Professor of Biology Karen Crawford’s milestone study on achieving the first gene knockout in a cephalopod using the squid Doryteuthis pealeii was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Crawford, who was the Whitman Scientist this summer on a team at Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, is first author of the study reported in the July 30 issue of Current Biology. The NPR story is available online.
Professor of Anthropology Julia King, Instructor of Anthropology Scott Strickland and SMCM students Caitlin Hall, Sarah Kifer and Danielle Harris-Burnett are featured in a July 25, 2020 Fredericksburg.com article focusing on their Rappahannock Tribe project called “Indigenous Borderlands of the Chesapeake.” The team is doing historical archaeology in Virginia to find spots where Native American villages existed along the Rappahannock River.
King and her crew have been working recently at a land tract above the Rappahannock River called Fones Cliffs. The site had been considered for development but was acquired instead in 2019 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Fones Cliffs has a rich cultural history, as well as important ecological habitat and a beautiful white cliff landscape.
The team of archaeologists has found clues of Native Americans at Fones Cliffs and King said the main objective will continue to be finding evidence of the three large villages that exist in both the Rappahannock Tribe’s oral histories and in Captain John Smith’s journals, describing his journey up the river in 1608. King notes that an earlier round of exploration on the Fones Cliffs site was funded by The Conservation Fund, while this year’s two weeks of digging and exploration were paid for by the refuge.
Assistant Professor of Psychology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland Gili Freedman and colleague Jennifer Beer (University of Texas at Austin) recently received a collaborative, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation for a total of $465,222 ($75,102 of which will go to SMCM).
In the project titled “Collaborative Research: Lessening the Blow of Social Rejection,” Freedman and Beer will investigate the language of social rejection and how power and concern for one’s reputation shape the way that individuals reject others. A central aim of the project is to develop empirically supported training that teaches individuals how to be less hurtful when they engage in social rejection. Starting this fall, Freedman will be working with SMCM collaborative research students on the first stages of the grant.
Read the award abstract (Award Number 2017043) on NSF’s website.
Daniel (Dan) Chase, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, was recently awarded a three-year, $70,000 grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund. The project begins September 1, 2020 and is titled: Synthesis and Catalytic Exploration of Transition Metal Aza-Dipyrromethene Chelates. The approved budget includes stipends for Chase and two SMCM undergraduate students per year, along with laboratory supplies, and travel to attend local and national chemistry conferences.
Chase’s research avenues involve the synthesis of organic and inorganic molecules to explore applications that are advantageous to industry such as the development of transition metal catalysts that can be used in selective oxidation reactions. Chase has already had success in synthesizing several molecule variants and with this funding will continue working with iron and manganese complexes that he hopes will help increase industrial process efficiencies and reduce waste.
Chase regularly works with undergraduates in his lab, as he appreciates the simultaneous progress of challenging students intellectually to grow as scientists while actively contributing together to the scientific community.
Acknowledgment is gratefully made to the donors of The American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund for support of this research.
Cassie Gurbisz, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, was recently awarded an $8,431 contract with Green Fin Studio, to provide technical expertise in the development of a Chesapeake Bay submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) restoration manual for the Chesapeake Bay Trust. Gurbisz will conduct a review of SAV and seagrass restoration literature, work with Green Fin Studio to collaboratively develop restoration protocols for the four salinity zones of Chesapeake Bay, and review the final manual and education and outreach materials. In addition to the literature review, the group will interview current SAV restoration practitioners in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to glean best available knowledge and practices. A summary of these interviews will help inform restoration manual recommendations. The full title of the project is: Development of Technical Guidance Manual and Outreach Materials for Small-scale Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Restoration in Chesapeake Bay and its Tidal Tributaries. The contract was executed on June 1, 2020 and work may continue until January 31, 2022 if needed.
Gurbisz is a coastal ecosystem ecologist who investigates how human stressors, like climate change and nutrient pollution, affect coastal foundation species, such as seagrass (also known as SAV) and salt marshes. She also studies how changes in marsh and SAV abundance, in turn, affect coastal ecosystem processes.
Christine Adams, professor of history, received two prestigious fellowships: one through the American Council on Learned Societies (ACLS) and the other from the Newberry Library, both long-standing, preeminent pillars of American scholarship in the humanities. Competition for these long-term fellowships was especially steep last year, with a success rate of about 7 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Adams will be an ACLS fellow for the 2020-2021 academic year, and a fellow-in-residence at the Newberry Library in Chicago from January-June of 2021. Both fellowship programs support outstanding scholars conducting innovative and ground-breaking research. ACLS fellows pursue their scholarship anywhere in the world whereas Newberry residential fellows become part of an interdisciplinary community of researchers, curators, and librarians at the Newberry Library where they will have access to wide-ranging and rare archival materials.
During the fellowship year, Adams will conduct research on her newest project, entitled “The Merveilleuses and their Impact on the French Social Imaginary, 1795-1799 and Beyond,” which she describes as follows:“The Merveilleuses (“Marvelous Ones”), a group of approximately 100 stylish and politically-connected young Parisian women, came to define the era of the Directory (1794–1799). Following the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, these chic young women set the tone in French society until Napoleon’s coup in 1799. This project considers the Merveilleuses as a cultural phenomenon as well as their function in the historical imaginary and illuminates how the fixation on their beauty, style, and sexuality has obscured their political and cultural significance.”
Adams is the author or coeditor of five books including her new book with co-author (and sister) Tracy Adams entitled, “The Creation of the French Royal Mistress: From Agnès Sorel to Madame Du Barry,” (2020, Penn State University Press).
Liza Gijanto, Associate Professor of Anthropology, and Randy Larsen, Professor of Chemistry, were recently awarded an NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) grant focused on archaeological investigations of colonial Maryland (Award No. 1950646). The $368,278 grant will fund a multi-year research program for numerous students from across the U.S.
Each summer during this NSF-REU program, 12 undergraduate students and their mentors will investigate the role of country estates in shaping Maryland society from the mid-17th until the early 19th century. This archaeology REU program is novel in terms of research focus, combining traditional field and laboratory techniques with cutting-edge collection management methods (archaeometry, mapping, dating, photogrammetry). Participants will also receive instruction in ethical curation that includes interpretation in both scholarly publications and museum exhibition. The eight-week program will be hosted by St. Mary’s College of Maryland, with field work occurring at the Cremona Estate in Mechanicsville, MD and collections management and conservation training done in collaboration with the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory (MAC Lab) in St. Leonard, MD. The three-year project was scheduled to run in the summers of 2020, 2021 and 2022. However, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Gijanto and Larsen are working with NSF to delay implementation of the project by one year.
This comprehensive and innovative REU program will provide undergraduates with a first-class research experience in archaeology and state-of-the-art training in the latest scientific and methodological approaches to archaeological fieldwork, artifact curation, materials analysis, curatorial interpretation and public engagement with scholarly content. Drs. Gijanto and Larsen also seek to highlight the ongoing archaeological collections crisis, which is largely due to the separation of archaeological fieldwork from collections management and the lack of planning and resource allocation for the proper care of materials once they have been excavated. To investigate the research question and provide solid training in archaeology, students will learn: 1) the use of archaeological, archival, and spatial data to discern the role of country estates in shaping MD society; 2) the relationship between generating a collection and maintaining it; 3) archaeometry and materials characterization; and 4) public engagement through research presentations, publications and museum exhibition. This combination of research and state-of the art training available to early career, underserved students is currently unique among U.S. field schools.
Professor of Religious Studies Betül Başaran has won a three-month Fulbright Global Scholar Research award for the Spring 2021 Semester to conduct critically important archival research in England and India for her book project on the legacy and impact of Princesses Niloufer (1916-1989) and Durrushehvar (1914-2006).
Başaran’s host institutions will be the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, The Centre for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, and the Centre for Deccan Studies in Hyderabad. As a Fulbright Global Scholar, she will give lectures about her research at each of these institutions, and organize seminars with students who have an interest in Islamic Studies and Gender Studies.
Başaran’s project underscores the agency of Muslim women as important role models and pioneers in world history, in contrast to the contemporary western narrative most prevalent today that reduces them to mere victims or religious extremists.
The story of late Ottoman princesses and their cross-cultural journeys present a unique perspective to investigate the intertwined themes of international politics, religion, royalty, and Muslim women’s agency during a turbulent period of major social and political transformations in the 20th century. The princesses belonged to the Ottoman dynasty and were condemned to life-long exile after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. Their life is a fascinating story of exile from Turkey to the French Riviera, followed by royal glamor in India as daughters-in-law of Hyderabad’s last independent ruler, where they evolved from foreign brides into cultural ambassadors dedicated to women’s empowerment.
Başaran’s project aims to enhance our understanding of the role of Ottoman princesses as transnational and cross-cultural agents for change during the 20th century.
Assistant Professor in Art History Emily Casey has received a short-term fellowship from the Program in Early American Economy and Society at the Library Company of Philadelphia to conduct research for her book project, “Hydrographic Vision: Imagining the Sea and British America, 1750-1800.”
The Library Company, founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, is the first successful lending library in the United States and the nation’s oldest cultural institution. Today, it is a research library with a special focus on historic books and cultural artifacts related to the transatlantic British empire and early United States. During the fellowship, Casey will make use of the Library’s collection of maps, navigational pilots, and geographic treatises published in both England and America in the eighteenth century. She hopes to take the fellowship at some point this summer.
Sarah Malena, assistant professor of history, has received the Society of Biblical Literature’s 2020 Regional Scholar Award. Malena was awarded for her paper entitled, “A House for Pharaoh’s Daughter: Diplomatic Marriage and Solomon’s Legacy,” which she presented at the 2019 Mid-Atlantic regional meeting. Her recognition as the Mid-Atlantic recipient of this honor last year made her eligible for this society-wide award.
Malena continues her research into relations between ancient Israel and Egypt during the early Iron Age (circa 1100-900 BCE). Last November, she presented at the annual meetings for the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Schools of Oriental Research. In these presentations, she discussed changes in cultural acceptance of foreign brides in relation to political change in the ancient Near East. As the 2020 Regional Scholar, she will present the next stage of this work at the Society of Biblical Literature’s annual meeting later this year.