Faculty Leadership

About April Hill, Wagener Family Professor of Equity and Inclusion in STEM and Professor of Biology.

April Hill is the newly-named Wagener Family Professor of Equity and Inclusion in STEM. She is an evolutionary developmental geneticist and is nationally recognized for her success in deepening diversity and inclusion in undergraduate science. “Helping to build communities of students who thrive in STEM is my vocational cornerstone,” she says. Professor Hill joined the Bates faculty in 2018, after having taught at the University of Richmond, where she led numerous efforts that improve student success in STEM, particularly students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences. Her research on the evolution of conserved gene regulatory networks is widely published and she has won numerous teaching awards. Her courses at Bates include Out of the Sea and Developmental Biology. A first-generation-to-college student, Professor Hill earned her undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of North Texas and her doctorate in human genetics from the University of Houston.

About Geneva Laurita, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

In her courses, Geneva Laurita of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry seeks to cultivate an interactive environment that promotes confidence, enthusiasm, and critical thinking. She teaches the introductory chemistry courses, Atomic and Molecular Structure and Chemical Reactivity as well as advanced courses including Inorganic Chemistry, Advanced Topics in Inorganic Chemistry, and Chemical Synthesis and Reactivity. In her research, Professor Laurita explores the structure-property relationships of inorganic solid state materials, particularly those of relevance to energy and electronics-based technologies. Through understanding the arrangement of the atoms in a material, she says, we can explain how atomic interactions give rise to various physical properties, such as how a material interacts with light or conducts electricity. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Colorado and her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

About Karen Palin, Director of the Sophomore STEM Scholars Program.

Karen Palin is a member of the Department of Biology at Bates. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree and Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Minnesota where she studied host interactions with the pathogenic spirochete Leptospira. Her microbiology research interests continue to focus on host defense against bacterial pathogens. Before coming to Bates, Karen’s teaching spanned community colleges, regional public universities, and liberal arts colleges. She has worked with both traditional and nontraditional students in various settings. At Bates, Karen has taught Biology courses at all levels including BIO 190, Organismal Biology, and BIO 242, Cellular and Molecular Biology. Over the past few years, Karen has initiated several community-engaged public health projects with her students. She has also taken students abroad as a faculty member for the Bates Fall Semester in Russia, where she taught Microbial Life: The Russian Perspective. Most recently she took students to Spain over short term as part of the course Health and Medicine: At Home and Abroad. Karen was the first in her family to earn a college degree.

About John Smedley, Director of the STEM Scholars Program.

smedleyj-200x300John Smedley is Professor of Physics at Bates, and also a member of the Environmental Studies Program committee. Early in his career he taught a range of core courses in the physics major, from introductory to advanced levels. In time, John developed a series of introductory courses for nonmajors including Musical Acoustics, Energy and Environment, and The Physics of Sports. Most recently he has created a series of intermediate courses at the interface of physics and environmental studies, including Renewable Energy, Climate Change and Modeling, and The Electric Grid. An accomplished guitarist and composer, John occasionally teaches a Music Short Term course, Exploring Jazz Guitar.

John was among the first in his family to attend institutions of higher education. After majoring in chemistry and physics at Colby, John received the Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he studied small molecule collisions and photophysics.