Arts & Sciences Blog: February 26, 2017

Arts & Sciences Blog: February 26, 2017

The pace of work in Arts & Sciences continues to accelerate!  Every department, discipline, and program in A&S has good news to report and multiple successes to trumpet. I am most proud that our students continue to take the lead on a wide variety of initiatives. Whether in the Humanities, the Arts, or the Sciences, our students continue to garner honors, praise, and meet with broad academic success. This Blog can only highlight a select few, but we celebrate and applaud all the work that is produced by our students, nurtured by our programs, and supported by our outstanding faculty.  

Student Success & Engagement

Just a sample of Southern’s presence at the recent Day of Action (January 26th)

Sara Baker (COM), in her first year at Southern, motivated several students to join her in Hartford for the Day of Action to support funding higher education in Connecticut. Her students along with others joined with the Reverend Doctor John L. Selders, Jr., one of the leaders of Moral Monday CT. Thirteen students majoring in Communication came to Hartford to lobby their state representatives and join in a rally on the capitol steps. Those students were Mary Parisi, Rebecca Krieger, Rabbie Acquah, Shi Atkins, Jazmin Capel, Christa Leone, Elena Manke, Jaquan Nelson, Carolyn Grace Petkevich, Jaak Rakfeldt, Stephanie Turcotte, Amani Ward, and Eric WilliamsClare Ryan organized a phone-in campaign with current students, alumni, and friends of Southern who contacted their representatives to voice their support for funding higher education. Political Science major Justin Farmar spoke at the rally and shared his story with the crowd. Faculty member Cindy Stretch (ENG) also addressed the crowd. She gave the audience an oral quiz about how funding cuts directly impacted them. Southern students were also part of the drum circle that provided a heartbeat for the rally. The Owls that were in attendance that day not only rose to the occasion, but truly soared.

Students at Hartford's Day of Action

The Theatre Department is celebrating its recent success at Western CT State University for the Region-1 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). Eighteen students from Southern competed in various performance, directing and design-based performances, and presentations. In addition to competing, students attended workshops and networked with Professional Theatre Companies and Graduate School programs. Southern represented quite well and took home the following awards:

  • To the Cast for Distinction in an Ensemble Work for the production of The Boy Friend.
  • To the Ensemble for Outstanding Ensemble Production in the production of An Absolute Turkey.
  • To Cailey Harwood-Smith for Distinction in Properties Design for the production of The Boy Friend.
  • To Amelia Pizzoferrato for Distinction as Scenic Artist for the production of The Boy Friend.
  • To James McLoughlin for Honorable Mention in Sound Design & the Vectorworks Award in Design, Technology and Management also presented to James McCloughlin.
  • The National SDC Fellowship Program Excellence in Director-Actor Communication David Wheeler Award presented to Marcelle Morrisey. 

Brianna Bauch advanced to the final round of the Richard Maltby Jr. Musical Theatre competition, and Benjamin Cooperman and his scene partner Cantrell Cheeks II advanced to the semi-final round of the Irene Ryan Acting competition.

Julia Irwin (PSY) reports that the Psychology lab has been really productive in getting work out in the last 6 months. Graduate students Whitney Hoffman (MA ’16) and Jacqueline Turcios (BS ’14; MA ’15) are first authors on two manuscripts, and Nicole Volpe (BS ’11; MA ’15), Lori DiBlasi (BS ’15; MA ’17), and Taylor Rispoli (BA ’16) are co-authors for works on speech perception and autism.

More good news from the Creative Writing Program as Lynn Houston has happily reported that three poems written in one of Vivian Shipley’s (ENG) workshops were accepted for publication by the Marathon Literary Review, a journal produced by Arcadia University’s MFA program. Houston has also been accepted on the editor’s panel at the upcoming URI conference.

Katherine Sullivan has had a panel, “The Un-Real Mother: Character Development within Maternal Poetry,” accepted for the 9th Massachusetts Poetry Festival to be held in early May in Salem.

Rebecca O’Bern will join Sullivan at the same Poetry Festival where she will present on her experiences writing and organizing her first book as an MFA student.

The History Department is pleased to announce that Hanna Peterson (HIS ’15) has just been accepted to do a Ph.D. in Japanese History at the University of Michigan, one of the top programs in the country and Dan Fischer (MA candidate) will soon be heading to Notre Dame to enter their Ph.D. program. Also, Daisha Brabham (HIS “17) is a Fulbright Finalist.

Congratulations to all these students!

New and Special Events

Psychology recently hosted David Moore, Senior Lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, who gave a talk entitled, “Pain in Autism: Sensation, Feeling and Behaviours, What Might Differ?”  Members of the Psychology department also met with David to develop study-abroad opportunities for Psychology students at SCSU and LJMU, and we look forward to continued collaboration.

First Thursdays continues to provide faculty a venue in which to share their new scholarship. Armen Marsoobian (PHI) kicked off the spring semester offerings with “The Presence of Absence: Photography in the Ottoman Armenian Migrant Experience.” Darcy Kern (HIS) will present in March as part of the SCSU Symposium, What is Reform? 1517 to 2017 (see below). She will talk on “Religious Pluralism and Reform in the late Middle Ages.” History will represent again with the last talk of the semester in April. Jason W. Smith (HIS) will offer his work “Vessel of Memory: Mystic Seaport Museum, The Whaleship Charles W. Morgan.”

The Renaissance Studies minor at SCSU and the School of Arts & Sciences, with generous support from the Office of Faculty Development, is sponsoring an event to mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation.  What is Reform? 1517 to 2017, a two-day interdisciplinary symposium, will take place March 2-3 at Southern and Southern on the Green. An interdisciplinary group of early modern scholars including our own Joel Dodson (ENG), presider, and Darcy Kern (HIS), presenter, will participate in this event  to ask what the prospects are for reforming and transforming society amidst the global volatility and upheaval today. Speakers and events will touch on a variety of topics – history, politics, religion, technology, and ecology – of interest to a wide audience. Faculty, staff, and students are welcome to attend.

In the category of coming events, be on the lookout for the Math Emporium opening Fall 2017 in the Basement of Buley. The Math Department, in particular Len Brin and Klay Kruczek, have been hard at work for many, many months to bring this physical manifestation of a reinvigorated math curriculum to fruition. The Emporium, serving about 75% of Southern students, will help them make the transition to college math courses, and the faculty role will become one of facilitator of student learning. More news to follow in the coming months.

For an event a bit more upcoming be sure to celebrate Mardi Gras and the 100th anniversary of the first jazz recording at 7:30pm Tuesday evening, February 28th in the Garner Recital Hall. David Chevan (MUS) reminds that this year Mardi Gras is going to have a special commemorative twist to it as 100 years ago (on February 26th) the Original Dixieland Jass Band from New Orleans recorded two songs, “Livery Stable Blues” and “Original Dixieland One Step.” Please join the SCSU Jazz Standards Ensemble and Music Department Bands for the music, the parades, and, of course, the Mardi Gras beads.

Our Garner Recital Hall is getting makeover. EN C-112 has long served multiple purposes–classroom space, lecture hall, performance space, guest lecture space, as well as Southern’s only music recital hall.  This important space has been in need of a tech-upgrade for many years–I’m happy to report that Garner will get this necessary attention over the summer. Stay tuned for more information and details, but for all those who use Garner, this fall will bring may welcome improvements.

Faculty Shout-Outs

News came late in the fall semester, but congratulations are offered to Pina Palma (WLL) who was chosen to receive the 2016 Faculty Scholar Award for her work, Savoring Power, Consuming the Times: The Metaphors of Food in Medieval and Renaissance Italian Literature. Pina will be honored at the Celebration of Excellence event during the spring semester. Be sure to attend.

Joining all the award-winning students in Theatre, Mike Skinner (THR) travelled with the group and also delivered his workshop, Sound for New Plays, to a group of approximately 25 students hailing from 8 different Universities across the Northeast Region.

Nikos Chrissidis (HIS) was awarded a book contract from I.B.Tauris for his book, Russian Pilgrimage to the Holy Land: Piety, Patronage and Politics from the Middle Ages to the Revolution.

Heather Vrana (HIS) published her monograph, Anti-Colonial Texts from Central American Student Movements with Edinburgh University Press. Prior to its release on February 1st, the book reached #1 in sales in Latin American literature on Amazon.com. Excellent news!

Our own Scott Graves (EGMS) was highlighted on the main Southern page for his use of drones for environmental research and conservation. He has donated nearly $10,000 worth of drones, mapping software and other related equipment to further the research efforts with drones among the members of the Southern community. Read the full story of his innovative work and interesting life on the main Southern webpage. Scott also has a leadership role in GLOBE – The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment Program, sponsored by NASA, NSF, and other government agencies. The 21st annual meeting will take place on Southern’s campus this summer.  Stay tuned for updates in an upcoming blog.

C. Michele Thompson (HIS) recently presented at Yale University for the Southeast Asia Studies Seminar.  Her talk, “The Gardens of Tranquil Wisdom: Tuệ Tĩnh and the Medical Environment of 14th Century Ðai Việt,” addressed the impact of this Vietnamese monk physician on early Vietnamese traditional medicine.

Julia Irwin (PSY) and Larry Brancazio (PSY) also deserve a shout out here as they have been working and publishing with the Psychology students mentioned above. We look forward to more exciting research from them.

In late December, Virginia Metaxas (HIS) appeared as a commentator on the Investigation Discovery Channel for an episode on the program, “A Crime to Remember.” She spoke about the sensationalized rape/murder case that took place in Honolulu, Hawaii in the 1930s in which a white Naval officer’s wife falsely accused 5 young Hawaiian men of rape. When the first trial ended with a hung jury, Thalia Massie’s family and some Navy colleagues captured and murdered one of the young men as an “honor killing.” Clarence Darrow defended the family in the “Massie Affair,” one of the most notorious cases in Hawaiian history and a subject of study for race, gender, class, and the militarization of Hawaii.  

$$$ Matters & Sabbaticals

In closing this opening blog of the spring semester, we pause to congratulate the numerous A&S faculty who have received grants and sabbaticals for 2017-2018. You do the School and Southern proud!

Faculty Creative Activity Research Grants totaling $70,000 were awarded to 28 A&S faculty. The Dean’s Office applauds their proposals and looks forward to the impressive outcomes by Mike Rogers (ANT), Jeremy Chandler (ART). Camille Serchuk (ART), Meghan Barboza (BIO), Rachel Jeffrey (BIO), Sarah Wojiski (BIO), Adiel Coca (CHE), Todd Ryder (CHE), Mohammad Tariqul Islam (CSC), Audrey Kerr (ENG), Vara Neverow (ENG), Meredith Sinclair (ENG), Melissa Talhelm (ENG), Vince Breslin (EGMS), Patrick Heidkamp (EGMS), Nikos Chrissidis (HIS), Christine Petto (HIS), Heather Vrana (HIS), Val Pinciu (MAT), David Chevan (MUS), Chelsea Harry (PHI), David Pettigrew (PHI), Mattew Enjalran (PHY), Binlin Wu (PHY), Kelly Bordner (PSY), Ken Walters (PSY), Jesse Gleason (WLL), and Miaowei Weng (WLL).

Faculty Development Grants (ranging in amounts from $1800 to $4000) totaling over $22,000 will support such efforts as those by Armen Marsoobian for the “Philosophy Department Colloquium Series”; Kelly Bordner, Meghan Barboza, Rachel Jeffrey, & Kelly Stiver, for the “Biology/Psychology Joint Seminar Series”; Sean Grace, Jim Tait, & Vince Breslin for the “Fourteenth Annual Long Island Sound Seminar Series”; Pina Palma for “Strong Women, Strong Voices: The Italian Tradition, International Women’s Day”; Erin Larkin for “#Diversity-in-Media-Matters, a two-part lecture with film screenings by African Italian filmmaker, producer and activist Fred Kuwornu”; Trica Lin (with Amy Smoyer, SWK) for “The Role of Forgiveness and Atonement in Reducing the Number of Incarcerated Women in Connecticut”; and Mary Brown (with Elsie Okobi, EDL) for “GIS into the humanities and education classroom.”  Congratulations to everyone and we look forward to seeing these events on the calendar.

Congratulations also to all the A&S faculty granted sabbaticals in the upcoming AY 2017-2018: Ericka Barnes (CHE), Sean Grace (BIO); Joel Dodson (ENG); Nicole Fluhr (ENG); Vara Neverow (ENG); Kalu Ogbaa (ENG); George Rosso (ENG); Scott Graves (EGMS); Leon Yacher (EGMS); Troy Rondinone (HIS); Tricia Lin (MDS); Jo Ann Abe (PSY); Jessica Suckle-Nelson (PSY); and Todd Schwendemann (PHY).

Sorry we missed them . . .

In November the History Department and Southern CT State University hosted the Association for the Study of Connecticut History. Steve Amerman (HIS) and Siobhan Carter-David (HIS) served as commentators for two of the panels.

In December Pat Cumpstone (BS HIS ’15) participated in a series of exhibitions at Trinity College’s Watkinson Library and offered his individual work entitled “‘Can We Keep the Faith?’: The American Bible Society in the Flood of Evangelism, 1816-1850.”

Also in December the Creative Writing Program celebrated with Laura Ahking (MFA) as she was selected for the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences Graduate Fellowship for the year 2017. In fall 2017, Laura will present her research at a CAAS event. We look forward to hear her presentation.

Molly Miller (MFA) also shared good news. Her poem “How I Love” is going to appear in Love and Ensuing Madness, an anthology being edited by Rat’s Ass Review. What a great name for a journal!

Camille Serchuk (ART) and Troy Paddock (HIS) continue to organize the A&S Research Roundtable and welcomed Steve Larocco (ENG) as the first presenter of the spring in late January. Steve enjoyed a conversation with those attending on his sabbatical project on forgiveness. Be sure to look for upcoming Roundtables.

In early February, Tom Radice (HIS) hosted Yuhua JI, Professor of English at Xiamen University, for a talk on Current Trends in socio-cultural development in China: Perspectives on globalization and intercultural communication.

Frank Harris (JRN) was in New York on February 22nd taping a segment on the n-word and his film “Journey to the Bottom of the n-Word” with two others for the Fox 5 New York show “Street Soldiers with Lisa Evers.”

In late January Winnie Yu (CSC) announced an exciting new opportunity for a Summer Internship with the program, Plant Health Fellows. See this URL for  https://sites.google.com/site/planthealthfellows/ information. Deadline is March 10th!