Academics in Focus

Highlighting student, faculty and staff honors

Academics in Focus is compiled from In Focus, Southwestern’s official weekly newsletter, and highlights student, faculty and staff honors.


DELIA SHELTON, a senior biology major, presented a poster at the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society Aug. 16–20 in Snowbird, Utah. The work was done in Professor of Psychology JESSE PURDY’S lab over the past 18 months and the poster was one of nine accepted for the ABS-sponsored Genesis Poster Competition for Undergraduates. Shelton flew in for the meeting from Costa Rica, where she was doing research at a field station.

MAX TAUB, associate professor of biology, participated in a workshop in Washington, D.C., in October that was designed to teach faculty members how to organize large quantities of data for use in the classroom. The workshop was sponsored by the Ecological Society of America.

BEN PIERCE, professor of biology and holder of the Lillian Nelson Pratt Chair, and former Southwestern students, JOSE GRANDA ’07 and ROBERT PENA ’06, published an article in Applied Herpetology titled “Effects of disturbance, position of observer, and moonlight on efficiency of anuran call surveys.”


MARY GRACE NEVILLE, assistant professor of economics and business, had a paper on ethical business practices and paradigms for leading “good business” accepted for publication in the Business and Society Review. The paper focuses on the company Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

A.J. SENCHACK, professor of business and holder of the Brown Chair in International Business, made a trip to Central Europe. He toured manufacturing firms and small businesses in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Montenegro and Slovakia with other businesspersons. In addition to research data, he gathered case materials for his international business classes. In May 2009, he will travel to Africa on a similar fact-finding tour.


FERN NGUYEN, a senior chemistry major, and EMILY NIEMEYER, associate professor of chemistry, published an article in the Sept. 24 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry titled “Effects of Nitrogen Fertilization on the Phenolic Composition and Antioxidant Properties of Basil.”


ALICIA MOORE, associate professor of education, co-presented a two-part workshop on “The Quest for Black Citizenship in the Americas” at the 93rd Annual Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH) Conference.

Senior KRISTIN M. LAHAIE recently won a Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA) Education Scholarship. Lahaie is one of only three education students in the state of Texas to win this prestigious scholarship this year. Lahaie is the ninth straight Southwestern student to win this scholarship—a feat not matched by any other Texas university.


LISA MOSES LEFF, associate professor of history, is spending the fall semester as a fellow at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University. The Center is dedicated to fostering the study of European history, politics and society at Harvard, and selects visiting scholars who will play an active role in the intellectual life of the Center and the University. Leff is conducting research at the Center on the ownership of French-Jewish history and archives in transit after World War II.

ELIZABETH GREEN MUSSELMAN and THOM MCCLENDON, both of the History Department, recently participated in the eighth North Eastern Workshop on Southern Africa in Burlington, Vt. Green Musselman discussed the practicalities and possibilities of scholarly podcasting, while McClendon participated in a panel on whiteness in 20th-century southern African history.


RICK DENMAN, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, and senior philosophy and computer science major STEPHEN FOSTER have had their paper titled “Using Clausal Graphs to Determine the Computational Complexity of k-Bounded Positive One-in-Three SAT” accepted for publication in the Journal of Discrete Applied Mathematics.

FUMIKO FUTAMURA, assistant professor of mathematics, participated in a workshop titled “Frames for the Finite World: Sampling, Coding and Quantization” at the American Institute of Mathematics in Palo Alto, Calif., Aug. 18–22.

BARBARA OWENS, associate professor of math and computer science, gave a keynote address at a conference held in Pretoria, South Africa, that was sponsored by the National Advisory Council on Innovation. The speech was covered in

Modern Languages

An article by ANDREW MILLS, visiting instructor of German, titled “When Opportunism Knocks: Evaluating the Career of German Popular Entertainment Musician Peter Kreuder in the Third Reich” appeared in the Music Research Forum published by the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

KATY ROSS, assistant professor of Spanish, had an article titled “Trauma, Violence and Pornography: Un mal año para Miki by José Ovejero” published in Letras Hispanas.

LAURA SENIO BLAIR, assistant professor of Spanish, published an article titled “Bridges between the divide: The female body in Y tu Mama tambien and Machuca” in Studies in Hispanic Cinemas. The article was co-authored with former Communication Studies professor HECTOR AMAYA.

Three Southwestern students received the Freeman-Asia Scholarship for the fall 2008 semester. All three—KYLE MATHIS, TYLER RANKIN and LINDSAY WALDROP—used their awards to study in China. Mathis is a junior majoring in political science, Rankin is a junior majoring in communication studies and Waldrop is a junior doing an independent major in Chinese.

Political Science

ALISA GAUNDER, associate professor of political science, has an essay based on a conference presentation titled “Bringing Scholarship to the classroom: Strategies for promoting research through teaching” in the fall 2008 volume of ASIA Network Exchange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts.

SHANNON MARIOTTI, assistant professor of political science, had a book review titled “Critique from the Margins: Adorno and the Politics of Withdrawal” published in the June 2008 issue of Political Theory. Another article, titled “The Death of the First-born Son: Emerson’s ‘Focal Distancing,’ Du Bois’ ‘Second Sight,’ and Disruptive Particularity,” has been accepted for publication in a forthcoming issue of Political Theory. Her article, “Thoreau, Adorno, and the Critical Potential of Particularity,” will be included in A Political Companion to Henry David Thoreau, to be published in spring 2009.

ERIC SELBIN, professor of political science and University Scholar, had an article titled “Conjugating the Cuban Revolution: It Mattered, It Matters, It Will Matter” accepted for publication in Latin American Perspectives. SELBIN also had an article titled “What Was Revolutionary About the Iranian Revolution? The Power of Possibility” accepted for publication in Comparative Studies of South Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East.


JESSE PURDY, professor of psychology, and former student LUDI ROUSEAU RUSSELL ’03, presented a poster describing the findings of their work with Weddell seals at the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society Aug. 16–20 in Snowbird, Utah. The poster describes a unique methodology that allowed them to observe the underwater courtship behavior of Weddell seals as they interact under the fast-ice of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. The film “The World of Seals,” produced by Purdy and Davis to introduce the 2008 Brown Symposium, was selected as a semi-finalist at the annual film festival sponsored by the Animal Behavior Society. Purdy presented his documentary to an audience at Centre College and gave a talk, titled “Umwelt: Exploring the Self-Worlds of Human and Non-Human Animals.”


Junior sociology major LAUREN HAMLETT participated in a summer research program on Population, Health and Aging at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. The program was funded by the National Institute on Aging.

EDWARD L. KAIN, professor of sociology and University Scholar, delivered the opening keynote address for a preconference on teaching at the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association in Boston, Mass., July 31–Aug. 4. The title of his talk was “Increasing Your Pedagogical Footprint.” He also organized and co-led an academic workshop on “Bridging the Gap Between Cultures of Teaching and Cultures of Research, and helped with the orientation for the ASA Honors Program.

SANDI NENGA, assistant professor of sociology, presented a paper titled “From Selfless Heroes to Narcissistic Praisehounds: Tracing the Shifting Portrayals of the Millennial Generation” at the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association in Boston, Mass., July 31–Aug. 4. Nenga also was a panelist at a professional workshop on “Succeeding at a Liberal Arts College.”

Two sociology majors presented their research as part of the American Sociological Association Honors Program at the annual meetings of the ASA in Boston, Mass., July 31–Aug. 4. TRISTINE BACCAM, senior sociology major, presented her paper, “Deriving Self-Image: A Study of Upper and Upper Middle-Class Students and How They Construct Self Image,” at a roundtable on demography. Her research was done as part of a class taught by SANDI NENGA. PHILLIP CANTU ’08 presented his paper, “Activists on the Margin: High Risk Activism in a Needle Exchange Program,” at a roundtable on social deviance. His research was done as part of a capstone class under the direction of MARIA LOWE, professor of sociology.


Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor of religion and chair of the Environmental Studies Program, was the keynote speaker at a luncheon held at St. Edward’s University Nov. 12. The luncheon was part of a day-long program titled “Religion and Environment – Dominion or Stewardship?” Hobgood-Oster also is featured in a documentary just released by the Humane Society of the United States titled “Eating Mercifully.”

PHIL HOPKINS, associate professor of religion and philosophy, had an article titled “Weaving the Fish Basket: Heraclitus on the Relation of World and Word” accepted for publication in the spring 2009 volume of Epoche: A Journal for the History of Philosophy.

Sarofim School of Fine Arts

THAD ANDERSON, percussion instructor, is the artistic director of a new group called the Cage Percussion Players, which is dedicated to the performance and research of historical percussion ensemble repertoire.

MICHAEL COOPER, associate professor of music, contributed two chapters to a book titled Mendelssohn in Performance. Cooper’s first essay, titled “From Notation to Edition to Performance,” concerns particularly thorny issues that arise in moving from Mendelssohn’s manuscripts to printed musical notation that will convey the same suggestions to modern performers that it did for his contemporaries. The second essay, “’For you see I am the eternal objector’: On Performing Mendelssohn’ music in translation,” addresses the problems and opportunities posed by his extraordinary variety of linguistic fluencies for modern performers. Cooper also published the premier edition of the first complete version of Mendelssohn’s secular cantata Die erste Walpurgisnacht (The first Walpurgis night) as part of the series “Recent Researches Concerning the Music of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries,” based on a 1799 ballad by Goethe.

LOIS FERRARI, associate professor of music and music director of the Austin Civic Orchestra, conducted one of the ACO’s seven 07–08 season concerts in May 2008. This program featured the talents of Southwestern’s own BRUCE CAIN, associate professor of music, CAROL KREUSCHER, assistant professor of music, former faculty member CLAIRE VANGELISTI, and David Stevens of Austin. In June, Ferrari was recruited by Professor Emeritus F. ELLSWORTH PETERSON ’55 to conduct Mendelssohn’s rarely performed opera, “Son and Stranger,” as part of the Georgetown Festival of the Arts. Several Southwestern students performed with Ferrari, along with Cain and Southwestern graduates LYNN PARR MOCK ’83 and VIRGINIA DUPUY ’71.

RICK ROEMER, professor of theatre, played the role of Salieri in the Austin Playhouse’s 2008–09 season opener of “Amadeus.” Several Southwestern theatre graduates also were involved with the production: BRIAN COUGHLIN ’92 had an acting role and DAVID STAHL ’84 was co-director.


SUZANNE BUCHELE, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, presented “Experiences with OLPC Technology in Ghana, West Africa” at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computer Science Conference in Keystone, Colo., Oct. 3.

BROOKE ARNOLD CALDER, a junior English and Feminist Studies major, presented “As American as Apple Pie: Deconstructions of American Identity in Kavalier and Clay” at Sigma Tau Delta’s Southwestern Regional Conference. Calder originally wrote this paper for her Contemporary Jewish Literature course, taught by HELENE MEYERS, professor of English. Sigma Tau Delta is an English honor society.

First-year student CATHRIN WINSOR was a finalist in a video contest sponsored by the Democratic National Committee. The contest asked entrants to make a video about “Why Are You a Democrat in 2008?”

Two Southwestern students have received the Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship for the fall 2008 semester. ALICIA BURNS and HAILEY EASLEY were both awarded $4,500 through the program. Burns will use her scholarship to study abroad at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England. Easley will use her scholarship to study abroad in India. Burns is a senior majoring in biology and Easley is a junior majoring in anthropology.

At the 2008 Career Services Institute held at Pomona College, the “Success Stories Showcase” maintained by Southwestern’s Career Services office in the campus center was recognized as being one of the six “Best Practices for 2008.”

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