From Software Engineering to Avian Mobbing Calls: Faculty and Students Present Their Work

Nov. 5, 2012 — Annie Homan ’13, Hudson Stoner ’13, and Professor of Biology and Neuroscience Lee Coates presented research at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting held in New Orleans. The title of the presentation was “Distribution and age-related changes of nasal carbonic anhydrase in neonatal mice.” This research is a part of Professor Coates’s on-going study of the mechanisms and causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Both Annie and Hudson are applying to PhD programs in neuroscience.

Brittany Rauzan ’13 presented a poster co-authored with Associate Professor of Chemistry Alice Deckert, “Entropic and enthalpic activation parameters of dodecamer DNA duplex formation is dependent on sequence,” at the 244th National American Chemical Society Meeting in Philadelphia. Brittany was also invited to present a talk on this work at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at Rice University in October.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Mark R. Ams received a 2012 Single-Investigator Cottrell College Science Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. His award will provide support for his chemistry research project “Molecular Torsion Balances for Proving the Distance Dependency of CH-pi Interactions.”

Associate Professor of Philosophy Steven Farrelly-Jackson gave an invited talk — “Can Reading Literature Lead to Better Healthcare?” — at the University of Pittsburgh Consortium Ethics Program conference on Medicine and the Humanities, September 28-30.

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Vika Gardner presented a paper, “Creating a Liminal Position: Makhdūm-i Aʿẓam (Aḥmad b. Mawlānā Jalāl al-Dīn Kāsānī, d. 1542) on Amirs and ʿUlamā,” at the Central Eurasian Studies Society annual conference in Bloomington, Indiana on October 19. A continuation of her dissertation research, the material examines how the written works of Makhdūm-i Aʿẓam were engaged in political discussions during his lifetime and changed to reflect other contexts after his death. In addition she served as chair for Panel 4-03, “Celebrating the Sacred in Icons, Martyrs, and Music,” and discussant for Panel 5-04, “The Role of Spiritual and Cultural Innovators in Central Asian History.”

Associate Professor of Spanish Wilfredo Hernandez attended the Second International Conference on Hispanic Crime Literature, held September 27-29 at Texas Tech University, where he read “Tradición y modernidad criminales en Leopardo al sol, de Laura Restrepo,” a paper dealing with the literary representation of the production and distribution of marijuana and cocaine in Colombia in the 1960s and 1970s. Next spring, Professor Hernandez will be teaching a Spanish senior seminar on the subcultures of illicit drugs in Latin America.

Director of Athletics and Recreation Portia Hoeg participated in a National Association of Collegiate Woman Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) educational breakout session on “Success in the First 100 Days” on Oct. 9 in Kansas City. She also served on a panel on Oct. 10 in Kansas City titled “How Do You Know You’re Ready,” which explored ways to prepare yourself for being an athletic director and ways to recognize and remind yourself that you are prepared. Also in October, she was the keynote speaker for the Business and Professional Women’s Organization Pennsylvania District 1 fall meeting. The theme of the meeting was “Teamwork Makes the Goal.”

Professor Emeritus Janyce Hyatt and Associate Professor of Dance and Movement Studies Eleanor Weisman hosted a roundtable presentation at the Imagining America National Conference for Artists and Scholars in Public Life on October 6 in New York City. Their roundtable, titled “Creating Landscapes: A Collaboration That Fosters Aesthetic Aliveness, Good Health, and Political Freedom,” presented a case study of the collaborative work between Allegheny College and the Meadville community. Professor Weisman also represented Allegheny as a member of a panel roundtable on “Developing and Assessing Community-Campus Partnerships in Liberal Arts Colleges.” The panel was composed of representatives from colleges that have been participating in a Teagle grant on assessment of Service-Learning and Community-Based Learning.

In collaboration with William F. Jones ’09, Associate Professor of Computer Science Gregory M. Kapfhammer recently published a paper in the Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Software Engineering and Data Engineering. Titled “Ask and You Shall Receive: Empirically Evaluating Declarative Approaches to Finding Data in Unstructured Heaps,” the paper reports on experience with the engineering and empirical evaluation of data management software that stores objects in collections like the ArrayList or Vector. Using a benchmarking framework that measures the performance of declarative approaches to identifying certain objects in the heap of a Java virtual machine, the paper empirically evaluates two query languages called JQL and JoSQL. The results reveal trade-offs in the performance and overall viability of the query languages and several imperative approaches. More information about this and other research papers is available at

A paper by Amanda Klemmer ’08, Professor of Biology and Environmental Science Scott Wissinger, and Professor of Biology Milt Ostrofsky, titled “Nonlinear effects of consumer density on multiple ecosystem processes,” was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Animal Ecology. The paper is based on Amanda’s senior project and on collaborative summer research funded by her Harold State Fellowship. This research and follow-up experiments by Emily Thornton ’10 were presented at the 97th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Portland, Oregon in August.

Director of Athletic Communications and Marketing James Kramer spoke at the Association of Communicators and Education annual professional development conference, addressing unique challenges related to athletic communications and how to work with marketing and communications professionals on strategic enrollment, brand positioning and community engagement.

Donny Consla ’11 and Professor of Biology Ron Mumme published the paper “Response of Captive Raptors to Avian Mobbing Calls: the Roles of Mobber Size and Raptor Experience” in the November 2012 issue of the journal Ethology, an international journal of behavioral biology. The paper is based on Donny’s 2010-11 senior project research, which was conducted using birds of prey housed at Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Saegertown. Donny is now in his second year of graduate work in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California.

Assistant Professor of Physics Adele Poynor gave an invited talk, “How Water meets a Hydrophobic Surface,” on October 19 as part of the New York State Sectional American Physical Society’s Topical Meeting on Water.

Professor of Political Science Sharon Wesoky on October 6 delivered an invited plenary presentation, “Chinese Feminism, Intellectual Criticism and the State: Thinking through Alternative Modernities in the Age of Globalization,” at the Conference on Feminist Sinologies, Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan. Her chapter, “Harmony and Critique: Chinese Modernity, Harmonious Society, and Contemporary Chinese Feminist Perspectives,” is forthcoming in the book China’s Rise to Power: Conceptions of State Governance, edited by Joseph Tse-Hei Lee, Lida V. Nedilsky, and Siu-Keung Cheung (Palgrave Macmillan 2012).

Head Track and Field Coach Brent Wilkerson was named NCAC Coach of the Year, after leading Allegheny men’s cross country to the North Coast Athletic Conference Championship.