Fall 2015 Kudos

Mariana Past

Mariana Past, associate professor of Spanish, commissioned a new painting for the cover of her co-edited title, "Rethinking an Icon: Toussaint Louverture and Caribbean Cultural Production."


Cotten Seiler, associate professor of American studies, and Kristine Mitchell, associate professor of political science and international studies, contributed a chapter, “Importing the American Liberal Arts College,” to The Best Kind of College: An Insiders’ Guide to America’s Small Liberal Arts Colleges, edited by Susan McWilliams and John E. Seery and published by SUNY Press.

Professor of Mathematics Lorelei Koss published “Differential equations in literature, poetry and film” in the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts. The paper investigates how differential equation models have been used to study works in literature, poetry and film and presents applications to works by William Shakespeare, Francis Petrarch, Ray Bradbury, Herman Melville, Ridley Scott and others, as well as applications to Greek mythology and the Bible. Koss also gives a range of useful examples for teaching and discusses how these models have been used in the classroom.

When a boa constrictor begins to squeeze its victim, it looks to be suffocating it, but a new collaborative study by associate professors of biology Scott Boback and Chuck Zwemer reveals that the snakes subdue their victims by shutting down the circulation and cutting off blood supply to the heart, brain and other vital organs, causing the victim to succumb rapidly rather than dying slowly by suffocation. The findings were published in the August issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology.

Mimesis International released A Very Seductive Body Politic: Silvio Berlusconi in the Cinema by Nicoletta Marini-Maio, associate professor of Italian and film studies. Marini-Maio maps the multilayered narratives that the cinema has created on and around Silvio Berlusconi as a powerful means to explore the age of Berlusconismo. Going back to the comedy Italian style sub-genre, which foreshadows the significations converged in Berlusconi before the real figure actually entered the public stage, the discussion spans the proto-Berlusconi everyman of “La piu bella serata della mia vita” (1973) and the decadent caricature of “La caduta dell’impero” (in pre-production). Marini-Maio argues that the Berlusconi of this study is not only the historical persona, but also a pervasive semiotic category in which the history of the country is inscribed.

It’s all about the meat, says Ted Merwin, associate professor of Judaic studies and director of the Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life. His new book, Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli, published by NYU Press, is the first comprehensive history of the Jewish deli. The deli, he argues, reached its full flowering not in the immigrant period, as some might assume, but in the interwar era, when the children of Jewish immigrants celebrated their success in America by downing sandwiches and cheesecake in theater district delis. But it was the kosher deli that followed Jews as they settled in the outer boroughs of New York City, and that became the most tangible symbol of their continuing desire to maintain a connection to their heritage.

Rethinking an Icon: Toussaint Louverture and Caribbean Cultural Production, edited by Mariana Past, associate professor of Spanish, and Natalie Léger of CUNY-Queens College was released by Santiago de Cuba: Editorial del Caribe. Past and Léger presented at the Festival del Caribe in July in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the foundation of Santiago de Cuba.

Jorge R. Sagastume, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese, recently published a short story titled “Disappearing into the Night of Buenos Aires” in Transatlantische Auswanderergeschichten: Reflexionen und Reminiszenzen aus drei Generationen, ed. F. A. Lubich, Königshausen & Neumann; the story belongs to a collection he’s currently completing that deals with the Argentine dictatorship (1976-83). He also recently published a selection of translations of poems by Homero Aridjis in SAND, Berlin’s English literary journal.

A new book by Associate Professor of Music Amy Wlodarski is the first comprehensive analysis of secondary witness and representation in Holocaust music. Published by Cambridge University Press, Musical Witness and Holocaust Representation asserts that the composition of a Holocaust representation is a political act that reflects the composer’s understanding of, and relationship to, the Holocaust. By translating history into musical forms and idioms, Wlodarski argues, composers engage with questions of trauma, history, identity and representation.


David Sarcone, associate professor of international business and management, is sharing with Shippensburg University a $50,000 collaborative research grant from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. The project, Exploring Health Care Alliances in Rural Pennsylvania, will examine the formation of health care alliances; their effect on rural community health care capacity; and the potential of these alliances to better meet the needs of rural communities, while remaining aware and respectful of traditional methods of health care provision valued by the residents of these communities.

Greg Steirer, assistant professor of English and film studies, received $4,625 from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Carsey-Wolf Center – Connected Viewing Initiative for his project Beyond Minnows and Whales: Reconstructing Mobile Gaming for the Cross-Platform Franchise. The research will offer an overview of consumer responses to different kinds of mobileconsole connectivity initiatives as well as an analysis of emerging best practices for the use of mobile in cross-platform franchise management.

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Kristin Strock is conducting research on Laurel Lake with support from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources — South Mountain Partnership. She was awarded $10,000 for her project, Protecting and Managing Laurel Lake in the Face of Environmental Change, which aims to better understand the physical and chemical properties of Laurel Lake in Pine Grove Furnace State Park. During the last century, summer water temperatures of over 100 large lakes around the world have increased. Little is known about how lakes and reservoirs in Pennsylvania have changed over time and how seasonal variability in lake temperature may affect important recreational components like fish habitat. By deploying a small sensor buoy on Laurel Lake, the lake’s managers will be given high-resolution temperature and oxygen data outlining the conditions of the lake in various habitat zones (warm, mixed, surface waters and cool, deeper waters). High-frequency sensor data will be supplemented by biweekly monitoring of lake chemistry (pH, conductivity, and concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus) and the biological communities in the lake (including algae and zooplankton).

Asuncion Arnedo-Aldrich, visiting instructor in Spanish, received $3,345 from the Partnership for Better Health for the project 2015 Migrant Farm Labor Health Outreach. Since 2007, Arnedo has been leading an annual service-learning project that is part of her course Spanish for the Health Professions. The project involves student volunteers working as interpreters at health clinics that serve Spanish-speaking orchard workers in  Adams and Franklin counties.

Suman Ambwani, associate professor of psychology, was awarded $2,000 from Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, for the research project “But why do we continue to fat talk? An experimental  investigation of college women’s reactions to body disparaging conversations.”


At the annual Idea Lab poster-presentation showcase hosted by the New Media Consortium, multimedia specialists Brenda Landis and Andy Petrus earned judges’ choice and people’s choice awards for Dickinson Makes, an initiative that supports collaborative projects by centralizing information about related campus resources, projects and events. Language Technology Specialist Todd Bryant earned judges’ choice honors for his Modding Games program, which allows students and faculty members to modify the Civilization V video game to help teach and learn lessons in political science, international relations and history.

Read more of the fall 2015 issue of Dickinson Magazine.

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Published November 13, 2015