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In Focus: 2/20/2014

A weekly newsletter published by the Communications Office

Sharing Some Love

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The “One Swipe” program, in which students swipe their meal card but forgo a meal, has become a Valentine’s Day tradition at Southwestern. This year, students set a new record for meals donated, with 277. Southwestern’s food service provider, Sodexo, donated the equivalent of 150 additional meals, which means that approximately $2,000 worth of food will be donated to The Caring Place this week. (Photo by Daniel Dumitru)

Top News

SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR ALSO TEACHES ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR FITNESS CLASSES ON CAMPUS

Most students know Ed Kain as a sociology professor. But hundreds of students have also learned something else from Kain – dancing.

Kain has been teaching a Social Dance class off and on at Southwestern since 1987. The class is one of a variety of classes that students can take to satisfy their FRA (Fitness and Recreation) requirement.

This semester Kain has 76 students in the class, which meets every Monday and Wednesday afternoon in the Walzel Gym. While 76 students may sound like an enormous class by Southwestern standards, Kain has had as many as 110 students in the class − almost a tenth of the student body at the time. 

Kain says he developed a passion for dancing while he was in college himself. After breaking a knee in a gymnastics elective, he decided to satisfy the rest of his required fitness classes with classes in ballroom, folk and modern dance. By the time he was a senior, he was already teaching others to dance.

Read more here.

ENDOWMENT HONORS LONGTIME PSYCHOLOGY PROFESSOR

An endowment to provide permanent funding for faculty-student collaborative research in Psychology and Animal Behavior has been set up in honor of Jesse Purdy, a professor of psychology who has taught at Southwestern for more than 35 years. The endowment was started with a gift from an alumni couple who is offering to match every dollar raised up to $50,000.

Read more here.

Events

MARCH 1 EVENT OFFERS OPPORTUNITY TO MEET CITY COUNCILMEMBER, REGISTER TO VOTE

The San Gabriel Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, which is located across from campus at 1322 E. University Ave., will be hosting a “Meet Your Representative” event on Saturday, March 1, from 3-5 p.m. The event will offer an opportunity to meetwith Rachael Jonrowe, the Georgetown City Council member who represents District 6 (which includes the SU campus). 

Deputy voter registrars also will be available at the event to register voters from Southwestern and the surrounding neighborhood. 

AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR TO GIVE MARCH 4 TALK AT SOUTHWESTERN

Award-winning author Lesléa Newman will give a talk at Southwestern on Tuesday, March 4, at 4 p.m. in the Mood-Bridwell Atrium. The title of her talk is “He Continues to Make a Difference: The Story of Matthew Shepard.”

Newman has written more than 60 books for children, young adults and adults, including A Letter to Harvey Milk, Nobody’s Mother, Hachiko Waits, Write from the Heart, The Boy Who Cried Fabulous, The Best Cat in the World, Felicia’s Favorite Story, Too Far Away to Touch, and Saturday Is Pattyday.  Her groundbreaking book, Heather Has Two Mommies, published in 1990, was the first children’s book to portray lesbian families in an open and positive way. Newman’s most recent work, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, (Candlewick Press, 2012), is a cycle of 68 poems exploring the cultural, political and emotional impact of Matthew Shepard’s murder.

The talk is open to the public, and Newman’s books will be available for purchase.

MARCH 6 TALK WILL FOCUS ON ‘DIGITAL DEMENTIA’

Psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Manfred Spitzer will give a March 6 talk at Southwestern on “Digital Dementia: What We and Our Children are Doing to our Minds.” The talk will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Olin 105.

The talk will focus on possible risks associated with digital media: Can children spend too much time on laptops, tablets, smart phones and other electronic devices? Are they addictive? Is there evidence that these devices may even be linked to irreversible deficits in brain development? And are there looming issues relevant to adults as well?

According to a 2013 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children today  spend an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices. The term “digital dementia” has been coined to refer to deterioration in cognitive abilities associated with overuse of smart phones and game devices.

Spitzer is medical director of the Psychiatric University Hospital in Ulm, Germany, and host of the German public television show “Geist und Gehirn” (“Mind and Brain”).

Read more here.

GUITARIST TO GIVE MARCH 6 GUEST RECITAL

Guitarist Elliot Frank will give a guest recital on Thursday, March 6, at 7 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater. The program will include works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Central American composer Agustín Barrios, and South American composers Antonio Lauro, Radamés Gnattali, Dilermando Reis and Heitor Villa-Lobos.

Frank is on the faculty at East Carolina University and serves as artistic director for the East Carolina University Summer Guitar Festival. He has released a CD titled South American Guitar Music, which features the music of Agustín Barrios and Antonio Lauro.

Additional information is available here

Media Coverage

President Edward Burger was interviewed for a program called “Growing Up in America” that aired on radio station KPFT in Houston Feb. 10. His interview was part of a series highlighting “Colleges That Change Lives” in Texas. A podcast of the show of the show can be found here.

Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor of religion and environmental studies, participated in a HuffPost Live discussion on zoo animal ethics Feb. 17. Watch the webcast here.

Notables

Four students from Southwestern presented their research at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s 15th annual meeting in Austin Feb. 14. Araceli Castañeda and Marki Wendel presented a paper titled “Through the looking glass: Facebook reflects IOS in romantic relationships” andQuinlynMorrow and Ana Cristina Muyschont presented a paper titled Does support effectiveness vary as a function of self-efficacy and support type?” All four did the research last fall in a capstone class taught by Erin Crockett, assistant professor of psychology.

Erika Berroth, associate professor of German, presented a poster titled “Global Players: Leadership – Football – Intercultural Perspectives” at the 15th Annual Texas Foreign Language Education Conference held Feb. 14-15 at The University of Texas at Austin. The poster outlined the process and components of an upcoming summer experience in Germany that integrates athletic competition with intercultural learning. The conference topic, “Shaping the Future of Foreign/Second Language Education to Cross Cultural Boundaries: Integrating Theory and Practice,” provided opportunities for engaging discussions of the innovative collaboration between the football and German programs at Southwestern. At the conference, Berroth also contributed to discussions on addressing foreign language anxiety, best practices on using technologies in second language culture learning, and  teaching writing for international students.

Lois Ferrari, professor of music, conducted the Austin Civic Orchestra in a sold-out performance of “The Planets” in the Alma Thomas Theater Feb. 1. Mark Bottorf, associate professor of physics, gave a pre-concert lecture on the planets in our solar system. Dana Zenobi, part-time assistant professor of applied music, and Nicholas Simpson, part-time instructor of applied music, sang operatic arias with the orchestra. Ferrari also supports an ongoing collaboration with music majors Mattie Kotzur and Lai Na Wang, who are both members of the ACO.

Alisa Gaunder, professor of political science, had a comparative book review of The Evolution of Japan’s Party System: Politics and Policy in an Era of Institutional Change edited by Leonard J. Schoppa (Toronto University Press, 2011) and Welfare Through Work: Conservative Ideas, Partisan Dynamics, and Social Protection in Japan by Mari Miura  (Cornell University Press, 2012) published in the December 2013 issue of Perspectives on Politics. Gaunder and Sarah Wiliarty, associated professor of government at Wesleyan University, are putting on a Feb. 25 webinar to discuss their successful collaboration on a course called “Germany and Japan: Losers of World War II?” The webinar is sponsored by the Associated Colleges of the South as part of its ongoing initiative to help faculty members develop “blended learning” courses that combine the best of classroom and online experiences. The course included a co-authored syllabus and lectures, paired with a series of class discussions and activities supported via Google Hangouts.

Alison Kafer, associate professor of feminist studies, Skyped with graduate students in Rosemarie Garland-Thomson’s seminar in feminist disability studies at Emory University Feb. 19. Students in the seminar read her book Feminist, Queer, Crip as one of their course texts. 2011 graduates Siobhan Cooke and Jordan Johnson are among the students in the class. On Feb. 26, the LGBTQ/Sexualities Research Cluster at UT-Austin will host a reading and discussion of Kafer’s book with her. 

Work by Kate Nelson, studio arts technician, has been included in the 4th annual Central Time Ceramics exhibition that will be on display at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., Feb. 27 to March 28.

Junior biology major Carson Savrick has received a $500 Grants-in-Aid from the Sigma Xi Research Society to support her molecular ecology undergraduate research project. Only about 20 percent of the hundreds of proposals submitted received funding and the competition does not distinguish between undergraduate and graduate student work. In collaboration with Kenneth Hayes at Howard University and with the research mentoring of Romi Burks, professor of biology, Carson has developed a project that investigates the direction in which exotic, invasive apple snail (Pomacea maculata) populations spread across the southeastern United States. In addition, Carson will use molecular tools (DNA extraction and PCR) to screen a subsample of snails from different populations for a parasite, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which can pose a human health concern. Carson will present preliminary results of this work at The Texas Academy of Science meeting in March and at the Research and Creative Works Symposium at Southwestern in April.

Dustin Tahmahkera, assistant professor of communication studies, has been contracted to be the educational curriculum writer for the forthcoming PBS documentary “LaDonna Harris: Indian 101,” which will directed by Julianna Brannum. The documentary will focus on the life and work of Comanche elder and activist LaDonna Harris.