Six Faculty Members Promoted at Holy Cross

Six members of the College of the Holy Cross faculty have been promoted to the rank of professor.

Josep Alba-Salas, of the Spanish department, earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in linguistics from Cornell University, his M.A. in comparative literature from the University of South Carolina, and his B.A. in translation from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.  Alba-Salas has taught at Holy Cross since 2002. His research interests include Romance philology, Romance linguistics, theoretical syntax, and second language acquisition, and his current work explores the historical evolution of certain structures (known as collocations) in Spanish.  Alba-Salas has lectured in several countries throughout North America and Europe.  His work has appeared in Romance Philology, Revista de Filología Española, and Diachronica: International Journal of Historical Linguistics, among other prestigious venues, and he is a member of the Linguistic Society of America and American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. In his time at Holy Cross, Alba-Salas has created over half a dozen new courses, served as coordinator of the Spanish program before it became a separate department, led assessment efforts in the Spanish department, overhauled the pedagogical training program for the Foreign Language Assistants, and helped to revise the Spanish major requirements and expand the Spanish Composition and Conversation curriculum. A member of the Latin American and Latino Studies concentration program, he has also served on the Committee on the Curriculum, the Committee on Tenure and Promotion, the Faculty Compensation Committee, and other College-wide and departmental committees. Alba-Salas is fluent in English, Italian, Spanish, and Catalan.

Constance S. Royden, of the mathematics and computer science department, earned her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, San Francisco and her B.S. in biology and engineering from the California Institute of Technology. A member of the faculty since 2000, Royden’s research focuses on developing computer models of the neural mechanisms for human motion perception.  She also runs psychophysical studies to test and inform the models.  She is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, including several National Science Foundation grants and the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.  Royden has reviewed articles for numerous academic journals, including Science, Perception and the Journal of Neuroscience.  Royden has published 31 journal articles and 33 abstracts in academic publications such as Vision Research and Perception & Psychophysics.  At Holy Cross, Royden teaches a wide range of courses including data structures, computer science ethics, computer graphics and computational vision.  Royden has developed four new, upper-level courses for the computer science department.  In addition, she has advised numerous students on senior theses and summer research projects.

May Sim, who joined the philosophy department in 2004, earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from Vanderbilt University and her B.A. from the University of Iowa.  Her research focuses ancient Greek, classical Chinese and Neo-Confucian philosophies, East and West comparative philosophy, Confucian approaches to human rights, and the systematic relations between metaphysics, ethics and politics.  Sim has lectured across the U.S., Europe and Asia, has published over 40 articles in journals and anthologies and presented more than 100 papers at conferences around the world.  She is the author of “Remastering Morals with Aristotle and Confucius” (Cambridge University Press, 2007), and contributing editor of "The Crossroads of Norm and Nature: Essays on Aristotle’s Ethics and Metaphysics" (Rowman and Littlefield, 1995) and "From Puzzles to First Principles?: Essays on Aristotle’s Dialectic” (Lexington, 1999). At Holy Cross, Sim has taught courses in ancient Greek and Asian philosophy, as well as courses that engage comparisons between the two traditions.  She was the president of the Southwestern Philosophical Society (2005-06), president of the Metaphysical Society of America (2012-13), and is director of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy (serving since 2007).

William V. Sobczak, of the biology department, received his Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University, his M.S. in zoology from Michigan State University, and his B.A. in biology and English from Bucknell University. A member of the Holy Cross faculty since 2002, Sobczak’s research specialties include urban river ecology, the effects of melting permafrost on aquatic ecosystems, and forest-atmosphere hydrology along with carbon flux research applied to new stream biogeochemistry. Sobczak has performed research at the Woods Hole Research Center, Harvard Forest, and in Siberia, publishing his work in more than 20 academic journals. He is an associate editor for the journal Ecology and works extensively with the National Science Foundation reviewing research proposals. Sobzcak has also consulted with the California Fish and Wildlife Service over their water diversion operations and served as a member of the Blackstone River Coalition’s Board of Directors. At Holy Cross, Sobzcak teaches freshwater ecology, ecosystem ecology, and environmental science among other classes. He was the director of the Holy Cross environmental studies program from 2011-15.

Susan Elizabeth Sweeney, of the English department, earned her Ph.D. in English, M.F.A. in creative writing, and M.A. in English from Brown University.  She received her B.A. in English from Mount Holyoke College.  A member of the Holy Cross faculty since 1986, Sweeney specializes in American literature, especially detective fiction, women’s writing, postmodernism, local literary history, and the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Vladimir Nabokov.  She has published more than 60 essays, edited two special issues, and co-edited three books on these topics; the latest volume, “Nabokov and the Question of Morality: Aesthetics, Metaphysics, and the Ethics of Fiction,” will appear from Palgrave Macmillan next spring.  Winning numerous grants for her research, she has appeared on “The Connection” and “On Point” (National Public Radio) and in a film for the British Broadcasting Corporation, and was elected president of the International Vladimir Nabokov Society and the Poe Studies Association.  Sweeney is also a poet.  She won the Frank O’Hara Prize, among other awards, and was a semifinalist in the annual New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition for her first collection, “Hand Me Down” (Finishing Line Press, 2013).  At Holy Cross, Sweeney teaches American literature and creative writing.  She is the founding director of the English Honors Program, former director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and currently coordinator of the Creative Writing Program.

Madeline Vargas, of the biology department, earned her Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Connecticut and her B.S. in microbiology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  A member of the Holy Cross faculty since 1995, Vargas’s research specialty is microbiology and she has studied iron respiration in bacteria that grow in deep sea vents as well as molecular mechanisms of extracellular electron transfer in Geobacter sulfurreducens. Vargas authored a chapter for the book “Microbial Biotechnology: Energy and Environment” and is the author of numerous articles that have appeared in Nature, Nature Nanotechnology, mBio, and Lancet. Vargas served as the corporator for the Ecotarium Science Museum for 10 years, course coordinator of the microbial diversity course at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory for two years and has taught workshops on anaerobic bacteria and geomicrobiology in Puerto Rico and the U.S. In addition, Vargas has been a mentor for the research of more than 40 Holy Cross students, undergraduates from University of Massachusetts and University of Puerto Rico, a Ph.D. student from China, and a post-doctoral fellow from Belgium. She teaches microbiology classes at the College.