Post-Colonial Symposium presents local and international migrant experience through art and lecture

Boone - Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, a founder and major voice of postcolonial thought known for her seminal text, "Can the Subaltern Speak?," recently lectured at Appalachian. Between her visit and the upcoming Humanities Council Symposium on postcolonialism, October 9, it seems that talk of the subaltern is in the air.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Multicultural Center on Appalachian State's campus will house the exhibit "Milagros for Migrants", from Monday, October 5th through Tuesday, October 13th.

This multi-media exhibit addresses the political lives of migrant workers and puts a magnifying lens to our relationship between consumption and labor.

MilagrosArtists/Activists Deborah Barndt, guest speaker of the symposium, and Min Sook Lee create an intentional encounter between migrant workers and audience using video, photographs, soundscapes and in-situ altars.

Deborah Barndt has collaborated on numerous projects involving Mexican migrant laborers in the tomato agribusiness. She is currently on the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University.

In regards to her art, Barndt believes that "many consumers remain unaware that much of our so-called 'local food' is actually produced and picked by 'global labor." Her work "reveals a process that is at the same time personal and historical, ecological and political, cultural and spiritual."

Friday's symposium will conclude with a roundtable discussion with a focus on the humanities in the context of local communities, including Watauga County.

Moderated by Clark Maddux, of Watauga Residential College, the closing roundtable will feature representatives from Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT), the Ashe County Migrant Education Program, Junaluska Heritage Association, and the Madras Christian Council of Social Services in Chennai, India.

This year's symposium is entitled "Postcolonial Humanities: Crossing Borders, Making Connections," and will be held on October 9, 2015 from 9:00am-5:00pm in the Blue Ridge Ballroom at Appalachian State University. Registration for the symposium is free. To register visit

This event is free and open to the public, and is made possible by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding is provided by the College of Arts & Sciences, and the QEP at Appalachian State University.


"Once Upon a Time" Appalachian State Homecoming to include College of Arts & Sciences Open House

Appalachian Sate is no different from any other school, in that there are important collegiate rituals and traditions. Homecoming may be at the pinnacle of those traditions (aside from the graduation ceremony).

The history of Appalachian's homecoming celebrations has gone back to the origins of the school, but the modern version of Homecomig began in 1996 when Chancellor Borkowski appointed a campus wide committee to bring unity and coordination to the multiple events sponsored every year by various campus organizations. Today's Homecoming activities and events consist of a banner contest, a parade, the annual Blood Drive, and the half-time crowning of the Homecoming King and Queen.

The Fall 2015 College of Arts and Sciences Open House will be included in those festivities this year. This will be a chance for prospective students and family members to meet faculty, staff, and current students in our departments, to see Appalachian in her finest gold and black, and get to know your future college campus.

Highlights of the open house:

  • Have you ever seen a rock from Mars? We have one! The Department of Geology will open the McKinney Geology Teaching Museum starting at 1:30pm; staffed with students who will tell you more about the specimens you see, as well as interesting facts about the Geology program at Appalachian. Visit us at Rankin South, Room 108 which is at the lobby coming into the building.
  • The Department of Geography and Planning will open the Visualization Lab, a mapping lab, with state of the art technology that can be demonstrated by our students. Find them at work in Room 274 of Rankin.
  • Visit the Astronomy Department from 1:30-2:30pm, where several telescopes will be set up in front of Rankin South for observations of the Sun (weather permitting, of course).
  • The Department of Biology has several labs that will be open showing the research that faculty and students are conducting. Please visit Biology on the second floor of Rankin South to see how our students are learning with hands-on study and research in biology.

All demonstrations will be in Rankin South near the entrance between the old gym and Anne Belk Hall on Friday, October 2nd, between 1PM and 5PM.


Psychology Professor receives NIH grant to study the relationships between mood and memory

BOONE—A little memory loss as you age might be a good thing.

Lisa Emery, an associate professor in Appalachian State University's Department of Psychology, has received a three-year, $270,375 Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) from the National Institutes of Health to better understand relationships between mood and memory.

In addition to supporting research, AREA grants help universities build their capacity to conduct health-related research and encourage students to pursue health-related careers or careers that include health care research.

Lisa Emery"On average, people get happier as they get older," Emery said. "My hypothesis is one of the reasons is that as people age, they forget a lot of the specific negative details about bad things that have happened to them and learn to reframe some those negative experiences in a more positive light."

Older people also are less likely to have a mental illness than young adults and they report fewer negative moods than younger people do, she said.

"Part of the reason may be that older people don't spend as much time dwelling on negative things that happened in the past, which might improve their mood and decrease their memory for the event," Emery said.

To test her hypothesis, Emery and her graduate and undergraduate research assistants will conduct three different experiments, interviewing 100 to 150 volunteers for each study. Participants will range from those in their 20s to adults more than 65 years old.

The research participants will be asked to tell interviewers stories about events that have happened to them – either events of their choice or they will be given cue words to trigger a memory. In another study, participants will be asked to recall a specific time when they had an argument with someone. Other activities will test basic memory, such as recalling list of words.

Emery and her students will take that information to look at episodic and semantic memories. Episodic memories are those that include sensory and perceptual details specific to an event. Semantic memories are more structured memories that focus on the meaning of an event and how it ties into daily life.

"As people get older, they tend not to be able to remember a lot of episodic details but tend to report more semantic details and more information about the meaning of events," Emery said.

Emery became interested in memory and aging research after working for a time with Alzheimer's patients. "I became really interested in why they could remember certain things and not others," she said.

Later in graduate school, she studied recall memory, but felt that experience didn't provide a complete understanding of memory loss related to aging.

She hopes her research will help provide a more complete understanding of the strengths and benefits of memory changes as people age and ways to improve older adults' memories or reduce deterioration of their memory.

The work she and others conduct on memory is important, Emery said, because researchers and health professionals need to be able to distinguish normal and healthy memory changes from what is abnormal and unhealthy.

"It's normal as we get older to experience what's called the tip of the tongue state where you know that you know something, but you can't quite get it out," she said. "With abnormal memory aging like Alzheimer's disease, you don't even realize that you are forgetting something."


Kirkpatrick receives Brockman-Campbell Book Award for her Irish-themed poetry collection

BOONE—Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne haunted Kathryn Kirkpatrick's creative thoughts for more than a dozen years.

A poet and professor in Appalachian State University's Department of English, Kirkpatrick had long wanted to write about Gonne, who was a muse to William Butler Yeats, but she was uncertain of the creative device – such as lyric or dramatic monologue – that she wanted to use.

What resulted is a creative weaving of portions of interviews about Gonne that is included in Kirkpatrick's poetry collection "Her Small Hands Were Not Beautiful," published in 2014 by Clemson University Digital Press. The collection has been awarded the Brockman-Campbell Book Award from the N.C. Poetry Society, Kirkpatrick's third award from the society.

"Each part of the book had a different genesis," Kirkpatrick said. "It draws on ancestral voices and connects to my interest in Ireland and Irish culture." Some of the poems in the book are based on quirky stories that Kirkpatrick found about Yeats playing golf and croquet.

The last part of the book is Kirkpatrick's experimental poem about Maud Gonne. The title refers to a line from a W.B. Yeats poem in which he "speaks" to Gonne, with whom he was in love. Gonne, however, did not return his romantic affections.

"I became interested in her from W.B. Yeats' poems," Kirkpatrick said. "You get a certain kind of picture of Maud Gonne and her great beauty, but also of her cantankerousness, of her shrillness. I knew I wanted to work with her story somehow, but nothing seemed to come together for a number of years."

While conducting research in the 1990s at the New York Public Library, Kirkpatrick read a collection of letters between Gonne and Yeats. "I kept being astonished, because her voice in those letters was nothing like the ways Yeats had portrayed her in his poems. In letter after letter she was thoughtful, compassionate and savvy."

Then in 2004, while at Emory University researching material for another project, she discovered a collection of interviews a Yeats scholar had conducted with Gonne's family members and close friends.

"I realized my interest in Gonne was that they were all telling these wildly, different contradictory kinds of stories," she said. She constructed a poem about Gonne in which phrases from the interviews are woven together "as if in parallel conversation with each other" in what she calls, a found poem of voices and dialogue.

"Honestly, I have never been on quite such a journey to poems as I have been with this book," she said. "It was a lot of labor of a kind I'm not used to. You work very hard to revise poems, but I had never put together a poem in quite that way. It is especially delightful to receive the Brockman-Campbell Book Award and have this work affirmed."

Carolyn Kreiter Foronda, a former Virginia poet laureate, was the judge for this year's Brockman-Campbell Book Award competition. She wrote that Kirkpatrick's collection "relies on impeccable research and a keen insight into the intricacies of form to enliven figures as engaging as William Butler Yeats, the Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne, and Queen Maeve."

She complemented Kirkpatrick's typographical arrangement in the book's section on Maud Gonne, "whose personality comes to live through the dramatic rendering of voices, fine-tuned and sculpted from snippets of unpublished interviews," She added, "Kirkpatrick possesses the mental acumen to pace this perceptive poem so that it skillfully illuminates Gonne's traits as viewed by family, friends, and others. Throughout the book, the author enthralls the reader with well-honed gems that sing her familiar connections to Ireland while revealing a masterful command of language."


Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak to speak at Appalachian Sept. 24

BOONE—Professor Gayatri Spivak will speak Sept. 24 at 4 p.m. in Appalachian State University's Rosen Concert Hall in Broyhill Music Center. The title of her talk is "The Subaltern, Again and Again."

This major event is free and open to the public and is spearheaded by the South Asian Studies Learning Community (SASLC) at Appalachian. For more information, contact Professor Diane P. Mines at minesdp [at] appstate [dot] edu.

Spivak is one of the leading intellectuals in the world today, a brilliant theorist in postcolonial studies. She is University Professor at Gayatri SpivakColumbia University, and founder of Columbia's Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. The author of numerous books and intellectual movements, Spivak's work is pertinent to many disciplines and interdisciplinary conversations.

Fermentation Sciences Program research could revolutionize how chocolate is made

BOONE — What do wine, yogurt, beer, sourdough, crème fraîche, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, sour cream, whisky and kombucha all have in common besides being delicious? They all undergo fermentation using defined starter cultures. Soon, chocolate (Theobroma cacao) may join that list, thanks to studies being performed at Appalachian State University's Fermentation Sciences Program.

Fermentation Sciences has entered into a research agreement with Aleph Omega LLC, an investment and venture group out of Texas, who have stakes in cacao and chocolate production in Central America.

High quality chocolate can only be made from cacao beans that have undergone a complex fermentation process immediately after harvest to develop the desired flavor and smell of chocolate. But worldwide, that fermentation occurs almost entirely under uncontrolled conditions with yeast and bacteria that are found in farmers' hands, tools, and in the wild.

Dr. Seth Cohen, Director of the Fermentation Sciences Program, explained that "chocolate is one of only a few fermented foods consumed in the world where defined starter cultures are essentially absent." As a consequence, the quality of cacao beans used to make chocolate is highly variable, and uncontrolled fermentation can leads to poor results and sporadic markets.

What are defined starter cultures? Defined starter cultures are a mixture of yeast and bacteria that can be applied to a fermentation composed of known organisms at known quantities. This results is a higher level of consistency in terms of performance compared to a "wild fermentation," which will inevitably be subject to more variability due to changes in raw ingredients, climates, and the surrounding environment.

"Theobroma cacao (Cacao 2)" by Fpalli - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons Using samples drawn from highly-rated cacao fermented by Aleph Omega LLC's affiliates in the Central American rainforest, researchers with the Fermentation Sciences Program are cataloging dozens of microbial specimens. Using these specimens, researchers aim to develop starter cultures that can help farmers ferment their cacao more consistently, command higher and more reliable prices, and produce a higher quality chocolate.

Cohen believes that this work will eventually help to improve the sustainability of the chocolate industry as a whole. "We aim to control the quality and consistency (of chocolate) such that cacao farmers can expect a stable price and have the incentive to maintain their trees all year, not only when the heavy crops are coming off. This will hopefully help stabilize prices to farmers and encourage mixed-forest ecosystems."

This research builds on the data and insights concerning the use of defined starter cultures (to include yeast, lactic acid bacteria, and acetic acid bacteria) proposed in the seminal article by Rosane F. Schwan & Alan E. Wheals (2004) The Microbiology of Cocoa Fermentation and its Role in Chocolate Quality, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 44:4, 205-221 at 217.

For more information, you may reach Dr. Cohen [cohensd [at] appstate [dot] edu] or Jorge Schmidt [js [at] cacao [dot] haus].

Appalachian alumna, Keana Tripplett, awarded North Carolina Teacher of the Year

Keana Tripplett wanted to be a teacher since the first day of Kindergarten, but it wasn't until she received the North Carolina Teaching Fellows scholarship to Appalachian State that she knew teaching was her calling.

Today, ten year after earning a BA in Secondary English Education at Appalachian State University, Keana Tripplett is teaching English at Ashe County High School, and has the distinction of being the 2015-2016 North Carolina Teacher of the Year.

On being the North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Tripplett shares: "When I was announced as the 2015-2016 North Carolina Teacher of the Year, I was very shocked and humbled. The other finalists were phenomenal educators, and I certainly don't view myself as the best teacher in the state; rather, I view myself as the representative for the 95,000 educators in North Carolina."

Tripplett credits her experience at Appalachian as having a profound impact on her as a teacher, and an essential part of her journey. It was the professors in English and Education that, for her, modeled what it meant to build relationships with students, and foster success. It was ultimately the community experience at Appalachian that taught her the necessity of building a community classroom.

Keana TripplettOn the state of teaching and education today, Tripplett notes, "Most people cannot understand an educator's calling until they experience a day in a classroom fulfilling that role. Understanding this first hand and learning everything that I am at this point in my journey, I comprehend more than ever the necessity for quality educators in the classroom. Gone are the days of mediocrity in education."

After Tripplett's appointment as Teacher of the Year ends, she plans to return to the classroom, but her work with community education will not stay within four school walls. "I am passionate about pre-service and beginning teachers, so I want to become even more involved in educating and encouraging those individuals about the realities and victories of the classroom. Wherever my path leads, I yearn to be an active advocate for the education profession and the 95,000 educators in North Carolina who fulfill this calling with passion and perseverance!"

In 2011, the NC General Assembly voted to end the NC Teaching Fellows Program. This past spring, the final class of Teaching Fellows will graduate, and enter public school classrooms across the state, following the same dream Keana Tripplett followed when she came to Appalachian State University.

For more information on Keana Tripplett, you can visit her website


Venue change for Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor speaks Sept. 17 at Appalachian

BOONE—Holocaust survivor Susan Cernyak-Spatz will give a talk titled "Perpetrators Through the Eyes of the Victims," Thursday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. at Appalachian State University. Please note the free presentation has been moved to Parkway Ballroom on the fourth floor of Plemmons Student Union.

Cernyak-Spatz, who is a professor emerita of German literature at UNC Charlotte, was born into a middle-class Jewish family in Vienna. In 1929, she moved with her family to Berlin, where they witnessed Hitler’s rise to power. They fled to Prague in March 1938. Her father managed to escape to Belgium shortly before the German invasion of Poland, but the Nazis arrested and eventually deported Cernyak-Spatz and her mother.

She suffered at the hands of German guards at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, as well as from a range of diseases, including typhoid and scarlet fever. However, her connections in the barracks and the fact that she could speak English, French, Czech and German helped her obtain a job in the camp’s administration offices, away from the often deadly outside work details. She survived Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp. Her mother died in the Theresienstadt ghetto.

In July 1946, Cernyak-Spatz emigrated from Europe to the United States. She completed a dissertation on German Holocaust literature in 1971, working under the direction of the prominent author and German literature scholar Ruth Klüger, another survivor. In 2005, she published her memoirs, copies of which will be available after the talk.

“She won’t just give a straight survivor narrative,” said Thomas Pegelow Kaplan, the newly appointed director of Appalachian’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies. “We wanted to bring Susan Cernyak-Spatz back to campus because she is not only a survivor, but a teacher and an academic who went on to work in areas closely related to the horrors she experienced in the Holocaust.” Cernyak-Spatz last lectured on campus in 2005.

“Many Holocaust survivors are already deceased,” Pegelow Kaplan said. “In a few years there will be no one left, so we should speak with survivors while we still can. She is part of the experience of the modern world, of genocide and mass murder, which, sadly, will be with us for a long time to come.”

Cernyak-Spatz’s talk is co-sponsored by the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies, Department of History, Department of Philosophy and Religion, the Global Studies Program, Temple of the High Country, and the university’s Hillel chapter. For more information, call 828-262-2311 or email thomaspegelowkaplan [at] appstate [dot] edu.


Appalachian State University receives $1.1 million grant to support mathematics and science teacher preparation

Faculty members at Appalachian State University have received a National Science Foundation grant for $1,165,039 to support a Noyce Scholarship Program. The grant, awarded by NSF's Directorate for Education & Human Resources, Division of Education, provides scholarship funding to support mathematics and science majors in acquiring high school teaching licensure. The program, titled TEAMS, or Teaching for Equity in Appalachia in Mathematics and Science, prepares prospective teachers with the content and pedagogy components needed for teaching but also focuses on the specific needs of students and schools in high need, rural areas.

TEAMS brings together faculty from The College of Arts and Sciences and The Reich College of Education to recruit outstanding mathematics and science majors into the work of teaching. The project is led by Tracie McLemore Salinas and Dean Tony Calamai of The College of Arts and Sciences and Tracy Goodson-Espy and Associate Dean David Wiley of The Reich College of Education and represents a collaboration in responding to regional needs of mathematics and science teachers. Growing quality pipelines to teaching is vital for STEM education in North Carolina, and the TEAMS program expands the ways that Appalachian State can produce effective mathematics and science teachers, both of which are in high demand in the state.

According to Dr. Deborah Crocker, Program Director for Secondary Mathematics Teaching, "Secondary mathematics and science teachers are in highest demand now. We have received numerous inquiries about graduates up to and beyond the beginning of the school year, and many positions have not been filled." TEAMS not only responds to demand for mathematics and science teachers, however; it also provides a means for growing capacity among teacher educators and K-12 partners. "It will be a privilege to be a part of TEAMS teachers' development, and I know that I will learn just as much from them – if not more – as they will from me," explains Dr. Carol Babyak, Program Director for Secondary Chemistry Teaching. "I think that we will all become better teachers through the TEAMS program."

Salinas, TEAMS Project Director, points to the scholarship money as an incentive for students to consider the Noyce-supported program, but "ultimately it is the nature of teaching that we think will grow a dedicated group of TEAMS scholars. The focus on teaching in rural and high need areas speaks to the perspective we see in many Appalachian students, that perspective of giving back and of contributing to educational sustainability in those communities."

The TEAMS program is expected to produce at least twenty mathematics and science high school teachers in its four years and will provide opportunities for Appalachian State University to expand its partnership roles with school districts in the region. TEAMS participants receive mentoring from regional teachers and administrators during the program and in turn provide teaching in high needs areas after the licensure is complete. The first cohort of TEAMS Scholars will be selected in the fall 2015 semester. More information can be found at

College of Arts & Sciences seeking December undergraduate commencement speakers

This fall, the College of Arts & Sciences will select one distinguished graduating senior to speak at the December Commencement Ceremony. We are seeking candidates from any of the three divisions in the college: Social Sciences, Humanities, and Natural, Physical & Mathematical Sciences.

Applicants for this honor must have distinguished themselves through service to the Department, College of Arts and Sciences, or the University in one or more of the following:

  • leadership roles, 
  • public service,
  • creative endeavors, 
  • research, or 
  • other accomplishments. 

The College of Arts & Sciences Commencement Speaker Committee will review the applications and interview finalists the second week of October. 

Download, and fill out the attached form. Applications are due to the College of Arts & Sciences by 5 pm on Thursday, October 1, 2015.