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Pedagogy (Teacher-Scholar) Snap Talks
Wednesday, Nov. 10, 7:30 - 9 p.m.
Forum, Elaine Langone Center
Debby Abowitz, Professor of Sociology/Anthropology
"Through a Sociological Looking-Glass: Integrating Teaching and Research in the Classroom"
Abstract: Using sample survey data, I study everything from undergraduates' life goals to their ideas about social class inequality. These data serve as a mirror through which I gain insight into Gen Y. Creating connections between my work as a sociologist and students' lives keeps my teaching relevant as I age in place. It also provides an objective "looking-glass" through which students study their own reflections. Because it is ultimately "their" story, it presents an organic way to explore sociologically relevant campus issues with them, including the hook up culture and its sexual double standard. The sociological looking-glass works both ways.
Charles Kim, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
"Engineering Design outside the Bubble"
Abstract: Two troubling statistics about engineering: (1) The future of technical innovation rests in the hands of the next generation of engineers, yet the number of domestic engineering students in the U.S. cannot keep up with demand. (2) Most engineering performed by the most intelligent and talented in the field benefits only 10 percent of the world's population while more than a billion people worldwide struggle to meet basic human needs. In this talk, Kim will discuss work that has begun in the classroom at Bucknell to reach out to local public schools and communities in Central America and Africa. Central to the discussion will be how such projects benefit our students by facilitating deeper learning and a greater sense of civic responsibility.
John Hunter, Associate Professor of Comparative Humanities
"'Teacher!' 'Scholar!' - 'Rabbit Season!' 'Duck Season!'"
Abstract: This talk uses brief clips from Chuck Jones' cartoon masterpiece "Rabbit Seasoning" to illustrate the benefits of the pedagogic techniques that scholarly engagement makes possible. Daffy has a clear learning goal for his class and prepares thoroughly, but Bugs' message is the one that the student enacts. What Daffy lacks is Bugs' independent relationship to the subject matter. I argue in this talk that scholarly activity (however remote from the course content) makes us more independent by forcing us to recognize the multiplicity of approaches to any subject and encouraging us to look beyond received orthodoxies.
Carl Kirby, Professor of Geology
"From Classroom to Theses to Article and back to Classroom"
Abstract: An upper-level class field research project in a local stream, followed by an honors thesis, found no fish due to acid rain, whereas a nearby stream held fish and good water quality. Another student and I studied a larger region. Most streams flowing through the Tuscarora sandstone could not neutralize acid precipitation, whereas adjacent sandstones could (reported in Science of the Total Environment). I developed an intro-level field exercise adopted by several departmental colleagues. The discovery-based exercise has students collect data, form hypotheses, write a report, receive feedback from the instructor, then peer-revise.
Sheila Lintott, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
"The Feminist in the Classroom"
Abstract: I am a feminist and I am a professor. These aspects of my identity merge in my everyday life as a Bucknell professor. In this quick talk I discuss the basics of my feminist pedagogical commitments and demonstrate some techniques I employ. My aim in the classroom is to produce a community of learners who feel a real sense of responsibility to one another and to the subject matter at hand.
DeeAnn Reeder, Associate Professor of Biology
"A Passion for Science: Personal Reflections on the Teacher-Scholar Model"
Abstract: I believe that a teacher can and should change the lives of her students. Because I am a scientist, for me, teaching is inextricably linked to teaching about science, about the wonders of the natural world, and about the beauty of the scientific method. One could theoretically do science without teaching (although I suspect it would be very difficult), but one cannot effectively teach about science without doing science. This means asking questions, getting your hands dirty, knowing what other scientists are doing, why they are doing it, and what they have discovered. In this snap-talk, I will briefly describe my personal journey to the teacher-scholar model and the ways in which I try to live into this model and share my passion for science with Bucknell students.
Geoff Schneider, Professor of Economics and Director of the Teaching/Learning Center
"Teaching and Scholarship and Service, Oh My!: Developing Synergies to Link the Three Areas of Faculty Work"
Abstract: This snap talk with focus on integrating teaching, scholarship and service. Preparation for teaching and course development can be used to advance research in new areas. And, research and teaching experience can inform service commitments. By integrating the three main areas of faculty work, a faculty member can enhance all three areas and gain greater job satisfaction and productivity.
Steve Shooter, Professor of Mechanical Engineering
"MacGyver Curriculum: Creativity, Innovation, and the Engineering Design Process"
Abstract: Design is the capstone element of the engineering curriculum. Yet, creativity, which is key to design of new things, is something people often consider a trait rather than a learnable process. I'll discuss how we teach students design and how we are creating the environment for student innovation at Bucknell.
Scholarship Snap Talks
Thursday, Nov. 11, 8 - 9:30 p.m.
Forum, Elaine Langone Center
Joe Tranquillo, Assistant Professor of Biomedical and Electrical Engineering
"Where are the Switches on This Thing?"
Abstract: From ecosystems to the social scene at Bucknell, to the neural network you are using to read this abstract, networks are everywhere we look. A current mystery is how the individual units of a network can send and receive information to one another, while at the same time can act to switch on and off entire portions of the network. I will explain recent theoretical investigations, conducted entirely with Bucknell undergraduates, of the possible types of network switches. Our findings provide insight into seizures in the brain, the spread of rumors in social networks, and the genetic control of development.
Harold Schweizer, Professor of English
"A Philosophy of Waiting"
Abstract: In my book On Waiting (Routledge 2008), I claim that waiting is an essential condition for ethical and aesthetic insight. In the concluding pages, I mention my talks on Bucknell's admissions day, in which I suggest that waiting is therefore an integral part of a liberal arts education. Because such an education necessitates a temporary suspension of economic and utilitarian purposes, it affords the student a critical distance from our culture of immediate gratification. (The Dean of Columbia's medical school also uses the book to train physicians.) What has value, in other words, must be waited for; indeed, value itself may be a function of waiting.
Katelyn Allers, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy
"Using BIG Lasers to Study the Tiniest Stars"
Abstract: Brown dwarfs are the bantamweights of the stellar family. Lacking sufficient mass to fuse hydrogen, they bridge an important gap between planets and stars. Using a high-powered laser to reduce the effects of turbulence in the earth's atmosphere we have produced images sharper than seen with the Hubble Space Telescope and have discovered systems of brown dwarf "twins". Such twins provide critical tests of current models for both brown dwarfs and extrasolar planets.
Karline McLain, Assistant Professor of Religion
"Hindu Godman, Muslim Saint: The Afterlife of Shirdi Sai Baba"
Abstract: In one devotional poster Shirdi Sai Baba (d. 1918) gazes at the viewer, his hand raised in blessing. Behind him are a Hindu temple, Muslim mosque, Sikh gurdwara, and Christian church; above him is the slogan "Be United, Be Virtuous." In his lifetime, Sai Baba acquired a handful of Hindu and Muslim devotees in western India. In recent decades, he has become a revered persona of pan-Indian significance. Scholarship on modern Hinduism has focused on rising Hindu nationalism. My research focuses on this rising counter-religious movement that seeks to challenge sectarianism through Sai Baba's composite vision of unity in diversity.
Tom Cassidy, Associate Professor of Mathematics
"How my research became a matter of life and death"
Abstract: For a decade I have studied abstract mathematical structures called non-commutative rings. While these fascinating objects play an important role in modern mathematical theory, for most people they are intangible concepts with no bearing on everyday life. When I was offered a job at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany, I jumped at the opportunity to learn a new subject and work in a concrete field that has been described as "birth, death and mathematics." I will discuss the interdisciplinary nature of demography and highlight some of my research related to changes in mortality and population growth.
David Evans, Professor of Psychology
"Normal aspects of obsessive-compulsive behavior: The intersection of Psychology and Neuroscience"
Abstract: Humans are creatures of habit. In their most extreme form habits define certain kinds of disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, tic disorders and eating disorders. In recent years, explanations of these habit disorders have drawn from the neurosciences, pointing to the brain as the source of the disorder. And yet, all of us engage in habits and repetitive behaviors to some degree. Do these two kinds of repetitive behaviors — "abnormal and normal" — reflect the same mechanisms? This snap talk will address the similarities and differences between normal and pathological habits and repetitive behavior.
Erin Jablonski, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
"Oil and water may not mix ... but they are not so easy to separate either"
Abstract: Emulsions are everywhere, from pharmaceuticals to mayonnaise. However, some emulsions are undesirable and inherently difficult to separate. Current methods to separate emulsions include centrifugation, which is energy intensive, or gravity settling, which is time intensive, and both are cost intensive. Here at Bucknell we have designed a low energy, continuous technique that exploits the unique properties of fluid flow at the microscale to passively separate water and oil emulsions. We have also used this technique to separate water-loving particles from oil. Our devices may be small, but they can be scaled up by "stacking" to commercialize this new technique that is fast, cheap, and easy.
Coralynn Davis, Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies and Anthropology, and Director of the Women's and Gender Studies program
"Maithil Women in Nepal as the Creators of Culture through the Telling of Tales"
Abstract: I will describe my ethnographic book project whose subjects are Maithil women living in a Nepal-India border region. Through the retelling and analysis of often fantastical and variously tragic, triumphant, and brain-tickling tales, the book explores how Maithil women construct and negotiate cosmological principles, social values, behavioral norms, and senses of self through the everyday practice of "folk" storytelling. I theorize the role of storytelling in contexts of cultural dissensus, especially in regard to the persistence of unsanctioned ways of understanding and acting upon reality among socially and economically disempowered and culturally silenced historical actors.
John Bravman, Professor of Electrical Engineering
"Why Did My Computer Die?"
Abstract: Although most computer "crashes" stem from software issues, the death of computers and other information appliances can result from hardware failures of various types. Surprisingly, some failure modes have much in common with those found in large scale structures, such as bridges and jet engines, even though microprocessors and memory chips have no moving parts. In this talk we will review some common engineering concepts and see how they apply to structures across vastly different length scales, and discuss how integrated circuits are designed with sets of compromises to maximize their longevity.