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2017 January Newsletter

College of Arts and Sciences Monthly Update


Dear Friends,

Dean Tony RoarkWhile one might scoff at the use of “snowmageddon” to describe our weather this winter, I know first-hand that many of our fellow community members have experienced significant social isolation due to the difficulty (or in some cases, practical impossibility) of getting from point A to point B.

But despite the cold temps and piled-high snow, things are heating up in the College of Arts and Sciences!

I invite you to take advantage of the intellectually- and culturally-stimulating events offered by COAS students, faculty, and staff.

In addition, Boise State maintains an events page to help you stay up to date on an even broader array of offerings on campus:

Stay warm, take care, and make those connections that enrich your life and the lives of others.

Tony Roark
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Boise State University


Celebrate Year of the Rooster Jan. 28 at China Night

Traditional ethnic danceThe Boise State University Chinese Club will host the annual China Night from 6:30-9 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28. The event heralding the Year of the Rooster will be held in the Student Union Jordan Ballroom.

The evening includes a
Chinese dinner and entertainment. The event is open to students, faculty, staff and the general public. Admission for Boise State students is free; donations are welcome from non-students.

Entertainment will include Chinese traditional and ethnic group dances, Kung-Fu and Tai-Ji performances and a Korean drum dance. Additionally, Boise State students will present Chinese songs, a taekwondo demonstration and a magic show.

Free parking will be available at the Lincoln Garage.

MFA Graduate Meghan Kenny Celebrates Publication of Her First Book

Image of MFA Graduate Meghan KennyIn March, Boise State alumna Meghan Kenny will celebrate a milestone many writers only dream of: the
publication of her first book of short stories, LOVE IS NO SMALL THING, from LSU Press. As the title might suggest, the book explores love in all its various iterations – romantic, familial, elusive.

“Love is something I’ve always been obsessed with,” Kenny said. “Although I don’t think I was quite aware of how focused my writing was. I remember at some time during my MFA program that people were pointing out, ‘Oh, you always tend to write about these things.’ Writing this book didn’t get it out of my system.”

Cover of "Love is no Small Thing" by Meghan KennyFifteen years ago, Kenny celebrated a more modest – yet no less important – milestone here at Boise State. In 2002, she was among the first graduates of the university’s new MFA in Creative Writing  program, then headed by Robert Olmstead and Mitch Wieland. Kenny, an east coaster by birth, credits Olmstead for luring her out west.

“I had Olmstead freshman year for a writing class in Pennsylvania,” she said. “I don’t think I would’ve become a writer had I not taken that class. Then, in the late 90s, I was looking into MFA programs and the Boise State program was just starting up. He lured me out. I drove from New Hampshire to Boise sight unseen.”


Alumnus Returns to Campus With ‘National Mythstory’ Art Exhibition

Poster for National Mythstory ExhibitionThe Student Union Building Fine Arts Gallery welcomes artist and alumnus Bryan Anthony Moore to campus, along with his exhibition titled National Mythstory. The exhibition runs Jan. 9-Feb. 19.

In National Mythstory, Moore displays his research on propaganda-laden histories, including history textbooks recently approved by the Texas State Board of Education, with illustrations, paintings and sculptures that serve as contemporary illuminations of historical inaccuracies published in public school texts.

By employing “aging” techniques and media, Moore’s works present as if they were from the Revolutionary or Civil War eras. His work causes viewers to question distorted narratives presented by public institutions as fact.


Faculty, Staff, Alumni Honored as 2017’s ‘Women of the Year’

Idaho Business Review Women of the YearBoise State faculty and staff members, as well as numerous alumni, have been named to Idaho Business Review’s annual top 50 women of the year.

Among honorees from across the state, Janet Callahan, materials science and engineering professor; Vanessa Crossgrove Fry, assistant director of the Idaho Policy Institute; Ann Hubbert, professor and director of the School of Nursing; Susan Shadle, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning and Professor of Chemistry; and Caile Spear, a professor or community and environmental health, are all in the running to become the publication’s 2017 Woman of the Year.

Boise State Board of Trustees’ member Debbie Critchfield, along with alumni including Idaho’s First Lady Lori Otter, Carlyn Blake, Megan Bryant, Laura Cobb, Finia Dinh, Debbie Donovan, Karianne Fallow, Tracy Hitchcock, Danae Klimes, Amy Lientz, Rhea Morrison and Rhonda VanOrder also were selected.

To become an honoree, candidates were nominated by peers, colleagues and mentors, and then submitted an application that included resumes, letters of recommendation and personal statements. Ten selection committees evaluated the applicants. This is the 12th year that Idaho Business Review has honored women leaders across the state.

These eighteen Boise State leaders and 32 additional outstanding Idaho women will be honored at a reception, dinner and awards gala from 5:30-9 p.m. March 9 at the Boise Centre. There, one woman will be named the Idaho Business Review Woman of the Year. A dedicated magazine featuring all of the women’s stories will be published with the March 10 Idaho Business Review.

Researchers Learn How a Bacterium Reduces CO2 in Biofuel Production

Image of Lisa Warner next to lab equipment

A paper co-authored by Lisa Warner, an assistant research professor in the Biomolecular Research Center, looks at how Clostridium thermocellum breaks down and converts cellulosic biomass to produce biofuels, including hydrogen and hydrocarbons, while also surprisingly decreasing the amount of CO2 released as a waste byproduct.

“CO2-fixing one-carbon metabolism in a cellulose-degrading bacterium Clostridium thermocellum” was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Researchers are affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

C. thermocellum is among the most efficient bacteria known for directly converting cellulosic materials (a component of plant cell walls) into hydrogen and hydrocarbon biofuels. Normally, CO2 is created as a byproduct. But the researchers found that this microbe can recapture some of the CO2 released during the growth process.


Lecture Series Sparks Inspiration, Debate About the Environment

The spring 2017 Idea of Nature Lecture Series will feature The idea of nature public lecture seriesfascinating lectures on the challenges of interpreting Walden in the 21st century, how to interpret disturbances in the ecology of forests, and the ghost language of ancient Earth. Now in its sixth year, the goal of the series is to promote interdisciplinary inquiry about the environment, as well as foster dialogue across the campus and community.

All lectures are free and open to the public. Below are brief descriptions of the scheduled talks.

6 p.m. Feb. 16, Student Union Jordan Ballroom: The Challenge of Walden in the 21st Century

Professor Laura Walls will present this lecture revolving around Thoreau and how his works apply to readers today. Thoreau’s “Walden” remains one of the most-read and most-taught classics of American literature, yet it remains one of the most challenging of books. Why did Thoreau go to the woods? What did he learn there? And why didn’t he stay? These questions puzzled Thoreau himself, and his quest to compose answers that would bear the full weight of his life and thought led to the publication of “Walden” – which in turn led him to reach beyond his local audience and down the generations to us, today. Thoreau was a prophet, as well as a naturalist and poet, and now that we live in the future he most feared, his call to live “deliberately” seems more urgent, and more difficult, than ever.

Walls is a scholar in the transdisciplinary field of literature and science, with a focus on the 19th century and American Transcendentalism. A reception will follow at 7 p.m. with a no-host bar and appetizers. To reserve a spot at the reception, please contact Samantha Harvey ( or visit the website


COAS In Action

Cheryl HindrichsCheryl hindricks

Associate Professor,  Department of English

Cheryl Hindrichs has published an introductory essay for a special issue of the journal Virginia Woolf Miscellany called “Woolf and Illness.” The essay discusses the significance of Woolf’s “On Being Ill” in underscoring the significance of illness as a major historical context for modernist literature.

An online copy of the journal, which Hindrichs also edited, is available on WordPress:

Fatima CornwallFatima Cornwall

Spanish Language Coordinator, Department of World Languages

Students from Concordia Law University, University of Idaho School of Law and Boise State University are collaborating with local immigration attorneys to represent individuals in the Boise immigration court who seek asylum, protection under the convention against torture and special immigration juvenile status as part of Project Laura.


Rebecca Som CastellanoRebecca Som Castellano

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

Research by Rebecca Som Castellano recently was highlighted in an article published in Edible Idaho. Edible Idaho is a magazine focused on exploring the “food shed and diverse culinary cultures” of the region. The article referenced Som Castellano’s research examining the gendered division of labor in food provisioning among those engaging with local food systems.

Upcoming Events

  • Jan.9-Feb.19: Art Exhibit, “National Mythstory’
  • Jan. 26-March 28: “Crafting Resistance” Exhibition
  • Jan. 17–Feb. 15: 2017 Annual Student Juried Exhibition
  • Feb. 1: Graduate String Quartet Recital
  • Feb. 4: Service Saturday
  • Feb. 24: Politics and Policy Lecture Series, Jill Gill

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, six interdisciplinary programs and six research units.