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2018 March Newsletter

picture of header and students of COAS newsletter

March, 2018

Dear Friends,
Tony Roark
March 20 is the vernal equinox, marking the official onset of spring. With it, we’re seeing some typical spring weather for Boise; wind, rain, sun, frost, 67°, snow, clouds, hail, more sun…sometimes within 48 hours!
The blooming crocuses and budding trees are a welcome reminder that we will be engaged in warm-weather activities again soon.  But before you break out your golf clubs or go to sharpen the lawnmower blade, take a look at the exciting COAS goings-on and upcoming events below.
Thank you for your interest in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Tony Roark
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Boise State University

Boise State Helps Bring Treefort 2018 to Town March 21-25

picture of Treefort Fest logoBoise State is a premier sponsor of Treefort Music Fest, a five-day festival of discovery March 21-25 in downtown Boise. In its seventh year, Treefort will offer nearly 450 bands, several thought-provoking panel discussions and hands-on learning activities alongside films, comedy, locally sourced food and much more.

Here are some of the ways Boise State University is participating in this year’s festival:

  • At Filmfort, local filmmaker and Boise State alumnus Zach Voss will screen his short adventure documentary, “VOLCANOES! Hugo and the Killer Hive,” at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, at The Flicks.
  • Storyfort will feature professor Steven Feldstein and student Elena Gallina on the “Country to Country: The Whole Refugee Story” panel, 1 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at the Owyhee.
  • Also at Storyfort, alumna Rebecca Evans and student Mike Hassoldt will present on the “Thank You For Your Stories: Veteran Narratives” storytelling panel at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Owyhee.
  • You can catch professor Dora Ramirez on the “DACAmented Stories: DREAMers in Idaho” panel at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Owyhee.
  • Student Lydia Havens will read poetry at the “Ghosts and Projectors” reading at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Owyhee.


Boise State Launches New Creative Writing Degrees

PICTURE OF A PEN AND DESIGNBoise State University School of the Arts will offer two new degrees in creative writing — a bachelor of arts and bachelor of fine arts — as well as a bachelor of fine arts in narrative arts beginning in fall 2018. Students at Boise State also now will be able to minor in creative writing. The Idaho State Board of Education approved the degrees in February.

“We’re beyond excited to be offering new creative writing degrees that will allow our students to immerse themselves in all forms of imaginative writing,” said Brady Udall, associate professor of creative writing. “Small classes, individualized instruction, and a dedication to the art and craft of writing will be key features of these programs.”

There are currently 30 bachelor of fine arts degrees in creative writing in the country. Boise State’s will be the 31st.

“The School of the Arts is built on three key principles: interdisciplinarity, entrepreneurship and engagement,” said Leslie Durham, director of the School of the Arts and the incoming interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The new degrees will help us advance these ideas by exposing students to artists and techniques across disciplines and practices; by showing students how they can make a life and a living as writer; and by helping students imagine how their words and their stories can make a difference in their communities.”


English Majors Present Workshops for Federal Investigators

English students at FBI trainingEnglish majors in the class, Senior Capstone in Literary Studies, recently presented a series of writing and editing workshops to help federal investigators in Idaho write more effective reports.

Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Paul Baxley asked the students to study sample reports from Idaho law enforcement, then lead a workshop focusing on editing prose for clarity and precision. Well-written investigative reports support prosecutions and the legal process.

The students, Adam Brimhall, Evan Fishburn, Emily Schureman and Natalie Tyler, offered the workshop three times to in-person and remote classes in February. The students made site visits where they learned about the issues faced by local professionals — both as writers and in other aspects of their work — and they discovered the value of writing, editing and communication skills in a local workplace.


Distinguished Lecture Series Presents Director Werner Herzog on April 9

picture of director Werner HerzogThe Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series at Boise State University will present Werner Herzog, screenwriter, film director, author, actor and opera director, at 7 p.m. Monday, April 9, at the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts.

The event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required and free parking will be available.

Herzog was born in Germany in the midst of World War II. He is a leader of the postwar cinema movement in West Germany, a distinction he shares with directors like Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Wim Wenders. Herzog’s films typically portray characters in extreme physical and psychological situations, and often in conflict with nature.


New Study Shows Promise Turning Volcanic Sound Into Warning Signal for Eruptions

Jeffrey JohnsonA new study led by Boise State associate professor of geophysics Jeffrey Johnson has proven the potential for using volcanic infrasound – inaudible sounds produced by active volcanoes – to help forecast future catastrophic eruptions. The study, titled “Forecasting the eruption of an open-vent volcano using resonant infrasound tones,” was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The study focused on Chile’s Volcán Villarrica, an open-vent volcanic system with a funnel-like geometry of its crater, which makes it particularly efficient for radiating infrasound. Villarrica erupted in the mid-1980s and has since hosted a lava lake in the summit crater. Johnson and his team deployed monitoring stations along the slopes of the volcano  starting in January 2015 to pick up distinctive infrasound activity. By monitoring the acoustic response of Villarrica’s crater, the scientists were able to determine that the volcano’s lava lake started to rise two days before its 2015 eruption of a 1.5 km-high lava fountain.

“This study demonstrates the utility of remote infrasound monitoring for future eruptions of Villarrica and other analogous open-vent volcanoes,” Johnson explained.


Gene Harris Jazz Festival

picture of trombone players21st Annual Gene Harris Jazz Festival
Wednesday, April, 4 through Friday, April, 6 | Boise State Special Events Center

For two decades, the Gene Harris Jazz Festival has brought world-class music to the Boise community with a mission of inspiring, educating, and entertaining listeners of all ages. The festival is proud to support local music, community partnerships, and student education. Since 1996, the Gene Harris Endowment has provided scholarships for jazz music students at Boise State University to perpetuate a love of learning and a passion for jazz.

For information about Club Night, concerts, and more:


Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet to Moderate Seattle Panel on Ahsahta Press Poet

picture of poet kate greenstreetPulitzer Prize–winning poet Rae Armantrout will moderate a discussion of Ahsahta Press poet’s Kate Greenstreet’s latest book, “The End of Something,” at 10 a.m. May 6 at Open Books, an all-poetry bookstore in Seattle.

In a release from the bookstore, Armantrout said, “Kate Greenstreet’s “The End of Something” is the fourth and last book of a loose series, but you don’t need to read the others to appreciate it. This book is like the ghost of a story; there is a floating thread of narrative, but one without defined characters or setting. Each statement; each utterance seems somehow both complete and incomplete. Each, no matter how seemingly ordinary, hangs in the air, gathering an eerie charge of loss and loneliness around it. I’ve never read anything quite like it – but when I try to think of comparisons, a couple of names that come to mind are C.D. Wright and Samuel Beckett … I chose this book not because I’ve figured it all out, but because I haven’t.”

Janet Holmes, director of Ahsahta Press at Boise State University, first published Greenstreet’s work in 2006. That book, “case sensitive,” was the first of the four books Armantrout mentions in the release.


‘First Folio’ Wins CASE Award

picture of First Folio ad campaignAlbertsons Library, University Special Events and Protocol, Printing and Graphics, and the Office of Communications and Marketing recently were recognized with a 2018 Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District VIII Conference Communications Award.

Their collaborative work for the event “First Folio: The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare” received a Bronze award for Alumni, Student, Donor and Community Engagement Special Events. The Communications Awards are designed to recognize institutional excellence in marketing and communications. The award was presented at a conference earlier this month in Seattle.

From Aug. 20-Sept. 21, 2016, Boise State University was selected as the sole location in Idaho to host the First Folio exhibit, a nearly 400-year-old collection of 18 of Shakespeare’s plays. The project involved unprecedented collaboration among more than 30 campus departments. Nearly 10,000 people attended the exhibit and the associated programming made publicly available during the four-week installation.


picture of the play "The Wolves" poster

First Friday Astronomy Lecture and Stargazing

picture of Dragonfly DroneJoin the Boise State Physics Department on Friday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Science and Education Building, room 112, to hear Professor Jason Barnes of the University of Idaho and Deputy Project Scientist on Dragonfly discuss how the mission will lift the veil on Saturn’s most mysterious moon.

At 8:30 p.m. after the presentation, weather permitting, we will stargaze on the rooftop of the Science and Education Building at the newly refurbished Boise State Observatory — guests are warned the observatory is not handicap-accessible, so telescopes will also be set out on the plaza in front of the building.

The event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited; attendees are encouraged to arrive early.

Map of the Science and Education Building (SCNC)

list of Hemingway center events for the spring 2018 semester

picture of professor with belize children

Want to travel and make a difference too?

Look into the amazing Boise State Serves Belize trip: May 26-June 3, 2018.

Belize, Central America is known for its melting pot culture, English-speaking locals, and spectacular biodiversity from ridge to reef.  In addition to what the beautiful country has to naturally offer, engage in international service throughout the week of your trip, forming close relationships with local students and teachers in a rural primary school supporting English language development. Hike to the top of ancient Maya ruins, explore the world-class Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, and swim alongside sea turtles and manatees as we sail on the second largest barrier reef in the world.  This unique travel opportunity will intimately connect you with this country’s people while immersing you in inspiring history, beauty, and culture.



picture of Chemistry chair Owen McDougalOwen McDougal

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Research conducted by Owen McDougal and biomolecular science graduate student Matt Turner recently was featured in an article in the journal Clinical Toxicology titled Hikers poisoned: Veratrum steroidal alkaloid toxicity following ingestion of foraged Veratrum parviflorum.”

McDougal and Turner were invited to participate in a research project to evaluate the blood serum and plasma for two hikers of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia.


picture of BAS Advisor Connor McComasConnor McComas

Academic Advisor

Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS)

The Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) has added a new academic advisor, Connor McComas. He will work closely with students who come to Boise State after completing a technical associate of Applied Science.  McComas will advise them in creating individualized degree plans that meet both personal and professional goals as well as Boise State academic requirements.

McComas received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology and minored in Communication Studies at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. For the past five years, he has worked in higher education as an advisor and student advocate, specializing in Career and Technical Education programs.  He believes in the power of education changing lives and loves being a part of a student’s success. When not at work, you will find McComas in the foothills or on the greenbelt  running and biking.

picture of Anthropology chair John Ziker John Ziker
Professor, Dept. Chair
Department of Anthropology
John Ziker recently was interviewed by The Chronicle of Higher Education about his past and present research about how many hours faculty members work. Ziker conducted a survey in 2014, which found that faculty participants reported working an average of 61 hours per week. He is working to develop an app that enables faculty to record how many hours a week they spend working. The app is similar to popular step monitors or heart-rate monitor apps. Participants are notified by the app and asked whether they’re working or not; if they choose yes, there is a drop down menu with questions about the type of work they’re doing. READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE>


About the College of Arts and Sciences

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, five interdisciplinary programs and six research units.