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2016 September Newsletter

Boise State students

September 2016

Tony RoarkDear Friends,

Whether terrestrial or other-worldly, microscopic or global, deeply human or profoundly abstract, there’s practically no area of inquiry that isn’t explored by faculty and students in the College of Arts and Sciences.

And as this month’s features demonstrate, they do so with award-winning results.

May you enjoy the opening days of autumn, and thank you for your interest in the College of Arts and Sciences.


Tony Roark

Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Boise State University

picture of Anthropology chair and professor John ZikerJohn Ziker Receives Fulbright for Study on Inter-Generational Stress Triggers

Professor John Ziker, chair of the anthropology department, has been awarded a 2016-2017 Fulbright award titled the CANADA-PALIX FOUNDATION DISTINGUISHED VISITING RESEARCH CHAIR IN BRAIN SCIENCE, AND CHILD AND FAMILY HEALTH AND WELLNESS.

His project will investigate the effects of prenatal conditions, early – and middle-childhood stress, social support and neighborhood quality on the development of mental health problems,such as addiction and depression, in the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY). The study was conducted in eight cycles between 1994-2009 by Statistics Canada. The NLSCY was designed to collect information about factors influencing a child’s social, emotional and behavioral development over time.


‘Idaho Microbes’ Book Wins Top Idaho Book Award

“Idaho Microbes: How Tiny Single-celled Organisms Can Harm, or Save, Our World,” a book co-authored by historian Todd Shallat, has been selected to receive the Idaho Library Association Book of the Year Award for 2015.

The award, established in 1985, is given annually to recognize the book that has made an outstanding contribution to literature by an Idaho author or made an outstanding contribution to the materials about Idaho.

In addition to the Idaho Book of the Year Award, “Idaho Microbes” also received a silver medal in the “science” category from the Independent Publisher Book Awards, also known as IPPY.


Dust Devil Study Could Help Us Understand Mars

Dust devilThey say the devil is in the details. Or in the case of new research by Boise State physicist Brian Jackson, the details are in the devils. Dust devils, that is.

Jackson recently received funding from the Idaho Space Grant Consortium (ISGC) to fly an unmanned aerial vehicle through dust devils on a field site near Boise in order to better understand their structure and dynamics.

Of the five ISGC awards this year, three went to Boise State programs. Awardees are Jackson, “Dust Devil Survey Using an Instrumented UAV”; Steve Swanson, Boise State University Undergraduate Microgravity Research Team; and Mike Callahan, “Investigating Formamide Chemistry under Plausible Prebiotic Conditions.”


Boise State Writing Project Fellow Wins Presidential Award

picture of Micah LauerPresident Obama on August 22 named Micah Lauer, a Meridian K-12 teacher and a Boise State Writing Project (BSWP) fellow, as one of 213 winners of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.  These awardees represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity schools. The educators will receive their awards at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 8.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th-grad mathematics or science (including computer science) teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Awardees receive a certificate signed by the president of the United States, a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.


picture of friendship bridge

Solid-State Nanopores Unravel Twisted DNA Mystery

Cancer thrives when mutated cells undergo frequent division. Most anti-cancer drugs work by inserting themselves in between the DNA base pairs that encode our genetic information. This process is known as intercalation, and it can result in subtle changes to the DNA molecule’s geometric shape or tertiary structure. These structural changes interfere with the DNA’s transcription and a cell’s replication process, ultimately resulting in cell death.

While intercalating agents used in chemotherapy drugs are highly effective in fighting cancer, they also may kill important cells in the body and lead to other complications such as heart failure. Therefore, researchers are always searching for faster, cheaper and more accurate tools to aid in the design of next-generation anti-cancer drugs with reduced side effects.

A paper published in ACS Nano, one of the top nanotechnology journals in the world, explores this topic. “Modeling and Analysis of Intercalant Effects on Circular DNA Conformation,” (LINK TO HTTP://PUBS.ACS.ORG/DOI/ABS/10.1021/ACSNANO.6B0487) focuses on the effect of the intercalating agent ethidium bromide (a mimic for many chemotherapy drugs) on the tertiary structure of DNA.

Lead researchers on the project were Daniel Fologea, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, and David Estrada, assistant professor and graduate program coordinator, Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering.


Ian CaveyMathematics Undergrad Is Collegiate Champ Again

For the second consecutive year, undergraduate math student Ian Cavey has won the U.S. National Collegiate Mathematics Championship. Cavey represented Boise State at the annual Mathematical Association of America (MAA) conference held Aug. 3-6 in Columbus, Ohio, ultimately winning in the championship’s problem-solving category. Cavey’s victory stands as both a testament to his superior abilities as a student and the quality of education he’s receiving in the math department. CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT CAVEY’S 2015 VICTORY

The U.S. National Collegiate Mathematics Championship is a national problem-solving competition that tests 20 participants on linear algebra, combinatorics, calculus and number theory.

Boise State Fellow Receives Award at Research Conference

Julia Oxford in lab
Ten Boise State students were awarded 2016 Idaho IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Fellowships. Julia Oxford, director of the Biomolecular Research Center, is principal investigator, and Don Warner, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is fellows coordinator. Fellows all participated in a 10-week mentored research experience, including participation in Boise State’s collaborative Summer Research Community (seminars and other group events), attending and presenting their research in posters at the 2016 Idaho Conference for Undergraduate Research at Boise State and the 2016 Idaho INBRE Research Conference at the University of Idaho.

Katie Yocham, a fellow working with Trevor Lujan and David Estrada in mechanical and biomedical engineering, won the faculty choice award at the Idaho INBRE Conference, beating out more than 100 competitors. Yocham’s project is a collaboration between Lujan and Estrada’s labs and Oxford’s staff in the Biomolecular Research Center.



Richard III flyer
picture and information about Vincent Toro


poster of John Beer

Boise State University Fine Arts Building. A state-of-the-art facility for fine arts that complements and deepens Boise State's involvement in the city and region's celebrated arts and culture community. Click here to learn more.


Jacky O’ConnorJack OConnor studio portrait

Professor of English
Co-Director of the Arts and Humanities Institute 

Jacky O’Connor’s new book, “Law and Sexuality in Tennessee Williams’s America,” has been published by the Fairleigh Dickinson University Press Series in Law, Culture, and the Humanities. In this study, O’Connor traces representations of homosexuality, specifically, and diverse sexualities more generally, in plays, stories, letters and notebooks that Tennessee Williams produced from the 1940s to the 1980s. Legal history and theory provide the framework for assessing these texts and their cultural and political influence on 20th-century legal debates about identity formation, privacy, intimacy and difference.


picture of Arthur Scarritt

Arthur Scarritt

Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Sociology

Arthur Scarritt gave an invited presentation at the annual American Sociological Association annual meeting in Seattle, Washington, Aug. 20-23, attended by more than 3,000 people. Under President Ruth Milkman’s larger theme of rethinking social movements, Scarritt presented at a presidential thematic session on indigenous mobilizations. His piece was titled “Lateral Movements Up: How appropriating new cultural practices vitalizes indigenous sociocultural standings in highland Peru.” It explained how rural indigenous villagers converting to Evangelical Protestantism inadvertently lead to an anti-racist movement.

picture of Kristin Snopkowski

Kristin Snopkowski

Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology

Anthropologist Kristin Snopkowski authored a paper that was published in the journal Human Nature. The article, “Marital Dissolution and Child Educational Outcomes in San Borja, Bolivia,” examines the factors that influence divorce and remarriage among 400 women in San Borja, Bolivia, and the effect of divorce and remarriage on children’s educational outcomes. The results show that women are more likely to divorce and remarry when their male partners earn lower incomes, but are more likely to divorce and remain unmarried when the woman herself earns a higher income. Children have reduced educational outcomes when their mother’s divorce and remarry compared to children whose parent’s remain married or whose mother’s divorce and remain unmarried. The article is part of a special issue on Modernizing Evolutionary Anthropology. The full article can be accessed here.



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.