Message from the Interim Dean

John Toscano headshot

This Krieger School Year in Review illustrates how we continue to create new knowledge and pursue excellence and discovery no matter what comes our way. To say that the past academic year has been like a roller coaster ride would be an understatement. The semester started off well back in September, which now seems like decades ago! In February, our former dean, Beverly Wendland, announced that she was leaving Hopkins to take on the prestigious position of provost of Washington University in St. Louis.

I was proud to be named interim dean of the Krieger School. I had been vice dean for natural sciences for the past six years, and was prepared to take on the role of interim dean. Then came mid-March, when the global pandemic challenged us all. Our faculty, staff, and students pivoted in remarkable ways to ensure as seamless a transition as possible to remote learning and teaching. 

In addition to dealing with the impact of the coronavirus, our nation was catapulted into a state of long-overdue reckoning with and recognition of systemic racism following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others. At the Krieger School, we began to make changes that will hopefully lead to increased diversity among our faculty and graduate students. That includes new efforts in recruiting, and an examination of how we can best support the people of color in our community.

In the midst of these new realities, I want to take a moment to share some of our accomplishments from the past year.

Best regards, 

John P. Toscano, Interim Dean

Krieger Year in Review Research Highlights

Research is the engine that drives Johns Hopkins, and members of the Krieger School made extraordinary discoveries in the past year. Following is a sample of their quest for new knowledge. Stay tuned for the fall issue of Arts & Sciences Magazine, where we will feature faculty members who are pursuing Covid-19-related research. 

Stefanie DeLuca headshot

Stefanie DeLuca, James Coleman Professor of Sociology and Social Policy, has embarked on an ambitious research project that helps families in poverty move to safer and healthier neighborhoods.

Lisa Feigenson headshot

Lisa Feigenson, professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, found that babies understand counting years earlier than first believed. 

Robert Holder headshot

Robert Holder, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, led a study elucidating key new findings about the movement of large pieces of Earth’s outer shell, known as plate tectonics.

Tyrel McQueen headshot

Tyrel McQueen, professor in the departments of Chemistry and Physics and Astronomy, discovered a new magnetic phenomenon.

Brice Menard headshot

Brice Ménard, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, found that a technique used to explore the cosmos could also be used to explore Earth’s interior.

Joel Spruck headshot

Joel Spruck, J.J. Sylvester Professor in the Department of Mathematics, and one of his former students proved a long-standing and complex mathematical conjecture.

Natalie Strobach headshot

Natalie Strobach, assistant dean for undergraduate research, had planned a major conference for April showcasing humanities research by more than 400 undergraduate students from across the country, including Johns Hopkins. When Covid-19 hit, she had to pivot and the results were remarkable.

Well-earned Faculty Honors

Every year, our faculty members’ innovation and commitment to new knowledge are recognized with prestigious awards and prizes.

headshot of Karen Fleming

Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar: Karen Fleming, Professor, Biophysics

Kenneth Karlin headshot

American Chemical Society Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry: Kenneth Karlin, Ira Remsen Professor of Chemistry

Rebekka Klausen headshot

American Chemical Society Award in Pure Chemistry: Rebekka Klausen, Associate Professor, Chemistry

headshot of Colin Norman

American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow: Colin Norman, Professor, Physics and Astronomy

headshot of Emily Riehl

President’s Frontier Award and the 2021 Joan & Joseph Birman Research Prize in Topology and Geometry: Emily Riehl, Associate Professor, Mathematics

head shot of V. Sarah Thoi

National Science Foundation CAREER Award: V. Sara Thoi, Assistant Professor, Chemistry

Rewarding Student Excellence

Both undergraduate and graduate students regularly contribute to groundbreaking research in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Every year, that work is recognized by the broader academic community with notable awards.

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Emerging Voices Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies: Nnamdi Igbokwe ’20, Political Science

Katherine Xiang headshot

Hertz Graduate Fellowship: Katherine Xiang ’20, Physics and Astronomy

headshot of Elmer Zapata-Mercado

Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society: Elmer Zapata-Mercado, doctoral candidate, Molecular Biophysics

NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

  • Rachel Dziatko, doctoral candidate, Chemistry
  • Amy Fernandez, doctoral candidate, Molecular Biophysics
  • Kathy Le ’20, Biophysics
  • Gabriela Satie Sato Polito, doctoral candidate, Physics and Astronomy
  • Sydney Timmerman ’20, Physics and Astronomy

Fulbright Study/Research Awards

  • Karissa Avignon ’19, Public Health
  • Kiana Boroumand ’19, Sociology and English, minor in Latin American studies
  • Emily Friedman, doctoral candidate, History of Art
  • Eillen Martinez ’20, Medicine, Science, and the Humanities
  • Mackenzie Mills ’20, Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Courtney Whilden ’20, Neuroscience

Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Awards

  • Julia Dickson ’20, International Studies
  • Emily Lee ’19, Public Health Studies 
  • Emily Luo ’20, Cognitive Science
  • Frances (Frannie) Rooney ’18, The Writing Seminars
  • Nathan Wertheimer ’20, Philosophy and Earth and Planetary Sciences

Adapting and Responding

looking over a student's shoulder who is working on a tablet with other students via video

When students and faculty returned from spring break this year, it was to a world turned sideways by the coronavirus pandemic. Classes were virtual. Thesis defenses were held over Zoom. Research was often remote, and in some cases took on new focal points related to the virus or its impact.

But other than campus life, nothing stopped. In the early spring, we gathered a few stories to illustrate the many ways faculty and students have been rising to the challenge of teaching, learning, investigating, and connecting in this unfamiliar world. Here are a few examples, or you can read more in the spring Arts and Sciences Magazine.

Spring Continues Online

Robert Barbera, lecturer in the Department of Economics and director of the Krieger School’s Center for Financial Economics, shifted the content of his Macroeconomics Strategies course to demonstrate the timely idea that economists must be able to step outside traditional models during extraordinary times.

Film and Media Studies lecturer Jimmy Joe Roche implemented a new way to illustrate a film’s concepts using editing software to color-code them in his Introduction to Digital Production course.

Niloofar Haeri, professor, and Thomas Özden-Schilling, assistant professor, found a way to teach their Field Methods in Anthropology students to become ethnographers in virtual spaces.

Bonnie Jin ’21 created an online mutual aid spreadsheet facilitating connections between those in need of resources and those with resources to share, whether in the Hopkins community or beyond. It has since evolved into a nationwide website.

About to host the inaugural Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium to showcase undergraduate research from around the country, Natalie Strobach—assistant dean of undergraduate research for the Krieger School and director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity—made the conference virtual. Four hundred students from 320 colleges in almost every state and several countries participated.

Hopkins at Home

Hopkins at Home graphic

In April, the university launched Hopkins at Home, a free online resource offering live sessions with faculty and recorded lectures, courses, and exhibitions.

Developed in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association, sessions have included Economics professor Jonathan Wright on the short- and longer-term effects of the coronavirus on US economic activity; History of Art professor Rebecca M. Brown on script and sign systems in modern and contemporary art from around the world; and Earle Havens, Nancy H. Hall Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Sheridan Libraries, on “fake news” throughout history.


The university is in the midst of a yearlong commemoration of the centennial of the 19th Amendment, exploring the legacy and shortcomings of the women’s suffrage movement with events, exhibits, presentations, and more.

Led by the Krieger School, a group bridging Hopkins and the wider community is coordinating a series of celebrations, exhibits, concerts, and presentations. While many have shifted to virtual formats, they still explore this watershed moment and its complex background and impact.

Although the movement that ultimately led to women’s suffrage lasted 72 years, the passing of the 19th Amendment was far from the end of the effort. Many women, in addition to non-white men, still faced enormous barriers preventing them from exercising their voting rights. The fight itself—as well as the ways in which it is remembered today—was heavily influenced by racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Many of the commemorative activities explore these interwoven factors and their lingering legacy. The commemoration is designed to encourage exploration and awareness of every complicated facet of the historic milestone.

Find more Women’s Suffrage Commemoration events, books, talks, and resources.

Accelerating Entrepreneurship

photo of FastForward U signage

FastForward U, the university’s incubator for startups, launched an accelerator program last fall to provide guidance and programming as requested by student entrepreneurs. Each semester, selected teams take part in a nine-week program featuring workshops on various aspects of venture creation taught by local entrepreneurs. Teams are also assigned mentors and have their own space at FastForward U’s Homewood location.

Two tracks support both early-stage companies looking to validate their ideas and learn the basics of startups, and those seeking to scale their ventures and learn advanced topics like customer development and investor pitches. When teams complete the program, they receive small grants toward incorporating their ventures and taking next steps.

Find out more about FastForward U projects.

Emphasis on Wellness

Kevin Shollenberger headshot
   Kevin Shollenberger

As Johns Hopkins expands its focus on student wellness and increases wellness services and opportunities, a new position was created to provide coordination and oversight. Kevin Shollenberger, who served as vice provost for student affairs since 2013, was appointed the inaugural vice provost for student health and well-being in August 2019. Shollenberger coordinates all wellness, mental health, and primary care resources for students and trainees. He also provides oversight of the Office of Student Disability Services. 

Under Shollenberger’s leadership, the university created a single student wellness website to make searching for resources easier. New drop-in counseling hours and expanded services for greater equity increase student access to care. Plus, a variety of technology platforms offer access to tools and skills, links to resources, and online behavioral health support.

Meanwhile, the expanding and renamed Ralph S. O’Connor Center for Recreation and Well-Being will allow for the offices of the Center for Health and Well-Being to be integrated with the recreation staff to foster greater collaboration. Program offerings, which include a new mindfulness/meditation curriculum, have been designed to encourage students to engage and to foster a community of care. 

Read Five Question with Kevin Shollenberger.

Honoring Our Donors

This year marks the 20th anniversary of two extraordinary gifts to the Krieger School.  

The James B. Knapp Deanship

J. Barclay Knapp headshot
      J. Barclay Knapp

For 20 years, the James B. Knapp Deanship has been the catalyst for innovation research and excellence in education at the Krieger School. Established with a $10 million donation by J. Barclay Knapp, A&S ’79, the deanship honors Barclay’s late father, a highly decorated general who served for 33 years in the U.S. Army and, after it was established, the U.S. Air Force. The resources of the deanship have empowered the Krieger School to recruit brilliant leaders to this prestigious position in order to move our community of scholars forward over the last two decades. The unrestricted funds from this endowment enable the James B. Knapp Deans to respond with greater flexibility to emerging needs and seed the launch of important strategic priorities for the school. From the renovation of Gilman Hall to the new Undergraduate Teaching Labs; faculty recruitment to undergraduate research awards, the impact of the James B. Knapp Deanship continues to fuel the Krieger School’s community of scholars, students, and alumni to pursue new knowledge to share with the world.

The Nathanial Boggs, Jr., PhD Memorial Fellowship

Paula Boggs headshot
         Paula E. Boggs

First awarded in 2000, the Nathaniel Boggs, Jr., PhD Memorial Fellowship was established by Paula E. Boggs, Esq., A&S ’81, Trustee Emerita, with a generous philanthropic donation to the Krieger School in memory of her father, who received Howard University’s first PhD in zoology and was biology professor and Dean of Science and Technology at Virginia State University and Florida A&M over the course of his career.

As a valuable recruitment tool, this prestigious fellowship awards a stipend to one or more outstanding graduate candidates, often from historically Black colleges or universities, who have demonstrated strong academic performance during their undergraduate studies in the natural or physical sciences. The Boggs Fellowship is an investment in the academic growth of promising scholars and a catalyst for the research they pursue at Hopkins and beyond. Since its founding, the fellowship has transformed the lives of many young scientists. Boggs Fellows are integral to the pursuit of innovative discoveries, the development and implementation of a new TA Diversity and Inclusion training course, the thriving activities of the Black Graduate Student Association, and entrepreneurial advancements made through Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures.