Monthly Archives: April 2016

Mark McRiley, SCSU student studying at Liverpool John Moores University

Mark McRiley, M.P.H. ’12, was intrigued by the bumper sticker. So instead of rushing inside to place his order, the Southern alumnus stood outside of the Connecticut Dunkin’ Donuts and waited for the car’s driver to explain why the phrase, “I Administered Narcan to an Honor Student,” was plastered on his car.

Narcan — a drug generically known as Naloxone — is an opioid antagonist, meaning it counters the effects of opiates, including heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. It is used when an overdose is known or suspected, potentially saving lives in the process. “I explained that I was a nurse and that I wanted the story,” says McRiley. “He told me that he worked at a high school and had given Narcan to one of the students who had overdosed.”

Many, including McRiley, would argue that such firsthand accounts are highly illuminating, providing important insights about the issues affecting a community — in this case, everything from the increased use of opiates in the U.S. to available treatments for those who are addicted.  In January — armed with a full scholarship — he began a doctoral program in public health at England’s Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), which recently launched a trans-Atlantic partnership with Southern.

“Liverpool John Moores University’s Public Health Department is so strongly focused on social services — homelessness, opiate addiction, alcohol addiction, violence against women . . . It is incredible for me to have the opportunity to work with them,” says McRiley.

His research will cut across the Atlantic, focusing on long-term opiate addiction among people living in both New Haven and Liverpool, England. He will use photovoice, a participatory research technique that employs cameras and other photographic techniques to explore issues through the eyes of community members — in this case, those addicted to opiates. “We’ll be able to compare the two [populations] to see what the major hurdles are,” he says. “What are the influences? What are the risks for a relapse? What are the difficulties related to methadone use over time? How are people being treated by the community?”

McRiley will be supported by faculty at both institutions — Gordon Hay (his lead advisor) and Conan Leavey, both from LJMU’s Centre for Public Health, as well as Jean Breny, chair of the Department of Public Health at Southern. Four undergraduates from Southern also have been studying at LJMU this spring. Countless more ultimately will benefit from the initiative, which will offer courses taught by faculty members at both universities, in addition to more opportunities for students from SCSU and LJMU to travel abroad for study, research, and field work.

“I’m receiving a 100 percent scholarship — which is three years of tuition and essentially enough money to pay for my housing,” says McRiley. “I feel unbelievably lucky and extremely honored . . . to have the opportunity to work so intently on my own research. Who gets to do that?”

IMG_0578[4]smallThe experience promises to be life-changing personally and professionally, building on McRiley’s diverse resume, which includes experience in the film and television industry, nursing, international aid, teaching, and public health. “I grew up in LA, where everybody is supposed to be in the entertainment industry,” says McRiley, who took photography courses at City College. He found work in the industry, first in craft services and later as an emergency medical technician (EMT).  He worked on more than 30 Hollywood films and television shows, including “Van Helsing,” “Rush Hour” (I and II), “Roseanne,” and “The Family Man.” But while the projects were high profile, McRiley came to find the work unsatisfying.

“I realized I wasn’t using my brain. . . . I needed to go back to school,” he says. McRiley moved to New York City, and enrolled at the College of New Rochelle to study nursing. One of only a few men in the nursing program, he earned his B.S. in 2005 and soon become a critical care nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, McRiley traveled to New Orleans with a group of doctors who set up a makeshift clinic at the Cajundome where about 7,000 displaced people were living. “I learned so much,” says McRiley, “but I came back totally changed. As a nurse dedicated to giving aid . . . this is where you want to be.”

With thoughts of working in international aid, McRiley enrolled in Southern’s graduate program in public health. For his master’s thesis, he researched the relationship between post-earthquake housing and health in Léogâne, Haiti. The city, located near the epicenter of the quake, had been devastated and many residents were still living in tents provided as emergency shelter. McRiley traveled to Haiti four times for his research. Using photovoice methodology, he gave 23 Haitian nursing students cameras to explore the issue. They then met as a community to discuss their images. “I would record their responses in Creole,” he explains, “asking them to tell me what I was looking at and why the photo was taken.”

Their issues included pollution, roaming livestock, garbage, lack of water, poor sanitation, and more. Armed with about 500 photos and their accompanying narratives, McRiley wrote his thesis. He met a few others working on similar projects, and together they connected with local city stakeholders. “Low and behold, one year later the trash was gone, the center of town was clean . . . water and electric infrastructure came through. . . .  It was terrific,” says McRiley, whose work was recognized with the 2012 Scholarship and Service Award from Southern’s Department of Public Health.

“The advantage of the photovoice methodology is that you are not just handing somebody a 50-page report. You are handing them 50 photographs that are taken by the people [most affected],” he says.  The researcher notes that today’s “selfie” culture is a tremendous boon for his upcoming research on opiate addiction. “I can collect through Instagram, Facebook, direct text, email. . . . My intention is to gather significantly more information than I have ever gathered before,” he says.

He and his doctoral advisors fully understand the potential power of such testimony. McRiley’s goals include creating a documentary on addiction. Looking further ahead, he envisions returning to Haiti — and again standing at the front of a college classroom. “I love everything about teaching,” says McRiley, who was an instructor in Southern’s Department of Public Health. Having resigned from that position and his 10-year post with Yale-New Haven Hospital  —“two terrific jobs,” he says — he notes with awe the trajectory his life has taken. “When I left Los Angeles before I went to nursing school, I was a roller-blading bartender,” he says. “Fifteen years later, I am entering a Ph.D. program.”

Students from School of Business win investment competition

A team of Southern business students has captured the recent inaugural Connecticut Venture Capital Investment Competition – pitting some of the state’s best undergraduate investment students against one another in a test of investment strategy skills.

SCSU’s Paul Barlow, Alec Santo and Egzon Dauti defeated teams from Fairfield University and Quinnipiac University to earn first place. To qualify for the competition, SCSU had to prove during a two-hour meeting with Mike Roer, a key organizer of the event, that it had a solid understanding of investment principles needed during the contest.

During the competition, each team had to decide how much to invest among a variety of business plans that were presented during the program. It was part of the overall Connecticut New Venture Competition, organized by the Entrepreneurship Foundation.

“This was a great win for our students, as well as being a significant accomplishment for the School of Business and the university,” said Benjamin Abugri, chairman of the SCSU Department of Economics and Finance and the faculty advisor for the Southern team. “It also underscores the quality of our program and the value of our stock market trading room, which is an important tool in their finance education.”

The trading room – which was enhanced a few years with the opening of the new SCSU School of Business building – enables students to follow the stock market in real time with an electronic ticker. The high-tech facility provides classes and programs with an opportunity to get a state of real world financial investment experience and research.

SCSU earned first place for recommending the most astute investment plan in the opinion of the judges.

Santo, a junior finance and math double major, said winning the competition shed light on the procedure for real-world investment decisions. “This experience has enlightened me on the fast-paced, competitive nature of the financial world and will motivate me to conquer the future challenges I face, academically and professionally,” he said.

Dauti, a senior finance major, said the competition was one of the most exciting events in which he has ever participated. As explained in this website you can learn about how binary options trading works and how to trade binary options from here.

“We believed we were the underdogs going into the competition, but we took home the trophy,” he said. “I would like to thank the dedicated professors in the School of Business for helping me achieve this major accomplishment.”

View a photo album from Jahana Hayes’ September 2016 visit to Southern.

The Council of Chief State School Officers today announced that Southern alumna Jahana Hayes, ’05, a history teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, Conn., is the 2016 National Teacher of the Year.

Jahana Hayes, '05
Photos courtesy of Waterbury Public Schools

Hayes’ route to teaching began as a student. The first in her family to graduate from college, she was inspired by her teachers who urged her to dream bigger and who believed that she was college material, despite a challenging upbringing. She earned an associate degree from Naugatuck Valley Community College, a bachelor of science from Southern, a master of arts from Saint Joseph University, and a certification from the University of Bridgeport.

A veteran history teacher, Hayes also sees herself as an advisor, counselor, confidant and protector. She endeavors to fill the role her own teachers had in her life, guiding students to be their best selves and encouraging them to take ownership of their communities.

“As a teacher, I strive to facilitate learning in a way that engages students by connecting on a personal level and stimulating academic growth, while simultaneously producing contentious and productive members of society,” she says.

For Hayes, being a teacher is a privilege and an opportunity to transform lives and foster a sense of social responsibility in the next generation. As the 2016 National Teacher of the Year and a spokesperson for the teaching profession, Hayes hopes to motivate more people to become educators and continue to carry out this important work.

“I am honored to be the 2016 National Teacher of the Year,” Hayes says. “In the course of the next year, I hope to stoke a national conversation about education that is inclusive of everyone. I want to engage people who have not traditionally been part of the conversation to join in this important effort to prepare well-rounded students for success in life.”

The National Teacher of the Year program, run by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and presented by Voya Financial, Inc., identifies exceptional teachers in the country, recognizes their effective work in the classroom, engages them in a year of professional learning, amplifies their voices, and empowers them to participate in policy discussions at the state and national levels.

As the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, Hayes will spend a year traveling the nation to represent educators and advocate on behalf of teachers. She looks forward to sharing her belief in the importance of service-learning, and in making the teaching profession more attractive and appealing to young people across all demographics.

Every year, exemplary teachers from each state, the U.S. extra-state territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity are selected as State Teachers of the Year. From that group, the National Teacher of the Year is chosen by a panel representing 15 renowned education organizations, which collectively represent more than 7 million educators.

“The Selection Committee selected Jahana Hayes as the 2016 National Teacher of the Year because we believe her message of service-learning resonates in the education discussion today,” the committee stated. “In addition, we believe she has a strong story that speaks to educators and will bring an important perspective to the public discourse over the next year.”

“Teachers like Jahana Hayes are leading the way to a brighter future for America. What an exceptional educator — we are all proud,” says Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. “Extraordinary academic rigor, high expectations, and unwavering commitment to service outside the classroom are the characteristics that Jahana brings to Waterbury students each and every day. She is truly preparing the next generation of global citizens. I want to congratulate Jahana and thank her for making a difference in the lives of so many Connecticut children and families.”

“Jahana Hayes inspires her students to believe in their ability to change the world. She ignites a love of learning and builds their self-confidence. This well-deserved distinction provides Jahana the platform and opportunity to share her gifts, passion, and talent with students and educators across the nation. Without question, Jahana will inspire others to believe in the power of teachers to change the world through education,” says Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell. “Connecticut is so proud of Jahana. She is a true role model for educators across the nation who seek to deliver on the promise of an outstanding education for every student.”

“To be the National Teacher of the Year requires not only pedagogical precision, but also the ability to connect to the hearts and minds of a school community,” says Waterbury Superintendent Kathleen M. Ouellette. “Jahana’s own life experience, her passion for education, and the inspirational manner in which she impacts her students, all contribute greatly to her success. Jahana has masterfully refined a focused, pragmatic, yet heartfelt approach to an evolving global vision of education, bringing her to this pinnacle – the 2016 National Teacher of the Year! We in Waterbury, Connecticut, are very proud!”

Hayes and the other 55 State Teachers of the Year have been invited to an event on Tuesday, May 3, at the White House, where they will be honored by President Barack Obama.

Southern received extensive media coverage for the “Connecticut Primary Day Viewing Party” held in Engleman Hall, Room A120, during the evening of April 26. The event was co-sponsored by the College Democrats and College Republicans, as well as the Political Science Department and Office of Student Conduct and Civic Responsibility. Students of all political persuasions watched the returns throughout the evening and engaged in a passionate but respectful conversation. Student panel discussions, as well as a faculty/administrator panel, also were part of the evening’s events.

Channel 61 did a live broadcast from the viewing party for its 10 p.m. newscast. The station also previewed the party with a story that aired during the early evening newscast. That preview segment included an interview with Jonathan Wharton, assistant professor of political science, as well as two of our students – a College Republican and a College Democrat.

The Huffington Post posted a live stream from the viewing party on its Facebook page. The reporter interviewed Jonathan and students from both parties.

Channel 3 covered the viewing party and interviewed students during the evening. The station reported live from the campus during a special 8 p.m. newscast in which students were just beginning to assemble. Interviews conducted during the evening were aired on the 11 p.m. newscast.

WSHU/WNPR aired a story during the morning of April 27, when the station interviewed two of our students – a Republican and a Democrat — during the event.

The New Haven Register posted several photos online on April 27 from the viewing party. The photos were part of the paper’s overall CT Primary Day coverage.

The following photo of two of our students was included online in the Register on April 27 and accompanied a story about the Democratic contest:

The New Haven Register also included quotes from Jonathan and Theresa Marchant-Shapiro, associate professor of political science, as part of a preview of the Connecticut Primary in its April 24 edition.

Channel 30 interviewed Jonathan, as well as our students, during a preview of the viewing party aired April 26 on an early evening newscast.

Vara Neverow, professor of English and women’s studies, was quoted in an April 25 article in the Women’s eNews publication regarding the pending eviction of the Feminist Library in Southwark, London.

The Southern football team was highlighted in the April 22 edition of the New Haven Register. An article talked about the team’s commitment, which includes spring practices starting before 5:30 a.m. Coach Tom Godek was quoted extensively in the story:

Armen Marsoobian, professor of philosophy, was quoted in the April 21 edition of Newsweekregarding recent ads pertaining to the Armenian Genocide. The ads deny that Turkey was responsible for the deaths that took place about 100 years ago. Armen said that these kinds of denials are generated by Turkey and seem to occur each year, especially in the United States, around April 24 – the anniversary date of the start of the genocide. But he said Turkey is responsible for the genocide.

The April 2016 edition of the New Haven Register supplement, “Education Connection” featured an article about how Southern business students participated in the recent statewide course, “New Venture Challenge.” The course enabled Southern students to join with about 100 students from colleges and universities throughout Connecticut to form teams that worked on putting together hypothetical businesses centered on student products and services. It marked the first time Southern participated in the program.

Priscilla Maldonado, a graduate student in social work, was quoted in a story that ran in the April 17 edition of the New Haven Register about the New Haven Promise program. Priscilla is a New Haven Promise Scholar. Her photo accompanied the story.

Carlos Torre, professor of elementary education, was interviewed in the April 15 edition of La Voz Hispana that previewed the Latino and Native American Film Festival.

The New Haven Register highlighted recent research by Betsy Lewis Roberts, assistant professor of biology, with an article in the April 14 edition of the paper. The research involves the discovery of a fungus — produced by a common type of grass in Connecticut – which can help protect lawns. In effect, it’s a “probiotic” for lawns.

Jonathan Wharton, assistant professor of journalism, was profiled April 11 in the New Haven Independent. He recently took over as chairman of the New Haven Republican Town Committee.

The recent lecture by political analyst John Heilemann drew the attention of the Connecticut Network (CT-N), which taped and recently broadcast the program.

Southern’s Journalism Department and the university chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists sponsored a journalism conference on campus on April 8 and 9. One of the Friday sessions – which focused on police body cameras and state Freedom of Information laws — wascovered by the Connecticut Network (CT-N).

An April 12 article later appeared about the session in the CTNewsJunkie.

Also, the New Haven Register ran a photo April 11 from one of the panel discussions at the event.

Southern was mentioned April 8 in a New Haven Registerstory as a participant in a recent conference for colleges and universities that focused on adapting to climate change. Suzie Huminski, sustainability coordinator at Southern, was quoted in the article.

Stephen Hegedus, dean of the School of Education,  was quoted in a New Haven Registerstory that appeared April 8 about the proposed “lab” school that would be built in Southern’s campus. The proposal could be mutually beneficial with elementary school students having opportunities to learn on a college campus, while providing Southern students with an opportunity to gain valuable classroom experience before becoming teachers.

Stephen also was quoted in a Page 1 story on April 4 in the New Haven Register about how colleges and universities prepare future teachers to avoid improper relationships with students. He discussed how Southern has multiple gates in place to prevent individuals who might endanger students from entering the classroom and becoming teachers.

Jonathan Wharton, assistant professor of political science, was quoted in a story that appeared April 4 in the Hartford Courant about the presidential election. Jonathan talked about how businessman Donald Trump, a Republican presidential candidate, has been attracting disaffected Democrats and independents during the primaries and caucuses this year.

The “SlutWalk” event held on campus yesterday generated plenty of media attention. The event was part of an international effort to educate people not to blame the victims of sexual assault, harassment and verbal abuse. A panel discussion was held, followed by a campus march.TheNew Haven Register ran a Page 1 story in the April 1 edition of the paper. A Page 1 photo, and a series of online photos, also were included in the coverage.

The New Haven Independent published an article April 1 on its website.

Channel 61 aired a segment about the event during the evening newscast on March 31.

Some Parting Shots from Great Britain

We pulled together some of our favorite pictures from our time in Liverpool, Chester and London to share with you. The Liverpool trip allowed us the opportunity to learn about John Moores University and the many programs they offer. We learned about the common interests we have with the students attending LJMU. Our research projects and on site presentations helped us to understand and share the characteristics of particular elements of life in Liverpool from many different perspectives. We learned that although we share a common language there are many different expressions that were both puzzling and enlightening for us.

We saw the success that Liverpool has undertaken in transforming itself into an  excellent destination for tourism and special events and we had the opportunity to experience a wide variety of foods, culture and recreational opportunities. We also learned about our fellow SCSU students by spending twelve days together in a foreign land, supporting each other in many ways.

Here are some of our memories:

And with that, we invite all of you to spend some time at Liverpool John Moores University in the years to come!


London Phone Booth

The London Bridge is…. actually in Arizona!

We were fortunate to have about 36 hours in London before flying home to JFK. The quickest way to take in the city in a limited amount of time was the big red double-decker tour bus. You can get on and off as many times as you like to visit all of the important sites in the city. Here are a few of the things we saw:

We were very happy to spend at least some time in London, a much bigger and busier place than Liverpool. Definitely deserves a return trip!


Students walking on Abbey Road
Abbey Road Owls style

For anyone old enough to have a vinyl record album, the name Liverpool brings to mind the Fab Four, the Beatles, and the impact they and other British Invasion groups had on popular culture in the second half of the 20th century.

For those of us on the trip, although we couldn’t all name the four Beatles, we had heard of them from our grandparents and the occasional appearance of Paul McCartney on tv.

What we learned on the trip is the importance the Beatles had in bringing Liverpool out of the industrial era and into the 21st century as a cultural, event and tourism center for Great Britain. Although current Liverpool students listen to much the same music as American students, they all have a keen awareness of the role the Beatles played in Liverpool.

From visiting the Beatles Museum we learned that the group first played music that they call “skiffle” which was American folk music including instruments like the banjo. They were conscious of the folk traditions of the US and added their own interpretation to the music. But what made a bigger impression was the music of black artists from the US south and cities like Chicago and Memphis that made its way to the Liverpool shores via the influx of black American soldiers during World War II. The Blues and Gospel music and something called rock and roll made the biggest influence on the Beatles as evidenced in their earliest recording of songs by black artists. What the Beatles, and groups like the Rolling Stones, did was to introduce white America to the music of people like Little Richard, Chuck Berry and others who did not find a way to the mainstream audiences in America due to the segregationist attitudes in the US through the 1960’s.

Dr. deLisle tried to help us understand the influence of the Beatles by saying that if Taylor Swift, Beyonce,  Adele and Chris (Ed) Sheeran formed a band they still would not match the impact of the Beatles on American musical culture.

For one of our group members, Jim Russo, who graduated in 2015 and had participated in last year’s trip to Rome, his main motivation for joining the trip was to learn more about the Beatles and to see, hear and feel their presence in Liverpool.

Here is an excerpt from his journal:

I have been a Beatles fan since I was about six years old. I studied their entire history, and knew every song at a very young age. Ever since I can remember I have wanted to visit Liverpool, where The Beatles were born and became famous. I visited at Mathews Street, site of the Cavern Club, where The Beatles played their very first gigs together. I went to the Beatles Museum twice! Before I left for this trip, I told myself that I would try and experience as much as I could while I was in Liverpool. Who knows when I will be back? Being the obsessive fan that I am, I “googled”, where some very important people related to the band were buried around Liverpool. I found out that their manager, Brian Epstein, was buried in Everton Cemetery, just a few miles down the road from Mathews Street, where the Cavern is located. The visit became quite an adventure getting bogged down in the mud in the cemetery in a hired cab. It all worked out and I even found a second hand store where I was able to buy some 45 rpm records of Beatles songs that were never released in the US.

A final connection to the Beatles took place in our last days spent in London. At Jim’s urging we made an early morning trip to Abbey Road, the recording studio for the Beatles and the site of an iconic album cover that were looking forward to re-enacting.

For the group, learning about the Beatles was an unexpected and very fun part of the trip!

April 13, 2016

Spring Comes to Arts & Sciences

As the winter blues begin to recede in the semester’s rear-view mirror, we all begin to look forward to spring’s revitalization and renewal. Along with the reemergence of flowering buds and the greening of the grass, the A&S Music Program ushers in spring with its own annual welcome: Concerts!  In the coming weeks the Music Program will offer a wide array musical programming including Choir Concerts, Jazz, Broadway Classics, a Piano Recital with Karine Poghosyan, and much more. Already this month, the Department of Music presented two faculty music recitals sponsored by the Stutzman Family Foundation: Jonathan Irving (piano) with Kim Collins (flute) and Olav van Hezewijk (oboe) with Eric Trudel (piano). I encourage you to check out the A&S Event Calendar to peruse the wide variety of events the School has to offer.

Accepted Students Day

Each April, we invite to our campus the students that we hope will become Owls in the fall. On Saturday, April 2nd, Southern hosted hundreds of prospective students and their parents to Accepted Students Day. Many A&S faculty attended this important event. Thuan Vu (ART), Marie Nabbout-Cheiban (MAT), Evan Finch (PHY), Jodi Gil (JRN), and Jessica Kenty-Drane (SOC/IDS) participated in a panel discussion on the college experience. Walter Stutzman (MUS), Evan Finch (PHY), Kevin Buterbaugh (PSC), Troy Paddock (HIS), Meredith Sinclair (ENG), Kelly Bordner (PSY), and Linda Sampson (COM) presented sample mock classes in their respective fields in an effort to give these prospective students a sense of undergraduate college academics.  Three A&S students, Laeticia Iboki (BIO), Jacob Santos (THR), and Arden Rand (PSY) also talked to the assembled group of prospective students and parents. Thank you to all that offered a warm welcome to students and their parents!

Society of Professional Journalists

The Journalism Department brought 200 professionals and students to Southern Connecticut State University April 8th and 9th for Making CONNections, a regional journalism conference. The conference featured keynote speaker John Dahl, vice president and executive producer for ESPN Films and Original Content. More than 20 professional development workshops gave insights into topics ranging from drones to ethics to different news beats.

Speakers represented major media outlets, including ESPN Films, the Hartford Courant, Newsday, the New York Law Journal, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, and Slate. Also present were leaders of journalism groups such as the Freedom of Information Commission, the Tully Center for Free Speech and the National Society of Professional Journalists. Leonard Boyle, the deputy chief state’s attorney for Connecticut, and Scott Burrell, the men’s basketball coach at Southern, also appeared on panels.

The conference attracted journalists and students from New England and the tri-state area. One student traveled from Cairo, Egypt to receive an award in the Mark of Excellence student journalism contest Saturday.

Students in the SCSU SPJ chapter organized two of the panel discussions. One focused on how to work with college coaches and sports information directors when covering college sports; the other covered free speech issues on college campuses. Faculty members and adjunct instructors in the Journalism Department moderated several of the workshops, and Southern alumni were part of four of the panels.

The conference attracted media coverage in the New Haven Register, CTNewsJunkie and on CT-N.

Conferences Coming to A&S at Southern

There are several conferences and events in the coming weeks. Anita Sarkeesian, media critic, public speaker, and founder of the website, Feminist Frequency, will give the keynote address for the 22nd Women’s Studies Conference Saturday, evening April 16th. The presentations and panel discussions of this conference will not only address the past, present, and future of the intersections of women, community, and technology, but also showcase feminist in(ter)ventions with technology. Participants will explore how women and girls have participated (or not) in the fields of technology and in what ways this participation has intersected with the studies of gender, race, class, and sexuality. Several A&S faculty and students will present at the Friday/Saturday conference including Christine Broadbridge (PHY), Lisa Lancor (CSC), Alan Brown (SOC) and Siobhan Carter-David (HIS). Alexis Elder (PHI) and Anahit Ter-Stepanian (ART), also A&S faculty, will present late Friday afternoon with Sarah Reeves, a graduate student in WMS.

Following the success of the April 2015 Commemorative Conference in honor of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the World Languages & Literatures Department presents “Literature Across Disciplines: Gabriel García Márquez II: An Interdisciplinary & Transcultural Conference.” Southern faculty, including Maria Diamantis (MAT), Patricia Olney (PSC), David Pettigrew (PHI), Rubén Pelayo (WLL), Resha Cardone (WLL), Rafael Hernández (WLL), and Miaowei Weng (WLL), will participate in panel discussions on the works of this great author. The conference is free and open to the public.  Connect to the President’s Blog for more information.

At the end of April, Southern will host the 12th Annual Conference of The International Association for the Study of Environment, Space, and Place (IASESP). This will be the second time that Southern has hosted this interdisciplinary conference that seeks to bring together scholars from a variety of institutions and disciplines to address the inscription or spatialization of meanings. Participants will be arriving from California to Florida and just down the hall with Southern faculty from History (Darcy Kern, Troy Paddock, Christine Petto, and Troy Rondinone), English (Charles Baraw), and World Languages & Literature (Erin Larkin). This year’s theme is “Mythical Places/Legendary Spaces,” and the organizers look forward to discussions on the vital role that myths and legends have played in various cultures over time and the geographical links created by their development, use, and manipulation.

A&S Program Highlights

Seven of our outstanding Computer Science students participated in the finals of Connecticut Technology Council Skills Challenge.  The finals consisted of 50 students selected from colleges and universities across Connecticut including: Quinnipiac, CCSU, ECSU, WCSU, UConn, Yale, UNH, Sacred Heart University, University of Bridgeport, and Gateway Community College.  All 50 students were formed into 10 teams of 5 – our Computer Science team among them. Congratulations to Tudor-Matei (Matt) Boran and Steve Blandon, whose team placed second overall and were awarded prize money.  Our other CSC students who participated were, Mario Aguayo, Stephen Csvihinka, Nicholas Bittar, Ivan Meyerovich, Julian Velez and Utibe Idongesit.

Steven Brodeur, a recruiter for Aerotek, responded to the success of Southern’s Engineering Concentration. He reported that Enis Bukalo (PHY ’15), a recent graduate with this concentration, was successful in landing a job with Assa Abloy. Brodeur wrote, “It is a unique story because although Enis didn’t have a standard engineering degree, he still beat out multiple other engineering candidates that had engineering degrees from notable schools. It was Enis’ work ethic and great senior project that set him apart from the competition. For Enis’ senior project, he designed and built a 3D printer from scratch and presented it to the Physics Department. SCSU’s hands-on teaching styles and real world applications are very beneficial and definitely carry on with students as they embark into the real world!”

Last month the Hartford Courant ran a story on colleges and the biosciences industry. The article mentioned Southern’s bioscience pathway partnership with the city of New Haven. Christine Broadbridge, Director of STEM initiatives (STEM-IL), and biology student Bryan Pasqualucci were quoted in the story. Broadbridge offered, “‘Higher education officials are looking at how to expand the jobs pipeline, talking with businesses about drawing up professional development and certificate programs at Connecticut companies’.” Pasqualucci, a junior biology major, is seeking a summer internship. He reported, “A lot of companies in Connecticut are doing [gene] sequencing work so when I go to apply for jobs there are a lot of opportunities for me.”

Also on April 20th, a 25th-year anniversary gala celebration of the SCSU Program in Salamanca, Spain, will be held from 6:30-10:30 p.m. in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom. The event includes dinner and entertainment to celebrate this study abroad program’s quarter-century milestone and also will raise funds for a scholarship program to assist future study abroad students in Spain. Tickets are $60 per person and $20 for current SCSU students. The event is sponsored by the World Languages and Literatures Department, the Office of International Education, and the School of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Office. For more information, you can contact Carlos Arboleda. Purchase tickets.

Theatre/SCSU Awarded for Excellence

Each year our Theatre Program enters at least one production in the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival. This year two of our students where highly honored in their respective competitions!  Kiernan Norman attended the Festival to compete in Dramaturgy and Criticism. She was the proud winner in Best Program Notes/Dramaturgy and the Region’s Theatre Journalism institute. She will be going on to Washington DC in April to compete on the national stage. Christine Parella competed in Lighting Design, in which she received 1st Runner up in the National Award for Excellence in Lighting Design and won the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas Award. She will be traveling to Las Vegas this summer to attend the prestigious Stagecraft Institute. In addition to these honors, Theatre/SCSU also received three merit awards: Outstanding Multiple Dialect for Our Country’s Good, another for Outstanding Student Sound Mixing (JT McLoughlin) for Rent and Outstanding Ensemble Acting for Almost Maine. Finally, Marcelle Morrissey, an Irene Ryan nominee for acting, made it to the semi-finals. Congratulations to the Theatre Department and to all of our student artists!

Psychology Opens New Student-Friendly Website

Psychology Website has undergone a significant update this month! The Department has added many of features to make it easier to navigate including pages embedded in menus that are directly accessible from the homepage. The goal is to help students more become more proactive and informed as they move through the Psychology program(s).

Of note, PSY has an area devoted to “prospective majors,” which includes promotional info about their program (and some bragging, based on student feedback from our department’s assessment survey), and the site has a new page specifically for prospective transfer students. Larry Brancazio, the Department Chair, indicates that, “We’ve been trying to make things easier for psychology majors in general. To this end, we have: online signups for group advising that are directly accessible from the webpage; forms for students to request an advisor;  pages explaining the acceptance process; information about tutoring opportunities….we’ve also tried to help students have a better sense of direction with their major.  We now include pages with comparisons of our different degree options (including a comparison of the requirements for each, and a list of how they match up with different career paths),  lists of graduate programs and professions our alumni have gone to, lists of faculty research projects, explanations of how to get involved in research, and lists of different interests and which courses are good choices to match those interests. In general, we’ve been working hard to promote our program, to be accommodating and welcoming to students, and to streamline processes for majors to keep them on track for graduation.”

Psychology has also been hard at work on their curriculum, having recently revamped their B.S. in Psych which will be going into effect in the fall. This revised program will have Behavioral Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, and Applied Psych tracks which will be an exciting new option for STEM-oriented students.  Along with this, they have revised their minor, which will now offer a general minor and a higher-level minor in Psychological Science. The new minor is designed to allow higher-achieving students (either minors or IDS majors) to take upper-level Psych classes, while other students with a more general interest will still have a variety of options.

Congratulations to everyone in Psychology for these new and important innovations!

Rock Stars in the Building

Earth Science Faculty and students were highlighted in “Business New Haven” for the many projects they worked on as we opened our new science building. Congratulations and thank you to the Department of Earth Science for raising our profile and representing A&S so very well. Read the article on pages 16-18. (This issue is dated November 2015 but was not released until January).

Invitation to “The World of Gaming, Gaming in the World” 

Visiting Scholar Dr. Joaquín Granell Zafra from Universitat Jaume I (Castellón de la Plana, Spain) will be on campus from April 18th to 22th to visit classes and learn about our varied approaches to teaching at SCSU. He is particularly interested in attending courses in Media Studies and other fields related to his research and teaching (described below). In addition to Dr. Granell’s presentation about his work, this event will feature a student-led round-table, during which five students will discuss topics related to our theme, “The World of Gaming, Gaming in the World.”  If you have students who might be interested, please invite them to attend or to contact Charles Baraw with proposed topics for the round-table.

The nature of this topic and Dr. Granell’s work make it a multi-disciplinary endeavor and this event welcomes participation from all Departments, Programs, and campus groups. We hope students and faculty from across the university will participate. Finally, as part of Dr. Granell’s visit, the English Department is organizing a symposium which will take place on Thursday April 21st from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in Engleman C112. 

Clubs & Organizations

Southern hosts over 100 clubs and organizations, many of which have ties to the School of Arts & Sciences. Thanks to all the faculty advisers for their service to our students through the many clubs and organization including:

  • Anthropology Club, Valerie Andrushko
  • Biology Club, Meghan Barboza & Michael Fisher
  • Biotechnology Club, Nicholas Edgington
  • Bookmarks English Club, Cindy Stretch
  • Botany Club, Rebecca Silady
  • Chemistry Club, James Kearns
  • Computer Science Club, Winnie Yu
  • Crescent Players, Mike Skinner
  • Digital Production Club, Kaia Monroe-Rarick
  • Drumline, Craig Hlavac
  • Earth Science Club, Cynthia Coron & Mike Knell
  • Folio, Jeff Mock
  • French Club, Luke Eilderts
  • German Club, Christine Dombrowski
  • History Club, Siobhan Carter-David
  • Italianissimi, Pina Palma
  • Math Club, Ross Gingrich & John Scheuermann
  • Media Studies Club, Rosemarie Conforti
  • Music Club, Jonathan Irving
  • Music Studio Club, Mark Kuss
  • Philosophy Club, Richard Volkman
  • Physics Club, Todd Schwendemann & Eric Anderson
  • Society of Professional Journalists, Jerry Dunklee
  • Sociology Club, Cassi Meyerhoffer
  • Southern News, Cindy Simoneau & Frank Harris III
  • Spanish Club, Rubén Pelayo
  • WSIN Radio, Jerry Dunklee

Student Shout Outs

Brian Darrow, a secondary education mathematics major, was recently accepted to an eight-week summer REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) at Illinois State University for pre-service teachers doing research in Discrete Mathematics. These programs are funded by the NSF and are highly competitive. Review REU program information.

Lynn Houston, an MFA student working with Vivian Shipley, was named a finalist in the Broad River Review’s Rash Awards in Poetry with her poem, “Not All Who Wander Are Lost.” More information about the Broad River Review can be found here:

Patrick Cumpstone, a recent graduate in history teaching at a Hartford magnet school, has published his work, Connecticut Witchcraft: Witch-Speak and Social Unrest in 17th Century Connecticut, with the Maine academic publisher, Picton Press. Drawn from his honors thesis completed under the guidance of Marie McDaniel, Cumpstone investigated the speech patterns of the accused witches from the documents of ten trials. His work contributes not only to the scholarship on the history of witchcraft, women, and Connecticut, but also to public and local history as an avenue of study for the students he is teaching in Hartford.

Jacqueline M. Desrosier Thurber (BS ’15) and Laeticia Iboki (BS ’16), both in Biology working under the guidance of Elizabeth Roberts, will soon be presenting her research in Washington, DC at the 20th Annual Posters on the Hill event in April. Out of 300 applicants, their work, “Characterization of a Novel Antibiotic and Plant Growth Promoting Pseudomonas Bacterium found in Connecticut” was accepted as one of 60 presenters. Here is more information about the Posters on the Hill.

Jahana Hayes (Jahana Fleming, BS ’05) was named Connecticut Teacher of the Year in October. Governor Malloy praised the work she is doing at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury. Hayes, a social studies teacher, is one of four finalists for the National Teacher of Year to be announced this month (April). She earned this distinction through her dedication to teaching and her encouraging efforts to direct student attention to the community and projects that will improve society. Read the Courant Article.

Mohamed A. Rilvan, a CSC student working with Shafaeat Hossain, attended the National Conference for Undergraduate Research last week at the University of North Carolina, Asheville. Mohamed began his research as part of an NSF funded REU program at Washington State University and continues to develop it under the guidance of Dr. Hossain.

Faculty Shout Outs

In early February Charlene Dellinger-Pate (MDS) contributed to the Southern webpage story, “Satire: an Essential Element on the Political Landscape.” Commenting on the presidential campaign coverage, Dellinger-Pate noted that “‘we need satire to see what is behind the performance.’” She teaches a course, MDS 385: Political Satire and New Media, which gives student a front row seat to the antics and analysis of the events. Furthermore she warns, “‘there is no informed political discourse—no informed debate—in punditry. So much information is presented as true, with so much money behind it. Without satirists, there’s a perfect recipe for disaster.’” Read the full article.

Frank Harris (JRN) was interviewed on WNPR’s “Where We Live” about his research on the history of the n-word. The project culminated in a film, “Journey to the Bottom of the n-Word,” produced by Harris that explores the history and modern day usage of the n-word, as well as dispelling some myths associated with it. WNPR interview.

Derek Taylor (COM) has had his recent experimental film, Into the Light of the Present, chosen for screening at the Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival in Hawick, Scotland this April. Out of 850 submissions, Derek’s film was one of 90 selected. His work will be screened with 38 other films, of which only 17 are from US filmmakers.

Jonathan Wharton, Assistant Professor of Political Science, was profiled Monday in the New Haven Independent. He recently took over as chairman of the New Haven Republican Town Committee.

undergraduate research grant, creative writing, robotics

Most Americans believe that robots and computers will perform much of the work currently done by humans at their jobs within the next 50 years. In fact, a Pew Research Center poll released last month shows that 65 percent of the public believes that is likely to be the case.

Three students at Southern who are interested in pursuing a career in writing – two English majors and a journalism major – explored the trend toward the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace. They focused their research on the potential effect on writing professions – ranging from journalism to technical writing to medical writing to poetry.

The students – Chelsea Green, Melanie Espinal and Kaylin Tomaselli – will share their findings in a poster presentation April 23 during the SCSU Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference. The conference, to be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Michael J. Adanti Student Center, will feature posters and oral presentations from more than 150 students. The event will be headquartered in the Grand Ballroom, but also will include various other rooms in the student center.

Green, Espinal and Tomaselli currently are conducting their research as part of an English class, “Writing for Business and Industry,” taught by Jason Lawrence, assistant professor of English.

Among the trends they found are:

  • Kismet, a humanoid robot with eyes that was created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the late 1990s, has been learning “social cues” and uses “facial expressions” of its own.
  • The What-If-Machine (WHIM) research project in Europe is teaching computers to understand humor, metaphor and sarcasm.
  • Computers have written novels and poems that are sometimes indistinguishable to those written by people.

But while the students, based on their research, believe that robots will be doing some of the more menial writing tasks – such as writing basic, data-driven reports, and obituaries in newspapers – they are optimistic that skilled writing jobs will still require humans in 50 years.

Espinal pointed to an example of a reporter interviewing someone for a story, particularly a controversial one. “You can lie to a machine,” she said. “But it’s much harder to lie to a real person, especially when a reporter can ask more probing questions.”

She said while the technology is improving, a robot is unlikely to be the equal of an experienced, inquisitive reporter.

Green agreed. “Part of a good profile story brings in an individual’s personality traits,” she said. “A robot is not able to do that the way a real person can.”

Tomaselli said having robots to do menial work is fine. “The important thing for us to keep in mind is that they should be working for us, not the other way around,” she said.

Lawrence said the use of artificial intelligence in the writing professions is the theme of his course this semester.

“I actually got the idea for this topic a couple of years ago when I was living in Utah and my kids were attending elementary school,” Lawrence said. “The school used software developed by a North Carolina company to grade papers. The claim was that the computer was a more accurate grader than the teachers. And we weren’t talking just about spelling or grammar. The computer was assessing writing skills such as originality, organization and persuasiveness.”

Lawrence said that got him thinking about whether computers and robots can actually write, and how that might affect the workplace. “My hope is that we can use robots, computers and other forms of artificial intelligence in a symbiotic way, rather than looking at it as an ‘us vs. them’ kind of relationship.”