Nuclear physics group receives $1.72 million award from DOE

Old Dominion’s Experimental Nuclear Physics Research Group has been awarded $1.72 million by the Department of Energy (DOE) to continue its investigation of the underlying structure of subatomic particles and the forces that create them.

This is one of the largest recent awards of its type in medium energy nuclear physics and it renews for three years a grant that originated in 1996. Almost all of the group’s experiments are conducted at DOE’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab), a $600 million atom smasher in Newport News.“Our group is very excited about this award, which will enable us to continue research into the nature of matter at the subatomic level,” said Gail Dodge, associate professor of physics and principal investigator of the grant for the next three years. “We are particularly grateful to receive an increase in our funding during a period when basic science budgets are being reduced.”

Colm Whelan, eminent scholar, professor and chair of the physics department, called the award “a great credit to our nuclear physicists.”

The dean of the College of Sciences, Richard Gregory, said, “The renewal of this very important grant, and its size, reflects the importance of the research being done at the Jefferson Laboratory. Certainly the contributions of our faculty to this research helps to extend our understanding of how the universe we inhabit operates at its most fundamental level.”

Some of the group’s experiments seek to extend our understanding of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, E=mc2.

“Einstein was the first to realize that mass and energy are really two sides of the same coin. They can be converted one into the other,” said Sebastian Kuhn, professor of physics and a member of the group. Kuhn and fellow professor and group member Lawrence Weinstein said one of the questions under active study is, Where does the mass of the proton come from? Or, more specifically, Why is it that the proton mass is rated at 1,000 but the three quarks that make it up have a combined mass of only 15? “This means that 98 percent of the mass of the proton comes from the energy of its constituents, rather than from their mass,” explained Weinstein.

Charles Hyde-Wright, professor of physics and another group member, summed up the research this way: “We are studying the origin of 98 percent of the visible mass of the universe.”

Weinstein said it seemed especially appropriate that the award comes in 2005, which the United Nations has declared the Year of Physics to mark the 100th anniversary of several of Einstein’s most penetrating theories.

Other physics department faculty in the experimental group are Paul Ulmer, associate professor, Moskov Amarian, associate professor, and Stephen Bueltmann, research assistant professor. Also within the group are two postdoctoral researchers and 11 graduate students. A technician and two undergraduates work with the group.

The experimentalists, together with five ODU faculty and their graduate students in theoretical nuclear physics, make up one of the larger nuclear physics groups in the country, Dodge said. The amount of the award recognizes both the size and the international stature of ODU’s nuclear team, added Weinstein. Although the group makes up less than 1 percent of the 1,500 scientists worldwide who use JLab, it directs about 10 percent of the lab’s experiments.

“The university made a very significant and far-sighted investment in nuclear physics to take advantage of its relationship with and proximity to JLab,” Dodge said. “The university’s commitment to our group has been crucial to our success.”

Broadly stated, the group’s experiments include measuring the malleability of the proton, which is a positively charged component of the atomic nucleus, by applying strong electromagnetic forces to it; developing a unique technique to photograph the three-dimensional distribution of quantum waves of quarks and gluons inside the components of the nucleus; trying to understand whether the proton behaves differently inside a nucleus than it does by itself; studying the spin of the neutron and where it comes from; and studying the behavior of pairs of protons.

Dodge said that although the work is esoteric, “It is important to realize that money spent on basic science, which does not have an immediate commercial application, usually yields great dividends to society down the line. For example, the laser was not developed with commercial applications in mind, but look how that affects our economy now.”

She added that one of the main missions of the group is education. “We educate ourselves and our colleagues and students. So the significance of this award is largely in the people who can continue their education.” The majority of the award will be used for salaries.

The grant is the fourth largest in its category to universities that do not have an accelerator or cyclotron. Among all DOE nuclear physics awards, ODU’s was 18th largest among 173. Back to top

Senior citizens continue education at Institute for Learning in Retirement

The university has long been known for welcoming nontraditional college-age students, but its support of lifelong learning also extends to a specific cohort of students enrolled in the Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR).

An affiliate of the Elderhostel Institute Network, Old Dominion’s ILR program got its start in 1993 and today boasts more than 500 member ages 55 and older who share a common love of learning. It is one of more than 100 similar institutes across the country.

While many of the courses are taught by ODU professors – current faculty Ron Johnson (oceanography), Don Smith (sociology) and Bill Whitehurst (history), and retired Russian professor John Fahey, have taught on several occasions – the institute also utilizes faculty from other area colleges and universities, as well as local professionals. Courses this spring ranged from sessions on wildlife photography and Henry David Thoreau to French painters and “the father of Russian literature, Alexander Pushkin.”

“This community is very rich in people with interesting backgrounds,” said Toby Netherton, chair of the ILR Curriculum Committee. “In addition to college and university faculty, we use local artists, musicians and historians – even our members themselves.”

The wife of Dave Netherton, senior lecturer in ODU’s occupational and technical studies department, she has been with ILR from day one. “Our group started when I sent a letter to hundreds of people in the area, so from the beginning we had a diverse group of people – economic, education and work. This is a great strength because this diversity is reflected in the discussions that take place in the classroom.

“What makes our institute different from continuing education classes elsewhere is that our organization is run by its members,” she explained. “We decide on the classes, find the instructors, set the course fees and determine how much to pay the instructors.”

The institute offers approximately 25 courses each quarter at the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center, which are advertised in a newsletter that goes to members. The format is usually two-hour, single-session or four-hour, two-session, and the cost is $5 per hour, which is in addition to the ILR annual dues of $15 ($25 per couple). Classes range in size from 10 to 48 students. Faculty are paid a modest $25 per hour.

According to ILR literature, the emphasis is on high-quality, low-cost programs without concern for credit, grades or educational prerequisites. The institute also offers socials and trips throughout the year.

Netherton estimates the average age of ILR members to be about 70, and most of the students live in Virginia Beach. Old Dominion offers the only institute in South Hampton Roads; on the Peninsula, Christopher Newport University sponsors one.

Lawrence J. Hatab, Louis I. Jaffe Professor of philosophy at ODU, has taught ILR classes “for several years” and recently led a session on “Plato’s Critique of Tragic Poetry.”

“The people who attend the lectures are very respectful, curious and excited about the topics,” said Hatab, adding, “I think it is a wonderful experience.”

Patrick Mbajekwe, a first-year assistant professor of history, also taught an ILR course this spring on “Africa: Past and Present.” Both he and Hatab like the fact that the students attend classes primarily for the love of learning. Older students, they say, also bring a more experienced perspective to the classroom.
“There are a lot of differences between teaching senior citizens and the traditional college-age students,” Mbajekwe noted. “For one, the senior citizens come in with immense experience and knowledge – even far more so for this particular group that are highly educated and retired professionals. That makes it very easy to put issues about far-away places like Africa in comparative perspective. Regular college-age students usually do not have similar types of experience and knowledge to draw from. The seniors asked far more mature and insightful questions.”

Eileen Horan, an ILR member for 10 years, said she had been looking forward to the class on Africa, both because she knew little about the continent and a granddaughter of hers had recently served in the Peace Corps in Mali.

Through two sessions, Mbajekwe, a native of Nigeria, shattered a number of long-persistent myths about his home continent, and shared an abbreviated history of the continent from centuries ago to the present.

The image many Westerners have of Africans is of “a people stuck in time,” he told the class. But he hastened to add, “For every myth, for every image, there is a reality.”

Early in his first session, for example, he pointed out that the Masai, who are often shown “wearing loin cloths and jumping up and down with spears,” represent only a very small minority in Africa, and that he, ironically, “had to fly all the way from Africa to America to see my first lion” at the Atlanta zoo.

“There is no society that is static, though there may be different rates of change,” Mbajekwe told the class.

Grace VanDerveer, an ILR member who has helped fill in voluntarily for the organization’s one paid ODU position while it is between administrators, has been with the institute for six years and served on its board twice. She has been retired 12 years from her position as director of volunteers for the American Red Cross Mid-Atlantic Blood Services, and said she enjoys both the interesting classes and the social aspects of the institute.

VanDerveer, who has also traveled to other parts of the country to attend Elderhostel courses, said she likes the fact that the ILR classes are inexpensive and convenient. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful program. The Curriculum Committee does a terrific job. There’s such a variety – something for everybody. I have enjoyed the classes; they’re stimulating. Once, we even had a doctor who brought in real brains.”

Another ILR member, Les Pomeroy, is a Navy veteran who also worked 15 years as director of Providence College’s M.B.A. program.

“ILR presents a wonderful learning opportunity for people who are retired but still active and who are, as a rule, alert, well-educated and interested in what’s going on in the world.

“The lectures are on things of interest to the group – history, law, geography, world events, religions, philosophy. We draw on the very fine, intellectual and professional resources of people in the area. There’s also an element of camaraderie within ILR.”

For more information about ODU’s Institute for Learning in Retirement, call 368-4160 or send an e-mail to Back to top

University hires Batten Chair in physical sciences
Patrick G. Hatcher, a professor of chemistry at Ohio State University and director of the OSU Environmental Molecular Science Institute, has been appointed Batten Endowed Chair in physical sciences at Old Dominion University, Provost Thomas Isenhour announced June 2.

Hatcher, who will join the faculty of the chemistry and biochemistry department in ODU’s College of Sciences, is scheduled to begin his duties at the start of the spring 2006 semester. He will also serve as director of the new Major Instrumentation Core Facility, to be housed in the university’s Physical Sciences Building. Construction on the building is scheduled to begin this fall.

“Pat Hatcher is a great addition to Old Dominion University. We look forward to his leadership in the College of Sciences and university,” Isenhour said.

The endowed chair is the first at Old Dominion funded by Frank Batten’s $32 million gift to the university, whose primary goal is to increase ODU’s capacity to attract and retain top researchers and faculty, and to support research endeavors.

Hatcher’s current research interests include organic geochemistry of coal, kerogen (solid bituminous material in some shales, which yields petroleum when heated) and humic substances (from the organic part of the soil).

He was the principal investigator for a $5.8 million National Science Foundation grant that established the EMS Institute at Ohio State. The award created a center involving 18 faculty across four OSU divisions, four other universities, Argonne National Lab and three industrial partners, including Exxon-Mobil. The research utilizes state-of-the-art analytical equipment and focuses on chemical processes that include atmosphere/aerosol, atmosphere/dust, water/geomedia and geomedia/biological interfaces.

Before coming to OSU, Hatcher established the Center for Environmental Chemistry and Geochemistry at Penn State. Prior to that, he was credited as being one of the first organic/environmental geochemists to use solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) as principal analytical research instrumentation while working at the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Va.

Recently, Hatcher received the 2005 American Chemical Society Geochemistry Division Medal in recognition of his accomplishments in and contributions to organic and environmental geochemistry.

“The ACS is one of the world’s largest professional organizations and its awards are highly competitive and most prestigious,” said Richard V. Gregory, dean of the ODU College of Sciences.

According to an April 11 article in Chemical and Engineering News, “The results stemming from [his] body of work have significantly advanced our understanding of natural materials like coal, kerogen, humic materials, dissolved organic matter, and resistant biopolymers (both lignin and microbial products). His work, now spanning several decades, has both refined and redefined our understanding of complex geopolymeric materials.”

Hatcher has received significant research funding during his career, and has authored or co-authored more than 200 papers. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from North Carolina State University, a master’s in marine chemistry from the University of Miami and a doctorate in geochemistry from the University of Maryland. Back to top

BOV to meet June 14
The Board of Visitors will meet at 1:30 p.m. June 14 in the Webb Center Board Room. This meeting of the full board will be preceded by the following committee meetings:

  • 8:30 a.m. – Institutional Advancement, Board Room; and Student Advancement, Rectors Room;
  • 9:45 a.m. – Joint session of the Aca-demic and Research Advancement and the Administration and Finance committees to hear a presentation on the operating budget and plan; and
  • 10:30 a.m. – Academic and Research Advancement, Rectors Room; Administra-tion and Finance, Board Room. Back to top

University Gallery hosts new exhibit through July 10
The University Gallery opened a new exhibition of installation and sculpture by Thomas Koole and Wade Kramm June 4. It continues through July 10 and is free and open to the public.

The works of both Koole and Kramm raise many questions. Koole, a ceramics instructor at Union Square Ceramic Center in Manhattan, produces site-specific installations exploiting the physical reality of the space. Using pseudo-scientific techniques, Kramm creates interactive and photographic pieces that challenge the perceptions of the viewer. He is an adjunct professor of three-dimensional design at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.

The University Gallery, located at 350 W. 21st. St., Norfolk, is open noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. For more information call 683-2355 or go to Back to top

Don’t forget those desserts
ODU’s annual “Just Desserts” competition is scheduled for noon June 13 in the front lobby of Webb Center. Registration is not necessary.

Those who make desserts this weekend should bring their creations before noon in order to be considered for judging. Prizes will be awarded to the best entries in the following categories: The Miracle Dessert, Dieters’ Delight, The Undeniable Power of Chocolate, Desserts with Appeal, Southern Comfort (a reference to family tradition) and A Beauty to Behold. Back to top

Heyl announces faculty study tour to Sri Lanka
Faculty are invited to participate in a study tour to Sri Lanka Aug. 1-24. The program, titled “The Biological and Cultural Ecology of Sri Lanka,” is being organized by San Jose State University and hosted in Sri Lanka by the Post Graduate Institute of Science at the University of Peradeniya. The approximate cost is $3,000.

For more information contact John Heyl at 683-5195 or Back to top

Special ed. program is finalist for AASCU award
ODU’s special education distance learning program, cosponsored with the Virginia Department of Education, has been named one of six finalists for the 2005 American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Christa McAuliffe Award. The final application is due June 24.

The McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education recognizes outstanding programs in teacher education at AASCU member institutions. AASCU institutions prepare more than 50 percent of all new teachers in the United States each year; ODU produces more teachers than any other Virginia school.

The award will advance the field of teacher education by identifying promising practices for measuring the impact of programs on teacher candidate knowledge and on P-12 pupil learning. Back to top

Development office honored
For the second year in a row, the Office of Development, headed by Alonzo C. Brandon, has won a CASE/Wealth ID Award for educational fund raising. The program recognizes superior fund-raising programs across the country.

The ODU office was selected based on the judges’ analysis of data it submitted to the Council for Aid to Education’s annual Voluntary Support of Education survey. Back to top

Deadlines listed for Fulbright Scholar Program
Applications for the 2006-07 Fulbright Scholar Program are now being accepted. Deadlines are as follows:

  • Fulbright traditional lecturing and research grants worldwide: Aug. 1, 2005.
  • Summer German Studies Seminar: Nov. 1, 2005.
  • Spring/Summer Seminars in Korea and Japan for academic and international education administrators: Nov. 1, 2005.
  • U.S./Germany International Administra-tors Programs: Feb. 1, 2006.
  • Fulbright Senior Specialists Program: Rolling deadline.

For more information or to register and apply online, visit Back to top

Sailor wins national title
Senior Anna Tunnicliffe has won the 2005 Quantum Trophy as the Women’s Collegiate Sailor of the Year. She was also named a first-team Ronstan ICSA Collegiate All-American.

Tunnicliffe, who is the first collegiate sailor to win three straight Singlehanded National Championships, recently helped guide the Lady Monarchs to fourth at the ICSA North American Women’s Champ-ionships, teaming with Emily Bartlett to capture the A Division. Back to top

Sophomore selected for LaGrant Foundation award
Sophomore Bailey Mosier is one of 10 ethnic minority students who will be awarded a scholarship from the LaGrant Foundation June 13 in New York City.

Mosier, of Las Vegas, a communications major and member of the women’s golf team, was selected from a nationwide pool of more than 100 applicants, all pursuing careers in advertising, marketing and public relations.

The LaGrant Foundation’s mission is to increase the number of ethnic minorities in the fields of advertising, marketing and public relations by providing scholarships, career development workshops, enrichment programs, professional development, mentors and internships to African Americans, American Indians/Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans and Hispanics/Latinos. Back to top

Student art at airport
Students who took the art department’s Senior Show class this spring will exhibit some of their artwork at Norfolk International Airport through the end of June. The exhibition is in the garden terrace area, next to BB&T Bank.

The class, taught by Fred Bayersdorfer, instructor of art and arts assistant to the dean, teaches students how to arrange for and promote their own shows. Back to top

“American Idols Live” coming to Constant Center
“American Idols Live,” a tour featuring the top 10 contestants from the popular Fox television series, is coming to the Ted Con-stant Convocation Center at 7 p.m. Sept. 4.

Tickets, priced at $36.50 and $46.50, may be purchased at the Constant Center box office, TicketMaster outlets, online at or by phone, 671-8100. Back to top

Summer camps offered
The athletic department has posted its summer 2005 camp offerings online. To see what is available, visit the Web site (click on camps online) or call 683-4358. For a listing of non-athletic camps, go to
Back to top

Colleges, library announce yearly awards

Five of ODU’s six academic colleges and the University Libraries presented their annual faculty and staff awards this spring. (The Darden College of Education will present its awards in August.)

The College of Arts and Letters gave the following awards, all of which include $1,000 prizes.

  • Robert L. Stern Award for Excellence in Teaching – Victoria Time, associate professor of sociology and criminal justice.
  • Distinguished Adjunct Award – Aaron Karp, adjunct professor of political science and geography.
  • Charles O. and Elisabeth C. Burgess Faculty Research and Creativity Award – Frederick Lubich, professor of German and chair of foreign languages and literatures.

The College of Business and Public Administration presented five awards for 2004-05.

  • Faculty Service Award – Anusorn Singhapakdi, professor of marketing. The $500 award recognizes outstanding service to the department, university and community.
  • Faculty Teaching Award – Ed Markowski, professor of information technology/decision sciences. This $500 award is based on student evaluations, grade distributions, breadth of teaching duties and rigor of courses as illustrated by the nominee’s teaching portfolio for the previous two years.
  • Faculty Research Award – Li Xu, professor of information technology/decision sciences. This $500 award is given in recognition of journal articles and conference proceedings published, research grants awarded and seminars given over the past five years.
  • Faculty Advising Award – Kiran Karande, assistant professor of marketing. This $1,000 award is presented to the faculty member who has excelled in advising students on how to be successful in college and beyond.
  • Outstanding Staff Member – Katrina Davenport, program support technician. This $250 award honors excellence for providing assistance to students, faculty and administrators.

The Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology presented five faculty and staff awards. Each winner received an acrylic award and a reserved parking space for a year.

  • Excellence in Faculty Advising – Glenn Gerdin, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.
  • Excellence in Industry Partnering – Ahmed K. Noor, eminent scholar and professor of aerospace engineering.
  • Excellence in Research – Mounir Laroussi, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.
  • Excellence in Support Operations – Hero Barker, fiscal technician.
  • Excellence in Teaching – Osman Akan, professor of civil and environmental engineering.

The College of Health Sciences presented two faculty awards for 2004-05.

  • Gene W. Hirschfeld Faculty Excellence Award – Stacey B. Plichta, associate professor of community and environmental health. The award includes a $1,000 check.
  • Lindsay Rettie Faculty Research Award – Faye E. Coleman, associate professor and director of medical technology in the School of Medical Laboratory and Radiation Sciences.

Two faculty members from the physics department and a lecturer in psychology won top faculty honors in the College of Sciences.

  • Faculty Excellence Award – Lawrence Weinstein, professor of physics. This is the college’s highest honor and includes a $1,000 prize.
  • Distinguished Teaching Faculty Award – Gary Copeland, professor of physics. This honor includes a $500 award.
  • Distinguished Teaching Lecturer Award – Jennifer Younkin, lecturer of psychology. This award includes a $500 prize.
  • Outstanding Undergraduate Adviser – Charles Sukenik associate professor of physics. This recognition carries a $1,000 award.
  • Outstanding Laboratory Instructor – Jennifer Ambler, graduate student in ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences. This award includes a $250 prize.

The University Libraries presented its annual Librarian of the Year and Staff Member of the Year awards May 12. Both recipients received $200 and will have their names engraved on a plaque displayed in Perry Library.

  • Librarian of the Year – Stuart Frazer, interlibrary loan librarian.
  • Staff Member of the Year – Tracey Bowry, acquisitions coordinator for bibliographic services. Back to top

CBFA award goes to Janis Sanchez-Hucles
The Coalition of Black Faculty and Administrators presented its Distinguished Service Award last month to psychology professor Janis Sanchez-Hucles.

At the award ceremony, it was said of her, “In her more than 20 years at this institution, she has always been a vocal leader for the interests of African American faculty, students and staff. There is no public or private forum where she has not raised these issues in a manner that has required a response and led to action.” Back to top

Employees pledge over $150,000 to annual fund
Nearly 700 employees contributed to this year’s Campus Community Campaign, pledging a total of $152,798. Part of ODU’s annual fund drive known as the Dominion Fund, the campaign saw a 10 percent jump over last year’s giving, and the 690 donors represented a 26 percent increase over the number of employees who contributed in 2004. The average gift was $221.45.

The Dominion Fund raises money for everything from library materials to student scholarships.

The President’s Office/Alumni/Development division and the College of Business and Public Administration won awards for achieving the two highest participation rates across the university, 86 percent and 71 percent, respectively.

Ram Dahiya, eminent scholar of mathematics and statistics, won the drawing for a reserved parking space for one year. The drawing was open to everyone who made a gift of $100 or more to the campaign. Susan Irwin, bindery coordinator at Perry Library, won two basketball season tickets in the drawing for donors who contributed $100 or more to the Big Blue Club. Back to top

Journal of Race and Policy publishes its first edition
B Y J A M E S J. L I D I N G T O N

Building a bridge between academics and policy makers is the aim of a new journal published by Old Dominion University.

The Journal of Race and Policy, edited by Michael L. Clemons, associate professor of political science and geography and director of ODU’s Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, recently published its first edition. Jie Chen, professor of political science and geography, is associate editor.

To be produced annually during the spring/summer by the institute, the journal is a forum for the presentation of research in the areas of education, employment, health care, citizen participation, scholarly investigation and social justice. Its publication is supported by a gift to the university from Frank Batten, the founder of Landmark Communications.

Clemons isn’t aware of any other American scholarly journals that similarly address race and policy issues. “A lot of times, we don’t communicate,” he said of scholars and public officials. “A major thrust of the journal is going to be to bridge that gap.”

The first issue features eight articles, including some by Old Dominion faculty. One, “Beyond the Race Gap in Education: The Status of African-American Education in South Hampton Roads” by ODU’s Gail Singleton Taylor, analyzes results from Virginia’s Standards of Learning tests and says that, judged on SOL test scores alone, the educational prognosis of African American students in the region is bleak.

Despite some evidence of a decrease in the racial academic gap, Taylor writes that data exist which point to the deficiency of the tests themselves. High-stakes tests have been considered by some as culturally biased, statistically weak and shame-inducing for the purpose of maintaining a low-wage work force. It would be a mistake to accept these scores wholesale and not be aware of some of the political motivations behind their reportage, Taylor says.

In “Peanuts, Pigs, Trash and Prisons: The Politics of Punishment in the Old Dominion and Sussex County,” Adolphus G. Belk Jr. of North Carolina’s Winthrop University discusses what he calls the “prison-industrial complex.” He argues that prisons have more to do with profits – both financial and political – and social control of the poor than with crime, rehabilitation or justice.

The article considers the impact the complex has had on the political, social and economic well-being of communities in which prisons are located.

Other articles include: “Making Sense of Race, I: The Ideology of Race, the Biology of Human Variation and the Problem of Medical and Public Health Research” by Adolph Reed Jr., an internationally known expert in his field from the University of Pennsylvania; “Black State Legislators Addressing Post-Welfare Reform: Rhetoric or Responsiveness?” by Randolph Burnside of the University of Mississippi and Virginia Haysley-Jordan of James Madison Univer-sity; and “Competence Across the Life Span:

A Response to the HIV/AIDS Dilemma” by ODU’s Richardean Benjamin and Vanessa Sheppard of Georgetown University.

Clemons wrote one article, titled “Political Support, Discrimination and Power: Exploring the Effects of Race and Empowerment.”

The journal includes an introduction and an article, “The Reconstruction of Race in Higher Education: Hope Now,” by Naomi Zack of the University of Oregon philosophy department.

The journal is currently accepting manuscripts for its 2006 issue, which will deal with the correlation between race and policy formation, implementation and results, and for the 2007 issue, which will focus on Asian Americans. Research dealing with race and its impact on social resource allocation and considered policy-oriented solutions for identified problems are of particular interest. Research is invited on an ongoing basis for a special section addressing the status of race and policy in Hampton Roads and the commonwealth of Virginia. Back to top

Who's Who: Keith Underwood, Information Technician, Office of Computing and Communications Services
Keith Underwood loves people. You know it not only because he says it, but also because of the way he says it – a soft whisper, an exaggerated “uh” in love, a smile in his voice. You know it, too, by the way he bounces from office to office, fixing people’s computer problems while simultaneously installing smiles on their faces.

He has always had a desire to make others smile, but the 16-year Army Reserve veteran feels that need even more so after being called up and serving a year in Kuwait as part of the war in Iraq. Underwood, who has worked in OCCS for five years, traded his Old Dominion office for a desert tent, and the experience was something he cherishes.

“It changed me so much I don’t think it can be measured,” said Underwood, who was responsible for the air movement of the Army’s Chinook helicopters. “I got a chance to talk to people about their world, what they think of the United States. I got real answers from them, not what the media tell us. That was so awesome.”

The profound difference in lifestyles between the U.S. and the Middle East was another lesson Underwood still carries with him a year after his return.

“The little things mean so much more to me now,” he said. “We have so much. To appreciate this country, you’ve got to travel.”

– Jennifer Mullen

Birth date: July 10, 1965

Hometown: Pensacola, Fla., and Long Island, N.Y.

Pet peeve: Traffic backups in the tunnels for no reason

Most memorable ODU experience: As a technical service provider of several buildings/areas, I was able to meet, help and interact with some wonderful people on campus. Smiles are contagious.

Most treasured possession in my office: My computer, of course. It’s my doorway to the world of information. In this field that is forever changing, the ability to get information and learn about new technologies is so important.

People I admire most at the university: The athletic coaches and coaching staff. I have had the awesome experience of seeing what goes on behind the scenes in athletic programs – all the hard work that goes into building a season. Most people have no idea of the hoops that they jump through, no idea what goes into an athletic program. From budgets, recruiting, training and practicing to staying on the players to meet the academic challenge. A coach’s job is to hone those skills and narrow the focus of persons with all different backgrounds, nationalities and personalities to perform as a single interactive unit. The coaches must get them to focus their attention on two goals: getting good grades and the almighty WIN.

Last book read: “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks

Favorite movie: “The Shawshank Redemption”

Four people (living or dead) I would like to meet: David H. Hackworth, Martin Luther King Jr., Colin Powell and Harriet Tubman

Greatest accomplishment: Learning to golf. I can’t say I am much good at it. But unless you are on the tour, everybody is practicing.

Activities or organizations outside the university: I help many organizations with all phases of computer work. My focus is kids and exposing them to the awesome tool we call a PC.

Favorite song: Rochelle Ferrell’s “Peace on Earth”

Perfect day off: An 8 a.m. tee time in 65-degree weather, in my hot tub by 9 p.m. The middle won’t matter as long as it contains laughs and smiles.

Hobbies: Flying radio-controlled planes, cooking, home improvement, working on an Asian garden with a water feature

Favorite TV show: I am not much of a television watcher, but I like Jerry Seinfeld.

Favorite meal: Shrimp and lobster marinara over linguine

Favorite sports: Basketball and football, but I love all sports

Last vacation: Europe – Rome, Venice, Naples and Germany

Favorite area restaurants: 456 Fish, Club Soda and Bone Fish Grill

Last smart thing I did: Sold my motorcycle

Last dumb thing I did: Didn’t sell it for enough money

Profession, other than the one I’m in, that interests me: Chef/bistro owner

Appropriate epitaph: He loved simply, he loved deeply and he laughed often. Like the circus clown, he did what he could to bring smiles to others. Back to top

“Sacred-plants conservation:” Biologist advocates religious appeal to plant seeds of environmental practices in poor countries

Lytton Musselman is chair of the biological sciences department, an authority on plants mentioned in sacred texts and a devout environmentalist. So when Islamic clerics in Tanzania make reference to the sanctity of Allah’s creations in order to persuade fishermen to preserve a coral reef, he rejoices.

He downloaded this bit of news from the Web because it reinforces a formal strategy he has been developing over the last few years. He believes most government regulations fall short of their goal of promoting environmental conservation among subsistence fishermen, farmers and other salt-of-the-earth peoples. To reach them with a “green” message, he says, environmentalists should make a concerted religious appeal.

Near the island of Misali off Tanzania on the east coast of Africa, fishermen were using dynamite and otherwise flouting environmental regulations in order to scare up sustenance from an ever-dwindling supply of fish. In the process, they were destroying the fishes’ natural habitat. Local religious leaders began emphasizing Islamic teachings about conservation in their sermons, however, and the fishermen paid attention, according to a BBC Web news report. Today, the fishermen are practicing sustainable fishing. Not only has the size and quality of their catch improved, but also the region is getting an economic boost from tourism.

Musselman, who has a special interest in ethnobotany, has published articles and delivered lectures both in the United States and abroad about plants that are mentioned in the Koran, Bible and other sacred texts, including those of Buddhism. He was in Aleppo, Syria, in late April to advance his sacred-plants conservationist strategy at an agricultural biodiversity conference of the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA).

“I went thinking I was going to deliver a speech, but I found I was delivering a keynote speech,” he says. There were more than 100 conferees and “we were very, very encouraged” by the reported progress in the protection of endangered plants.

The Mesopotamia region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in present-day Iraq and Syria is sometimes called the birthplace of civilization. It also is located within what was once the Fertile Crescent, home to an extraordinarily diverse plant life. Many of the grains, beans and fruits that feed the world today were bred from crops cultivated in ancient Mesopotamia. But this botanical ancestry is threatened there and elsewhere today by environmental degradation and by the dwindling role that indigenous plants and traditional practices play in agriculture.

A surprisingly large percentage of the world’s farmers, even among those at the subsistence level, are using modern agricultural practices that promote short-term bounty over sustainable productivity.

This agricultural equivalent of strip mining can deplete what Musselman calls “cultural and religious keystone species” in a region. On the other hand, conservationist practices promote agricultural biodiversity, which, in turn, promotes sustainable cultivation of the most disease-resistant and, often, best-tasting, crops.

Musselman said in the unlikely, but possible, scenario of natural events or diseases decimating modern breeds of a major grain such as corn or wheat, many would starve. But the disaster would be of world-changing proportions if a gene bank were not available to restore seed stock.

“In this Mesopotamian region we have agricultural biodiversity of inestimable importance,” Musselman says. “And the stewards of this gene bank are simple farmers. How do we interface with them? How do we tell them that Western ways aren’t best? We need a post-modern approach. We have to deconstruct imperialism.” Many colonies, he said, were pushed into agricultural practices that de-emphasized traditional farming and sustainability in favor of quick rewards for the imperial country.

His post-modern approach involves a conservationist message that appeals to religious ethics. In the case of Muslim farmers, ethics and religion are one in the same, he notes.

Musselman is an unabashed Christian, but says his religious beliefs are not a stumbling block when he works with Muslim colleagues or proposes religion-based conservationism in Islamic lands. “Muslims respect religion,” he says, and they do not believe that religion impedes science. “This is despite what we think in the secular West, where science has become the religion.”

He developed the presentation for the ICARDA conference in conjunction with Kushan Tennakoon, visiting assistant professor of biological sciences at ODU from Perideniya University in Sri Lanka; Mohammad Al Zein, a Lebanese doctoral student in plant sciences at ODU, and T. Robert Sampson, instructor of sciences at Edwardes College in Pakistan.

Speaking at conferences such as ICARDA’s is one way to get his message out. He also envisions internships within academe and bureaucracies to expose a young generation of environmental scientists to the possibilities of the sacred-plants appeal.

The research of Musselman and his three colleagues shows that poor fishermen and farmers throughout the Second and Third Worlds tend to have the deity “more active in their lives and see God or gods active in creation and nature,” he says. So when conservationists make their appeals to these peoples, religion will have more traction than laws or secular ethics.

An Islamic appeal could bolster one ICARDA initiative. The organization is encouraging Syrian farmers to grow indigenous crops, to eschew potentially soil-poisoning irrigation, and to avoid herbicidal destruction of wild plants growing adjacent to cropland, including wild progenitors of the crops. This would give natural selection a freer reign, and protect the irreplaceable gene bank. Traditional Mesopotamian varieties of barley, wheat, legumes, flax, cherries, peaches and pomegranates could grow within the environment that produced them. Musselman said recent research indicates the seeds containing this gene bank are more sustainable in the field than in climate-controlled storehouses.

He contends that many governmental leaders and scientists are little aware of the importance of plants in the Koran, Bible and other sacred texts. Plant references in these writings are to cultural and religious keystone species. So, in a word, environmental decision makers are missing a chance to “resacralize” nature, as he puts it, in order to promote the environmental practices that protect biodiversity.

Even in lands where the need for wood is great and forests have been felled, trees have been spared around sacred sites such as burial grounds and places of worship, he points out.

“Both the Bible and the Koran refer to the utility of trees for food, animal feed, oil, woodfuel and construction,” Musselman wrote in an article for the United Nations publication Unasylva in 2003. Both also “abound in references to trees as gifts from the deity. Like the features of size, longevity and beauty, the utility of trees adds to the perception that they have divine attributes.”

Together with the religious significance, some species – the cedar of Lebanon is a prime example – have come to be national symbols, as well.

Musselman says American colonists tended to link the deity with nature, but that environmentalism and religion are not aligned in the nation today. He doubts that the American audience can readily be persuaded to conservationism by religious appeals featuring “plants with iconic cultic value.”

That is why he believes sacred-plants conservationist appeals will be best received in poorer countries where the deity is more a part of everyday life. These peoples are more likely to believe that the olive, or grape, or fig, has religious significance, and thus may be more willing to expand their respect for sacred plants into a broader green behavior.

At the same time, Musselman adds, any effort of scientists and other environmentalists or governments to change the practices of subsistence farmers in order to protect a botanical gene bank may appear to be motivated by selfishness of industrial nations. If subsistence farmers are asked to give up short-term crop gains in exchange for long-term benefits, “they have to be protected and they have to be honored,” he says.

If long-term environmental and economic benefits result from sacred-plants appeals, and if the “good-for-the-soul” satisfaction of green behavior is contagious, Musselman says, the movement may sweep into the more secular, industrialized nations. He says he sees signs of new religiosity in the U.S. and believes religious environmentalism will eventually have its day in his own country.

A frequent lecturer at the Au Sable Institute in Michigan, which is devoted to Christian environmentalism, Musselman contends, “Much of post-modernism may be rubbish, but I believe it is building a bridge between the secular world of science and religious faith.” Back to top

Dominion Scholar continues family tradition at EVMS
Graduating senior Deboki Chaudhuri, who was recognized in May as one of ODU’s Dominion Scholars, came by his achievement naturally.

The Hampton native is the youngest of four siblings, all of whom compiled impressive academic records at the university.

When he enters Eastern Virginia Medical School in August, Deboki will join his brother Krishna, who enrolled at EVMS after graduating from Old Dominion two years ago. His brother Madhu is a December 2003 graduate who stayed on at the university to pursue a master’s degree in business administration. A sister, Lakshmi, who graduated from ODU in 1994 and from EVMS, is a physician working in Williamsburg.

“As the youngest child, I feel like I was blessed to have older siblings and parents to use as role models,” Deboki said. “It made decisions in my journey much easier so that I could focus on things that would bring me the most success.”

The siblings are the children of Tapan and Chhanda Chaudhuri. The father is a physician at the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center in Hampton.

Deboki, who majored in biological sciences, graduated with a 3.99 GPA. Back to top

Clock building vs. time telling
Professor of Management

Imagine that someone is very good at telling the time. He looks at the sun and instantly claims: “It is June 1, 2005, 12 o’clock, 43 minutes and 35 seconds.” He is incredible, a genius at telling time. Now, imagine that another person, instead of telling the time, builds a clock that tells the time. The time teller will be gone someday, but the clock will last, telling the time even after the life of its builder.

This analogy, from a lecture on intellectual history and the Newtonian revolution by professor Alan Charles Kors of the University of Pennsylvania, is something I use in my teaching. I try to make my students clock builders rather than time tellers. What is a “clock” in education? It is the mindset, the ability and the inspiration that enable students to acquire new knowledge, understand new phenomena and apply their knowledge in a systematic way throughout a lifetime of learning. The teacher’s job is to make such an imprint on the student.

Clock building takes time. It needs patience and investment, and carries the risk of failure. Time telling, on the other hand, is fun and provides instant gratification. Unfortunately, we are often pressured to seek instant gratification. For instance, we need good student evaluations now – not words of appreciation from our students 10 years after they graduate.

At the end of the spring semester, I used professor Kors’ analogy of clock building vs. time telling to conclude one of my classes. To make the discussion more relevant, I presented the students a scenario about two fictitious students. Both are young, single and equally intelligent, and both attend college full time. One works full time to earn money; the other takes out a student loan. I asked my students which is preferable. Most chose the working student. When I asked why, most of them answered, “You can buy more stuff” and “Taking a loan is risky; what if I cannot pay it back?”

This is precisely my point. While I admire those students who work to support themselves through college, and while I recognize that some must work to support a family, I think in many cases students are better off taking out a loan. This is especially true if the student works for the wrong reasons. One wrong reason is that “I work so that I can buy stuff” or “I need to pay for my sports car.” In other words, “I want instance gratification” (at the cost of long-term reward).

I suggest that these students should instead take out a loan and concentrate on their studies so that they can increase their earning ability beyond paying for a sports car. Another wrong reason is: “I am not sure that I can get a better job after college. Thus, I’d better keep my current job.” Students who think this way lack self-confidence and tend to not fare as well as they could. They are afraid of taking risks. And their prediction often becomes self-fulfilling.

A week after my lecture, I received a long e-mail from one of the students in my class. In the opening, he said, “I just wanted to thank you for the last bit of advice you gave in class about being a clock maker or time teller. I had been thinking a lot about a career choice I had made and your advice helped me think much more clearly about my situation.”

His life goal is to fly fighter jets and he plans to go to a highly competitive program in which only a very few will be selected as pilots. Before he goes, however, he has several months of free time. He can either work to make some money or take private flying lessons to improve his odds in the competition.

He wrote that before hearing the analogy I presented, “I was planning on working a lot and was just going to use the money to do a few vacations here and there. … I didn’t want to go take private pilot courses to get me ready for flight school because they are expensive and I wouldn’t be able to buy ... stuff ... if I took them. I really didn’t think twice about the stupidity of that decision until your class Thursday.

“If flying jets is my dream why shouldn’t I take out a small loan in order to make myself significantly more competitive?... I would regret it for the rest of my life if I did not do what I could to achieve my goals. Your lecture really helped me realize that I am the one in charge of where my life is heading and I need to take control of it, making sacrifices if necessary to help facilitate the steps I need to take to accomplish my goals.

“For the first time I really feel like I know what I’m doing, you helped me to see that. Once again, thanks for the advice. As I told you it has made all the difference in the world. I’m going to take private pilot courses this summer to give me an edge on the competition down there. In a couple years when I’m flying my jet I will definitely remember your class and the advice you gave, and I will pass it on whenever I can.”
I sat in front of my computer screen, reading this e-mail several times, enjoying this precious moment. What more could I ask for in my teaching? The best reward we as teachers can get is that students value our advice, which makes a difference in their lives. For academics, research projects may fail, lectures may be boring, but never give up on clock building, never give up on our students. As Old Dominion says, our mission is “changing lives,” one at a time.
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Mass comm. major named BOV student representative
Naaila Gray, a native of Williamsburg, has been selected as the student representative to the Board of Visitors. A rising senior majoring in mass communication, she was appointed to the board for a one-year term which began May 7.

Gray, who is minoring in English with a journalism emphasis, is an Honors College student, has been on the dean’s list her entire college career and is the recipient of the Hampton Roads Scholarship. She received the Outstanding Leadership Award from the university’s Office of Student Activities and Leadership.

On campus, she has served as president of Sword of the Spirit, and has been a member of the Communications Club and Real Talk Spanish. She plans to work in student services office next fall.

In her community, Gray has served as a motivational speaker for youth programs and is the founder of Life After High School, a program designed to help students prepare a post-graduation plan. She is the youth minister at Church of the Living Word in Gloucester. Back to top

“What we’re seeing is builders are reacting a lot different than they did in earlier housing booms. That’s really good. It makes it much less likely there will be problems in the housing market.” (Gilbert R. Yochum, professor of economics)

– “Area economy shows signs of slowing”
Daily Press, May 27

“PG-13 is the gold standard. That’s what you want to get on your film because it maximizes box office potential. The idea of family entertainment doesn’t have the kind of draw with preteens and teenagers that it used to have.” (Gary Edgerton, chair of communication and theatre arts)

– “The end of the beginning: PG-13 rating roils the empire”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 18

“The issue then is the corrosion rate. Is it going so fast that we should be worried? Or do we have time to wait? That’s the question we have to answer first. We need to know where this is going.” (Desmond C. Cook, professor of physics)

– “Monitor’s engine gets a new home”
Daily Press, May 13

“Football could serve as a crystallizing factor, producing a new generation of invigorated students and alumni. The importance of a football program is not quantifiable – there is no price tag for building tradition.” (Ross A. Mugler, vice rector of the Board of Visitors, in an op-ed article)

– “With ODU’s growth and momentum, it’s time for football to bloom”
The Virginian-Pilot, May 12

“Major metropolitan areas all up and down the eastern seaboard from Miami to Boston are potentially impacted by a rising sea level.” (David J. Burdige, professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences, commenting on an EPA report that the coming century may seen an average sea level rise of almost two feet)

– “Rising sea level is among global warming threats”, May 12

“This one is for my dad. The only thing he ever wanted was for me to graduate from college.” (May graduate Vanessa Felipe, whose mortarboard featured a photo of her father, who died in 2000, and the words: “I love you Papa, I hope I made you proud.”)

– “Area’s grads bid a formal adieu”
The Virginian-Pilot, May 8

“A lot of people believe that feminism is just about women’s issues, and I believe that feminism is about everyone’s issues.” (Rebecca Fogerty, assistant director, Women’s Center)

– “ODU activities support positive image of feminism”
The Virginian-Pilot, May 5

“Who the stay-at-home mom is is changing. Stay-at-home moms aren’t the women who never went to college and only ever wanted to be a mother. This is a highly educated group of women.” (Debra A. Major, professor of psychology)

– “Stay-at-home moms feel compelled to defend their decision to give up work”
Tidewater Parent, May

“He’s in a fraternity on campus. He’s a guy in a relationship with a girl who writes about sex, so I guess that makes him pretty cool.” (Anita Cafiero, an international studies, economics and sociology major, on her boyfriend’s support of her column in the Mace & Crown, “Just Sex, With Anita”)

– “Sex (unwrapped)
The Virginian-Pilot, April 30

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