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Fisher Faculty Findings – Part I


Each year, members of the Fisher faculty have special projects in mind. And each year, they are invited to apply for faculty development grants that could help them with their project or mission. Grant funds are intended to promote faculty development that results in scholarly research and dissemination of that research.

This year, a total of 15 faculty members received grant approval, and have been hard at work with their projects. This series, “Fisher Faculty Findings,” will highlight a group of faculty each month, touting their progress and hopefully, their results. Stay tuned to hear more about all of the grantees!

Dr. Mark Rice, Associate Professor and Chair, American Studies
Dr. Rice received a grant to help him continue his research into the photography of Dean Conant Worcester.

Worcester was a colonial administrator in the Philippines from 1901 to 1913. Rice says that while his political activities have been written about extensively, his photography has been overlooked.  The grant supported Rice’s travel expenses to visit his three research sites including: the Newberry Library in Chicago, the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology in Ann Arbor, and the Thetford Historical Society in Thetford, Vermont.

Rice presented elements of his research into Worcester's photography at conferences in Plymouth (England), Toronto, and Philadelphia, and will soon be presenting at the annual American Studies Association conference in San Antonio. In addition, he published an article on Worcester's photography, "His Name Was Don Francisco Muro: Reconstructing an Image of American Imperialism," in the March 2010 issue of American Quarterly, the premier American Studies journal.

Rice’s long-term goal is to publish a book about Worcester's photography within the next five years.

Dr. Linda MacCammon, Director, Peace and Social Justice Studies Program, Religious Studies
Hard at work on her book, Blinded by the Light: Exploring the Roots of Religious Extremism in Western Religious Traditions, Dr. MacCammon spent the summer researching and gathering information for the book’s introduction and first chapter. The book is intended to educate general readers about some of the root causes of religious extremism in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the Church of Latter Day Saints. MacCammon’s study will argue that religious intolerance persists today because there are old conceptions of divine revelation embedded within the traditions' theologies and doctrines, making them nearly impossible to change. Part One of each chapter in her book will briefly summarize the history and transformative revelations that ground the tradition and that explain its continued spiritual appeal; Part Two will examine events and historical developments in which the traditions were "blinded by the light," when traditional understandings of revelation generated theologically distorted claims that provided the rationale for religious extremism, oppression, and violence.

MacCammon’s goals of the project are: to challenge the religious thinking that fuels religious extremism; to offer readers more contemporary understandings of revelation; and to provide readers with foundational knowledge necessary to evaluate and potentially reform their own faith traditions.

Almost immediately after she began her work, she realized how much more engagement with other sciences (psychology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, sociology, and cultural anthropology) she would need to pursue in order to complete the entire book. The reason? MacCammon says that there is an ongoing debate about the credibility of religious claims. And the “checkered history of Western religious traditions” has caused many to turn away from any kind of religion, because they feel that it’s either delusional or an “evolutionary survival mechanism.”

MacCammon is still on sabbatical this fall.

Dr. Edward Freeman, Assistant Professor, Biology
Dr. Freeman received the grant in order to continue a project that was first funded by the College in 2009.

His project is centered on transgenic animals, which have genes inserted into their genomes that would normally not be there. In this instance, Freeman is trying to link a zebrafish gene to the DNA for a gene which produces green light when viewed under a microscope with specific wavelengths of light. If successful, this transgenic zebrafish will allow for the study of reproductive cell division (termed meiosis.) Specifically, Freeman is interested in studying spindle dynamics (the spindle is the structure that segregates the chromosomes) during meiosis. This has never been viewed in the zebrafish and will serve as a powerful tool to study this basic process of cell division in a vertebrate model system.

It will also allow biologists to study meiosis in the presence of specific environmental contaminants to determine their impact on the successful generation of reproductive cells.

Freeman is working on this project with two senior Biology majors.

Dr. Kathryn Connor, Assistant Professor, Pharmacy
Dr. Connor used the grant she received to help fund a study about the Stewart model, a model with a lack of clinical data.

According to Connor, “Analysis and comprehension of acid-base disturbances remain challenging for most clinicians, in part due to the general lack of standardized methodology for interpretation, especially in complicated and vulnerable critically ill intensive care unit (ICU) patients. Acid-base problems have traditionally been analyzed using a qualitative bicarbonate-based approach that has received a great deal of criticism. However, there is a more contemporary, quantitative approach to acid-base analysis, the Stewart method (Stewart’s Textbook of Acid–Base, Lulu Enterprises, Oxford UK, 2009), based on a quantitative, physiologic model that recognizes only three factors which affect acid-base status in mammals: changes in strong ion difference (SID), partial pressure of CO2, and total weak acids and their conjugate bases (Atot). Stewart’s principles provide a more physiologic, practical and clinically relevant approach to interpreting acid-base disturbances.”

Connor’s pilot study will provide new knowledge of acid-base issues in an ICU setting from the Stewart perspective, which would also be expected to lead to larger studies and other related projects. She hopes this study will provide an opportunity to explore these issues from a more physiologic standpoint in an ICU setting and will be valuable to a wide audience given the general lack of clinical data.

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