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Evolution, Cognition & Culture > People
People

Faculty
Anila Asghar (Education)
William Badecker (Cognitive Science)
Veena Das (Anthropology)
Howard Egeth (Psychological and Brain Sciences)
William Egginton (German and Romance Languages and Literatures)
Lisa Feigenson (Psychological and Brain Sciences and Cognitive Science)
Jonathan Flombaum (Psychological and Brain Sciences)
Eckart Förster (Philosophy, German, and Humanities Center)
Robert Frank (Cognitive Science)
Steven Gross, Chair (Philosophy and Cognitive Science)
Justin Halberda (Psychological and Brain Sciences and Cognitive Science)
M. Ali Khan (Economics)
Naveeda Khan (Anthropology)
Barbara Landau (Cognitive Science and Psychological and Brain Sciences)
Theodore Lewis (Near Eastern Studies)
Kenneth Moss (History)
Camille Pecastaing (School of Advanced International Studies, Middle East Studies)
Lawrence Principe (Chemistry and History of Science, Medicine, and Technology)
Hent de Vries (Humanities Center and Philosophy)
Michael Williams (Philosophy)

Graduate Fellow
Cherie McGill (Philosophy)

Faculty Profiles
Anila Asghar is an Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Education. She received her doctorate in Education from Harvard University and did postdoctoral research focusing on the intersections among Islam, science, culture, and education. She is exploring the various ways in which the theory of evolution is understood by scientists, biology teachers, and students in Islamic societies. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative methods she is examining, comparing, and contrasting various trends and methodological issues across diverse Islamic cultures and communities. She has worked in teacher education, faculty development, peace studies and conflict resolution, curriculum development, and science education in Pakistan, India, Canada, and the US. Her research interests include cognitive and emotional development, developing scaffolded contexts for faculty development (K-12 and university), conceptual change and problem-solving in science, education reform, and the role of disciplinary knowledge-making practices in academic development.

William Badecker is Associate Professor of Cognitive Science at the Johns Hopkins University. He received his Ph.D. in linguistics from Indiana University in 1983 and did post-doctoral research in language deficits that arise following brain injury at the Johns Hopkins University from 1984-1986 with funding from an NSF National Research Service Award. Badecker specializes in experimental and formal approaches to the human language faculty, and has published articles on these topics in leading cognitive science, psychology, and linguistics journals. His work addresses issues concerning the knowledge of language and the abstract grammar that emerges from the balanced effects of innate learning biases and linguistic experience. In particular, his work focuses on the formal and functional properties of the mental grammar and what role that grammar plays in language comprehension and spontaneous language production. He regularly teaches courses on language and mind, and has taught undergraduate seminars on evolutionary psychology and the forces that can be argued to have shaped human cognition both in the domain of language and in other cognitive domains as well (including aggression, reciprocity and the perception of fairness, religious belief, and social identity).

Veena Das is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology and Department Chair of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. The abiding concern of her research has been to understand the working of long time cultural logics in contemporary events as well as moments of rupture and recovery. In recent years, she has worked intensively on questions of violence, social suffering, and subjectivity. Currently she is working on a project on the burden of disease and health seeking behavior among the urban poor in Delhi. This work is being done in collaboration with colleagues from the disciplines of Economics and the Health Sciences in addition to anthropologists and sociologists. The collaborating institution in Delhi is the Institute of Socio-Economic Research in Development and Democracy. Her publications include Structure and Cognition: Aspects of Hindu Caste and Ritual (Oxford) and Social Suffering, Special Issue of Daedalus (edited in collaboration with Arthur Kleinman and Margaret Lock, also published in book form by the University of California Press).

Howard Egeth is Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, with joint appointments as Professor of Cognitive Science and of Neuroscience. He received his A.B. degree from Rutgers University and his Ph. D. from the University of Michigan. Egeth specializes in the study of human attention and perception, and has contributed many articles on these topics to the major journals in the field. He is also the co-author of The Psychology of Learning (McGraw-Hill). He has served as President of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences and as Chair of the Governing Board of the Psychonomic Society, and is currently President of the Division of Experimental Psychology of the American Psychological Association. He teaches a course in evolutionary psychology that focuses on the underpinnings of moral behavior.

William Egginton teaches courses on Spanish and Latin American literature, literary theory, and the relation between literature and philosophy.  He is the author of How the World Became a State (2003), Perversity and Ethics (2006), A Wrinkle in History (2007), and The Philosopher's Desire (2007).  He is also co-editor with Mike Sandbothe of The Pragmatic Turn in Philosophy (2004), and translator of Lisa Block de Behar's Borges, the Passion of an Endless Quotation (2003).  His current research focuses on the ideology of baroque and neobaroque aesthetics.

Lisa Feigenson is Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Science and Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins University. She received her B.A. from Cornell University and her Ph.D. from New York University, following which she was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University and a post-doctoral student at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. Feigenson is currently co-director of the Johns Hopkins Laboratory for Child Development, where she studies memory development, object representation, and numerical cognition in infants, children, and adults. She has published papers in interdisciplinary cognitive science journals such as Cognition and Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

Jonathan Flombaum is Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University.  He received an A.B. from Harvard University in Psychology and Biology, and a Ph.D. from Yale University in Cognitive Psychology.  His research focuses on the ways that visual representations are used in complex tasks and reasoning.  Specific research topics have included the visual basis of numerical processing, the perception of eye-gaze, and how we track and remember moving objects.  Recently, Jonathan has also become interested in how higher-level cognition may impact visual processing, particularly with respect to the ways that motivational factors may influence what we see.

Eckart Förster is Professor of Philosophy, with joint appointments in German and the Humanities Center, at the Johns Hopkins University. He is also Honorary Professor of Philosophy at the Humboldt University in Berlin (Germany). Förster received his B.Phil. and D.Phil. from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He previously taught at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Munich, and held visiting appointments at Princeton, Porto Alegre (Brazil), and at Ohio State. He has held Guggenheim and ACLS fellowships and spent 1987-88 as a fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center. He is a member of the Kant Kommission of the Berlin-Brandenburgian Academy of Science, and of the Schelling Kommission of the Bavarian Academy of Science. His publications include: “Die Wandlungen in Kants Gotteslehre” (The Transformations in Kant’s Theory of God), Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung 52.3 (1998): 341-362; “Fichte und der Atheismusstreit von 1799” (Fichte and the Atheism Controversy of 1799), in Welt ohne Gott?  Theoretischer und praktischer Atheismus (World without God? Theoretical and Practical Atheism), ed. Venanz Schubert, St. Ottilien: Eos Verlag, 1999, 65 – 84; “The Subject as Person and the Idea of God”, in Förster’s Kant’s Final Synthesis, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Robert Frank is Professor of Cognitive Science at the Johns Hopkins University. He received his S.B. from MIT and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. His research aims to apply insights from mathematical formalization and computational modeling to issues in theoretical linguistics, language processing and acquisition. In theoretical linguistics, he focuses primarily on the relationship between constraints on natural language grammar and notions of mathematical and computational restrictiveness. This work has allowed him to characterize aspects of the time-course of grammatical acquisition, establishing intriguing links between acquisition difficulty and formal complexity. In addition to many papers, he is the author of Phrase Structure Composition and Syntactic Dependencies (MIT).

Steven Gross is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at the Johns Hopkins University. He received his A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard University and was previously on the faculties of University College London, University of Pennsylvania, and Georgetown University. Gross specializes in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and metaphysics. He has published articles on these topics in leading philosophy, cognitive science, and linguistics journals and is also the author of Essays on Linguistic Context-Sensitivity and its Philosophical Significance (Routledge). Gross regularly teaches courses in the philosophy of religion and, prior to departing for Johns Hopkins, was a member of the Interdisciplinary Committee for the University of Pennsylvania’s Templeton Research Lectures grant.

Justin Halberda is an Assistant Professor in the department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the department of Cognitive Science. He received his Ph.D. from New York University and was a visiting fellow at Harvard University and at the Ecole Normale Superieure (Paris) before joining the faculty of Johns Hopkins. Halberda’s work focuses on the origins of logical reasoning in children and on the connection between mind and world required by visual attention and memory. He has a rich interdisciplinary background including undergraduate degrees in Philosophy, Psychology, Biochemistry, and Physical Chemistry and has continuing collaborations with both philosophers and linguists.

M. Ali Khan joined the Johns Hopkins University in 1973 after completing his Ph.D. in economics from Yale University.  He received his B.Sc. (Econ.) from the LSE, M. Phil. from Yale and has been the Abram Hutzler Professor of Political Economy at Johns Hopkins since 1989. He has taught at the University of Illinois (1984-1988) and has held visiting appointments at the LSE, University of Melbourne, PIDE (Islamabad), AERC (Karachi), Fundaçao Getilio Vargas (Brazil), CORE (Belgium), Maison de Economique (Paris), IMS (Singapore), ISI (Delhi), CMM (Santiago) and at Northwestern, Cornell, Bilkent (Ankara) and Australian National Universities. His primary research interests are in the history of ideas, and he sees issues in development economics alongside those in ethics and epistemology, with particular interest in how economic development and cultural change calls the robustness of disciplinary boundaries into question. This has led him to the “economics of the eighteenth century”, and through the Scottish Enlightenment, to the language of commerce in religious texts. His interests in theory and epistemology are complemented by those in mathematics and mathematical economics: chaotic dynamics, nonstandard analysis (Loeb spaces), nonsmooth optimization, game theory, and probability theory (laws of large numbers with a continuum of random variables).

Naveeda Khan received her masters in anthropology from the New School for Social Research in 1995 and her PhD in anthropology from Columbia University in 2003. She is the recipient of numerous research grants from foundations such as SSRC, Fulbright, NSF, and Wenner-Gren. Khan has also worked at BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, Bangladesh), UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Bangladesh), and the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago). At present she is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University.  She has published in Cultural Anthropology and Social Text. She is currently engaged in turning her doctoral dissertation into a book manuscript titled: The Passage of a Promise: Islamic Modernity and Embodied Skepticism in Pakistan and is editing a book of essays titled Crisis and Beyond: Pakistan in the 20th Century to be published by Routledge India.

Barbara Landau is Dick and Lydia Todd Professor of Cognitive Science and Department Chair at the Johns Hopkins University. She received her B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and has been on the faculties of Columbia University, University of California-Irvine, and the University of Delaware. She is a Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society, the American Psychological Society, and the American Psychological Association. She specializes in spatial representation and spatial language, its development in normal and brain-damaged children, and its use in normal adults.  She has published close to 100 articles and has written or edited three books. Landau regularly teaches courses on developmental cognitive neuroscience, cognitive development, and language learning.

Theodore Lewis is Blum-Iwry Professor and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He is an historian of the religions of the ancient Near East. He was trained in Semitic philology, biblical studies, and epigraphy at Harvard University (Ph.D. 1986), the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (M.A., B.A.). Prior to coming to Hopkins, he was Professor of Hebrew Bible in the Department of Religion at the University of Georgia. Lewis’ research focuses on the religions of ancient Israel and Syria. In addition to the texts of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), he works with cuneiform texts from the ancient Syrian city of Ugarit. These texts are our most important archival material for understanding Late Bronze Age religion in Syria and the backdrop of the Iron Age religion of Israel found in the Bible. Lewis is the author of Cults of the Dead in Ancient Israel and Ugarit (Harvard Semitic Monographs) and co-author of Ugaritic Narrative Poetry. He has recently co-edited Text, Artifact, and Image: Revealing Ancient Israelite Religion (Brown Judaic Studies).  He is currently writing The Religion of Ancient Israel for the Anchor Bible Reference Library series. He is general editor of the book series Writings from the Ancient World (co-published by the Society of Biblical Literature and E. J. Brill) and past editor of the journals Near Eastern Archaeology (for the American School of Oriental Research) and Hebrew Annual Review. Lewis is an academic trustee of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem.

Kenneth Moss is the Felix Posen Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Johns Hopkins University. He is currently completing a book on the East European Jewish cultural sphere during the Russian Revolution which explores the interplay of nationalist, revolutionary, secular humanist, and aestheticist ideals in Jewish cultural nationalism. His research interests include the study of secularization and secularist ideologies in modern Jewish history, hence by extension the forms of religion and religiosity which these processes confronted. His work has appeared in Jewish Social Studies and the Journal of Social History.

Lawrence Principe is Professor of Chemistry and of the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at the Johns Hopkins University. He received a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from the University of Delaware. He also holds two doctorates: a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a Ph.D. in the History of Science from Johns Hopkins University. In 1999, the Carnegie Foundation chose Professor Principe as the Maryland Professor of the Year, and in 1998 he received the Templeton Foundation’s award for courses dealing with science and religion. At Johns Hopkins, he has won the Distinguished Faculty Award, the Excellence in Teaching Award, and the George Owen Teaching Award. In 2004, Professor Principe was awarded the first Francis Bacon Prize by the California Institute of Technology, awarded to an outstanding scholar whose work has had substantial impact on the history of science, the history of technology, or historically-engaged philosophy of science. He has published numerous papers and is the author or co-author of three books, including The Aspiring Adept: Robert Boyle and His Alchemical Quest.

Hent de Vries is Professor in the Humanities Center and the Department of Philosophy at the Johns Hopkins University. He is also Professor Ordinarius of Systematic Philosophy and the Philosophy of Religion at the University of Amsterdam. He was a co-founder of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis and has served as the Director of its governing board and as its Scientific Director. At Johns Hopkins, he is a member of the steering committee of The Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Jewish Studies Program in the School of Arts and Sciences, and also a member of the board of directors of the Zanvyl Krieger School’s Program for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality. He is Chair of The Future of the Religious Past, an interdisciplinary program sponsored by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. In this capacity, he is also serves as General Editor of six volumes of proceedings resulting from the program. Since January 2006, he has served as an advisor to the Netherlands Scientific Council of Government Policy in The Hague, and as a member of its project group on Religion and the Public Domain, whose report is expected to be the basis for the Council’s policy recommendations to the Dutch government in 2007. His principal publications include: Philosophy and the Turn to Religion (Johns Hopkins), Religion and Violence: Philosophical Perspectives from Kant to Derrida (Johns Hopkins), and Minimal Theologies: Critiques of Secular Reason in Theodor W. Adorno and Emmanuel Levinas (Johns Hopkins).

Michael Williams holds the Krieger-Eisenhower Professorship and is Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the Johns Hopkins University. He received his B.A. from Oxford and his Ph.D. from Princeton. Before coming to Johns Hopkins, he taught at Yale, the University of Maryland and Northwestern. He has been the recipient of an NEH fellowship and has held visiting positions at several universities including Chicago, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and MIT. His main areas of interest are epistemology (with special reference to skepticism), philosophy of language and the history of modern philosophy. In addition to numerous articles, he is the author of Groundless Belief (Princeton), Unnatural Doubts (Princeton) and Problems of Knowledge (Oxford). He is currently working on Curious Researches: Reflections on Skepticism Ancient and Modern.


Steven Gross
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