Williams College Awards Three Faculty Members with Nelson Bushnell '20 Prize

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

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., June 28, 2018—Three faculty members at Williams College have been recognized for excellence in teaching and writing. Lucie Schmidt (economics), Janneke van de Stadt (Russian), and Heather Williams (biology) are the recipients of the Nelson Bushnell ’20 Prize, an award given annually to the faculty since 1995.

Schmidt was noted for her extensive publishing record and her work in making the economics curriculum more inclusive, van de Stadt for her pedagogical creativity in introductory and advanced courses in Russian, and Williams for her highly effective laboratory teaching and stalwart presence in neuroscience.

Lucie Schmidt

Schmidt, professor of economics, specializes in U.S. social safety net programs and the economics of marriage and fertility decisions. She teaches courses on gender and population economics, as well as microeconomics. She is a previous recipient of an NIH grant for the study of infertility insurance, has taught on the economics of public policy for the college’s Summer Humanities and Social Sciences Program, and has been instrumental in the demographic transformation of the economics major to include more women, first generation, and underrepresented undergraduate students. As the incoming Director of the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford University, she will be the primary academic and personal advisor for the 26 juniors who enroll in the program each year. She holds an A.B. from Smith College and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Janneke van de Stadt

van de Stadt received a Ph.D. in Slavic languages from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, her B.A. at Amherst College, and has been teaching Russian at Williams since 2001. Through her work on biopoetics, Guy de Maupassant, Tolstoy, and Isaac Babel she has enriched the Williams curriculum since her arrival. A dynamic and engaging teacher, she is former co-director of the First3 Program, an initiative to support faculty in their first three years of teaching at Williams. She is beloved among students for her innovative approaches to Russian writing, language, and culture, evidenced most recently by student responses to her “Through the Looking Glass” tutorial, a comparative examination of children’s literature.

Heather Williams

Williams, the Williams Dwight Whitney Professor of Biology, is an expert in animal behavior and neuroscience and is interested in avian phonology and syntax. Her laboratory research has focused on the syllabic repertoire of zebra finches and Savannah sparrows. For her work on the creation and transmission of bird songs and the brains that produce them, she has received grants from the Mary E. Groff Charitable Trust and the MacArthur Foundation and has published in journals including Animal Behaviour, the Journal of Neurobiology, and the Journal of Neuroscience. Her highly regarded tutorial “Cultural Evolution” examines the transformation of genetically transmitted traits in biological systems. Williams received her A.B. from Bowdoin College and a Ph.D. from Rockefeller University.


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.