2015-16 Sabbatical Abstracts

Ibtesam Al Atiyat, Department of Sociology and Anthropology – Semester I and Interim
For my sabbatical, I am planning on completing my forthcoming book Body Politics and Nation Building in Modern Jordan. In this book, I analyze the different discourses framing laws and legal procedures regulating issues of rape, honor killings, nationality, and person status, discuss the circumstances that led to their emergence, and examine ways in which calls for the amendment or preservation of these laws are presented as essential to specific visions of progress and modernization. I argue that what appears to be at the surface a problem of slashing values between traditionalist (Tribal and Islamist leaders) and modernists (women’s and human rights activists) views of women’s sexuality is in fact a struggle for legitimacy shaped by national and global factors including the expansion of western hegemony in the Arab World. I am in the process of seeking an NEH summer stipend to complete the fieldwork needed for the book. If granted the fieldwork will be completed in the summer of 2015 preceding to my sabbatical leave. Half of my sabbatical will be spent in Jordan, the site where my research is taking place. The rest will be spent writing the book monograph here in Minnesota.

Adam Berliner, Department of Mathematic, Statistics, and Computer Science – Academic Year 2015-16
During sabbatical, I plan to work on two research projects in my subfield of combinatorial matrix theory. Along with colleagues at Iowa State University, I am currently working on a project related to maximum nullity and zero forcing for directed graphs. I expect to complete that project and begin and make progress on another collaboration along the same vein. Second, I will start a new collaboration with colleagues at the University of Victoria in which we will investigate refined inertias of sign patter matrices. I will finish both projects during the sabbatical year and submit the results for publication. I also plan to attend and participate in the International Linear Algebra Society conference in Leuven, Belgium.

Brian Bjorklund, Department of Theater – Interim and Semester II
This sabbatical consists of 3 different parts:

1. Professional travel to the Prague Quadrennial for Performance Design and Space as a “pre-sabbatical” activity in June. The PQ occurs once every four years and is an international exhibition of Performance Design and space, self-described as “The world’s largest event dedicated to scenography and theatre architecture”.

2. Research: New Technologies in Lighting, Sound and Scenic Environments. I will be studying five software applications and accompanying hardware resources for application to live performance design projects.

3. Professional Project work for United States Institute for Theatre Design and Technology (USITT) and preparation of materials for design exhibition. I will be working to transition the quarterly on-line publication I edit and publish to a new format employing current technologies. Working for USITT will give me the opportunity for a continued leadership position and preparation for a design exhibit.

Cindy Book, Department of Exercise Science – Semester I and Interim
There are two major components to the sabbatical. The first will be to finish my research on vertical jump. I am devising a vertical jump protocol that physical education teachers can utilize quickly and effectively in their classes. Two senior exercise science majors will help me collect the remaining data. This will be a great experience for them (undergraduate research opportunity) and a big help to me. The goal will be submission of an article for publication and a presentation at a national conference (with the students).

The second component will involve reflection on the broader vision for the exercise science major. We have been collecting exit interview data from our senior majors for the past ten years. While all of that information has been helpful in shaping our curriculum, it is time to evaluate things in light of the strategic plan components (especially the high impact practices) and our departmental goals.

Mary Cisar, Department of Romance Languages – Academic Year 2015-16
After thirteen years as registrar, a 2015-16 academic-year sabbatical leave will enable me to re-establish my scholarly research in eighteenth-century French studies, to renew my French, and to re-engage with the scholarship and practice of second-language pedagogy in preparation for returning to teaching French in 2016-17. My main sabbatical project combines three scholarly and personal interests: Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s writings, particularly those in which he develops his thoughts on botany, gardens, and landscape; Thomas Jefferson’s passion for gardening and landscape, particularly as it developed while he served as minister to France; and the history and practice of botany, gardening, and garden design. Secondary projects include one article for a general audience and a pedagogical update. I plan to spend most of my time in Northfield but also, tentatively, to schedule two extended periods of travel to France, Switzerland, and Jefferson’s Monticello.

Jill Dietz, Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science – Academic Year 2015-15
My primary goal is to continue researching the relationship between group-theoretic properties of a semi-direct product Γ = G αφ H, where φ: H à Aut(G) gives a non-trivial action of H on G, and properties of the factors H and G. Using the Wells exact sequence, I have already obtained information about a particular “stable” subgroup of Aut (Γ) in terms of Aut(G), Aut(H) and the action of H on G. Next, I hope to show that information about a variety of stable subgroups can be pieced together to get a more robust understanding of Aut (Γ). Aiding this line of research will be a secondary interest in understanding the subgroup structure of Γ in terms of its factors. If I can learn to program sufficiently well in GAP, then computational investigations may shed some light on this difficult topic.

Charles Huff, Department of Psychology – Academic Year 2015-16
For the past two sabbaticals, I have been working on an exploratory project to construct a virtue-based model of professional ethics, informed by NSF-funded projects interviewing moral exemplars in computing. I have applied this model in the structure of our required computer science class in ethics, and also in encouraging reform in ethical education in technical fields. On this sabbatical I will extend this work into two additional technical fields, basic research in science and the broad range of engineering disciplines. Ken Fleishmann in the University of Texas, Austin, School of Information, and asked me to collaborate with him on a project interviewing moral exemplars in basic science research. Ed Harris, in the Philosophy department at Texas A & M, has asked if I would collaborate on doing a similar interview project across the range of Engineering fields.

Rick Goedde, Department of Economics – Academic Year 2015-16
I plan to complete three projects:  (1) Develop the concept of a personal endowment to help people prepare financially for retirement.  The challenge is to find innovative ways to control risk when investing in assets that pay a high level of income.  I plan to publish an article on my findings in the American Association of Individual Investors Journal.  (2) Write workshop materials to be used by me and others for the training of faculty in the use of team-based learning in the classroom.  Also, lead workshops at various academic institutions to test these materials out.  (3) Write unstructured case studies to be used in my Corporate Finance and Investments classes.  The cases are unstructured because students must find both the background reading and data necessary to propose a solution.

Abdulai Iddrisu, Department of History – Academic Year 2015-16
This research investigates Muslim women herbalists in Ghana –the contradictory structures that shaped their lives, and the meaning they associate with the triple appellation of “Muslim,” “Mothers,” and “healers” in multiple spaces. Using the life history approach and archival sources, it answers questions such as: How do women effectively negotiate the Muslim and traditional patriarchal spaces, where esoteric knowledge remains a male domain and where apprenticeship is the preserve of sons of herbalists? How do they navigate these paradoxical conditions, which are nevertheless embedded in the meaning they associate with their own healing practices and roles in society? This approach refocuses the discourse away from a simplistic dichotomy that divides these women into victims and the saved. It privileges the personal and social mechanisms that individual Muslim women herbalists adopted and focuses on the myriad ways they have used traditional Muslim, and secular structures to remain significant within their society.

Rika Ito, Department of Asian Studies – Academic Year 2015-16
I plan to write three manuscripts and one conference paper on sociolinguistic projects. Two are on variable numeral pronunciation in the Japanese classifier constructions. The first manuscript argues that the newer, and once labeled as regional, colloquial or incorrect pronunciations were the dominant choice of the native Japanese teachers in the North America who we surveyed. The second one examines the effect of variability between two different age groups, and gender and regional effects among young generation. The third manuscript analyzes naming convention of popular Pokemon games quantitatively and discusses the results in the light of localization. The last project analyzes the grammaticalization of hopefully (“Hopefully, it won’t rain tomorrow.” from a manner adverb as in “He spoke hopefully.”)  in American English by using COHA. Although hopefully as a sentence adverb was criticized in the 1960s, a leftward movement of the manner adverb hopefully triggered such shift as observed in the 19th century writing.

Karil Kucera, Department of Art and Art History, Department of Asian Studies – Academic Year 2015-16
What defines the sacred? Employing different thematic constructs, I will create a multi-media digital work that looks at the sacred as embodied in different sites within Asia. “Sacred Sites of Asia” will present the reader with a comparative consideration of new themes using a variety of methodologies. The work’s format moves from ‘natural’ embodiments of the sacred to traditional ‘constructed’ sacred sites related to the major religious traditions of Asia, concluding with several alternative ways of viewing sacred sites, such as sacred sites as utilized by more than one religious group [‘shared sacred sites’], the role of gender within the realm of sacred sites, and contemporary iterations of the sacred. It builds upon groundwork laid by my colleagues in art history and religious studies, while taking the next step towards re-envisioning these sites in new ways in the hopes of bringing the study of sacred sites into the 21st century.

Mary Beth Kuehn, Department of Nursing – Semester I and Interim
I propose three sabbatical projects: (1) submission of a manuscript(s) on my dissertation work on healthy work environments, (2) participation in inter-professional simulation and developing manuscripts on student learning outcomes, and (3) completion of a manuscript(s) following 2014-15 faculty-student research about rural adolescents’ access to non-medical prescription drug use. My dissertation work addressed a gap in the research by focusing on “creating healthy work environments for faculty” and strategies to address faculty-to-faculty incivility.  Interviewing both baccalaureate and associate degree nursing faculty addressed two different perspectives.  Inter-professional simulation with baccalaureate students creates an opportunity for pre-health care professionals to learn about the roles of other disciplines and communication in a team.  The chaotic and complex health care environment demands that members of the health care team effectively communicate and work together to improve patient outcomes. Through scholarly presentations and publications, dissemination of learning outcomes related to IP simulation is my goal.

DeAne Lagerquist, Department of Religion – Academic Year 2015-16
The primary focus of my proposed sabbatical is continued archival and other research into the life and career of Lars W. Boe, St. Olaf’s fourth president. Boe served at St. Olaf from 1918-42; previously he was a parish pastor, president of Waldorf College, a member of the Iowa legislature and church executive. He was a major figure in domestic and international cooperative Lutheranism. Building on two published papers, I will expand my investigation to place Boe and his career in the contexts of America during these decades generally, higher education more specifically, and Lutheran church life. Merely working my way through his 100 + boxes of papers and secondary materials is a major undertaking. I anticipate at least an article on his legislative work and perhaps a plan for a biography.

In addition, I will undertake initial exploration of Gertrude Sovik’s papers, continue development of my digital humanities project “Locating Lutheranism in the American Religious Landscape,” and launch reading on Christianity in East Asia with an eye to expanding my teaching competence.

Laura Listenberger, Departments of Biology and Chemistry – Academic Year 2015-16
Excess lipid is stored inside cells in structures called lipid droplets. These reservoirs provide fuel for cellular energy demands and act as sources of lipid for membrane and steroid hormone biosynthesis. They also provide protection from the harmful effects of excess lipid accumulation by sequestering potentially toxic lipid species away from pathways that lead to cell death.  I propose research to evaluate (1) the mechanism through which the lipid droplet protects a cell from lipid toxicity, and (2) the role that surface lipids play in recruiting specific proteins to the lipid droplet surface.  This work will contribute to our understanding of the form and function of this important organelle.

Margaret Hayford O’Leary, Department of Norwegian – Academic Year 2015-16
Part One:

1)     To revise and expand an interactive grammar review program called KlikkNorsk.
2)     To complete a project begun several years ago, a songbook for teaching Norwegian called Syng og lær norsk. This songbook includes a recording of St. Olaf students singing, an end glossary, informational notes, and grammatical, vocabulary, thematic indices of the songs.
3)     To take over Nelsbok publishing of Naiv. Super. and other novels used in language instruction at St. Olaf and elsewhere.

Part Two:

1)     To begin research on a topic that has interested me for many years.  I plan to do background reading followed by archival research on materials produced by and about the women who had relationships with the German soldiers during the Occupation of World War II, as well as their children.
2)     To translate a Norwegian crime novel.

Jean Porterfield, Department of Biology – Academic Year 2015-16
I am looking forward to my proposed 2015-16 sabbatical leave as a time to reinvigorate my research life and return to deep and broad thinking about my teaching. My research time will be spent studying the genetics of microbes (especially bacteria) in the various soils of the St. Olaf Natural Lands, in order to contribute to knowledge and use of these lands, as well as to address larger questions about microbial communities and functions. I will also design gene expression analysis laboratory models for biology courses, network with colleagues by attending a new-to-me professional society meeting, and explore new grant proposal options. With respect to teaching, I will develop a first-year-writing course, and apply backward-design thinking in some course revisions. I hope to also provide science outreach to a local grade school.

Anthony Roberts, Department of Dance – Semester II
During my 2016 spring term professional leave, I plan to conduct research on variations and anomalies of the musculoskeletal system that may occur across individuals and the ramifications and implications for these in the context of dance training, performance, conditioning and injuries.

This research will allow me to develop an expertise in a content area that is increasingly important in the dance field, whether one is a teacher, creative/performance artist, working in the healing professions, or simply desires to engage in an embodied lifestyle. At the completion of my project, I plan to write an article on my research and submit it for publication to various professional journals.

Janice Roberts, Department of Dance – Semester II
During my sabbatical leave, I plan to research the relationship between performance, health, and the changing, aging body. To begin this process, I will travel to California to collaborate with an artist colleague, Keith Johnson, who is based in California. Keith and I will rework a solo dance, Approaching Winter, with the intention that I perform this solo either during my sabbatical in Spring 2016 or the following fall 2016. The dance solo was originally made for me, but it was never performed. Keith and I would rework and modify the solo dance for me to perform, while accommodating my current physical limitations.

Part of this sabbatical project will be to examine current performing options and practices available to and appropriate for dancers in the later years of their performance lives. I plan to perform the solo at St. Olaf College either spring of 2016 or the following fall.

Jeff Schwinefus, Department of Chemistry – Semester I and Interim
During my sabbatical leave for the period starting September 1, 2015 and ending January 31, 2016, I will pursue 1) elucidating the temperature dependence of proline interactions with chemical functional groups in the nucleic acid solvent accessible surface area exposed during unfolding, 2) understanding the G-quartet, loop, and cation contributions to G-quadruplex stabilization or destabilization in aqueous cosolute solutions, and 3) developing guided-inquiry workshops for Chem 371: Physical Chemistry in an effort to flip the physical chemistry classroom. The first two projects serve as high impact experiences for undergraduate students interested in thermodynamics and biopolymer folding. Additionally, these projects continue a research theme started twelve years ago that has greatly expanded my knowledge of chemical thermodynamics and related instrumentation. The third project is essential since physical chemistry at St. Olaf incorporates a higher degree of topic integration than comparable physical chemistry courses at other institutions and which modern physical chemistry textbooks cannot match.

Kathleen L. Shea, Department of Biology – Academic Year 2015-16
For my sabbatical leave project I plan to focus on three main areas: 1) writing papers on results of research on forest restoration and agroecology, 2) making research and historical information on the St. Olaf Natural Lands available in digital format, and 3) developing new research project and management objectives utilizing the St. Olaf Natural and Agricultural Lands. For the writing project I plan to submit papers for publication on results of research in forest restoration and agricultural methods for fertilization and cultivation. The digital format project for the Natural Lands fits with the St. Olaf and Carleton digital library project goal to make information on local scholarly work more easily accessible. I also plan to read widely, make scholarly connections and develop plans for future projects. The proposed work supports my position as Curator of Natural Lands, promotes development of new research initiatives and enriches my teaching.

Ariel Strichartz, Department of Spanish – Academic Year 2015-16
My proposed sabbatical project focuses on how Argentina’s Armenian population has articulated the collective memory of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923) within the broader context of the return to democracy after the most recent military dictatorship (1976-1983). The principal focus of my study is a series of plays treating the Armenian Genocide which have been written and/or staged in Argentina since 1990. By providing insight into the localized and specific intersection of these two collective memories, my research will be useful for students and scholars of various fields, among them comparative memory studies, Armenian diasporic literature, Argentine theatre, and theatre and human rights in a transnational context. My goal for my 2015-2016 sabbatical is to produce two scholarly articles, which will eventually form part of a book project that will span two sabbatical leaves. My research next year will involve information-gathering, reading, and writing, both in Argentina and the United States.

Colin Wells, Department of English – Interim and Semester II
For my half-year sabbatical, I will create a digital site that introduces students and scholars to the subject of “Literary Warfare in the Early American Republic.” Based on the research I conducted for my nearly-completed book manuscript, The Poetry Wars of the Early Republic, the site will combine images and text, as well as draw on hyperlink capabilities of a digital site to highlight the unique aesthetic and historical dimensions of political poetry published between 1765 and 1815. In particular, it will highlight intersections between poetry and other forms of political language also circulating in print at the time, such as official documents, speeches, newspaper articles, and rival poems.

Paul Wojick, Department of Economics – Semester II
I intend to spend my sabbatical working on a new research project that will begin with an investigation of potential differences in the relationship between disposable income and consumption spending at different stages of the business cycle. The question that I intend to address is whether this relationship is stronger as the economy begins to contract, and disposable income declines, than it is when the economy is expanding, and disposable income is increasing. The answer to this question has implications regarding the value of the marginal propensity to consume, and thus on the potential impact of fiscal policy, at the points in time when they are likely to be most important. This research is also intended to help us more fully understand the nature of business cycles and their asymmetric nature in particular.