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Issue 11, January 2019
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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jon Evans

A look at the website for the Sewanee Herbarium and its director, Dr. Jon Evans, shows an unbroken record of research involving undergraduate students for over three decades, and he continues to engage his former students with his current projects. The latest outcome is a paper, "Differential resistance to tree species loss between two dominant communities in a resilient southeastern landscape" that has been accepted for publication in Natural Areas Journal, co-authored with Evans Lab alumni, Leighton Reid, C'06, and Callie Oldfield, C'15. The study compared the resilience of cove and upland communities at Dick Cove, with species persistence as a measure of that concept. The results raise specific concerns about long-term trends in the decline of plant species diversity on the Domain and highlight the need for land managers in our region to consider community level biodiversity conservation at the landscape level.
 
Evans, in his work as a researcher and as a research mentor, has explored the Domain and the region widely, looking for interesting concepts to study. Currently, along with the work in Dick Cove, he and colleagues Dr. Elise Kikis, associate professor of biology as Sewanee, and Dr. Ashley Morris, C’97, an associate professor of biology at MTSU, are conducting research on Appalachian Hill Cane, a miniature bamboo that is relatively common on the Domain but which has a limited range. The Evans research team has made preliminary analyses that suggest that clones on the Domain may span several hundred meters in size and be more than 500 years old!
 
In addition, Evans is studying a unique forested wetland, Sinking Pond, on Arnold Air Force Base. Changes in tree regeneration may be related to climate changes, with longer flooding periods in the ephemeral wetland suppressing the regeneration of the Overcup Oak.
 
The latest students in a line of research assistants, many of whom have gone onto success as researchers, are Lillian Fulgham, C'21, and Angus Pritchard, C’22, who are pictured above with Evans observing Hill Cane on the Domain. The work of those student researchers is supported by an endowment established by the family of Ashley Block, C’13, in her memory. Evans hopes that the Ashley E. Block, C’13, Endowment will allow the Herbarium to perpetuate Ashley’s legacy of exceptional student engagement in botanical research at Sewanee.

Student Spotlight: The Emotion and Cognitive Control Lab

Dr. Brandy Tiernan, Assistant Professor of Psychology and chair of the Neuroscience program has an interesting problem: too many students want to work in her lab! Dr. Tiernan’s favorite part of her job is teaching undergraduates about research. At her previous position in Kentucky, she worked with several undergraduates on projects. Some of these students won grants to complete their work, and all had the opportunity to present at international conferences. Thanks to Natalie (Dalton) Fitzgerald, C'18, and Madison Bunderson, C'18, her first lab assistants (Labbies) at Sewanee, Dr. Tiernan established her Emotion and Cognitive Control Lab (ECCL), and it is overflowing with Labbies. 

Many of her best and brightest students have worked in the laboratory with Dr. Tiernan. After they spend at least a year running electrophysiological studies, behavioral studies, and focus group studies in the ECCL, her lab students are highly prepared for graduate school. Labbies have the opportunity to assist with several different projects, including studying how the inhibition and manipulation of information while performing a difficult task, examining the impact of acute emotional disturbances on cognition, and the relationship between decision making and affective information. She works with at least two students every summer. Sophia Borne, C'18, Margaret Landers, C'19, and Woodli Krutek, C'17, have worked with her in the past. Last summer Andrew Dyar (a first-year student!), Caroline Martin, C'20, and Clara Davis, C'19, helped Dr. Tiernan run focus groups examining the cultural influence on how individuals think about mental health and stigma. 

 When the semester gets going, the lab is bustling. As the days and weeks pass, the ECCL Labbies begin to feel comfortable making executive decisions without Dr. Tiernan’s assistance. They start to run the lab mostly on their own, ensuring that all data from self-reports are entered, and managing data files for different tasks. The Labbies participate in electroencephalogram/event-related brain potential data collection and then clean up and process the data. Some Labbies take on management roles, while others feel more secure learning the ropes before calling the shots. A few of the newer Labbies--Andrew Dyar, Mary Cecil, Tess Meyer, Haven Watson, Hannah Peterson, Clara Davis, Caroline Martin, Emma Brennan, and Ellie Herron--feel as comfortable as lab veterans Madelyne Williams, Adriana Hibarra, and Grace Fulton. Dr. Tiernan is excited to train a new group of students this semester to replace her fantastic graduating seniors. The opportunity to work in the ECCL has been a valuable component of the education of these highly engaged students, and it will become a big part of the Sewanee experience for newer students in the future.

New Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow Program
The Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship is delighted to announce the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows Program (SURF), an enhanced and expanded version of Sewanee’s successful summer research program.
 
Motivated by the Sewanee Pledge, which promises every incoming student a summer research, internship, or study abroad program, SURF will provide educational and social activities to students whose summer research will be largely based in Sewanee. SURF will include programming on various aspects of research methodology (regardless of discipline) and career and leadership development as well as sponsored social events throughout the summer.
 
Students who wish to become Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows must commit to participation in the on-campus programming. Students who will be doing field work away from the campus are not eligible for this year’s SURF program, but they may still participate in the established Summer Research Assistant program.
 
The 2019 SURF Program will be supported by the Fund for Innovative Teaching and Learning, as well as a variety of other small endowment gifts. The application process on TigerNet will be similar to that of prior years, and administered in part by Career and Leadership Development, with a deadline of February 15 for applications and March 1 to request funding and housing. Summer campus housing will be available through Residential Life at a reasonable cost for all Fellows.
 
Faculty who are providing a mentored research or scholarly experience for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows will receive a $1,000 stipend.
 
For more information, please contact the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship.
Workshops on Grant Proposal Development
You are invited to attend one of two upcoming sessions focused on best practices in grant proposal development. The content to be delivered is applicable to all academic disciplines. New proposal writers are especially encouraged to attend, and the session also may be of interest to faculty members who are in the early planning stages for future leaves (sabbaticals). New content for 2019 includes sample proposals (both federal and nonfederal), and printed copies of “New faculty guide to competing for research funding: what all new faculty need to know about finding funding and writing research proposals.” Lunch will be provided for participants who complete the registration form.

First offering: 
Title: Best Practices in Proposal Development
Time: 12 - 2 p.m.
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019
Place: Center for Teaching, second floor of duPont Library
Register here.

Second offering (repeat of first session):
Title: Best Practices in Proposal Development
Time: 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.
Date: Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019
Place: Center for Teaching, second floor of duPont Library
Register here.
Congratulations to our Appalachian College Association Faculty Fellows!
Two Sewanee faculty members are among the 13 award recipients of the Appalachian College Association’s 2018-2019 Faculty Fellowship program. Kristen Cecala, Assistant Professor of Biology, was awarded funding to conduct research investigating how individual variability in the natural environment contributes to population resilience or decline. Elise Kikis, Associate Professor of Biology, was awarded funding to study the potentially toxic relationship of small particulate matter produced by the combustion of fossil fuels on cellular proteins, causing them to misfold and lead to the onset of neurodegenerative disease.  The 2019-2020 competition cycle opens later this year.
NRC Research Associateship Programs Grants

Through its NRC Research Associateship Programs (RAP), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine provides competitive awards for scientists at all stages of their careers to conduct independent research at numerous federal laboratories and affiliated institutions. The length of award periods varies from two months (Summer Faculty awards) to 12 months, and many awards are renewable. Successful applicants receive stipends, relocation benefits, professional travel allowances, and additional support from the host laboratories. Faculty may apply for up to three research opportunities during any of the four annual application windows. The “Getting Started” section offers step-by-step instructions for locating relevant research opportunities and preparing proposals.

Southern History/Southern Studies Research Fellowships

The Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa campus) offers short-term research fellowships to faculty whose projects on southern history or southern studies would benefit from accessing library and archival holdings in the University of Alabama Libraries. Eight fellowships in the amount of $500 each are intended to defray travel and lodging expenses associated with visiting the collections. Applications are due April 1, 2019.  Award recipients can conduct research between June 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020. 

Funding Opportunities for Students

The Gates Center Summer Internship Program (GSIP) encourages outstanding undergraduates to consider careers in biomedical research in an academic or industry setting by providing state-of-the-art training opportunities at the Gates Center.​ A committee of Gates Center faculty will select highly qualified undergraduates to work full-time in laboratories located at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. The program runs from May 29th to August 9th, 2019. The interns will also attend scientific seminars and career development workshops, participate in social and community outreach activities, and present their research at a poster session on the last day of the program. The application deadline is Feb. 11, 2019. More information may be found here.

Copyright © 2019 The University of the South, All rights reserved.

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