Faculty Notes: Spring 2010



Three Davidson faculty members presented talks as part of an 11-part lecture series on “Divining America: Religion in American History” presented by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and the Levine Museum of the New South. Speakers explored major religious movements and watershed events throughout American history to examine how they shaped American culture, politics, and personal relationships. President Emeritus John Kuykendall ’59 spoke about “Religion in the American South.” Babcock Professor of History Sally McMillen spoke on “Religion, Women, and Family in Antebellum America.” Associate Professor of Religion Ann Blue Wills spoke about “The Founding Fathers and American Civil Religion.


Associate Professor Karen Bernd and Merck Scholar Daniel Cook ’13 collaborated on a poster about their research on “Selenium treatment post ozone exposure improves lung cell recovery.” Cook presented the work at the 12th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences, which was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

Professor Malcolm Campbell conducted a simultaneous video connection with scientists on two campuses in Hungary in which he described for them Davidson’s James G. Martin Genomics Program. Campbell also presented his students’ research at the Foundation for the Carolinas’ first “Information Exchange,” which is modeled on the www.TED.com talks. Campbell and Associate Professor of Mathematics Laurie Heyer accompanied several of their research students to the 2009 iGEM competition, the largest synthetic biology event in the world. Approximately 100 teams from around the world participated, and Davidson’s team won the third straight gold medal for the college.

Associate Professor Barbara Lom attended the Society for Neuroscience meeting with several students from her lab—Joel Eisenhofer ’12, Kayla Layman ’10, Kevin Mangum ’10 and Natasha Meyer ’10. The students presented posters describing their developmental neurobiology research, and Lom presented two posters on pedagogical innovations coauthored with colleagues at Davidson and elsewhere.

Associate Professor Chris Paradise and several students published a paper about their research in The Open Ecology Journal. The research served as the honors thesis for lead author Leslie Smith ’06. Other Davidson student authors were Jarrod Blue ’08, Daniel Bush ’10, Jessica Carlson ’06, and Josh Haywood ’10. The research tested a widely held assertion that the top predator in treeholes was a keystone species, and that its presence could increase biodiversity by reducing populations of the top competitor. The Davidson research tested that hypothesis in a four-year study, using observations and manipulative field experiments, and found very little evidence to support it. Their research found that the predator does have major effects on individual species within the treehole community, but it does not increase diversity.

Assistant Professor Sophia Sarafova has been named as an adjunct assistant professor in Duke University’s Immunology Department. The appointment is in conjunction with her creation of the Duke-Davidson Immunology Partnership, which allows Davidson students to do research with a Duke immunology professor for 10 weeks during the summer. The fellowship includes participation in weekly research seminars and social hours, a workshop about applying to graduate school, and a closing poster symposium. Last summer Darina Spasova ’10 became the first Davidson student to take advantage of the program. Spasova and Zachary Carico ’10 accompanied Sarafova to the 2010 Midwinter Conference of Immunologists, where they presented their findings on the cause for a reduced number of helper lymphocytes in a mutant mouse strain. As part of his Biochemistry Center major work under the supervision of Sarafova and Assistant Professor Jeffery Myers, Matthew Surdel ’10 presented at the Sigma Xi research conference his biochemistry thesis work on identifying a protein responsible for the production of functional helper T cells.

Professor Mark Stanback and students Austin Mercadante ’06, Wes Anderson ’09, Howell Burke ’09, and Rebecca Jameson ’07, published an article in the Journal of Avian Biology titled “Nest site competition between cavity nesting birds and Golden Paper Wasps Polistes fuscatus.” Their experimental research demonstrated that birds dominate wasps when both compete for access to nest boxes. Stanback was also recently awarded a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to continue his research on nest site competition between Eastern Bluebirds and Brown-headed Nuthatches.


Morton Professor Felix Carroll published a paper in the journal Energy & Fuels with Chung-Yon Lin ’10 and a colleague from the University of São Paulo, Brazil. It concerns a new method for predicting the flash points of paraffins from molecular structure. The flash point is the lowest temperature of a liquid at which its vapor will catch fire, and is the most widely cited measure of the flammability of a substance.

Randy Jenkins ’11, Justin Godinho ’11 and Associate Professor Cindy DeForest Hauser presented their research on decoupling the formation and aging processes of secondary organic aerosols at the American Chemical Society meeting. Hauser also coauthored a poster with Jeff Baker of TSI Inc., about their particulate monitoring studies at Davidson Elementary School, which was presented at the American Association for Aerosol Research conference.


Associate Professor Keyne Cheshire presented a paper titled “Acrostics and Great Rivers in Callimachus’ Hymns” at the American Philological Association. (Acrostics are literary constructions where the first letter of each new line of verse spells something when read downward.) Cheshire’s paper introduced four previously unrecognized acrostics, all marking passages that together expand on a metaphor of water for poetry and present the births of Zeus and Apollo in terms of Callimachus’ literary preference for purity over magnitude.


Professor Kathie Turner completed her service as chair of the Communication Centers division of the National Communication Association at its recent conference. She presented a paper that assessed the state of both undergraduate college education and communication centers, a paper on tutor training and certification, and a portion of a short course on starting a communication center. In addition, she served as a member of the organization’s Leadership Development Task Force, the Nominating Committee, and the Legislative Assembly. On campus, she provided workshops for such groups as Leadership Davidson, Admission Office tour guides, and senior English honors students.


McGraw-Hill/Irwin has published the seventh edition of the undergraduate and master’s-level textbook International Economics co-authored by James B. Duke Professor Dennis Appleyard and two colleagues.


Assistant Professor Hilton Kelly published an article in The Urban Review titled “What Jim Crow’s Teachers Could Do:  Educational Capital and Teachers’ Work in Under-Resourced Schools.” The article explains how Jim Crow-era teachers—former teachers of legally segregated schools for blacks—prepared and motivated disadvantaged students in spite of funding and resource deprivation.  His findings reveal strategies that may help urban teachers today to educate poor children of color in under-resourced schools. At a meeting of the American Educational Studies Association Conference, Kelly also organized and chaired a panel featuring Carrie Boyle ’11, Kelsey Smith ’09, Jordan Starck ’12, and Billy Thom ’11. The students presented papers written in his “Social Diversity and Inequality in Education” course.


Associate Professor Van Hillard, director of the College Writing Program, gave presentations focused on the program’s recent “New Intellectual Writing Project” at the Small Liberal Arts College Writing Program Administrators conference, and at the Rhetoric Society of America conference. He also published an essay titled “Information Literacy as Situated Literacy” in Teaching Literary Research, a collection of essays published by the Association of College and Research Libraries.

Dana Professor of English Cynthia Lewis had an article republished in an anthology of essays about Shakespeare’s comedies, edited by Harold Bloom. “‘We know what we know’: Reckoning in Love’s Labor’s Lost” was originally published last year in Studies in Philology. Lewis also published an article, “‘You Were an Actor with Your Handkerchief’: Women, Windows, and Moral Agency,” in the journal Comparative Drama. The essay concerns the meaning of the recurring figure in early modern English drama of a woman at a window.

Professor Alan Michael Parker’s essay on the Pompidou Centre, live art, and democracy, titled “The Rhinoceros in the Hall,” appeared in The Believer. He recently served as one of five literature panelists for the United States Artists fellowship program, which awards $50,000 annually to 50 working artists.

Assistant Professor Onita Vaz-Hooper published an article in European Romantic Review titled “‘If Dead We Cease To Be’: The Logic of Immortality in Coleridge’s ‘Human Life.’” The article examines how Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem reveals his interest in the vitalist debate and anticipates some of his philosophical beliefs. She also presented a paper titled “The Technology of Reverie: The Mechanization of the De Quinceyan Imagination,” at the International Conference on Romanticism. Her paper explains how Thomas De Quincey’s fear of popular late 18th- and early 19th-century visual technologies, such as magic lantern shows, led him to prescribe opium to his readers to heighten their dreams and create their own do-it-yourself magic lantern shows.


Professor Maggie McCarthy delivered two conference papers recently. At the German Students Association conference she spoke on terrorist women in the German film Der Baader-Meinhof-Komplex. At the American Association of Teachers of German conference she offered a pedagogical approach to teaching the documentary Our Daily Bread, which examines farming techniques and food production in Austria

Professor Mark McCulloh delivered this year’s Distinguished Alumni Lecture for the academic society Die Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft at the University of Illinois, his graduate school alma mater. McCulloh spoke about “The Relationship of Professional Criticism and Dichtung (Fiction) in the Works of W.G. Sebald.” Sebald produced four significant novels late in his career as a university professor in England before dying in a car crash in 2001. Davidson College held the first conference on Sebald in March of 2003, and McCulloh and his colleague Professor Scott Denham published a collection of Sebald papers soon thereafter.


Professor Robin Barnes coedited a volume of essays titled Ideas and Cultural Margins in Early Modern Germany. The book, published by Ashgate, honors Barnes’s former doctoral adviser at the University of Virginia, H.C. Erik Midelfort, and includes articles by an international array of historians. It also includes an essay written by Barnes titled Faith, Physic, and Reform that concerns the role of medical doctors in the early German Reformation of the 16th century.

Assistant Professor Joe Dennis has received a “Profession Culture” grant from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France to spend three months this summer working on Chinese local histories from Uighur and Tibetan areas of northwestern China. The books were published between 1535 and 1908 and collected by the famous scholar-explorer Paul Pelliot (1878–1945). Dennis will use the materials in a study of publishing in Chinese minority regions.

Babcock Professor Sally McMillen presented the presidential address to the History Society of North Carolina titled “A Great Buoyancy of Mind: Educating Antebellum Southern Women.” The talk, presented at the Museum of History in Raleigh, dealt with the importance that southerners placed on women’s education and the many academies and schools that were founded for them before the Civil War.


Associate Professor Tim Chartier and Erich Kreutzer ’10 published “How Easy is Easy Java Simulations Programming?” in the online journal Loci. The article reviews the Easy Java Simulation software developed by Brown Professor of Physics Wolfgang Christian. Chartier and Kreutzer also coauthored another Loci article titled “Google-opoly” with colleagues at the College of Charleston. This article uses a game, called Google-opoly, played on a small directed graph to describe and model the Google PageRank algorithm. Chartier also published a piece titled “A Mathematical Circus” as the cover article in MAA FOCUS. The article discusses an interactive traveling math exhibit, “Math Midway,” that debuted last summer and is part of an effort to create the first interactive math museum in the country. Chartier’s article “Envisioning the Invisible” appeared in Notices of the AMS in an issue of the magazine about creativity in mathematics. His article discusses his use of mime to introduce mathematical ideas, and also as a teaching tool in the college classroom.

Associate Professor Michael Mossinghoff has been named to the editorial board of Mathematics of Computation, a premier research journal published by the American Mathematical Society. This journal publishes articles on mathematical research involving significant computation, and on modern developments in computational methods. Mossinghoff teaches computer science and math courses at Davidson, and his research involves computational topics in the mathematical fields of number theory and combinatorics.


Artist Associate in Piano Ruskin Cooper presented a paper titled “The Original Boy Band—The Comedian Harmonists” at the National Conference of the College Music Society. The Comedian Harmonists were a wildly popular male vocal sextet in Europe from 1929 to 1935, when the Nazi regime forced them to disband. Their numerous recordings, many of which are still available, have been inspirational to many current ensembles, including The King’s Singers and Chanticleer.

Associate Professor of Music Neil Lerner wrote several entries for the recently published Encyclopedia of American Disability History. Lerner wrote the general entry on music, as well as entries on the actor Rock Hudson, the TV series E.R., and the films The Beast With Five Fingers, Dark Victory, and Dr. Strangelove

As a member of the Luna Nova Ensemble, Artist Associate in Voice Diane Thornton gave a recital in Memphis. She also traveled to Orlando to perform as alto soloist with the Messiah Choral Society under the baton of conductor John Sinclair.

Department chair Professor Jennifer Stasack received a 2009 ASCAPLUS Concert Music Division Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. This award recognizes ongoing national and international performances of her compositions over the past year.


At the fall meeting of the North Carolina Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers, Associate Professor Mario Belloni was awarded the John L. Hubisz Award for Outstanding Service to the Section. Also at the meeting, Belloni presented his work with a colleague at Berry College on creating simulations for teaching astronomy.

Brown Professor Wolfgang Christian presented a plenary talk, “Building a National Digital Library of Physics Simulations,” at the International Conference on Computational Physics in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The talk described the computer models he has created for physics education and his joint effort with departmental colleague Professor Mario Belloni to develop and distribute curricular material using the ComPADRE national digital library.

Dan Hampton ’11, Mac Read ’10, and Caroline Vaughan ’10 presented posters on collaborative research with Associate Professor Tim Gfroerer at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society (APS). All three students will also be presenting their work at the national meeting of the APS this spring.


Professor Ken Menkhaus traveled with fellow authors to London, Nairobi, Washington, and New York to present findings from two recent research projects on civil society and peace-building to which he contributed—A History of Mediation in Somalia Since 1988 and Civil Society and Peace-Building: A Critical Assessment. The briefings were aimed at policy-makers in the United Nations and its member-state governments.


Maddrey Professor Ruth Ault received a grant from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology to help fund next summer’s fourth annual Davidson-Furman joint summer student research symposium. Last summer a similar event was held at Furman, and involved four faculty and 12 students from Davidson, and seven faculty members and 20 students from Furman. Participants present posters and papers about their research in psychology and neuroscience.

Professor John Kello wrote an article titled “Translating Science into Practice” as part of his “Positive Safety Cultures” series in the December issue of Industrial Safety & Hygiene News. The article focuses on making research-based knowledge in behavioral science accessible to practicing managers in safety and other areas of business.

Professor Kristi Multhaup and Rivka Iherjirika ’09 presented a poster on Iherjirika’s senior thesis at the annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society. They studied unbalanced Spanish-English bilinguals (English dominant) and found evidence suggesting that the languages are stored separately in the memory system. At the same conference, Katie Greenfield ’09 and Multhaup were coauthors on a poster that suggests different patterns of cognitive control are used on standard attention tasks.

Dickson Professor Julio Ramirez has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The designation recognizes members whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished. Ramirez was cited for exemplary contributions to science education among undergraduates, including promoting an organization for undergraduate teaching in neuroscience, an associated journal, and a national mentoring program.

Associate Professor Mark Smith was awarded a supplement to his NIH grant, “Social and Environmental Influences on Opioid Sensitivity,” from funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funds will allow him to conduct research about peer influences on drug self-administration.

Associate Professor Scott Tonidandel was elected chair of the Association of North Carolina Industrial-Organizational Psychologists.


Craig Family Distinguished Professor Doug Ottati has been elected president of the Society of Christian Ethics, a 1,000-member national organization for American professors of Christian ethics that meets concurrently with the Society for Jewish Ethics and the Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics.


Associate Professor Gayle Kaufman was the only American invited speaker at a symposium on “Prevention and Treatment of Infertility in Modern Society” organized in Istanbul by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. Kaufman spoke about “Male Attitudes to Deferring Parenthood.”

L. Richardson King Assistant Professor Gerardo Marti was elected to the steering committee of the Religion and Social Science Section of the American Academy of Religion, a large, interdisciplinary academic association fostering excellence in religious studies. Marti also served as the 2009 Moberg Lecturer and Keynote Speaker on “Reconciliation in a Global Society: Pursuing Authenticity, Engagement and Action” at Bethel University.


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