26 July 2023 • FacultySTEM Faculty Honored with Endowed Professorships

Four professors recognized for outstanding work as teachers and scholars.

Professor of Geoscience Nan Crystal Arens, Professor of Biology Meghan Brown, Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship Tom Drennen and Professor of Theatre H May are the newest recipients of endowed professorships. These prestigious appointments recognize the outstanding contributions of faculty members to the Colleges’ community.

“Endowed professorships at HWS are awarded to faculty who have made significant contributions to their academic fields,” says Provost and Dean of Faculty Sarah Kirk. “The appointments demonstrate the Colleges’ commitment to supporting and celebrating exceptional faculty members who make a difference in the lives of their students and the broader academic community. I want to congratulate Professors Arens, Brown, Drennen and May on this well-deserved honor and thank them for their longstanding engagement as scholars, teachers and mentors.”

Professor of Geoscience Nan Crystal Arens

Arens has been appointed as the Class of 1964 Endowed Professor. Crossing between geoscience, biology, chemistry,environmental science and data analytics, her research focuses on the evolution of terrestrial environments as well as phenomena connecting atmospheric-, climate- and vegetation-related evolution. Arens has presented more than 40 professional papers and published dozens of scholarly articles, magazine articles, encyclopedia entries and book reviews. She has been awarded research grants from the National Geographic Society, the American Chemical Society, the Helman Foundation Research and the National Science Foundation, among others, which have funded her research in Montana, South America, the Caribbean and Australia. She has led several study abroad programs and serves as vice president and science chair on the Board of Trustees for the Paleontological Research Institution. A member of the faculty since 2001, Arens earned her B.S. and M.S. from Pennsylvania State University, where she studied Earth science and English as an undergrad and invertebrate paleontology as a grad student. She went on to earn an M.A. and Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University.

Professor of Biology Meghan Brown

Brown has been named the Lloyd Wright Professorship in Conservative Studies. At the forefront of conserving Earth’s aquatic ecosystems, her ecological research focuses on how lakes change over time in response to environmental stressors. Brown has published dozens of scientific articles in journals such as Frontiers in Ecology & the Environment and Limnology & Oceanography, including seminal work on how the establishment of non-native species is influenced by and changes recipient environments. Her research has been highlighted by Nature, National Geographic and Scientific American. She has earned grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, among others, and she was awarded a Fulbright Research Fellowship for her studies on climate change and invasive species in the Italian lakes district. Studying global environmental issues at the nexus of science and society has allowed Brown to collaborate with scientists and communities around the world — from Guatemala to Cuba — to help shape science and policy in some of Earth’s most unique and biodiverse locations. She also uses popular fiction to encourage a broader audience to access and evaluate biological knowledge, and her collaborations and contributions have been written about in Smithsonian Magazine. Brown’s teaching includes courses in ecology, aquatic biology and statistics, as well as study abroad programs in Australia, New Zealand and Lake Baikal (Siberia). Brown holds a B.S. from the University of Michigan and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship Tom Drennen

Drennen has been appointed as the inaugural Stine Family Chair of Management and Entrepreneurship. Author of the book Pathways to a Hydrogen Future, as well as dozens of articles, he holds a Ph.D. in resource economics from Cornell University, a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Minnesota, and a bachelor of science in nuclear engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a senior economist for Sandia National Laboratories, he developed several techno-economic models, including the Alternative Liquid Fuels Simulation (ALTSim) Biofuels Model, which examines the economic and environmental tradeoffs of alternative fuels. Drennen’s most recent publication, co-authored with Martin Roeck ’20, details the environmental impacts of Bitcoin mining. At HWS, he has helped lead campus sustainability efforts and propelled the growth of the Entrepreneurial Studies program, the Management and Entrepreneurship program, and the Master of Science in Management program. He teaches a number of courses around entrepreneurship and others that challenge students to consider the relationships between energy, the environment and the economy. In 2006, he received the Hobart and William Smith Excellence in Teaching Award.

Professor of Theatre H May

May has been named the Donald R. Harter ’39 Professor of the Humanities and Social Sciences. May is a stage management member of Actors Equity Association and a full member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. As both a scholar and a practitioner of theatre, May’s work uses theatre and performance as a means of asking questions, stoking curiosity and exploring possibilities to imagine and build new spaces, processes, institutions and worlds that are just, equitable, accessible, inclusive and creative. May’s early work examined U.S. attitudes towards race and gender coming out of the Civil War by studying the performances of Francis Leon, the most renowned female impersonator on the late minstrel stage. May’s more recent autoethnographic work builds upon this research to explore the relationship between embodiment, ableism and representation in academic and theatrical models. Their performative autoethnographic film “Awaiting Tiresias” was a semi-finalist for the Blow-Up Arthouse Filmfest in Chicago and received Disability Awareness and Contemporary Issues / Raising Awareness Awards of Merit from the IndieFEST Film Awards. They have performed a livestream version of “Awaiting Tiresias” at multiple conferences, including the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts Digital Humanities Conference and the Digital Research in the Arts and Humanities Conference (UK), the latter of which was published in Body, Space, Technology. “When I Can’t See You at the Theatre,” May’s book chapter on how to meaningfully engage blind and low-vision performers in acting classrooms and theatrical productions, was published in Inclusivity and Equality in Performance Training: Teaching and Learning for Neuro and Physical Diversity. Their autoethnographic essay “Practice-Based Research: Working in Crip Time,” a crip intervention into traditional models of scholarship that centers embodied performance, was published in Performance Matters. While teaching at Auburn University, May founded the social justice theatre company Mosaic Theatre Company and brought that model to HWS, where they founded Mosaic NY. May has been selected as a resident artist at Indy Convergence (2019) and a participant in La MaMa Umbria International Directors Symposium (2014, 2017), Dell’Arte International Summer Intensive (2015), Pig Iron Theatre’s Something from Nothing workshop (2018), and Directors Labs North (2015) and West (2014, 2017). At HWS, May served on the Strategic Diversity Planning Committee and was a 2014-15 Fisher Center Research Fellow. They hold a B.A. in theatre from Grinnell College, an M.A. in drama from Washington University and a Ph.D. in theatre and drama from Indiana University.

For HWS faculty, there is no greater honor than receiving an endowed professorship. The appointment increases opportunities and financial support for faculty research, scholarship and academic initiatives while celebrating the Colleges’ best and brightest teacher-scholars. Learn more about endowed professorships at HWS.