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Powers, Thorn Receive Tenure

Powers, Thorn Receive Tenure
Jonathan Powers, assistant professor of economics, and Judy Thorn, assistant professor of biology, were awarded tenure by the Knox College Board of Trustees at its June 2006 meeting. Thorn was promoted to associate professor.

After teaching at Vasser College and Northwestern University, Powers joined Knox College's economics department in 2000. In the classroom, Powers, who received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University, draws students into theoretical issues through everyday examples. A specialist in microeconomics, industrial organization, and the teaching of economics, he has written numerous articles on his research topics, made several conference presentations, served as a discussant, and chaired several sessions at the American Economic Association meetings and other economic conferences. Outside of the classroom, Powers is active in faculty committees and recruitment events and is an engaged academic and honors advisor. He is also the coach of Knox's water polo clubs, which have gone to two National Club Championships in the past four years, and has been named Heartland Division Coach of the Year three times by the Collegiate Water Polo Association.

Thorn, who received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, came to Knox in 2000, after holding a post-doctoral appointment at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and working as a lecturer at Duke University. A developmental biologist, she teaches broadly across the biology spectrum, and her scholarship focuses on cellular communication networks and their role on cell development. Since arriving at Knox, she has published three papers, established an active laboratory program, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, and has been instrumental in the design and implementation of Knox's newest major, neuroscience, and in the development of the HHMI-funded Summer Science Camp for Girls. She also serves as Knox's pre-medical advisor.

Knox Magazine had the opportunity to ask Powers and Thorn a few questions about Knox, their research, and their life outside of the classroom:

Jonathan Powers
Why Knox?
Because they offered me a job. Seriously, having been an undergraduate at Amherst and a graduate student at Northwestern, I knew I wanted to work at a small liberal arts college. It is a lot of fun to be able to teach smart kids in small classes, and there aren't a whole lot of places in the country where a professor gets to do that. I honestly can't think of a better place to teach.

Describe your current research.
I'm currently looking at and trying to explain the pattern of pricing that appears to exist in retail gasoline.

What do you do when you're not teaching, researching, or coaching?
Eating and sleeping, though not necessarily in that order. Knox keeps me pretty busy.

What were the last three books you read?
1491 by Charles Mann, The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki and Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers by Kwame Appiah.

What did you do to celebrate receiving tenure?
Finished grading. It was a little anticlimactic. President Taylor told me on a Monday afternoon, and I still had exams and papers to grade. But I guess that's the lesson: just because you get tenure, the work doesn't stop.

Judy Thorn
What is your most memorable moment at Knox?
During my first year at Knox, I taught Anatomy and Physiology I to 25 upper class students. The course started with human reproduction and development. About day two or three in class, we were discussing how the testes are maintained at a temperature lower than core body temperature. At this point, Chris Miles '01 piped up, suggesting that we do an experiment to demonstrate that the testis do in fact move in response to environmental temperature -- he volunteered Sabir Taj '01 for the demonstration -- first at the hot tub at the Fieldhouse and then out at the pond at Green Oaks (it was winter at the time). The class laughed, my face shot red, I thought that I would die, but I continued. In spite of that early class, that group of students and I were able to discuss almost any topic from that point on.

If you weren't a professor, you would be a ?
Occupational or recreational therapist, veterinarian.

What is your favorite thing about Galesburg?
I love returning to Galesburg -- there are wonderful places in the world to explore, but Galesburg is a soft place to come back to.

What do you do when you're not teaching or researching?
I garden, read, walk my dogs, and watch Law & Order.

What did you do to celebrate receiving tenure?
Called my husband, finished senior grades, and took a nap. The next day, I went to lunch with colleagues.