Arts & Sciences Blog: November 9, 2016

Arts & Sciences Blog: November 9, 2016

Now that we all know the outcome of this remarkable election season, I want to recognize those faculty who ably represented Southern to our local/regional press. Your calm and thoughtful voices added a healthy dose of civility to an otherwise raucous and contentious debate. Thanks to all who helped us to better understand the complex and often confusing political world in which we now live.

As usual, Arts & Sciences has been very busy this fall semester. Many departments, programs, faculty, and students have continued to demonstrate the excellence that we have come to expect in the School. We have much to be proud of and much to celebrate!


Political Science recently hosted two events for Talented and Gifted Middle School Students (TAG) from New Haven Public Schools. On October 26th and November 2nd the Dean’s office was pleased to welcome these students to a two-hour Election Event that examined, socialization and political attitudes, campaign and media messages, and the electoral college and election mechanics. Members of the department, Tess Marchant Shapiro, Art Paulson, Jonathan Wharton, and Jennifer Hopper, presented material, facilitated discussion, and answered questions. The session concluded with a projection of the 2016 election results. Before leaving, political science majors, Corey Evans, Montrel Morrison, Michelle Rodriguez, Samantha Nelson, and Jamie Kelly, led the students on a tour of our university.

Kevin Buterbaugh, PSC Chair, reported that the teachers and students expressed appreciation for the efforts made by the PSC faculty and students and left with a positive impression of the university and its campus. The event was so well received that teachers of the TAG curriculum and PSC faculty are hoping to make this an annual event.


History was well represented at the first two fall semester contributions to First Thursdays. On October 6th at the Interdisciplinary Forum’s new venue, the Buley Art Gallery, Heather Vrana spoke about her research and forthcoming monograph, Don’t Mess with Us!: Guatemalan Students and the State, 1944-Present. More recently on November 3rd, Siobhan Carter-David presented her research on a side project related to her book manuscript on fashion and dress, but focused in particular on the Nation of Gods and Earths, “Supreme Style: Fashion, Aesthetics, and the Making of a Black Heterodox Islamic Tradition.” Faculty and students were treated to two enlightening discussions by these dynamic scholars.

Rounding out the fall semester Forum, First Thursdays will host another young scholar, Luke Eilderts (WLL), who will present his research, “Baring It for the Republic: The (Mis)Reading of a French Anti-Gay Marriage Movement.” Before France adopted its law allowing same-sex marriage in early 2013, the country was awash in debate and demonstrations. Opposing the law, a group known as HOMMEN defended “traditional” family values through public rallies and social media outlets. Their reception in French and English-language news media, however, uncovers compelling (mis)readings of contemporary French representations of masculinity. Faculty (and students) are always encouraged to attend these presentations to support the fascinating research on-going at Southern.


Nicholas Edgington (BIO) shared some exciting news. Our first ever SCSU iGEM team won a Bronze medal at this international competition. Unlike the Olympics where only three athletes or teams win medals, at iGEM many teams can achieve a medal award by demonstrating to the judges (based on the presentation, poster, and wiki website, genetic parts that were made, tested and submitted to iGEM repository etc.) that they have achieved various accomplishments, and the number of those accomplishments increase with each medal category. There are also the “Grand Prizes” for which the elite gold medal teams compete. Unlike kids soccer perhaps, not every team automatically gets a medal, so a bronze award is significant for us as a first effort.

It’s important to note that our iGEM team competed against institutions with far deeper pockets. Edgington reported, “We really had to scrape & struggle for everything, and thus are very proud that we managed to compete successfully.”  And compete they did as they shared the honor of a bronze medal with the likes of UConn, Northeastern, Yale, and Tufts.


At the National conference in New Orleans, Southern’s Campus Chapter for the Society of Professional Journalism won Region 1 Outstanding Campus Chapter Award for 2015-16. The Director of Region 1, Jane Primerano, presented the award “in recognition of outstanding programs and activities that enhance professionalism, thereby contributing service to the Society and to the profession.” Cindy Simoneau, JRN chair, said she was especially proud of the student chapter last year which offered a variety of campus programming and assisted with panel presentations and assisted the department with hosting the regional journalism conference on campus last April for professional and student journalists. The former president of the Campus Chapter, Monica Zielinski (JRN ’16) now works for a publication in Poland, Poland Today Magazine. See Southern’s webpage for an interview with Monica.


The Art Department hosted its initial exhibition and reception on October 27th in the Buley Art Gallery. Among those in attendance were President Joe Bertolino, Provost Ellen Durnin and Deans Steven Breese and Stephen Hegedus. This vibrant show featuring work from our outstanding Art Faculty is currently open to the public Monday-Thursday between 11am – 3pm until November 17th.

Journalism faculty and students were well represented once again at the 33rd Annual High School Journalism Day which attracted over 450 high school students and their teachers from across the state on Friday, Oct. 21. The total attendance was an increase of more than 100 from the previous year. After a welcome to Southern from President Joe Bertolino and discussion about the importance of the First Amendment in today’s society by Arts & Sciences Dean Steven Breese, keynote speaker Jenn Bernstein of Fox 61 discussed the multimedia aspects of her job covering politics in Connecticut. Journalism Department faculty offered 18 workshops throughout the morning for the students, and spotlighted the growing importance of drone photography with a demonstration by new assistant professor, Vern Williams.


Shafaeat Hossain (CSC) recently shared excellent news regarding his paper with undergraduate major, Mohamed Rilvan (BS, CSC ’18). Their work, “User Authentication and Identification on Smartphones by Incorporating Capacitive Touchscreen,” after a successful reviewer stage has been accepted in 35th IEEE — International Performance Computing and Communications Conference (IPCCC 2016). This acceptance is quite an honor as this premier CS conference has a challenging acceptance rate of 25.5% for this year’s meeting.

Under the auspices of the History Department, Byron Nakamura (HIS), our resident ancient historian, organized and hosted the recent Fall 2016 New England Ancient History Colloquium. On October 13th at Southern on the Green, leading ancient historians from the New England area attended talks on Athenian Economic history. Dr. Michael Leese from the University of New Hampshire was the keynote speaker and spoke on “The Intergenerational Transmission of Commercial and Financial Business Estates in Ancient Greece.” As the main commentator Professor Graham Oliver, from the department of Classics at Brown University, led a lively discussion including all of the scholars in attendance.

In our September Blog, we neglected to highlight the summer work of two physics majors, Richard J. Magnotti and Michael Schriefer, and their professor Evan Finch (PHY) whose CSU Research grant allowed them to visit Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island.  They worked on part of the STAR (Solenoidal Tracker at RHIC) experiment at Brookhaven, a National Science Laboratory known for research in nuclear and particle physics. They join a prestigious group of physicists from around the world who travel to Brookhaven every year to use their Relativistic Heavy ion Collider. The purpose of RHIC heavy ion collisions is to recreate conditions that are believed to have existed in the first millionth of a second of the life of the universe. While the work was quite exhausting, the students found it extremely rewarding. And so much so, that they made three separate trips there – each visit, spending two to three days at a time.

Alan Brown (SOC), a new faculty member we coaxed away from Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2015, has had a chapter titled, “‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’: Sex Work, Marginalization and the Politics of Social Research,” accepted for the book, Studying Urban Crime, edited by Cognella by Robert Grantham.

The Daily Nutmeg New Haven recently ran a story on Southern’s MFA program, the only full-residency MFA program in the state. Tim Parrish (ENG/CRW) reflected on the benefits of such a program: “‘this sort of program ‘provides you a chance to have a community. You come in and you’re there with some seasoned writers. Then, after your first year, you get to be the seasoned writer.’” “SCSU attracts students with a greater range of ages and experiences. Many students already have careers, Parrish says. Age diversity is one of Rachel Furey’s favorite things about the program. Furey (ENG)—a new tenure-track faculty member—is also excited by SCSU’s unique Prose Class offering, where students can submit fiction and nonfiction in the same workshop.” Southern’s MFA program continues to produce active and creative writers. Liz Wager (MFA, CRW) developed a piece in Vivian Shipley’s graduate course (ENG 507) and recently had the poem, “Meeting a Stranger,” accepted for the winter issue of Able Muse.