New Faculty Fall 2012

Welcoming a Superb Group of Scholars

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is very pleased to present the newest members of the faculty. They come to us with diverse backgrounds and vast knowledge in their areas of research: film and media studies; electoral behavior; science writing; opera and the politics of musical style; macroeconomics and finance; the internet and game studies; American political development; classical literature, and the Roman alphabet. Please join us in welcoming these excellent scholars into the School community.  



Devin Caughey   

Political Science

Devin Caughey joins the MIT faculty in Fall 2012 as an Instructor in the Political Science department. He studied history at Yale and Cambridge and political science at UC Berkeley. His current research focuses on the politics the U.S. South in the mid-20th century, particularly the relationship between public opinion and congressional politics; he also has an interest in political methodology. Devin's "Elections and the Regression Discontinuity Design," coauthored with Jasjeet Sekhon, was recently awarded the Warren Miller Prize for best article published in the methodology journal Political Analysis in 2012. Though sad to leave his native California, Devin is thrilled to be living in Cambridge and teaching at MIT.



Stephanie Frampton


Stephanie Ann Frampton joins the MIT Faculty in Fall 2012 as an Assistant Professor in Literature affiliated with the Program in Ancient and Medieval Studies. Her work focuses on the history of writing in the ancient Greco-Roman world, on Roman literature, and on the classical tradition.

Stephanie strives in both her research and teaching to connect classical literature and culture to our own world. Her first book, Alphabetic Order (forthcoming from Harvard University Press), is a study of the history and significance of writing media in Rome and its provinces (from the origins of alphabetic writing in the eighth century BCE, through the flourishing of literary and epigraphic culture in the classical period). Alphabetical Order contributes to knowledge about the role of reading and writing in the ancient Mediterranean and in the premodern world, and is the first material-cultural study of the advent of the Roman alphabet—the most widely-used writing system in human history.  

Stephanie is co-chair of the Classical Traditions Seminar at Harvard University and is a member of the organizing committee for the Digital Premodernist Seminars, a cross-institutional initiative that commences in Spring 2013. She holds a Ph.D. from Harvard.

Frampton Profile at Literature


Heather Hendershot

Comparative Media Studies / Film and Media

Heather Hendershot will join MIT as Professor of Film and Media Studies. Hendershot studies conservative media, film and TV genres, and American film history. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and her B.A. from Yale University. Professor Hendershot has held fellowships at Vassar College, New York University, and Princeton University and has also received a Guggenheim fellowship.

Hendershot is the editor of Nickelodeon Nation: The History, Politics, and Economics of America's Only TV Channel for Kids, and the author of Saturday Morning Censors: Television Regulation before the V-Chip, Shaking the World for Jesus: Media and Conservative Evangelical Culture, and What's Fair on the Air? Cold War Right-Wing Media and the Public Interest. She is the editor of Cinema Journal, the official publication of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. Hendershot is currently researching a book on Firing Line, William F. Buckley Jr.'s television program.


Daniel Hidalgo

Political Science

F. Daniel Hidalgo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley and received a B.A. at Princeton University. Hidalgo's research focuses on political representation and electoral behavior in poor and middle-income democracies, as well as applied quantitative methods in the social sciences. His current substantive research interests include the political consequences of fraud-reducing electoral reforms, the role of money in politics, and the use of violence in elections. Hidalgo's methodological interests focus on the statistics of causal inference and the application of machine learning techniques to new forms of political data, such as images and text. He has extensive experience conducting qualitative and quantitative research in countries as diverse as Brazil, India, Mexico, Georgia, and India.


Seth Mnookin

Comparative Media Studies / Writing

Seth Mnookin joins the MIT faculty as an Assistant Professor and the Co-Director of the Graduate Program in Science Writing after spending the 2011-2012 academic year as a lecturer in the MIT SHASS Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. His recent work has centered around issues he explored in his most recent book, The Panic Virus: The True Story of the Vaccine-Autism Controversy, which won the 2012 National Association of Science Writers’ Science in Society award and the New England chapter of the American Medical Writers Associaton’s Will Solimene Award for Excellence, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times book prize.

He has also written the 2006 New York Times bestseller Feeding the Monster, which was about the rise of the Boston Red Sox, and 2004’s Hard News, which was about the leadership and plagiarism scandals that roiled The New York Times in 2002 and 2003. He graduated from Harvard with a degree in History and Science and was a 2004 Joan Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

In addition to his work at MIT, Seth is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and is a blogger on the PLOS Blog Network. More information about his work can be found on his website,


Emily Richmond Pollock

Music and Theater Arts

Emily Richmond Pollock is an Assistant Professor of Music beginning in September 2012. Her research interests include opera from the bel canto era to the present, twentieth-century concert music, and the politics of musical style. Methodologically, she has focused particularly on the historicization of aesthetic value and a critical reappraisal of source studies.

A native Oregonian, Richmond Pollock was trained as an oboist and composer and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music from Harvard College in 2006. She subsequently earned her M.A. (2008) and Ph.D. (2012) in music history and literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation, Opera after Stunde Null, explored the broad range of possibilities for new opera composition in West Germany following the end of World War II. Her archival research in Berlin, Basel, Munich, Mainz, and Kassel was supported by fellowships from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Paul Sacher Stiftung.

With her colleague Anicia Timberlake, she organized an international conference in September 2011 on the topic of Music in Divided Germany. She has presented conference papers at the AMS national meeting in Indianapolis, at the Seventh International Conference on Music Since 1900 in Lancaster, England, at the AMS New England chapter meeting, and at symposia in Basel, Dresden, and Graz.


Alp Simsek


Alp Simsek will join the MIT faculty in Spring 2013 as an Assistant Professor of Economics. He will be coming back to his alma mater from where he has a Ph.D. degree in Economics (2010), an M.Eng. degree in Course 6 (2005), and B.S. degrees Courses 6-3 and 18 (2004).

Alp is currently an Assistant Professor of Economics at Harvard University. His teaching and research fields are macroeconomics and finance. His recent research focuses on the effect of belief disagreements on asset prices, financial contracts, and financial innovation. His work in this area provides some insights into the recent subprime financial crisis in the US, and offers some guidance for economic policy to mitigate the likelihood and the impact of these episodes.


Paolo Somaini


Paulo Somaini joins the MIT faculty as an Assistant Professor of Economics. His work focuses on the empirical analysis of markets with imperfect competition and information. His most recent work analyzes competition in customer markets and in procurement auctions. He obtained a B.A. in Economics from the National University of Cordoba (2005), and a M.A. from U. San Andres (2007). He also holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University, where he received the Martin Lee Johnson Stanford Graduate Fellowship.


T.L. Taylor

Comparative Media Studies / Writing

T.L. Taylor will join the faculty as Associate Professor in Comparative Media Studies. She is a qualitative sociologist working in the field of internet and game studies. Her work focuses on the interrelation between culture, social practice, and technology in online leisure environments. She has spoken and written on topics such as network play and social life, values in design, intellectual property, co-creative practices, avatars, and gender & gaming. Her most recent research explores the professionalization of computer game play, examining the developing scene of high-end competitive play, spectatorship, and the growing institutionalization of e-sports.

Her book about professional computer gaming, Raising the Stakes:E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming (MIT Press, 2012) has just been published. She is also the author of Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture (MIT Press, 2006) which used her multi-year ethnography of EverQuest to explore issues related to massively multiplayer online games. Her co-authored Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method (Princeton University Press) will be out September 2012.

She is currently a Visiting Researcher with the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England. More information about her work can be found at her website.


Christopher Warshaw

Political Science

Chris Warshaw is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at MIT. He completed his Ph.D. in Political Science at Stanford University. He was also a research fellow at Stanford's Program on Energy and Sustainable Development (PESD). He holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School and a B.A. from Williams College.

Warshaw's current research focuses on political representation in Congress, state legislatures, and municipal governments. This research examines the circumstances under which elected officials represent the political preferences of their constituents. This work provides new insights into the performance of representative democracy in the United States. Warshaw has also written on a wide range of other topics, such as survey research methodology, judicial politics, energy policy, and the institutional underpinnings of democratization. His work has appeared in the Journal of Politics and two books from Cambridge University Press.