Project Faculty (click their names to visit their faculty page): 

Dr. Tamara Plakins Thornton

Dr. Thornton earned her A.B. from Harvard in 1978 and her Ph.D. from Yale in 1987. She is currently a Professor of History at the University at Buffalo where she specializes in 19th century American History. Her current research interests include: American cultural and intellectual history; early republic and antebellum America; capitalist culture; American elites; history of reading and writing; the structure of intellectual life. She is  currently working on a biography of Nathaniel Bowditch (1773-1838)–mathematician and astronomer, business executive, and the author of the New American Practical Navigator–whose life illuminates the interlocking development of science and capitalism in nineteenth-century America. Selected publications include:

Dr. F. Daniel Larkin

Dr. Larkin earned his PhD from SUNY University at Albany in 1976 and served as a professor of American History at SUNY College at Oneonta, earning the SUNY Distinguished Service Professor award during his tenure there. From 1999 to 2011, he served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs of SUNY Oneonta. He is he author of the following works:

  • NEW YORK YESTERDAY AND TODAY (1985) senior author with John T. Cunningham and Bruce W. Dearstyne
  • ERIE CANAL: NEW YORK’S GIFT TO THE NATION (2001) senior editor with Julie C. Daniels and Jean West
  • Chapters entitled “Introduction to New York History,” “New York Early History (early cultures),” and “New York History (since 1609)”in DICTIONARY OF UNITED STATES HISTORY vol. 2b (2006), Bess, Hannan, and Herman (eds)
  • “Benjamin Wright, the Erie Canal, and the Expansion of the American Republic” (in progress and under contract)
  •  Dr. Larkin will also be serving as Executive Editor (along with two associate editors) of the journal NEW YORK HISTORY, published by the New York State Historical Association.

Mr. Gerard Koeppel 

Gerard Koeppel is the author of Bond of Union: Building the Erie Canal and the American Empire (DaCapo, 2009) and Water for Gotham: A History (Princeton UP, 2000). He wrote the exhibit “The Future Beneath Us: Eight Great Projects Under New York” (2009, New York Public Library and New York Transit Museum) and was an associate editor of The Encyclopedia of New York City, 2nd ed. (Yale UP, 2010). He was a contributor to “The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011” (Columbia UP, 2012), the companion volume to an exhibit of the same name at the Museum of the City of New York. He is at work on a history of New York’s iconic street grid.

Dr. Roger Hecht 

Dr. Hecht joined the English Department as an Assistant Professor in 2006, after teaching literature and creative writing as a full-time lecturer at SUNY Oneonta for several years. Dr. Hecht earned his doctorate in English from Syracuse University in 2002, and received his M.F.A. in poetry from University of Arizona in 1990. He has presented papers on topics ranging from James Fenimore Cooper to Virginia Woolf to environmental themes in film. His research interests focus on the intersection of politics and landscape representation in literature. Currently, he is researching the literary products of the Anti-Rent War in upstate New York. His poetry has been published in numerous literary journals and websites. His books include Lunch at the Table of Opposites, a poetry chapbook, and The Erie Canal Reader. Dr. Hecht teaches courses in American literature, Literary/Critical Theory, and Creative Writing

Dr. Daniel Ward

Dr. Ward spent his childhood along the Canal. As an adolescent, his father, a Canal harbormaster, gave him the keys to the family boat and allowed him to explore the NYS Canal system. Dr. Ward, an alumnus of the Cooperstown Graduate Program for museum studies, is the curator of the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, NY and has worked on projects along the Canal over the course of his 30 year career. He has a PhD. in American Studies from Bowling Green University where he specialized in American history, folklore, and cultural anthropology. He is currently working on a documentary of the boom and bust economic cycles in the Canal corridor.

Dr. Lorrei DiCamillo

Dr. DiCamillo is an Associate Professor of Education at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. She earned her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at the University of San Francisco, an M.A. at San Francisco State University, and a B.A. at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to becomes a professor, she taught high school social studies courses for ten years. Dr. DiCamillo is the author of:

  • DiCamillo, L. & Gradwell, J.M. (March, 2012). Using simulations to teach middle school U.S. History in an age of accountability. Research in Middle Level Education Online.
  • DiCamillo, L. & Bailey, N.M. (2011). Parallel journeys: Teacher educators and teacher candidates learn together. Excelsior: Leadership in Teaching and Learning, 5(2), 15-29.
  • DiCamillo, L. (2010). “Fun” pedagogy curtails intellectual rigor in a U.S. History class. The Journal of Social Studies Research, 34(2), 175-208.
  • DiCamillo, L. & Pace, J.L. (2010). Preparing citizens for multicultural democracy in a U.S. History Class. The High School Journal, 93(2), pp. 69-82.
  • DiCamillo, L. (2010). Linking Teaching for Understanding to practice in a U.S. History class. The Social Studies, 101(1), pp. 10-16.

Mr. Pierson Bell

Mr. Bell is a Buffalo native and is currently in his sixth year of teaching at Royalton-Hartland High School where he teaches  A.P. U.S. History, Regents U.S. History, and a political science elective through N.C.C.C. He graduated from Canisius College of Buffalo and earned a master’s in American history at the College of William & Mary. In addition to his high school teaching duties, he is a facilitator for an emerging professional development company that promotes rich, content-based learning rooted in the humanities.

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