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Faculty and Staff Sketches

April 25, 2016


In the News


Heartwell earns interfaith award

George Heartwell, former mayor of Grand Rapids, received the 2016 Sylvia Kaufman Interfaith Leadership Award during a special ceremony March 30.

Heartwell currently serves as the community sustainability coordinator for the Office of Sustainability Practices. He was recognized for his early work in establishing one of the first Habitat for Humanity chapters outside of Georgia, as well as for his 14 years of ministry in the Heartside community prior to being elected mayor.

In 2012, Heartwell's mayoral declaration of the Year of Interfaith Understanding initiated a campus-wide focus on interfaith understanding that led to more than 300 events, as well as national recognition. On September 11, 2014, Heartwell proclaimed that 2015 would be the Year of Interfaith Service. The initiative is a unique partnership combining community organizations, student groups and congregations to promote interfaith service in West Michigan that continues today.

"We were so pleased to highlight Mayor Heartwell's long-term commitment to interfaith understanding and the ways in which his leadership has helped our community be welcoming to an increasing religiously diverse population," said Douglas Kindschi, Kaufman Interfaith Institute director.  

The Interfaith Leadership Award was created in 2014 and named for Sylvia Kaufman, founder of the Kaufman Interfaith Institute at Grand Valley.


Students learn about biomechanics

Heather Gulgin, associate professor of movement science, is pictured showing students images from the gait analysis lab.

Heather Gulgin, associate professor of movement science, is pictured showing students images from the gait analysis lab. Photo by Dianne Carroll Burdick.


Faculty members and students celebrated National Biomechanics Day April 7 at the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences by discussing the various research projects completed in the lab as well as demonstrating lab equipment. 

Heather Gulgin, associate professor of movement science, organized the event, which was promoted nationally by the American Society of Biomechanics as an effort to increase awareness about research and careers in the field.

Gulgin and Gordon Alderink, biomechanics lab coordinator, were assisted by students Kerstyn Hall, Ashley Luzadre, Breana Dean and Mackenzie Blust.



David Alverez, professor of English, was interviewed by "Feel Like You Belong" for a story about immigrants in West Michigan and his scholarship on colonialism and work with Healing Children of Conflict.

Chelsea Brehm, visiting professor of movement science, was interviewed by WXMI-TV and WOTV4 Women about the zero waste and sustainability efforts at the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and 5K. 

Religious studies faculty members and students attended the Midwest American Academy of Religion Annual Conference, where assistant professor Brent Smith gave a presentation, "Oculus Rift and the Unseen Order," and assistant professor Abhisekh Ghosh presented "Kirtan in the Western World." Students Ilissa Chasnick and Anthony Swieringa also gave presentations.

Xiaojuan (Xandra) Xu, professor of psychology, was a co-author of articles, "Neurobehavioral Impairments Produced by Developmental Lead Exposure Persisted for Generations in Zebrafish (Danio rerio)," published in NeuroToxicology, and "Trans-generational Transmission of Neurobehavioral Impairments Produced by Developmental Methylmercury Exposure in Zebrafish (Danio rerio)," published in Neurotoxicology and Teratology.

Peter Anderson, associate professor and chair of Classics, was named to the editorial board of Dickinson Classical Commentaries.

Diane Rayor, professor of Classics, gave an invited presentation, "Translating Desire in the New Sappho," at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Thomas Pentecost, associate professor of chemistry and Pew FTLC faculty fellow, lead a discussion about Discipline Based Education Research for post-doctoral scholars participating in the REBUILD project at the University of Michigan. The project is a NSF-funded project focused on recruiting and retaining underrepresented groups in STEM majors through widespread implementation of evidence-based instruction in large introductory courses.

Chris Pearl, assistant professor of biomedical sciences, was a co-author of an article, "Relationships Between Host Body Condition and Immunocompetence, Not Host Sex, Best Predict Parasite Burden in a Bat-Helminth System," published in Parasitology Research. 

Writing faculty members Laurence José, Ellen Schendel and Christopher Toth, associate professor of writing, gave a presentation, "Alumni in Action: Showing the Value of Degree Programs in Writing by Reflecting on the Work of Their Alumni," at the Conference on College Composition and Communication in Houston, Texas.

Heather Carpenter, assistant professor of public, nonprofit and health administration, gave workshops, "Nonprofit People Rising: Tying Strategic Goals to Talent Retention," at the Foundation Center in New York City, and "The Talent Development Platform: Putting People First in Social Change Organizations" at Seton Hall University's Nonprofit Sector Research Institute.

Frank Boring, affiliate professor of communications, gave a presentation about the documentary "A Team of Their Own: The Story of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League" and his independent PBS film, "The Story of the Flying Tigers," at Colorado State University. 

David Stark, professor of history, gave a presentation, "Marriage Among Slaves in 18th Century Puerto Rico: New Insights from the Hato Economy," at Marriage's Global Past Conference at Cambridge University.