About Around the Square April 16, 2009

Faculty and Staff Publications, Recognitions, Exhibitions

From the theater to the sciences to historical undertakings, faculty and staff members at Oberlin are tops in their fields and well-versed in their avocations.

Awards and Grants

For the second time in three years, Ray English, Azariah Smith Root Director of Libraries, has received a major honor from the


Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL): the 2009 Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award. In 2006, English received the ACRL'S Academic Research Librarian of theYear award, which recognizes an academic librarian who has made significant contributions in library services or research.

Religion professor Cynthia Chapman, who teaches courses on Jewish and Christian scriptures, has received a National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend of $6,000 to continue work on her upcoming book, The House of the Mother: The Identity and Function of the Natal Family in Ancient Israelite Kinship Structures.

Six Oberlinians are among the 59 Ohio artists to receive Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council. The awards represent peer recognition of a creative artist whose body of work advances or exemplifies the discipline and the larger artistic community. These awards support artists' growth and development and recognize their work in Ohio and beyond in 13 different disciplines. The six from Oberlin each won $5,000 grants.

Kazim Ali won in the poetry category. Ali has two books forthcoming this year-The Disappearance of Seth and Bright Felon:K.A. Autobiography and Cities. His essay, "Write Something on My Wall: Body and Identity," will appear in the May issue of American Poetry Review. Ali recently accepted a contributing editor position with the Writer's Chronicle, the trade publication of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and a  major publication in the creative writing teaching field.

Johnny Coleman won one of two awards in the interdisciplinary category. Ross Feller, affiliate scholar and former composition department faculty member, won in the composition category. Nusha Martynuk earned one of three awards granted in the choreography category. Lewis Nielson won an award in the composition category. And Ann Cooper Albright won one of two awards in the area of criticism.

Biology professor Maureen Peters received a three-year, $360,000 individual National Science Foundation Research in M.P.Undergraduate Institutions (NSF-RUI) grant. Her project, titled "Analysis of the molecular, cellular and physiologic regulation of a proton mediated cell-cell signaling event in C. elegans," investigates how positively charged hydrogen ions serve as fast messengers between cells to coordinate muscle contraction. Her application was ranked against those from other scientists in her scientific field including professors working at PhD granting institutions, who have large laboratories and highly trained research personnel. The award rate was about 16 percent. Peters will use the grant to support Oberlin College students working in her labs over the next three academic years and summers and a full-time research technician. Funding will also cover research supplies and travel for her and her students to scientific meetings and to a collaborator's laboratory at the University of Rochester.

Honorary Doctorate Awarded

Environmental studies professor David Orr has received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Furman University. Furman presented the award to Orr with these words: "A pioneer in environmental literacy and ecological design, this outstanding educator's passion and vision have enriched the sustainability efforts at Furman as well as countless other institutions of higher education." The university conferred the degree during its Founders Convocation on March 24, at which Orr delivered the address, "Millennial Hope."

Publications and EssaysL.W.

Markov Chains and Mixing Times, mathematics professor Elizabeth L. Wilmer's newest publication, introduces a modern approach to the theory of Markov chains. The book, co-written with David A. Levin of the University of Oregon, and Yuval Peres of Microsoft Research and the University of California at Berkeley, develops the key tools for estimating convergence times, including coupling, strong stationary times, and spectral methods.

An article by Crystal Fortwangler, visiting professor of Environmental Studies, “A Place for the Donkey: Natives and Aliens in the US Virgin Islands,” was published in the journal Landscape Research (volume 34, number 2, April 2009).

In his latest book, The Unknown Odysseus: Alternate Worlds in Homer's Odyssey, classics professor Thomas van Nortwick explores how Homer's creation of two versions of his hero Odysseus--one the triumphant protagonist of the revenge plot and Nanother more subversive, anonymous figure with various personae-allowed him to explore the riddles of human identity and the shape and meaning of human life. This new perspective on the epic enriches the world of the poem in a way that will interest both general readers and classical scholars. The Unknown Odysseus is not merely accessible, but a true pleasure to read," says Lillian Doherty of the University of Maryland.

Politics professor Ben Schiff has received the 2009 Chadwick Alger Prize for his latest book, Building the International Criminal Court. The Chadwick Alger Prize recognizes the best book published in the previous calendar year on the subject of international organization and multilateralism. Schiff's book analyzes the International Criminal Court (ICC), melding historical perspective, international relations theories, and observers' insights to explain the ICC's origins, creation, innovations, dynamics and operational challenges. The prize was officially conferred at the International Organization Section business meeting on February 17.

Biology professor Michael J. Moore is co-author of "Rosid radiation and the rapid rise of angiosperm-dominated forests," an article published in the February 13 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Moore and the article's co-authors assembled the largest DNA sequence data set ever constructed for rosids.

History professors Gary J. Kornblith and Carol Lasser have edited Teaching American History: Essays Adapted from theC.L. Journal of American History, 2001-2007. A professional resource on teaching, textbooks, and more for teachers of the U.S. history survey, the book is a selection of articles from the "Textbooks and Teaching" section of the Journal of American History. Kornblith and Lasserl selected thought-provoking essays from a wide range of top scholars.

Alberto Ortiz, a visiting professor in economics, has coauthored a chapter in the book Dealing with the International Credit Crunch: Policy Responses to Sudden Stops in Latin America. Ortiz's contribution, "Monetary and Fiscal Policies in a Sudden Stop: Is Tighter Brighter?" is the book's second chapter.

Environmental studies professor John Petersen says the book project he has been working on with colleagues at University of Maryland since he first arrived at Oberlin in 2000 has finally come to fruition." The book, Enclosed Experimental Ecosystems and Scale: Tools for Understanding and Managing Coastal Ecosystems, was published in March.

Presentations and Discussions

Greg McGonigle, director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, spoke at "Interfaith in Outer Space," a series of events held March 4-8 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Brown University's Interfaith Program House. McGonigle was part of a panel of alumni, moderated by Missy Daniel, editor of PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly that dealt with issues of religion in the academy, religious literacy, and inter-religious cooperation in society. McGonigle, an alumnus of Brown, was one of the founders of the Brown Multifaith Council, which later grew to become the Interfaith Program House.

Oberlin internSawhillational language specialist Barbara Sawhill recently travelled to Beijing in to participate in a meeting considering the feasibility of establishing a Cyber Network for Learning Languages. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Chinese National Commission organized the meeting. Sawhill has blogged about the experience on the Cooper International Learning Center's web site.

On March 25, Cheryl Wolfe-Cragin, facilities manager of the Lewis Center and coordinator of the environmental studies program's Watershed Education Project, gave a presentation on Oberlin's comprehensive sustainability efforts during the Bowling Green State University conference Sustainable U: Environmental Sustainability in the University System of Ohio.


Sebastiaan Faber, professor and chair of Hispanic studies, has co-curated an exhibit featuring 25 photographs of Spanish FaberRepublican refugees in southern France, taken in 1946 by Walter Rosenblum. The show opened at New York University's King Juan Carlos Center on January 22 and will be up through May. His article on there presentations of Spanish refugees is forthcoming in the April issue of The Volunteer, which was published quarterly by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. Faber is organizing a symposium on the same topic that will take place May 1 at NYU. He recently published two other essays: "The Novel of the Spanish Civil War: From Militancy to Reconciliation," a chapter in Companion to the Twentieth-Century Spanish Novel, and "The Debate about Spain's Past and the Crisis of Academic Legitimacy: The Case of Santos Juliá," in the Colorado Review of Hispanic Studies. Forthcoming in the next couple of months are "La irresponsabilidad del novelista. Javier Marías, Tu rostro mañana y el debate sobre la memoria histórica," in Javier Marías: Tu rostro mañana,and a comparative study of German and Spanish antifascist exiles inMexico, to be published in a special issue on political exile of the Italian journal Memoria e Ricerca: Rivista di storia contemporanea.

Studio art professors Sarah Schuster and Nanette Yanuzzi-Macias are exhibiting their work in Istanbul, Turkey. Translation and Conversion: A Meditation on the Every Day in Three Parts, which explores the routine gestures and practices of daily life, is a collaborative project involving Oberlin alumni and students. The exhibition celebrates the repetitious actions of everyday life while also revealing an anxiety that emanates from the place where much of the routine activity occurs—the home.

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