Appalachian Geology Professors and Student Conduct Groundbreaking Climate Research in Mongolia

March 2, 2015 

Although the words “climate change” have become a commonly used phrase, few people know the science behind the term. Appalachian State geology professors Johnny Waters and Sarah Carmichael are out to change that.

For the past five years, Waters and Carmichael have been part of a United Nations-funded international group called the International Geologic Cooperation Program (IGCP), which was assembled to improve and build scientific capacity in third-world countries.

“Our specific project is to look at climate change and extinction in the middle Paleozoic era, which was 300 to 400 million years ago,” Waters says. “It was an interesting time in earth history, and happens to be very similar to what we’re seeing today. There was a lot of climatic instability, as well as a massive change in atmospheric carbon dioxide. This was a period of really dramatic change.”

The IGCP researchers, a group which includes roughly 200 people from 25 different countries, study rocks from the Devonian period as a means of gauging the causes for the major mass extinction as well as the conditions in the aftermath. One of those researchers is Cameron Batchelor, a Geology student from Appalachian State, who traveled to Mongolia in August 2014 with Waters, Carmichael, and other ICGP researchers.

“There were two large extinction events in the Devonian period as evidenced by black shale deposits,” Batchelor explains. “We’ve been working on samples from China, so we went to Mongolia to see if we can find the extinction events there as well as in China. These rocks have never been studied before, so the research we’re doing there is groundbreaking. When this study is published, it will be the first detailed publication on samples in this vicinity.”

Batchelor admits that when she first learned she was going on the trip, she felt intimidated. “We went with a bunch of professional geologists and I knew they were all more qualified than me,” Batchelor says. “But they all listened to me and wanted me to help them, so the reality greatly exceeded my expectations.”

In addition to learning about geology, Batchelor got to experience a new culture. “I was living the Mongolian way, living in a yurt and trying Mongolian foods. It was awesome,” Batchelor says. “You get to study what you love, and travel the world, and there are no limits to what you can do,” she smiles.

Batchelor received the Youth Activity Fund Grant from the Explorer’s Club to fund her geologic work. “The Explorer’s Club was created in 1904 to promote exploration,” Bachelor says. On March 22, Batchelor will present her research in Mongolia in New York City at the 111th Explorer’s Club annual dinner.

“There’s a possibility of other students doing additional field work next summer,” Carmichael says. She adds, “We couldn’t do this work without our undergrads.”

Waters hopes that IGCP research helps raise awareness about the importance of climate change. “Because we’re dumping nutrients into the ocean, and have a very rapid change in carbon dioxide, we estimate that by the year 2100, we will duplicate the climate conditions we saw 375 million years ago that led to a major mass extinction,” he says. “Because of this research with IGCP, we now know what the climate will look like if we don’t change what we’re doing.”

To learn more about the research of Johnny Waters and Sarah Carmichael, please visit


Geography's site to be included in the World Meteorological Organization CryoNet's pre-operational testing phase

February 26, 2015

The Quelccaya Icecap site where Perry Baker is conducting research has been selected as one of two U.S.- supported sites to be included in the World Meteorological Organization CryoNet's pre-operational testing phase. Perry is an assistant professor of geography in Appalachian State University’s Department of Geography and Planning.

KyrgyzTUCKIAN Music as Cultural Foreign Policy

February 25, 2015

Please join the Center for Appalachian Studies in welcoming Dr. Jeffrey A. Keith, a professor of global studies at Warren Wilson College, Appalachian historian, and musician to our campus for a brown bag lecture on Friday, February 27th, from 12:30 to 1:30 in Linville Falls (PSU).

The title of Dr. Keith's lecture is Kyrgyztuckian Music as Cultural Foreign Policy: Reflections on Power, Music, and Representation in Appalachia and the Kyrgyz Republic

Jeff Keith earned his doctorate in history at the University of Kentucky, where he specialized in the history of Appalachia and U.S. foreign policy. As a graduate student, Keith began the University of Kentucky String Band, which performed across the eastern U.S. as the Red State Ramblers. The band came to the attention of the U.S. Department of State in 2012, when the Ramblers were invited to Kyrgyzstan and Ecuador as cultural emissaries for the U.S. This presentation will provide an overview of the band’s experiences in Kyrgyzstan, though it will include brief discussions of how that trip illustrated fascinating differences and connections between the mountains of Appalachia and Central Asia in terms of contemporary power dynamics, musical styles, and the politics of representation.

For more information, contact Dr. Katherine Ledford at ledfordke [at] appstate [dot] edu or 262-4087.

Appalachian Journal fall/winter issue released

February 25, 2015

Appalachian Journal has released its fall/winter 2015 issue, which features the winning essay of the Appalachian Studies Association’s 2014 Carl Ross Award. Appalachian State graduate Zachary D. Swick received the award for his article on sustainable development titled in April 2014. The award honors Carl Ross, who was a history professor and director of the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian at the time of his death in 1988.

Center for Appalachian Studies receives grant to develop classroom materials focused on region’s musical heritage

February 24, 2015

The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership has awarded $7,000 to the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University to develop lesson plans about North Carolina’s music traditions. 

Poetry, mystery and short story writers featured during spring Visiting Writers Series

February 23, 2015

A variety of writing genres will be featured during the spring Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series at Appalachian State University, which begins March 19 with a reading by poet Hank Lazer. Mystery and short story author Roxane Gay will come to campus April 16. Readings by poets Megan Kaminski and Tim Earley will conclude the series April 23. Admission to all events is free.

Triassic crocodile discovered by ASU professor

February 16, 2015

After more than a decade of studying numerous fossils with a focus on the Late Triassic Period, Appalachian State University professor Andrew Heckert was recently involved in the identification and naming of Gorgetosuchus Pekinensis, a previously unknown species of the crocodile family.

College of Arts and Sciences Seeks Student Speakers for Spring 2015 Commencement

February 5, 2015 

At this year’s Spring Commencement Ceremony, up to three distinguished graduating seniors from the College of Arts and Sciences will represent their graduating class as the college’s speakers. The College seeks candidates to represent its three divisions: 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 academic accomplishments. Further requirements and guidelines appear on the application. The College of Arts & Sciences Commencement Speaker committee will review the applications and interview finalists in early March. The application is attached below.

Completed applications must be turned in to the College of Arts and Sciences, 201 IG Greer Hall, by 5 p.m. Wednesday, February 25, 2015. For more information, please contact Katy Cook in the College of Arts and Sciences office at 828-262-3078 or cookke [at] appstate [dot] edu.

The College of Arts and Sciences names Dr. Nancy Love new Humanities Council Coordinator.

December 10, 2014 

“I am honored to serve as the new Coordinator of the College of Arts and Sciences Humanities Council,” Dr. Nancy Sue Love says. “In the 21st century, American citizens are being asked to redefine themselves as members of an emerging global community. Although the traditional humanities remain crucial resources in this effort, today their task is to enhance public life in new global contexts on behalf of a more sustainable democracy.  I look forward to working with the Council and others to contribute to these efforts.”

Love joined the faculty at Appalachian State in 2009, and currently serves as a Professor in the Department of Government and Justice Studies. Love is the former Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program.

Love received her PhD in 1984 and MA in 1981 from Cornell University, and a AB degree in 1977 from Kenyon College. Her teaching and research emphasize political theory, especially critical theory, democratic theory, and feminist theory. She has extensive experience with public humanities programs and previously served on the Humanities Council here at Appalachian as well as on the board of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council.

Dr. Love is the author of Musical Democracy (2006), Understanding Dogmas and Dreams: A Text, 2nd ed. (2006), and Marx, Nietzsche, and Modernity (1986), the editor of Dogmas and Dreams: A Reader in Modern Political Ideologies, 4th ed. (2010), and the co-editor of Studying Politics Today: Critical Approaches to Political Science (2014) and Doing Democracy: Activist Art and Cultural Politics (2013). She has also published numerous articles and book chapters. She recently completed a six-year term as the co-editor of New Political Science: A Journal of Politics and Culture.

“The College is fortunate to have Dr. Love taking over the coordinator position for the Council,” Sr. Associate Dean Neva Specht remarked.  “Nancy has a remarkable understanding of the power of the humanities and will provide strong leadership for the council.”

The purpose of the Humanities Council is to enhance support for and recognition of Humanities scholarship throughout the University and to encourage interdisciplinary research and communication among scholars from different areas of expertise. Through its varied programming initiatives, the Humanities Council aims to promote understanding of work in the Humanities, its relationship to other fields of inquiry, and the important role it plays at our university and in our world. The Humanities Council is a site where the values of interdisciplinary and the liberal arts are promoted to the benefit of students, the College, and the University.

To learn more about the Humanities Council, please visit



Appalachian Professors Create Girl Scout Badge to Encourage Girls to Pursue Mathematics

December 10, 2014 

Appalachian professors Sarah Greenwald, Amber Mellon, and Jill Thomley are passionate about mathematics, and have found a way to encourage young girls to pursue their love of math.

“Girl Scouts of America has found that girls are interested in mathematics but they don’t have role models to follow, and they need them,” says Greenwald.

This led Greenwald, Mellon, and Thomley to create a Girl Scout badge that encourages girls to learn about mathematics and the women who practice in the field. “There was no badge related directly to mathematics until we made one,” Greenwald says.

There are five steps to earning any Girl Scout badge. For the Mathematics badge those five steps are:

  1. Learn about a woman who was not afraid to be a first in the field of mathematics
  2. Learn about the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM)
  3. Reflect on experiences in mathematics
  4. Learn about careers in mathematics
  5. Share what you know

In partnership with High Country Girl Scouts, the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Appalachian State, and the Association of Women of Mathematics, Greenwald, Mellon and Thomley hosted an event which allowed local Girl Scouts to learn about mathematics and earn the badge. Girls from grades 6-9 participated in the event. Greenwald says that she, Mellon and Thomley plan to incorporate activities for younger girls in future events.

“The feedback we received at the event was positive,” Greenwald says. “I spoke with one girl in particular, whose mother mentioned to us that there really aren’t any projects for girls who are interested in math. They were so happy to see that we were working to meet that need.”

Overall, Greenwald is encouraged by the positive feedback received regarding the badge and its activities. “It’s so important to give girls positive experiences with math, and the middle grades and high school are where we lose a lot of girls who are interested in the topic,” she says. “If this project can make a difference in even one girl’s experiences with math, I think we’ve been successful.”

To find out more about the Women in Mathematics badge for Girl Scouts, please visit its website.