Faculty Notes: Spring 2011

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ANTHROPOLOGY

Visiting Assistant Professor Matt Samson traveled to Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador with a delegation sponsored by the National Council of Churches and the Latin American Council of Churches. The group sought to learn more about people displaced by the violence in Colombia, and the impact of the Colombian situation in the northern Andean region. They also expressed their support for representatives of the religious community and civil society who are looking for ways to respond to humanitarian concerns manifest in the current situation.

BIOLOGY

Associate Professor of Biology Karen Bernd attended the Sigma Xi annual meeting and International Research Conference with students Madeleine Chalfant ’11 and Kelly Davis ’11. They presented two posters, Delayed E2 Treatment Alters Lung Cell Recovery From Oxidative Stress and Metabolic rate affects how cells respond to oxidative stress due to varying ozone concentrations, which explained their research findings on the effects of environmental factors on lung cell function.

Professor and Martin Program director of Genomics Malcolm Campbell finished writing his portion of the new introductory biology textbook he is coauthoring with Davidson ecologist Chris Paradise and mathematician Laurie Heyer. The book completely redesigns biology teaching by reducing jargon, emphasizing “big ideas” and teaching students how to analyze real data. Paradise and Campbell will teach tandem courses over two semesters next year for the first time.

Associate Professor and Department Chair Barbara Lom and Visiting Assistant Professor Jennifer Round received a $429,000 research grant from the National Science Foundation for their research project on “Elucidating Roles for Slitrks in the Developing Zebrafish Central Nervous System.” The award will allow them to collaborate with undergraduate researchers in characterizing the role of a novel gene family in wiring the developing brain.

Professor Mark Stanback and Emily Powell ’09 published an article in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology titled “Predator vocalizations affect foraging trade-offs in Northern Cardinals.” The experiment, which was originally conducted in Stanback’s “Vertebrate Field Zoology” class, demonstrated that cardinals are sensitive to both the quality of food and the vulnerability of feeders to predators.  Under control conditions, cardinals preferred to forage on high quality food in vulnerable locations. However, when calls of a Cooper’s Hawk were played periodically throughout the day, cardinals switched to a safer feeder containing lower quality food.  Stanback also recently published an article titled “Gambusia holbrooki predation on Pseudacris feriarum tadpoles” in Herpetological Conservation and Biology. This experiment demonstrated that mosquitofish can have devastating effects on the tadpoles of Upland Chorus Frogs.

CLASSICS

Visiting Assistant Professor Hilary Becker presented a paper titled “Colors and Commerce: Pigment Shops in the Ancient World” along with a former student at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America. The paper presented evidence for a pigment shop at the site of S. Omobono in Rome, where Becker is a principal investigator, as well as general evidence for the trade in pigments in ancient Italy. Becker also presented a paper in London titled “Etruscan Literacy in its Social Context,” reflecting her research on the role of Etruscan texts in society, specifically examining evidence for the storage of public documents in private contexts such as the home, the tomb, and sanctuaries.

Associate Professor Keyne Cheshire joined a panel on “Reciprocity and Genre” at a meeting of the American Philological Association to present a paper titled “Reciprocity and Community in Callimachus’ Hymns 1, 2, and 5.” The paper proposes that Callimachus’ hymns break from generic tradition by shifting the ritual focus away from the singer-priest’s relationship with the deities and toward the reciprocity that might be established between the gods and specific groups within the broader civic community. As a collection, these novel hymns may thus have engendered in the readers of ancient Alexandria a pious enthusiasm for the common goals of the swiftly growing and culturally diverse young city.

COMMUNICATION STUDIES

Professor Kathie Turner has been elected to the presidential succession of the National Communication Association. With more than 8,000 members, NCA will celebrate its centennial in 2014, the year that Turner will serve as president. No one from a small liberal arts college has served as NCA leader since 1946. At the organization’s convention in San Francisco, Turner led a pre-conference session on women in the academy, hosted a session for developing leaders in the organization, led a workshop on gender and race in commercials, presented a paper on the metaphor of a speech as an oral journey, and participated in a mini-conference on public speaking and public address.

ENGLISH

Dana Professor Cynthia Lewis recently published an article in Charlotte Magazine about Mecklenburg County District Attorney Peter Gilchrist’s 36-year career, from which he retired in January.  She also published a part-personal, part-researched creative essay, “Trail of a Kiss,” in the literary magazine, New Letters.

Professor Elizabeth Mills delivered a lecture titled “Discovering a Singularity” as part of a conference on “Single Threads Unbraided: A Celebration of the Work of A. R. Ammons.” Mills discussed 20 Ammons watercolors placed in the Ammons Gallery at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library, drawing connections between Ammons as poet and painter. A video of the lecture is available.

ETHICS

Professor Dave Perry, Director of the Vann Center for Ethics, presented a paper on “Battlefield Euthanasia: Should Military Mercy-Killing Be Allowed?” at the annual meeting of the International Society of Military Ethics. He also lectured at Christ Church, Oxford University, on “Ethical Considerations in Recruiting and Handling Espionage Agents” for a colloquium cosponsored with Chatham House that involved approximately 30 British academics, journalists, and current and former government officials.

GERMAN AND RUSSIAN

Professor Maggie McCarthy published a paper titled “They Were Threatening Castration, Man: Germans in The Big Lebowski”in The Journal of Popular Culture. It looks at the role of German culture in the film, including Wagnerian opera and electronic music, and how it has affected American conceptions of masculinity.

HISTORY

The Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture, one of the leading institutes of its kind in Germany, has selected Assistant Professor Thomas Pegelow Kaplan as one of its 2012 visiting scholars. He will spend the summer at Leipzig University to continue his research on leftist protest movements, representations of genocide, and the remaking of West German and American memory cultures in the 1960s and 1970s.

Babcock Professor Sally McMillen is serving a one-year term as president of the Southern Association of Women Historians.

The North Carolina Society of Historians named Professor John Wertheimer’s book Law and Society in the South: A History of North Carolina Court Cases (2009) as co-winner of its Willie Parker Peace History Book Award for 2010.

MATHEMATICS

Several Davidson mathematicians made presentations at the annual Joint Mathematics Meeting. Professors Stephen Davis and Michael Boardman (Pacific University) presented a talk on “Calculus Reform and AP Calculus.” Associate Professor Michael Mossinghoff chaired a special session, Associate Professor Laurie Heyer served on a panel discussion about improving the biomathematics/biostatistics course, and Assistant Professor Carl Yerger talked about new topics in graph theory. Associate Professor Tim Chartier was featured as the Mathematical Association of America’s Student Lecturer. He performed “Mime-matics,” presented research in numerical linear algebra, and presented another talk on his use of service-learning in a math modeling course. Several current and former students were also involved. Students Lake Trask ’11 and Colin Thompson ’13 participated in a poster session.

Associate Professor Michael Mossinghoff was the speaker at the North Carolina State Banquet of the Mathematical Association of America.  His lecture, “Polygonal Plates at the Banquet,” explored a number of optimization problems about polygons in the plane, and their often surprising solutions.

Kimbrough Professor of Mathematics and Humanities John Swallow is taking a one-year leave to serve as a top administrator at his alma mater, The University of the South. Swallow will become Acting Associate Provost on June 1, working closely with the current provost through the fall 2011 semester. He will assume full responsibilities as Acting Provost during the spring 2012 semester. He will report directly to President John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College, serving essentially as chief operating officer of the institution and handling administrative matters such as budgeting, hiring, strategic planning, and community affairs. Swallow also recently presented a Vann Lecture at McCallie School in Chattanooga. Titled “Education and Intellectual Habits, Old and New,” the lecture addressed the intellectual habits Swallow sees in students who have grown up with the Internet, and what these mean for the liberal arts education.

Assistant Professor Carl Yerger received his Ph.D. at a Georgia Tech Commencement ceremony in December. In addition to receiving his diploma, he was chosen to be the Student Reflection Speaker at the ceremony. In his remarks, Yerger likened the school’s football program to its academic enterprises, and praised Georgia Tech as “the perfect option” for students because it promotes innovation, research, entrepreneurship and community service.

MUSIC

Professor Neil Lerner was a guest lecturer for the Department of Film Studies at Columbia University, and presented a public lecture at Penn State University titled ”Forget Dracula and Frankenstein: How Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) Pioneered the Use of Avant-Garde Sound in Horror Films.” His work on horror film music led to production of an hour-long show on German radio station SWR2 titled “Sinfonie der Angst” (“Symphony of Fear”), as well as work with the Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge Web site.

PHYSICS

Brown Professor Wolfgang Christian presented a talk and co-led a workshop at the American Association for the Advancement of Science CCLI/TUES Principal Investigators Conference on Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM. The talk described the Open Source Physics National Science Digital Library his team has created for physics education. The workshop, “The Odd Couple—Physicists and Sociologists: Dissemination Strategies for Cutting-Edge Teaching and Learning Materials,” was led with Roberta Spalter-Roth of the American Sociological Association.

POLITICAL SCIENCE

Professor Pat Sellers has been named one of three winners of the annual Goldsmith Book Prize by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. The award recognizes his book, Cycles of Spin: Strategic Communication in the U.S. Congress, which was published by Cambridge University Press. The award honors the best academic and trade books of the year on journalism, and includes a $5,000 honorarium.

Brown Professor Shelley Rigger has been appointed to the board of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, joining board members such as Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, and Chas Freeman. The 45-year-old organization works to promote exchanges and contacts between the two countries.

PSYCHOLOGY

Maddrey Professor Ruth Ault has been appointed a second five-year term as the Society for the Teaching of Psychology’s director of the Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology.

Professor Kristi Multhaup and Blaire Weidler ’10 presented at the annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society data that Weidler collected for her senior thesis. The study presented participants with a puzzle they were required to solve with a computer partner. Weidler found that simply telling people they would later review their solutions with a researcher reduced the rate of plagiarized solutions. In addition to the practical application, the work is relevant to theories about how people keep track of the source of information.  Multhaup also published an article about faculty-undergraduate research in the CUR Quarterly with six alumni: Chris Davoli ’04, Sarah Frey Wilson ’08, Kindiya Geghman ’03, Kelly Giles ’09, Julia McFadden Philpott Martin ’02, and Phia Salter ’05.

Associate Professor Scott Tonidandel’s paper titled “The Relative Importance of Managerial Skills for Predicting Leader Effectiveness” was selected for the best-paper award at the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

SPANISH

Associate Professor Samuel Sánchez y Sánchez published an article titled “Death Gets Personal: Inventing Early Modern Grief in 15th Century Spain“ in Celestinesca, a leading journal in Spanish Early Modern Studies, devoted to Celestina by Fernando de Rojas (1499). His essay examines the concept of grief as a personalized narrative of substitution in which the deceased is displaced as protagonist in favor of the survivor, who becomes the center of this narrative that reformulates the medieval relationship among the bereaved, loneliness, and language. He also presented a paper titled “Readers without Borders: Traveling Through the Literary Space in Early Modern Iberia” at the annual Carolina Conference on Romance Literatures. This paper examines the metaphor of reading as a journey that formulates a model of literacy as transient at the end of the 15th century.  He also participated in a workshop on Pilgrimage Studies at Georgetown University. This event brought together North American scholars from diverse fields who can contribute to forging a curriculum for undergraduate and graduate pilgrimage studies. The further goal of this group is to launch an international consortium of participating institutions whose students may be admitted to summer research seminars in Santiago de Compostela, in Spain. THEATRE

Assistant Professor Mark Sutch directed the world premiere of the play BLUE by North Carolina playwright Kelly Doyle. The production at Raleigh’s professional Burning Coal Theatre Company received national attention from other professional companies who wish to produce it.

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