Faculty News

Professor of Environmental Studies John Halfman has received the inaugural Citizen Award from the Finger Lakes Regional Watershed Alliance, given to individuals who contribute significantly to protecting the water quality of the Finger Lakes. At the ceremony, Finger Lakes Institute Director Lisa Cleckner noted that Halfman has “engaged and taught hundreds of Hobart and William Smith students about the lakes through research missions on our vessels as well as in our laboratories.”

The poetry of Visiting Assistant Professor of Africana Studies James McCorkle ’76 is featured in a new book called Triptych. In Time, one of three books in the collection, showcases McCorkle’s “chewy, sustained meditations on time and the nature of decay,” according to publisher Etruscan Press.

A grant from the National Science Foundation will support a four-year continuation of the collaborative undergraduate research program led by HWS that explores atmospheric and related sciences. Awarded as part of the Northeast Partnership for Atmospheric and Related Sciences (NEPARS) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), the $531,693 grant will support paid summer research opportunities for undergraduate participants and paid positions for students to join the group as REU program assistants.

A collaborative effort between HWS and Plymouth State University, NEPARS REU will bring faculty research mentors from both institutions together with more than 55 undergraduate students from across the country during the four-year grant.

“The NEPARS REU program at HWS provides great research opportunities for HWS students to work alongside undergraduates that come to campus for the summer from colleges and universities across the United States,” says Professor of Geoscience Neil Laird, the project’s director and one of several research mentors.

In two new publications, Associate Professor of History Matthew Crow uses the lens of his research on writer Herman Melville to discuss contemporary questions of law and authority in the context of American literature and history. He contributed a chapter to Empire and Legal Thought: Ideas and Institutions from Antiquity to Modernity and the article “A Melvillean Moment: Law, History, and Empire from Gibbon to Melville” in the June 2020 issue of Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies.

Perkins Observatory Data Confirms Exoplanet Discovery
Observations with the Colleges’ Richard S. Perkin Observatory made by Associate Professor of Physics Leslie Hebb have been used to confirm the existence of a new extra-solar planet.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, launched into space a few years ago, is designed to discover new extra-solar planets — those that revolve around a star other than the Sun — around the nearest and brightest stars. Because “not every candidate is a genuine planet,” as Hebb explains, observations are taken of candidate host stars to determine if they qualify.

Hebb provided a series of brightness measurements from one candidate host star named TOI-1266, located 117 light years from Earth. Data from the Perkin Observatory was combined with velocity measurements of the star taken by one of Hebb’s colleagues. “We were able to confirm the existence of the planet and measure its mass (about 10 times the mass of Earth) and radius (about 2.5 times the size of Earth),” she says.

The results of the findings were published in an article in the Astrophysics Journal co-authored by Hebb and 20 academic and astronomical professionals from institutions including Princeton University, University of Texas and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.