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2018 August Newsletter

picture of header and students of COAS newsletter












August, 2018

Dear Friends,

Late August is one of the most exciting times of the year on campus.  The energy and capability of new students and colleagues animates our classrooms, our labs, and our studios.  Meanwhile colleagues who have traveled, researched, created and rejuvenated are back in force, bringing with them fresh ideas and novel experiences that make the air crackle with possibility.

The stories you’ll find below reveal some potent examples of COAS energy and insight in action. From an interdisciplinary team of scientists and filmmakers telling the story of volcano research, to the chance to experience new fiction from one of Boise State’s most highly regarded literary voices in concert with striking faculty visual art, to one of our college’s seasoned leaders taking on a new university-level administrative challenge, to several other stories chronicling the great work and opportunities across our disciplines, you’ll see why this is an exciting time for the College of Arts and Sciences at Boise State.

Later in the newsletter, you’ll learn more about Boise State’s first ever “Bronco Giving Day.”  Thursday, September 13th marks a 36-hour online giving campaign to benefit colleges, departments, athletics, and more across campus.  Please consider showing your support in whatever way you can, whether it’s by donation, becoming a social media ambassador, or through contributing to a funding match program.

Thank you for being part of the COAS community!


Leslie Durham

Interim Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Boise State University

Boise State Volcano Film Project Receives National Geographic Grant

picture of professor Jeff JohnsonA $50,000 grant from the National Geographic Society will help Jeffrey Johnson, an associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, and Zach Voss, a filmmaker and Boise State alumnus, tell the story of volcano research.

Beginning this fall, Johnson, Voss and Boise State students will travel to active volcanoes around the world to film Boise State researchers and their international partners at work. Filming will begin in September at Stromboli, a volcano off the coast of Sicily that’s been erupting since the 1930s. It will continue next year in Latin America. Editing will take place later on campus with assistance from Rulon Wood, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication who teaches filmmaking. The project will represent an interdisciplinary dovetailing of science and art.

“As a scientist my desire is to communicate to the public about what volcano science is, and what we do,” said Johnson. His specialties include eruption dynamics and the use of infrasound to monitor volcanoes. He and Voss share a common goal of telling the story of volcano researchers without “dumbing down” the science —a common trend in STEM, or science, technology, engineering or math-based documentaries.


Fiction Reading with Mitch Wieland at MING Studios

picture of artworkBoise State Professor Mitch Wieland will read from his new novel, Strange You Never Knew, at 6 p.m., Sept. 13 at Ming Studios at 420 S. 6th St.  The novel is set in Japan in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

The reading is in conjunction with the current MING exhibition, “Holding What Can’t Be Held,” featuring the work of several Boise State artists.

Wieland is the author of two critically acclaimed novels. His short stories have appeared in The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, TriQuarterly, Best of the West, and The Yale Review, among a dozen other literary journals. He co-founded the MFA program in creative writing at Boise State, and served as its director for ten years. He currently edits the award-winning Idaho Review, and teaches in the MFA and BFA programs in fiction writing and narrative arts.


Boise State Researchers Work to Make Humans Friends — Not Foes — of Migratory Curlews

picture of a curlew bird

It’s fair to say the season has been bittersweet for the researchers at Boise State’s Intermountain Bird Observatory who study the long-billed curlew.

Poaching of the migratory birds continues to be a problem in Southern Idaho. It’s taking place in protected areas like the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area in the desert south of Boise and the Long-billed Curlew Habitat Area of Critical Environmental Concern, grassland northwest of Middleton. Over the past two years, poachers have shot as many as 10 curlews in those areas, said Jay Carlisle, Intermountain Bird Observatory research director. That’s more birds shot than in any previous two-year period.

If anything positive came from the most recent poaching incident — the shooting this spring of a nesting female bird in the Area of Critical Environmental Concern — it’s that it attracted extensive coverage by local newspapers, television and radio. U.S. News and World Report, The Wildlife Society, Audubon magazine, and others wrote stories.

“No one was ignoring the poaching issue before. But a lot of people hadn’t realized its severity,” said Carlisle.


Department of Energy Grants Will Support Geosciences Research, New Partnerships

picture of the Colorado Rockies mountains

Boise State will receive two grants from the U.S. Department of Energy to support research on issues significant to our region and the western United States including water, food, energy use and production in the face of changing environmental conditions.

Perhaps as significant, said Alejandro Flores, an associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, the grants will help Boise State join forces with researchers at other federal research facilities and universities addressing other facets of these scientific challenges.

“In some sense, these grants allow us to become part of this much larger team,” said Flores. “It’s an amazing group of researchers, and Boise State is now a part of it.”

The first grant, $200,000 over a two-year period, is a “subaward,” part of an ongoing DOE Scientific Focus Area, the Integrated Multi-sector, Multi-scale Modeling (IM3) Scientific Focus Area led by the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. Flores, working with Kendra Kaiser, a post-doctoral research assistant in geosciences and Vicken Hillis, an assistant professor in Human-Environment Systems in the College of Innovation and Design, will study the Snake River Basin and Snake River Plain. Their aim is to determine how land use will evolve in response to climate change in ways that include an array of “on the ground” decisions. This could include the crops farmers choose to plant in response to both global market forces and whether they have (or can acquire) enough water to irrigate them.


New Art Exhibition Has Deep Roots in Boise’s Historic Art World

PICTURE OF GARY BROWN ARTWORKA new art exhibition, “Two Generations of Print Makers: Frederick Foster Brown and Gary Frederick Brown,” will hang in the Boise State Student Union Fine Arts Gallery through Sept. 23.

The exhibition features work by two printmakers, not to mention a compelling family story.

Frederick Foster Brown was a Boise printmaker, framer and art dealer. He was the owner of Brown’s Art Store on Main Street (near the current Art Source Gallery) for three decades until the late 1950s. Brown had a global sensibility when it came to art. He brought a Latino print exhibit to Boise featuring works by Carlos Mérida, Roberto Montenegro, Frida Kahlo, and Diego Rivera, long before those artists became mainstream. Brown was also a founding member of the Boise Art Association, which became the Boise Art Museum. His own prints and frames hung in homes throughout Boise. To this day, local framers are familiar with his hand-carved frames.

Brown’s grandson, Gary Frederick Brown, was born just months after Frederick Brown’s death in 1966. Gary Brown, who is also a printmaker, grew up without knowing about his grandfather’s work or store in Boise. He happened upon a old print block made by his grandfather. The discovery began his reconnection to Frederick Brown’s work and art.


First Friday Astronomy Lecture: Sand Dunes on Pluto

PICTURE OF PLUTO SURFACEJoin Boise State Physics at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, in the Science Building, Room 112 for the First Friday lecture series hosted by the Department of Physics.

Professor Jani Radebaugh from Brigham Young University Geological Sciences will speak on “Sand Dunes on Pluto: Seeing the familiar on an alien landscape.”

In 2015, the New Horizons mission flew past Pluto, revealing a landscape both familiar and foreign, with mountains, glaciers, and even sand dunes. Given Pluto’s tissue-thin atmosphere, the presence of such wind-driven geological features was a complete surprise. Radebaugh, a planetery geologist, will explain the nature and significance of dune formation on the most distant world ever visited by spacecraft.


New Assistant Provost to Take on Academic Leadership, Faculty Affairs

picture of assisant provost Michelle Payne

The provost’s office welcomes Michelle Payne as the new assistant provost for academic leadership and faculty affairs, effective July 1. She will be responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of programs and services related to academic leadership development, faculty recruitment and retention, faculty career development (career progression; promotion and tenure; evaluation), and faculty data analytics. She will serve as the provost’s office liaison for policies, systems andprocesses related to faculty, coordinating with other units across campus to support faculty success and retention.

In her position as assistant provost, Payne will work with faculty and leadership to provide resources and training for department chairs and academic leaders to be successful in their roles.


Boise State Faculty, Local Teachers Land M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Grants

Picture of IBO director Heidi Ware and Biology professor Cheryl JorcykBoise State University has been awarded $30,000 from M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust’s Partners in Science (Partners) program. The grants, at $15,000 each, will fund two different projects and give local high school teachers at Renaissance High School and Bishop Kelly High School the opportunity to engage in research with outstanding mentors at Boise State.

“Murdock Charitable Trust has been a steady and reliable partner with Boise State over the years, supporting our engagement of high school and undergraduate students in scientific research,” said Boise State Interim President Martin Schimpf. “We are grateful for their vision and dedication to creating opportunities for students to learn and participate in the scientific process at an early age.”

Grant recipients are: Cheryl Jorcyk, professor of biological sciences at Boise State, and Sandra Gulley, teacher at Renaissance High School, to research inflammation-induced chemokines in prostate cancer metastasis; and to Heidi Ware, education and outreach director of Boise State’s Intermountain Bird Observatory, and Chris Horras, teacher at Bishop Kelley High School, to research hydrogen isotopes in identification of breeding areas of the Anna’s hummingbird.


info on bronco giving day

Boise State to Hold First Online Giving Day

Boise State University will hold its first giving day on Thursday, Sept. 13, to engage alumni, donors and friends to support the university’s students and programs through philanthropic gifts. On Bronco Giving Day, a 36-hour online giving campaign will provide quick, online access for donors to support several key initiatives within the colleges, athletics, departments and other units.

We’re asking all Broncos and friends from all over the world to support an area of Boise State that is meaningful to them. Throughout the day, live leaderboards will show the progress of the giving day where donors and alumni can watch in real-time the impact of their giving toward the final results of the day’s progress.

Your gift on Bronco Giving Day will have a bigger impact thanks to generous Bronco supporters who fund multiple challenges. These challenges will have double the impact, as some matching gifts will be implemented, adding to the excitement of the day.


picture of History professor Emily WakildLisa McClain

Department of History and Gender Studies Program

Lisa McClain’s article, “How the Catholic Church Came to Oppose Birth Control,” recently was published in The Conversation. It already has been picked up by 65 news outlets, including Smithsonian Magazine, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report,, the Houston Chronicle and the San Francisco Chronicle. It has over 10,000 hits and is now being translated into Spanish to extend its global reach.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Pope Paul VI’s landmark Humanae Vitae in 1968, which prohibits Catholics from using artificial contraception in light of the development of the Pill and other modern contraceptives. The article provides historical and theological analysis into the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception.

picture of asst. professor of English Carly FinsethCarly Finseth

Assistant Professor  

Department of English and Director of Technology and Web Presence

Carly Finseth recently published a book, “Teach Like a Gamer: Adapting the Instructional Design of Digital Role-Playing Games.”

Abstract: Digital role-playing games such as “Rift,” “Diablo III” and “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” help players develop skills in critical thinking, problem solving, digital literacy and lifelong learning. The author examines both the benefits and the drawbacks of role-playing games and their application to real-world teaching techniques. Readers will learn how to incorporate games-based instruction into their own classes and workplace training, as well as approaches to redesigning curriculum and programs.

Art adjunct Linda BuczynskiLinda Buczynski

Adjunct Faculty
Department of Art

The Boise City Department of Arts and History has featured Linda Buczynski, a member of the Department of Art’s adjunct faculty, in its blog, Creators, Makers and Doers. The blog focuses on accomplished local artists working in a range of mediums.

A note posted on the city department’s FACEBOOK PAGE reads that Buczynski “is known for her generous enthusiasm, quirky sense of humor and contagious goodwill.”

Buczynski teaches art at Sage International Charter, as well as art education at Boise State University. She has received numerous awards for her work in art education. The blog features Buczynski’s home studio, Heartworks, and her work in journaling, collage and artistic inquiry. Read more at BOISEARTSANDHISTORY.ORG



The College of Arts and Sciences enhances the cultural, ethical, artistic, and scientific foundations 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, fiveinterdisciplinary programs and six research units.