Michael P. Lynch
Director (on leave through end of Fall 2020)
Michael P. Lynch is a writer and professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, where he directs the Humanities Institute. His work concerns truth, democracy, public discourse and the ethics of technology. Lynch is the author or editor of seven books, including, The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data, In Praise of Reason: Why Rationality Matters for Democracy, Truth as One and Many and the New York Times Sunday Book Review Editor’s pick, True to Life. The recipient of the Medal for Research Excellence from the University of Connecticut’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and grants from the Bogliasco Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, he is currently the PI of Humility & Conviction in Public Life, a $7 million project aimed at understanding and encouraging meaningful public discourse funded by the John Templeton Foundation and UConn. A frequent contributor to the New York Times “The Stone” weblog, Lynch’s work has been profiled in The New Yorker, The Washington Post and Wired (among others). He speaks regularly to both academic and non-academic audiences, and has appeared at such venues at TED, Chautauqua, and South by Southwest. He is currently working on a book about arrogance in politics.
Alexis L. Boylan
Alexis L. Boylan is the director of academic affairs of the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) and an associate professor with a joint appointment in the Art and Art History Department and the Africana Studies Institute. She is the author of Visual Culture (MIT Press, 2020), Ashcan Art, Whiteness, and the Unspectacular Man (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017), co-author of Furious Feminisms: Alternate Routes on Mad Max: Fury Road(University of Minnesota, 2020), editor of Thomas Kinkade, The Artist in the Mall (Duke University Press, 2017), and editor of the forthcoming Ellen Emmet Rand: Gender, Art, and Business (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020). She has published in American Art, Archives of American Art Journal, Boston Review, Journal of Curatorial Studies, and Public Books.
Her next book focuses on the art created for the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City and how art and science antagonize and inspire cultural dialogues about truth and knowledge.
Acting Director of Academic Affairs
Assistant Director of Digital Humanities and Media Studies
Yohei Igarashi is an associate professor of English. He is the author of The Connected Condition: Romanticism and the Dream of Communication (2019). His articles have appeared in New Literary History, Romantic Circles, and Studies in Romanticism, the last receiving the Keats-Shelley Association of America annual essay prize in 2015. His current projects are on topics including the datafication of literary works and the history of the relation between high school and collegiate literary studies.
Jo-Ann Waide has been Program Coordinator at the Humanities Institute since its founding in 2001. She is also a grant manager for the Institute’s Humility and Conviction in Public Life program. She earned a Masters of Arts degree from UConn’s Communication Sciences department and a Bachelor of Sciences in Communication Disorders from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Before coming to UConn she completed interpreter training at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and worked as a free-lance sign language interpreter in Western Massachusetts. After graduate school, Jo-Ann was employed as a grant manager for a collaborative project between the American School for the Deaf (ASD) and the CT Department of Children and Families. At the conclusion of the grant, she was hired as a school administrator at ASD where she served on the senior management team for several years. She has lived in Storrs long enough to witness the transformation of Storrs to the Downtown Partnership from the small town center consisting of the Universal grocery, Phil’s five-and-dime store, Farr’s Sporting Goods, and the Cup O’ Sun restaurant.
Nasya Al-Saidy is a Ph.D. candidate in the Economics department at the University of Connecticut. Her research focus is on Environmental Economics and Microeconomics. At the University of Massachusetts Boston, her thesis explored the cost-effectiveness of phytoremediation to reduce brownfield pollution in Boston’s low-income urban areas. Her current work seeks to extend and improve upon the game theoretic models used within the emissions permit market. She is currently serving as a financial coordinator for the Humanities Institute and fiscal officer for the Humility and Conviction in Public Life Project. Nasya also serves as President of the Association of Graduate Economics Students and as a senator in the Graduate Student Senate.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Siavash Samei is an anthropologist and a zooarchaeologist specializing in Near Eastern prehistory. He studies the social and environmental foundations of human economies, especially pastoral economies, and the impact of these economies on long-term trajectories of cultural development and environmental change across Southwest Asia. He received his bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Georgia, and his master’s and doctorate from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut. His dissertation research, funded by the National Science Foundation explored how pastoral practices shaped and reflected demographic, environmental, and climatic conditions involved in a period of rapid cultural turnover in the South Caucasus at the end of the Chalcolithic period (ca. 5000–3500 BCE) and the beginning of the Early Bronze Age (ca. 3500–2200 BCE). He is currently working to publish several articles related to his dissertation work, and he is revising his dissertation as a book manuscript. His postdoctoral research will focus on developing a new collaborative and cross-disciplinary project that will explore the social and environmental variables that informed the origins of agriculture and the organization of Neolithic economies on the Iranian Plateau in the eighth–sixth millennia BCE. In his position as a research associate, Siavash will also serve as UCHI's social medial strategist, communications coordinator, and web designer.
World Poetry Books, Editor
Brian Sneeden is the author of the poetry collection, Last City (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2018). His poetry and translations have been awarded the Iowa Review Award in Poetry, the World Literature Today Translation Award for Poetry, the Indiana Review 1/2K Prize, a PEN/Heim Translation Grant, and fellowships from Bread Loaf and the American Literary Translators Association. His translation of Phoebe Giannisi’s poetry collection, Homerica(2017) was selected by Anne Carson as a favorite book of 2017 in The Paris Review. His work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Harvard Review, TriQuarterly, Virginia Quarterly Review, and other publications. Brian received his MFA from the University of Virginia, where he held a Poe/Faulkner Fellowship in creative writing and served as poetry editor for Meridian. He is the Program Coordinator of Translation Studies at the University of Connecticut, where he serves as Managing and Senior Editor of World Poetry Books.
James Barnett Professor of Humanistic Anthropology
Richard Sosis is the James Barnett Professor of Humanistic Anthropology at the University of Connecticut. He is a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology and affiliated with the UConn Humanities Institute and Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life. The central theme of his past and current research is human sociality. His work explores the relationship between religion, trust, and intra-group cooperation, with particular interests in ritual, magic, morality, and the dynamics of religious systems. To explore these issues, he has conducted fieldwork with remote cooperative fishers in the Federated States of Micronesia and with various communities throughout Israel. He is cofounder and coeditor of the interdisciplinary journal Religion, Brain & Behavior, which publishes research on the bio-cultural study of religion.