Marlboro College

News Marlboro College Welcomes Diverse New Faculty in Sociology, French and Physics

Marlboro, VT – (October 15, 2012) – Marlboro College welcomes Katherine Rickenbacker, professor of sociology, Boukary Sawadogo, professor of French, and Sara Salimbeni, professor of physics, for the fall 2012 semester. The three new faculty members bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the campus, known for its vibrant academic community. 

Katherine Rickenbacker received her bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in environmental science and policy from Smith College. She earned her masters and doctorate in sociology from Northeastern University, with an emphasis in environmental sociology and the sociology of disaster and vulnerability. Her dissertation, “City Roots: Grassroots Efforts to Build Social and Environmental Capital in Urban Areas,” focuses on small-scale urban greening projects in Dorchester.

“The main first draw to Marlboro for me was its focus on teaching. I wanted somewhere that really valued teaching and wasn’t just primarily a research school,” Rickenbacker explains. “I think people here seem very interested in what they are doing and are really driven to whatever their individual projects are. Marlboro has such an edge for people who want to go to graduate school.”

Rickenbacker recently joined Marlboro’s Environmental Quality Committee, which is responsible for facilitating environmental sustainability programs on campus like recycling and composting. She hopes to undertake some environmentally-based projects with grassroots organizations in Brattleboro in the near future.

French professor Boukary Sawadogo was born and raised in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, and receieved his bachelor’s degree in foreign languages, tourism and business from the University of Dakar, Senegal. He later went on to earn a graduate diploma in international relations from the Institute of Diplomacy & International Relations in Burkina Faso and a certificate for production assistant training from The University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  He received his doctorate in francophone studies from the University of Louisiana. His dissertation, “Altérité dérangeante et innovante dans le cinéma ouest-africain francophone de. 1990 à 2005,” examines the representation of marginal groups in francophone-African cinema.

“Precisely, I worked on the representation of the ‘mad man,’ the so-called ‘crazy person’ in film,” Sawadogo explains. Other marginal groups he has studied include the representation of homosexuals and women in African films. “I cannot say that women are ‘marginal groups’ because they represent 52 percent of the population in Africa. But what happened 200 or 300 years ago in popular culture that put the traditional representation of women as really powerful figures on the margin?”

Sawadogo looks forward to the opportunity of teaching at such a small and intimate institution: “Here it is small. But it’s not small in ideas,” he perceives. “I think that’s what matters. In terms of ideas and in terms of perspectives, Marlboro has nothing to envy of a larger university. Marlboro has flexibility, independence, and a sense of community here. It really speaks to me.”

Sara Salimbeni, a native of Rome, Italy, did not always want to study physics: “When I was a child I wanted to be a painter,” she jokes. “It didn’t work out.” Salimbeni received her laurea in physics from the University of Rome, La Sapienza, and her doctorate in astronomy from The University of Rome, Tor Vergata. Her dissertation, “Cosmological evolution of galaxies from deep multicolor surveys,” examines how different galaxies have changed over billions of years. 

“We have these wonderful pictures from the Hubble Space telescope, or telescopes in Chile and other parts of the earth, from which we are able to understand many things that occur at different times,” Salimbeni declares. “The light travels with a speed that is not infinite, so it takes time to get to earth. The farther away the galaxy you are watching, the more you are looking into the past.”

Salimbeni enjoys research and its application to the classroom setting. She hopes to find a balance between pursuing research and leading the day-to-day life with students in Marlboro’s tight-knit community.

“I very much enjoy that the classes are small. I am able to work with each student in an individual way. When you have a big class, you tend to lecture, but it’s very different to have four students in front of you when you know they read the material and you can discuss the most important things about the chapter. It’s totally different teaching.”

For more information, contact the Marlboro College public relations department at 802-251-7644 or pr@marlboro.edu. Photos available on request.

For more than 60 years, Marlboro College has offered undergraduate education in the liberal arts. Its 330 undergraduate students enjoy an 8:1 student-faculty ratio, a voice in governing the community and individualized courses of study on a 300-acre campus in the hills of southern Vermont. Marlboro College also offers graduate degrees and certificate programs for working adults at the Marlboro College Graduate School, located in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont.

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