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Meet the 2023 tenured professors in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

Faculty members granted tenure in economics; history; literature; music; philosophy; political science; and science, technology, and society.
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Michael Brindley
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Grid of 11 headshots of newly tentured SHASS faculty
Top row, left to right: Isaiah Andrews, Joshua Bennett, Megan Black, William Deringer, E.J. Green, and Nathaniel Hendren. Bottom row, left to right: Caley Horan, Robin Wolfe Scheffler, Frank Schilbach, Caitlin Talmadge, and Leslie Tilley.

In 2023, 11 faculty were granted tenure in the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

Isaiah Andrews PhD ’14 is a professor in the Department of Economics. He is an econometrician who develops reliable and broadly applicable methods of statistical inference to address key challenges in economics, social science, and medicine. He is the recipient of the prestigious John Bates Clark Medal, a MacArthur Fellowship, and a Sloan Research Fellowship. Andrews earned his PhD in economics from MIT and served as an assistant and associate professor in the Department of Economics from 2016 to 2018. He returned to MIT as a full professor in 2023 after spending five years at Harvard University.

Joshua Bennett is a professor in the MIT Literature Section and Distinguished Chair of the Humanities. He is the author of five books of poetry, criticism, and narrative nonfiction, including most recently "Spoken Word: A Cultural History" (Knopf, 2023) and "The Study of Human Life" (Penguin, 2022), which is being adapted for television in collaboration with Warner Brothers Studios. He earned his PhD in English from Princeton University, and an MA in theater and performance studies from the University of Warwick, where he was a Marshall Scholar. For his creative writing and scholarship, Bennett has received fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Society of Fellows at Harvard University.

Megan Black is an associate professor in the MIT History Section. She is a historian of U.S. environmental management and foreign relations in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Her interests span the fields of environmental history, foreign relations history, history of capitalism, science and technology studies, and histories of the U.S. West. She is the author of "The Global Interior: Mineral Frontiers and American Power," which analyzes the surprising role of the U.S. Department of the Interior in pursuing minerals around the world — in Indigenous lands, formal territories, foreign nations, the oceans, and outer space. The work garnered four prizes in different subfields. Professor Black previously taught at the London School of Economics and completed postdoctoral fellowships at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University and the John Sloane Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College. She earned her BA from the University of Nebraska and her PhD from George Washington University.

William Deringer is an associate professor in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society. His research examines the history of those techniques and technologies of calculation that organize modern economic, financial, and political life. His work ranges widely across time, from early compound-interest tables and changing social relations in the English countryside in the early 1600s to the place of computer spreadsheets in the culture of Wall Street in the “go-go” 1980s. Deringer received his BA summa cum laude in history from Harvard University in 2006, and his MA (2009) and PhD (2012) in history of science from Princeton University. Before graduate school, he was an investment banking analyst at the Blackstone Group in New York. At Princeton, he was awarded the Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellowship, Princeton’s highest honor for graduate students. From 2012 to 2015, he was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University, before joining the MIT faculty in 2015.

E.J. Green is an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy and the Class of 1948 Career Development Chair. He joined the MIT faculty in 2017. He received his PhD from Rutgers University in 2016, then spent a year as a postdoc at New York University before arriving at MIT. His research interests are in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science, with a primary focus on perception.

Nathaniel Hendren PhD ’12 is a professor in the Department of Economics. His research quantifies the differences in economic mobility and opportunity for people of different backgrounds, explores why private markets often fail to provide economic opportunity, and offers new tools for government policymakers evaluating the effectiveness of social programs. Hendren founded and co-directs Policy Impacts and Opportunity Insights. He has received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and a Sloan Research Fellowship. Hendren earned his PhD in economics from MIT and returned as a full professor in 2023.

Caley Horan is an associate professor in the History Section. She is an historian of the 20th century United States interested in the social life of economic ideas. Her research and teaching focus on business history and the history of capitalism, risk and uncertainty, and American culture in the post-1945 era. Her first book "Insurance Era: Risk, Governance, and the Privatization of Security in Postwar America," won the 2022 Hagley Prize for best book in business history. "Insurance Eraexamines the role of the insurance industry in shaping social, political, and economic life in the United States during the second half of the 20th century. Horan is currently at work on a new project on the history of astrology and uncertainty in the modern United States. She earned her BA from Stanford University in 2003, and her PhD from the University of Minnesota in 2011. 

Robin Wolfe Scheffler is an associate professor in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society. He is an historian of the modern biological and biomedical sciences and their intersections with developments in American history. The common aim of his projects is to show the mutual influence of society on science and science on society. His first book, "A Contagious Cause: The American Hunt for Cancer Viruses and the Rise of Molecular Medicine," follows the history of cancer virus research from laboratory to legislature, showing the intimate connections between health policy and the emergence of a molecular vision of life. He is currently at work on a National Science Foundation-supported project to write the first history of the Boston-area biotechnology cluster and the spatial relationships between technological innovation and the production of inequality. He earned undergraduate degrees in history and chemistry from the University of Chicago, an M.Phil in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Cambridge, and a doctorate from Yale University in 2014.

Frank Schilbach is an associate professor in the Department of Economics. He researches the relationship between poverty and economic behavior by investigating factors such as mental distress, sleep deprivation, and substance use. He also studies behavioral barriers to the diffusion of information in developing countries. Schilbach is an affiliate at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), the Centre for Economic Policy Research, and the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development, and he helps lead the Behavioral Development Lab in India. Schilbach joined the Department of Economics in 2015 after earning his PhD in economics from Harvard University.

Caitlin Talmadge PhD '11 is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science. She also serves as a senior nonresident fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution; a member of the Defense Policy Board at the U.S. Department of Defense; and a series editor for Cornell Studies in Security Affairs at Cornell University Press. During the academic year 2023-24, she is on leave from MIT as a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington. Talmadge’s research and teaching focus on nuclear deterrence and escalation, U.S. military operations and strategy, and security issues in Asia and the Persian Gulf. Talmadge is a graduate of Harvard University (BA, government, summa cum laude) and MIT (PhD, political science). Previously, she has worked as a researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; a consultant to the Office of Net Assessment at the U.S. Department of Defense; and a professor at the George Washington University and Georgetown University.

Leslie Tilley is an associate professor in the Music and Theater Arts Section. She is a music analyst and ethnomusicologist whose interests in musical transformation span a wide spectrum of areas and approaches, from ethnographically-based music analyses of collective improvisations in Bali, Indonesia, to comparative, multi-modal analyses of cover songs. Her book, "Making it up Together: The Art of Collective Improvisation in Balinese Music and Beyond," (University of Chicago Press) presents close analyses of the Balinese improvised forms reyong norot and kendang arja while offering broad-reaching analytical frameworks for examining improvisation and collective creativity across genres and cultures. The book won the Society for Music Theory Emerging Scholar Award in 2022.

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