A member of the Bates faculty since 2006, Nancy Koven is the inaugural holder of the John E. Kelsey Professorship in Neuroscience.

Endowed by Michael J. Bonney ’80 and Alison Grott Bonney ’80, this new professorship honors Professor Emeritus of Psychology John Kelsey and his foundational contributions to the Program in Neuroscience during his 37 years on the faculty, and it recognizes a faculty member who exemplifies the supportive, innovative, and learning-by-doing approach to neuroscience teaching and research at Bates.

Professorships honor Bates faculty

This is the fourth in a series of profiles of Bates faculty members who were appointed to endowed professorships in 2017–18.

Nancy Koven explains what the appointment means to her:

The generosity of the Bonney family seemingly knows no bounds! They already have had such a powerfully transformative impact on the entire Bates community — past, present, and future — and, as if that were not inspiring enough, they have named this new professorship in honor of one of the most transformative professors to ever teach at Bates: John Kelsey.

I am delighted to see John recognized in this way, and I’m humbled to be the first holder of the Kelsey Professorship.

During an end-of-year “follies” reception for neuroscience faculty and their seniors, John E. Kelsey Professor of Neuroscience Nancy Koven (right) and neuroscience colleague Laura Ligouri (left) react as Lindsey Beauregard ’18 of Hollis, N.H., offers an alternative career idea for Koven. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

When I first stepped foot onto the Bates campus over a decade ago, I was surprised by an uncanny sense of having returned rather than having just arrived.


Professor Emeritus of Psychology John Kelsey was a Bates teacher and researcher for 37 years.

John and colleagues in the Department of Psychology welcomed me like family, and the overall rapport among Bates faculty and staff, the rich integration of campus and community, and the close working relationships between faculty and students were, and still are, vital to that sense of belonging.

Over this past decade, the Program in Neuroscience has grown in size and expanded in exciting, new interdisciplinary directions, but the foundational ideal that John Kelsey put into place — that there is considerable joy in communal learning, creative exploration, and hard work — remains vibrant.

About Nancy Koven

John E. Kelsey Professor of Neuroscience Nancy Koven, who chairs the Program in Neuroscience, teaches core and advanced courses as well as a First-Year Seminar on the intersection of neuroscience and literature. Koven’s research in neuropsychiatry examines brain structure and function in the context of adult mental health, focusing on the complex interplay between the roles of cognition and emotion in human behavior.

A past recipient of the Kroepsch Award for Excellence in Teaching, she routinely includes student collaborators in her research, which has been funded through grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Maine Institute for Human Genetics and Health.

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