Two members of the Knox faculty received promotions this June—William Hope and Helen Hoyt ’01 received tenure and were promoted to associate professors. Knox Magazine asked each of them questions about their time at Knox, their current research, and their personal aspirations (we even asked them to pose with a meaningful object). Here are a few outtakes from the conversations.

William Hope
William holds a Hypsizygus ulmarius, or White Elm mushroom, which is the result of a classroom project allowing students to combine focus on the art of noticing, waste streams, and fungal life cycles. Using discarded materials of cardboard, straw, and spent coffee grounds to provide the mycelium a nutritional base, they re-used oatmeal containers and milk jugs to serve as “fruiting containers.” Photo by Peter Bailley '74

Associate Professor of Anthropology-Sociology William Hope

William earned his doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, his master’s from Winthrop University, and his bachelor’s degree from the College of Charleston. His research in Cuban popular music has been published in the Latin American Music Review. He has also pursued new pedagogy and research interests in ecological design and presented in this new area at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. In recognition of his innovative teaching, he received the Philip Green Wright-Lombard College Prize for Excellence in Teaching for Untenured Faculty in 2015. He has served on the Curriculum Committee, Cultural Events Committee, Off-Campus Study Committee, and the President’s Sustainability Council; been a member of numerous search committees; and served as director of the McNair Sophomore Seminar.

Why Knox? I was immediately drawn by the intimacy and accountability that Knox’s size affords, and I’ve often characterized my experience of working with Knox students in terms of creative engagements. For example, I recently traveled to Cuba with a group of alumni in December 2016, and with a student group in December 2017. While the two groups were very different in their ages, outlooks, and situations, one commonality that I observed were the ways both sought to do more and be more than mere tourists. I was very happy to witness their respectful and focused interactions with our Cuban hosts and teachers.

Describe your current research/ creative work: What is most interesting about this project? How does it impact your teaching? My current research and creative work focuses on ecological design, what Sim van der Ryn defines as “any form of design that minimizes environmentally destructive impacts by integrating itself with living processes.” Specifically, I’ve been interested in the ways that knowledge, skills, and techniques of ecological design are shared through collaborative endeavors. What has been most interesting to me is the recognition of how intimately entangled my daily life is with so many other life forms—human and nonhuman alike.

What is your favorite thing about Galesburg? I have really enjoyed Saturday mornings at the Galesburg Farmers Market. It’s often a wonderful convergence of people, fresh produce, and local crafts.

If money and time were no object, what problem would you tackle? Collaborative survival.

Helen Hoyt '01
Helen holds a model of a chemical catalyst created in her lab. She and her students design and test these structures in order to understand the patterns of chemical reactivity. Photo by Peter Bailley '74

Associate Professor of Chemistry Helen Hoyt ’01

Helen earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her B.A. from Knox College. She is an active and creative researcher in the field of “green chemistry,” the study of using readily available starting materials in chemical processes while minimizing the amount of wasteful byproducts. Helen has received several honors and awards, including the Knox College Philip Green Wright-Lombard Prize for Distinguished Teaching, and is a recipient of the 2018 Early Career Chemist Award from the American Chemical Society. She has received external grant funding from the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society, the Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation, and the Midstates Consortium for Math & Science. Helen has served on the Academic Standing Committee and Curriculum Committee, leads the Knox chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and is a frequent contributor to Admission office events and summer academic advising.

What is your most memorable moment at Knox? Getting my research lab set up and working with my first research student is a great memory!

Describe your current research/creative work: What is most interesting about this project? How does it impact your teaching? My research group focuses on catalyst design, following a green chemistry approach of incorporating abundant and relatively nontoxic metals (such as iron and copper) into strategically designed compounds to catalyze the formation of important chemical products. In our work, we prepare catalysts that have never before been made, and we collect data to solve the puzzles of their structure, properties, and reactivity. Students who work in my research lab or take my advanced synthesis laboratory course have the opportunity to design their own new catalyst structures and to test them out in catalysis reactions! The most interesting outcomes of this ongoing research allow us to begin to understand the patterns of how small structural changes we make affect the reactivity functions we’re hoping to accomplish.

What is your favorite thing about Galesburg? Friendly neighborhood walks.

If you weren’t a professor, you would be a ____? Research scientist or writer.