Trinity Announces Faculty Proposals and Stipends for 2020-21
More than 60 faculty awarded academic leaves or summer stipends
Friday, December 11, 2020
Maria Pia Paganelli stands at front of classroom, holding dry erase marker, teaching students in front of a whiteboard

It has always been well known that Trinity University faculty support their students, but how Trinity supports its faculty should not be overlooked, either. Annually, Trinity faculty members are awarded academic leaves—a semester or a year spent on an in-depth study—and summer stipends—monetary awards that allow faculty to devote the summer to a scholarly or creative project. For the 2020-21 academic year, Trinity has funded 36 academic leave proposals and 25 summer stipends. 


The following faculty members have been awarded an academic leave from the Faculty Development Committee for the 2020-21 academic year.

Victoria Aarons, English 

Spring 2021

Interlocking Histories in Third-Generation Holocaust Graphic Novels  

This project explores third-generation Holocaust literary expression in contemporary graphic narratives by engaging the voices of the grandchildren of survivors in dialogue with those of perpetrators, demonstrating evolving perspectives, genres, and directions in twenty-first century Holocaust representation. 

Laura Camille Agoston, Art and Art History 

Fall 2020

Purity and Danger: Michelangelo, Vasari and The Prince

In extending the discussion of Machiavellian rhetoric to Vasari’s Lives, her project is to re-direct attention to the strategic practices deployed in The Prince as useful tools with which to approach and rethink Michelangelo’s exemplary status in the Lives.

Kwan Kelvin Cheng, Physics and Astronomy

Fall 2020

Multiscale Computer Simulations of Intermolecular Interactions in Pre-Messenger RNA Editing Complexes

In this project, multiscale computer simulations will explore the interaction energy and interfacial conformations of a key protein with its neighboring molecules in an RNA/protein complex responsible for editing pre-messenger RNA inside the cells. The results will provide new insights into the regulatory and pathogenic gene splicing defect mechanisms in cells. 

Courtney Crim, Education

Spring 2020

Utilizing Natural Environments for Restorative Health and Well-Being

This project will continue on-going research by analyzing data and crafting a manuscript and conference proposal and extend current scholarship developing international connections with experts regarding designing and facilitating the use of green spaces to foster wellness.

Aaron Delwiche, Communication

Fall 2020

Hijacking Participatory Culture: Computational Propaganda and the Rise of White Internationalism

Slated for publication in the new co-edited anthology Rethinking Participatory Cultures, the chapter “Hijacking Participatory Culture: Computational Propaganda and the Rise of White Internationalism”  investigates the ways that white internationalist movements use computational propaganda to disseminate anti-democratic messages across national boundaries. 

Sarah Erickson, Communication  

Spring 2021

Show me love: Sourcing and understanding college students’ beliefs about healthy romantic and sexual relationships

This project examines the beliefs and expectations of college students relating to healthy romantic and sexual relationships, the programming provided by colleges and universities around healthy romantic relationships, and the role media play in shaping young adults’ relationship norms. 

Mark Garrison, Art and Art History 

Spring 2021

The Persepolis Fortification Archive: A Catalogue of Seals Occurring on the Aramaic Tablets

This project proposes to complete a study of the seals that occur on tablets that carry texts written in Aramaic from the Persepolis Fortification archive, a large archive of clay administrative documents from Persepolis, Iran. 

Kyle Gillette, Human Communication and Theatre  

Spring 2021

The River

This new performance directs spectators’ attention to sensory perception through subtly shifting lights, sounds, and guided meditations. Embedded in ideas about flux from Heraclitus, Lao Tzu, Siddhartha Gautama, and the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, this work helps spectators explore the transitory nature of experience.

Mario Gonzalez-Fuentes, School of Business  

Spring 2021

Preferences for Domestic and Foreign Offerings Among Young Adults: A Cross-Cultural Study of Global and Local Consumer Identities 

The main goal of this research project is to advance the understanding of how global and local identities influence consumer attitudes, such as materialism and ethnocentrism, and behavioral outcomes such as preferences for domestic and foreign offerings. It will also explore these issues in a broad set of sociocultural contexts to incorporate rich cultural and economic nuances.

Jessica Halonen, Art and Art History  

Spring 2021

Relics and Incidentals 

Through a series of new paintings, her project "Relics and Incidentals" will explore the notion of loss, drawing on personal family history and inspired by ephemera from her father’s time spent as a helicopter repairman during the Vietnam War. 

Colleen Hoelscher, Library   

Spring 2021

Special Collections at the Liberal Arts College: The Role of Bibliographic Instruction

This project seeks to explore the state of bibliographic instruction in special collections at liberal arts college libraries. It will identify the kinds of instruction being provided, and assess the implementation of the SAA-ACRL/RBMS Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy at liberal arts college libraries. 

John Huston, Economics  

Spring 2021

Determinants of Economics Job Market Outcomes: Hiring at Liberal Arts Institutions

The goal of this project is to discover and quantify the factors affecting labor market outcomes for Ph.D. economists. Regression analysis will be employed to identify those characteristics that increase the likelihood of employment at liberal arts institutions.  

Sajida Jalalzai, Religion   

Fall 2020

Translating Islamic Authority in North America: Chaplaincy and Muslim Leadership Education in Protestant Christian Seminaries

Jalalzai is writing a book about Muslim leadership education in three Protestant Christian seminaries in the United States and Canada. It will examine these programs’ contributions to the creation of new professional fields, like Muslim chaplaincy, and question the interfaith logics that they promote. 

Patrick Keating, Communication   

Full Academic Year 2020-2021

Film Noir and the Arts of Lighting

Lighting is one of the most distinctive traits of the Film Noir, a cycle of films that flourished in Hollywood cinema during the 1940s and 1950s. Using archival research and close analysis, this project explains how these films critically adapted lighting conventions from several adjacent art forms, such as literature, interior design, and portrait photography. 

Lawrence Kim, Classical Studies 

Spring 2021 and Fall 2021

Anti-Classicism in Imperial Greece. Part I: The Idea of the Archaic

Kim’s project is a study of the anti-classicizing notion of the ‘archaic’ in Greek aesthetics, literary criticism, and ethics under the High Roman Empire (27 BCE - 235 CE).

Glenn Kroeger, Geosciences  

Fall 2020

Innovative Software Tools for Seismic Research and Teaching

Kroeger will extend his SeismicCanvas application with innovative new tools for applying reciprocity in seismic refraction travel time determinations and teaching global earthquake location with inversion of P-wave arrival times. 

Carl Leafstedt, Music   

Fall 2020

A New Deal for the Arts: The Federal Music Project in Texas, 1935-43

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal led to the creation of the nation’s first federally-funded program for the arts in 1935, and Leafstedt’s book-length study of the Federal Music Project in Texas will bring to light the program’s energizing effect on the arts in our state.

Kevin Livingstone, Biology   

Fall 2020

Re-envisioning Biology Program-Level Learning Objectives and Assessment

Program-level learning objectives and means of assessment from peer institutions will be comprehensively reviewed and evaluated in the context of our unique curriculum, along with best practices from other sources, to produce a proposal for new ways of assessing and differentiating Trinity’s biology major.

Kenneth Loiselle, History   

Spring 2021

Enlightenment and Revolution in the French Atlantic: Freemasonry from the Old Regime to Napoleon

Despite the assumed connections between Freemasonry and the late eighteenth-century revolutions, the historiography of the brotherhood during this period remains remarkably thin. Using newly available archival holdings, this research reconstructs masonic life in metropolitan and colonial France, from the calling of the Estates General to the rise of Napoleon. To pursue this research, Loiselle has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Foundation Grant, granted to only nine scholars in the country across all academic disciplines. 

Brian Miceli, Mathematics  

Spring 2021

Stirling Permutations & A Combinatorial Proof of Schlafli and Gould Identities

This project studies Stirling permutations within the larger framework of pattern avoidance and seeks to use the work on Stirling permutations to find a combinatorial proof of the Schlafli Identities.

Katsuo Nishikawa Chavez, Political Science 

Spring 2021

When Transit Cities Become Destinations: The Rise of Tijuana’s Humanitarian and Enforcement Infrastructure to Recent Immigration

This study looks to better understand how new immigrant destinations are adapting to the growth in immigration. This study focuses on Tijuana Mexico as it has shifted from being a hub of immigration transit to an unlikely migrant destination. 

Timothy O’Sullivan, Classical Studies  

Fall 2020

Motum ex Metello consule: Horace and the Augustan Revolution

This project examines the ways in which the Roman poet Horace (65–8 BCE) used movement metaphors in reaction to the introduction of monarchy under the first emperor Augustus. It is part of a larger project on the ideology of movement in the Augustan era.

Peter O’Brien, Political Science   

Fall 2020

Muslims and the Politics of Post-Truth

O’Brien examines how, despite their mutually expressed antipathy for one another, vehement critics of Islam and vehement critics of the West use remarkably similar strategies in the production and dissemination of their hateful propaganda. Both rely on the strategy of “othering,” or demonizing and scapegoating their alleged enemies.

Debra Ochoa, Modern Languages and Literatures   

Spring 2021

Transatlantic Perspectives: Spanish Films Made in New York

This project examines films by Spanish directors made in New York from the 1980s to 2017. Particular attention is given to the gendered experiences of urban space as well as how depictions of the city have evolved over the last several decades.

Maria Pia Paganelli, Economics   

Spring 2021  

Adam Smith and David Hume: friendly disagreements

Despite their friendship, Adam Smith is best understood not as a shadow of David Hume, but rather as an independent thinker. This project received the Fulbright Award, and looks at their divergent theories of money and war financing  and demonstrates that Smith corrects Hume’s arguments rather than uncritically develops them. 

Kate Ritson, Art and Art History 

Fall 2020

Digital Handmade: Merging the intersection between analogue and digital technologies in creating sculpture.

Digital technology has the potential to challenge the dichotomies of the handmade/machine-made, risk/certainty matrix in the creation of sculpture. The focus of this project is the fusion of digital technologies with traditional analogue methods in the creation of a series of sculptures.

Willis Salomon, English   

Spring 2021

George Herbert and the Constitution of Pastoral Power: Church Authority, the Eroticized Speech Act, and the Work of Salvation

Salomon is researching and completing an essay on the convergence of sexuality and pastoral power in two texts by the 17th century English poet and Anglican priest George Herbert (1593 – 1633). 

Richard Salvucci, Economics  

Fall 2020

Land, Labor and Globalization

Part of a new economic history of Mexico from the Conquest through AMLO. This section, now completed in the first draft, deals with the nineteenth century. Some archival work in Mexico has been delayed by COVID but the use of the digitized military archives (SEDENA) has provided  access to a good deal of substitute material.

Michael Schreyach, Art and Art History  

Fall 2021

Newman’s Totality

In his second book project, Schreyach analyzes the art of the mid-century American abstract painter, Barnett Newman. He aims to explicate Newman’s ideas about what he called the “metaphysical” content of art by offering highly focused and substantive interpretations of individual works, including paintings, drawings, and prints. The book is under contract with the University of California Press and will appear in 2022.

Orrin Shindell, Physics and Astronomy 

Spring 2021

Universality in the Cyanobacterial Circadian Rhythm

Evolution has conferred organisms with 24-hour circadian cycles. This project seeks to determine why the circadian mechanisms selected through evolution are favorable using experiments and theory to study the circadian system in cyanobacteria—the earliest and simplest in the history of life on Earth.

Heather Haynes Smith, Education

Full Academic Year 2020-2021

Transforming Feedback in Special Education Teacher Preparation

Feedback is a critical component to effective teaching. Building on her existing framework on giving, exhibiting, and teaching feedback in special education teacher preparation, Smith will finalize a book on this topic and proposes to create supplemental materials to support faculty implementation in special education teacher preparation programs.

Chad Spigel, Religion   

Fall 2020

Undergraduate Research in Religious Studies

With this project, Spigel will be writing a book about undergraduate research in Religious Studies for a book series on undergraduate research in the arts and humanities published by Routledge. 

Claudia Stokes, English  

Fall 2020

Anonymous was a Woman: The Invisibility of the Nineteenth-Century American Woman Writer

This project examines the anonymity required of most antebellum American women writers. It examines the careers of Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867) and Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888), whose careers evidence the dangers of attribution and the transformation of American women's authorship following the American Civil War.

Harry Wallace, Psychology  

Spring 2021

Investigations of Social Self-Restriction

His project will focus on completing manuscripts describing research derived from his social self-restriction model, which proposes that people use their social autonomy to restrict their capacity to adapt to social environments they did not choose to inhabit. 


The following 25 faculty members were awarded a $9,000 Stipend by the Faculty Development Committee for summer 2020. 

Eduardo Cabral Balreira, Mathematics  

Global Injectivity Methods in Discrete Dynamics

This project established global stability for periodic systems in mathematical biology by considering how stability of individual maps affect the system. The main contribution was to develop new techniques from global injectivity to obtain new results on persistence and global stability of population models. 

Jane Childers, Psychology   

How do children and adults learn new verbs?

This project investigates verb learning in young children. Due to the pandemic, they focused on coding interactions between children and their parents collected in 3 countries: the US, Chile and Guatemala. They also adapted studies with young children and began running them using Zoom. They attended two virtual conferences; students presented posters.  These conferences led to two new collaborative studies. Prior data was written up and submitted for publication.  

Sarah Erickson, Communication  

Sex, Love, and Emotional Health: An Examination of Media Literacy Intervention Programs Addressing Healthy Romantic Relationships on College Campuses

Interventions on college campuses promoting healthy romantic and sexual relationships have received less attention and examination than their more explicitly violence prevention-oriented counterparts. This project examines current best practices in media literacy interventions dealing with sex, romance, and relationships on college campuses and aims to create a database of intervention programs and identify best practices in this field. 

Nicolle Hirschfeld, Classical Studies  

New work on an old ship

The restrictions on travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic drastically altered the original plans for research. In lieu of working directly with the finds from a shipwreck that sank ca. 1200 BC at Cape Gelidonya now stored in labs and storerooms in Bodrum, Turkey, Hirschfeld worked remotely with collaborators in Australia, Turkey, Canada, and Arkansas. The team relied on information and images of the artifacts produced in previous years. They spent the summer exploring whether three-dimensional geometric morphological analysis, a procedure usually used in the biological sciences, could be applied to analyses of the copper oxhide ingot cargo of the shipwreck. The results of their ongoing work will be presented in the first place as a poster at the annual meetings of the Society for American Archaeology in April 2021. 

William Jensen, Human Communication and Theatre  

Democrats take on the Donald: Argumentative strategies in the age of post-truth populism

The ongoing primary debates among the Democrats reveal a diversity of approaches to dealing with the populist rhetoric of President Donald Trump. This project identifies likely successful strategies and pathways to ruin, as carefully balancing the demands of ideological purity and electability will be challenging. 

Michele Johnson, Biology 

The Effect of Testosterone on Lizard Muscle Physiology

This project will examine how lizard muscles, and the behaviors they facilitate, change in response to testosterone.

Peter Kelly-Zion, Engineering Science

Vapor Transport During Drop Evaporation

Kelly-Zion will complete a method for determining the diffusive and convective transport of the vapor from an evaporating drop. This method will contribute to the understanding of vapor phase transport during evaporation and it will provide a thorough means for validating computational models of evaporation.

Jonathan King, Biology

ZO-1 Gene Silencing in a Model Cell System

Epithelial cells in the intestinal lining form a critical barrier. The protein ZO-1 provides essential organizational cues for effective cell junctions, and this project plans to silence ZO-1 in epithelial cells through the use of CRISPR technology in order to better understand barrier properties.

Joseph Kneer, Music

Pedagogy in Translation: Uncovering an Early Twentieth-Century Violin Treatise

This project brings violinist Fritz Rau’s illuminating but hitherto-obscure German-language pedagogical text Das Vibrato auf der Geige (Kahnt, 1922) into the twenty-first century discourse by way of a first-ever English translation and new introduction.

Jongwon Lee, Art and Art History 

Mokuhanga- Traditional Japanese Woodblock Printing

Mokuhanga Innovation Lab is the only artist-in-residence program for Mokuhanga (Traditional Japanese Woodblock Printing) in the world. Attending their residency will enable Lee to gain technical skills in the field, learn from masters and other advanced practitioners, make international connections, and meet traditional tool-makers.

Yi Liu, Business Administration 

Social Exchange Relationships, Goal Orientations, and Employee Creativity 

This research examines the effects of social exchange relationships on employee goal orientations, which in turn influences employee creativity at work. 

Corina Maeder, Chemistry   

Effects of a Splicing Protein’s Ability to Self-Cleave on Pre-messenger RNA Splicing

Pre-messenger RNA splicing is a critical part of gene expression and is highly regulated to ensure accurate removal of intronic sequences. Maeder’s proposal aims to determine whether the unusual auto-cleavage activity of a specific splicing protein is biologically relevant and whether this function serves a regulatory role. 

Kevin McIntyre, Psychology 

Do the Benefits of Self-Expansion Extend Across Partners within a Romantic Relationship?

McIntyre will examine how romantic relationships lead individuals to change their self-concepts. Building on the self-expansion model, this project uses a statistical approach that assesses both members of a couple simultaneously to test how changes to the self-concept impact relationship satisfaction and commitment among partners.

Melissa McMullen, Communication 

Cross-cultural magazine design

This research will compare the design elements used across multiple editions of an international magazine. The goal of this work is to better understand how printed graphic design changes based on country of origin. 

Dany Munoz-Pinto, Engineering Science   

Modeling the Effects of Hyaluronic Acid Degradation on Human Microglia Phenotype Using Multi-Interpenetrating Polymer networks (mIPNs)

This research will be focused on correlating changes in the concentration and molecular weight of hyaluronic acid in the extracellular matrix of central nervous tissue with the regulation of the inflammatory response of human microglial cells.

Troy Murphy, Biology   

Family neighbourhoods: The benefits of living next to kin in the New World black-crested titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus)

Agonistic interactions often occur when individuals are forced to compete over shared territorial boundaries. Murphy examines how territorial conflict most often occurs among strangers; however, in some rare cases neighbors can be genetically related to one another. In this context, kin are expected to withhold aggression towards each other, while non-kin are not.

Ana Maria Mutis, Modern Languages and Literatures  

Decoloniality and Ecocriticism in Latin America

This project will involve co-editing a volume that explores connections between ecocriticism and decolonial thought in Latin American literature, film and visual arts. Her chapter examines the framing of ecological and decolonial thinking in a film by a Colombian filmmaker and a novel by a Peruvian writer. 

Judith Norman, Philosophy   

“Pushing Back: Reading The World as Will and Representation as a Woman” 

This essay examines whether canonical texts in the history of philosophy allow for women to be philosophers. Norman focuses in particular on the famously misogynistic 19th century German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer (who was famous for pushing his landlady down a flight of stairs). The essay will be published in The Critical Guide to the World as Will and Representation, a volume she is co-editing for Cambridge University Press.

Corinne Pache, Classical Studies 

Translating Friendship: My Brilliant Friend and Ancient Female Friendship

This essay examines how ancient ideas about friendship inform Elena Ferrante’s 2012 novel, My Brilliant Friend, and more particularly the ways in which Ferrante uses Virgil’s Aeneid and the figure of Dido as both a model and a warning for the two protagonists, Lenù and Lila.

Sarah Pinnock, Religion
Theodicy and the Justification of Suffering in a Divided Nation

Pinnock analyzes how instrumental theodicy rhetoric emerges in evangelical and political discourse in the Trump era, and identifies alternate currents of Christian thought opposed to theodicy and xenophobia.

David Rando, English   

Androids, Clones, Nonhuman Animals, and Hope: Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Ishiguro’s and Dick’s novels represent clones and androids in ways that might further animal rights. Rando examines how these novels teach us to imaginatively and strategically associate hope with nonhuman life, while simultaneously circumventing the culturally-entrenched resistances that often limit our ability to regard the lives of nonhuman animals with empathy.

Orrin Shindell, Physics and Astronomy

Determining the Dynamics of Motile Bacteria Near Biomimetic Surfaces

In this research, Shindell measures the dynamics of motile bacteria interacting with surfaces. The surfaces are designed to mimic in vivo conditions bacteria encounter when they infect higher organisms; they use optical microscopy to make time-lapse videos of motile bacteria and computer data analysis to extract their three-dimensional configurations. 

Erin Sumner, Human Communication and Theatre

Understanding the Communicative Characteristics of Cyberbullying

This study will experimentally manipulate characteristics of cyberbullying (e.g., narrowcasted/broadcasted, targeted/untargeted, repeated/isolated) to help isolate each characteristic’s effect on the act’s perceived harmfulness, and participants’ willingness to label the act as cyberbullying. Unpacking these characteristics will help identify potential conceptual boundaries for the term cyberbullying.

Lauren Turek, History  

Winning Hearts, Minds, and Security: The Politics of Foreign Aid in Twentieth Century America

This book will offer a broad picture of the political, moral, and strategic dynamics of U.S. foreign aid during the twentieth century. It will shed light on the relationship between domestic politics and foreign policymaking, and on U.S. power projection in this era.

Dennis Ugolini, Physics and Astronomy   

Improving Undergraduate Lab Experiences with Arduinos

The Arduino architecture allows complicated electronic circuits to be inexpensively modeled in software and communicated to other users error-free.  Ugolini proposes to use Arduinos to introduce advanced experiments to the undergraduate laboratory, such as a laser wavelength meter with a precision of 0.1 nanometers.

Sydney Rhodes '23 helps tell Trinity's story as a writing intern for Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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