Welcoming New Faculty

This​ ​fall​ ​AMEC​ ​welcomed​ ​Dr.​ ​Bill​ ​Cooke​ ​and​ ​Dr.​ ​Karen​ ​Williams​ ​to​ ​the​ ​faculty​ ​team​ ​and congratulated​ ​Dr.​ ​Evan​ ​Peacock​ ​on​ ​his​ ​new​ ​position​ ​as​ ​Interim​ ​Director​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Cobb​ ​Institute.​ ​In​ ​this​ ​blog post,​ ​we​ ​hope​ ​to​ ​introduce​ ​these​ ​three​ ​faculty​ ​members​ ​and​ ​to​ ​welcome​ ​them​ ​into​ ​their​ ​new​ ​positions.

Dr.​ ​Bill​ ​Cooke:​ ​Interim​ ​Department​ ​Head

Dr.​ ​Bill​ ​Cooke​ ​is​ ​serving​ ​as​ ​the​ ​interim​ ​Department​ ​Head​ ​for​ ​AMEC.​ ​Dr.​ ​Cooke​ ​spent​ ​the​ ​last several​ ​years​ ​as​ ​head​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Geosciences​ ​Department​ ​at​ ​MSU.​ ​His​ ​plan​ ​was​ ​to​ ​step​ ​down​ ​as​ ​department head​ ​of​ ​Geology​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​return​ ​to​ ​research,​ ​teaching,​ ​and​ ​his​ ​work​ ​with​ ​the​ ​extension​ ​service. However,​ ​with​ ​the​ ​departure​ ​of​ ​Dr.​ ​Michael​ ​Galaty​ ​in​ ​the​ ​spring,​ ​Dr.​ ​Cooke​ ​was​ ​asked​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Dean​ ​of Arts​ ​and​ ​Sciences​ ​to​ ​fill​ ​the​ ​vacancy.​ ​While​ ​Dr.​ ​Cooke​ ​was​ ​greatly​ ​looking​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​getting​ ​back​ ​to teaching​ ​and​ ​research,​ ​he​ ​happily​ ​agreed​ ​to​ ​come​ ​serve​ ​the​ ​AMEC​ ​faculty.​ ​Through​ ​his​ ​previous experience​ ​with​ ​AMEC,​ ​he​ ​knew​ ​that​ ​he​ ​liked​ ​the​ ​people​ ​here.​ ​AMEC​ ​welcomed​ ​him​ ​with​ ​open​ ​arms and​ ​gave​ ​him​ ​a​ ​tour​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Hester​ ​Site​ ​which​ ​gave​ ​Dr.​ ​Cooke​ ​a​ ​chance​ ​to​ ​nerd​ ​out​ ​about​ ​stratigraphy.​ ​As a​ ​lifetime​ ​learner,​ ​he​ ​is​ ​most​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​more​ ​about​ ​the​ ​world​ ​class​ ​research​ ​being​ ​done​ ​by​ ​AMEC faculty.

Dr.​ ​Cooke’s​ ​previous​ ​research​ ​projects​ ​are​ ​too​ ​numerous​ ​to​ ​list​ ​here.​ ​One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​projects​ ​he talks​ ​most​ ​about​ ​is​ ​predictive​ ​modeling​ ​of​ ​wildfire​ ​locations​ ​considering​ ​human​ ​behavior​ ​as​ ​a​ ​variable​ ​in order​ ​to​ ​predict​ ​locations​ ​susceptible​ ​to​ ​arson.​ ​However,​ ​if​ ​money​ ​was​ ​no​ ​object,​ ​Dr.​ ​Cooke​ ​would​ ​most like​ ​to​ ​return​ ​to​ ​his​ ​epidemiological​ ​research​ ​using​ ​geospatial​ ​sciences​ ​to​ ​help​ ​understand​ ​the relationship​ ​between​ ​disease​ ​spread​ ​and​ ​the​ ​environment​ ​(specifically​ ​pollution)​ ​for​ ​predictive modeling.​ ​His​ ​hope​ ​is​ ​that​ ​this​ ​research​ ​will​ ​help​ ​humans​ ​decrease​ ​the​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​ecological​ ​damage​ ​we do​ ​while​ ​mitigating​ ​economical​ ​and​ ​health​ ​concerns​ ​as​ ​well.​ ​It​ ​seems​ ​like​ ​he​ ​will​ ​fit​ ​right​ ​into​ ​the​ ​applied approach​ ​AMEC​ ​is​ ​centered​ ​around.

In​ ​addition​ ​to​ ​his​ ​duties​ ​as​ ​department​ ​head,​ ​Dr.​ ​Cooke​ ​plays​ ​tennis​ ​and​ ​is​ ​a​ ​member​ ​of​ ​a​ ​local band.​ ​He​ ​considers​ ​himself​ ​equal​ ​parts​ ​academic,​ ​athlete,​ ​and​ ​musician.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​ask​ ​him​ ​which​ ​one​ ​he would​ ​give​ ​up​ ​he​ ​can’t​ ​even​ ​decide.​ ​Each​ ​of​ ​his​ ​passions​ ​feeds​ ​greatly​ ​into​ ​the​ ​others​ ​and​ ​they​ ​have become​ ​inseparable.​ ​For​ ​instance,​ ​being​ ​a​ ​tennis​ ​coach​ ​for​ ​years​ ​before​ ​returning​ ​to​ ​academia​ ​shaped his​ ​classroom​ ​demeanor.​ ​And​ ​his​ ​love​ ​for​ ​creating​ ​music​ ​taught​ ​him​ ​patience,​ ​persistence,​ ​and​ ​the importance​ ​of​ ​having​ ​fun.​ ​In​ ​any​ ​conversation​ ​with​ ​Dr.​ ​Cooke,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​sense​ ​the​ ​sincerity​ ​in​ ​his​ ​voice when​ ​he​ ​talks​ ​about​ ​how​ ​excited​ ​he​ ​is​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​AMEC​ ​and​ ​how​ ​much​ ​he​ ​looks​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​the​ ​next year​ ​here.

Dr.​ ​Evan​ ​Peacock:​ ​Interim​ ​Director​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Cobb

Dr.​ ​Evan​ ​Peacock​ ​has​ ​been​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​AMEC​ ​faculty​ ​for​ ​many​ ​years​ ​but​ ​this​ ​year​ ​Dr.​ ​Peacock took​ ​on​ ​a​ ​new​ ​role​ ​as​ ​interim​ ​Director​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Cobb​ ​Institute.​ ​He​ ​will​ ​serve​ ​the​ ​Cobb​ ​in​ ​this​ ​position​ ​for two​ ​years​ ​while​ ​a​ ​permanent​ ​director​ ​is​ ​found.

Dr.​ ​Peacock​ ​first​ ​became​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​archaeology​ ​after​ ​finding​ ​an​ ​arrow​ ​head​ ​on​ ​his​ ​family farm​ ​when​ ​he​ ​was​ ​ten.​ ​This​ ​find​ ​prompted​ ​him​ ​to​ ​read​ ​countless​ ​books​ ​and​ ​ask​ ​many​ ​more​ ​questions. He​ ​came​ ​to​ ​MSU​ ​for​ ​his​ ​Bachelor’s​ ​degree​ ​before​ ​earning​ ​both​ ​his​ ​Master’s​ ​and​ ​PhD​ ​from​ ​the​ ​University of​ ​Sheffield​ ​in​ ​England.​ ​He​ ​is​ ​currently​ ​working​ ​on​ ​many​ ​different​ ​research​ ​projects​ ​but​ ​is​ ​so​ ​enthusiastic about​ ​each​ ​one​ ​that​ ​he​ ​is​ ​unwilling​ ​to​ ​contract​ ​his​ ​to-do​ ​list.​ ​His​ ​current​ ​projects​ ​include​ ​writing​ ​a​ ​book about​ ​the​ ​Lyons​ ​Bluff​ ​site,​ ​studying​ ​freshwater​ ​mussels​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Yazoo​ ​Basin,​ ​and​ ​studying​ ​chemical sourcing​ ​of​ ​shell​ ​and​ ​shell​ ​tempered​ ​pottery.​ ​If​ ​he​ ​had​ ​all​ ​the​ ​money​ ​in​ ​the​ ​world​ ​to​ ​dedicate​ ​to​ ​a project​ ​he​ ​would​ ​choose​ ​the​ ​chemical​ ​sourcing​ ​research.​ ​Shells​ ​have​ ​held​ ​a​ ​special​ ​place​ ​in​ ​his​ ​heart since​ ​his​ ​time​ ​as​ ​a​ ​graduate​ ​student.

In​ ​Dr.​ ​Peacock’s​ ​new​ ​position​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Cobb​ ​Institute​ ​he​ ​hopes​ ​to​ ​continue​ ​the​ ​mutually reinforcing​ ​relationship​ ​that​ ​the​ ​Institute​ ​has​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Department​ ​and​ ​looks​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​planning​ ​the Cobb’s​ ​future,​ ​specifically​ ​expanding​ ​the​ ​interdisciplinary​ ​work​ ​already​ ​being​ ​done.​ ​​ ​Although​ ​Dr. Peacock​ ​is​ ​not​ ​new​ ​to​ ​AMEC,​ ​we​ ​congratulate​ ​him​ ​on​ ​his​ ​new​ ​position​ ​and​ ​are​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​see​ ​what​ ​the future​ ​has​ ​in​ ​store.

Dr.​ ​Karen​ ​Williams:​ ​newest​ ​AMEC​ ​professor​ ​of​ ​Cultural​ ​Anthropology

Dr.​ ​Karen​ ​Williams,​ ​a​ ​cultural​ ​anthropologist,​ ​comes​ ​to​ ​us​ ​from​ ​the​ ​City​ ​University​ ​of​ ​New​ ​York (CUNY)​ ​with​ ​a​ ​PhD​ ​in​ ​Anthropology.​ ​But​ ​did​ ​you​ ​know​ ​she​ ​got​ ​her​ ​B.F.​ ​A.​ ​in​ ​Fashion​ ​Design​ ​and Performance​ ​Art​ ​and​ ​her​ ​M.A.​ ​in​ ​Performance​ ​Studies?​ ​However,​ ​Dr.​ ​Williams​ ​explains​ ​that​ ​her background​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Arts​ ​is​ ​not​ ​unrelated​ ​to​ ​her​ ​work​ ​now.​ ​While​ ​the​ ​medium​ ​has​ ​changed,​ ​the​ ​theme​ ​has stayed​ ​the​ ​same​ ​as​ ​she​ ​continues​ ​to​ ​look​ ​at​ ​the​ ​criminal​ ​justice​ ​issues​ ​impacting​ ​our communities.

Her​ ​primary​ ​research​ ​is​ ​focused​ ​on​ ​programs​ ​inside​ ​prisons​ ​that​ ​are​ ​meant​ ​to​ ​help transition​ ​the​ ​formerly​ ​incarcerated​ ​back​ ​into​ ​society.​ ​She​ ​says​ ​that​ ​coming​ ​to​ ​the​ ​South​ ​offers​ ​a​ ​new challenge,​ ​as​ ​she​ ​is​ ​more​ ​familiar​ ​with​ ​the​ ​re-entry​ ​programs​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Midwest.​ ​The differences​ ​are​ ​something​ ​she​ ​is​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​explore,​ ​while​ ​keeping​ ​in​ ​mind​ ​the​ ​ethos​ ​of​ ​the South,​ ​what’s​ ​being​ ​done​ ​here​ ​in​ ​terms​ ​of​ ​reintegration​ ​initiatives,​ ​and​ ​how​ ​the​ ​programs​ ​inside​ ​prisons work.​ ​When​ ​asked​ ​what​ ​she​ ​might​ ​research​ ​beyond​ ​her​ ​current​ ​interests,​ ​given​ ​time​ ​and​ ​money,​ ​Dr. Williams​ ​says​ ​mindfulness​ ​comes​ ​to​ ​mind.​ ​As​ ​a​ ​practitioner​ ​herself,​ ​she’d​ ​like​ ​to​ ​explore​ ​its​ ​impact​ ​on people​ ​of​ ​color​ ​and​ ​athletes.​ ​Perhaps​ ​something​ ​to​ ​look​ ​forward​ ​to!

Dr.​ ​Williams​ ​says​ ​her​ ​passion​ ​started​ ​early​ ​in​ ​her​ ​career,​ ​when​ ​she​ ​was​ ​part​ ​of​ ​Insight Arts,​ ​a​ ​community​ ​arts​ ​organization.​ ​There,​ ​her​ ​performance​ ​art​ ​delved​ ​into​ ​such​ ​topics​ ​as social​ ​inequality,​ ​gentrification,​ ​police​ ​brutality,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​death​ ​penalty.​ ​From​ ​here​ ​her​ ​interests for​ ​these​ ​and​ ​other​ ​social​ ​issues​ ​began.​ ​This​ ​was​ ​further​ ​cemented​ ​when​ ​Dr.​ ​Williams​ ​found herself​ ​at​ ​a​ ​Critical​ ​Resistance​ ​conference​ ​she​ ​attended​ ​in​ ​1998.​ ​Listening​ ​to​ ​activists​ ​at​ ​the conference​ ​blew​ ​her​ ​away​ ​with​ ​the​ ​passion​ ​they​ ​had​ ​working​ ​on​ ​social​ ​issues.​ ​“This​ ​is​ ​it,”​ ​she​ ​recalls feeling.​ ​“This​ ​is​ ​the​ ​work​ ​that​ ​I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​do.”​ ​This​ ​conviction​ ​shows​ ​that​ ​we​ ​can​ ​look​ ​forward to​ ​many​ ​great​ ​things​ ​from​ ​Dr.​ ​Williams​ ​in​ ​the​ ​future,​ ​in​ ​addition​ ​to​ ​the​ ​amazing​ ​work​ ​she​ ​has​ ​already accomplished.​ ​We’re​ ​lucky​ ​to​ ​have​ ​her​ ​and​ ​wish​ ​her​ ​the​ ​best​ ​in​ ​all​ ​future​ ​endeavours.

Help us welcome these three to their new postitions in AMEC! For more information on these and other AMEC faculty visit our website (http://www.amec.msstate.edu/people/faculty/)

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