People & Places: October 2023

People & Places is a monthly highlight of the ongoing professional activities and achievements of faculty, staff, and students of the College.

Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies Carl Olson’s essay titled, “Uttering Curses in Classical Hinduism: An Inquiry into Power and Violence,” will be published by Studies in Linguistics and Literature.

Early next year, his book The Nostalgia for Origins: Religion, Evolution, Cognition, and Memory will be published by Anthem Press in London. The book is a speculative quest for the origins of religion before the advent of historical religions.

Professor of Biology Catharina Coenen was awarded the 2023 Prize for New Immigrant Writing. Her essay collection, “Unexploded Ordnance,” explores the intersections between science, family, fascism, and war. It will be published by Restless Books in 2025.

Students planting a replacement tree during Arbor Day 2023.
Students planting a replacement tree during Arbor Day 2023.

Department of Environmental Science and Sustainability faculty, administrators, and student:

  • Jesse Swann-Quinn
  • Eric Pallant
  • Richard D. Bowden
  • Joe Michael, Director of Physical Plant
  • Kelly Boulton ’02, Director of Sustainability
  • Sebastian McRae ’22

published the paper, “Growing a resilient campus forest: Opportunities, barriers, solutions,” in the World Sustainability Series, “Educating the Sustainability Leaders of the Future,” coedited by Professors of Environmental Science and Sustainability Eric Pallant and Kelly Pearce

The paper describes recent efforts to grow a food forest on campus and to move the campus forest toward more use of native and climate-resilient tree species.

This October, Assistant Professor of Latinx Studies and World Languages & Cultures Tommy Conners was invited to give a guest lecture in the graduate seminar “Race & Affect Studies” at the University of Minnesota’s Department of American Studies.

The lecture, titled “Trailed by Threads of Guileless Gold: Colorblind Aesthetics in Carmen María Machado,” draws from Conners’ manuscript in progress.

Nickel Spartz '26
Nickel Spartz ’26

Writing consultants Nickel Spartz ’26, Becky Pechmann ’24, and Katie Wagner ’24 were selected to participate in the Naylor Workshop on Undergraduate Research in Writing Studies, held at York College of Pennsylvania from September 29 to October 1. 

Pechmann and Wagner workshopped their ongoing collaborative research project, “Prior Relationships in the Small-School Writing Center: A Work in Progress,” while Nickel workshopped a new research project, “The Effect of Creative Prompts on Students’ Critical Thinking and Satisfaction.”

Dr. Lisa Whitenack
Dr. Lisa Whitenack

Associate Professor of Biology & Geology Lisa Whitenack was invited to and participated in a think tank supporting the project “Leveraging, Developing, and Enhancing Biology (LED-BIO): Scientific Societies Shedding Light on Persistent Cultural Challenges,” which met at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory in early October.

The think tank is made up of invited experts who can offer insights into promoting equity and inclusion in scientific professional societies based on their academic research expertise and/or their lived experiences.

Whitenack represented the American Elasmobranch Society (AES), a professional society for scientists studying sharks, rays, and their relatives; she began her second term on the AES Board of Directors in January and is the former chair of the AES Equity & Diversity Committee. This LED-BIO project is part of the NSF Leading Culture Change through Professional Societies of Biology (BIO-LEAPS) program grant that was received by the American Society for Cell Biology.

Associate Professor of History Guo Wu was interviewed twice by Voice of America. He was asked to provide his insights on China’s current English teaching and learning landscape and shared his personal experiences of learning English in China during the 1990s.

These interviews were featured in two reports published on VOA’s Chinese language service website on September 27 and October 10.

Professor of English and Director of Writing Alexis Hart and her international team of co-researchers are featured in Season 1, Episode 3 of the Elon University Center for Engaged Learning podcast, Making College ‘Worth It.’

In the episode, Hart and her co-researchers discuss how students make connections among their spheres of writing as they write for college courses, co-curricular activities, internships, work, civic or community activities, and self-motivated purposes and make a case for why college students and the people who support them need to attend to students’ writing in college and how those writing experiences prepare them for lifelong and lifewide writing.

Olivia Kraus ’24 and Emily Eschleman ‘24

Olivia Kraus ’24 and Emily Eschleman ’24, with Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Rod Clark, recently published the second edition of the lab manual used for introductory Behavior Analysis courses with an accompanying rat lab.

Noel Oullette '24

Noel Oullette ’24 and Associate Professor of Biology & Geology Lisa Whitenack presented ongoing research on the paleontology of coastal National Parks at the Geological Society of America annual meeting in October. 

This research collaborates with the National Parks Service and Georgia State University paleontologists. Oullette has a Paleontology in the Parks fellowship with the Paleontological Society and the National Parks Service, where he has been compiling information about the fossil resources and management challenges in 40 different National Parks across the United States, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. 

The result of this work will be a National Parks Service report that will be distributed internally within the Service, plus an external-facing report for the general public.

Assistant Professors Matt Bethurem and Kelly Pearce from the Department of Environmental Science and Sustainability (ESS) participated in the Transatlantic Symposium on Sustainable Development in Higher Education, which took place in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

During the symposium, Bethurem presented his work, “Small-town Climate Action: Establishing a Climate Action Plan in Meadville, PA,” with George Ackerman ’21 as a co-author. 

Pearce delivered a presentation titled “Expanding Sustainability to Include our Non-Human Partners: The Role of College Campuses in Supporting Wildlife Habitat” with co-authors:

  • Richard Bowden, ESS Professor
  • Kelly Boulton ’02, Director of Sustainability
  • Beth Choate, Deputy Director of the Center for Environment and Society at Washington College
  • Kaitlyn Royal ’24
  • Ava Lock ’24
  • Beatrice Foley ’25
  • Emily Tecklenberg ’24

 Faculty travel funds provided financial support for the symposium.