Arts & Sciences Blog: September 13, 2016

Arts & Sciences Blog: September 13, 2016

Welcome Back! Each of us, in our own way, celebrate the academic rhythms that shape and balance our work as teacher/scholars.  As the days grow shorter and cooler; as the leaves grow more colorful and grass less so; our campus experiences a kind of renewal—the returning of our students and the optimism that accompanies the beginning of the academic year. This year is special, of course, as we also welcome our new president, Dr. Joe Bertolino.  Arts & Sciences has so much to be proud of and to “show off” to our new president.  I hope that each of us takes the time to acquaint Dr. Bertolino with our many success stories as well as our plans and ambitions. We have a lot going on this academic year and I hope that we all will spend some time attending the many events offered by Arts & Sciences. So, I welcome you back and look forward to another productive and creative year!

As a reminder, the purpose of the Dean’s Blog is to highlight faculty achievements, departmental initiatives, curricular advancements, and student successes. We also use the blog to bring attention to key academic, scholarly, and artistic events of interest to the School. So, if you have an item that you wish to share, please email the School of Arts & Sciences at


Arts &Sciences adds strength to strength this year by bringing aboard nine (9) new tenure track faculty. Each of these exceptional new faculty bring unique expertise, energy, and new/exciting ideas.  Please join me in welcoming these new colleagues to our School and to our campus!

Alex Girard: Art / Graphic Design
Sara Wojiski:  Biology / Bio-Education
Sara Baker: Communication / Professional & Personal Communication
Mohammad Tariqul Islam:  Computer Science / Data-Science
Rachel Furey:  English / Creative Writing
Matthew Miller: Environment, Geography & Marine Sciences / GIS
Jason W. Smith: History / Science & Technology
Vern Williams: Journalism / Photo-Journalism
Jennifer Hopper: Political Science / American Politics


History department faculty have proven especially productive as Nikos Chrissidis, Dick Gerber, Alan Friedlander, and Michele Thompson collectively published three monographs this past year. Additionally this summer, Michele Thompson was a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore.

The new Department of the Environment, Geography, and Marine Sciences continued to sponsor the study abroad program in Iceland.  Patrick Heidkamp (EGMS) and two faculty members from Liverpool-John Moore’s University (LJMU) brought fifteen students from LJMU and eleven from Southern to engage in the department’s field-based approach to teaching and learning.

Last year, the university opened the Buley Art Gallery, which featured three exhibitions. Students and faculty in the Art Department now have a dedicated exhibition space. In conjunction with the 2016 Undergraduate Research Conference, Mia Brownell (ART) again organized the “Art Crawl” for conference participants to see and discuss faculty and student works.

Vivian Shipley (ENG) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collection, Perennial.

In April, the Women’s Studies program hosted its 22nd conference, “Feminist In(ter)ventions: Women, Community, Technology”, co-hosted by Yi-Chun Tricia Lin (MDS & WMS) and Heidi Lockwood (PHI).

Nearly one in three interns from the Communication Department received offers of full-time employment upon completion of their internships this year. Annette Madlock Gatison (COM) published Health Communication and Breast Cancer Among Black Women: Culture, Identity, Spirituality, and Strength. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016.

Cindy Simoneau (JRN) was awarded the SPIG Teacher of the Year. Congratulations Cindy!  A well-deserved honor.

In Spring 2016 the Music Department’s enrollments in private music lessons matched the all-time program high of 62 lessons, thanks to the ongoing support from the Stutzman Family Foundation.

The Psychology Department hosted CSU Psychology Day, a conference of student research from the four CSU campuses. More than 140 students and faculty participated, with 82 student posters, four student talks, and a keynote address by Dr. Bridget Nugent of the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, the department’s Mike Nizhnikov, along with colleagues at Binghamton University, was recently awarded an NIH grant to study prenatal exposure to alcohol.

Two teams of three Math students competed in the annual four-day Mathematical Contest in Modeling. One of the teams earned an Honorable Mention designation, which put them in the top half of the nearly 7500 participating international teams. This team also presented a poster on their solution at Southern’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference.

Betsy Roberts (BIO) won the CUR award and presented a poster on Capitol  Hill (Washington DC) with undergraduate researchers Laetitia Iboki and Jacqueline Mary Desrosier. Meanwhile, Nick Edgington (BIO) published a paper with 2,683 other authors (one of the three largest in history), the most ever with undergraduate authors!

Mike Rogers (ANT) received a prestigious Louis Leakey Grant and brought another team of students and alumni to Ethiopia to research pre-historic human origins, while Joe Manzella (ANT) brought two students to British Columbia to assist in his work on a documentary about Canada’s First Nations.

The A&S Strategic Planning Committee (Co-Chairs: Craig Hlavac (MUS), Terri Bennett (MAT), Christine Broadbridge (PHY,GR), & Bruce Kalk (A&S)) drafted and submitted a 5-year plan for A&S. We will be collaborating with the committee to finalize and implement our plan this coming academic year.

Twenty-eight Political Science majors completed internships at sites from Senator Richard Blumenthal’s office to Disneyland.

Earth Science faculty members have been active collaborating in student-faculty research projects which have led to a number of successful grants, publications, and presentations. Two of these projects (Rock Wall and Rock Garden) were highlighted as prominent additions during the opening of the new Academic Science Building.

The World Languages Department finished the academic year with a one-day Olympics for World Languages (OWLS) event, thanks in particular to Christine Dombrowski, Lisa Vitale, Luke Eilderts and Luisa Piemontese. Twenty world language teams of French, German, Italian, and Spanish speakers from eight Connecticut high schools participated.

The Media Studies Department is in the process of bringing an exciting new minor on Social Media to fruition.

Ten Sociology students participated in Southern’s Undergraduate Research Conference with co-authored work presented in the poster sessions.

Elliott Horch (PHY) received two new NSF grants totaling more than $250,000 in addition to his other ongoing grant-related activities. Elliott is now in the prestigious “One Million Dollar Club” awarded to faculty who garnered at least $1 million dollars in external funding.

…and much, MUCH more!


A&S is proud to acknowledge the accomplishments of History alumna Jahana Hayes (Jahana Fleming, BS ’05), the 2016 National Teacher of the Year!  She will be honored at a reception on Friday, September 16th hosted by the School of Education. As with many of our fine teachers their paths begin with certification programs in Arts & Sciences.


Southern students soon will be able to use the Southwest Ledge Lighthouse — which overlooks New Haven Harbor — as a base to conduct research, thanks to the generosity of a group of donors who recently bought the facility. The donors were awarded the lighthouse recently after posting the successful bid of about $180,000. The plans are moving forward to renovate the lighthouse in preparation for future use of the facility by the Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies, as well as other educational organizations. SCSU intends to use it as a field station that would include classrooms and lab space. Read the story in the New Haven Register about the purchase and future use of the facility by Southern.


Southern’s Biology students are still on the Phage hunt! Nick Edgington (BIO) reported that in June undergraduates, Bryan Pasqualucci and Elena Haury, gave an oral presentation and poster session at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute SEA-PHAGES Research Symposium. They joined other Phage hunters at the Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, VA.

Jeff Webb (CHE) and Vince Breslin (EGMS) were pleased by the turnout as the Chemistry Department played host to the American Chemical Society Regional Undergraduate Research Symposium in late April. Cody Edson (CHE, BS ’16 / now in the master’s program), mentored by James Kearns (CHE) and Sadia Younas (CHE) mentored by Vince Breslin won top honors placing first and second for their poster presentations. Sadia later presented her work at the Long Island Sound Research Conference in mid-May. Both students were recipients of research stipends from the Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies.

The MOU with the Elm Shakespeare Company broadened the collaboration with Southern’s Theatre Department offering several students positions in the professional company of A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

  • Elisa Albert – Camp Director, Administrative Assistant, and Apprentice Actor (playing Starveling)
  • Briana Bausch – Jr. Camp Teaching Artist and Apprentice Actor (playing Peaseblossom)
  • Nathan Tracy – Non Equity Actor (playing Snout)
  • Cailey Harwood Smith – Assistant Stage Manager

Kaia Monroe Rarick (THR) participated as a senior camp teaching artist and choreographer while Mike Skinner (THR) provided the music to Midsummer as well as the sound design.


While the occasion that celebrated academic excellence in April has passed, we want to take the time to extend congratulations to Thomas O’Malley (COM) who was awarded the J Philip Smith Outstanding Teaching Award for Part-Time Faculty, Leon Yacher (EGMS) for Southern’s Technological Teacher of the Year, and Armen Marsoobian (PHI) for Southern’s Faculty Scholar Award for his work entitled, Fragments of a Lost Homeland: Remembering Armenia.


Our students benefit from the ongoing generosity offered by our many friends and donors–including many faculty, staff and alumni. This year A&S awarded a record number of scholarships! The total A&S scholarships awarded thus far is $47,335.00. If you would like to make a contribution or begin a new scholarship, contact our dedicated team in University Advancement.


The GeoGebra Institute of Southern Connecticut held its Fourth Annual GeoGebra Conference–its largest ever!  Sixty-five (65) participants from around the country (CT, MA, ME, NY, OH, TX) and one international participant coming from Sri Lanka attended. The conference proceedings will be published as a special volume in the North American GeoGebra Journal. This conference is the brainchild of Marie Nabbout-Cheiban (MAT) and Len Brin (MAT). Dr. Doug Kuhlman gave the keynote presentation and was followed by three parallel sets of sessions including 6 peer-reviewed presentations, 9 short presentations and 11 workshops.


The Arts & Sciences Creative Writing Program have had many remarkable success stories over the years. Here are few recent accomplishments by their students:

Lynn Houston (MFA) book of poetry–The Clever Dream of Man—won 1st place in the Connecticut Press’ statewide literary competition.  Advancing to the national awards, it was selected by the National Federation of Press Women as their 2016 second place winner! Lynn Houston also runs Five Oaks Press.

Seven poetry students in the MFA program participated in a graduate conference hosted by the University of Rhode Island and entitled “Trans(form): New Insights and New Directions.” Sean Igoe, Shelby Lanaro, Laura Ahking, Rebecca O’Bern, Elizabeth Wager, and Lynn Houston read their poetry on a panel called “Transforming Life into Art.” Lynn Houston chaired the panel and opened with remarks about the transformative value of poetry and the various techniques that poets use to make meaning of autobiographical experiences in creative works. During another panel session, MFA graduate student Katherine Sullivan presented a paper on maternal poetry and read poems from her thesis manuscript. Vivian Shipley, with whom all of the poets have studied, attended the conference and contributed to the question and answer sessions after the presentations.

A poem by Rebecca O’Bern (MFA), “To the Man or Woman Who Finds my Body,” will appear in the anthology, Theories of HER, published by the Mercurial Noodle Press.

MFA graduate, Suzanne Lacroix, has received representation for her novel from the New York literary agency DeFiore and Company.

Current MFA, Ryan Leigh Dostie, has received representation for her memoir, Real Soldiers Don’t Cry, about sexual assault while in the military and her time in Iraq in 2003-04, from William Morris, the world’s largest entertainment agency.

MA graduate Julie Barton’s memoir, Dog Medicine, will be released by Penguin in, so far, eight countries in July and discussions of a movie are in progress.

Former undergraduate, Xhenet Aliu, previous winner of the Prairie Schooner Prize for fiction for her first book, has sold her novel, Brass, set in Waterbury, to Random House for release in 2018.

MA graduate Jean Copeland’s novel, The Revelation of Beatrice Darby, is a finalist for the Golden Crown Literary Society’s author debut and historical fiction prize.

MA graduate, Patricia Bjorklund’s memoir, U.S. and Them, has been acquired by Alamo Press for release in fall 2017.

Current and recent MFA graduates published these full collections of poetry during the past year.

  • Christine Beck, Blinding Light
  • Brendan Walsh, GO
  • Joy Mlozanowski, Night Flying
  • Pat Mottola, Under the Red Dress
  • Chris Grillo, Heroes’ Tunnel

Graduate Lisa Mangini has been hired full-time as a lecturer by Penn State University. MA graduate, Sheila Squillante, has been promoted to associate professor and now directs the MFA Program at Chatham University. MFA fiction graduate Nancy Antle (author of numerous young adult novels) has been selected to attend the One Story Writers’ Workshop, a highly-selective national competition.