Sam Fox School faculty Meghan Kirkwood, Aggie Toppins, and Constance Vale were granted tenure by the Washington University Board of Trustees on March 3. Toppins will retain her title as associate professor, and Kirkwood and Vale will be promoted to associate professor, effective July 1. Carmon Colangelo, Ralph J. Nagel Dean of the school, said, “I am thrilled for this well-deserved recognition of our colleagues’ significant contributions to creative practice, scholarship, teaching, and service.”
Meghan Kirkwood joined the Sam Fox School in 2019. She is an innovative landscape photographer examining the ways imagery can inform and advance public conversations around land use, planning, climate change, and environmental justice. Recent investigations at oil infrastructure sites juxtapose photographs captured at ground level and aerial photographs, exposing the long-term arc of degradation to the environment and surrounding communities caused by pipeline development, fracking, and oil drilling. Her works are held in significant collections including the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, and disseminated in venues such as engineering schools, law libraries, and extension stations, which offer the potential for sparking systemic change. In addition to her creative practice, Kirkwood is a respected scholar of African art and the history of photography with recent articles in publications including Lenscratch, Photographies, Exposure, and Photography and Culture. Within the school, Meghan has been a champion of the photo area: as area head she has revitalized both the photo facilities and curriculum, including the addition of drone photography coursework.
Aggie Toppins joined the Sam Fox School in 2020 as associate professor and chair of undergraduate design after serving as a tenured faculty member and department head at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is a leading voice in inclusive design history and pedagogy with numerous recent articles in academic and industry publications including Design Issues, Design and Culture, and AIGA Eye on Design. Aggie’s upcoming book, Thinking Through Graphic Design History: Challenging the Canon, aims to shift the way design history is taught by breaking from prevailing Western, patriarchal narratives. Her professional and creative practice, often taking the form of community-engaged projects, zines, posters, and artist books, has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including three solo exhibitions and nearly three dozen juried and invitational exhibitions and art book fairs. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards and residencies, including the Outstanding Professional Achievement in Graphic Design Award from SECAC and an Arcus Project juried research and writing residency in Moriya City, Japan.
Constance Vale joined the Sam Fox School in 2017 and has served as chair of undergraduate architecture since 2021. She is a licensed architect and director of her architecture practice, Constance Vale Studio, as well as the experimental research office, The Factory of Smoke & Mirrors. Constance is an editor and a coauthor with Marcelo Spina and Georgina Huljich of the Graham Foundation-supported book Mute Icons & Other Dichotomies of the Real in Architecture. Building on this work, her 2019 symposium and exhibition Decoys & Depictions: Images of the Digital explored questions of digital images in architecture and formed the content for a forthcoming book, Digital Decoys: An Index of Architectural Deceptions, supported with a MacDowell Fellowship and part of a $50,000 Provost Office Research Grant. She is also collaborating with Yevgeniy Vorobeychik in WashU’s McKelvey School of Engineering on The Architectural Design of an Experimental Platform for Autonomous Driving, which is supported by the Provost Office Research Grant, an OVCR Seed Grant for Interdisciplinary Research, and the Center for Trustworthy AI in CPS. She curated the related Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum Teaching Gallery exhibition, The Autonomous Future of Mobility. In addition, Constance is among the architects selected for the international housing project, On Olive, as part of a competition that will result in a commissioned and built residence in Grand Center.