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Carthage welcomes three new faculty members

September 07, 2012

Three new scholars have joined the Carthage faculty this fall, expanding the College’s expertise in finance, economics, experimental physics, and philosophy.

“We’re always seeking the top people to join our already talented faculty, and this is year is no exception,” said Carthage Provost Julio Rivera.

Catherine LauCatherine R. Lau joins the departments of Business Administration and Economics as an assistant professor. Prof. Lau has spent her career working in the banking and financial services industries in New York. She was an assistant treasurer and vice president at Credit Lyonnais from 1985 to 1998, and then served two years as a senior director at Fitch Ratings. In 2000, she moved to XL Capital Assurance Inc., where she spent eight years as managing director. She has also served as a consultant for Paloma Capital in Greenwich, Conn. (2009) and as a consultant and credit analyst for Deutsche Bank, A.G., in New York (2008).

“We’re so fortunate to have her because she brings the best of both worlds,” said Provost Rivera. “She has 20 years of experience in the financial industry on Wall Street at a senior level, and then she left the industry to pursue a Ph.D. in economics and finance, and she really wants to come here to teach. She’s excited about teaching in her discipline, but she’s also excited about teaching in the Heritage Studies program.”

Prof. Lau comes to Carthage from the Department of Finance at Western Connecticut State University, where she was a visiting professor in 2012. She has also taught  at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, in the Taiwan Representative Office of Baruch’s Zicklin School of Business Executive Education Program, Hunter College, Pace University’s Lubin School of Business, and Purchase College SUNY.

Prof. Lau earned her Ph.D. and M.Phil. in economics from City University of New York Graduate Center, and an M.B.A. in finance from New York University. She earned her bachelor of arts in economics from State University of New York at Albany, graduating summa cum laude.

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Michael Brent joins the Heritage Studies Program and Philosophy Department as a post-doctoral fellow. Mr. Brent comes to Carthage from Columbia University, where he earned a Ph.D. in philosophy in September 2012 and an M.Phil. in philosophy in 2008. He earned a master of arts in philosophy from the University of Toronto in 2003, as well as his bachelor’s degree in 2001, graduating with high distinction.

Mr. Brent’s current research interests include the philosophy of action and agency, as well as related issues in the philosophy of mind. Other interests include ethics, the history of philosophy (ancient and early modern), history of moral and political philosophy, and the philosophy of film.

While at Columbia, Mr. Brent taught such undergraduate courses as Introduction to Philosophical Methods and Problems, and Contemporary Civilization. He received the Preceptor Award for Teaching Excellence in Contemporary Civilization and was a finalist for the university-wide Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching by Graduate Students.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen somebody more excited by teaching,” Provost Rivera said. “Michael Brent is one of the most enthusiastic young scholars I’ve ever met. He loves his discipline, he’s excited about teaching Heritage, but he’s ready to engage students beyond the classroom as well.”

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Brant CarlsonBrant Carlson joins the Physics and Astronomy Department as an assistant professor. Prof. Carlson studies atmospheric electricity and lightning. An experimental physicist, he earned his Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University, and a bachelor of science degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology. He comes to Carthage from the University of Bergen, Norway, where his research as a postdoctoral scholar focused on terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs), intense bursts of energetic radiation produced by lightning. His current work includes modeling TGF production mechanisms and comparing those mechanisms to satellite, ground and aircraft observations of TGFs and other lightning-associated gamma rays.

“Brant expands our computational modeling efforts and brings a new dimension to our space sciences emphasis,” said Professor Kevin Crosby, chair of the Natural Sciences Division.

Prof. Carlson held the Stanford Benchmark Fellowship at Stanford University from 2005 to 2008. While at the California Institute of Technology, he was recognized with the Sigma Xi Award for excellence in research and the Kothari Prize for outstanding undergraduate thesis. He has taught or assisted in teaching such courses as Introductory Plasma Physics and Electromagnetic Waves, and has offered outreach courses to 6-12th graders on how electric sparks work. He also led undergraduate research projects at Stanford that included low-noise electronics and autonomous drone development.

He’s been mentoring undergraduate students in research since he was a graduate student at Stanford, Provost Rivera said.

“He has developed unique teaching materials and will develop those for classroom use at Carthage over the coming years,” said Prof. Crosby.