Zheng Elected President of New England Society for Microscopy

Ming Zheng

Ming Zheng, professor of biology, might be on sabbatical this semester, but he’s as busy as ever with his scholarship and professional contributions. In fact, on Friday, November 30th, Zheng will help lead Gordon in hosting the 46th Annual Fall Symposium & Business Meeting of the New England Society of Microscopy (NESM). Founded in 1967, the NESM’s purpose is to “increase, disseminate, and promote the interchange of microscopy and its applications in New England.”

Zheng—whose most recent research interests include ethical, legal, social, and economic impacts of genetic engineering—has been a member of NESM since 2003, which is also when Gordon began hosting the symposium. From 2008 through 2011, he  served on the Board as one of three biological directors. Last fall, he was elected president and will begin in that role January 1, 2013. As president, Zheng will plan monthly Board meetings, organize spring, fall and February conferences as well as the fall symposium and business meeting held annually on the Gordon campus. NESM members and speakers represent a wide variety of research institutions such as Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Harvard University, and  Zelenograd, Moscow. Here’s what Zheng said about his involvement in NESM:

“In a way, I see myself as a small fish swimming in a big pond, considering many of our members and speakers are researchers from strong research institutions like Harvard, MIT, Wellsley, etc. But our participation in the NESM provides a window for the wider academy to see the quality of our institution. It also allows some of our students to showcase their research and ability. For instance, Tiffany Hurlbut, ’07, presented her research with me in 2006 at Gordon and connected with a Harvard professor as a result. She then went to, and graduated from, Harvard’s graduate school. Other students have won first and second-place poster competitions. It’s rewarding to be a part of NESM because of the opportunities it provides our students to learn, and to contribute their outstanding work to a wider academic audience, which often leads to post-graduate opportunities. And it has affected my own scholarship by providing me with wonderful opportunities for enrichment, professional development and academic networking.”

The Big Deal About Green Chemistry

The many shades of green are hardly exclusive to the art world. For Dwight Tshudy, associate professor of chemistry, the path to becoming green has involved many steps, including inspiration, research and outreach. Tshudy explored each in his October 25 talk entitled, “Green Chemistry and Sustainability, What’s All This Then?” which he gave as the fall lecture for the North Shore Chapter of Sigma Xi. His talk reflected just a few of the many things happening in green chemistry at Gordon. Below is the abstract for  Tshudy‘s lecture:

Dwight Tshudy

“The term ‘green’ has been used by many as a synonym for ‘good for the environment.’ Green chemistry has also been touted for a number of years as a new and better way of doing chemistry. Sustainability has now become a buzzword to cover a multitude of activities, and its use has become fashionable in many circles. But what is the connection between ‘green’ and sustainability? How might it make a difference that would really matter to us?  These are big questions that should be discussed, debated, disagreed with and modified as we learn more of the world around us.

Sustainability and green chemistry are not black and white ideas, but ones that come with many shades and variations. There will be successes and also opportunities, both for green chemistry and sustainability. Ultimately we must act on the best of these ideas. At Gordon, we are exploring how TAML (tetra-amido-macrocyclic-ligand) catalysts can be used for chemical synthesis and degradation. These catalysts were developed by Terry Collins at the Institute for Green Science (at Carnegie Melon University) using biomimetic principles to try to mimic what naturally occurring enzymes are able to accomplish. Chemical approaches using catalytic reactions like these fall under the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry. Our understanding of sustainability and green chemistry can guide what takes place in the classroom, in the teaching laboratory, in the research laboratory, and beyond.”

Making the Music of History . . . at the Smithsonian

David Goss (center in red shirt) and The 2nd South Carolina String Band at the Smithsonian Institute.

It wasn’t the first time David Goss, assistant professor of history and director of museum studies, performed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. But it was still, well, the Smithsonian. So Goss and his Civil War band, The 2nd South Carolina String Band, traveled back last month to play their period instruments and music in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. They played in the room where Lincoln held his second Inaugural dinner; the event attracted over 6,000 guests. 

Goss plays guitar and is the lead singer of the band, which performed over 25 songs from the era with period instruments. Last spring, he and his band members also played when Documentarian Ken Burns, who directed the PBS television series on the Civil War, was the keynote speaker. Some 300 audience members attended that event at the Smithsonian.

“Playing again (at the Smithsonian)  underscores the reality that this era in American history is becoming more popular within the culture, not just the academic community,” Goss said. “And it shows why the Civil War was so important on so many levels. Everything in our country changed from that point on: from states’ rights and race relations to the influence the federal government would have on states and how they would operate from then on. It really was a pivotal time for our country.”

Voting and Coolness, Lectures and Leadership

Faculty contributions beyond the classroom have been many during the past few weeks. Here’s a sampling:

On election day, Paul Brink, associate professor of political science, was a featured guest on the “John Hall and Kathy Eamons Show” at 5 o’clock p.m. for the Salem Network Radio affiliate in Pittsburgh, PA, to discuss a Christian approach to voting.

Jonathan Gerber, assistant professor of psychology, published the results of his study, “Measuring the existence of cool using an extended Social Relations Model” in the current edition of peer reviewed online journal Psychnology. Gerber was also recently interviewed about his study by a reporter for the Boston Globe for a story that was published in the print and online editions, Thursday, Nov. 8.

Judith Oleson, associate professor of social work, has been asked to lead a pre-conference session at the American Academy of Religion’s Annual meeting Nov. 16th in Chicago for evangelical theologians/scholars involved in the Postcolonial Theological Network. The session entitled, “Enhancing and Equalizing the Roundtable in Postcolonial Theological Dialogue” will explore themes such as the power of dialogue, and power dynamics within dialogue across culture, traditions and historical contexts.

Dwight Tshudy, associate professor of chemistry, was the invited speaker for the Fourth Annual Sigma Xi (Northshore chapter) Lecture in October. Dwight’s lecture on green chemistry and sustainability was delivered to an audience of students and faculty from Endicott College, Gordon College and Salem State University.

Peter Iltis, professor of kinesiology and horn, gave a talk entitled, “Musician’s Dystonia: What do we know, and what can be done?” on October 24th at the New England Conservatory. Attendees included students, faculty, several clinicians and medical people who work with dystonia patients, and at least one patient suffering from dystonia as a violinist.

During the last weekend of October, Joel Boyd, associate professor of chemistry, lead a group of nine students to Boston’s Museum of Science where they facilitated the museum’s outreach activities. The Museum’s annual event during National Chemistry Week brings hundreds of visitors to participate in hands-on activities.

Sean Clark, associate professor of  kinesiology, gave a lecture entitled, “Exercises for Balance and Mobility: From Fitness to Fall-Prevention” at the Massachusetts Clinical Exercise Physiologist 2012 fall meeting. Clark’s talk included a practical, learning by doing component where attendees performed various progressive exercises similar to those in our program at the Center for Balance, Mobility and Wellness.

Camus: An Imaginative and Complex Literary Guide

Last year, Emmanuelle Vanborre, assistant professor of French, spent a lot of time, so to speak, with French philosopher Albert Camus. During her  sabbatical, Vanborre re-read many of Camus’s works while editing a new book of essays on him that’s just been released (by Palgrave Macmillan Publishers) entitled, The Originality and Complexity of Albert Camus’s Writings.

Emmanuelle Vanborre

The book is an extension of Vanborre‘s research on twentieth century fiction, literary theory, and Francophone literature. Her articles and book reviews on French and Francophone literature focus especially on Camus, Maurice Blanchot and Maryse Condé. She is also the author of another book on Camus, Lectures blanchotiennes de Malraux et Camus.

The publisher describes Vanborre‘s new book this way: “Fifty years after Camus’s untimely death, his work still has a tremendous impact on literature. From a twenty-first century vantage point, his work offers us coexisting ideas and principles by which we can read and understand literature, the other and ourselves. Yet Camus seems to guide us without directing us strictly; his fictions do not offer clear-cut solutions or doctrines to follow. This complexity is what demands that the oeuvre be read, and reread. The wide-ranging articles in this volume shed light, concentrate on the original aspects of Camus’ writings and explore how and why they are still relevant for us today.”

Neither Male Nor Female: Voters on Human Issues

As the presidential election draws to an end, philosophy professors Lauren Swayne Barthold and Brian Glenney raise some interesting questions in the following editorial about why the candidates won’t get “women voters.” 

Why There Are No Women Voters and No Women’s Issue

By Lauren Barthold and Brian Glenney

Lauren Barthold

Brian Glenney

Binders or not, there are no women voters. Period. There is, we mean, no unique demographic of women, whose vote Governor Mitt Romney is supposedly losing and whose vote President Obama is supposedly gaining (or maintaining), depending on which news you heed (See “‘Gender Gap’ Near Historic Highs” by Nate Silver, New York Times, October 21, 2012.)

In the second presidential debate, when Romney described his process for hiring qualified women for his cabinet, he did not confuse and frustrate women voters, but any prospective voter. Nor did his description prompt the abortion debate or any other issue that allegedly concerns only women voters because there are no “women’s” issues.

Consider this noteworthy term “women.” As philosophers, we of course feel compelled to ask, “Do women even exist?” A recent consideration of the history of western thought by Denise Riley  shows the use of the label “women” to be, well, erratic at best: at some points in history it suggests equality to men in terms of passion, at others superiority in terms of social morality, and at others inferiority in terms of intellect. In other words, historically we have never been able to agree on an unequivocal definition of “women.” Continue reading

How Then Should a Christian Vote?

In the November 2, 2012, Capital Commentary published by the Center for Public Justice, Paul Brink, associate professor of political science, offers a Christian perspective on why and how to vote.

How Should We Vote?

By Paul Brink

First of all, we should vote.  I join others in saying that to vote is actually part of our Christian calling. Given the responsibility of the state to pursue justice, the chief goal of democracy is not to give citizens the right to determine the state’s purpose, as secular justifications for democracy might suggest.  Rather, when citizens vote, they share with their fellow citizens the duty to discern and pursue together justice and the common good. This is a responsibility we may not ignore. It’s a remarkable privilege—and a daunting one.


“Working”: A Musical For Today’s Job Market

Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, marks the opening of Jeffrey S. Miller’s tenth production to direct at Gordon when “Working—A Musical” takes the stage in the Barrington Center for the Arts. Miller, professor of theatre arts, was drawn to the musical based on a book by Studs Terkel, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, interviewer and historian, in large part because of the issue of jobs and work in today’s economy and election.  “Working” includes a cast/crew of 15 students, three musicians and countless alumni and staff who’ve worked hard in the process. Miller’s own work includes directing credits such as Macbeth, Guys and Dolls, Shadowlands, Tartuffe, The Secret Garden, An Evening of Pinter,  Love’s Labour’s Lost, Joyful Noise, Into The Woods, Pirates of Penzance, and Growing Up Christians. Below are some of Miller’s directorial notes for the show. (Ticket and showtime information can be found HERE.)

Jeff Miller: “Work has been a major part of our national dialogue of late – certainly in the current presidential race. We have an odd and ambivalent relationship to work, don’t we? On the one hand, it’s something to avoid, to get done as quickly as possible, and, eventually, to retire from. On the other hand, it’s something we must have to survive; it gives our lives meaning. In our culture, we often define ourselves by our work.

“I’m not sure that ambivalence is so bad. Some of us are painfully aware of the extremes, whether too little or too much work. But it seems clear we are wired to find meaning in or as a result of our work. We want to provide for our families, to help others, to give something of value to society. Our work allows us to do those things. But it should not and cannot be everything to us.

“This musical, Working, based on the book by Studs Terkel,seeks to explore the many dimensions of work – the good, the bad, the confounding. In doing so, we hope it lays bare some of the hollow and insidious ways work can impact us. We hope it reveals our own insensitivity about others’ work. We hope it makes visible and gives dignity to the many people who serve us each day in ways we often fail to see. We hope it celebrates those who have labored on our behalf to make our lives better, especially our parents and those before them. We hope it resonates with the Old Testament reminder that finding satisfaction with work is a gift from God, as well as the New Testament exhortation to do all our work as if for the Lord. 

And no one could be more blessed than I am to do work that I love and in such a supportive place with such a gifted and energetic company of young artists. May you all find such meaning as you work in this community and beyond.”