Faculty Notes: Summer 2010



Professor Shaw Smith gave a seminar at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris titled “L’oeil du tigre: Eugene Delacroix et l’Indoustan.” He was in Paris with Davidson students for the travel component of their Art History Senior Capstone Seminar on “Paris: Palimpsests of Patrimony.”


Associate Professor Karen Bernd, Davidson Research Institute Fellow Maddie Chalfant ’11 and Merck Scholar Daniel Cook ’12 attended the Association of Southeastern Biologists annual meeting. The cohort presented two posters on their work examining whether estrogen or selenium mitigate the damaging effects of ozone on lung cell function. In addition, Bernd developed a multimedia presentation called “Cells” that she delivered live, and later by videotape, to seventh-grade science students at Mooresville Middle School.

Professor Malcolm Campbell traveled to the University of Maryland and Southern Methodist University to present his students’ synthetic biology research. One of his former synthetic biology students, Will DeLoache ’09, has  received a prestigious NSF doctoral training fellowship.

In addition, Campbell and Associate Professor of Mathematics Laurie Heyer were invited to a celebration at the National Academy of Sciences focused on the landmark report “BIO2010” at which they presented their work with the international consortium GCAT, their synthetic biology research and their new textbook coauthored with Associate Professor of Biology Chris Paradise.

Associate Professor Karen Hales attended the Annual Drosophila Research Conference with Lauren Ivey ’11, Sarah Pyfrom ’11, and research technician Samantha Lightcap. Ivey presented independent research that began as a part of a genetics class laboratory project in which she characterized a fruit fly gene important for allowing mitochondria to elongate the length of each sperm tail. Lightcap presented her work on a different gene affecting fruit fly male fertility. She has determined where, and to which structures, within developing sperm cells the gene’s product attaches.


Visiting Associate Professor David Brown has consulted on a research project with chemists from Celanese Corporation to design a catalyst that accelerates the degradation of cigarette filters. This new green process facilitates the breakdown of cigarette filter litter into environmentally friendly cellulose and acetic acid (vinegar).  The work will be presented at the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Conference, and at the Gordon Research Conference on Green Chemistry, which will be held on the Davidson campus July 25–30.

Associate Professor Cindy DeForest Hauser served as a panelist for a session on “Challenges to Our Environment” at a symposium titled “What Do We Owe Future Generations?” that was sponsored by Washington and Lee University’s Institute for Honor. She was also a guest on the local daily radio news magazine “Charlotte Talks,” discussing air pollution in Charlotte.


Associate Professor Keyne Cheshire delivered a paper at a meeting of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South titled “From Olympus to Cyrene: Homeric Prologues in Callimachus’ Second Hymn.” The paper sought to locate the formal conclusion of the prologue to Callimachus’ “Hymn to Apollo” by pointing to subtle allusions to the conclusions of two hymnic prologues in the Homeric tradition.

Communication Studies

At the Southern States Communication Association (SSCA), Professor Kathie Turner led a session on the value of the weeklong faculty development workshop for which she serves as scholar-in-residence; led another session on how communication centers enhance eloquence, improve scholarship, and increase retention; and facilitated a session on ways SSCA could better serve young scholars.


Armfield Professor Brenda Flanagan was invited to represent American writers at the Tunisian International Book Fair in Tunis, where she read from her new novel, Allah in the Islands. She also joined several internationally renowned poets at the fair for a lively discussion of “The Universal and the Particular in Thought and Creation.” In addition, Flanagan performed several of her short stories, and presented lectures on African-American literature and on “The Transnational Influence of the Poetry of Robert Frost.”

Dana Professor Cynthia Lewis published an essay, “Crazy in Love (Women and Shoes),” in the spring edition of The Massachusetts Review. Part personal, part research, and part riff, the essay dilates upon women’s obsession with shoes. Lewis was also recently invited to join the editorial board of the South Atlantic Review, which is the official publication of the South Atlantic Modern Language Association.


Professor David Perry, director of the Vann Center for Ethics, published “Some Unsettling Ethical Reflections on Interrogation” in the inaugural issue of International Journal of Intelligence Ethics. During spring semester he also attended conferences of the International Society of Military Ethics, the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, the International Society of Intelligence Ethics and an Undergraduate Ethics Conference hosted by the Prindle Institute at DePauw University. Three of those conferences included discussions of his book Partly Cloudy: Ethics in War, Espionage, Covert Action, and Interrogation. He also lectured at UNC Charlotte in an Ethics in Public Policy class, and addressed UNCC’s Executive Forum. As director of the Vann Center during the past year, he has hosted or cosponsored 23 ethics forums on campus, and posted several entries on the center’s blog, On Balance.


Richardson Professor Emeritus Alan Singerman has published a chapter titled “Le cinéma français de nos jours: pour un réalisme poétique frontal” in the book France in the Twenty-First Century: New Perspectives. Singerman’s study of novel modes of French cinema since 1995 finds a trend toward “poetic realism” that tempers a body of films that tend to be brutally frank, thematically and visually, in their representation of human relations.

Professor Catherine Slawy-Sutton was one of four external evaluators who conducted a review of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages at the University of San Francisco.


Associate Professor Maggie McCarthy published an article in New German Critique on the German film Wintersleepers and its depiction of a young generation of apolitical Germans. She also gave an invited lecture at Duke University on the topic of “Nazis, Pop Culture, and the Film Inglourious Basterds.”


The New York University School of Law invited Professor John Wertheimer to participate in a conference honoring the career of NYU Law Professor William E. Nelson. Wertheimer presented a paper that reviewed Nelson’s contributions to research methodology in the field of legal history, with special emphasis on his use of quantitative analysis. Invoking examples from his own research in legal archives, Wertheimer considered the benefits and pitfalls of quantification as a tool of legal-historical inquiry.


“Math and Sports” was the theme for this year’s Math Awareness Month (MAM). Two essays, authored or coauthored by Associate Professor Tim Chartier, appeared on the MAM Web page. He authored an article, “Bending a Soccer Ball with Math,” that discusses modeling the trajectory of a free kick in soccer. Another article, “Bracketology: How Can Math Help?” was coauthored with Erich Kreutzer ’10 and colleagues at the College of Charleston. That article discussed their work in sports ranking, particularly integrating weighting of games into ranking methods that utilize linear algebra. The work attracted attention from several outside agencies, including Princeton University Press and local television news. Chartier, Colin Thomson ’13 and Kreutzer were interviewed by Fox Charlotte, while News 14 ran a story on “March Madness” that included interviews with Chartier, Kreutzer and Jennings Boley ’10.

Associate Professor Michael Mossinghoff hosted the 23rd annual Southeast Regional Meeting on Numbers (SERMON) at Davidson. The conference attracted more than 30 visitors, mostly from colleges and universities in the Southeast, but also from New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ontario, Canada. In conjunction with the conference, a special math talk was held for Davidson students on how computers are helping to shed light on some old unsolved mathematical problems.

Kimbrough Professor John Swallow published with three coauthors a paper titled “Hilbert 90 for Galois cohomology” in the journal Communications in Algebra. The paper examines to what extent a standard property in field theory known as “Hilbert’s Satz 90” holds analogously for a contemporary object of study, the Galois cohomology of fields. One of the other authors was Andrew Schultz ’02, who will begin an assistant professorship at Wellesley College this fall.


Associate Professor Neil Lerner published an essay titled “Reading Wagner in Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips (1944)” in Wagner & Cinema, edited by Jeongwon Joe & Sander Gilman. It concerns a WWII cartoon featuring Bugs and his encounters with Japanese soldiers. The soundtrack has several quotations from Wagner’s music dramas. Lerner also presented a paper titled “The Cinematization of Video Game Music: An Archeology of Style from 1977–2007” for a symposium at UT-Austin called “Discourses of Music, Sound, and Film: A Meeting of Disciplines.” Finally, he chaired a session on video game music at the Society for American Music’s annual meeting in Ottawa, and was elected to a two-year term as secretary of this organization.


Associate Professor Mario Belloni, physics majors Kelsey Chisholm ’10 and Seyi Ayorinde ’10, and a colleague from Penn State recently published a paper in the Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical. The paper, “New identities from quantum-mechanical sum rules of parity-related potentials,” describes their work using summation techniques from quantum mechanics on several symmetric potentials and their parity-restricted partners to generate and prove new mathematical relationships between functions such as the Airy function zeros. As one departmental colleague put it, the paper shows one way to use physics to do mathematics.

Richardson Professor Larry Cain has been elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Election is limited to no more than one half of one percent of the membership, and recognizes outstanding contributions to the discipline. Cain was cited specifically “For strong commitment to the advancement of undergraduate teaching and research, and for significant contributions to introductory physics curriculum and assessment at the national level.”

Brown Professor Wolfgang Christian presented an invited talk, “A Computational Modeling-Cycle Pedagogy for Upper Division Physics,” at the winter meeting for the American Association of Physics Teachers. The talk described his work with the ComPADRE National Science Digital Library to develop a pedagogy that limits the amount of programming when designing, implementing, distributing, and using computer-based models.

Political Science

Professor Peter Ahrensdorf gave a lecture, “Homer and the Foundation of Classical Civilization,” for the Ancient Studies Program at Smith College. A version of the lecture is being published in a volume of essays titled Recovering Reason: Essays in Honor of Thomas L. Pangle.

Professor Ken Menkhaus published “State Fragility as a Wicked Problem” in the new journal PRISM. He also published a chapter on “Non-State Actors and the Role of Violence in Stateless Somalia” in the book Violent Non-State Actors in Contemporary World Politics, and a chapter titled “Somali Civil Society: Peace-Building in a Collapsed State” in the book Civil Society and Peace-Building: A Critical Assessment. Over spring break, Menkhaus conducted field work in Kenya to examine external support to state-building efforts in Somalia. He also served as a presenter at a number of workshops and briefings in Washington and at the Naval Academy on Somali-Yemen terrorist connections, contemporary Ethiopia, religion and politics in Africa, and the crisis in Somalia. Menkhaus also served as a speaker for a Harvard University Web-based symposium on the humanitarian crisis in Somalia.

Visiting Assistant Professor Sangha Padhy presented a paper, “Engendering the Right to Water: Vellore Citizens versus Tanners in India,” at the AsiaNetwork Conference.

Brown Professor Shelley Rigger published “Ma’s Puzzling Mid-term Malaise,” in Brookings Northeast Asia Commentary. She also published a chapter titled “Taiwan Politics” in the book Chinese Politics, and a chapter titled “The Taiwan Issue and the Sino-Russian Strategic Partnership: The View from Beijing” in the book China-Russia Relations in the Early 21st Century. Rigger presented a paper on “Domestic Sources of Taiwan’s Cross-Strait Policies” at a George Washington University conference on “Navigating Cross-Strait Relations,” and a paper on “Professionalizing Politicians in China and Taiwan” at the AsiaNetwork Conference. In addition, Rigger testified before the Congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission and gave a talk at the Naval Academy on the implications of Taiwan’s domestic politics for the U.S., China, and the world.

Professor Mary Thornberry and Visiting Assistant Professor Sangha Padhy were honored at the college’s annual “Celebration of Service” for the course on Environmental Politics they taught last fall. The class’s major project focused on local green building initiatives. Class members made field trips, interviewed local builders and community officials, and presented their findings to a group of town and college officials. See the results of their efforts.


Maddrey Professor Ruth Ault presented two posters at a meeting of the Society for Research in Human Development (SRHD). One, coauthored with Tyler Kirkland ’09, was based on Kirkland’s senior thesis titled “Bimanual Coordination in Children: A Fine and Gross Motor Analysis.” The other, titled “Gender Representation in Child Development Textbook Photographs,” was developed from Ault’s “Gender Identity” seminar. In addition, the society honored Ault with a plaque inscribed to say “For one-quarter century of service to SRHD in multiple officer and conference program chair roles. March 26, 2010.”

Professor Kristi Multhaup, Katie Greenfield ’09, and Heather Smith ’10 were co-authors of a paper presented at the biennial Cognitive Aging Conference. Their research examined response times of older and younger adults when naming the color of words presented on a computer screen for word-color conflict items (e.g., RED presented in blue) and congruent items (e.g., RED presented in red). Their take-home message was that there are age-related declines in the ability to focus on a task like naming colors.

Associate Professor Scott Tonidandel has been named to the editorial boards of Organizational Research Methods and the Journal of Business and Psychology.


King Associate Professor Gerardo Marti published an article in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion titled “The Religious Racial Integration of African Americans in Diverse Churches.” While acknowledging the persistent failures in achieving integration, the article describes how churches can successfully transcend racial differences. Based on his research, Marti also led a full-day workshop at the Indianapolis Center for Congregations on issues of racial and ethnic diversity in American churches.


Professor Joe Gardner will use a Boswell Family Fellowship Award during his sabbatical leave next year to write a new play based on the life, times, and exploits of Hubert Julian, a pioneer aviator of the early 20th century, also known as the “Black Eagle.”


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