Carleton College awards tenure to two faculty members

Two members of the Carleton College faculty have been awarded tenure and promotion to associate professor by the Board of Trustees, effective Sept. 1, 2021.

9 February 2021 Posted In:
Skinner Chapel in the winter

Two members of the Carleton College faculty have been awarded tenure and promotion to associate professor by the Board of Trustees, effective Sept. 1, 2021.

Jay D. Tasson, assistant professor of physics, arrived at Carleton in 2011. After holding visiting positions, he joined the Carleton faculty as an assistant professor of physics in 2016. He graduated from Northern Michigan University with a BS in physics education and a Michigan Secondary-Teaching Certification. He went on to earn his MS in physics in 2008 and his PhD in physics in 2010, both from Indiana University. Previously, Tasson served as a visiting assistant professor at both Whitman College and Franklin College.

Tasson teaches Introduction to Physics: Relativity and Particles, Analytical and Computational Mechanics, General Relativity, and Advanced Classical Mechanics. Tasson’s research interests include theoretical investigations of fundamental symmetries, and the facilitation of associated tests. His latest research explores how we would know if certain assumptions underlying all of theoretical physics were violated. These assumptions, known as Lorentz symmetry, say roughly that the laws of physics are the same no matter which direction you are facing, and no matter what speed you are traveling. His work requires a deep understanding of both fundamental theoretical physics and a range of contemporary experimental capabilities. Although this area of research can be daunting for newcomers, Tasson consistently engages students in his research, including as contributors to papers and as conference presenters. Building on his work on Lorentz symmetry, Tasson has recently taken on an important role in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which continues to be funded by an NSF grant Tasson holds jointly with Professor Emeritus Nelson Christensen.

At Carleton, Tasson has served on the Physics Department Curriculum Committee, the Institutional Research and Assessment Advisory Committee, the Advisory Committee on Health Professions Programs, and the Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Layla Oesper, assistant professor of computer science, joined Carleton’s faculty in 2015 after completing her postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University. She received her BA in mathematics from Pomona College in 2005 and her certificate in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010. She went on to earn her MS in computer science in 2012 and her PhD in computer science in 2015, both from Brown University. In addition to introductory computer science courses, Oesper teaches courses in Data Structures, Mathematics of Computer Science, Algorithms, Data Mining, and Computational Biology.

Oesper is a computational biologist who develops methods to elucidate the evolution of cancerous tumors based on DNA sequencing data. She is recognized as a leader in the field, with numerous publications and presentations in computer science, bioinformatics and biology journals and conferences, and has secured a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation to support her research. She regularly involves students in her research; many have been co-authors or co-presenters on publications.

Oesper has been an active and engaged member of her department, the College, and the broader computer science community. She has served on the College Institutional Review Board and was elected to the Budget Committee. Oesper facilitates community building and has been active in working on issues of equity and inclusion in the Computer Science Department. She has served her professional community as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation and for a number of scientific journals.