At Boise State, we do things a little differently than other universities. That’s true in the College of Arts and Sciences, as well, and we take pride in the resulting benefits for our students and the broader community.
Please take a few minutes to read about some of the innovative things we’re working on in COAS.
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Boise State University
Boise State Biophysicist Awarded NIH Grant to Study How the Genome Works
It’s rare for a faculty member in any physics department to earn a federal grant administered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but that is exactly what Boise State assistant professor and biophysicist Matt Ferguson has done.
On July 1, Ferguson was awarded a three-year, $410,000 NIH Academic Research Enhancement Award to study and help explain the basic functions of the human genome.
“This award will fund the main focus of my research, which is how to visualize the splicing and transcription of RNA, which is a fundamental process in biology,” Ferguson said.
First, a basic biology lesson: All life forms, including human genes, consist of strands of DNA that pair together to form double helixes. Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) is made from DNA, and is used to create protein in the body out of amino acids – a vital function.
“The big question that I’m trying to answer with my research is, how does the genome work?” he explained. “About 15 years ago we finished sequencing the human genome, we know all the letters in the book of life, but we don’t yet know its grammar and syntax.”
Boise State Researchers Awarded $1.6 Million to Develop Video Training Modules for Math Teachers
Boise State researchers have been awarded a $1.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support innovation in middle- and high-school math teacher preparation. The four-year grant allows the research team to develop a series of video-based online learning modules to be used in an undergraduate mathematics course for future secondary math teachers.
“This project aims to improve prospective teachers’ ability to recognize, analyze and make connections between students’ ideas in functional reasoning contexts,” said Laurie Cavey, principal investigator of the project. “The concept of function is a critical component in current standards for teaching mathematics, yet many students leave high school with serious limitations in their ability to reason with functions. The type of mathematical knowledge teachers need to build a robust understanding in their students is often inadequately developed through existing coursework.
The Boise State research team includes Cavey, an associate professor of mathematics; Patrick Lowenthal, an associate professor of educational technology; Michele Carney, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction and foundational studies; and Tatia Totorica, a clinical instructor in the IDoTeach program. They are joined by Jason Libberton, an Idaho regional math specialist with Idaho State University.
COAS Faculty And Students Showcased in New Institutional Television Ad
What are you doing today? That’s the question posed in the new Boise State University institutional message, which made its debut Sept. 2 on ESPN during Boise State football’s 24-13 win over Troy.
The 30-second spot highlights students and faculty in various locations on campus and in downtown Boise. It is designed to show the enthusiasm for success at Boise State and the proximity of our campus to a vibrant metropolitan area. The overarching theme spans everything from scientific research to the arts, and is an homage to human determination for one’s chosen field, whether that means starting a business before you graduate, learning from a modern master or “bleeding blue” with pride for the university.
Boise State Earns National Recognition for Success with Retention, Graduation Rates
Boise State University is one of five universities in the nation being recognized for innovative efforts to help students stay in college and complete their degrees.
As part of its ongoing efforts to increase degree completion, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) announced Boise State University, Colorado State University, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of Texas at Austin, and Western Michigan University as finalists for its 2017 Project Degree Completion Award. The annual prize works to identify, recognize and reward institutions that employ innovative approaches to improve retention and degree completion.
“This past year has been really another one of excitement and accomplishment at Boise State,” President Bob Kustra noted in his State of the University address on Aug. 16. “Our first-year retention rate is now up to somewhere between 78 percent and 80 percent, depending on how you count. And it’s amazing when you stop and think, that was 60 percent a few years ago, and that’s a lot of hard work by faculty, by staff, advisors – there’s so much that goes into that – the leadership of the provost’s office. It’s amazing to see that number increase as it has.”
Name a Boise Foothills Plant
Ongoing collaborative research between Boise State University and the College of Idaho has discovered that one of the more common species of plants in the Boise foothills is a currently undescribed species. This plant is perhaps the most common early yellow-flowered plant in Military Reserve Park. The research involves tracing the evolutionary history of species using DNA sequencing. Essentially uncovering a “family tree” but on a much larger scale.
While building the tree for the plant genus Lomatium, or biscuit-roots, it has become clear that one of the branches is not as closely related to previously named species as thought and instead represents an entirely distinct lineage that lacks a name. This work has been a collaboration between Dr. James Smith of the Department of Biological Sciences at Boise State University, Dr. Don Mansfield at College of Idaho and undergraduates working in both of their labs.
We are seeking a donor who would like to support this research and, in return, to have the opportunity to name this new species. The donor will work directly with Drs. Smith and Mansfield to designate the new species name and to follow all nomenclatural rules (o assign the name which will forever be assigned to this unique plant. The name might be based on your loved one, the name of someone you want to honor, real or fictional, living or deceased, all with the proper Greek or Latin formulation.
Proteins Developed at Boise State Effectively Fight 58 Types of Tumors
Boise State University researchers have created anti-cancer drugs that are effective at killing 58 of the 60 types of tumors found in the National Cancer Institutes NCI-60 panel of cancer cells, which affect nine organ systems in the human body.
In a new research paper, biological sciences professors Abdelkrim Alileche and Greg Hampikian report that two drugs, 9R and 9S1, are effective against 58 of the 60 tumors. Their work was sponsored by a grant from the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation.
The proteins, commonly known as Nullomers, are the shortest nucleotide or amino acids sequences absent from nature. In 2007, Hampikian and fellow Boise State researcher Tim Andersen discovered and published the complete list of shortest absent protein sequences for all sequenced life on earth. This led to their research on how the absence of these short sequences could affect the human genome.
Keith Stein Blue Thunder Marching Band Seeks Crowdfunding Support for Uniforms
Boise State University’s Keith Stein Blue Thunder Marching Band is one of the largest student organization on campus. Every year, they entertain thousands of Bronco fans while providing continuous support and energy for community and athletic events.
Because of this welcoming culture along with the continued growth of Boise State, the quality of the Athletics Department, the attractiveness of the City of Boise and more, Blue Thunder has seen substantial growth in the last few years…it’s exciting!
This does, however, create a new set of challenges, particularly when it comes to providing uniforms for their members. Currently, they have students that are wearing uniforms that do not fit properly, and are out of options to remedy this with our current uniforms. More importantly, they are facing having to cap the number of students allowed to participate in Blue Thunder Marching Band simply because they do not have uniforms available.
Campus Community Remembers Anthropology Professor Virginia Cox
T. Virginia Cox, associate professor emerita of anthropology, passed away Aug. 6 at the age of 79. She will be remembered by the campus community for her leadership and passion for introducing students to the field of anthropology.
“My first course in cultural anthropology was with Ginny Cox in 1981,” said anthropology lecturer Kendall House. “I took a half dozen more classes from her before I graduated. Ginny was ahead of her time in centering her courses on students. She gave you complete responsibility for learning, and allowed you to choose most of what you read. Student presentations were as frequent as her own lectures. In her classes I learned the hard way how to develop original research papers. I began to take initiative and find my own way – habits that proved to be enormously helpful at graduate school. Most importantly, I came to realize that anthropology was whatever I could make of it, rather than a curriculum defined by someone else.”
COAS IN ACTION
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
Pei-Lin Yu has been selected by the National Park Service to study how national parks measure the vulnerability of their cultural heritage resources to climate change. Assisted by anthropology graduate researcher Connor Neal, Yu will conduct a nationwide analysis to help parks identify vulnerability indicators and assess best practices for quantifying vulnerability so parks can have a strong basis for funding actions to protect our cultural heritage from climate change. This project is funded through the Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, a national science network.
Professor and Chair Department of Psychological Sciences
In collaboration with researchers in Argentina and Italy, Roberto Refinetti studied the timing of behavior of the domestic cat and eight of the ten species of South American wild cats. The results were published in the journal of Physiology and Behavior in an article titled “Daily rhythmicity of behavior of nine species of South American feral felids in captivity.”
Assistant Professor, Department of World Languages
Kelly Arispe presented a paper at the EUROCALL conference in Southampton, England, on Aug. 25. The title of her presentation was “Meeting the advanced-level oral proficiency challenge with ubiquitous technology and performance-based assessments,” and reflects her research and pedagogical innovation with advanced level students in the Spanish program
- Aug. 20-Sept. 24: The Student Union Exhibition Series presents “SEEN” by Carissa Sindon
- Aug. 28-Oct. 27: Biennial Art Department Faculty Exhibition
- Sept. 21: Artist Hasan Elahi Talks Art, Surveillance and Citizenship
- Sept. 24: Symphony Orchestra Concert
- Sept. 25:Distinguished Lecture Series Featuing Azar Nafisi
- Sept. 25-29: Celebrate Banned Books Week
- Sept. 28-Oct. 8: Theatre Arts Performance – Journey’s End
ABOUT THE COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
The College of Arts and Sciences enhances the scientific, ethical, and cultural foundation of our society through education, research, creative activity, and community engagement, thereby improving individual and collective quality of life. Our faculty, staff, and students discover and share knowledge, understand and appreciate diversity, create and analyze art, and engage and enrich our local and global communities. The College of Arts and Sciences is made up of sixteen departments, five interdisciplinary programs and six research units.