarily in epistemology, but she also has interests in metaethics and decision theory. Some recent projects concern the nature of rationality and its relation to accuracy, the prospects of using sets of probability functions, rather than single ones, to describe an agent's belief states, and some work on the question of how we should respond to the realization that many of the beliefs we have, we only have because we've been subject to certain social influences (in schools, religious communities, and political environments).

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