MIT welcomes new faculty to MIT SHASS

Six professors join MIT in these fields: Comparative Media Studies, Economics, Literature, Philosophy, and Political Science.

Interim Dean Agustín Rayo and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences are very pleased to welcome the newest members of the MIT SHASS faculty. Our six new faculty for Fall 2021 bring an array of research interests and domain knowledge to MIT, including: ethical questions about misinformation and lying; macroeconomics; economic theory; transnational power and civic media; the literature and thought of East Asia; and the politics of trade. A warm welcome to all!


Ian Ball

Assistant Professor of Economics


Ian Ball joins MIT Economics as an assistant professor, having studied mathematics at Stanford and pursuing advanced degrees in economics at Yale, where he earned his doctorate in economics in 2020. Ball’s research focuses on economic theory, particularly information and mechanism design.


Ball's website

MIT Economics

Sam Berstler

Assistant Professor of Philosophy


Sam Berstler is the newest member of the MIT Philosophy faculty. Sam comes to MIT from Princeton, where she was a postdoctoral research associate, after completing her PhD at Yale. Her recent academic work investigates the structure, function, and ethics of insincere conversations. She recently co-organized the interdisciplinary Revisiting the Common Ground Conference, which brought together philosophers, cognitive scientists, and linguists to address foundational issues in the study of conversation.

Berstler's webpage

MIT Philosophy

Wiebke Denecke

Professor of Literature


Wiebke Denecke is already a familiar face in MIT Literature; she served as a visiting professor before joining the department this year as a Professor. Her research and teaching encompass classical literature and thought of China, Japan, and Korea; comparative studies of East Asia and the premodern world; world literature; and the politics of cultural heritage and memory. Prior to coming to MIT she held appointments at Barnard College/Columbia University and at Boston University, and visiting professor appointments at Dōshisha University (Kyoto) and Korea University (Seoul). Denecke is the General Editor of The Hsu-Tang Library of Classical Chinese Literature and the East Asia editor of The Norton Anthology of World Literature. She earned her PhD at Harvard after completing her BA and MA at the University of Göttingen in her native Germany.


Denecke's MIT webpage

MIT Literature

Mariya Grinberg

Assistant Professor of Political Science


Mariya Grinberg is a newly minted assistant professor in MIT Political Science. Her research interests include: why states trade with their enemies; how time and uncertainty shape nations’ strategic decisions; and the process of state decline. She earned a PhD from the University of Chicago in 2019, and has been a Postdoctoral fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and at the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth University.


Grinberg's MIT webpage

MIT Political Science

Christian Wolf

Assistant Professor of Economics


Christian Wolf joins MIT Economics as their second new assistant professor this semester. His research includes macroeconomics, monetary economics, and time series econometrics. He is arriving at MIT from a fellowship at University of Chicago following an MA and PhD in economics from Princeton University. He also currently serves as a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Wolf's website

MIT Department of Economics

Sulafa Zidani 

Assistant Professor of Comparative Media Studies


Sulafa Zidani enters the MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing program as an assistant professor of global civic media. Having worked as a teacher, research assistant, and translator in Palestine, Israel, China, and the United States, Zidani earned her PhD at the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, where she was also a founding member of the Critical Mediations graduate student conference. Her academic work focuses on the social, political, and cultural dynamics in which technology operates and the role tech plays in transnational power.


Zidani's website

MIT Comparative Media Studies