2009-10 Sabbatical Abstracts

John Barbour, Department of ReligionAcademic Year
During my sabbatical I plan to complete the manuscript for a book tentatively entitled “The Ethics of Travel: Memoirs by Pilgrims, Exiles, and Tourists.” The book will explore how travel, especially encounter with other religious traditions, affects the author’s religious and ethical values.

Douglas J. Beussman, Department of Chemistry – Academic Year  
I plan on spending my sabbatical working in the Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research laboratory at the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Academy in Quantico, Virginia. I will be assigned to work on one or more projects once I arrive at the Academy. The knowledge and experience that I gain during this sabbatical will allow me to introduce current forensic techniques and applications into the courses I teach at St. Olaf and will be applicable to the forensic science research program I have established at St. Olaf.

David Dahl, Department of Physics – Academic Year
Experiments [Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM)] and theory of spin reversals and spin torques will be undertaken at the University of Minnesota with my collaborators Dan Dahlberg and Chuck Campbell. Some time will also be spent at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, University of Vienna, examining quantum computing.

Shelly Dickinson, Department of Psychology – Academic Year   
I have two concrete, discrete plans and two longer-term goals for my sabbatical.  I will be re-thinking and reshaping one of my standard courses (Biopsychology) to possibly incorporate more case-based or team-based learning. I will also be helping host the 4th annual MidBrains Undergraduate Neuroscience Research Conference here at St. Olaf in the spring of 2010. As a longer-term goal I will be continuing to conduct experiments as part of my research program investigating the effects of alcohol in adolescent mice and pursue funding opportunities for this work. I will also be laying the groundwork for drug education opportunities in the community.

Rita S. Glazebrook, Department of Nursing – Interim and Semester II
High-Fidelity Simulation in Nursing Education
High-fidelity simulation offers a new alternative to experiential learning in nursing.  The use of computerized human patient manikins provides a realistic and challenging yet safe method to prepare professional nurses. The focus of my sabbatical will be to explore the use of high-fidelity simulation technology in undergraduate nursing education. I will investigate the literature on simulation including evidence of effective student learning in clinical competence, critical thinking and team building.  Also I will develop my expertise in using high-fidelity simulation as a teaching-learning strategy. Increasing my knowledge and expertise in this area will assist me to lead an initiative within the department to develop a nursing simulation program.

Rick Goedde, Department of Economics – Academic Year
The proposed sabbatical project is to write three workbooks of team application exercises and the corresponding instructor manuals for introductory courses in investments, corporate finance, and management.  These workbooks will be unique in that they will be written to support Team-Based Learning (TBL).  The investments workbook will also be unique in that the portion covering equities(the largest part) will emphasize stock screening, the basis of my disciplinary research over the past five years.

Dana Gross, Department of Psychology – Academic Year 
During the first portion of my sabbatical, I will complete the draft of a textbook about child development.  The publisher of my infancy textbook, Infancy: Development from Birth to Age 3, has just commissioned pre-revision reviews in anticipation of a second edition.  In January and February, I will travel to India to lecture about child development, gather resources and lay the groundwork for a new off-campus Interim course.  I will maintain my contacts with community partners (Minneapolis Public Schools Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Program), I plan to prepare reports about our current collaborative work and make plans for the following year.

Alice M. Hanson, Department of Music – Semester I and Interim
I propose to analyze the structural and metaphoric use of keys and tonal relationships in Franz Schubert’s song cycle Die schöne Müllerin (1824).

Tim Howe, Department of History -Academic Year
Title:  “Alexander in India.  A Near Eastern Reappraisal.”
In a book-length project, I plan to sift through the primary source narratives and modern historiography in order to provide a more nuanced view of Alexander’s Indian Campaign and his childhood friend and general Ptolemy’s reconstruction of it.  By contextualizing Ptolemy’s narrative in both Greek and Middle Eastern–especially Egyptian–historiography, I hope to show that the first real Macedonian king of Egypt is writing a hybrid, entirely new form of historical narrative.

Paul D. Humke, Department of Mathematics – Academic Year
I plan to spend the fall working on uncompleted papers that need to be submitted.  In January, I’ll attend the Joint Mathematics meeting in San Francisco and then travel to Budapest where I’ll be a visiting Scholar at both E˝otv˝os Lorand University and the Renyi Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Science.  I’ve been invited to Thailand to give a lecture at the Far East Real Analysis Conference, and will probably visit the University of Aukland, New Zealand to give a lecture to the Mathematics Department there.  We’ll return to Budapest where we’ll host the twenty-fifth reunion of the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics Program.

Meg Ojala, Department of Art and Art History – Academic Year
I propose to work in my studio full-time to create new work. I plan to research Asian art and the influence of Buddhism and Taoism on Chinese and Japanese painting to deepen my understanding of concepts in Asian art that relate to my work. I will also explore alternative ways of presenting my work that relate to traditional Asian forms such as the scroll. I will research recent art photography to enrich my teaching, and continue to learn software to improve and develop my teaching of digital photography.

Margaret Hayford O’Leary, Department of Norwegian – Academic Year
Proposed project:

  1. To complete a manuscript called Norway: Culture and Customs for Greenwood Press.  This volume is part of the Culture and Customs Around the World series
  2. To complete a songbook for teaching Norwegian called Syng og lær norsk. It will include a recording of St. Olaf students singing, end glossary, informational notes and grammatical, vocabulary, thematic index of the songs.
  3. To translate a Norwegian crime novel. I would like to select a title that a publisher would be interested in, and have already had very preliminary discussion with Arcadia Publishers, in London.
  4. To bring myself up to date on the latest thinking in language pedagogy.

Diana Postlethwaite, Department of English – Academic Year
My sabbatical plans build on and evolve work begun as Boldt Chair, wherein I’ve been developing new courses in the area of film studies.  I plan to explore three interrelated areas:

  1. Intersections between Victorian novels and the “protofilmic” nature of fiction written in an era when railroads, telegraphs, and photography provided new ways of experiencing the world.
  2. Parallel to, and overlapping with, my interest in exploring the borderlands between Victorian fiction and early film is my interest in exploring boundaries and intersections between Victorian theater and early film.
  3. Writing about the early silent movie of George Eliot’s historical novel Romola should allow me to explore intersections of page, stage and screen.

Barbara Reed, Departments of Religion and Asian Studies – Academic Year
“Chinese Buddhism and Popular Narratives”
My proposed research project will analyze the connections between Chinese Buddhist texts and traditions and the Chinese narratives of popular tales, operas, novels and movies.  My fundamental question is how and why does Chinese popular culture imagine new stories and meanings for imported Buddhist images and teachings.  My initial focus will be on Guanyin Bodhisattva: a major character in much Chinese Buddhist popular literature and ostensibly secular literature.  She is a powerful manifestation in the classic Ming dynasty novel Journey to the West (Xiyu ji) and numerous popular tales, operas and films.

LaVern J. Rippley, Department of German – Semester II
During my academic leave I will work on a book dealing with the policies, the economies, the daily cultural lives, the press and the tensions experienced by the German settlers in Russia, specifically in the Black Sea region. My time frame is approximately 1850 – 1914, the era in which the settlers there shifted from invited and desired, to feared and threatening, an assumption on the part of the Pan Slavic movement that they represented an effort of the new German Reich (1871-1918) to imperialize Russia through peaceful means.

Paul Roback, Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science – Academic Year
My sabbatical project involves two primary components:  continuing work with researchers from Seattle University on the tuberculosis genome, and a stint as a statistical consultant in industry.  Rob Rutherford and I (and many students) have used computational, statistical, and molecular techniques to develop a predicted operon map for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB).  I plan to spend time writing papers describing our most recent results and expanding methodologically in directions our new research will take us.  Second, I have a tentative agreement to consult with a team at General Mills, giving me invaluable experience with problems today’s statisticians face.

Steve Soderlind, Department of Economics – Semester I and Interim
“Gone Writin’ – mostly”
Briefly, my foremost goal for this sabbatical is to complete at least two of several
unfinished writing projects. Secondary goals include preparing a course for the college’s Science Conversation, writing and submitting a Fulbright proposal, and rejuvenation.

Corliss Swain, Department of Philosophy – Academic Year
This project consists of two parts.  The first part draws on my experience with cancer. In an autobiographical narrative, I document how evidence-based medicine can be used by patients. The final chapter is an overview of the controversies within the medical community concerning evidence-based medicine.
The second part of my project is motivated by my 2001 interpretation of Hume’s notion of natural necessity and on an ongoing re-evaluation of Hume’s scepticism among scholars. I provide a novel interpretation of Hume’s views on causal necessity, scientific explanation and method, natural laws, and the philosophy of psychology.

Kathy Tegtmeyer Pak, Departments of Asian Studies and Political Science – Academic Year
My proposed sabbatical takes my interests in citizenship in a new direction.  If I receive one of the four major grants I seek, I will spend nine-ten months in Japan.  If not, I will arrange a shorter trip and work from home.  I begin my project from the assumption that people can learn active citizenship. By interviewing professors and analyzing relevant documents, I will study narratives about the democratic potential of Japanese higher education. Japan is a major non-western democracy, hence a critical case study.

Kris Thalhammer, Department of Political Science – Academic Year
I propose to complete two projects during my sabbatical leave:  (1) development of a course on peace-building and/or conflict resolution and consideration of prospects for a peace studies concentration at St. Olaf   (2) preparation of a research paper or article that delves more deeply into the struggle of ethnic minorities in Colombia to achieve increased political power and rights in the San Andres Old Providence Archipelago.   These two projects will help to revitalize my course offerings and research.

Mary Trull, Department of English – Academic Year
During my year of sabbatical leave, I plan to begin research on an area relatively new to me: materialist philosophy and seventeenth-century English women poets.  I plan to complete a book-length project with chapters on Aphra Behn, an admirer of Lucretius; on Lucy Hutchinson, the first English translator of Lucretius; and on Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, whose philosophical work draws on materialism to create an idiosyncratic aesthetic system.  My thinking on the topic is at a very preliminary stage, and I will use my sabbatical year to lay groundwork for further research and produce two essays in the area.

Anne Walter, Department of Biology – Academic Year
The first six months I intend to be in India teaching at Madras Christian College and engaging with our partners in the Biology in South India Program.  The second six months will be spent at St. Olaf to put in place what we’ve learned in India, to revise at least one of my courses and restart my research program.  Spending a semester with colleagues in a teaching and research setting combined with travel is intended to result in new approaches to biology, an updated and enriched St. Olaf international program and deeper mutually beneficial relationships..

Paul Wojick, Department of Economics – Interim and Semester II
My sabbatical project will entail the initiation of a basic research program on the degree to which financial developments or considerations play in causing the business cycles that characterize the operation of market economies.  The focus of this research will be, more specifically, on the degree to which financial developments are important in causing the fluctuations in output and employment that occur over the course of business cycles, and, even more specifically, on the degree to which financial developments explain why economic adjustments over the course of the cycle occur in quantities rather than, or in addition to, prices.