GRADUCon 2019 - First Years as Faculty in Humanities and Social Sciences Panel


We think and talk a lot about the work that goes into obtaining a tenure-track professorship. But what does the day-to-day work of a new faculty member actually look like?  From committee assignments to new course preps to finding time for research, the first year can be a balancing act.  This panel will feature four Ph.D. alumni currently navigating their first year on the tenure-track at a range of institutions.  The alumni will share their experiences and their advice for students and postdocs who plan to make similar transitions.  This session is intended for students, postdocs, and alumni in the humanities and social sciences.


Pierce Gradone, Assistant Professor of Music, Knox College (PhD Music 2018)

Pierce Gradone is a composer and Assistant Professor of Music at Knox College (Galesburg, IL), where he is developing a new composition and electronic music program, including curricular changes, ensemble residencies, and the establishment of an electronic music studio. As one of four full-time music faculty members at a small liberal arts college, his teaching load includes courses in music history and music theory, as well as academic advising. Prior to his appointment, his experience included both collegiate and secondary teaching.

Nora Taplin-Kaguru, Assistant Professor of Sociology/Anthropology, Earlham College (PhD Sociology 2017)

I am an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Sociology/Anthropology Department at Earlham College. My research interests include urban sociology, race and the sociology of technology. More specifically, my current work investigates how African-American households make decisions about housing in the context of a racially segregated metropolitan region. Previously, I was Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow in The Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. I completed my PhD in Sociology at the University of Chicago in 2016.

Katya Motyl, Assistant Professor of History, Temple University (PhD History 2017)

Katya Motyl is Assistant Professor of History, as well as Affiliated Faculty of Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies at Temple University. Her research and teaching center on gender and sexuality, urban space, and the history of Modern Europe. She is currently writing a monograph, tentatively titled, ‘New Bodies, New Women’, which traces the emergence of new womanhood in a globalizing Vienna. Motyl received her B.A. from Barnard College and her Ph.D. with distinction from the University of Chicago. Before joining the faculty at Temple in 2018, Motyl served as a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute near Florence, Italy.

Peter McDonald, Assistant Professor of Game Development, DePaul University (PhD English Language and Literature 2018)

Peter McDonald is an Assistant Professor of Game Design at DePaul and a Fellow at the DePaul Humanities Center. He has designed several Alternate Reality Games as a member of Game Changer Chicago Design Lab, and studies the aesthetics and hermeneutics of play. Peter was a PhD student in English at the University of Chicago, and his work combines literary criticism, media studies, art history, and critical making.


Sophie Salvo, Assistant Professor of Germanic Studies, University of Chicago (PhD Colubmia University 2017)

Sophie Salvo joined the Department of Germanic Studies in autumn 2018. She received her PhD from Columbia University in 2017, and taught at Colgate University prior to coming to Chicago. Her research focuses on the history of concepts of sex and gender in German literature and culture from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. Her current book project, “The Articulation of Difference: Imagining ‘Women’s Language’ from 1650 to the Present,” investigates ideas of “women’s” or “gendered” language in a wide range of discourses, including ethnography, philology, literary Modernism, and feminist theory. Sophie is also affiliated with the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Chicago.