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Welcome Back! to our faculty returning from sabbatical / leave of absence Fall, 2012

Ion Agheana, DMCL, spent a part of his sabbatical at the University of Salamanca, the oldest university in Spain, working on diachronic changes in the syntax of Spanish, and at the Albero Institute in Seville, where he observed how English is taught to Spanish students. The findings are to be incorporated into the revised edition of his textbook, Review Grammar for Speaking Spanish: The Correlated Response Method. He also spent a week in Madrid, getting reacquainted with the city and visiting museums.


Al Bell, History, studied the work of a fourth-century Christian historian, known as pseudo-Hegesippus, who wrote an account in Latin of the Jewish War and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A. D. This work is based on Josephus, but it also demonstrates the author's use of non-Christian sources -- some of which are now lost -- and incorporates some of the earliest versions of apocryphal stories of the apostles, including an interesting variant of the Quo Vadis story. References in the text to Antioch in Syria suggest that the author may have come from that city. The history was probably written in response to an attempt by the emperor Julian the Apostate to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem in 362.

Stephen Hemenway, English, spent his sabbatical semi-cloistered each weekday at the Joint Archives of Holland in the Theil Research Center.  He scrutinized the contents of about 30 boxes of personal letters, autobiographical notes, and unpublished materials bequeathed to the Archives by Dr. Paul G. Fried, Hope professor of history and director of international education, who lost all of his immediate family in extermination camps.  Stephen read close to 15,000 letters from and to Paul, who carbon-copied almost every piece of his own correspondence for more than 60 years.  From selected excerpts, Stephen is producing a topical memoir, mostly in Paul's own words, with appropriate narrative links.  He has explored Paul's roles as escaped refugee from Nazi Austria, immigrant supported by the Cleveland Hebrew Mission, Hope student drafted to serve as soldier/interrogator during World War II, chief of a translation section at the Nuernberg War Crimes trials, civilian advisor to an Air Force Intelligence unit in Germany, professor at Hope, and founder of the Vienna Summer School (now in its 57th year).  Paul's contacts with Gerald Ford, Margaret Sanger, Queen Juliana, and Otto von Habsburg sit side by side with his passionate insights into  automobiles, art, food, and music and his philosophical and religious musings to numerous pen pals throughout the world.  The proposed book is about 75% finished.  Stephen is most grateful to the staff of the Joint Archives and Van Raalte Institute for assistance and encouragement. 

Maria Hledin, Biology/Chemistry, spent hersabbatical enhancing her research projects and advancing her knowledge and skills in the field of modern biochemistry/cell biology so that she can better serve and educate students coming to Hope College using “state-of-the-art” practices of the discipline. She spent last summer and semester working in her research lab performing experiments, writing manuscripts and gathering background information for a new research proposal. She completed work that was initiated by her research students in collaboration with Dr. J. Resau at Van Andel Institute in GR. As a result, they have published two manuscripts coauthored by Hope students. Last semester, she was able to complete work on two new research projects that also involved Hope College students. Again, in collaboration with her students, she wrote two manuscripts that are presently being edited by student-coauthors and will be submitted for publication Importantly, to keep current on the latest endeavors in her area of research and to ascertain that her Advanced Cell Biology/Biochemistry students are involved in cutting-edge research activities, she attended a national meeting for the American Association of Cancer Research (17,000 participants). She also attended a Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Symposium at GVSU (Oct 26). Finally, although on a sabbatical leave, she spent the first week of her sabbatical writing letters of recommendations for students applying to medical schools, and the last week of her sabbatical writing letters for students applying to graduate schools. ….and she helped Dr. M. Pikaart move some heavy lab equipment around (she supervised). Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be involved in these activities.

Bruce McCombs, Art, spent the 2012 semester concentrating on the medium of intaglio (etching), an area he had not explored in over twenty years. He experienced the vast difference between his primary technique of watercolor and etching. He found that doing an etching was surprisingly more difficult and slow than he had anticipated or remembered. He completed three large format prints, 18 x 36, 18 x 24 and 18 x 24. This included research, multi-layer etching and printing. In addition to producing these etchings, he also traveled twice to Europe, extensively photo-documenting architectural venues in Barcelona, Brussels, Antwerp, Gent, Bruges and Paris. These photos will become a library of source material for future etchings and paintings.

Phil Muñoa, Religion, spent his sabbatical researching his long-term project in the field of angelic condescension and Christology, and presenting his results in print and scholarly forums. Over July and August he readied a paper on angelic condescension in the book of Tobit and its significance for New Testament Christology that was published in September by the Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha. In November he read a paper that relates Tobit’s angelology to the Jewish Christian gospels at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, then in December he read another paper that relates Tobit’s angelology to the Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) notion of angelic deliverance at the annual meeting of the Association of Jewish Studies. By far, however, Phil’s proudest accomplishment was helping his youngest daughter (angel), Elle, pick out her wedding gown.

Roger Nemeth, Sociology, spent his sabbatical a nalyzing data collected over the summer from Yellowstone National Park and northern Michigan on perceptions towards wolves and wolf management. He submitted a paper for publication entitled "The Social Construction of a Predator: The Grey Wolf and Its Return to the Great lakes State." In addition, he made three presentations of his research to professional and civic groups; testified at the Michigan Wolf Forum, a meeting of the Michigan Senate's Committee on Wildlife and Natural Resources; and assisted in developing a new May Term course that he will be co-directing (with Deirdre Johnston and Virginia Beard) entitled
“Peace and Reconciliation in Scotland and Northern Ireland.”  They will be leading the program’s inaugural group of students to Scotland and Northern Ireland in May 2013.  He received a Dean’s Global Education Grant to help develop this new program.

Gwenda Schmidt, Psychology, spent her sabbatical at the University of Pennsylvania where she was appointed visiting assistant professor in the Neurology department. There she began a large new study of figurative language comprehension in right hemisphere stroke patients. This study will be extended to individuals on the autism spectrum this winter. The study examines the factors underlying difficulty with figurative language in these populations. During this time she attended the Neurobiology of Language conference in San Sebastian, Spain where she presented data collected by a group of students in last year’s neuroscience capstone class. She also spent a week in the psychology and language departments at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign networking, learning, and giving a talk about her research which was well received.  Further reading and writing filled in the remaining time spent during this sabbatical.

John Tammi, Theatre, spent his sabbatical investigating bilingual theatre production.  He was delighted to find it happening at practically every level of theatre around the country, from elementary to graduate schools, from community to fully professional theatres.  John hopes to encourage some form of Spanish-English theatre production in the Hope-Holland communities and invites others interested in this effort to contact him.


Brian Yurk, Mathematics, did research in the areas of geomorphology and computational fluid dynamics (CFD).  In the fall, he submitted two papers with colleagues from the GES department and external collaborators.  One of these examined the role of storm winds in shaping sand dune processes on the south and southeastern shore of Lake Michigan.  The second was a field guide and scientific review of the same coastal dune complexes.  One of the manuscripts has been accepted for publication pending minor revisions; the other is still under review.  Dr. Yurk attended a computational fluid dynamics workshop in Chicago in October and began work to simulate windflow over coastal dunes.  These simulations will be coupled with sediment transport models to predict the evolution of coastal dune topography.  Additionally, Dr. Yurk worked to assemble a suite of new windflow, sediment flux, and surface change sensors to be deployed in the field during storm events starting in summer, 2013.  Outside of his research, Dr. Yurk enjoyed spending time with his family (Michelle, Porter, and Marjorie), including a trip to Disney World in late October.