CLAS Acts Nov. 2009

drawing on library project

November 2009
Volume 3, Issue 4

Our Mission: The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a student-centered and diverse learning community that engages in critical inquiry extending knowledge to enrich and enliven individual and public life.  

CLAS College Office Monthly Newsletter for Faculty  

All Paula Wants for Christmas Is the Grades on Time
This term, the absolute deadline for grades is December 22 at noon, a bit later than usual.  That means it is especially important that faculty enter all of their grades in Banner on time (early is better!).  Otherwise, Paula Wicklund in the Dean's Office will be chasing faculty on December 23 (Christmas spirit not guaranteed).  Mistakes can happen, so we ask that you double check your work and let your department office know how to contact you.    

2009 Sustainability Champion Award Winners from among the CLAS Faculty & Staff   Michelle DeWitt, Chemistry Stockroom Supervisor for her work in greening the Chemistry lab from recycling to cleaning methods   Chemistry's Dalila Kovacs, Min Qi, Andrew Lantz, Cory DiCarlo, and Nathan Craft for their work resulting in the Michigan Green Chemistry Governor's Award   Robert Hollister, Biology for his research on the affects of climate change   John Kilbourne, Movement Science for his work in developing Sparkle stationary bikes and expanding the project to the Rec Center   Neil MacDonald, Biology for his research, along with students, of forest and watershed ecology   Azizur Molla, Anthropology for his work on radon-levels in the local community   Erik Nordman, Biology for his work on the effects of wind turbines on the community   Melvin Northup, Biology for his work with soil and water conservation in the community   Congratulations!  

Help to Make the Mary Idema Pew Learning and Information  Commons a Reality Your gift this year is matched!  For more information: see the University Development website.                               

Frederick J. Antczak, Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.
-- William Jennings Bryan    

Raking leaves in air as cold as we've been enjoying has a way of focusing the mind.  You look down the street at your neighbors doing much the same thing.  We're all in this together.   It's a good time to review those things for which we are thankful.  As I think about the semester so far, some come immediately to mind.  I'm thankful for the entire Fall Arts Celebration, especially the contributions of our students and faculty.  The alumni-in-residence who returned to GVSU a week or so ago to remind us why we are in this work, and the wonderful things that flow from it-I am grateful to them for that spirit-raising reminder.  I'm thankful for the funds raised by Mindgating that will strengthen the Calder Scholarship-and I'm grateful to the School of Communications, the Art & Design Department and the Music Department for making it happen.  I'm thankful for all the accolades our faculty and students bring us (the feature film To Live or Die in Dixie just won in its category of the Flint Film Festival, AD Mary Schutten will be receiving an award as the MAHPERD University Health Educator of the Year in Traverse City, and 8 CLAS Faculty and Staff won Sustainability Awards for their contributions).   

I'm thankful to our hard working faculty governance committees, many of whom are involved with interested faculty in this fall's three Out of the Box consultations on the draft Standards for Promotion and Tenure.  Their creativity and elbow grease are making these documents useful, realistic and equitable.  I'm equally grateful to all who have contributed to refining the CLAS Inclusion Plan, including Faculty Council, our Staff Advisory Board, the CLAS Alumni Board, and our Student Advisory Board.  Making the process so inclusive has made the product much better.   In the process of reviewing and developing the plan, we were reminded of the thoughtfulness of faculty and staff who invite their international colleagues to share their families' Thanksgiving dinner or reach out to those originally from warmer climes to advise them on practical matters involving salt and shovels and things you need to carry in your car. It's getting to be that time of year.  For the turkey, and for the kindness, I'm thankful.   I'm also thankful for the things we are looking forward to.  The New Music Ensemble will launch its next CD in 17 days and it has already attracted brilliant reviews in national publications.  The Ott Lecture is bringing another important chemistry scholar to campus on Nov. 4 .  The Great Lakes History Conference , looking at Indigenous Peoples of the Globe: Colonization and Adaptation, has events that may be of interest to many of you (see the posters or their website).

And it's time to put the CLAS Holiday Open House on your calendar (Dec. 4, 11:30-1:15pm, 2204 KC).  Yes, our Holiday Brass Ensemble will be playing seasonal favorites, as will our favorite carillonneur Julianne VandenWyngard.   Meanwhile, the work goes on.  I'm attending the Living and Learning Committee Meeting devoted to developing  a "languages" living center, accompanying CPC Chair Figen Mekik on the "Personnel Information Road Show," learning about the Wimba Pronto version of Blackboard, attending the event for students who are veterans, continuing work on transfer admission, participating as a mentor in the Hauenstein Leadership Academy events, welcoming the Great Lakes History Conference, going to the CLAS Faculty Colloquium and the New Faculty Seminar.    AD Gary Stark will also be visiting units with members of the CPC, monitoring Winter enrollments, supervising the unit head evaluation process, assisting the Faculty Council and CPC with their work, attending the annual meeting of the Council of Colleges of Arts & Sciences, and conducting a book discussion at the Allendale library.  AD Jann Joseph will be conducting New Faculty Orientation for 2nd and 3rd year faculty, supporting the design of the new comprehensive major, developing the capstone for the new comprehensive major, participating in an NSF panel review,  presenting as part of a panel at the annual Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences meeting.  AD Mary Schutten will be attending a two day workshop on Wimba Collaboration Suite. Wimba is the leading provider of online collaborative learning software applications and services to the education industry.  Mary will also be refining Dreamweaver skills at a workshop, continuing collaboration on an article about Body Mass Index, SES, and academic achievement in children, and beginning the data collection and analysis for a project on the lack of physical education higher education faculty.  She will continue to advise physical education and health education students, reviewing assessment reports from the latest assessment cycle, continue implementation of the assessment action plan with the AACU Engaging Department's team (colleagues in CLAS) and-- lest any of us forget--attending lots of meetings . May your thankful reflections this coming holiday bring you an even deeper appreciation of your family, friends, students and colleagues.  

Special Benefit Performance Date: November 16, 2009
Time: 7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Location: Cook Dewitt Center Manley Pope, who played the role of Roger in RENT's first national tour and on Broadway, will give a benefit concert for the GVSU Theatre Program. Pope divides his time between New York, Nashville and Los Angeles and a myriad of artistic projects as a singer, composer and director. While performing on Broadway alongside Joey Fatone of NSYNC, and touring America with Roger Daltrey of The Who, Manley continues to garner critical acclaim for his own music, selling out shows from New York City to Los Angeles. He also headed up the pre-Broadway productions of Miramax's ALL SHOOK UP and The Public Theaters THE UNKNOWN. Pope has also starred in films, such as the festival favorite FEEDING THE MACHINE (Digidance Best Picture) and Paramounts music industry satire, MARCI X, opposite Lisa Kudrow and Damon Wayans. Pope is currently at GVSU directing a production of RENT, a co-production between GVSU and Heritage Theatre Group, opening November 13 in Louis Armstrong Theatre. Suggested donation: Students/Seniors: $10 Public/Faculty/Staff: $20 For more info on the Benefit Concert and RENT performances: 616-331-2300

Faculty Feature

Lake Invaders, Complexity and Rapid Change

by Monica Johnstone, Dir. of CLAS Communications & Advancement 

On the day of our interview, Assistant Professor Ryan Thum of AWRI wants to talk about his Round Goby project.  Really he does.  It's just that a truckload of live plant samples have arrived and the quantity of samples is quite a bit more extensive than he was led to believe.  He dashes down the hallway for a moment and then returns to assure me that our planned hour is not going to make a difference in their survival and that he has a student researcher on the case.   Carl Ruetz, who is also involved in the project, joins us.

The Round Goby is an invasive species native to the Caspian Sea but was transported here in transoceanic ships' ballast water.  Round Goby were detected in Lake St. Clair in 1990 and in the waters off of Muskegon in about 1996. Once they take hold they can become very abundant-100 per square meter of water-with huge ones as large as a foot long, but most significantly smaller.  The effect of their arrival and flourishing is that they out-compete other species in their niche such as the darters that are an important food fish for larger species.  They are known to eat the eggs of Bass.  They also change the food web which means that contaminants move differently.  Linked  to outbreaks of botulism,  Round Goby may also kill birds; it is thought that some dramatic bird die offs (up to 10,000 individuals) may be caused by the birds eating infected Goby.  While most of their effects are detrimental, Goby do eat Zebra Mussels, another invasive species.

Ryan and Carl want to understand this mixed bag of effects by learning about their ecology, their movements and the implications for their eradication. Ryan's contribution comes in the form of population genetics.  He looks at the gene flow, their dispersal and diversity.  This involves extensive sampling all around Lake Michigan, 12 sites so far.  Summer Student Scholars helped with this sampling, with one driving all the way around the lake. The research shows that there are small but significant differences in these populations.  These subtle distinctions show that the flow of genes is somewhat limited. Why?  There are competing models.  Is it a sampling artifact?  Perhaps mobile young populations just haven't had time to homogenize. Are there boundaries on their movements?  If so, what are these limits? Were the various populations founded by different sources?  Studies conducted in Eurasia might shed light on where they are coming from. Have they already diverged from one another? And then there is the conflicting evidence about how much the adults move.  At the other end of the spectrum, larvae are likely to drift in the water column and even get sucked up into ballast and deposited in other ports. The data so far suggest that geographically closer sites are closer genetically, suggesting somewhat limited movement.  But this is a lesson in complexity.  The researchers are also looking at the effect of the cross-lake ferry,  other  boats,  the swirls in the lake and fish movement.  These are all part of the story. In all, several thousand data points are under analysis. The undergraduate student who "circumnavigated" Lake Michigan by car, Elizabeth LaRoue, is working on this analysis.  Ryan and Carl see a good paper in her future. Carl excuses himself at this point. 

Like most AWRI scientists, there is always another project in progress. Ryan is also quite involved in research of a related passion-the evolutionary ecology of invasive plant species of the genus milfoils.  They occur across the world, seven or eight being native to North America.  Ryan focuses on the four to five non-native species.  He's looking at the causes and consequences to the invasive organism of this invasion.  In short, he wants to know what makes invaders successful. He's interested in evolutionary processes taking place in ecologically meaningful timeframes--where the real action is in invasion studies.  Ryan's particular focus on the roles of hybridization and gene flow in the evolution of "invasiveness" gives his work implications including what kind and how much herbicide is used in eradication.  Or as he puts it, "environmental impacts and policy impacts." The combination of projects suggests a kind of urgency, while not as acute as the hundreds of plant samples down the hall needing immediate processing, but nevertheless a large-scale contest between scientific understanding and ecological disaster.  Ryan concludes, "A species is not a fixed entity.  The context matters.   Our world is very complex and things change often."