Faculty Notes: Fall 2011



Associate Professor of Biology Karen Bernd and former Merck Scholar and DRI fellow Maddie Chalfant ’11 were awarded $1,000 in supplies by Promega Co. for their article titled “Detecting Ozone-Induced Changes in Cellular Redox Balance via GSH/GSSG Glo Assay.” The article concerns the researchers’ work with product development and application of a new biochemical assay and appears in the Promega Co. technical journal PubHub. Bernd was featured with Stone Grant recipient Alexis Valauri-Orton ’12 in a video series by Jeff Tolly ’10 on student/faculty collaboration, vimeo. com/25838921.

Nineteen students working with Martin Professor Malcolm Campbell and Associate Professor of Mathematics Laurie Heyer published a pair of papers in the field of synthetic biology. One described a DNA -based logic gate used for bacterial computing, and the other describes how to communicate synthetic biology effectively when talking to people outside of science. Campbell and Heyer also were awarded two grants from the NSF. One provides funds for Davidson students involved with synthetic biology research. The second grant will allow Campbell and Heyer to train faculty from around the country in how to conduct synthetic biology research with undergraduates.

Associate Professor and Department Chair Barbara Lom was named to a three-year term on the Society for Neuroscience’s Committee on Neuroscience Departments and Programs. The society includes more than 40,000 neuroscientists and physicians who study the brain.

Professor Mark Stanback and former students Esther Cline ’09, Wes Anderson ’09, Laura Bergner ’09, Pat McGovern ’11, Austin Mercadante ’06, and David Millican ’11 published an article titled “Bluebird-Proof Nest Boxes Increase Brown-Headed Nuthatch Breeding on Southeastern Golf Courses” in U.S. Golf Association Turfgrass and Environmental Research Online. By monopolizing nest boxes and evicting nuthatches, bluebirds eliminate the benefits of golf course nest box programs for the threatened Southeastern nuthatches. However, by providing some nest boxes with smaller “bluebird-proof” entrance holes, golf course managers can dramatically enhance local populations of nuthatches. The USGA is also featuring Stanback’s research in the widely disseminated Green Section Record.


Professor Ruth Beeston and Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics Hilary Becker collaborated on a summer archeological research project at Area Sacra di Sant’Omobono in Rome. Becker and Beeston studied colored substances found at a third-century A.D. pigment workshop that was excavated in the 1970s. These pigments, which would have been ground up and used for wall paintings, provide clues to how such materials were procured, processed, and sold. Beeston carried out chemical analyses of the substances with a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrophotometer on loan from Bruker Elemental. The instrument allowed her to determine what major, minor, and trace elements were present in samples of various pigments from the workshop.


Associate Professor and Chair Vivian Shen gave a featured lecture on “Hollywood Blockbuster Films” in Hangzhou, China. It was sponsored by ipowers.cn, the municipality of Hongzhou and Hongzhou News. Shen worked on several Hollywood films before coming to Davidson.


Professor Kathie Turner led a workshop on communication and leadership for the faculty of Hamilton College. The Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center at Hamilton, which sponsored her appearance, asked her in part because of acclaim for Davidson’s Chidsey Leadership Program.


Grey Professor Peter Krentz published “How Did the Battle of Marathon Go Down?” in a special edition of the journal Ancient Warfare. Krentz discussed how his own book and two other recent books about the battle explained the events and argued for his own reconstruction.


Associate Professor Ann Fox published articles about disability and theatre in Disability Studies Quarterly and The Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. She also presented her scholarship on disability and American drama at the 2011 Cultural Studies Association Conference and the 2011 Association for Theatre in Higher Education Conference. She gave a talk at Charlotte’s Bechtler Museum of Modern Art on Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculpture, “The Bride,” and this semester is leading a Charlotte Teachers Institute seminar for 10 teachers on “The Body and Identity as Portrayed in the Collections of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.”

Environmental Studies

Assistant Professor Brad Johnson and four coauthors published a paper titled “Post-Glacial Landscape Response to Climate Variability in the Southeastern San Juan Mountains of Colorado” in Quaternary Research. The article addresses a persistent question about how landscapes respond to changes in climate over 1,000-year timescales. Some people have suggested that erosion and deposition occur primarily when cold temperatures increase weathering. Others have suggested that erosion and deposition occur during warm periods when vegetation dies back and fails to stabilize slopes. The study is the first to produce evidence that erosion and deposition may occur during periods of rapid climate change, when stabilizing vegetation cannot keep up with climate, regardless of temperature. The study suggests that landscapes may destabilize during the observed modern climate change, especially in the western United States, where land use issues are a hot topic.


Professor of Applied Ethics Dave Perry, director of the Vann Center for Ethics, served as a consultant to faculty and administrators at Washington and Lee University about establishing a new ethics center there. Other advisers on the project included directors of ethics centers at Duke University, the University of Richmond, and Virginia Military Institute.

German & Russian

Professor and Chair of German Burkhard Henke directed the eighth annual German Summer Institute on campus. Fifteen secondary school teachers from across the country attended the week-long immersion program. Henke offered a course on crime fiction, while his colleague Dana Professor Scott Denham taught a seminar on Bertolt Brecht. The institute was sponsored by the German federal government.

Professor of German Maggie McCarthy, whose most recent work has focused on German popular culture, film, and literature, published an article on German feminism in Studies in 20th and 21st Century Literature. The article examines debates among second wave and pop feminists that gained media attention in 2008, as well as recent novels by female pop authors that depict this conflict in literary form.


Professor Robin Barnes delivered an invited paper at an international colloquium in Strasbourg, France, about “Astronomie, Chronologie, Histoire.” Barnes’s paper concerned the Bohemian astrologer Cyprian Leowitz, a central figure in the 16thcentury humanist discourse on astrological interpretations of time and of world history. Leowitz’s main work, published in 1564, was among the most elaborate Renaissance efforts to make sense of history by reference to the stars. Barnes argued that by acknowledging elements of unpredictability, the work paradoxically helped undermine and bring an end to such efforts among leading humanist thinkers.

Babcock Professor Sally McMillen was principal editor of the recently published third edition of Major Problems in the History of the American South, Volume 1: The Old South. McMillen selected all the primary documents and scholarly essays for chapters that cover topics such as the Atlantic World, the maturing of the colonial South, the rise of southern nationalism, southern women, the slave and free black experience, and the Civil War and Reconstruction. The “Major Problem” series books are popular college history texts.


Professor Richard Neidinger was invited as the first speaker in a mini-symposium on Automatic Differentiation Software at ICIAM , the quadrennial International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Neidinger shared his experience in introducing automatic differentiation to students in his Numerical Analysis class at Davidson, and in subsequent research done by Ben Altman ’10 for an honors thesis.


Artist Associate Cynthia Lawing and Millner Professor of Music Bill Lawing performed four concerts in Taiwan and one in Hong Kong last summer. The Taiwan concerts were organized and sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Taiwan, the only Asian diocese in the American Episcopal Church. The diocese used the concerts as a financial aid scholarship fundraiser for students of St. John’s University in suburban Taipei. They performed in Taiwanese churches and universities in Kaohsiung, Taichung, Taipei, and Danshui. In Hong Kong, they performed at Cynthia Lawing’s home church, St. Paul’s Anglican (Episcopal) Church. Also while in Hong Kong they enjoyed the unexpected pleasure of running into former music major Lee Ballard ’07, who was visiting relatives.


Herman Brown Professor and Chair Wolfgang Christian organized workshops and presented two major talks in Pretoria, South Africa. His talk at the South African Institute of Physics Winter School (titled “Computational Physics and the Physics Curriculum”) and his plenary talk at the South African Institute of Physics annual meeting (titled “Building a National Digital Library for Computational Physics Education At All Levels”) were based on the NSF-funded Open Source Physics project that he directs.

Associate Professor Mario Belloni gave a plenary talk at the Multimedia in Physics Teaching and Learning (MPTL) and the HandsOn Science (HSCI) joint international conference. Titled “Aligning EJS Simulation from the ComPADRE OSP Collection with the U.S. High School Physics Teaching Standards,” the talk described his effort with Wolfgang Christian to make simulations more useable for high school teachers by providing lesson plans and alignment to national standards.

Christian and Belloni also led professional development workshops at the New Physics and Astronomy Faculty Workshop at the American Center for Physics, at the Physics Teaching Resource Agents Summer Institute, at the American Association of Physics Teachers, and at the joint meeting of the MPTL and HSCI in Ljubljana, Slovenia. These workshops introduced U.S. and European high school and university teachers to Open Source Physics-based interactive, computer-based curricular material. Professor Tim Gfroerer has received a Duke Energy Distinguished Visiting Faculty Award from the Charlotte Research Institute for a sabbticalyear project on defects in solar cell materials.

Political Science

Associate Professor Russell Crandall and Caroline McDermott ’09 coauthored an essay in The American Interest titled “City on a Hill.” It concerned recent social and cultural transformation in Medellin, Colombia.

Crandall also published a piece in Foreign Affairs titled “The Post American Hemisphere: Power and Politics in an Autonomous Latin America.”


Assistant Professor Jessica Good received a travel award for early career psychologists to present a symposium talk titled “Why Confront? Motivation for Confronting Sexism on Behalf of the Self and Other” at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association. Additionally, her 2010 article, “Sources of Self-Categorization as Minority for Mixed Race Individuals: Implications for Affirmative Action Entitlement,” was recognized as the most downloaded article from the journal Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology over the past year.

Professor Mark Smith and Elizabeth Pitts ’11 published an article titled “Access to a Running Wheel Inhibits the Acquisition of Cocaine Self- Administration” in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior. Their paper showed that individuals engaged in physical activity were less likely to develop regular patterns of cocaine use. Smith and his students have now published a series of papers reporting that aerobic exercise protects against compulsive patterns of drug intake.

Associate Professor Scott Tonidandel was named associate editor of the Journal of Business and Psychology.


Visiting Assistant Professor Syed Rizwan Zamir presented a paper on a panel called “Contemporary Islam Group and Liberal Theologies Consultation” at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion. His article “Descartes and al-Ghazali: Doubt, Certitude, and Light” recently appeared in the Journal of Islamic Studies.


Associate Professor and Chair Kyra Kietrys conducted research last summer in Madrid and Ferrol, Spain, for her digital archive Archivo Hildegart. The archive organizes and categorizes nearly 400 documents and images related to Hildegart’s writings, and other primary historical material from the 1930s.


Professor Ann Marie Costa directed Sarah Ruhl’s In The Next Room or the Vibrator Play at Actor’s Theatre in Charlotte.


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