case western reserve university


New Chairs Named in Physics Psychology Anthropology
Three current Arts and Sciences faculty members will become department chairs this fall. The transition in leadership is especially notable in physics, where Cyrus Taylor will assume the role that Lawrence Krauss has filled for the past 12 years. Lawrence Greksa, after a year as interim chair of anthropology, has become full-time chair on a lasting basis. And Robert Greene, who previously served as chair of psychology from 2000 to 2003, has returned to that position, succeeding Douglas Detterman. In interviews with art/sci, the three chairs shared their thoughts about their appointments and their respective departments.

Cyrus Taylor Physics

In addition to serving as chair of physics, Taylor will continue as director of Case’s Physics Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) and the Institute for Technology Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship (InTICE). He joined the department as professor of physics in 1988.

“Professor Krauss had an extraordinary tenure as chair of the department. When he came in, he faced major challenges in hiring new faculty as our senior colleagues retired. In the process, he repositioned us as an even more powerful department, with major new research thrusts representing the opportunities of the current physics world. At the same time, he led the reformation of the undergraduate and graduate programs, creating new degree programs in Engineering Physics (with the School of Engineering) and Mathematics and Physics (with the mathematics department). He also led the creation of the PEP program. In short, Lawrence helped create what is arguably the best physics department of its size in the nation.

“The physics department at Case is an amazing place. The faculty are world renowned for their work, and yet manage to combine their excellence in research and teaching with an extraordinary collegiality. The corollary to this is that the opportunity to serve as chair is an enormous honor.”

Lawrence Greksa • Anthropology

Greksa is a human population biologist who uses evolutionary and ecological paradigms to examine the biological and cultural adaptations of humans to a variety of stressors. Greksa, who joined Case in 1982, teaches introductory courses in physical anthropology and upper-level courses in human population biology and quantitative methods.

“A year ago, when Dean Turner asked me to serve as interim chair, the department was preparing to undergo an external review, one part of which was creating a vision statement. The statement called for strategic modifications in our undergraduate and graduate programs that would allow us to maintain our preeminence in medical anthropology while expanding to the broader area of global health.

“The creation of the vision statement and the other activities last year were an effort of the department as a whole. So I knew, when I accepted the full-time position as chair, that I would be leading a department with a single vision, made up of faculty members who have worked together productively for many years and who are all committed to doing whatever is necessary to ensure that the department maintains its distinction.

“In this spirit, we will now begin to transform anthropology into a department with a broader focus on global health. The first step is to modify old courses and to create new courses, for both undergraduates and graduate students. We will also make strategic hires of new faculty who will further enhance our program. Finally, we will increase and intensify our ties with other units in the university, including the master’s program in public health in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics, the Center for Global Health, and others.

“Naturally, I was pleased to see that this year’s common reading for incoming students is Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains, a book about medical anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer. Most faculty in the department have known Paul for years. I think the book will show students what a determined and committed person can do. He is not only a first-class researcher, but also a true humanitarian who has provided health care (both directly and indirectly, through clinics he has established) to people who would otherwise have none whatsoever. Paul’s work provides students with a wonderful example of how ideals can be put into practice.”

Robert Greene • Psychology

Greene, a Case professor since 1984, conducts research on human learning and memory, specifically the effects of repetition on memory and the relationship between short- and longterm measures of memory. He also teaches several psychology courses, including “Psychology of Learning” and “Learning Theory.”

“I welcomed the opportunity to return to the chair because this is such an exciting time for the College and the university. With SAGES becoming a complete reality, undergraduate enrollments booming, and all sorts of exciting collaborations occurring across departments in the College, this seems to be the beginning of a new and promising era for us all.

“We are happy to welcome a new faculty member this semester, Anastasia Dimitropoulos. Her appointment will help the department continue its tradition of excellence in the field of cognition (and specifically disabilities in cognitive functioning), in addition to its history of excellence in clinical psychology. We already plan to carry out searches for additional faculty, and we are very grateful that the College has been so proactive in keeping the department of psychology strong.”