Faculty Footnotes

Activities and awards for Westmont’s outstanding professors

The Santa Barbara Independent honored John Blondell (theater arts) and James Connolly (music) with Independent Theatre Awards in June for their work in Lit Moon Theatre’s “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils.” Blondell directed the show, and Connolly wrote the original score. The production featured Westmont faculty Victoria Finlayson and Mitchell Thomas. Alumni performing in the show included Peter John Duda ’95, Kate Paulsen ’05 and Marie Ponce ’10. Diana Small ‘09 was the assistant director, and Jessica Drake ’11 served as dramaturge.

Stephen Contakes (chemistry) published “Josiah Parsons Cooke Jr.: Epistemology in the Service of Science, Pedagogy, and Natural Theology” in Hyle International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry with Chris Kyle ’12. He gave two conference presentations, “Chemistry as a Source of Wisdom: The Chemistry Curriculum as a Tool for Exploring Faith-Science Dialogue” at the annual meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation in July 2011; and “Exploring Foundational Faith-Science Issues through Chemistry” at Pedagogy of Faith in the Science Classroom in June 2011. He participated in a panel discussion, “How Far is Too Far? The Limits of Scholarship at a Confessional School,” at the Science, Theology, and the Academy Christian Scholars conference in June 2011; Tremper Longman (religious studies) also served on the panel. Contakes ran a National Chemistry Olympiad Exam at Westmont in April 2011.

Robert Gundry (scholar in residence) wrote a review, “Smithereens!,” in the September/October issue of Books and Culture. The essay criticizes “The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture” by sociologist Christian Smith.

Cheri Larsen Hoeckley (English) will present a paper, “The Crowd, The Cloister, and The Master Pedagogue” at Somebody’s Story at a conference at UC Berkeley in October. She is enjoying enthusiastic and appreciative responses to the inaugural Gender Studies Lecture Series this year. Jamie Friedman (English) and Omedi Ochieng (communication studies) also serve on the lecture series working group.

Russell Howell (mathematics) co-edited a book, “Mathematics Through the Eyes of Faith,” with Jim Bradley of Calvin College. They contributed several chapters, and Ray Rosentrater (mathematics) co-wrote two chapters. David Vander Laan (philosophy) acted as a philosophical consultant. Patti Hunter (mathematics) helped evaluate the chapter on the history of mathematics and faith. Lisa DeBoer (art) evaluated the chapter on beauty. The book was the first addition to the series Through the Eyes of Faith since HarperOne introduced it. The Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences held its biennial meeting at Westmont during the summer. Howell was the conference coordinator and edited the proceedings, and Rosentrater organized videos produced for the talks.

Tremper Longman (religious studies) published “Spirit and Wisdom” in “Presence, Power and Promise: The Role of the Spirit of God in the Old Testament” (2011). He worked with Harold Washington on “Proverbs” for the Common English Bible, a new, ecumenical translation. He also worked on “The Expanded Bible” (2011), which now includes the Old Testament.

Eileen McMahon (biology) co-published “Characterization of a novel and spontaneous mouse model of inflammatory arthritis” with former students (Iris Adipue ’08, Joel Wilcox ’07, Cody King ’09, Carolyn Rice ’09, Katherine Shaum ’11, Cory Suard ’08 and Elri ten Brink ’10) and a collaborator at Northwestern University in the July issue of Arthritis Research and Therapy. It’s the first article describing the unique strain of laboratory mouse she discovered as a post-doc at Northwestern and brought to Westmont. Shaum, her major honors student, continued work on the strain during McMahon’s sabbatical. They both attended the American Association of Immunologists conference in San Francisco in May 2011. Shaum presented a poster, “The role of T cells in the development of arthritis in Inherited Inflamed Joints (IIJ) mice.” McMahon presented a poster from her sabbatical project, “Aire expression in human lymph nodes: a comparison of type I diabetics and healthy controls.” She was a visiting assistant professor at UCSF Diabetes Center and worked in a lab there. Three philosophy professors wrote entries for “Just the Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Arguments in Western Philosophy”: Mark Nelson, “The Contingency Cosmological Argument”; James Taylor, “Hume’s Problem of Induction”; and David Vander Laan, “David Lewis’s Argument for Possible Worlds.”

Dave Newton (economics and business) published his eighth book in September, “Business Models for Entrepreneurial Ventures: Developing Sound Metrics For Long-Term Success.” He introduced it to more than 100 entrepreneurship faculty at the EC-12 Forum at Oklahoma State University’s Spears Business School in September. He was named Master Teacher of Entrepreneurship for this forum for the eighth year and presented “Business Models for New Ventures” and “Writing Effective Business Plans for New Ventures” there. He gave the keynote address at the GOPAC National State Legislators Conference in August, speaking on his book “Job Creation,” which is also his topic when he addresses the American Legislative Exchange Council Annual Economic Academy and the Santa Ynez Men’s Forum in October. The Weekly Standard has reviewed this book.

Allan Nishimura (chemistry) published “Evaporation Rates of Alkanes and Alcohols on a Glass Surface as Observed by Optical Interference” in The Chemical Educator with Katherine Shaum ’11, Elijah Tylski ’12, Joshua Alamillo ’13, Bryan Brautigam ’11, Keith Cochran ’11 and Philip Mudder ’11. He published “Effect of Desorption of Alkanes on the Fluorescence of Methylnaphthalene on Al2O3” in the Journal of Undergraduate Chemistry Research with Rachel Teranishi ’12, Laura Selby ’11, Samantha Gardner ’13 and collaborators from Point Loma Nazarene University.

Michael Shasberger (music) will present a paper, “Behind the Screen: Orchestral Music of America’s Film and Television Composers,” at the National Conference of the Collegiate Orchestra Director’s Association in January with adjunct viola instructor Richard Rintoul. Laura Dunn ’75, executive director of the Society of Composers and Lyricists, the major national association of film and television composers, is assisting. As part of his sabbatical work, Shasberger has organized the Westmont Collegium Musicum, an ensemble for voices and instruments that performs a variety of chamber music. Westmont faculty participating include violin instructor Chan Ho Yun, piano professor Steve Hodson, and voice professor Nichole DeChaine, with students Madison Martin ’12 (violin), Sarah Shasberger ’12 (viola), Madeline Selby ’14 (flute) and Rebecca Shasberger ’15 (cello). The ensemble will perform four historic German Baroque church cantatas and a new work by composer Steve Butler based on the “Hymns of Divine Love” by the 10th century Christian writer Symeon the New Theologian. They will also likely perform the American premiere of a new Telemann work. Shasberger was re-elected president of the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony Parents Organization and appointed chair of the Santa Barbara Symphony Youth Symphony Committee; the two organizations are merging under the banner of the Santa Barbara Symphony Association.

Sarah Skripsky (English) was accepted to a competitive, two-week research seminar at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire this past summer, the Dartmouth Summer Seminar in Composition Research. It focused on developing expertise in research methods in composition studies. In April 2011, she presented a paper, “Sounds of Music and Pictures of Style in Advanced Composition,” part of a workshop on The Arts and the Writing Life, at the Conference on College Composition and Communication, the largest international professional organization for researching and teaching composition. She led a group of participants in a hands-on pedagogy workshop after the presentation. Her proposal has been accepted for the 2012 CCCC convention on Writing Gateways. In March 2012, she will present a paper, “National Survey of Student Engagement Results as Mapping for Mission,” as part of a roundtable for the Consortium for the Study of Writing Survey as a Gateway to Writing Assessment, Faculty Development, and Program Building: A Comparative Perspective.

Greg Spencer (communication studies) delivered the main address for the Retired Covenant Pastors and Missionaries retreat in Santa Cruz, Calif, drawing on material from his book “Awakening the Quieter Virtues.”

Lesa Stern (communication studies) co-published a paper, “Evaluation of Sexual Content in Teen-Centered Films from 1980-2007,” in Mass Communication and Society.

Mitchell Thomas (theater) performed Wallace Shawn’s Obie-award-winning, one-person play, “The Fever,” to audiences in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and London. He was appointed the first ever artist-in-residence at Santa Barbara’s professional theater company, Ensemble Theatre. During August, he completed the Santa Barbara long-course triathlon.

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