SCR Student Connections

The following Senior Common Room members have offered to make a Student Connection with undergraduates of Kirkland House. If you are interested in connecting with one of these members, please email Axel.

Ivan Gaskell

Professor of Cultural History and Museum Studies at Bard Graduate Center, New York City
Before taking up his current chair, Professor Gaskell was Margaret S. Winthrop Curator of Paintings, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts at the Harvard Art Museums, and senior lecturer on History. At Harvard he remains research associate in North American Ethnology at the Peabody Museum, and an associate of Kirkland House. During his regular visits to Cambridge he is available to members of the House interested in either graduate work in history, art history, anthropology, or philosophy; or in an eventual museum career. Mobilizing non-written traces of the past, Professor Gaskell addresses intersections among history, art history, anthropology, and philosophy. As well as writing case studies ranging from seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish paintings, Native American baskets, and Congo textiles, he works on underlying philosophical questions. While at Cambridge University, he edited the book series Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and the Arts with Salim Kemal. He organized numerous exhibitions at Harvard University, where he taught and curated between 1991 and 2011. At Bard Graduate Center, as well as teaching in the Masters and PhD programs, Professor Gaskell heads the Focus Project, an ongoing series of experimental exhibitions and publications. Professor Gaskell is the author, editor, or co-editor of twelve books, including The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish Painting (Philips, 1990), and Vermeer’s Wager (Reaktion, 2000). His most recent book (with Laurel Ulrich, Sara Schechner, and Sarah Anne Carter) is Tangible Things: Making History through Objects (Oxford University Press, 2015). He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and edited volumes in history, art history, anthropology, and philosophy. In addition to his Bard Graduate Center and Harvard positions, Professor Gaskell is research associate in Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, and a permanent senior fellow of the Lichtenberg-Kolleg (Advanced Study Institute) of the Georg-August University, Göttingen where he spends two months each spring. He also writes contemporary art criticism, contributing regularly to artUS and West 86th

Cécile Guédon

Lecturer in Comparative Literature at Harvard University, Department of Comparative Literature
Cécile was previously a post-doctoral Research Associate at the Romance Languages and Literatures / Visual and Environmental Studies Departments at Harvard University (August 2014-June 2015) and a Research Fellow and Associate Lecturer in Comparative Literature and Intermediality at the University of Groningen (Sept. 2012-July 2014). Her doctoral dissertation is mainly concerned with modernist aesthetics, the notion of gesture and the phenomenon of abstraction across the arts. She has published papers for journals such as the 'International Journal for the Humanities' (2007), 'Quaderni di Synapsis' (2008), 'Static' (2009), and a number of entries in the 'Routledge Encyclopaedia of Modernism' (2013). Various chapters in edited volumes are forthcoming in 2016 (Routledge, Oxford University Press, Palgrave Macmillan, de Gruyter). Her monograph 'Abstraction in Motion: A Choreographic Approach to Modernism' is currently under review (2015). Her research fields include Modernism, Dance, Performance, Music, Film and Visual Arts; Inter-medial Studies and Comparative Arts; Literary Theory, Poetry, Twentieth-Century Literature; French Studies, German Thought; History of Science and Embodied Cognition.

Ellen Williams

Premedical and Health Careers Advising, Office of Career Services at Harvard University
Ellen advises students and alumni of Harvard College and GSAS who are interested in pursuing a career in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, public health, or another health profession. She also works with the rest of the pre-med team on developing programming and resources for pre-health students. Prior to coming to OCS she practiced both primary care internal medicine and urgent care for many years at the Massachusetts General Hospital. She was an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School where she taught medical students and residents, served on the admissions committee for Harvard Medical School, worked on internship selection for the MGH, and served as an editor for continuing medical education at the New England Journal of Medicine. Most recently she has worked in secondary education in the Boston area. Ellen is a graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is interested in talking to students and alumni about anything, but has the most expertise in issues related to medical school admissions and education. She loves to be outside, to hike, and to do anything that involves being in, on, or near water.

Charles Swearingen

Charles was a psychiatrist at Harvard University Health Services and then in private practice in Harvard Square for many years. He has been a pre-med advisor at Kirkland House, and some years back offered an informal course on meditation for House members. He has a wide range of interests: psychology, zen buddhism, politics, business, literature, and religion/spirituality. He has been in the SCR for many years, and has a real love for Kirkland. During his undergraduate years, he was a student in Leverett House;he obtained his medical education at Yale.

Donald H. Pfister

Curator of the Farlow Library and Herbarium of Cryptogamic Botany and Asa Gray Professor of Systematic Botany, Harvard University
Donald Pfister has been at Harvard for many years, 18 of which he served as what is now Faculty Dean at Kirkland House with his wife Cathleen.  He served as Dean of the Harvard Summer School and as Interim Dean of Harvard College. The Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology is his academic home.  His research activities center on the study of life histories and relationships among several groups of fungi.  He teaches a course on the Biology of Fungi and has taught courses on economic botany, trees and forests. He is also curator at the Farlow Reference Library and Herbarium.  He has an on-going interest in biography, history of science and topics related to the documentation of natural history expeditions. His work in the Farlow Library and Herbarium involves the stewardship of well over 1 million specimens of fungi, bryophytes, lichens and algae.  His current favorite location for doing field studies is southern South America an area that is both understudied and biologically diverse. His studies have taken him to many parts of the world. Perhaps in the House he is best known as the advisor for the student doing the study of the Kirkland cockroach.

Thomas Byrne

Professor, Neurology, Harvard Medical School; Neurologist, Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Thomas has been a clinical neurologist and neuro-oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School since 2005. He also teaches a Freshman Seminar at Harvard College exploring how the mind emerges from the human brain. Prior to moving to Cambridge, he was at Yale for 24 years. He has met with and mentored countless undergraduates who are considering the profession of medicine as clinicians, scientists or clinician-scientists throughout his time at Yale, MIT and Harvard. He would be quite pleased to speak with Kirkland students.

Annabel Kim

Assistant Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures
Annabel Kim is Assistant Professor of French and a specialist of twentieth- and twenty-first-century French literature. Currently finishing up her first book, Unbecoming Language, which looks at the writers Nathalie Sarraute, Monique Wittig, and Anne Garréta to theorize an anti-difference feminist poetics, she is interested more broadly in feminist writing and theory, the ethical and political implications of writing and reading fiction, sci-fi and utopian/dystopian fiction, and the contemporary novel. She is also interested in minimalist art (e.g. Agnes Martin and Barnett Newman), electronic music, small birds, and things she doesn’t know about yet.