Williams College Announces Tenure for Four Faculty Members

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., December 22, 2016—Following the recommendation of the Committee on Appointments and Promotions, the Williams College Board of Trustees Executive Committee has voted to promote four faculty to the position of associate professor with tenure. The vote will be ratified by the full board in January, and the promotions will take effect July 1, 2017, for Rashida Braggs, Africana studies; Nicolas Howe, environmental studies; Timothy Lebestky, biology; and Catherine Stroud, psychology.

Rashida Braggs, Africana studies

Braggs earned a B.A. from Yale University, an M.S. from Boston University, and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, and she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University. She introduces a performative lens to African diasporic cultural expressions from jazz to sports to mass media. Her book, Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music, and Migration in Post-World War II Paris, was published by University of California Press earlier this year. It investigates African-American musicians’ migratory experiences in post-WWII Paris and the illusion of a color-blind society that drew many of them there. Her work has appeared in journals including Nottingham French Studies and The James Baldwin Review. Last year, she was awarded the Berger-Carter Jazz Research Award for her new project on migrating jazz women.

Braggs teaches courses on jazz, music in African-American literature, migration, performance studies, graphic novels and sports, and is affiliated with the comparative literature and American studies programs. She currently serves on the Claiming Williams Committee.

Nicolas Howe, environmental studies

Howe is a cultural geographer whose research examines the role of religion in American environmental thought and how religious beliefs have shaped the American landscape and continue to influence contemporary environmental politics. His book Landscapes of the Secular: Law, Religion, and American Sacred Space was published by the University of Chicago Press earlier this year, and a book he coauthored, Climate Change as Social Drama: Global Warming in the Public Sphere, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2015.

Howe earned a B.A. in English from Columbia University and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of California, Los Angeles. A faculty affiliate in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology and the American Studies program, he teaches courses on climate change, environmental humanities, and religion and ecology, among others. He has served on the college’s Steering Committee and the Committee on Academic Standing, and he is currently a member of the Campus Environmental Advisory Committee.

Timothy Lebestky, biology

Lebestky earned a B.S. in genetics from the University of Kansas and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. He conducted postdoctoral work at the California Institute of Technology and UCLA. He teaches courses on cell biology, genetics, and developmental neurobiology and is affiliated with the biochemistry and molecular biology and neuroscience programs.

As a behavioral neurogeneticist, Lebestky is interested in the genes and molecules that modulate behaviors and internal arousal states in the brain. His research uses Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly, as a genetic model system to understand molecular regulation of grooming, sleep, and optomotor behaviors. His experimental focus on dopamine, a prominent neurotransmitter found in humans, investigates changes that are associated with attention disorders and other human neuropathies. His work has been published in Genes, Brain, and Behavior; Genes, Genomes, Genetics; and Frontiers in Neuroscience. He recently received a grant from the Hellman Family Foundation.

Catherine Stroud, psychology

Stroud’s research focuses on the origins and consequences of depression. She examines the interface between depression and the social environment, exploring reciprocal associations among stress, interpersonal relationships, and depression in studies that examine children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families. Her research articles have been published in journals including the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Developmental Psychobiology, and the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, and she serves as the associate editor of Family Process.

Stroud teaches courses on experimentation and statistics, psychological disorders, clinical and community psychology, and depression. She earned a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stony Brook University, and she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. At Williams, she has served on the Winter Study Committee and the Quantitative Reasoning and Skills Task Force, and she currently serves on the Committee on Undergraduate Life.


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.