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2019 January Newsletter













January, 2019

Dear Friends,

picture of interm COAS Dean Leslie DurhamHappy New Year! I hope your 2019 is off to an excellent start, and your resolutions are quickly evolving into habits.

The good habits I’m trying to embrace this year are mindfulness and gratitude. The hectic pace of spring semester can make this challenging, but it’s also what can make this point in the school year very rewarding: there’s an abundance of wonderful things all around us on Boise State’s campus, deserving of our attention, and that can spark our curiosity and open our thinking.

To that end, I’m very happy to share the stories below with you. COAS students and faculty continue to do amazing things, the university has achieved another important milestone, and there are several upcoming events that we’d be delighted if you’d attend. Thank you for being part of our extraordinary COAS community.



Leslie Durham

Interim Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Boise State University

picture of Dean Durham hooding Doctoral studentBoise State Earns Higher Category in Doctoral Research University Classification

Boise State University is now a doctoral university with “high research activity” according to the nation’s premier college classification system.

Idaho’s largest public university, which was bumped into the overall doctoral research class in 2016, now joins the University of Idaho and Idaho State University in the second-highest research category in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

“This designation is the latest external validation of Boise State’s continued evolution as a doctoral research university, which is so critical to the vitality of a growing metropolitan area,” said Interim President Martin Schimpf. “It is a testament to the world-class research and creativity of our faculty, high-quality lab and field work of our students, and commitment to continuous improvement that unites the faculty, staff and administration of Boise State.”

Former President Bob Kustra laid out a vision in 2003 for Boise State to become a metropolitan research university of distinction. Schimpf, who served as provost and vice president for academic affairs, and other campus leaders worked alongside Kustra to build the university into the doctoral institution that it is today.

Boise State has had one of the fastest-growing graduate schools in the country, with some 3,000 students in both on-campus and online programs this year, and is home to Idaho’s fastest-growing research enterprise — research awards, which have more than doubled since 2003, topped $50 million last year and were just shy of that this year.


picture of student in bioreactor labBoise State Launches Idaho’s First Doctoral Program in Biomedical Engineering

Boise State University is launching a new doctoral program in biomedical engineering, the first of its kind in Idaho. The transdisciplinary program was approved by the Idaho State Board of Education in December 2018 and will officially begin fall semester of 2019.

Biomedical engineering is the application of engineering concepts to medicine and biology. This relatively new field has transformed the healthcare industry by advancing the understanding of the human body and by developing life-changing medical technologies, including prosthetic limbs, artificial knees and hips, pacemakers and stents.

“This program will integrate biomedical researchers across Boise State’s campus to provide students with the technical and professional skills to lead interdisciplinary teams and invent new medical technologies and therapies,” said Trevor Lujan, an associate professor in mechanical engineering and director of the new doctoral program.

The program was developed as a collaboration between Boise State’s College of Health Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences and Graduate College. Students will have the opportunity to conduct research spanning the whole body and organ systems down to molecular interactions.


picture of Abir Rahman, a PhD graduateBangladeshi Student Awarded Top Recognition for International Students

Abir Rahman was recognized with the Outstanding International Student Scholar Award at the International Graduation Celebration on December 12, 2018. Abir received his Ph.D in Biomolecular Sciences on December 15. His research focused on investigating autophagy dysfunction induced by a Parkinson’s Disease-causing mutation in VPS35.

The award was presented by Dr. Brad Morrison the assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who said “I was very pleased to recruit him and retain him. He was certainly well liked among the other labs he rotated through.”

In 2008, Abir obtained his Undergraduate Degree in Molecular Biosciences at Arizona State and a Masters at Georgia State in Neurobiology and Behavior. In 2014, he joined the Biomolecular Ph.D program at Boise State and later joined Dr. Morrison’s team.


picture of Rick BassRick Bass Is Boise State’s Spring 2019 Visiting Distinguished Writer

Fiction writer Rick Bass will join Boise State University as a visiting distinguished writer for the spring 2019 semester.

Bass has written over 20 books, including “The Hermit’s Story,” “For a Little While” and “Why I Came West.” His fiction has received O. Henry Awards, numerous Pushcart Prizes, awards from the Texas Institute of Letters (in fiction, creative nonfiction and journalism categories), fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lyndhurst Foundation, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, a Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, nominations for Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards, a PEN/Nelson Algren Special Citation (judged by the American poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren), and a General Electric Younger Writer’s Award. He has had numerous stories anthologized in “Best American Short Stories.”

In addition to writing fiction, Bass is a well-known environmental activist who lives in Montana with his family.

Bass will give a free public reading at 7:30 p.m. on March 5 in the Lookout Room of the Student Union Building.


picture of 4 spring 2019 faculty award winners

picture of COAS faculty award winners

Four COAS Faculty Honored at Spring 2019 Event

College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean Leslie Durham recognized four deserving faculty members during the spring college meeting as winners of the 2018-19 faculty honors and awards.

The college honors and awards committee, comprised of 16 members from 16 COAS departments, reviewed multiple entries and selected the following four faculty members.

Pictured are  Lisa McClain, Daniel Fologea (top), Jennifer Pierce, Isam Ali (bottom)

Faculty Excellence Award Recipients:

Lisa McClain, History; Daniel Fologea, Physics; Jennifer Pierce, Geosciences

Adjunct Faculty Excellence Award Recipient:

Isam Ali, World Languages

Interim Dean Durham commended each award winner as well as presented them with a plaque and honorarium.


picture of the jupiter moon Europa

First Friday Astronomy Event to Focus on Jupiter’s Moon

Jupiter, with a mass more than 300 times that of the Earth, is the largest planet in our solar system.

This month’s First Friday Astronomy Lecture, 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1 in the Education Building, room 112, will feature Samuel Howell from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory talking about Europa, a moon of Jupiter.

Europa is a geologically active and potentially habitable world. A thick ice shell protects its global ocean (20 times deeper than Earth’s) from the vacuum of space.

After the lecture, we’ll visit Boise State’s on-campus observatory. The event is free and open to the public.


picture of Paulette Jordan and her lecture series flyerIdea of Nature Lecture Series Presents Paulette Jordan Feb. 6

The Idea of Nature public lecture series at Boise State will present Paulette Jordan, formerly in the Idaho House of Representatives and a candidate for governor of Idaho, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, in the Student Union Simplot Ballroom A-C. Her lecture is titled “Rights of Nature: The Future of Idaho’s Landscape.”

This lecture series responds to the idea that big questions need interdisciplinary answers. The goal of the series is to foster the public humanities by bringing distinguished lecturers to Boise.

Jordan grew up on a farm in northern Idaho and was the youngest person ever elected to the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council. In 2014, she was elected to represent her home district in the Idaho House of Representatives and successfully ran for a second term two years later. Her campaign for governor in 2018 garnered local and national media attention, and if elected she would have been the first woman and first Native American governor of Idaho.

A reception with a no-host bar and appetizers will follow her lecture at 7 p.m.


picture of chinese dancerAnnual China Night Will Be Held Feb. 16

The Boise State Chinese Club will host the annual China Night to welcome the Year of the Pig. The event will take place from 6-8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 in the Jordan Ballroom of the Student Union Building.

Chinese dinner will be served. Entertainment will include beautiful Chinese traditional dances, Chinese ethnic group dances, Chinese Kung-Fu and Korean dances. Additionally, Boise State students will present Chinese songs and a Taekwondo demonstration.

The annual China Night event is open to students, faculty and staff, as well as the general public. Free event parking will be available in the Lincoln Garage.

Admission for Boise State students is free. Donations are welcome from non-students.

list of French films



picture of Mark SchmitzMark Schmitz

Department of Geosciences

Mark Schmitz, director of the Isotope Geology Laboratory, recently was published in Earth and Space Science News in an article titled, “A Deeper Investment for Deep Time Science,” highlighting seven laboratories that will receive funding from the National Science Foundation for their study of geochronology, including Boise State’s Isotope Geology Laboratory.

The article begins, “Measuring deep time, the science of geochronology, is central to modern Earth science.” Read more at

picture of History professor Emily WakildLynn Lubamersky

Associate Professor
Department of History

Lynn Lubamersky organized and chaired the Polish studies book panel discussion of “Money, Power, and Influence in Eighteenth-Century Lithuania: The Jews on the Radziwiłł Estates” by Adam Teller at the Association for the Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies convention in Boston, Dec. 8-9. The book was sponsored by the Polish Studies Association since it is considered pathbreaking and provocative. Panelists included Maria Cieśla of the German Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland, Karin Friedrich of the University of Aberdeen (U.K.), Gershon David Hundert of McGill University (Canada) and Adam Teller of Brown University.

Lubamersky also organized a research panel presentation titled “The Memory of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth.” Assistant Professor of Art Tomasz Grusiecki presented “Cartography as Entangled History: Geographic Depiction and the Search for a Shared Past” and Rustis Kamuntavicius of Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania presented “Lie for the Sake of Objectivity: History Manuals in Lithuania, Poland, and Belarus Confronted.” Tomasz Błaszczak of Vytautus Magnus University commented on the papers.

picture of psychology chair Roberto Refinetti

Roberto Refinetti

Professor and Chair
Department of Psychological Sciences

Roberto Refinetti recently published a study titled “Exploring determinants of behavioral chronotype in a diurnal-rodent model of human physiology” in the journal Physiology and Behavior.

An excerpt from the abstract reads, “Basic research on circadian rhythms has provided a basis for investigating the causes of chronotype variation, but experimental tests of pertinent hypotheses are difficult to conduct with human subjects. This limitation can be overcome by use of animal models. This study was conducted with a rodent species, the antelope ground squirrel (Ammospermophilus leucurus), that, like humans, is active during the daytime, exhibits a spread of chronotypes, and has a similar average free-running circadian period.”



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.