Students participate in the 11th Annual SNCURCS research event

BOONE—A total of 146 undergraduate students and faculty from Appalachian State University attended the 11th Annual State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium at High Point University Nov. 14.

Presentations were made from disciplines including art, biology, business, chemistry, communication, computer science, education, English, environmental sciences, geology, geography and planning, mathematical sciences, nutrition, political science, physics and astronomy, philosophy and religion, psychology and sociology.

A total of 40 North Carolina academic institutions attended the symposium. Students from across the state delivered 414 research/creative performance presentations, with Appalachian hosting a record number of undergraduate research presentations.

"By engaging in undergraduate research, our students are acquiring the essential capacity to inquire, to create, to ask questions and to challenge. Our faculty are training and educating Appalachian undergraduate students to not only have potential careers in research but also those who will become consultants, business managers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, policy creators and innovators," said Dr. Alan C. Utter, interim vice provost for research. "Ultimately the products of their efforts will directly impact the goal of the university's strategic plan by advancing knowledge and addressing the challenges of our region, state and world through creativity and innovation."


Student shares love of dinosaurs

BOONE—Senior geology major Haviv Avrahami was a winner on two counts at the recent 75th annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology held in Dallas.

A replica of a Desmatosuchus skull has been added to the McKinney Geology Teaching Museum at Appalachian State University thanks to student Haviv Avrahami. He is pictured with Professor Andrew B. Heckert. Photo credit: Marie Freeman

In addition to being invited to present a talk on his research, something undergraduates seldom get to do, the Appalachian State University student, who is concentrating in paleontology, won $1,000 worth of high-end fossil replicas from Triebold Paleontology, a vendor at the conference. He has donated one to the Department of Geology's McKinney Geology Teaching Museum located in Rankin Hall.

Avrahami selected a replica of a Desmatosuchus skull to add to the museum. The reptile is from the Late Triassic period. The true-to-life replica will allow students and others to closely study the fossil that would otherwise be too fragile or unavailable for research. "It's frowned upon within the paleontological community for individuals to possess museum-quality fossils," Avrahami explained.

"A lot of time when you are in a museum what you are seeing is a cast because it can be destructive to try and mount the actual specimen for display," explained Professor Andrew B. Heckert.

Avrahami became interested in dinosaur paleontology while living in California. While his mother worked on her Ph.D. at UCLA, he spent time in the library reading science books. His love of the field was further fed by movies like "Jurassic Park" and the character Ross on the TV series "Friends," who was a paleontologist.

In summer 2014, Avrahami participated in a field course in Utah with the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. While there, he found what's believed to be a new species of dinosaur, Heckert said. The new species, now located at the museum, is a basal ornithopod that is closely related to Thescelosaurus, a small, plant-eating dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Period.

Avrahami helped recover about fossil specimens of various sizes from the Utah site, including parts of the skull, the tibia and other long bones from the new species. "We really hit the jackpot when we found well-preserved parts of the skull. This is one of the most exceptionally preserved specimens of this type of dinosaur ever discovered anywhere in the world," he said.

While at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting, Avrahami gave a talk on benefits of using paint sieves for screening and washing sediment to recover microfossils rather than the traditional but bulky screen boxes. The paint sieves are more economical and lightweight and easily transportable in the field. The research, conducted with Heckert, was supported by a University Research Council grant. Avrahami and Heckert's travel to the SVP meeting was supported by Appalachian's Office of Student Research.

Avrahami hopes to further study the dinosaur as part of his master's degree work at N.C. State University after graduating from Appalachian in May 2016. He ultimately plans to pursue a Ph.D. with the goal of working in a museum.


Hutchins receives National Translation Award

BOONE—William M. Hutchins, a professor in Appalachian State University's Department of Philosophy and Religion, has received the National Translation Award from the American Literary Translators Association in the prose category. The award recognizes his Arabic to English translation of "The New Waw: Saharan Oasis" by Ibrahim al-Koni.

"William M. Hutchins' translation of 'New Waw: Saharan Oasis' masterfully channels the poetic rhythms of Ibrahim al-Koni's tale of a group of Tuareg, struggling with their evolution from a nomadic tribe to a settled community and the tensions that inevitably arise," said NTA judges Jason Grunebaum, Anne Magnan-Park and Pamela Carmell. "Legends, fables, prophecies and tribal laws, expressed in lyrical, metaphorical language, give a glimpse into the group's traditions and the Tuareg mythical paradise oasis, Waw."

Hutchins' work was supported by a National Endowment of the Arts Literature Translation Fellowship, one of two he has received during his career.

Hutchins is known for his translation of the Cairo Trilogy by Egyptian Nobel Prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz. This trio of novels is widely regarded as one of the finest works of fiction in Arabic literature, and Hutchins' translation is the principal version available in English.

In addition, he has translated a variety of Arabic authors, including Tawfiq al-Hakim, Ibrahim Abd al-Qadir al-Mazini, Muhammad Salmawy, Nawal El-Saadawi, Ibrahim al-Koni, and others.

Hutchins was co-winner of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation in 2013 for his work on Wajdi al-Ahdal's "A Land Without Jasmine."


Humanities Council continues 2015-2016 lecture series with “Intersectionality: Moving from Tolerance to Solidarity,” a conversation with Ange-Marie Hancock

Boone - Last month the Humanities Council at Appalachian State University hosted their annual symposium. Ninety-eight people attended the day long series of lectures focused on the intersection of humanistic academia and colonized peoples.

Beginning this Thursday, November 12, from 7pm-9pm, the Humanities Council will continue their 2015-2016 lecture series with Dr. Ange-Marie Hancock, who will speak on "Intersectionality: Moving from Tolerance to Solidarity," in 114 Belk Library.

Dr. Hancock will also facilitate a discussion of her book, Solidarity Politics for Millennials: A Guide to Ending the Oppression Olympics, from 12:30-2:00PM in 224 I.G.Greer.

Ange-Marie Hancock is Associate Professor of Political Science and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California. She is the author of the award-winning The Politics of Disgust and the Public Identity of the "Welfare Queen," (2004, New York University Press) and a globally recognized scholar of the study of intersectionality – the study of the intersections of race, gender, class and sexuality politics and their impact on public policy.

Solidarity_Politics_forMillennialsHer second book, Solidarity Politics for Millennials: A Guide to Ending the Oppression Olympics (2011, Palgrave Macmillan) focuses on the development of intersectional solidarity as a method of political engagement for individuals, groups and policy practitioners in U.S. politics. Her third book, Intersectionality: an Intellectual History, will be published in December 2015 with Oxford University Press. It is part of an agenda-setting two-book treatment of intersectionality.

In the spring, the Humanities Council will also host Dr. Walter Mignolo, who will facilitate a discussion of his book, The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options, and will give a public lecture on March 24.

Walter Mignolo is William H. Wannamaker Professor of Literature at Duke University and has joint appointments in Cultural Anthropology and Romance Studies. He has published extensively on semiotics and literary theory, and has in the past years been working on different aspects of the modern/colonial world and exploring concepts such as global coloniality, the geopolitics of knowledge, transmodernity, border thinking, and di/pluriversalities.

"The life stories of colonized peoples have a profound impact on understandings of the humanities. In our global world, the humanities are crucial for identifying the intersections between peoples." says Dr. Nancy Love, Humanities Council Coordinator, on why the Humanities Council is focusing on postcolonial studies this year.

All lectures are free and open to the public. To take part in the book discussions, participants must register in advance and will receive a copy of the book. To register contact: Brittney Maslowski, maslowskibl [at] appstate [dot] edu.


Professors honored at Faculty & Staff Awards

BOONE - Last Tuesday, October 27, 2015, the College of Arts and Science at Appalachian State University honored exemplary faculty and staff at their annual Faculty & Staff Awards Ceremony & Reception.

The Ceremony was held in the Plemmons Student Union Solarium and was presided over by the College of Arts and Science's Dean, Anthony G. Calamai.

Each year the college celebrates those faculty which have made significant impact on Faculty_Staff_Awardsthe Appalachian campus through their scholarship, dedication, and service. The awards are as follows:

  • Outstanding Staff Award: Kathryn Dewhirst, Administrative Support Specialist (Government and Justice Studies)
  • William C. Strickland Outstanding Junior Faculty Award: Dr. John Paul Jameson (Psychology)
  • Donald W. Sink Family Outstanding Scholar Award: Dr. Andrew Heckert (Geology)
  • The Jimmy Smith Award: Dr. James Denniston (Psychology)
  • Non-Tenure Track Teaching Excellence Award: Brian Zimmer (Geology)
  • Teaching Academy Teacher of the Year Award: Dr. Joseph Pollock (Physics)*
  • Special Recognition: Mr. Charles (Chuck) Smith (Sustainable Development)

The College of Arts and Science faculty and staff members pride themselves on their commitment to education and strive to help students learn content information, develop critical thinking abilities, achieve mastery of oral and written communication skills, and gain the ability to integrate knowledge across academic fields.

What is the Microscopy Lab?

Boone - Dr. Guichuan Hou (Biology) came to Appalachian State University in 2006 to run the William C. and Ruth Anne Dewel Microscopy Facility. There you can find him presiding over the use and maintenance of the universities most expensive microscopes.

This lab, named for its former directors and long time faculty at Appalachian, is a core facility managed by the College of Arts and Sciences.

The concept of a core facility is a nationwide idea supported by the National Science Foundation to serve the needs of educators by creating a multi-departmental shared laboratory space. The Microscopy core facility at Appalachian serves Biology, Physics, Geology, Chemistry, Biological Anthropology and even Exercise Sciences.

The Microscopy Lab is comprised of three major microscopes: the scanning electron microscope, the transmitting electron microscope and the laser scanning confocal microscope.

The scanning electron microscope uses electron beam to scan samples, biological or non-biological, in order to study surface morphology at desired resolution. The microscope is also equipped with an X-ray detector for elemental analysis.

The transmission electron microscope, like the scanning microscope, uses electron beam but looks at inner structures of a sample, such as mitochondria, the nuclear membrane of a cell and also the detail structure of bacteria and viruses. Many students at Appalachian interested in medical school gain experience using the transmission electron microscope to prepare for future research.

microscopy_collageThe laser scanning confocal microscope is for modern cell and molecular research. For example, faculty and students at Appalachian are able to study genes by tagging them with fluorescent proteins and imaging them in the live sample. The laser scanning microscope can then be used to generate a time series showing the gene movement.

Originally, the major equipment for the facility was funded through successful National Science Foundation grants. The College of Arts & Sciences provides funds for service contract and ancillary equipment. To ensure the facility continues to have the most relevant technology, Dr. Hou along with other faculty are currently working on a grant for the National Science Foundation to update the microscopes in the Microscopy lab. "The Microscopy is a powerful tool for many scientific disciplines and this facility supports all the faculty and staff for doing their research, teaching and for outreach projects. We still need to try to get more grants to constantly upgrade the microscopes in order to meet the growing microscopy need on our campus." says Dr. Hou.

To request use of the Microscopy facility you may do so through their website

X-rays uncover gut of 320-million-year-old animal

BRISTOL, ENGLAND—The inner workings of a tiny fossil have been studied using X-ray microscopy, revealing evidence of its digestive system for the first time.

Researchers from the University of Bristol in England, Appalachian State University, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the Paul Scherrer Institute analyzed the unique fossil specimen using high-energy X-rays at the Swiss Light Source in Switzerland.

Their study "Early post-metamorphic, Carboniferous blastoid reveals the evolution and development of the digestive system in echinoderms" has been published in the London-based journal Biology Letters. View study online

The fossil under study is a "primitive" relative of modern sea urchins and starfish and is part of a major group of marine invertebrates called echinoderms.

XRaysThe results of X-ray imaging prove that the fossil represents an early developmental stage of an extinct group known as blastoids. It can therefore shed light on the early evolutionary history of echinoderms.

Lead author Imran Rahman, a palaeontologist in Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, said, "We used a particle accelerator called a synchrotron to image the fossil in 3D. This allowed us to create a digital reconstruction of its internal anatomy."

Co-author Johnny Waters, a professor in invertebrate paleontology at Appalachian, added, "We were very surprised to find evidence of the gut. Nothing like this has ever been seen in fossils belonging to this group before."

Colin Sumrall, a co-author and assistant professor in paleobiology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, said, "The results have highlighted a number of previously unknown differences between the fossil and its living relatives. This has forced us to rethink our ideas about how the digestive system evolved in echinoderms."

Alberto Astolfo from the Paul Scherrer Institute and a co-author of the research paper helped perform the experiments at the Swiss Light Source. "Synchrotron radiation is the state-of-the-art in X-ray imaging," he said. This study provides further confirmation that palaeontology is one of the most exciting applications for the technique."

The work was supported by funds from the United Kingdom's Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and the National Science Foundation.

Read about Waters' use of 3-D imaging to study blastoids at


The Visualization Lab: Appalachian’s window on Earth

BOONE-Walk into Rankin Hall on the Appalachian State University campus and you will walk through labyrinthian hallways and corridors crisscrossing the Biology, Geology, Geography and Planning classrooms, laboratories and offices.

Unbeknownst to many students and faculty, tucked away on the second floor of Rankin is the College of Arts and Science's Visualization Lab. Arrive there and you walk into a room lined with six computer stations, each with dual monitors, one large format wall-mounted 80" LCD display, and a large conference table.

Run by Dr. Jessica Mitchell (Geography and Planning) and Dr. Scott Marshall (Geology), the lab is an interdisciplinary computer lab providing high-end processing and graphic rendering capabilities for education, research and outreach.

VisualizationLab1By using GPS, GIS, remote sensing and other mapping VisualizationLab2technologies, the visualization lab can be used to render 3D maps of rock and landscape surfaces, show burn trends in nearby forests, and examine animal migrations.

Research teams can go out into the field and collect high resolution datasets to take back to the lab for processing and analysis by using a basic digital camera. Data can be taken as well from other scales such as drones, planes, or satellites. This is helpful for archaeologists and geologists needing to work quickly before a site is damaged.

The convenience and cost saving is apparent; the earth can be studied in miniscule detail from a remote lab. In addition, anyone with access can log into the Visualization Lab's database from their home computer, limiting the need to come to campus.

Any student can use the Visualization Lab as long as they are accompanied by a professor or have a professor's permission.

To access and use the lab a student needs an AppCard and a worthy project. A faculty member can put in a request on behalf of the student and their project through the Visualization Lab website. The student will be approved provided they have an applicable project. The lab has staff on hand to help students use the technology if a tutorial is necessary. The room can be reserved as well by filling out a simple form.

For more information on the Visualization Lab, visit their website or contact schroederk [at] appstate [dot] edu (Dr. Kathleen Schroeder)


Photo credit: Graduate Student Joseph Rudolf

Appalachian students team up with local community to preserve historic African-American school

BOONE - In the early 1900s Booker T. Washington approached philanthropist and founder of Sears and Roebuck, Julius Rosenwald, to discuss the state of education for African Americans in the south.

Out of this conversation Julius Rosenwald established a fund to build schools to serve the needs of black communities in the south.

The first six schools, known as Rosenwald Schools, were built in Tuskegee, Alabama. They soon blossomed across the south to the total number of 5,300.

This semester Dr. Kristen Deathridge's Philosophy of Historic Preservation students, graduate students in the Public History program at Appalachian State University, are working to add one more to the list.With desegregation in the the 1960s, Rosenwald Schools were defunded. Many of the buildings went into disuse or were reappropriated for other uses. North Carolina had over 800 Rosenwald Schools. Today, 25 are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Lincoln Heights School in Wilkesboro, NC, about 32 miles east of Boone, was built in 1924. It has been on the study list of national historic places since 1987.

The Lincoln Heights Alumni Board, chaired by Brenda Dobbins, reached out to Annie McDonald, Preservation Specialist at the Western North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, to see what they could do about their Rosenwald School and possibly completing the National Register nomination. McDonald then reached out to Dr. Deathridge about enlisting students to work on the project.

Dr. Deathridge, in turn, called Dobbins to find how how she could help. "I said, 'Annie told me about your Rosenwald school, what are you looking for?' Because for me, it is most important to not come in and tell people what to do, and tell them what should be important to them. I believe in doing the types of projects that are going to be the most helpful, that are going to help protect and preserve the places and the stories that are the most important to the people who care about them," said Dr. Deathridge.

What came from this conversation was the decision to finally have Lincoln Heights listed as a National Historic Site and to work on a handful of other projects for the Alumni Board

Rosenwald SchoolDr. Deathridge's students work in teams to put together a draft National Register Nomination. They are completing a detailed architectural description of the main building, and writing a history of Lincoln Heights and its importance in Western North Carolina for the nomination. Further, they are surveying the 19 acre surrounding campus, completing a historic structures report and a list of suggestions for rehabilitation of the property, as well as a grant assessment.

An important aspect of this work, expressly requested by the Alumni Board, is the development of different strategies to engage younger generations' involvement with Lincoln Heights to help preserve, celebrate and use it. In the works are designs for future exhibits, as well as the possibility of digitizing the ephemera and documents preserved by the Lincoln Heights Board.

These Philosophy of Historic Preservation students hope to have their work finished by the end of this semester to present their findings to the Lincoln Heights Alumni Board during finals week. If all goes according to plan, they will turn their nomination package in early next year to the State Historic Preservation Office and Lincoln Heights could be up for vote by next June.

Dr. Deathridge, who is on the State National Register Advisory Committee, will have to recuse herself from the vote, however Appalachian students will still have been a part of preserving history.

photo credit: Kristin Deathridge - Students in the Philosophy of Historic Preservation course at Appalachian State University with members of the Lincoln Heights Alumni Board on the Lincoln Heights property, a Rosenwald School in Wilkesboro, NC.


Black Mountain College historians to speak Oct. 27 at Appalachian

BOONE—The history of the innovative Black Mountain College is the focus of the Oct. 27 Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series at Appalachian State University.

William C. Rice and Katherine Chaddock will read from their published works about the college that operated from 1933-57.

Their reading will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union's Parkway Ballroom. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.

Black Mountain College combined the study and practice of art as an integral part of students' general liberal arts education. According to an online history of the college, "it was owned and operated by the faculty and was committed to democratic governance and to the idea that the arts are central to the experience of learning."

black mountain collegeRice is director of the Division of Education Programs of the National Endowment for the Humanities. His publications include essays, articles, reviews and verse. He and Mark Bauerlein recently republished "I Came Out of the Eighteenth Century," a memoir by John Andrew Rice, founder of Black Mountain College (University of South Carolina Press). William Rice is the grandson of John Andrew Rice.

Chaddock is a distinguished professor emerita from the University of South Carolina and the author of John Andrew Rice's biography, "Visions and Vanities: John Andrew Rice of Black Mountain College."

This program, sponsored by Appalachian's Watauga Residential College, in collaboration with Carol Grotnes Belk Library and Information Commons, is part of Watauga Residential College's ongoing series titled The Black Mountain Lectures.

The Visiting Writers Series is named in honor of Hughlene Bostian Frank (class of 1968), 2013 Appalachian Alumni Association Outstanding Service Award recipient, past trustee and generous supporter of the university.

The Visiting Writers Series is also supported by the Appalachian State University Foundation, Appalachian's Office of Academic Affairs, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of English, the Summer Reading Program, the University Bookstore, Carol Grotnes Belk Library and Information Commons, Watauga Residential College, and the Appalachian Journal. Business sponsors are The Gideon Ridge Inn and The Red Onion Restaurant. Community sponsors include John and the late Margie Idol, Paul and Judy Tobin, Alice Naylor, Thomas McLaughlin and The High Country Writers.

Parking is free on campus after 5 p.m. Event organizers recommend those attending the series use the College Street Parking Deck (from King Street, turn down College Street at the First Baptist Church), which opens to the public weekdays at 5:30 p.m. To reach the student union, cross College Street and follow the walkway between the chiller plant and the University Bookstore, passing the post office and entering the student union on the second floor.

For further parking information or a map, visit or call the Parking and Traffic Office at 828-262-2878. A campus map showing Plemmons Student Union is online at

For additional information on the Visiting Writers Series season, email %20VWS [at] appstate [dot] edu">VWS [at] appstate [dot] edu. To receive Appalachian's "This Week in the Arts" announcements by email, contact %20arts-events [at] appstate [dot] edu">arts-events [at] appstate [dot] edu.

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Boone, NC 28608

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