March 2012

John Dudgeon, Anthropology, to study DNA of Romans

Photo of John Dudgeon

Dr. John Dudgeon, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Research Lead in the joint Anthropology - Biological Sciences Ancient DNA Extraction Laboratory (ADEL), recently signed on as the biomolecular archaeologist for the Roman DNA Project. This project, a collaboration between Dudgeon and archaeologists from the University of North Carolina, Vanderbilt University, and Italy, will investigate the homeland of the lower class and slave populations that immigrated to Rome in the first and second centuries, A.D. By extracting and analyzing DNA from these ancient peoples, Dudgeon hopes to shed new light on their geographic origins and extent of forced immigration into the Roman capital - information lost to archaeologists due to the policies of cultural assimilation practiced in Rome at the time. The project has attracted international attention, and was the subject of a CNN light years news article, as well as several local and regional news items, and a host of science-themed news blogs.

Dudgeon's participation in this project is an outgrowth of the bioarchaeology research program he has developed at ISU and is supported by his research affiliations with the Center for Archaeology, Materials and Applied Spectroscopy (CAMAS) and the Molecular Research Core Facility (MRCF), in addition to his work within ADEL. Using state of the art analytical and instrumental technologies from the physical and biological sciences, Dudgeon studies the interaction of the human skeleton with the environment in both living and death contexts. Through analysis of dietary residues attached to the teeth, and trace element and stable isotope chemistry of bones and teeth, Dudgeon has made major progress in understanding the cumulative record of development, diet, and occupational activities, or life histories of prehistoric people from the Pacific and Eastern Europe, written upon the human skeleton.

Dudgeon's ongoing work with the prehistoric inhabitants of Easter Island has generated significant interest in issues of Polynesian origins and lifestyles and is currently being published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, Journal of Archaeological Science and the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. The high visibility of this research has resulted in invitations to organize a symposium on Pacific bioarchaeology at the 8th International Conference on Easter Island and the Pacific in California in July 2012 (where Dudgeon's students will be presenting their original research), as well as public speaking engagements at Boston University and the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. This work is also attracting prospective graduate student applicants from highly competitive undergraduate Anthropology programs nationwide who are interested in the emerging bioarchaeology research specialization at ISU.

English Department to Host Medieval and Renaissance Conference

Photo of Tom Klein Photo of Curt Whitaker

On April 12-14, 2012, Idaho State University will be hosting the annual Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association Conference (RMMRA). The RMMRA is an interdisciplinary association of faculty, students, and research centers in the West. In recent years the conference has been held in such cities as Las Vegas, Tempe, Salt Lake, and Flagstaff, so the College is pleased to bring the conference to ISU.

The conference theme, "Categorizing the Medieval and Renaissance Worlds," was designed to help scholars think through the definitions they use in their research, while offering a means to explore how period thinkers organized the natural and geographic world around them.

The conference typically attracts 50-75 participants, the College hopes to extend the audience to local teachers, students, and interested community members, particularly to the keynote address, which will be given by Dr. Antonette diPaolo Healey, editor of the international Dictionary of Old English.

The conference, organized by Professors Thomas Klein and Curtis Whitaker of the Department of English & Philosophy, is supported by grants from the Idaho Humanities Council and the College of Arts & Letters. More information can be found at the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association website .

Arts & Letters Faculty Participate in Traveling Exhibit

Photo of Geoffrey Friedley and Diana Livingston Friedley

The ISU Library has been hosting a traveling exhibit entitled "A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, 1910-1965," which was developed by Nextbook, Inc. Only 50 libraries in the entire country have been awarded this exhibit. Sponsored by the American Library Association's Program Office and based on David Lehman's book by the same name, the display incorporates images of the actual songwriters, famous entertainers, as well as promotional materials for popular Broadway musicals. Dr. Diana Livingston Friedley and Geoffrey Friedley in the Music Department performed songs connected to the display as the main attraction at the opening event for the exhibit. As they introduced their numbers, the audience learned more about the songwriters in question. The Friedleys' training and diction made the music and the message come alive with great clarity. More than 150 individuals came to enjoy this great music.

The Century High School Singers also highlighted these songs that have become part of the American songbook. Their youthful enthusiasm, plus the popular numbers they sang, grabbed a lot of attention and produced many smiles. A film viewing at Temple Emanuel, the home of the Jewish community in eastern Idaho, preceded a panel discussion on the Jewish character of the music. Dr. Debra Shein of the English department moderated, and Dr. James Wolper (Math Dept.), Dr. Carl Levenson (Philosophy) and Dr. Brian Attebery (English) each took part in the panel discussion.

Photo of Readers' Theatre

Finally, a Reader's Theatre called attention to the Jewish character of the music. Dr. Sherri Dienstfrey from the Theatre and Dance Department presented an informative and lively performance that highlighted one of the consistent characteristics of Jewish songwriting - asking questions rather than making statements. A slide show accompanied with occasional snippets of recorded music enhanced the performance and overall educational value. Jamie Romine-Gabardi (Theatre and Dance), Angeline Underwood (Communication and Rhetorical Studies), Jason Reed (Math), and Bob Swanson ( History, retired) all contributed to make this event a success.

The purpose of the exhibit and program was to contribute to the cultural events on campus, draw more people into the Library, and celebrate the memory of Eli M. Oboler for whom the Library is named. Oboler participated in the Jewish community of Pocatello and helped to build two buildings on campus, plus he championed intellectual freedom issues. Attendance at the events proved to exceed expectations, and the events were all well received. Supporting sponsors included the INL's Diversity and Inclusion Council, Temple Emanuel, and the ISU Cultural Affairs Council.

Tom Terry, Mass Communications, Curates Show

Photo of Tom Terry

Four hundred years ago a group of biblical scholars, largely unknown today, created the most enduring and influential religious and literary work ever written in English: The King James Version of the Bible. To mark the anniversary, ISU associate professor of Mass Communication, Thomas C. Terry, curated a show at the Mind's Eye Gallery in the Rendezvous Complex entitled, "Verbum Dei Manet Aeternum: The King James Bible on its 400th Anniversary 1611-2011." The Latin phrase means, "The Word of God Endureth Forever." The show ran for two weeks in early December 2011.

The centerpiece of the show was a genuine page from the first printing of the King James Bible loaned by an anonymous Pocatello resident. The leaf included Psalms 121-123 and measured approximately 10" x 16." Dr. Terry said that the owner of the KJV leaf stressed it was from an incomplete or damaged copy of the Bible. "No Bible was defaced to obtain the leaf," Dr. Terry emphasized. "It's the product of Bible restoration, not destruction."

The show also featured various facsimiles from the original printing, along with different editions of the King James Version printed in the 20th Century. These included a zipper version, a large edition illustrated with paintings and drawings by Rembrandt, and a reduced reproduction of the original 1611 Bible that visitors could thumb through.

Terry emphasized that his interests in Mass Communication and the Bible intersect because "a Bible in English is terribly subversive. When the king and his government and church control access to important information - in this case, the Bible - then it can control what people think. Ignorance is a powerful ally for a government trying to set its own agenda and suppress contrary views."

"If the mass of the people has to take the word of leaders as to what is in the Bible, then there is great temptation by those officials to provide the perspective, the spin if you will, that reinforces the government's perspective and supports its policies," Terry added. "Religion can be a powerful underpinning of any government."

"However, if people can educate themselves and then read or listen to the Bible - or any other document - in their native language, then people can make up their own minds. Maybe that differs from the government's line and maybe then the government has to be more truthful and has to take into account people's opinions."

To augment the King James Bible show at the Mind's Eye Gallery, Terry -- who also hosts "Teeing Off," an hour-long bimonthly public affairs radio show on KISU-FM 91.1 FM -- interviewed Dr. Leland Ryken, professor of English at Wheaton College in Illinois and a national expert on the King James Version of the Bible. The program aired in mid-December 2011.

Four Professors Receive Sabbatical Awards

Four professors in the College of Arts & Letters have been awarded sabbatical leave for 2012-13 in order to pursue research or other scholarly activities. Sabbaticals are awarded through a competitive process that requires faculty members to submit proposals for sabbatical activities.

Photo of Stephanie Christelow

Stephanie Christelow, Professor of History, has been a faculty member since 1990. She intends to complete a book-length manuscript tentatively titled Elite Patronage and the Formation of Social Networks in Anglo-Norman England: Land and the Political Process. After incorporating research notes followed by revision and editing, Christelow expects to submit the manuscript to a publisher.

Photo of Russell Wahl

Russell Wahl, Professor of Philosophy, has been a faculty member since 1985, and has served for more than a decade as the Director of the Philosophy program. Dr. Wahl intends to work on Bertrand Russell's epistemology and philosophy of science as they developed during the years 1912-1940, focusing primarily on the relation of his views to the principle of acquaintance and what he called the "supreme maxim of scientific philosophy." Wahl expects to conduct research at the Bertrand Russell Archives at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and then write the rough draft for two articles based on his research findings.

Photo of Brent Wolter

Brent Wolter, Associate Professor of English, has been a faculty member since 2005, and he serves currently as the Assistant Chair for the Department of English & Philosophy. Wolter intends to work on an empirical study regarding the psychological processing of recurrent patterns in language by second language learners. He wants to develop a model of processing for a particular type of recurrent pattern called collocations. This would involve an extensive literature review to provide a macroanalysis of the research findings to date. Wolter then proposes to write two articles for publication in international, peer-reviewed journals.

Photo of Robert Tokle

Robert Tokle, Professor of Economics, has been a faculty member since 1986. He intends to write case studies and research papers on the credit union industry. Tokle wants to use data collected to examine the response of the credit unions to the recent financial crisis.


Student Pianist Who Lost Two Fingers to Perform Senior Recital

Photo of Derek Schiable

Derek Schaible, a Piano Performance major, will be performing his Senior Piano Recital on Sunday April 22, at 4:30 p.m. Schaible has made great strides since an explosion almost one year ago resulted in the loss of two fingers on his right hand. Schaible, who will graduate in May, plans to persue a master's degree in conducting.

On January 16, 2011, Schaible was playing with a marshmallow launcher he had built. When it blew up, he lost the two outside fingers of his right hand.

Schaible, who has become increasingly more comfortable with using three fingers on one hand to play piano and organ, described the process as familiar, but different. It has been a "surprisingly fast" process, he said. Schaible is still trying to nail down fingering for a few musical scales but said people's encouragement helped him forget his unique situation.

"Every time I learn something new, I realize that I don't have it so bad," he said. "If I can learn one thing, I can learn dozens of other things, too. Everybody's been real encouraging when they hear me play... I forget that it's different playing."

Schaible's plan after graduation is to move to Cincinnati, where he would like to get a job playing at a church and possibly accompanying musicians. His hope is to work and gain residency before attending a conducting school. "I always wanted to teach at the college level," he said.

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