Professors at Appalachian receive NSF grant to study dome formation in Georgia and Western North Carolina

BOONE—The Tallulah Gorge area in Georgia and Toxaway Falls in Gorges State Park in Western North Carolina are well known for their beauty and outdoor recreational offerings.

For Appalachian State University geologists Gabe Casale and Jamie Levine, the areas are also rich in geological information.

Casale and Levine, both assistant professors in Appalachian's Department of Geology, have received a $139,895 award from the National Science Foundation to study dome formations in the two areas. They say the information will provide a greater understanding of the processes that created the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Mountains are built through a combination of two processes – compression or extension, Levine explained. One way to visualize the process is to think of an old-fashioned telescope. Compression occurs when the telescope is closed. Push both ends together and it gets shorter, and on average wider. "Extension is pulling both ends of the telescope apart. It gets longer and on average thinner," Casale said.

"The Tallulah Falls dome is thought to have formed by compression. This is a reasonable assumption because the whole region was undoubtedly being compressed when the dome formed," Levine said. "We think that instead it may actually be the result of extension, meaning that at the same time most of the region was being shortened, compressed and growing mountains, in some areas the same forces resulted in extension and pulling apart," she said.

To determine whether the Tallulah Falls dome was formed by compression or extension, Casale and Levine will turn to a set of tests developed about 40 years ago to categorize dome formation in the Rocky Mountains as well as modern technology, Casale said.

"It revolutionized what geologists thought about the ways in which mountains evolve," Casale said of the method. "Geologists applied the criteria in the Rocky Mountains. The mountains are overall compressional, but the domes in the Rocky Mountains are extensional. While there are features that you can see in map scale in the Southern Appalachians that are very similar to extensional features that you see in the Rocky Mountains, that specific set of criteria has not been applied here."

Changes in technology also will enable the geologists to analyze data in ways that couldn't be accomplished as recently as 10 or 15 years ago. Casale and Levine, assisted by undergraduates at Appalachian, will measure the orientation of rocks at the two sites, collect samples, look for specific structures in the rock, and determine the temperatures at which they were formed and whether they were being uplifted by extension or compression.

"If rocks are making a dome because the earth's crust is getting thicker from two plates coming together and compressing, that dome's thermal evolution is going to be different than if it's doming up because the materials above it are being removed as it cools down," Casale said.

By determining the age of different rocks in the areas, the geologists will be able to determine when the domes formed and also what was occurring within the entire mountain range.

"If we find evidence for extension in these domes, there are probably a number of domes in the Southern Appalachians that may need to be reevaluated," Casale said.


Researchers use tree-ring science to study area log cabins

BOONE—Saskia van de Gevel looks closely at the ends of logs used to construct two cabins located in the Bear Paw State Natural Area in Watauga County.

The logs' coloration and wood anatomy indicates which ones are original to the structure and which ones were replaced because of damage. The closeness of the tree rings visible along the edge of the logs also is an indication of age.

Saskia van de Gevel is part of a research team determining the age of logs used to construct cabins located at the Bear Paw State Natural Area in Watauga County. Van de Gevel is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at Appalachian State University. (Photo by Marie Freeman)Van de Gevel is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at Appalachian State University who specializes in tree ring and biogeographical research.

Van de Gevel, along with Professor Henri Grissino-Mayer from the University of Tennessee, Ph.D. student Maegen Rochner, also from the University of Tennessee, Neva Specht, an associate dean in Appalachian's College of Arts and Sciences, and Mark Spond, Appalachian's liason to the Blue Ridge Parkway, are the lead researchers on a project to determine the age of logs used to construct the cabins that were moved to their current site from another location in Watauga County.

"We know the larger cabin was relocated here in the early 20th century," said Grissino-Mayer. But the cabins are much older than that. In addition to the logs' color and tree rings, nails used in their construction indicate when they were constructed.

Square Cut Nails (Photo by Marie Freeman)"Square cut nails were used between 1800 to about 1860. The round nails that we are used to today came into use about 1860s or 1870s," Grissino-Mayer. "Whenever you see these square nails, that's a dead clue that the log is original to the building."

The cabins being studied have both types of nails.

The researchers and their students took core samples from the top and bottom of the logs in July to more accurately determine the construction dates of the cabins.

"The project will advise the state park system on how to proceed with the preservation of the cabins. The intent of the state park system is to utilize the larger cabin as an educational center that focuses on interpreting Southern Appalachian culture and history," said Tracy Minton, park superintendent of Elk Knob State Park. Bear Paw is a satellite park of Elk Knob State Park.

Their work also will be used to evaluate whether the cabins are eligible for National Register of Historic Places designation.

"Hopefully, we will be able to determine if the cabins were built pre- or post-Civil War," van de Gevel said. "That will help with plans to include the cabins on the National Register."

Matthew Bray, who graduated in May with a master's degree in public history, researched and wrote a history of the site. According to oral history, the largest cabin on the site was relocated and reassembled in the early 1900s, most likely from a farm located near Clark's Creek Baptist Church. It was used in the 1960s to the 1980s as rental property, according to Bray's report. It is unknown when the smaller cabin was relocated, but it was originally an agricultural outbuilding located in the valley in the Clark's Creek area, according to interviews conducted in 2014 by the director of the university's Center for Appalachian Studies with relatives of the original owners.

Undergraduates in van de Gevel's summer class titled "Global Change of the Biosphere" assisted with fieldwork related to the project.

Funding for the field work was provided by Appalachian's College of Arts and Sciences.


Student literary publication receives three national awards

BOONE—The spring 2015 edition of The Peel Literature & Arts Review won three national awards from the AEJMC (Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication) Magazine Division. The awards was presented Aug. 8 at the annual AEJMC conference, to be held in San Francisco, California.

In the organization's 2015 Student Magazine Contest, The Peel won first place for design, third place for editorial and third place for general excellence in the Single Issue of an Ongoing Magazine category.

The Peel is produced and published by a staff of Appalachian State University students, and features works of current students. The mission of the publication is to cultivate and celebrate creative expression.

While judging the Editorial in the Single Issue of an Ongoing Magazine category, Peter Moore, editor of Men's Health Magazine and Men's Health iPad edition, said, "There is clearly as much passion expended on the words as there is the photography and artwork, and the result is a strong creative statement."

Michael Caruso, the judge for design and editor-in-chief of Smithsonian Magazine, said, "You don't know what you're doing to see when you turn each page of (The) Peel, you just know that it's going to be striking and beautiful. The jagged lines of the mosaic on the title page continue through the rest of the magazine and somehow never become predictable. In the hands of this art director, type becomes another element, often appearing in shapes that set off the eclectic illustrations and photography. Every spread is suitable for framing."

The 2014-15 editorial board members were Hannah Parker, editor-in-chief; Lauren Andersen, associate editor; Sarida "Sam" Scott, designer; Kyle Hazard, visual editor; Emma Carte, prose editor; Lovey Cooper, poetry editor; Dave Dykes, public relations coordinator; and Justin Perry, web manager. The journal staff was advised by Allison Bennett Dyche, assistant director for student media in the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership (CSIL).

"It was an incredible year working for The Peel," Parker said. "By no means were these awards undeserved, and it's so exciting to see others supporting what we do as a university."

The Peel produces two digital issues per year – one in the fall semester and one in the spring semester – and one print issue that features the best work from the fall and spring digital issues.

View the digital issues of The Peel at

The spring print edition was launched May 1 at an exhibition of student work from The Peel at Shear Shakti on King Street, during the First Friday Art Crawl.

For more information about The Peel or to make a donation of money or goods to the publication, contact Allison Bennett Dyche at adviser [at] theappalachianonline [dot] com.

Anonymous Donor’s vision translates to $500,000 in scholarships for Wayne County Students

July 24, 2015


Albert Einstein was credited with saying, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.  He who understands it, earns it…he who doesn’t…. pays it.”  As an accountant and business professional, our donor knew well the wonders of compounding when he started an endowment that awarded a $20,000 scholarship to the minority student in the Wayne County Public Schools (Goldsboro, North Carolina), who recorded the highest score in the end of grade science and math test in the third grade.   In 1992, the donor made his first contribution of $10,000 to fund the scholarship that was invested over the long term so that the third grader would have $20,000 in financial support to attend Appalachian State University. The vision of the donor was to inspire these 9 year olds to know that college has become a real possibility if they make education a priority and admission to Appalachian a personal goal.  Twenty-six scholarships have now been created over the years producing scholarships that are valued at over $500,000.


The scholarship recipient was obviously gifted to have scored in the highest percentile in the third grade. The scholarship was designed to provide incentive to work hard and remain focused on being “college bound.”  Most of the awardees are the first in their families to attend college. With the assurance of the scholarship, the financial pressures of paying college tuition are considerably lessened. The donor has stipulated that the student will major in science or mathematics and maintain a minimum 2.5 grade point average.  The scholarship support is for four years.  


To prepare these young scholars to the rigors of higher education, the College of Arts and Sciences partnered with Appalachian’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance that has been instrumental in communicating with these students and their families and arranging for visits to the university for those who are in high school and starting to think about the next steps of their education.  Susan King, Education and Outreach Coordinator says, “We begin cultivating relationships with these gifted young people as soon as they are awarded the scholarship. It’s important for them to have a personal experience of Appalachian, and so we introduce them to as many Appalachian students, faculty and staff as possible on campus visits.” Scholars attend classes, labs, and sports events, eat in the dining hall, shop in the bookstore and spend their nights in residence halls with Appalachian student hosts. King coordinates with the Office of Admissions, Financial Aid, and Parent and Family Services to ensure that each student – and parent – receives the assistance needed to make the application process to Appalachian a smooth and successful one. 


And, successful they have been.  The adjustment to college life is difficult for many students, particularly those who are the first in their family to attend college.  Student Support Services counselors are available to help the Wayne County scholars succeed in the transition.  Student Support Services Director Cathia Silver explained, "The program fosters a sense of community and provides integrative services for students starting with their orientation through graduation including proactive advising, academic instruction and tutoring, financial aid assistance, mentoring program, and career exploration and development - all services designed to retain and graduate students from first-generation, low-income homes.”


Today, the Wayne County Scholars are showing great accomplishments.  A recent graduate is starting his career at a credit union and a pre-med student in her last semester doing a medical study abroad program in Africa. Several have become involved in leadership positions with organizations on campus.  One, a rising sophomore, has just been elected vice chair of the Chancellor’s Student Advisory Committee for Diversity Recruitment. Another has been chosen as a mentor for the L.E.A.D. program (Linking Education And Diversity), which is designed to create fellowship among students and families of historically underrepresented backgrounds and to help ease their transition to Appalachian State University


Currently, we have three Wayne County Scholars enrolled, and an additional ten young scholars who have been notified of their awards and are now working through elementary, middle school, and high school with the knowledge that their path to college is assured . . . if they maintain their outstanding academic records.  Meanwhile, the magic of compounding is silently working in the background to ensure this donor’s contributions grow to match the promise of a higher education for these students.

Computer scientist at Appalachian helps researchers track honey bee health

July 21, 2015

BOONE—Tracking the health of honeybees across the U.S. is the work of a multi-university team, including a computer scientist at Appalachian State University.

The Bee Informed Partnership, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is comprised of scientists from eight universities, including the University of Maryland, Oregon State University, the University of Tennessee and Appalachian. The partnership members are also beekeepers.

Their goal in the $5 million project, now in its final year, has been to track hive loss and document beekeepers’ best practices as a way to mitigate losses.

“We have been collecting a lot of data. The next step is determining what it all means,” said Dr. James Wilkes, chairman of Appalachian’s Department of Computer Science and a beekeeper himself.

More than 6,000 beekeepers from across the U.S. participated in the partnership’s recent survey. Wilkes and his team of four undergraduate students from Appalachian and a computer programmer from the University of Tennessee were responsible for building the database infrastructure for the project enabling beekeepers to submit their information, and the scientists to generate reports based on the data collected.

Beekeepers provided information about the number of bees they keep, how many they lost each year, what their management practices are and techniques they use to manage their bees, among other information.

The information is important for both the backyard as well as commercial beekeepers, according to Wilkes. “The information is collected with the idea that the epidemiologists can look at the data and come up with correlations between particular practices and hive loss,” he said.

For instance, the data collected since the project began indicate that beekeepers who treat their bees for the varroa mite experience fewer losses than beekeepers who don’t treat for the parasite.

Beekeepers in North Carolina who responded to the survey reported that they lost 41.5 percent of their honey bee hives in 2014-15. Nationwide, the number of hives lost was 42.1 percent. Beekeepers in five states reported losses between 60 and 63 percent.

Healthy honey bees aren’t only important for honey production, they are vital to the success of commercial farms where pollination is needed for crop production of vegetables and fruit and nut trees.

“Bees are part of the food system and food security. If they are not able to have hives for pollination at the level needed by the farmers, there will be problems up the food chain,” Wilkes said.

When the USDA grant ends next year, members of the Bee Informed Partnership plan to continue their research.

“We want the grant work to continue,” Wilkes said. “Our goal has been to build a sustainable business model. We have formed a nonprofit organization to carry on this work after the original grant ends in May 2016. Our vision of the program is to identify the best management practices in the current climate of beekeeping. If enough people change a few things, we could reduce the overall loss.”

To learn about Bee Informed Partnership’s latest report, visit


Research team studies a local water resource, wins a national award

July 2, 2015

Dr. Kristan Cockerill, Assistant Professor in Cultural, Gender and Global Studies and Dr. William Anderson, Chair and Professor in Geology, were recently recognized as the 2015 Boggess Award winners by the Journal of American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). This prestigious award recognizes research conducted in the preceding year that best describes or analyzes a major problem or aspect of water resource management.

Their research, “Creating False Images: Stream Restoration in an Urban Setting” utilizes a local water resource, Boone Creek,  to examine the prevailing assumptions regarding stream restoration practices, including why, where and how stream restoration is conducted.  In their research Drs. Cockerill and Anderson propose that many stream restoration projects may actually exacerbate existing problems and create new water resource problems due to a lack of data, planning and evaluation. 

According to Dr. Cockerill, the research interest in the subject is driven by the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary opportunities that studying water restoration and management issues provide. “I’m very interested in complex systems and in assessing problems from multiple perspectives”, she states. “Stream management encompasses so many facets and so many disciplines.”  For instance water management research spans the fields of history, hydrology, ecology, water policy, public perception, hydrogeology, geomorphology, civil and environmental engineering, and others. 

In the future, the pair plans to continue their research in monitoring the vitality of Boone Creek and the impacts of continued development, and also hope to bring student authors into the project.

English faculty delivers a global perspective through literary research

July 1, 2015

Dr. Başak Çandar, an Assistant Professor of World Literature in the Department of English, will be returning to Appalachian State this fall after completing her participation in a prestigious ten month research program, the Europe in the Middle East, the Middle East in Europe (EUME) fellowship. Each year only ten postdoctoral scholars from around the world are invited to participate in this fellowship to conduct research in a variety of fields including anthropology, history, literature, political science, religion, or Middle Eastern Studies. 

As a EUME Fellow, Çandar has been working on a book manuscript titled “Representing Censored Pasts: State Violence in Twentieth Century Turkish and Spanish Literature,” which focuses on how novels represent violence committed during repressive regimes.  Çandar’s interest in the subject is driven by the multifaceted relationship between history and literature as well as by her own personal history. “I was born in Istanbul, Turkey and grew up in a fairly politically engaged family,” states Çandar. “My parents’ generation in Turkey experienced three military coups over three decades, which means that like many other Turkish people my age, I grew up listening to stories about the coups.”

Participating in the fellowship has also provided Çandar with an opportunity to deepen her research with new questions, topics and connections while working in an environment that facilitates exchange among a community of Middle East scholars.  Çandar believes that her experiences will “surely play into the way I teach and discuss with students questions of World Literature,” when she returns to campus this fall. 

English Department Chair, Dr. Carl Eby also supports the fellowship as it brings an important international component to Appalachian State’s World Literature program.   According to Eby, “Last year we had 1,361 students in World Literature in this Department.  This experience will be brought back into the classroom, but it also projects our presence back out to the world as well.”

To learn more about the EUME fellowship and Dr. Çandar’s research, please visit:

Fulbright awards send Appalachian professors around the globe

June 26, 2015

BOONE—China, Ethiopia, Poland and Austria are the upcoming destinations for four professors at Appalachian State University. Each has received a Fulbright award to teach and/or conduct research at their host institution.



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The first to depart overseas is Jeanne Dubino, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Cultural, Gender and Global Studies. Dubino will spend June and July teaching at Northeast University in Shenyang, China, as a Fulbright Specialist.

Dubino will conduct a series of workshops for faculty and graduate students on teaching literature, especially women’s literature, at the university level, and work with faculty on curricular development. She will also teach two graduate-level classes in poetry and women’s literature, and serve as a reader of master’s theses.

This will be her third trip to Northeast China. Through a U.S. Department of State grant, “People and Nature for a Sustainable Future,” Dubino was an exchange faculty member at NEU for two months in 2014. While there she co-taught a graduate class in women and literature. In 2012, she traveled to China as part of an interactive video conference class taught at Appalachian titled Global Understandings that was offered to partner classes in China, Taiwan and Thailand.



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Al Harris, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Computer Information Systems and Supply Chain Management, will travel to Poland in spring 2016 on his second Fulbright Award. The first was an assignment in Portugal. As a Fulbright Scholar, he will teach classes in information technology to master’s-level students at Adam Mickiewicz University in Pozan, Poland, where he served as a guest lecturer for three weeks in 2011.

“During that time, I was able to establish a great relationship with some faculty and administrators at the Faculty of Law and Administration at Adam Mickiewicz University,” Harris said. “During our discussions, we talked about other opportunities for cooperation and exchange.” In 2013, Harris started a study abroad experience in Poland where students from Appalachian worked with Polish students on a week-long project. He also led a study abroad to the university in Poland in 2014 and again in May.

“Poland has a great university system and has transformed its economy into one of the most robust economies in Central/Eastern Europe,” Harris said. “It will be great to spend a semester in that kind of environment.”



Sid Clements

Sid Clements, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will travel to Innsbruck, Austria in March 2016 for a four-month assignment as a Fulbright Scholar and visiting professor at the Management Center in Innsbruck (MCI). This is his first Fulbright award.

Founded in 1995, MCI is an educational institution offering study programs leading to bachelor and master degrees, executive master degree programs and executive certificate programs.

Clements will assist the center in its plans to implement an electrical engineering master’s program. He also will conduct research on a wastewater purification with non-thermal plasma discharge project. The research involves using underwater electrical discharges to cause chemical reactions that remove liquid pollutants from wastewater. “There are many kinds of possible pollutants in wastewater, for example solvents, oil, gasoline, kerosene and other hydrocarbons,” Clements said of the research project’s potential benefit.

Like his colleagues, Clements said his Fulbright experience also will benefit students interested in future study abroad opportunities at MCI. “I am trying to set up graduate student exchanges between the center in Innsbruck and Appalachian. Being at MCI for four months will allow us to make progress on this,” he said.


Appalachian studies students present research at international conference

June 26, 2015

BOONE—Three graduate students and a faculty member from the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University presented papers at an international mountain studies conference held at Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, in May.

Organized by the University of Alberta’s Canadian Mountain Studies Initiative, the academic conference, Thinking Mountains 2015, was an interdisciplinary gathering of over 140 scholars from around the world who presented research about mountain environments and cultures.

Dr. Katherine Ledford, assistant professor of Appalachian studies, and three of her students pursuing the Master of Arts degree in Appalachian studies – Melanie Harsha, Karen Russo and Robyn Seamon – shared their research on the Appalachian Mountains.

The graduate students’ presentations were derived from their papers for a seminar on global Appalachia. The seminar places early representations of Appalachia within the European traditions of the picturesque and the sublime and directs graduate students in studying the region in comparison with other mountain regions around the world, including the Alps, Pyrenees, Carpathians and Andes, among others.

Harsha presented research on serpent handling religious traditions in Appalachia; Russo introduced conference attendees to the development of ecotourism in Appalachia; and Seamon compared systems of natural beekeeping in Appalachia with apiarian practices in other mountain environments in Europe. Ledford presented an argument for the benefits of comparative mountain studies to the field of Appalachian studies, a portion of her current book project.

Ledford said, “This conference was a unique opportunity for my graduate students to practice comparative critical thinking about mountains in conversations with other scholars from around the world. We met people from Africa, Asia and Europe, all conducting research on mountains and mountain cultures.”

As part of the conference, Ledford and the graduate students visited the Athabasca Glacier and learned about environmental factors impacting the Columbia Icefield, the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains.

“In Canada, my graduate students visited mountains that are very different physically and culturally from the Appalachian Mountains,” Ledford said. “This conference extended the work we did in my global Appalachia seminar in beneficial ways. It challenged my graduate students to consider our Appalachian Mountains from different perspectives.”

Participation in the conference was made possible by support from the Center for Appalachian Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of Student Research, and the Graduate Student Association Senate, part of the Cratis D. Williams School of Graduate Studies.


Nominations for 2014-2015 Faculty and Staff Awards Now Open

Have you worked with a faculty or staff member that is extraordinary in how they teach and deliver services to our students and community?  Have you wondered how this person can be recognized for his or her outstanding work? Consider taking a few minutes to recognize great behaviors by nominating him or her for one of the awards available through the college. 

The College of Arts and Sciences invites all staff and faculty to nominate well deserving faculty and staff for one or more of the College of Arts and Sciences Awards for the 2014-2015 academic year. 

The awards up for nomination are:

The guidelines and procedures for each of the awards can be found on the College of Arts and Sciences webpage, and the forms for nominating are located here:        

All nominations are due to the Dean's Office by August 28, 2015.