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2018 October Newsletter

picture of header and students of COAS newsletter

October, 2018

Dear Friends,

When Boise State was recently named one of the most innovative universities in the country by U.S. News and World Report, I was delighted but hardly surprised.

As interim president Martin Schimpf stated, “This is yet another testament to the culture of imagination and continuous development and improvement that exists across the campus of Boise State University.”

COAS faculty, staff and students power the university’s upward trajectory. As you’ll read below, our drive and imagination fuel our desire to explore, discover, create and research across our diverse range of disciplines. Please join us as we help the university achieve its next national honor.


Leslie Durham

Interim Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Boise State University

picture of bio professor Jen Forbey and grad student

Idaho Universities Receive $20 Million to Study How Native Plants, Animals Respond to Changing Landscapes

A consortium of Idaho researchers will receive a $20 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to examine how environmental stressors impact the growth, survival and reproduction of native plants and animals.

The project, titled “Genes to Environment: Modeling, Mechanisms and Mapping,” is a collaboration between Boise State University, University of Idaho, Idaho State University and numerous state, federal and tribal partners through NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) program. With matching funds from Idaho’s Higher Education Research Council, the award will support fundamental research, education and workforce development occurring across Idaho’s public research universities and predominately undergraduate institutions for the next five years.

The team will work to understand how genetic characteristics help or hinder the ability of plants and animals to tolerate diverse and changing environmental conditions by focusing on two prominent, iconic and economically important organisms in the Gem State — rainbow trout and sagebrush. However, their broader findings could help inform natural resource policies and management decisions in Idaho and throughout the American West.


picture of creative writing student Mary-Pauline LowryBoise State MFA Student Sells Second Novel to Simon and Schuster

Mary Pauline Lowry, a third-year fiction writing student in Boise State University’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing program, recently sold her novel, “The Roxy Letters” to Simon & Schuster. Publication is set for the summer of 2020.

Lowry learned the news a couple weeks ago via a phone call from her agent.

“We were on speaker phone and her assistant was in the room, so I figured it was good news,” said Lowry.

Simon & Schuster was not the only publisher to make an offer on her book. It was her top choice.

“The Roxy Letters,” written in epistolary, or letter, form, is a comedic novel about a 20-something woman. She works in the deli of the original Whole Foods in Austin, Texas, Lowry’s hometown. Lowry set the novel in 2012, at a time when Whole Foods hadn’t yet grown into the mammoth retailer it is today.


picture of the 2017 talkin Broncos team

Talkin’ Broncos Start Their Season With a Big Win in Twin Falls

The Pi Kappa Delta national championship speech and debate team started their 2018-2019 season with their sixth consecutive tournament championship at the Fran Tanner Invitational hosted by the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Sept. 28-29.

The Boise State University Talkin’ Broncos won first place in overall sweepstakes at the tournament. The tournament included competitors from Utah State University, Northwest College, Northwest Nazarene University, College of Western Idaho, College of Southern Idaho, Lower Columbia College, Idaho State University and University of Idaho.

“This is our first tournament of the season, and we have 13 new team members, the biggest group of incoming team members I’ve ever had in my eight years as director,” said Manda Hicks, director of forensics. “To put that in perspective, I had three new team members last year. This team marks a significant new beginning in Boise State forensics. Both our new folks and our veterans had tremendous success, and that bodes well for the rest of the year and beyond.”


Student Researches How to Heal Wounds by Regenerating Human Tissue


For one Boise State student, a summer job meant fascinating and important research on attempting to heal human wounds by regenerating human tissue. Omid Mohammad Mousa, a Boise State University senior majoring in microbiology and biochemistry spent 10 weeks last summer interning with the medical research company Burst Biologics.

“During my internship with Burst Biologics I was looking at regenerative potential of birth tissue derived products,” Omid explained. “Chronic wounds present a challenge to the medical community and birth tissue-derived products can supplement or replace traditional treatment options.”

Using human bone marrow taken from Mesenchymal stem cells (hBM-MSCs), Omid was tasked with studying crucial wound-healing steps such as cellular proliferation and migration, and cell-to-cell communication and differentiation.


Esa'Eja arrows

From the Amazon, to Washington, D.C., to Boise State: A New Exhibition Opens

The Ese’Eja People of the Amazon: Connected by a Thread, will open Oct. 18 at the Ron and Linda Yanke Research Center gallery. It will give visitors an intimate look at the lives of one of the last indigenous tribes in the Amazon basin of Peru through an array of elegant silver-toned photographs, objects, drawings, text and video.

It will give students in art professor Stephanie Bacon’s course on exhibition design something more – the chance to install an entire exhibition, one that comes to Boise State all the way from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the Peruvian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Connected by a Thread represents a departure from traditional ethnographic exhibitions, said Bacon. Those are often curated from an outside, academic perspective in which objects are “on display” without any ties to their original context. In this case, the Ese’Eja (EH-see-AY-ha) people worked alongside project team leaders and photographers – Jon Cox from the University of Delaware and Andrew Bale from Dickinson College – to create the exhibition, select its treasures and write interpretive texts. A book that accompanies the exhibition, “Ancestral Lands of the Ese’Eja: The True People,” also is written from the Ese’Eja perspective with explanations of history, practices and folklore.


Boise State’s First Large Enrollment Active Learning Classroom

By Brittnee Earl

Picture of large active learning classroomOver the last few years, the Center for Teaching and Learning, supported by funds from the National Science Foundation WIDER-PERSIST grant, has supported faculty, especially in STEM disciplines, to increase their use of evidence-based instructional practices (EBIPs) in their teaching. This has created a need for more classrooms that effectively support active learning. While many smaller classrooms at Boise State have been renovated to have a flexible structures and furnishings, there have not been any larger spaces (80 seats or more) conducive to active learning and group oriented work.

In fall 2017, the Center for Teaching and Learning, alongside the Provost’s Office, Campus Planning and Facilities, the Registrar’s Office and the Office of Information Technology, embarked on identifying a large enrollment classroom space to redesign from a lecture hall to an active learning classroom.  With significant input from faculty in the Department of Physics, which has priority scheduling in MPCB 101, this classroom space now has a new look.

The room was designed to accommodate a variety of pedagogical choices while also maintaining a centralized focus for those who utilize traditional pedagogies. The remodeled classroom has a ground floor with three tiers and features movable tables and chairs. The new furniture offers flexibility and encourages peer-to-peer interaction. A large custom table at the front of the room supports interactive demonstrations.


picture of the Ingmar Bergman film schedule
























All acorss the world, cities are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ingmar Bergman.Through assistance from Boise State Univeristy School of the Arts and the Idaho Film Collections, Boise State will be one of 9 cities in North American producing an event to celebrate Bergman’s life and career.

Between October 22 and 26, there will be a 5-day Ingmar Bergman Film Retrospective. Each event’s film will be introduced by a different host:

  • Dr. Ryan Cannon (Cries and Whispers)
  • Dr. Rulon Wood (Wild Strawberries
  • Dr. Michael Porter (The Silence)
  • Dr. Richard Klautsch (The Virgin Spring)
  • Dr. Thomas Sobchack (The Seventh Seal) – special guest and Director of Graduate Studies for Film and Theatre at University of Utah and co-author of “An Introduction to Film.”

All event are free and open to the public.

picture of a portable planetariumPhysics Department Kicks Off PonyUp Fundraiser to Buy a Planetarium

The Department of Physics has begun a new 30-day fundraiser through PonyUp, the university’s online donation platform. The campaign will run from Oct. 5 to Nov. 4.

Brian Jackson, an assistant professor of physics, and research assistant Wesley Sandidge want to raise $10,000 to buy a portable, inflatable digital planetarium for the community on campus and beyond through the department’s STEM outreach program.

If the fundraiser is successful, Jackson and Sandidge will take the planetarium to schools, community centers, libraries and to rural areas of the state where access to science education is limited. That includes central Idaho, home to the country’s sole International Dark Skies Reserve. Students from Boise State in the School of Public Service worked with the Idaho Conservation League to help establish the reserve in 2017.


picture of the theatre arts production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical


picture of the Hemingway Literary Center listings

picture of scientist Serinia Diniega


Deciphering Mars – current and upcoming exploration of the Red Planet with Dr. Serina Diniega, Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Currently, several rovers and orbiters are exploring Mars, and on November 26, a new lander, the InSight seismic probe, will be added. These spacecraft are exploring the planet’s atmosphere, surface and interior to deepen our understanding of Mars’ present and possibly Earth-like past.

On Friday, November 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Education Building, room 112, join Boise State Physics to hear Dr. Serina Diniega, a Mars scientist and member of the Jet Propulsion Lab’s Mars Program Office. She will discuss NASA’s current and planned missions to the red planet.

At 8:30 p.m., there will be stargazing at the on-campus observatory (weather permitting). The event is free and open to the public.



Tara Penry

Department of English

Tara Penry’s article “Bret Harte’s Oscar Wilde Tale” appears in the fall 2018 issue of the journal American Literary Realism, published by the University of Illinois Press.

In the spring of 1895, when Irish playwright Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted in London of “indecent” sexual acts, causing public conceptions of male homosexuality to crystallize around his name and style, Bret Harte was an international literary celebrity from the American West then living in London. Without commenting overtly on the trials in public or private, Harte took a bold position veiled in the genre of fiction, defending Wilde and chastizing his accusers in a story published early in 1896.


picture of larry mcneil and chad erpedling from art dept.Chad Erpelding and Larry McNeil

Department of Art, Design and Visual Studies

The Boise City Department of Arts and History recently installed work by two Boise State art professors at the Valley Regional Transit Main Street Station at 777 W. Main St.

A series of five mural-sized photographs by Larry McNeil, professor of photography, hang inside the station to complement the existing mural banners, “Moments in Transition,” by John Francis. The McNeil images use iconic Boise views to “transform the station into a futuristic space port or parking a hover car in front of the historic Boise Depot, giving travelers both a sense of comfort and wonder,” read the city’s press release.

“The Commute: Idaho: Imports and Exports” by Chad Erpelding, professor of painting and drawing, and director of the graduate program in art, adorns the station windows and “explores the international connections between Idaho and the rest of the world. The piece weaves together local maps with the shapes of the top 25 countries with whom Idaho imports and exports,” read the press release.


picture of english prof and chair

Edward Test, English, studio portrait

Mac Test

Professor, Department Chair
Department of English

Mac Test brought his translated play, “The Lieutenant Nun,” to the Shakespeare Festival Sept 17-22 in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. The play is based on the true life of the Basque woman Catalina de Erauso, who flees a nunnery at age 15, cross-dresses as a man, jumps aboard a ship with conquistadors, and fights in wars in Chile and Peru for 17 years. A scene from Mac’s play was featured in the Engendering the Stage workshop, which brought together directors, actors and scholars from the United Kingdom, U.S. and Canada to examine gender casting in early modern Europe.



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.