2008-09 Sabbatical Abstracts

Beth R.J. Abdella, Department of Chemistry – Calendar Year
This sabbatical leave will be spent on projects associated with the continued development, refinement and dissemination of the recently created Chemistry-Biology three course sequence.   My focus will be five-fold:  the writing of pertinent homework questions/problems that tie biological topics into the more chemical material;  the production of reading material that will help to convey the integrated material of the course;  the development of a teaching compendium of ideas for the use of internet or other technology to aid students in visualizing the tie between chemical topics and biological systems;  continued work to enhance the laboratory component of the first course in the sequence;  the dissemination of this new curriculum outside of the St. Olaf community.

Steve Amundson, Department of Music – Spring Semester
Rehearsal observation at Orchestra Hall with the Minnesota Orchestra (Osmo Vanska), and rehearsal observation and conducting pedagogy research at the University of Minnesota Orchestra (Mark Russell Smith and Craig Kirchoff).

Composition:  I plan to compose a new orchestral work that will be performed by the St. Olaf Orchestra within a year or two after it is completed.

Guest Conducting in Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan, Minnesota, and Texas.

Gwen Barnes-Karol, Department of Romance Languages – Academic Year
Reading Literature from Multiple Perspectives: Further Applications
My proposed sabbatical project for 2008-09, Reading Literature from Multiple Perspectives: Further Applications, builds upon on the intensive program of reading and study on the points of intersection between constructs of reading literature derived from literary theory and those based in second language acquisition research that I completed for my 01-02 sabbatical. For 08-09, I plan a year of extensive writing to complete four articles currently in progress (three in the area of the scholarship of teaching and learning that elucidate how undergraduate foreign language students read literature in the target language and one in literary history) that encompass applications of my research in this area from the past six years. I intend to submit the completed articles to appropriate professional journals and, time permitting, to begin one additional writing project.

Anthony D. Becker, Department of Economics – Academic Year
During my sabbatical leave, I propose to prepare and submit two scholarly articles and develop research and teaching expertise in the economics of U.S. agriculture in international trade, specifically with Latin America.  The two articles are both econometric investigations of student choice.  The first involves student sensitivity to grades in introductory economics on the decision to major in economics.  The second paper examines the effects of different mathematical preparation on student performance in upper-level economics courses.  To develop expertise in U.S. agricultural trade, I will engage in study and foreign travel.  Work in this area will extend research begun on my last sabbatical that has been developed in working papers and presented at professional meetings.  I already have contacts established in Argentina, where I propose to travel, with persons in agriculture and international grain trading.  This work also relates projects from last year and this with the Center for Integrative Research on U.S. rice exports and on links between world commodity prices and U.S. biofuel production.

Brian Bjorklund, Theatre Department – Interim and Spring Semesters
My plans for the proposed sabbatical leave are:

  1. Scenery & Lighting Design work
    I am applying for design project work with theatres in the regional area, focusing on both producing theatres and college and university theatres.
  2. Preparation of Design and Production materials for exhibition in 2010 and 2011:
    The last time I had design work exhibited was at the World Stage Design exhibition in Toronto, Canada in 2005.  I plan to prepare past design work for exhibition opportunities in 2010 and 2011 including proper archiving, formatting and written work to document design work for exhibition.
  3. Research and Applied project work:
    Technology in the performing arts continues to be substantially impacted by advances in technology  I plan to work with automated lighting fixtures & accessories and computer controlled audio for performance.

Laurel Carrington, Department of History – Academic Year
For my sabbatical, I propose to complete an annotated English translation of the Protestant reformer Martin Bucer’s Epistola Apologetica.  Bucer was the leader of the evangelical reform in Strasbourg, mentor of John Calvin, and a key participant in the Eucharistic controversy.  In 1530, he published the Epistola Apologetica,  a lengthy defense of Protestant teaching and morals, in response to an attack by humanist reformer Desiderius Erasmus. Erasmus had in earlier years inspired and befriended many of Europe’s leading intellectuals who became attracted to Luther’s teachings and abandoned the Roman Catholic church.  His debate with Bucer marks the deterioration in relations between the moderate humanism of his own reform proposals and the more thorough challenge of Protestantism.  The Epistola Apologetica is of crucial importance in tracing these developments.

Gary DeKrey, Department of History – Academic Year
I will study English religious and political radicals in the 1640s and 1650s as part of “Britain’s Awakening,” a popular revival of Protestantism in England, Scotland, Ireland and the broader British Atlantic world.  The project is influenced by studies of the American great awakenings.  I argue for the need to connect the visions of such groups as the Levellers, the Quakers, the Diggers, and the Ranters to the puritan agenda of reformation. I also suggest that these radical movements made arguments about liberty of conscience central to the British Restoration (1660-1688) and to the early Enlightenment.  These approaches support an understanding of British Protestantism after 1640 in terms of a tripartite division among Episcopalians, Reformed or Calvinists, and sectarians. The project involves both a re-conceptualization of the importance of these movements in their own day and for the rest of the seventeenth century.  Outcomes include articles and a possible book.

Jill Dietz, Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science – Academic Year
I will pursue four projects during my sabbatical leave.

First, I will expand my research on automorphisms of groups into the realms of group cohomology and Lie algebra theory.  In particular, I will use H2(K;Z(H)) to study the obstructions to splitting the well-known homomorphism ρ : Aut(G;H)Aut(H) x Aut(K) when G is a semi-direct product of H and K.

Second, I will continue to develop undergraduate research projects.

Third, I will reacquaint myself with the field of real analysis (I have not paid attention
to it in 20 years) so that I can teach it at St. Olaf.

Fourth, I will spend some time learning how other mathematics departments approach the First two years of a typical mathematics curriculum.

Jason Engbrecht, Department of Physics – Academic Year
For my sabbatical I plan to continue my research in various areas of positron physics and build a foundation for this work at St. Olaf in the future.   I will work on continuing to improve our experiments in fundamental and applied positron physics. The work will be funded by a current NSF grant with the possibility of additional funding from a DOD grant currently under review and will take place here at St. Olaf.

James Farrell, Department of History – Academic Year
I will complete work on a book manuscript called The Nature of College: Environmental Impacts of College Culture, focusing on the moral ecology of college life. The book examines everyday aspects of college culture — clocks, clothes, computers, cars, and the curriculum, as well as food, fun, beer and sex — and looks for their environmental implications. In the process, it compares and contrasts America’s expressed environmental values — conservation, preservation, frugality, health, and biodiversity — with its operative environmental values — comfort, convenience, fundamentalism and buyodiversity. And it offers new ways of thinking about environmental issues that will help readers think (and act) more sustainably, creating a culture of permanence.

Ron Gallas, Department of Art and Art History – Spring Semester
This leave would be a creative endeavor, producing ceramic sculpture for three individual exhibition opportunities. An exhibition entitled LINEAGE taking place at Arizona State University during the annual (NCECA) National Council for Education of Ceramic Arts conference in March of 2009. The second prospect would be a one-person exhibit at One On One Bikes, an eccentric gallery, café, and bike shop in Minneapolis. The third exhibit would be in the fall of 2009 along with John Saurer, also on sabbatical, and would take place in the Flaten Art Museum, Center for Art and Dance on the St. Olaf campus.

Charles Huff, Department of Psychology – Academic Year
The traditional computing ethics class trains students in detached cognitive reflection about ethical theory, cases, and social policy. On the basis of extenisve interviews with more axemplars in computing, we have constructed a psychological model that supports a more active pedagogy of ethical computer science. This approach is sufficiently different from traditional pedagogy that it requires presentation at length in a book that weaves disparate literatures into a psychological model, reviews our original research, and presents the implications of the research and model for pedagogy. I porpose to write this manuscript during my 2008-09 sabbatical.

Rika Ito, Department of Asian Studies – Academic Year 2008-09
Hmong in Transition: Hmong American English in the Twin Cities
I plan to complete key portions of my sociolinguistic project on Hmong American English in the Twin Cities. I aim to characterize ways of speaking that reflect Hmong American’s ethnic identity during a period when American speech is becoming more distinct both regionally and ethnically. I will complete the remaining instrumental acoustic analyses (10 speakers), and finish the analysis with reference to two on-going sound changes in the U.S. Once the analysis has completed, I plan to disseminate through conference presentations and a journal publication. I also plan to move to the next steps: 1) the extension of analysis to other linguistic features to characterize Hmong American English as a whole system with the current data set, and 2) start collecting a new data at an ethnically diverse high school by combining sociolinguistic interviews and observations if the NSF funds my project

Rebecca Judge, Department of Economics – Academic Year
During the first half of my sabbatical leave, I will complete my text on domestic environmental policy that I have been working on for the last three summers.

Following completion of this text, I will to continue my research on the international impact of U.S. agricultural policy by examining the sensitivity of Argentine tariff revenues to changes in U.S. agricultural policies, particularly as related to the growing demand in the U.S. for corn-based ethanol. Argentina, the world’s second largest corn exporter, imposes a steep tariff on its agricultural exports.  As U.S. policy moves towards satisfying domestic biofuel demand, decreases in U.S. farm exports cause Argentine government receipts increase, as tariff collections rise in response to increased export activity by Argentine agriculturalists.  I have extensive contacts in Argentina who are involved in government, agriculture, and international grain trading, and who have agreed to assist me in this endeavor.

Karil Kucera, Departments of Asian Studies and Art & Art History – Academic Year
For my sabbatical, I propose to continue to work on the projects related to sacred sites upon which I have already begun to research and publish.  Depending on the outcome of two grant proposals, I will either focus on my contemporary sacred sites project – centering on the memorials of Hiroshima, My Lai, and Nanjing – or continue to work on the medieval Chinese Buddhist sacred site of Baodingshan. The contemporary sacred sites project focuses on the production of memory and meaning within the context of mourning at these three Asian sites.  The Baodingshan project expands my dissertation research to consider this Buddhist site within the context of time and audience reception. Announcement of the grant recipients will be in February.  Both types of projects will result in a substantial publishable work; for the contemporary sacred sites, this work may take the format of an electronic publication.

DeAne Lagerquist, Department of Religion – Academic Year

  1. I will read widely in the field of American religion giving particular attention to the repidly expanding literature on religious pluralism and emerging scholarship on visual and material culture.
  2. I will design a new BTS-T course that draws upon my preparation for and experience leading Global Semester.
  3. I will return to several publication projects begun but not completed during my two termas as chair.
  4. I have applied for a Fulbright Fellowship to teach American Studies in Turkey.

Julie Legler, Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science – Academic Year
Increasing computational resources have made a dramatic impact on the practice of statistics.  These changes have been slow to be incorporated in the undergraduate curriculum.  My first sabbatical project will address this unmet need through the creation of Case Studies.  The Case Studies will in turn serve as the basis for a book in the area of advanced statistical modeling at the undergraduate level.  The second project will involve a collaboration with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania involving the development and application of new statistical methodology.  Lastly, I am committed to writing a proposal to follow up on the NSF Statistics Grant.  In addition to allowing the Center for Interdisciplinary Research to continue, this proposal will expand in significant ways.  Multiple institutions have agreed to pursue this with me.  At St. Olaf, we are seeking to expand the CIR to include all of MSCS, not just statistics.

Janice Roberts, Department of Dance – Spring Semester
For my sabbatical leave project titled Dancing through a lifetime, I plan to study and develop means to incorporate yoga into my modern technique classes as well as part of my life long fitness plan.  I also plan to develop, learn, rehearse and perform a solo choreographed by Artist Keith Johnson of Keith Johnson and Dancers, Los Angeles.

I plan to study Yoga in Northfield and the Twin Cities and develop appropriate material from my studies that will be synthesized and introduced in my various technique classes at St. Olaf College.

I also plan to travel to Los Angeles to develop and learn a solo from Keith Johnson.  Upon my return, I plan to continue to refine and rehearse this solo as part of the physical regime I will maintain during my leave.

John Saurer, Department of Art and Art History – Academic Year
It is my intention to use my sabbatical to further my artistic study in three major areas: drawing, printmaking and sculpture.  I will continue to focus on the unique formal and technical qualities of each media.   However, during this proposed period, it is my intention to also explore their common elements and more combined methods of working across multiple media.  In addition to working in my home studio, I will pursue travel and professional relationships in Colorado, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota and New York.

Jeff Schwinefus, Department of Chemistry – Academic Year
During my sabbatical year, I propose to learn how to perform molecular dynamics (MD) simulations using Amber to explore the interactions of urea with nucleic acids.  Urea is a known destabilizer of nucleic acid structure, although the mechanism has not been elucidated.  MD simulations will provide information on what nucleic acid chemical groups urea prefers to interact with or if waters of hydration mediate urea interaction.  My sabbatical time will be invested fully in gaining expertise in MD, learning how to use Amber, and initiating nucleic acid/urea simulations.  In the academic years and summers following my sabbatical, undergraduate researchers will take over the urea/nucleic acid simulations and investigate RNA conformational changes with metabolite binding and nucleic acid destabilization with glycine betaine.  These research projects will provide research opportunities for undergraduates for the next 4-6 years.  MD simulations will also become an integral part of Chem 391: Biophysical Chemistry.

Kathleen L. Shea, Department of Biology – Academic Year
Developing New Directions for Restoration Ecology and Agroecology at St. Olaf College

During my sabbatical I plan to focus on two main areas: 1) writing up results of previous research in forest restoration and 2) developing new research priorities in restoration ecology and agroecology for the St. Olaf natural and agricultural lands. For the writing project I plan to summarize results of the research started in 1990 as we began restoring forests. To develop new research priorities I plan to build on my background and knowledge of the natural lands accumulated by helping to plan the layout of the natural lands, the species that have been planted, and proposals for management of the agricultural lands. I plan to read widely and visit institutions with on-going research in restoration and agroecology in order to develop ideas for enriching research and teaching using the St. Olaf restored and agricultural lands.

Bonnie Sherman, Department of Psychology – Calendar Year
The history of number-forms in psychology (1870-1935)

The focus of my sabbatical is in the history of psychology. There are two major projects to be undertaken.  First, I will extend my historical research in the period 1870-1935 with emphasis on Francis Galton’s work on number-forms in London from the 1870’s and 1880’s, and the extension of this work into Europe, North American and East Asia, drawing it into an annotated bibliography. The second project is to develop a non-majors course in the history of psychology to be offered at the introductory level in the spring of 2010. This course will introduce the major areas of psychology covered in the current Psychology 125-126 laboratory course for majors, but presented in an historical context.

Robert C. Smith, Department of Music – Spring Semester
I will study vocal jazz and improvisation for my sabbatical. This study will be with faculty at the University of Denver, principally Donna Wickham, a jazz singer and pianist who is very active in both the jazz and classical worlds.

The focus of my study will be to participate in, as well as observe, how she successfully navigates both styles. In my study, there will be weekly opportunities to ‘front’ a live band as a soloist in workshops exploring jazz vocal styles and improvisation. I will also study jazz piano as a theoretical basis.

At St. Olaf David Hagedorn affords vocal students opportunities with our fine jazz bands, but bemoans the fact that there is no vocal professor to guide some of these efforts. The intent of my study is to equip myself to become a resource to students interested in solo jazz singing here at St. Olaf.

Ariel Strichartz, Department of Romance Languages – Academic Year
My sabbatical project will continue my ongoing study of contemporary Argentine theatre, both expanding upon previous work and initiating new lines of investigation. I will first complete research on a series of works that draw upon the space of the kitchen and the acts of cooking, feeding, and eating as framing devices as they respond to the most recent military dictatorship (1976-1983). The next phase of my research will also focus on dramatic responses to state-sponsored terrorism, but will depart from the above-mentioned culinary metaphor in order to examine a play treating the parallels between the Argentine military dictatorship and the Armenian Genocide of 1915, in particular the issue of impunity. Finally, I will investigate two plays which suggest the tensions present in Argentine society over the relatively recent arrival of immigrant groups from Korea and China. I expect to produce two to three publishable articles to be submitted to refereed journals in the field and at least one conference presentation.

Pin Wan, Department of Asian Studies – Academic Year
This sabbatical project is the continuation of my research interest in feminist discourse on women writers and women movie directors in modern China.  There are two major tasks in this project. The first is to browse through the archive and related literature to complete and compile a collection of historical/biographical data on China’s prominent women directors from late 1970s (end of the Cultural Revolution) to late 1990s (6th Generation Directors).  The second task is to select representative films directed by those women directors and view them carefully for analyses on the filmic language, images, sound, and theme in those movies. Based on the list of the movies viewed so far, my tentative subjects of analysis will include: symbols and images of femininity, criticism on marginalization of women, theme of gender identity and subjectivity, absence/presence technique used, and other elements in film language either diegetic or non-diegetic.  I expect to complete a draft.  I believe that the research result can update and enhance my knowledge and expertise in the two fields and that it will improve my teaching of Chinese film (presently taught) and women literature (previously taught).

David Van Wylen, Department of Biology – Interim and Second Semester
I have two objectives for my sabbatical leave:

  • Reinvigorate what has become a dormant undergraduate-based research program in cardiac physiology.
  • Prepare myself for returning full-time to the classroom by updating courses that I have not taught for several years and planning some new courses.

Colin Wells, Department of English – Interim Spring Semester
The Poetry Wars of the Early Republic
I plan to use my sabbatical to continue writing my current book project, a comprehensive study of political poetry during the Revolutionary and Early Republican periods in America (1765-1815). By that time I will have completed three of the book’s six chapters, and will attempt to draft the remaining three during my sabbatical leave.

Solveig Zempel, Department of Norwegian – Academic Year
During my sabbatical, I will carry out research on second language acquisition and language pedagogy appropriate to directed self-instruction.  I will investigate and evaluate teaching materials, as well as study models for providing and testing directed self-study.  After appropriate consultation on campus, I will present a proposal for a program of Directed Individualized Language and Culture Instruction (DILCI) to the Curriculum Committee and the faculty for consideration.  In addition, I expect to submit articles based on my research into SILP teaching and learning to peer-reviewed journals (e.g. ADFL Bulletin).  Grant-writing will play a substantial role leading up to, during, and after my sabbatical to support development, assessment, and dissemination of this program. I have a long-standing interest in linguistics, second language acquisition, and language pedagogy and have taught language courses at all levels for most of my career, giving me a firm foundation to carry out my sabbatical project.