Williams Announces Tenure for Four Faculty Members

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

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., January 2, 2018—Following the recommendation of the Committee on Appointments and Promotions, the Executive Committee of the Williams College Board of Trustees 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, 2018, for Phoebe Cohen, geosciences; Laura Ephraim, political science; Eric Knibbs, history; and Gregory Mitchell, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

Phoebe A. Cohen, geosciences

Cohen is a paleontologist who researches how life and environments have co-evolved throughout earth history, with a focus on life before the evolution of animals. She combines a variety of microscopic and microchemical techniques with data from field-based stratigraphy and sedimentology. She earned a B.A. in earth systems science from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in the department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was awarded the Geological Society of America Subaru Outstanding Woman in Science Award in 2012. Her work has been published in journals including Science Advances, Palaeontology, Palaios, Journal of Paleontology, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Her research is funded by the NASA Astrobiology program and the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund.

Cohen teaches courses on earth history, paleobiology, geobiology, and mass extinctions. She has served on the program advisory committee for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and on the Faculty Steering Committee.

Laura Ephraim, political science

Ephraim is a political theorist whose research focuses on modern political thought, environmental studies, science and technology, and democratic and feminist theory. Her book, Who Speaks for Nature? On the Politics of Science, (University of Pennsylvania, 2017), was recently published. She is co-editor of Second Nature: Rethinking the Natural Through Politics (Fordham University Press, 2013) and co-author of that volume’s introduction. Her work also appears in the journal Political Theory.

Ephraim earned a B.A. in politics and women’s studies from Pomona College and a Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University. Before coming to Williams, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College and taught for the Bard Prison Initiative. Her courses include Politics After the Apocalypse; Modern Political Thought; Politics without Humans?; and Survival and Resistance: Environmental Political Theory. She currently serves on the college’s Committee on Educational Affairs.

Eric Knibbs, history

Knibbs earned a B.A. at the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. at Yale University. He studies medieval legal history and the phenomenon of medieval forgery, with current research focusing on the forgeries associated with Pseudo-Isidore. He teaches courses on the medieval world, magic and sorcery from the medieval to the early modern periods, and the cultural and political transitions that occurred between Antiquity and the early Middle Ages.

His books include Ansgar, Rimbert and the Forged Foundations of Hamburg-Bremen (Ashgate 2011) and Amalar: Liber Officialis/On the Liturgy (Harvard University Press 2014).

Gregory Mitchell, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies

Mitchell earned a B.S. and an M.S. in theatre studies from Illinois State University, an M.A. in cultural anthropology from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in performance studies with a Ph.D. certificate in gender and sexuality studies from Northwestern University. His book, Tourist Attractions: Performing Race & Masculinity in Brazil’s Sexual Economy, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2016. Other work has appeared in GLQ, Brasiliana: Journal of Brazilian Studies, and American Ethnologist, and he has contributed to four edited volumes. His research has received awards from the Ford Foundation, National Science Foundation, and three times by the American Anthropological Association.

A faculty affiliate in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology and the Latina/o Studies Program, he teaches courses addressing the intersections of gender, sexuality, and race including Sexual Economies; Performing Masculinity in Global Popular Culture; and Queer Ethnographic Writing. He has served on the Committee on Educational Policy, and is a current member of the Faculty Steering Committee.


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.