A Celebration of Scholarship

Demonstrating Mastery of an Academic Discipline

The Annual Faculty Research Symposium


Monster Poetry
Amy Kesegich, Ph.D., assistant professor of English

A small collection of poems is roughly organized around the monster and horror themes that seem to pervade much of Kesegich’s writing and scholarly interests—and intersects with popular culture in the success of such shows as “The Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story.” Her poems have more connections with old fashioned monster movies rather than the newer gut-bucket slashers: the original King Kong, The Mummy and Godzilla, for example. As far as literary tie-ins, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, R.L. Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire, among others, are all inspirations. Kesegich is primarily interested in how monsters reflect back the ugliness of human beings, and also, paradoxically, elicit compassion for the accursed creatures. She explores how humans, as a species, battle against demons within and without and are haunted by their own shades and shadows.

Moving from Paper to Computers: How Well Do Research Surveys Make the Transition?
Arne Weigold, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology

As computers become increasingly more accessible, researchers in the social sciences are moving data collection away from lab settings and onto the Internet. Not surprisingly, much research has been conducted examining if surveys traditionally completed via paper and pencil yield the same results when filled out online. Weigold conducted two studies examining the equivalence of paper-and-pencil and Internet data collection methodologies. Participants in both studies consisted of college students who completed measures of personality, social desirability and computer self-efficacy. Weigold found that the mean scores across conditions are generally equivalent. In addition, groups had similar response rates and were generally consistent in their answers. The paper-and-pencil groups, however, took longer than the others to fill out the study. In addition, more participants in the Internet conditions had missing data than in the other two conditions.

Hunchback of Notre Dame College: A Gene Regulator of Development and Fertility
M. Logan Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor of biology

This study focuses on a member of the largest family of proteins in humans that has been characterized to play a role as an epigenetic factor. Based on data obtained after removing this gene from fruit flies, Johnson discovered a moderate percentage of the insects were unable to properly form the dorsal abdominal regions. For this reason and because the mutant was generated at Notre Dame, the gene has been renamed Hunchback of Notre Dame College (HNDC). Further analysis revealed that HNDC females had issues maintaining embryo production after being exposed to a moderate increase in temperature. Ovary dissections also verified that loss of embryos was occurring at the point of egg production. Analysis demonstrates that the DNA where HNDC most highly associates includes the genes that are responsible for regulating the switch between the stem cells of the ovary and the production of the future egg. The particular genes that HNDC regulates have long been established to play a role in mammalian reproductive stem cells.

Moot Court: The Art of Litigating
Ronald Eric Matthews Jr., Ph.D., assistant professor of political science

A moot court is an extracurricular activity at many undergraduate programs in which participants take part in simulated court proceedings, which usually involve drafting briefs (or memorials) and participating in oral arguments. The modern activity differs from a mock trial, as moot court usually refers to a simulated appellate court or arbitral case, while a mock trial usually refers to a simulated jury trial or bench trial. Moot court does not involve actual testimony by witnesses, cross-examination or the presentation of evidence but is focused solely on the application of the law to a common set of evidentiary assumptions to which the competitors must be introduced. Matthews examines the challenges and successes of the newly developed moot court program at Notre Dame College.


Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: Assessment and Implementation at Notre Dame College
Tracey Meilander, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology

The Vision and Change in undergraduate biology education is a national initiative that calls for transformations of courses and curricula in order to align biology teaching with the practice of biology. Five core concepts of biological literacy outline the major concepts and content for students to understand within the discipline. Six core competencies and disciplinary practices describe what students should be able to do within the discipline of biology. Meilander has helped develop a rubric to assess student progress in Vision and Change core competencies and disciplinary practices at the conclusion of three biology courses—research methods, ecology and plant biology. The evaluations identified “ability to use quantitative reasoning” and “ability to use modeling and simulation” as areas of weakness amongst students. A major strength of the students was their “ability to understand the relationship between science and society.”

Hearing Voices: Metadiscourse and Counterfactuals in the Stand-up Comedy of Jim Gaffigan
Lynn Zimmerman, Ph.D., chair of the Division of Arts and Humanities

One of a subgroup of entertainers called “clean comics,” Jim Gaffigan is considered hilarious by a broad range of comedy consumers. He eschews political commentary, vulgar language and most sexual topics, all subject matter most fans of stand-up expect in a performance. Gaffigan’s success rests in the universality of his subject matter: dysfunctional family relationships and socially awkward encounters. Moreover, the contextualization and delivery of his material excites the audience’s positive reaction. While on stage, Gaffigan employs a minimum of two voices in conversation, that of his performing character who introduces the jokes and that of a critical audience member who disparages them. The critical voice functions in a metadiscursive role, positing counterfactuals to challenge the legitimacy of premises the performing character imagines. Understanding this dynamic interchange between voices is vital in order to appreciate Gaffigan’s unique brand of comedy and just how his routines elicit uproarious laughter.

Nuns Today: Women of the Church—or Women of the World?
Sr. Mary Karita Ivancic, SND, D.Min, assistant professor of theology and music

Biblical scholar and theologian Sr. Sandra Schneiders, IHM, is one of today’s foremost experts on the historical development and spiritual renewal of women’s religious orders, especially in the post-Vatican II Church in America. Her keynote address at the College Theology Society’s Sixtieth Annual Convention focused on how the changing relationship of the Church to the world throughout history has resulted in various expressions of consecrated life. During the past 50 years, two very different interpretations of Vatican II’s vision of religious renewal have contributed to the emergence of two distinct life forms of women religious in the United States, prompting the recently completed Apostolic Visitation. Ivancic summarizes the key ideas—especially relevant during this year in which the universal Church celebrates consecrated life.

The Case for Ending Damaged-Centered Approaches to Human Trafficking Education in Middle and Secondary Schools
Elizabeth Presley, M.Ed., instructor of education and reading specialist

Human trafficking education is preventative curriculum often written by individuals with high-level content knowledge but very little pedagogical experience. This mismatch often produces a damaged-centered perspective of human trafficking education, viewing trafficking victims and survivors, as well as the at-risk, as somehow being broken or defeated. Presley contends a more applicable and successful method of human trafficking curriculum employs a desire-base framework, which acknowledges the need to understand the complexity, contradiction and self-determination of the adolescent population. Through this method, students are offered a pedagogical stance, which separates itself, empowering youth to become critical agents of their community and learners who look at the issue of human trafficking in different ways, analyze it and even offer possible ways to change or improve their community.  

E.g., 06/23/19
E.g., 06/23/19