Dean Daniel Jay

Dan Jay, dean of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, and an accomplished artist, said art and science “can inform each other in novel ways.” (Photograph by Anna Miller/Tufts University)


Dan Jay is a biomedical scientist and dean of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. He also happens to be an accomplished artist and an adjunct professor of drawing and painting at the SMFA. Next year, he’ll teach a new course on how the brain perceives art. Jay said his work at the SMFA is especially rewarding because of the school’s appreciation for “how similar artists and scientists are in their strengths in creativity, problem-solving, and experimentation.”


Jane Gillooly and Khary Jones

Jane Gillooly, SMFA professor of the practice, Khary Jones, who teaches at the School of Arts and Sciences, brought complementary talents to their documentary. (Photograph by Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)

When Jane Gillooly and Khary Jones met in 2016 at a get-together for faculty of the SMFA and the School of Arts and Sciences, the two filmmakers had plenty to talk about. Gillooly is an SMFA professor of the practice who teaches film and animation, and Jones is an award-winning filmmaker and film studies lecturer in Tufts’ Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. They eventually decided to make a documentary together. Their film, Where the Pavement Ends, which is due out in October, uses the death of Michael Brown—who was shot by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in 2014—to examine the relationship between Ferguson (Gillooly’s hometown) and the neighboring town of Kinloch, which has historically had a thriving African American community.


Kurt Ralske, an SMFA professor of the practice in digital media, is a successful artist (he codesigned the video installation in the lobby of the Museum of Modern Art) who is also a music lover. It’s that latter passion that led to a recent collaboration with the Tufts music professor and ethnologist David Locke. Their project—Vision Festival: Art, Race, and Social Justice in America—celebrated the avant-garde music genre free jazz. The full-day event included discussions and musical guests, as well as a keynote by the theorist and poet Fred Moten. “I find it really exciting when people who think they speak a different language actually discover they have something in common,” Ralske said.   


Ethan Murrow and student

BFA student Dill Ma and Professor Ethan Murrow in conversation at the Mission Hill campus. (Photograph by Lucas Roy for Tufts University)

To help the School of Engineering brighten the brick walls of Robinson Hall, students in SMFA Professor of the Practice Ethan Murrow’s painting class interviewed Chris Rogers, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The painters had been embedded in a robotics class taught by Rogers, and now they wanted his ideas for a mural that would cover the brick walls. They eventually produced what Murrow described as “an eclectic, bouncy mix of squares. We hope it will amuse, intrigue, and perhaps make some engineering students take classes at SMFA.


Hilary Binda

Hilary Binda, Senior Lecturer at the SMFA Department of Visual and Critical Studies spoke during The "Learning in and in Spite of Prison" panel discussion at the Prison and Education Symposium: The Responsibility of Engagement. (Photograph by Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)

Hilary Binda directs the SMFA writing program, and she is also a Tisch College of Civic Life fellow. Through her work as a Tisch Fellow, Binda, AG03, developed her creative idea for a program that tapped into her twin passions of education and prison reform. The result? The Tufts University Prison Initiative at Tisch College, which includes a literature course taken by both Tufts students and inmates inside a medium-security prison.

Portrait of Laura Ferguson

Laura Ferguson, senior writer at Tufts and regular Tufts Now contributor, can be reached at