Lois Banta
Associate Professor of Biology
Chair, Program in Public Health

Lois Banta’s research explores the ways in which plants protect themselves from diseases. Her work has been published in the Journal of Bacteriology and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and has received major grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Fulbright Commission, and the Teagle Foundation. She teaches courses in microbiology; bioinformatics, genomics, and proteomics; cellular regulatory mechanisms; genetics; and environment, immunity, and infectious disease. She received her B.A. from the Johns Hopkins University and her Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology.

Joe Cruz
Professor of Philosophy
Chair, Program in Cognitive Science

Joe Cruz specializes in the philosophy of the mind and the theory of knowledge. His articles have appeared in Mind and Language, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and Knowledge and Skepticism. He teaches a range of Williams courses, including skepticism and relativism, perception and reality, philosophy of animal life, cognitive science, embodiment and consciousness, and contemporary epistemology. He received a B.A. in philosophy from Williams College and a Ph.D. in philosophy and cognitive science from the University of Arizona. An avid adventure cyclist, he has traveled extensively in India, Tibet, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and South America.

John Kleiner
Professor of English

John Kleiner is a scholar of classical and medieval literature whose work has been supported by the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The author of Mismapping the Underworld: Error in Dante’s “Comedy,” he is at work on a new book, The Art of Losing: Versions of Failure from Virgil to Shakespeare. His articles and essays include “On Failing One’s Teachers,” “Criminal Invention,” and “Diffusion of hydrogen in a’ -VHx.” He has taught Williams courses on Shakespeare, expository writing, Chaucer, Dante, allegory, Hollywood film, journalism, and violence. He has a B.A. in religion and physics from Amherst College, an M.S. in physics from Cornell University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in comparative literature from Stanford University.

Karen Kwitter
Ebenezer Fitch Professor of Astronomy
Chair, Department of Astronomy

Karen Kwitter studies planetary nebulae, the glowing gas shells ejected by dying sun-like stars. Spectra from ground- and space-based telescopes reveal their chemical makeup, which has been enriched by nuclear processes inside the stars. Planetary nebulae contribute to a galaxy’s chemical evolution, leading, for example, to the development of regions with environments suitable for life. Recently, Kwitter and colleagues have observed planetary nebulae in the Milky Way using the Hubble Space Telescope, and in the Andromeda Galaxy (2 million light-years away) using the Gran Telescopio Canarias, one of the world’s largest. Her courses include introductory astrophysics, a tutorial on the search for extraterrestrial life, and an advanced course on interstellar matter. She received her B.A. from Wellesley and her M.A. and Ph.D. from UCLA. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Planetary Nebulae.

Rhon Manigault-Bryant
Assistant Professor of Africana Studies

Rhon Manigault-Bryant is a scholar-artist who merges her life as a musician and vocalist with her interdisciplinary specializations in religion, gender, race, music, popular culture, and ethnographic methods. Her book Talking to the Dead: Religion, Music, and Lived Memory among Gullah/Geechee Women will soon be published by Duke University Press, and she is now at work on a book about how film and contemporary media influence mass interpretations of the black female body. Her creative endeavors have earned grants from the Ford Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. She teaches Williams courses on research methods and ethnographic approaches to Africana studies, race and gender, and womanist/black feminist thought. She received an A.B. from Duke University, and an M.Div. and Ph.D. from Emory University.

W. Anthony Sheppard
Professor of Music
Chair, Department of Music

Tony Sheppard’s research encompasses 20th- and 21st-century opera and music theater, film music, vocal timbre, cross-cultural influence and exoticism, and American art and popular music history. He has written a book on ritualized performance in modernist music theater and a forthcoming book on Japan in the American musical imagination. His work has been featured in The New York Times and on PBS and has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. He has lectured for the Metropolitan Opera Guild, at major universities, and at the Library of Congress. He is editor-in-chief of The Journal of the American Musicological Society and has served as director-at-large of the American Musicological Society. At Williams he teaches courses in 20th-century music, opera, popular music, and Asian music. He earned his B.A. at Amherst College and his M.F.A. and Ph.D. at Princeton University.


Kate Flanagan ’14

Kate Flanagan is a senior from New Bern, N.C., majoring in comparative literature and history with a concentration in Africana Studies. Her academic interests include theorizations of violence, the politics of memory, and representations of trauma in literature. She is writing a senior thesis with German professor Gail Newman on violence and partition in contemporary literature of Northern Ireland. Outside the classroom, she is College Council vice president for academic affairs and student chair of the Honor and Discipline Committee, and she has served on the Minority Coalition Steering Board. She hopes to continue her academic work and eventually return to the world of small liberal arts colleges as a professor of literature.

Won-Jun Kuk ’14

Won-Jun Kuk is a chemistry major with a concentration in biochemistry from Fairfax, Va. He has particularly enjoyed his Williams classes on acting, refugee resettlement, and psychology. An avid fan of magic tricks and a “debatably capable” magician, he is drawn to the nature of belief and superstition. He hosts a music show on the college’s radio station and works as an EMT with the Williamstown ambulance service. He hopes to employ his liberal arts experience at Williams to become a competent physician, “who cannot only interpret the data but also think beyond those numbers as well.”

Amy Levine ’14

Amy Levine is a senior philosophy and English double major from Rockville, Md. Her research interests lie at the intersection of philosophy and literature, particularly on ordinary language philosophy and aesthetics. Her senior thesis with associate professor of English Bernard Rhie examines the relationship between skepticism and realism in James Joyce’s Ulysses. In her junior year she studied abroad with the Williams-Exeter Program at Oxford, and she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy after graduation.  She is co-president of the Williams College Jewish Association and co-captain of the cycling team.