Nina G. Jablonski to speak on the politics of skin pigmentation at annual Dean’s Advisory Council Interdisciplinary Lecture
February 11, 2016
BOONE - Nina G. Jablonski, author, anthropologist and professor, will be the special guest speaker at the 6th Annual Dean’s Advisory Council Interdisciplinary Lecture, March 17, 7pm, in Belk 114. The title of her talk is "The Evolution and Meanings of Human Skin Color." The Dean’s Advisory Council’s Interdisciplinary Lecture series is hosted by Appalachian State University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Admission is Free.
Nina G. Jablonski, is Evan Pugh Professor of Anthropology at The Pennsylvania State University. For the last 25 years, she has pursued questions in human evolution not directly answered by the fossil record, foremost among these being the evolution of human skin and skin pigmentation. From a primary interest in the evolution of skin pigmentation phenotypes, Jablonski has pursued issues surrounding the health and social implications of skin pigmentation.
In addition to her scholarly articles on skin, Jablonski has written two popular books, “Skin: A Natural History” (2006) and “Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color” (2012), both published by University of California Press.
Jablonski received her B.A. in Biology at Bryn Mawr College and her Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Washington.. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an elected Member of the American Philosophical Society, and a member of the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences of the U.S. National Research Council. She is the recipient of an Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship (2005), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2012), and an honorary doctorate from University of Stellenbosch in South Africa (2010) for her contribution to the worldwide fight against racism.
Jablonski now splits her time between basic research and educational projects. She is the lead investigator on a pilot project examining the factors that affect vitamin D status in healthy youth in the Western Cape of South Africa. She is the convener of a five-year research and education initiative, “The Effects of Race,” based at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) in South Africa, and – in conjunction with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is leading work on a new “genetics and genealogy” curriculum for middle- and high school students and university undergraduates in the U.S.
There will be a reception and book signing to follow the lecture, as well as copies of Dr. Jablonski’s book for sale.
NSF grant supports new approach to teaching botany
February 7, 2016
BOONE—A National Science Foundation grant awarded to two faculty members at Appalachian State University will support their work to develop engaging botany laboratory experiences for undergraduate students and, at the same time, build a database related to ecological changes occurring in the Southern Appalachians.
The $197,987 grant was awarded to Howard Neufeld and Zack Murrell, both professors in the Department of Biology. Murrell also is interim chairman of the department.
The professors will develop open-ended lab assignments in which students must conduct research to answer questions posed by the professors. It is hoped the labs will be more interesting to students, help them better understand the scientific process and motivate more students to continue studies in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math.
Neufeld estimates that 1,500 to 2,000 students enrolled at Appalachian will participate in the labs through the course of the three-year grant.
Working with members of Appalachian's Physical Plant and other areas, Neufeld and Murrell will develop a phenology garden near campus where students will study the cyclic nature of native species that will be planted. They also will develop more complex labs related to genetic diversity and how the plants' phenology and physiology relate across a larger landscape at different climates and elevations. Students enrolled in the courses will be invited to provide input into development of lab exercises.
Three other schools in the region, UNC Asheville, Warren Wilson College and East Tennessee State University, each received similar NSF funding to develop hands-on botany labs. They also will develop phenology gardens planted with the same species as those at Appalachian, such as cone flowers, golden rod and milkweed, allowing students to compare patterns occurring at different elevations and climates.
The four schools will also use green space on or near their campuses in which students enrolled at the school can monitor growth rates and differences in plants growing in shade gardens and in the understory, like trillium, Christmas ferns, bloodroot and trout lily. Other professors will develop labs in which students study genetic diversity, ecosystem functioning and the invasive species that grow in the region.
During the course of the grant, schools will share information about the labs they develop and will track their undergraduates' research experiences to determine if the approach is working or if labs should be redesigned.
"The botanical sciences are becoming more important," Neufeld said. "As the human population continues to grow, food security becomes a greater issue, so a better understanding of plants becomes more vital, as well as the protection and maintenance of our natural ecosystems."
Another focus of all labs across the four schools will be a focus on global climate change. "Everything is geared with idea of establishing baseline data related to plant growth and other factors that may differ over time," Neufeld said.
"Currently, the Southern Appalachians is one of the few areas of the world that has yet to experience notable variations in the climate," he said. "We want to establish a database so that future students will have a baseline from which they can determine how plants are reacting to any variations to the climate that will occur in the future."
The data collected by the students will be shared across the campuses and may be added to the National Phenology Network, which is a resource for scientists and others who monitor the impacts of climate variation on plants as well as animals.
College of Arts & Sciences chooses six recipients for summer grant research
February 3, 2016
Boone - This summer the College of Arts and Sciences will provide six $5,000 grants to faculty to work on scholarly research, creative projects and external funding proposals that will enhance the transformational experience of Appalachian students.
The reason for these grants, according to College of Arts and Science's Dean, Tony Calamai, is two-fold: "The creation of new knowledge and student engagement beyond the traditional classroom and laboratory experiences is a critical part of our mission as a university faculty. So it's a no-brainer to invest in our faculty to enhance their scholarly activities and subsequently the experiences of our students. I hope the college will have the resources to continue this program every summer for a very long time."
The following professors have been awarded grants for their work:
Dr. Brooke E. Christian - A graduate of Appalachian State University in 2005, Dr. Brooke Christian went on to get her Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry in 2010 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and did her postdoctoral work at Yale University as an NIH postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Christian joined the department of chemistry at Appalachian State University in 2015 and teaches biochemistry and biochemistry lab. Her work at Appalachian State focuses on mitochondrial reactive oxygen species and the roles they play in assembly of oxidative phosphorylation complexes and in adipocyte differentiation.
Dr. Elizabeth Shay - Dr. Shay joined the Department of Geography and Planning at Appalachian in 2015. Her specialized areas of teaching and research include town and regional planning, community development, and transportation and land use, with a focus on the built environment, travel behavior, active living and active travel, and health. Her current research initiatives relate to elder-friendly built environment, transportation equity, and resilient mountain communities. Dr. Shay earned her Ph.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill's Development of City and Regional Planning
Dr. Alice Wright - Dr. Wright joined the Department of Anthropology at Appalachian State in 2014, after receiving her PhD from the University of Michigan. She teaches courses on North American, Mesoamerican, and Southeastern archaeology, archaeological theory, and archaeological approaches to landscapes and human-environment interactions. Today, with colleagues from Bryn Mawr College and Sewanee University of the South, she is developing the Pinson Environment and Archaeology Regional Landscapes (PEARL) Project, a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort tackling the Middle Woodland archaeological record of west Tennessee. She also leads an archaeological field school affiliated with the PEARL Project.
Dr. Chuong Mai - Dr. Mai joined the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Appalachian State in 2015. His teaching and research focus on the religions of Asia, particularly the history of Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhism. Dr. Mai's project looks at the intersection of women's religious practices, spirit mediumship, folk opera, and popular Buddhism in the worship of the Buddhist deity, Quan Am (Guanyin, Avalokiteshvara), also known as the "Goddess of Mercy". The project will shed light on how gender, embodiment, and ritual produce experiences of sacred presence and power, particularly for women devotees.
Dr. Andrew R. Smith - Dr. Smith joined the Department of Psychology in 2011 after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. Dr. Smith is a social psychologist whose research investigates people's judgments and decisions. Recently, Dr. Smith has investigated factors that influence people's willingness to take risks in a variety of domains including financial (e.g., investing in the stock market), social (e.g., asking someone out on a date), and health risks (e.g., smoking).
Dr. Gabriele Casale - Dr. Casale joined the Department of Geology in 2011, and began his tenure track position shortly after completing his Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 2012. His research interests are in the complex interplay between contemporaneous shortening and extension in mountain belts from a field structural geology perspective. His research is centered upon the formation of domal structures in the deeply exhumed continental crust in the Blue Ridge. He is currently constructing 2D kinematic interpretations across the Valley and Ridge.
Humanities Council welcomes the new semester with “Warm Up with the Humanities”
February 2, 2016
BOONE - This spring the Humanities Council will feature the works of new faculty during "Warm Up with the Humanities." The event will take place February 26, 2016, from 1pm to 4pm in Belk Library room 421. Hot chocolate will be served during the event.
"By featuring the research of new faculty, we will highlight the continuing importance of the humanities in developing the conceptual frameworks, contextual understandings, and interdisciplinary perspectives necessary to address the complex problems facing society today," says Dr. Nancy Love, Humanities Council Coordinator.
Two different presentation formats will be used, including traditional 30 minute lectures, and 3 minute (3MR) presentations. There will be added time for discussion between audience and presenters.
The following presentations will be given by six professors from across the College of Arts and Sciences.
"At the Foot of the Beast: Ethnographic Research with Gang Communities in Honduras"
"Appalachian Wine Rhetorics: Framing the Region's Vineyards"
"Saving the Sea, Socially: Measuring Correlations Between Rhetorical Strategy and Common Social Behaviors of Engagement on Facebook"
"Black Genocide: American and West German Protest Movements and Changing Social Memories of Mass Violence in the 1960s and 1970s"
"The Cruelty of Critique: Philosophy and Violence"
"When the Subaltern Speaks: Insights from the USA"
For additional information visit humanitiescouncil.appstate.edu/
Appalachian students share experience at the Iowa Caucus
February 1, 2016
Note: This narrative was written by Emily Montgomery and Katelynn Harris, two of the students traveling to Iowa with Dr. Phillip Ardoin from Government and Justice.
IOWA CITY - Appalachian State's "The Iowa Project" course, couldn't be more exciting for the 10 political science students who are participating the 2016 Iowa caucus process. As part of the course, students have engaged in campaign efforts, grassroot politics, and will observe first hand first in the nation Iowa caucus. The #app2iowa journey began with 16 hours of traveling, across 878 miles and through seven states, which brought students to their ultimate destination of Iowa City, Iowa. Since arriving in Iowa City, students have attended six candidate events. and actually met personally with five of the presidential candidates. This experience has helped the students truly understand the value of retail politics, which reigns king in Iowa.
Their first event was a Marco Rubio town hall meeting in Burlington, Iowa. At this event, the students watched Rubio skillfully work the crowd and answer the wide range of questions presented by the potential voters in attendance. For instance, one participant asked Rubio how he felt about the "mark of satan," in the form of microchips in our arms. Rubio effectively avoided controversy by saying he was not informed on the subject but considers himself a man of strong faith. Following the Rubio event, the students returned to the road to attend a Ben Carson event which ended with a brief but private meeting with Dr. Carson and an interview with MTV News for two of the students. The group finished their first day in Iowa standing in line in below freezing weather for what seemed like ages to attend a Hillary Clinton Rally. After being introduced by former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton gave an energetic and passionate speech with the hope of mobilizing her support for Monday night's caucusing.
Day two started for several of the students with canvassing for their preferred candidate. While they enjoyed their campaign experiences, many of the Iowa residents were less than excited to find another student knocking on their door. The students understand their frustration after one potential voter noted he was averaging up to three campaigners on his front step a day for the last six months. Following a morning of canvassing, the entire group headed to Dubuque, IA to see Donald Trump arrive for his campaign rally in his personal Boeing 757. In true Donald Trump fashion, Mr. Trump providing a scathing critique of the media, President Obama and both his Republican and Democratic opponents.
Following Trump's rally, the Democratic leaning students headed back to Iowa City to attend a Sanders event and the Republican leaning students stayed in Dubuque to assist the Jeb Bush campaign with a town hall meeting. Jeb's town hall was quite exciting. Held at an American Legion Hall, there were more than a few inebriated regulars who tried to steal Bush's spotlight. However, Bush handled the bar patrons with tremendous skill and diplomacy.
On Day three, the students split up to attend a Ted Cruz rally at the state fair grounds, a Bernie Sanders town hall event north of Iowa City, and for a few of the grad students an academic conference on elections sponsored by the University of Iowa. The students reunioned after dinner to end their day with an exciting Rand Paul rally at the University of Iowa's student union.
Overall, the Iowa caucus experience has been thrilling for both the students and faculty. As one student noted, "it is pretty amazing to think we may have personally met the future President of the United States." The adventure isn't over yet, on Monday evening they will be observing both the Democratic and Republican caucuses before beginning their long journey back to Boone!
College of Arts & Sciences seeks spring commencement student speaker
February 2, 2016
This spring, the College of Arts & Sciences will select up to three distinguished graduating seniors to speak at the May 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:
The College of Arts & Sciences Commencement Speaker Committee will review the applications and interview finalists the Monday & Tuesday after Spring Break (March 14-15, 2016).
Commencement Speaker Guidelines:
The student selected must submit a draft of his or her remarks to be approved, by a specified deadline approximately 5 weeks prior to the ceremony.
To apply visit cas.appstate.edu/undergraduate-academic-services
Key Appalachian studies publications to be made available online through NEH and Mellon grant
January 29, 2016
BOONE—Appalachian studies scholars and those interested in regional history will have greater access to out-of-print works thanks to a two-year National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Open Book Program grant totaling $88,000 awarded to Belk Library and Information Commons at Appalachian State University.
The NEH and Mellon Foundation grants that were awarded to 10 universities and organizations total more than $700,000. The funds will give a second life to outstanding out-of-print books in the humanities by turning them into e-books that will be made available for free under a Creative Commons license.
Pamela Mitchem, the library's coordinator of digital scholarship and initiatives, will direct the project. She was the principal investigator for the grant application. Materials to be digitized were selected by Fred Hay, librarian of the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Anne Belk Distinguished Professor and professor of Appalachian studies; and Norma Riddle, interim associate dean and university archivist in the library's Special Collection.
After conducting copyright research and verifying copyright permissions, Belk Library will work with UNC Press in Chapel Hill to create digitized versions of 73 classic works on the history and culture of Southern Appalachia. The works were published by the now defunct Appalachian Consortium Press. The project should be complete by late 2017.
Projects were selected through a rigorous review process that measured how the digitized books would be of demonstrable intellectual significance and broad interest to current readers. "These are some of the seminal works on Appalachian studies," Mitchem said of the publications selected for the digitization project.
"The Appalachian Consortium was the combined effort of various institutions in the southern Appalachian region," Hay said. "It preceded and laid the foundation for Appalachian studies' scholarly association, the Appalachian Studies Association. From its inception the Appalachian Consortium was the primary publisher of monographs on the Appalachian region."
Among the works Hay and others selected for digitization is David E. Whisnant's "Modernizing the Mountaineer: People, Power, and Planning in Appalachia," which Hay called a classic study of both private and public development efforts focused and often foisted on the people of the Appalachian region. "Whisnant documents both the positive and negative results of these interventions and how they contributed to modern misperceptions of the region and its inhabitants."
Another is "Colonialism in Modern America: The Appalachian Case" edited by Helen Matthews Lewis, Linda Johnson and Donald Askins. Hay said, "This is a revolutionary work that redirected Appalachian studies away from nostalgia for things quaint to an awareness of the realities of colonial occupation and its devastating effects on Appalachia."
"The digitization of these important resources is a vital step forward in bringing regional scholarship to interested students and into the public domain," said Dr. William Schumann, director for the Center of Appalachian Studies at Appalachian. "The ease-of-access this project provides will not only broaden our knowledge of these materials, but also expand the ways that North Carolina's students and citizens interpret and utilize these resources. This project is a service to the state of North Carolina and to those interested in the Appalachian region everywhere."
Appalachian's Dean of Libraries Joyce Ogburn said the breadth of Appalachian's W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection, which is home to the largest collection focused on Appalachia, helped the university secure the NEH/Mellon grant.
"We have a good digital presence in the library but to be able to make this kind of foundational material available for others to use is really important to us," she said.
Ogburn hopes the library's collaboration with UNC Press will become a model for other universities to follow as they seek to digitize important holdings and make them more widely available to scholars and the public.
Among other works on the region's history, rural life and economic development that will become available for future viewing online or for purchase as an e-book are:
In addition to Appalachian, funding was awarded to Cornell University, Northwestern University, Oregon State University, University of Florida at Gainesville, University of North Texas, Wayne State University Press, Wesleyan University, the American Council of Learned Societies and the American Numismatic Society.
Appalachian students to travel to Iowa to witness political history
January 27, 2016
BOONE—The venue and subject couldn't be more exciting for 10 political science majors at Appalachian State University who will travel with their professors to observe the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, which are the first of 16 to be held in the nation.
The course, "The Iowa Project," is taught by Professor Philip Ardoin and Visiting Professor Paul Gronke, both from the Department of Government and Justice Studies.
The students, a mix of undergraduate and graduate political science majors, have been meeting on weekends to complete the coursework in preparation for the experience and to better understand the role of Iowa in the nomination process. They will document their observations during the caucuses on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #App2Iowa.
While in Iowa, the students will attend both Democratic and Republican caucuses, which are open to the public and occur primarily in high schools and community centers. Any registered voter can participate in their precincts' caucuses.
"The caucus process is complicated," Ardoin said. "The Republican presidential caucus is nonbinding. It's a straw poll with no legal bearing on how precinct delegates will vote at their state convention and ultimately at the Republican National Convention in July."
The Democratic presidential caucus in Iowa requires participants to indicate their presidential preference by a show of hands, Ardoin said. "Because the party has a 15 percent minimum threshold, there are often multiple rounds of voting before the precinct delegates choose a candidate."
Each of Iowa's 99 counties has its own caucus meeting in which voters choose candidates for local and state elections in addition to indicating a preference for the presidential nominee.
The students will be in Iowa for four days, having left Boone Jan. 29 for the 16-hour drive. They will attend Democratic and Republican campaign events of their choosing in addition to attending the party caucuses in locations outside Iowa City.
"Our goal is to see at least eight of the candidates," Ardoin said. Students can also participate in campaign activities if they choose to in order to see firsthand how campaigns work.
In addition, the students will join Ardoin and Gronke at an academic conference at the University of Iowa, where the professors will present research on the impact of early voting on presidential elections.
Ardoin said Appalachian will be the only university from North Carolina to have a formal class attending the caucuses.
"This election will be a once-in-a-lifetime event. We will be watching history," he said. "Whoever the candidates selected are, this is a crucial step, because the momentum from winning Iowa is critical to eventually winning the presidential nomination."
Minerals from around the world donated to Appalachian’s geology department
January 25, 2016
BOONE—A collection representing one man's lifetime fascination with minerals has been donated to the Department of Geology at Appalachian State University. It will be featured in a series of exhibits in the department's McKinney Geology Teaching Museum located in Rankin Science Building.
The collection of the late James E. Wilson includes more than 200 museum quality specimens, including aquamarine from Pakistan, a bright green malachite stalactite from Zaire and rhodochrosite, a pink to red manganese carbonate mineral from Colorado.
A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Wilson worked as a geologist in the natural gas industry in the eastern United States, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Tennessee before retiring to Florida. He was an avid collector, starting as a teenager, and in later years traveled to various mineral shows, according to his wife, Corrine. Wilson died in 2013.
It was the family's wish that the collection, which occupied seven display cases in the Wilsons home, be publicly displayed.
"It's a splendid collection, with many stunning individual specimens from around the world," said Professor Andy Heckert, a professor in the Department of Geology and director of the McKinney Geology Teaching Museum. "Once it's installed, I think you'll have to go hundreds of miles from Boone to find more exquisite specimens, and there are plenty of fine places to see minerals here in the High Country."
Retired geology professor Richard Abbott agreed. "These specimens are of the quality you would find in the Smithsonian," he said. "For many of these minerals, there is nothing in the department's existing collection that even comes close to the quality and diversity it represents."
Wilson and his wife knew of Appalachian and the reputation of its geology department, whose graduates often pursue careers with the oil and gas industry. Appalachian was one of three academic institutions or museums considered for the gift.
Geology lab coordinator Anthony Love traveled to Florida to pick up the collection and has helped inventory its holdings. "It will make our museum more dynamic," he said. Future exhibits could focus on the mineral type or locality of the specimens, including the Appalachia region which is represented by minerals such as garnet sphalerite, calcite fluorite and dolomite.
"That is part of the value of this collection," Love said. "Almost anyone can walk up and appreciate any one of these specimens and that might garner someone's interest in becoming a geologist or chemist."
Once the specimens are catalogued, Heckert hopes the first exhibit from the collection will be on display in mid-March, giving the public a first-hand look at the variety and beauty of the collection.
"People do not appreciate that minerals are more than pretty rocks. Exquisite crystals are literally scale models of the chemistry at an atomic level," Heckert said. "To a geologist, minerals are the ingredients, the building blocks, of rocks. Usually, mineral crystals are microscopic, or maybe only a few millimeters long, and natural crystals are seldom perfect, as they grow into each other and interlock. The James Wilson collection specimens are fantastic examples where crystals grew in perfectly ideal conditions, probably in hydrothermal (hot water) conditions, so that they are positively gigantic relative to normal crystals."
“Plant Parenthood” class offered Jan. 30
January 21, 2016
BOONE—The Department of Biology at Appalachian State University will offer a free class Jan. 30 on vegetative propagation of tropical plants. The class is part of the "High Country Gardening" series taught by greenhouse manager Jerry Meyer.
The class will meet from 9:30-11 a.m. in the biology greenhouse at 211 Dale St. off State Farm Road.
The concepts discussed, using tropical plants as examples, can be applied to outdoor plants as well. The event will include a brief tour of the conservatory, which houses 1,000 species of tropical, subtropical and temperate plants. All age groups are encouraged to sign up.
Class size is limited. To reserve a space, email meyerja [at] appstate [dot] edu. Call 262-4025 for more details.
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