Faculty Research Colloquia

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is sponsoring a series of six CLAS research colloquia again this year. To try to accommodate more schedules, the colloquia will be held on Fridays in the Fall semester and Thursdays in the Winter semester. They will all be held in PAD 308 and will begin at 2:30 pm with refreshments followed by four or five 20-minute presentations (15 min plus 5 min for discussion).

We especially encourage new faculty and faculty who have been on sabbatical recently to make presentations.

You are cordially invited to the CLAS faculty research colloquium. It will take place in PAD 308.  Refreshments will begin at 2:30pm, followed by the presentations at 3:00.


Date:  Thursday, March 15, 2018

Time:  2:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location:  308 PAD

The speakers will be:


Leon Lou (Psychology) “Why most people cannot draw accurately from observation.”


Michael Lombardo (Biology) “College-aged women that play throwing sports have masculine hands.”


Theodore F. Towse (Biomedical Sciences) “Quantifying Human Brown Adipose Tissue Mass and Activity.”


Abdullah Alrebh (Sociology) “Political Islam in Charge of a Nation.”



Past colloquia

Friday, September 15, 2017


Special topic “Narratives supporting change—where science and storytelling meet.”

The speakers were:

Brian Deyo “Strange Narratives for Strange Times: Eco-fiction in/and the Anthropocene.”

Elena Lioubimtseva  “Teaching about climate change at the time of alternative facts.”

Robert Hollister "Understanding What Climate Change Really Means"

Beth Peterson "Winged Words." 


Friday, September 18. The speakers were:

1. Michael Lombardo (Biology) "Why don't girls throw like boys? The ecological causes and evolutionary consequences of throwing in the genus Homo."

2. Devereaux Kennedy (Sociology) "How to make sense of the sense we make of social life"

3. Charlyn G. Partridge (Annis Water Resources Institute) "Utilizing genomic tools to explore diversity and adaptation in natural populations."

4. Marie Ullrich (Film & Video Production ) "The Alley Cat, a Case Study." 

March 19, 2015. The speakers were:

1. Henry E. Duitman (Music) "Opera and Musical Theater, Life in the Pits."

2. Diane Rayor (Classics)  "The 2014 Sappho Papyri Discoveries."

3. Brian Lakey (Psychology) "Can Ordinary Conversation Account for Perceived Support's Links to Mental Health?"

4. Renee Zettle-Sterling (Art and Design)

Please join your colleagues for collegial, corporeal and cerebral refreshment!


CLAS faculty research colloquium on Climate Change

Speakers for February 19, 2015

Brian Deyo (English) "The Anthropocene as Thought-Event: What's New in the Environmental Humanities."

Kevin Strychar (Annis Water Resources Institute) “Climate Change: Why it Isn’t a Myth Perpetuated by Bad Science.”

Robert Hollister (Biology) “Impacts of Climate Change on Tundra Vegetation.”


Please join your colleagues for collegial, corporeal and cerebral refreshment!

Speakers for January 22, 2015

1. Joe Jacquot (Biology) “Raccoon roundworm prevalence in Southwestern Michigan”

2. Merritt Taylor (BMS) "Identifying Genetic Determinants of Stem Cell Differentiation in the Developing Embryonic Nervous System"

3. Donald Zinman (Political Science) "The Heir Apparent Presidency"

4. Kirsten Strom (Art and Design) “The Darwinian Uncanny:  Surrealism, Animals, and Evolution.”


Please join your colleagues for collegial, corporeal and cerebral refreshment!

Speakers for Friday, November 14, 2014

1. Georgette Sass (Biology) “A good mutant is hard to find; so what to do with a misfit like the delorean mutant?”

2. Robert Deaner (Psychology) “Does the Sex Difference in Competitiveness Decrease in Selective Sub-populations? A Test with Intercollegiate Distance Runners.”

3. Sufen S Lai (English) “Taming the Warrior Shrew: Ethnicity and Malleable Loyalty in the Construction of Women Generals in Chinese Ming-Qing Novels"

4. Laura Stroik (Biomedical Sciences) “The evolution of dietary competition in the earliest primates.”


Please join your colleagues for collegial, corporeal and cerebral refreshment!

Speakers for Friday, October 17, 2014

Bruce Ostrow (Biology) “Stem cells and stem cell therapies: potencies and potentials.”

Sebastian Maisel (Arabic and Middle East Studies) “Double Minority – Yezidi Perspectives from Syria and Iraq.”

Vandana Pednekar-Magal (School of Communications) “From Somewhere Else: Transnational Communities and Media.”

Daniel A. Bergman (Biomedical Sciences) “Toxin-induced behavioral alterations in the crayfish.”

Speakers for September 19, 2014

Dalila Kovacs (Chemistry) “Green Chemistry”

Rob Franciosi (English) “Remember Us”: Facing the Holocaust in Ben Hecht’s We Will Never Die.

Paul Cook (Chemistry) “X-ray crystallographic analysis of the bacillithiol biosynthesis enzymes.”

Brett Bolen (Physics) “Black Holes in Expanding Spacetime”

Speakers for February 20, 2014

John Gabrosek (Statistics) Digital “Textbook Publishing – The Case of STA 215”

Sheldon Kopperl (Biomedical Sciences) "Science from the Sages and Medicine from the Mystics." 

Agnieszka Szarecka (Cell and Molecular Biology)  "Computational Modeling of Mutation Effects in a Class D Beta-Lactamase OXA-24"

Speakers for January 23, 2014

Brian Lakey (Psychology) “What can the social lives of college students tell us about inner-city opiate addicts?”

Jennifer Gross (Psychology) “Forecasting the Effectiveness of College Teaching: Student Perceptions and Quiz Performance.”

David Vessey (Philosophy)  “A contemporary version of the Book of Nature.”

Michael Lombardo (Biology)  “Why don't USA based scientists publish studies on the role of innate variation in athletic performance?”

Speakers for November 15 speakers

Jeffrey A. Potteiger (Movement Sciences and Graduate Dean) “Effects of macronutrient ingestion during and after exercise on substrate oxidation in women with varying body composition.”

Paul Murphy (History) “Humanism, secular intellectuals, and cultural authority in twentieth-century America.”

Sok Kean Khoo (Cell and Molecular Biology) “Circulating microRNAs: a new paradigm for Parkinson’s disease biomarkers.”

Richard Vallery (Physics) “Antimatter and Matter: Using PALS to Study Novel Materials.”

October 18 speakers were:

Gregory Maytan (Music)  “Scandinavia 2: The process of researching, rehearsing for, recording, editing and designing a self-made professional CD.”

David Eick (Modern Languages and Literatures)  "Dictionary Wars in Old Regime France: The French Academy vs. Furetière."

Martin Burg  (Biomedical Sciences) “Using Drosophila to study the effects of histamine deficiency on behavior.”

Levi Gardner (Sustainable Community Development Initiative) ”Biological Diversity, Agriculture, and the Liberal Arts.”

All faculty are welcome to attend.


Speakers for September 20, 2013.

Cynthia L. Thompson (Biomedical Sciences)

Giuseppe Lupis (Music)

Benjamin Holder (Physics)

Mark Luttenton (Biology)

Please join your colleagues for collegial, corporeal and cerebral refreshment!

November 16, 2012 speakers were:

Henry E. Duitman (Music) "Thurmond's Note Grouping: Lessons for Conductors."

Kelly Ross (English) "Emily Dickinson and the Reflex Arc." 

Michael Wroblewski  (Anthropology) "Indigenous Amazonian Media in the Era of Constitutional Interculturality in Ecuador."

Stephen M. Rybczynski (Biology) "The effects of inquiry instruction of students' attitude towards an introductory biology laboratory course."

Please join your colleagues for collegial, corporeal and cerebral refreshment!

Friday, October 19, 2012 speakers were

Chuck Pazdernik - "'The Fates have given men an enduring heart': An ethic of sustainability in archaic Greek poetry."

Peter Wampler - "Sustainability of water supply in Haiti and capacity building through scholarships for Haitian students."

Sheila Blackman - "Seed banking as a critical tool in sustaining managed ecosystems."

Heather Van Wormer - "Extinctions, Environmentalism, and Ecovillages: Sustainability in New Zealand."

Please join your colleagues for collegial, corporeal and cerebral refreshment!

September 2012 speakers were:

Thomas Walker (Political Science)

James Smither  (History)

Corey Anton (Communications)

Giuseppe Lupis (Music)

CLAS Faculty Research Colloquium Thursday, January 19, 2012

Speakers include:

Figen Mekik –  “How has climate changed in Earth’s past and how does modern climate change compare?”

Craig Benjamin – “Big history and global climate change.”

Shaily Menon – “Forecasting global change: the ‘super wicked problems’ of land, sea, and climate change”

Elena Lioubimtseva – “Russia's role in the post-2012 climate change policy: uncertainties and contradictions.”

March 17. 2011 Speakers were:

Thomas C. Pentecost (Chemistry)

Virginia Peterson (Geology

John Bender (Chemistry)

Mark Luttenton (Biology)


Feb 17 colloquium speakers were:

Joel Stillerman (Sociology)

James McNair (Annis Water Resources Institute)

Jodee Hunt (Biology)

David Kurjiaka (Biomedical Sciences)


January 20, speakers were:

Figen Mekik (Geology)

Dan Golembeski (Modern Languages and Literatures)

Renee Zettle-Sterling (Art and Design)

Yakuta Bhagat (Annis Water Resources Institute)


October 15, 2010 Colloquium speakers 

Austin Bunn (Writing) "Devised Playwriting: Experiments in New Play Collaboration"

The "devised play" -- constructed from interviews, improvisations, and historical research - has become an established, new feature of contemporary American and British theatre, with the successes of Frost/Nixon, This Beautiful City, The Laramie Project, and Anna Deveare Smith's ground-breaking monologues. In the winter of 2010, fifteen students in Advanced Drama Workshop (WRT 440) began writing a play together about the founding of Grand Valley State University , timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary. ("Founding" opened Nov. 12th on campus.) But what does the collaboration between faculty and students in the arts look like? What can the experience of this devised play tell us about the best (and worst) practices of the form? This presentation will overview "Founding's" development, in light of the recent production on campus.


Brian Lakey (Psychology) "To what extent is mentoring quality an objective property of mentors?"

Discussions of mentoring quality often include the implicit assumption that quality is an objective property of mentors. That is, some mentors are better than others and mentors can be trained to be more effective. Testing this assumption requires quantifying objective mentoring quality. This can be achieved when multiple observers rate the same mentors. In addition to objective quality, one can also quantify the extent to which such ratings reflect the perceptual biases of observers as well as the unique relationships between specific mentors and observers. A study will be described in which medical residents rated the same faculty members on mentoring quality. The findings were inconsistent with many assumptions about mentoring.


Daniel A. Bergman (Biomedical Sciences) "Crayfish olfaction: why all the stink?"

Olfaction is an ancient sensory system used to detect odor molecules in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. Olfactory receptors, regardless of the environmental surroundings, largely work in a similar manner by interacting with odors (chemicals) that cause specific responses in olfactory sensory neurons. My lab examines how odors are spatially and temporally dispersed within an environment, in what we call a complex odor landscape. We then examine how these odors provide useful contextual information to ultimately cause behavioral responses. Much of this research is accomplished using crayfish as a model research organism. My lab investigates their olfactory and other sensory systems in the context of aggressive interactions, orientation strategies when finding food or mates, neuronal function, development, and pollution effects on chemoreception.


Margaret Dietrich (Cell and Molecular Biology) "Flowering (in the lab) in the Sonoran Desert "

My sabbatical work at the University of Arizona combined two areas of significance in plant biology - salt tolerance and flowering. The CBL10 gene with which I was concerned was originally identified as being important in conveying the ability of Arabidopsis plants to grow in salt. Most crop plants are not tolerant to even moderate levels of salt in the soil. However, heavily irrigated fields, particularly in arid and semi-arid areas, become very salty and cannot support the growth of further crops. An understanding of the basis for salt tolerance by certain plants could aid in the development of crops which are able to grow on less than optimal soils. Plants defective in this particular gene also produce defective flowers. Since the outcome of successful flowering is fruit production, this aspect also directly impacts food supplies. CBL10 encodes a calcineurin B-like protein known to be involved in signal transduction - the process by which cells perceive a signal/cue from outside the cell and convert that information into a cellular response, such as being able to tolerate salt in the soil. I will describe my work directed at understanding the role of CBL10 in flowering and will indicate how undergraduate students will continue this work here at GVSU.


Geoff Lenters (Physics) "A Statistical Smorgasborg: Automated Decision Processes and Image Processing"

The contents of this talk are based upon my recent year long sabbatical hosted by Dynetics, an engineering company headquartered in Huntsville, AL. My work was mainly Missile Defense related, but I will focus on some statistical techniques, that I learned while working there. The first part will be a brief, conceptual introduction to Bayesian Classifiers, which are used quite frequently in data mining/automated decision making processes, while the second part will focus on one of the techniques used by X-ray astronomers to process X-ray images.

Speakers of the second CLAS Research Colloquium were:

James N. McNair

Lisa Feurzeig

David Eaton

Michael Lombardo


The first CLAS faculty research colloquium of the academic year featured these speakers:

Toni Perrine "Nuclear Terrorism and Docudrama: Dirty War."

Brian Hatzel "Clinical Implications for Shoulder Stability: How can we incorporate current research."

Paul Cornish "John Adams' Contribution to the Republican Tradition."

Giuseppe Lupis "How to organize a successful International Music Festival in Italy with no funding: the Grumo Festival 2010"

Page last modified March 9, 2018