Welcome Back! to our faculty returning from sabbatical/leave of absence:
Chris Barney, Biology: For his last sabbatical leave from Hope College, Chris took his first full-year sabbatical, which was a delightful experience, lower income aside. Chris spent the first two months of his sabbatical cleaning and vacating his office and lab in order to provide space for a newly hired colleague. This included sorting through 25 file cabinets worth of teaching, research, administrative, and departmental documents, which have been winnowed down to 10 file cabinets worth of material. Some of the retained documents will be used as Chris continues his long-term project on the history of the Biology Department. In that regard, during his sabbatical Chris produced a bibliography of the 527 publications coming out of the Biology Department from 1906 to 2016. Chris’s primary activity during his sabbatical leave was writing. He wrote five papers and an essay; two have been published, two have been accepted for publication pending revision and two are under review. Chris also continued to work on a collaborative research project with Dr. Leah Chase. Other activities Chris enjoyed during his sabbatical leave include installing a tile backsplash in the kitchen, doing landscaping work, playing golf, spending time with his family, and doing lots of reading in the three-season room while enjoying the scenery of his shade garden. Chris traveled to Mackinac Island and Shanty Creek in Michigan, Fort Wayne and Muncie in Indiana, Centerville, Ohio, Arlington, Virginia, San Diego, California, and Waikoloa, Hawaii for work and fun (mostly) during his sabbatical leave.
Matt DeJongh, Computer Science: Matt used his sabbatical to pursue his ongoing research into the
automated generation of computer models of microbial metabolism from
annotated genomes, as well as application of these models to the
analysis of physiological data. He was awarded a Fulbright Research
Scholar grant for a four month project at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biology (LCSB) in the spring of 2016. In preparation for this
trip, Matt attended a Fall 2015 conference in Heidelberg, Germany,
followed by an initial visit and invited talk at the LCSB. Back at
Hope College in the fall, he went incognito as a student in Herr Prof.
Dr. Cunningham's German 101 class along with his wife Kim and daughter
Allie, who accompanied him to Luxembourg in the spring. Matt also
enrolled in Drew Le's piano class during the Fall semester,
culminating in a performance of Chopin's Nocturne in D-flat major,
Opus 27 nr. 2, on the new Steinway grand piano in the just-opened Jack
Miller Center music hall. During the Spring term in Luxembourg, Matt
integrated his host's software for gene expression modeling with
Matt's existing software for metabolic modeling, and produced
integrated models for a community of approximately 700 microbial
species that inhabit the human gut. He traveled to France and Belgium
for conferences and meetings with collaborators, and was invited to
give a keynote presentation at the Metabolomics 2016 conference in
Dublin. After the conclusion of his project in Luxembourg, Matt and
his family were joined by his sister and mother for a trip across
Germany and Austria to Vienna, where they participated in the 60th
anniversary celebration of the Vienna Summer school, which his father
and mother attended in the late 1950's.
Donna Garrett, Nursing:
Donna received approval and began recruiting participants for her research study and is now coordinating recruitment for the study at three West Michigan hospitals and Loyola University Medical Center in Illinois which required the submission of proposals to two different Internal Review Boards and one hospital review committee. She spent the months of July and August recruiting at LUMC, spending as many as 40-50 hours per week in the hospital. In order to continue recruitment at each of the hospitals, she has now trained and is working with four research assistants. She submitted a draft of the first three chapters of her dissertation and completed an outline of a manuscript for publication. She also submitted two grant proposals and is working on a third. Donna also had the opportunity to spend quality time with her mother in Cincinnati and vacation with her extended family (24 total) in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Pete Gonthier, Physics: Pete started his spring sabbatical in recovery mode, as Santa was kind enough to provide Pete with a new left knee right before Christmas. Yet, Pete could continue his research dealing with a group of neutron stars known as pulsars. One such exotic group of extremely high-magnetic field pulsars is known as Magnetars. The X-ray spectra of many of these magnetars exhibit high-energy tails because of a mechanism called Compton upscattering where relativistic electrons scatter with surface thermal soft X rays boosting the photons to higher energies. One of Pete’s goals is to supply the astrophysics community with correct, compact analytical expressions that describe Compton scattering in strong magnetic fields. This effort is in collaboration with Matthew G. Baring at Rice University where they have previously shared an NSF collaborative grant. Pete traveled to Houston in late February for a week to discuss possible pathways to the simplification of the algebra. Another aspect of Pete’s research is performing a population synthesis of radio and gamma-ray millisecond pulsars (MSPs) from the Galactic Disk to test high-energy emission models and implement the code to explore the MSPs within the nuclear cluster of the Galactic Center (GC) that has been recently receiving a large amount of attention. Pete presented a poster with his simulations of the Galactic Disk and Center at the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Naples, Florida in early April. Upon returning Pete and his wife, Connie, traveled to Alicante, Spain, to attend a workshop organized by José Pons from the University of Alicante. Pete’s main goal in Alicante was to establish a new collaboration with José focusing on the magnetic field decay of neutron stars (José is an expert) to more adequately incorporate a more realistic treatment in our population synthesis codes. The trip was very fruitful as we became excited about pursuing a possible description that unifies what are called young, isolated normal pulsars and millisecond pulsars. All in all, Pete’s sabbatical was awesome!
Vicki-Lynn Holmes, Education/Mathematics: Vicki-Lynn spent the majority of her time co-authoring two books. The first is a project-based, common core pre-algebra textbook for at-risk and special education students. She completed this first book in the mathematics series which will be piloted this fall in the Hamilton School district. Negotiations are in progress to also launch it at Holland High School. The second book is about lying. It records the types of lies people in the Bible have told and analyzes the reasons for and consequences of them. Vicki-Lynn is halfway through this first draft and hopes to complete it this school year. Vicki-Lynn also completed and submitted a manuscript entitled Successful transition to adulthood: Do we really need to teach shopping, sex and social skills? to the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities. This article was co-authored with Hope Education colleagues, Jane Finn and Elizabeth Horton. Finally, Vicki-Lynn worked with 12 Hope students creating interactive Algebra projects for a joint venture between Venture Academy in Zealand, her Fall Secondary Math Methods class and the Intro to Assessment, Secondary Special Education class. She also caught up on some much needed sleep and cleaned her office.
Jianhua Li, Biology:
Li spent his sabbatical year visiting families and relatives in China, working with collaborators on five research projects, learning new genomic sequencing technologies, submitting two grant proposals, and writing three manuscripts for publication. He was awarded a Sargent Fellowship from Harvard University, and worked there in the summer of 2015 on the genetic relationships of maples trees using living collections at the Arboretum. While in Boston, he led a TreeMob session on maple tree diversity for tree lovers from the Boston area, an outreach program at the Arnold Arboretum. When he was in China, Li attended a symposium on Species Diversity in Chengdu, Sichuan, and discussed with a Study Tour company in Beijing about the possibility of a China May Term for Hope students. He coauthored two papers with his collaborators in China. While at Tonghua Normal University, Li had weekly discussions with faculty members working on various aspects of molecular biology, and provided guidance and support for their professional development. In addition, he designed and implemented a molecular biology lab for 45 undergraduates. Furthermore, he explored the possibility of establishing global research partnership with TNU and communicated that with leaders and colleagues at Hope. This year he spent two months in North Carolina State University learning deep sequencing analyses, and studying the patterns of morphological and genetic differentiation of species pairs between eastern Asia and eastern North America. A research opportunity award grant from the NSF via University of Georgia provides an opportunity for Li to work on developing a genomic analysis module for undergraduate courses at Hope and beyond. While on Hope campus, Li worked on an HHMI-supported project and the results will be presented at the annual Botany meeting at the end of July. His trip to Costa Rica in the early August benefits both his botanical and ecological teaching and research.
Will Polik, Chemistry: Will spent his sabbatical renewing research collaborations, writing papers and proposals, developing WebMO software, and exploring inter-divisional research collaborations. Will gave seminars and visited collaborators at the University of Colorado, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech. He wrote and published one paper and wrote another manuscript with undergraduate co-authors on the deployment of high performance computing systems, and he authored a WebMO User’s Guide. He was also the PI on a NSF proposal to fund summer research students doing computational chemistry research. Will co-developed a new java-free version of his WebMO software, which remains the most popular interface for performing computational chemistry calculations for coursework and research, along with corresponding apps for the iPhone and Android. Will also participated in a seminar on the environmental humanities, working with humanists and social scientists to address current environmental issues from data, ethical, and behavioral perspectives. Last but not least, Will continued his bicycling adventures by riding 600 miles through Glacier National Park in Montana, the Black Hills in South Dakota, and the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina.
Becky Schmidt, Kinesiology: Becky spent the spring semester of 2016 creating an online educational tool for the American Volleyball Coaches Association to train volleyball coaches in effectively using personality assessments in team development. In addition, Becky had the opportunity to participate in the Innovation Management Certification program through the New North Center, a non-profit organization committed to developing human-centered design skills in enterprise professionals. The course connected her with business professionals from the Midwest in an effort to develop processes and people that stimulate positive experiential change for customers and collaborators. Becky continued to act as a recruiter for the volleyball program but turned over the reigns of team training to her assistant coaches. She presented at the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association Clinic as well as the MHSAA Women in Sports Leadership conference. Working with Dr. Chad Carlson (kinesiology), she also developed a new May Term course that brought 14 Hope students to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO to learn about elite sport development in the United States Olympic model. The most profound and rewarding work of her sabbatical, however, came at home as it provided her with ample bonding time with her newly adopted 10 month old son, Cooper.
Michael Seymour, Chemistry: Mike spent his sabbatical year at the Michigan State University Bioeconomy Institute (MSUBI), which is located in the former Pfizer Research and Development facility on the north side of Lake Macatawa. He worked with the team of chemists in the Organic Energy Storage Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Tom Guarr, the Director of Research and Development at the Institute. The objectives of the sabbatical were to engage in research that relates to the areas of alternative energy and sustainability, develop familiarity with new instrumentation, and establish a strong professional interaction between the Hope science programs and MSUBI. One project that received a good deal of Mike’s time was the development of a new family of compounds that could be used in Li-ion batteries to avoid the problem of overheating that results from the uneven charging of the individual cells in a battery (think of a smoking hot hover board). These compounds will provide a very cost effective solution to overheating when compared to the complex electronic circuitry currently used to control the charging process. The primary instrument used in this work, a multiple mass spectrometry procedure known as MS n, was new to Mike and has the potential for use in some chemistry projects underway at Hope. Although Mike was at MSUBI on a daily basis, the ability to focus on lab work was a welcome change of pace from grading lab reports and exams. He was able to take some real vacation time to a warm location during February, as well as numerous relaxing weekend trips to visit his granddaughter in Chicago.
Traci Smith, Chemistry: Traci spent her spring semester sabbatical focusing on different aspects of the organic chemistry laboratory program. She finished analyzing data for and wrote and submitted a manuscript that described the evolution of Hope’s second semester organic lab independent project and CURE (classroom undergraduate research experience) assessment of the course. Traci attended the 251 st American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Diego, CA where she gave a talk on some of the findings from the previously mentioned manuscript during a symposium entitled “Supporting and Expanding Undergraduate Research in Chemistry”. She also developed a multi-week experiment for the second semester organic lab that presents a more complex analysis of products that is not currently used with other experiments. Additionally, Traci spent a great deal of time visiting the chemistry departments of other colleges and universities to learn more about their undergraduate organic chemistry lab programs. She visited with faculty from Pomona College, the Keck Science Department of the Claremont Colleges and Point Loma Nazarene University while she was in California. She also visited Kalamazoo College, Grand Valley State University and the University of Notre Dame. Traci will be incorporating some of what she learned into Hope’s organic lab program. Finally, Traci appreciated that being on sabbatical and not teaching during the spring, made it possible for her to go on a spring break trip with her family to Austin, TX.
Joanne Stewart, Chemistry: Joanne traveled to Australia in fall 2015 to 1) present at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conference in Melbourne, 2) attend a workshop on “Students as Partners” at the University of Queensland (UQ), and 3) work closely with a previous UQ collaborator, Dr. Gwendolyn Lawrie, while they prepared grant proposals for the next steps in their respective research programs. The time in Australia was productive and renewing. Joanne submitted the proposal to NSF on behalf of the IONiC chemistry community. It asks for support to work with 60 inorganic chemistry faculty to develop, teach, and assess a foundation inorganic chemistry course. It is proposed that the collaborative development process will lead to the incorporation of more effective teaching practices and increased student learning. In the spring, Joanne led a “back to grad school” workshop at the University of Michigan, which brought together 30 chemists from across the country to develop curricular materials that bring cutting edge chemistry into the undergraduate classroom.
Deb Sturtevant: Sociology/Social Work: Deb spent her sabbatical writing a collection of nonfiction personal essays entitled, Going Global: Reflections on my Career as a Social Work Professor. The essays are reflections on her professional work globally with students and colleagues including serving as the first woman faculty exchange professor at Meiji Gakuin University in Japan and making many trips to Romania, Guatemala, Hong Kong, China and Zambia, individually and with students, for projects related to orphan care and international adoption. Deb will be seeking to publish her collection of essays which will be used as readings for students in her new course, Global Studies in Social Work: Child Welfare. During her sabbatical, Deb also wrote a second scholarly article on her research in Zambia to submit for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Additionally, she published a book review in the Journal of Christianity and Social Work on the book The Mother & Child Project (2015), which is a collection of personal essays compiled by Hope through Healing Hands, a nonprofit with a mission to improve world health. Deb took a break away from international travel during her sabbatical, and chose instead to spend the month of March with her husband, Denny, in Savannah, Georgia and St. Augustine and Amelia Island, Florida. Deb’s 4-year-old granddaughter, Annelise, took time out from her busy pre-school schedule for a week in February and again in April to show Grandma around New York City. The entire family gathered in Michigan for a July 4th week full of fun that included fireworks, beach visits, sailing, and extended family reunions. A late summer trip with husband Denny to hike in Rocky Mountain National Park topped off a relaxing and productive stress-free spring semester sabbatical.
Daryl Van Tongeren, Psychology: Daryl spent his Towsley sabbatical visiting collaborators across the country to initiate research projects and write grant proposals. He took 10 separate trips to meet with research collaborators, including trips to CA, VA, GA, KY, TX, CO, FL, and Washington, DC. This work led to a funded grant proposal of $1.9million from the John Templeton Foundation for a 3-year project on Developing Humility in Leadership, on which Daryl is a Co-Investigator. He also submitted, as Primary Investigator, a Letter of Intent to the John Templeton Foundation to investigate religious deconversion, which was invited for a Full Proposal (due later this fall). His collaborative work also led to 15 papers submitted for publication and another 10 papers accepted for publication during his sabbatical. On a personal note, Daryl also enjoyed some additional opportunities for distance running and writing about himself in the third person.