Four Arts & Letters undergraduates have been named winners of the 2020 University of Notre Dame Library Research Award. This annual award, given by the Hesburgh Libraries, recognizes undergraduate students who demonstrate excellence in research skills by using a breadth of library resources and services for their course assignments, research projects, and creative endeavors.
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Each summer and school year, a dimly lit computer lab in the basement of Jenkins-Nanovic Hall on Notre Dame’s campus hums with the activity of undergraduate interns working to find solutions to complex, poverty-related issues. As an intern for the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities, Emily Merola ’20 helped collect data for the Catholic Charities Fort Worth's Stay the Course project and Padua program. “It was really great to be close to the actual operations of the provider and know that each data point is a person,” Merola said. “I think everybody knows, but sometimes you need that salient reminder.”
La Donna Forsgren, an associate professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, has won the American Society for Theatre Research's Oscar G. Brockett Essay Prize. The award, given annually to the best essay of theatre research in a scholarly English-language publication, honored Forsgren’s “The Wiz Redux; or Why Queer Black Feminist Spectatorship and Politically Engaged Popular Entertainment Continue to Matter,” which appeared in Theatre Survey. She was also appointed this month as associate editor of Theatre Survey, which will lead to her becoming editor of the journal in two years.
While early modern artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi has been principally known for his drawings and etchings of ancient Rome, new research from Heather Hyde Minor, a Notre Dame professor of art history, reinterprets Piranesi’s artistic oeuvre by flipping the works over and reading what is written on the backs. Minor’s Piranesi Unbound, examines nearly 200 of Piranesi’s engravings and drawings. The research, recuperative in method, serves as a biography of Piranesi’s books, bringing text and image together to reveal a learned mind alive with biting wit and unflinching big-picture questions.
What’s senior Liam Karr’s secret to juggling three majors, writing a thesis, and still finding time to practice and perform with the Notre Dame Glee Club? A little time management and a lot of love for what he does.“I just totally do the whole ‘study what you love’ thing, and don’t really care if my schedule looks a little busy,” he said. A self-described “history nerd” with an interest in politics, Karr quickly discovered how much natural overlap there is between his first two majors. Deciding to pursue a third major — Arabic — was more of an unexpected development.
Notre Dame sociologist Abigail Ocobock has interviewed 80 parents with at least one child in elementary or middle school. All of the parents work full time and are expected to facilitate e-learning for their children. Popular media and academic studies have highlighted how working moms experience significant guilt. Ocobock found that the effects of COVID-19 increased the level of guilt.
Francie Shaft has discovered intersections between her theology and Japanese majors through her classes and research — both on campus and in Japan. Those opportunities would not have been possible, she said, without the support she found at Notre Dame. “Notre Dame wants you to start pursuing what you’re passionate about, even as a freshman. If I didn’t have these people who have believed in me from the start, I don’t think I would be as creative and as bold in the sorts of experiences I want to have.”
Patrícia Rodrigues is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology and a fellow in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies focusing her research on the historical and anthropological bases for indigenous claims to territory and legal protection of archaeological sites and ecological resources in Brazil. In this interview, she discusses her research on the Wauja people in Brazil, why she chose Notre Dame, and how the anthropology program's emphasis on transdisciplinarity makes it distinctive.
The Homeless Prevention Call Center for the City of Chicago, currently run by Catholic Charities of Chicago, has helped thousands of families stay off the streets. Knowing funding for public programs is never guaranteed, it wanted to prove its method was cost effective and impactful. In 2012, it approached Notre Dame’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) for assistance. Could LEO researchers measure the call center’s effectiveness rather than volume?
La Donna L. Forsgren is an associate professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre; concurrent faculty in the Gender Studies Program; and affiliated faculty in the Department of Africana Studies. Her latest book, Sistuhs in the Struggle: An Oral History of Black Arts Movement Theater and Performance, is the first oral history to fully explore the contributions of Black women intellectuals to the Black Arts Movement.
A digital image of a famous piece of art doesn’t tend to stir the soul in the same way as looking at it while standing in the same room. The context matters. Notre Dame theology and psychology faculty will extrapolate on that idea thanks to a $230,000 grant from the Templeton Religion Trust for an 18-month research project exploring the ways in which viewing art informs and enhances spiritual growth and how that changes based on time and place. The researchers will focus on two sets of religious art on the Notre Dame campus — The Stations of the Cross by Luigi Gregori in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and The Life of Christ/Cycle of Life by Philip Rickey in the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park.
“There's no escaping metaphysics, but why would we want to? It's so interesting and so fun to pursue,” said Kris McDaniel, a Notre Dame professor of philosophy. His research focuses on existence and value — in particular, exploring the idea that there are different kinds of existence, a position that is contrary to most contemporary philosophical scholarship.
Christina Wolbrecht, a professor of political science and affiliated faculty member in the Gender Studies Program, has been awarded a Centennial Center Special Projects Fund grant from the American Political Science Association. With the grant, she and a team of colleagues are planning to broaden the impact of the organization Women Also Know Stuff by hosting a virtual conference in early 2021 that will bring together journalists and scholars.
Political science major Oneile Baitlotli spent most of her junior year planning the summer research project abroad she needed to earn a minor in International Development Studies: a study of how to help low-income families in her native Botswana gain access to affordable early childhood education. But in March, the coronavirus largely suspended overseas travel and closed international borders. And Baitlotli and nearly a dozen other juniors in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies’ IDS program were forced to abandon their original capstone projects. With help from their faculty advisors and the Kellogg Institute, they developed new research projects they could do virtually within a matter of weeks.
The John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values has announced new leadership for two key programs — Vania Smith-Oka, an associate professor of anthropology, and Amy Hixon, an associate professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences. Smith-Oka will serve as the inaugural director of the center’s Medicine and the Liberal Arts program, and Hixon has been named director of the GLOBES graduate certificate program.
Sociologist Erin McDonnell and psychologist Nathan Rose have received National Science Foundation Early Career Development (CAREER) Awards for 2020. They are among nine University of Notre Dame faculty members to receive the awards this year. “This is the most prestigious award granted by the NSF to early-career faculty and reflects the quality of Erin McDonnell’s and Nathan Rose’s research,” said Sarah Mustillo, the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters. “I am thrilled that they are continuing the College’s strong record of success with these awards.”
Teaching English at Oakland High in the late 1990s, Ernest Morrell faced the age-old problem of how to get modern students interested in a canon of long-dead writers and poets. So he and a colleague decided to introduce elements of pop culture such as rap songs into their classrooms as a way to engage the students with topics that kids know and care about. Over the years, Morrell, who now directs the Notre Dame Center for Literacy Education and is a professor of English and Africana studies, has focused his research and teaching around the idea that young students can be trusted to do complex academic work — if the topic is compelling to them and they got the right training.
Whether he’s studying in Uganda or France, South Africa or South Bend — or speaking English, Luganda, French, or Swahili — Trevor Lwere has one topic at the forefront of his mind. No matter where he is, the economics and global affairs major is driven to investigate what different cultures and perspectives can teach each other about forming the best society. “Every time I move to a different place, I get curious about how different societies imagine how they should be organized and how they approach life,” he said.
Dana Moss is an assistant professor of sociology at Notre Dame whose research interests include collective behavior and social movements, global and transnational sociology, international migration, and political sociology. She's currently working on a book project on the "Arab Spring abroad" — how Libyan, Yemeni, and Syrian communities, spread from as far away as Los Angeles to London, mobilized to support the Arab Spring revolutions that were happening in their home countries. She also developed a theory of transnational repression on how regimes constrain and pressure their diasporas.
Most of the research on the biology of fatherhood has focused on fathers in the U.S., Europe and some Asian countries. In these settings, levels of some hormones, such as lower testosterone and higher oxytocin, have been linked to more nurturing fathering. A Notre Dame research team wants to take a wider view. The role of fathers can vary greatly across cultures, and the researchers aimed to test whether the biology of fatherhood did, too. To get a more complete picture of hormones and fatherhood that includes different cultures, social support systems, and social hierarchies, Lee Gettler, associate professor of anthropology, led a team that worked with the BaYaka and Bondongo societies in the Republic of the Congo. The team’s paper was published this week in Nature magazine’s Scientific Reports.
Rawls' work A Theory of Justice has had a lasting and far-reaching influence on the fields of economics, political science, philosophy, and law — and nearly 50 years after its publication, it remains one of the greatest works of political philosophy ever produced, said Paul Weithman, the Glynn Family Honors Professor of Philosophy. With funding from a Collaborative Research Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Weithman is planning a conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the book’s publication in September 2021.
Ulrich Lehner is the William K. Warren Professor of Theology at Notre Dame. Lehner’s work focuses on Christianity during the early modern period, around 1500 to 1800 A.D. He is currently exploring the daily life and culture of Catholics during this period, including how they worshipped and what they believed. He is particularly interested in questions that also apply to the Church today.
Over the last three years, the Notre Dame International Security Center has added faculty and postdoctoral fellows, expanded its undergraduate and graduate programs, and become a thought leader on issues surrounding national security and innovative approaches to U.S. grand strategy. The center is now continuing to build on that success with $7.66 million in new grants, which will support naming Jim Webb, a former U.S. senator from Virginia and secretary of the Navy, as NDISC's inaugural distinguished fellow; creating a pre-doctoral fellowship program and expanding the current post-doctoral fellows program.
With the 2020 presidential election on the near horizon, sociologist Kraig Beyerlein discusses what he and his co-researcher learned about the political engagement of U.S. congregations — including what surprised him most — and how that may impact results on Nov. 3.
Ernest Morrell, a professor of Africana studies and English, the Coyle Professor in Literacy Education, and director of the Center for Literacy Education at the University of Notre Dame, has collaborated with fellow subject experts to create the first capstone course on the African diaspora for AP Seminar high school teachers and students.
Senior Meg Burns says that the tagline to her experience at Notre Dame could be, “It’s OK to change your mind.” After three semesters majoring in biochemistry, Burns decided to follow her passion and major in art history. Then, during her junior year, she dramatically shifted the focus of her senior thesis after having completed research in Dublin. Looking back, Burns said these moments became valuable learning experiences themselves.
Women in the academic field of psychology are overrepresented at the undergraduate level but, ultimately, underrepresented at senior levels. No gender parity reviews of the discipline had been conducted until a group of scholars, including Lee Anna Clark, the William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Professor of Psychology, decided to take on the task. Clark and the other researchers found that women are less likely to apply for tenure-track positions; however, those who do apply are equally if not more likely to be hired than men.
Senior Sam Cannova’s affinity for problem solving has driven him to pursue a diverse range of experiences at Notre Dame. It has inspired him to dive deep into classic texts, volunteer for a nonprofit in the South Bend community, and travel to South Africa to conduct research on hip-hop culture. He entered Notre Dame intending to major in business but was inspired to try out some Program of Liberal Studies classes after hearing about the experiences of other students in the program.
The Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS) has selected 17 University of Notre Dame students — including 14 from the College of Arts and Letters — for its NDIAS Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program. The 2020-2021 fellowship class will serve as research assistants for NDIAS faculty and Ph.D. fellows, who are focusing on the theme The Nature of Trust.
The economic effects of the coronavius in the U.S. have brought Americans’ preexisting financial precarity into stark focus. Karen Richman, director of undergraduate studies at Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies, found in a recent study that many people in the U.S. are relying on informal networks of family and friends to stay afloat.