Faculty members in the School of Humanities and Sciences are not only committed teachers; they are also productive researchers and artists. Their scholarly and creative work appears in publications and grant awards that support ongoing research. Selected accomplishments from this year include the following:
- The Professor Poems, by Katharyn Howd Machan, professor of writing, was published in February 2008 by the Main Street Rag Publishing Company of Charlotte, North Carolina. Based on Machan’s observations of professors and students during her 33-year career in higher education, the 36 mostly humorous sonnets together tell the story of a male poet who teaches at an institution while trying to shape a career as a writer. In essence, says Machan, “the sonnets provide a satirical look at the survival tactics of an artist in the academy.” The chapbook received an editor’s choice award in a national competition in 2007.
- Associate professor of economics Shaianne Osterreich has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the United States–Indonesia Society, a private organization that supports cultural, academic, and political understanding between the two countries. As a Sumitro fellow, Osterreich will use the grant during her sabbatical in 2009–10 to conduct research in Indonesia on the relationship between trade liberalization in light manufacturing, labor reform, and poverty alleviation in West Java. Osterreich also received a summer research grant to conduct preparatory research this summer, which she spent in Java improving her language skills, collecting preliminary data, and making the contacts necessary for developing the survey she will administer on her return in 2009. Osterreich hopes that this research will contribute to policies that address poverty not only in Indonesia but globally as well.
- Assistant professor of physics Luke Keller received a $25,000 NASA contract from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to use data from the Spitzer Space Telescope in an ongoing study of solar system formation around distant stars. Over the next two years, Keller will use spectra from the infrared space telescope to study the light emitted from dust and complex organic molecules that orbit very young stars. This study will extend preliminary research he has already conducted on emissions of 19 distant stars. The model developed in that preliminary study will be applied to a much larger number of stars (up to 57) and will help determine whether slight changes in light emission from molecules in dust surrounding stars can contribute to astronomers’ understanding of how planets form and evolve.