University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

New Faculty 2018-2019


Daniel Bolnick is interested in how evolution maintains genetic variation within species. Natural selection is usually thought of as a filtering process that removes all but the most-fit variants within a population, thus reducing variation. Yet, most natural populations of organisms harbor substantial genetic diversity. Bolnick’s research explores several possible solutions to this paradox. For instance, he has shown that when animals compete strongly for a variety of food sources, individuals who use atypical foods tend to escape the ill effects of competition, thereby favoring dietary diversity and any genetic traits that create this diversity.

Recently, his work has focused on how parasites and their hosts co-evolve, and how their antagonism shapes variation in host immunity. As with competition, rare types can gain an advantage, for instance when hosts fail to recognize parasites with rare molecular fingerprints, those atypical parasites are maintained in their population. This curiosity-driven work on the evolutionary ‘arms race’ between hosts and parasites has led his lab into studying how vertebrates’ immune response can inflict self-damage, such as severe fibrosis. This scar tissue formation is the basis of several severe human diseases, but in the fish this fibrosis is an adaptive defense against parasites.


Deborah Bolnick is an anthropological geneticist and biological anthropologist who explores how sociopolitical forces, historical events, and social inequalities shape human genomic and epigenomic diversity, as well as human biology more broadly. In her research, Bolnick analyzes DNA from ancient and contemporary peoples, in conjunction with other lines of evidence, to help reconstruct population histories in the Americas.

She is currently working closely with Indigenous partners to assess the genetic and epigenetic impacts of settler colonialism in the southern United States and central Mexico. She is also interested in the ethical, legal, and social implications of genomic research, and she studies the methods and applications of genetic ancestry testing, investigating how ancestry tests influence and are influenced by contemporary understandings of race, ethnicity, gender, and identity. Through her work, Bolnick strives to help integrate more critical, intersectional, historically marginalized, and decolonial perspectives into science.

She received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California at Davis, and is a past president of the American Association of Anthropological Genetics. She is also the co-author (with John Relethford) of Reflections of Our Past: How Human History is Revealed in Our Genes, and is a co-organizer of the Summer internship for INdigenous peoples in Genomics (SING) program.


Amanda J. Crawford is a veteran political reporter and nonfiction writer whose current research focuses on the role of journalists in democracy and the importance of truth in public discourse. Crawford previously served on staff at Bloomberg NewsThe Arizona Republic and The Baltimore Sun, and her work has been published in a range of other outlets including People MagazineNational Geographic, Ms. Magazine,andBusinessweek. Crawford also writes about gender issues and journalism ethics and, as a literary journalist, is interested in the intersection of creative writing and reporting. Her memoir and creative nonfiction essays have recently published in literary journals including Creative NonfictionHippocampus Magazine and Full Grown People. Crawford previously held faculty appointments at Western Kentucky University and Arizona State University.

  • Fumiko Hoeft
  • Professor of Psychological Sciences and Director of the Brain Imaging Research Center
  • Email: fumiko.hoeft@uconn.edu

Fumiko Hoeft is a neurophysiologist and systems/cognitive neuroscientist with theoretical interests in the neurobiological mechanisms underlying individual differences in brain maturational processes, acquisition of skills such as literacy (and atypicality such as dyslexia) and how they interact. She employs a variety of neuroimaging techniques (e.g. fMRI, T1 aMRI, DWI, MRS, NIRS, EEG/MEG, TMS/tDCS), analytical approaches (e.g. machine learning, graph theory), and designs (e.g. imaging genetics, perturbation).

She trained at Harvard, UCLA, Caltech, and Stanford, and has held faculty positions at Stanford, UCSF, and Keio University (Tokyo). Her honors include the 2014 Geschwind Award from the International Dyslexia Association, and 2015 Transforming Education through Neuroscience Award from Learning & the Brain Foundation. She has published over 130 articles and delivered over 190 talks. Her work has been covered in media such as The New York Times, NPR, CNN, the New Yorker, and Scientific American.


As a cognitive scientist and data scientist, Alexandra Paxton takes a data-rich approach to understanding how people collaborate, bond, and fight. To do that, she weaves together a variety of data sources from the lab and the real world for a converging tapestry of the many ways in which our language, movement, decisions, and emotions change during social contact. Understanding how context—including conversational goals, social connections, and physical spaces—shape our emerging behaviors is a primary goal of her research, embedded within rich traditions of dynamical and ecological perspectives on human behavior and cognition broadly.

Paxton is also interested in developing methods to quantify social interaction, promoting open science research and education, and creating opportunities for cognitive scientists and psychologists who are interested in big data, naturally occurring data, and data science.


Sara Silverstein works on the history of internationalism, social policy, global health, refugees and migrants, and human rights. In her current book project, Doctors as Diplomats: The Origins of Universal Healthcare in International Society, Silverstein explores the origins of an international principle supporting universal healthcare and the growth of institutions in the first half of the twentieth century that worked toward making this principle a reality. She considers the role of healthcare in defining the nature of internationalism in the period between the two World Wars and the implications that it had for the United Nations following the Second World War. The project examines the ways in which international institutions responded when the limitations of state-protected civil and social rights became evident. It is a history that delves into ideas that seem utopian today but were once an example of successful intergovernmental collaboration, before our perception of the sphere of political possibility shifted.

Silverstein received her Ph.D. in history from Yale University in 2016, her M.Phil. in modern European hstory from Oxford University in 2009, and her A.B. in literature from Dartmouth College in 2007. She has been a postdoctoral research associate at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, a Fox Fellow at Sciences Po, Paris, a junior visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, and a Franke Fellow at Yale.


Evelyn Tribble’s research interests center around Shakespeare, performance, memory, and skill. She explores theatrical history through the lens of Distributed Cognition, asking how Shakespeare's company met the astonishing cognitive demands of their profession, particularly the performance of up to six different plays a week.

Tribble is the author of Margins and Marginality: The Printed Page in Early Modern England (Virginia, 1993), Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age (with Anne Trubek, Longmans, 2003), Cognitive Ecologies and the History of Remembering (with Nicholas Keene, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), and Cognition in the Globe: Attention and Memory in Shakespeare’s Theatre (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), and Early Modern Actors and Shakespeare’s Theatre: Thinking with the Body (Arden Bloomsbury, 2017), and The Palgrave Handbook of Literature and Science (with Howard Marchitello, Palgrave, 2017). She has also published articles in Shakespeare Quarterly, Shakespeare, Shakespeare Survey, Shakespeare Studies, and Textual Practice, and ELH, among others. Current research projects include the Arden 4 edition of Merry Wives of Windsor, and a book on magic and performance in early modern England.