Our Team

Brigid Balcom

Associate Director, Research Initiatives

5701 South Woodlawn Avenue, 201D

As associate director of research initiatives, Brigid Balcom coordinates the administrative needs of all faculty research projects, oversees the Neubauer Collegium’s annual Call for Proposals, and manages the Global Visiting Fellows program. Brigid earned a BA in Film, Television and Theatre from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago. She joined the Neubauer Collegium in 2015 from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, where she worked in Alumni Relations and Development for three years. Prior to joining the University, Brigid was assistant director of the Video Data Bank at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and held positions in programming and educational outreach at Cinema/Chicago, the presenting organization of the Chicago International Film Festival.

Elspeth Carruthers

Executive Director

5701 South Woodlawn Avenue, 201E

As executive director, Elspeth Carruthers’ focus includes developing key practices that are tailored to enhance team collaborations in humanistic research, and to providing a physical and programmatic environment at the Collegium that fosters creative and lively research collaborations. Her work involves exploring new constituencies for humanities-informed research, and expanding the impact of the Neubauer Collegium's work by creating new partnerships, locally and internationally. Elspeth earned a Ph.D. in Medieval History from Princeton University where her research interests included: urban law, identity, and environmental history in eastern and central Europe during the High Middle Ages. Prior to joining the Neubauer Collegium in December 2014, Elspeth spent five years as a leader in the Foundations and Corporate Relations Office at the University of Chicago. During that time, she played a central role in the launch of Arete, a research accelerator at the University. Before coming to the University, she spent nine years as a member of the history faculty at the University of Illinois-Chicago and had a former career in music, first as a freelance classical trumpet player and then as performance consultant in Toronto for groups such as the Canadian Brass.

Jennifer Helmin

Assistant Director of Operations

5701 South Woodlawn Avenue, 201F

As Assistant Director of Operations, Jennifer Helmin directs and manages the Neubauer Collegium's budget, financial, procurement, facilities, human resources, and daily operational functions.  Her work includes consulting and collaborating with University administrative offices and external partners and ensuring that all functions align with the Executive Director's strategic priorities. Jennifer earned a J.D. from the John Marshall Law School and a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She joined the Neubauer Collegium in 2016 from the University of Chicago Office of Financial and Grant Services where she worked as a Financial Administrator.  Prior to joining the University, Jennifer was the Business Manager of St. Joseph High School.  Her civic experience includes internships in urban planning with the City of Blue Island and in the felony trial division of the Circuit Court of Cook County in Markham, Illinois.

Jonathan Lear

Roman Family Director

5701 South Woodlawn Avenue, 201B

Jonathan Lear is the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor at the Committee on Social Thought and in the Department of Philosophy. He trained in Philosophy at Cambridge University and The Rockefeller University where he received his Ph.D. in 1978. He works primarily on philosophical conceptions of the human psyche from Socrates to the present. He also trained as a psychoanalyst at the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis. His books include: Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation (2006), Aristotle and Logical Theory (1980), Aristotle: The Desire to Understand (1988); Love and Its Place in Nature: A Philosophical Interpretation of Freudian Psychoanalysis (1990), Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul (1998), Happiness, Death and the Remainder of Life (2000), Therapeutic Action: An Earnest Plea for Irony (2003), and Freud (2005). His most recent book is A Case for Irony (Harvard University Press, 2011). He is a recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award. In 2014, he was appointed the Roman Family Director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society.

Jacob Proctor


5701 South Woodlawn Avenue, 202B

As Curator, Jacob Proctor directs arts and media programming at the Neubauer Collegium, including overseeing the operation of the Neubauer Collegium Exhibitions, shaping art and media components of collaborative faculty research projects supported by the Neubauer Collegium, and curating collaborations between artists and academics and between the Collegium and other arts partners on campus. As a Lecturer in the Division of Humanities, he offers courses in contemporary art and criticism through the MA Program in the Humanities and the Departments of Art History and Visual Arts. In addition to his work at the University of Chicago, Jacob Proctor is a frequent contributor to the internationally prominent Artforum magazine and serves as an external advisor to the Frieze Art Fair in both London and New York. Jacob received his BA in Art History from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his MA in History of Art and Architecture from Harvard University. Prior to joining the Neubauer Collegium in Winter 2014, Jacob served as Curator at the Aspen Art Museum (2011–2013), Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (2007–2011), and Ruth VS Lauer Curatorial Assistant at the Harvard University Art Museums (2005–2007). 

Mark Sorkin

Assistant Director of Communications and Strategic Events

5701 South Woodlawn Avenue, 201A

As assistant director of communications and strategic events, Mark Sorkin manages communications, marketing, and public relations for the Neubauer Collegium and oversees the planning and implementation of high-profile events. Mark earned a BA in English from Northwestern University and an MA in journalism from New York University. Before joining the Neubauer Collegium he worked in the communications department at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, where he launched and edited the school’s biannual magazine and oversaw a comprehensive redesign of the school’s website. Prior to that, he spent several years editing and writing for a range of national and regional magazines, including The Nation, Rolling Stone, Details, and Chicago.

All photos by Erielle Bakkum.