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2016 December Newsletter

Monthly Update College of Arts and Sciences

Dear Friends,

Dean Tony RoarkWith December drawing to a close, we can find ourselves looking to the past, reflecting on the year behind us and longer-standing concerns. Who among us isn’t tempted to sing “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve?

While the College of Arts and Sciences embraces such traditions, we have a bit of a hard time slowing down even to recount our achievements. Indeed, if there’s a spirit that animates the students and faculty in COAS, it is this: keep moving forward.

As you prepare to turn the page to 2017, may you, too, find inspiration to pursue great things. Thank you for your interest in the College of Arts and Sciences.


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


Caroline Earley Wins New Zealand’s Top Ceramics Award

Ceramic sculpture by Caroline EarleyCeramic artist and associate professor Caroline Earley is fascinated by conceptions of the in-between – the tension that lies in between interactions of technology and the body, for example, or between digital creations and traditional craftwork. This fascination is telegraphed in her work, most recently in the white, amorphous forms with interlocking vestigial appendages visible in a piece titled Clinch VI. It is for this piece that Earley recently won New Zealand’s highest ceramic honor, the 2016 Premier Award in the Portage Ceramic Awards.

“I’m fascinated by things that are starting to form but have not quite become what they are yet,” Earley said. “When ceramics people talk about pots, they talk about the human form: shoulders, waist, foot. I started to think about the bits that stick out as vestigial appendages, starting to form but not quite becoming what they are yet. Or if you think of children sleeping, when you hold them their bodies shift shape to fit to yours. The feeling is soft and lovely, but it’s not their natural shape. It’s an attachment, and that attachment can soothe and comfort, but it can also hold. It’s an unbreakable attachment. I see it as a metaphor for the tension of relationships, what dwells in that in-between space between doing what you should do and want to do.”


Ecology, Evolution and Behavior Ph.D. Accepting Applications

Image of researchers in sorting samples by a river.
The Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior (EEB) Ph.D. program at Boise State University is now accepting applications for Fall 2017. The program was approved by the Idaho State Board of Education in February 2016.

The program uses a modern, evidence-based approach for training graduate students. The goal of the Ph.D. program is to provide students with an intellectual foundation in ecology, evolution and behavior; experience that transcends disciplinary boundaries; and the skills to work with collaborative partnerships that cut across disciplinary, organizational and geographical boundaries.

Students will receive training to become scientists who use theory from biological, physical and social sciences to solve basic and applied problems.


Talkin’ Broncos Win Historic Mahaffey Memorial Tournament

2016 Talkin' Broncos
The Pi Kappa Delta National Champion Boise State Speech and Debate team finished the conference season with their sixth-consecutive win at the 86th annual Mahaffey Memorial Tournament in McMinville, Oregon, Nov. 18-20. The Talkin’ Broncos won first place in Overall Sweepstakes. The tournament featured 30 schools, including Gonzaga University, Carrol College, Humboldt State College, Whitworth University, Lewis and Clark College and Willamette University.

In Open Parliamentary Debate, the team of Ryan Orlando (senior, Meridian) and Jamie Maas (junior, Meridian) were tournament champions, with Maas winning the fifth-place speaker award and Orlando winning the sixth-place speaker award.


Boise State Takes Key Step Toward New Fine Arts Building

Fine Arts Building concept art
The Idaho State Board of Education has approved up to $32 million in bonds to augment the state dollars and private donations paying for the construction of Boise State University’s planned Center for Fine Arts.

The facility will house the university’s acclaimed Department of Art as well as public gallery space and a high-tech, high-touch World Museum. The museum will bring arts and treasures from around the globe to Boise through cutting-edge virtual reality and immersive technology.

“Today’s decision and the generosity of arts and education supporters will ensure that Boise State can provide a new centerpiece for Boise’s thriving arts community — and not just for our students and faculty, but for Boiseans and Idahoans of all ages,” President Bob Kustra said. “We’ll welcome all to the building’s public spaces and to the “World Museum,” where visitors can be a part of something new — an interactive space powered by technology developed right here on campus. Imagine touring the Louvre in Paris, France; the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.; and the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain — all in one day.”


National Geographic Supports Volcano Research in Chile

Researcher in helmet and gas mask by volcano in Chile
As planning continues for humanity’s first visit to Mars, scientists still have much to learn about the planet’s physical makeup. By comparing current satellite images to similar shots of Earth, they are coming to understand how volcanic activity shaped the Red Planet, and extrapolating lessons learned to address concerns closer to home.

Ironically, many images of Mars are more detailed than those of our own planet, despite the fact that information about hard-to-access areas here could provide important clues to what we are seeing on other planets. Boise State volcanologist Brittany Brand recently received funding from the National Geographic Society to try to change that.

Brand and Boise State Ph.D. student Aaron Marshall currently are in Chile working at the site of a number of active volcanoes to capture images that will advance our understanding of how volcanic activity shaped the landscape. Volcanoes include Volcán Villarrica and Volcán Llaima.


Boise State Commencement Ceremony Honors Rod Lewis, Nearly 2,000 Winter Graduates

Image of a college graduate holding his diploma.About 1,000 students participated in the university’s 99th Commencement ceremony. In total, 1,937 students were eligible to receive 2,144 degrees and certificates. Of those, 322 were eligible for honors: 209 cum laude, 97 magna cum laude and 16 summa cum laude.

Boise State expects to confer around 4,000 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and other degrees this academic year. The graduating class represented 24 countries, along with 47 states, the District of Columbia and two military bases.

“Here at Boise State, you shared a common bond as Boise State students, enriching and nurturing our campus culture with your own unique experiences and perspectives,” said Boise State President Bob Kustra. “It’s our fondest hope that because of this experience, you are better prepared to face the career challenges and opportunities that await you in a rapidly changing global economy.”


Fonda Portales is New University Art Curator

Fonda Portales

When you think of public art and Boise State University, what first comes to mind? Is it Nobuyo Okuda’s Eternal Wind sculpture near the Quad or the 12-foot-tall stainless steel “B” standing in front of the Administration Building? Is the “B” considered public art or is it just clever branding?

These are questions worth a lively discussion with Fonda Portales, Boise State’s new university art curator and collections manager. Portales was hired by the university this fall to fill the new position to make public art more available and inviting to everyone on campus. She notes that most of the university’s permanent collection is already hanging in structures around campus – offices, hallway spaces, places where it is accessible to faculty and students. Her challenge is helping students, faculty and staff engage with it. To this end, she will work with the University Arts Advisory Committee to create a visual arts master plan for the campus.

“My goal is to create visual art experiences that get students participating with a diverse array of arts, styles, techniques and materials,” Portales said. “Ultimately, my role is to connect students and community members to the campus experience, through the arts.”


Boise State Hosts Science Network Committee

RM-CESU members in the desertBoise State University recently hosted the executive committee of the Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (RM-CESU) for a two-day meeting.

The RM-CESU is a federal science network made up of government, education and research institute partners. It is the largest of 17 such units in the country. The objective is for researchers to work on solving land management agency issues such as climate change, energy development, invasive species, cultural preservation and more, funded by federal agreements.

Boise State joined the RM-CESU in 2015. The executive committee, comprised of government agency representatives and educational partners, meets annually. Boise State hosted 10 members in person and four more via teleconference.


Faculty and Staff Selected for Curated Exhibition at Boise Art Museum

Boise State participants in the exhibit.Several Boise State faculty and staff members have been selected to participate in the Boise Art Museum’s 2017 Idaho Triennial exhibition. Art professor Jill AnnieMargaret, associate art professor Caroline Earley, associate art professor John Francis, Sign Shop supervisor Pete Kutchins, alumna and customer service representative Rachel Lambert, assistant art professor Lily Lee and adjunct art professor John McMahon all will display works of art in the museum Feb. 18-July 16, 2017. Artist awards will be announced at a special reception on Saturday, Feb. 18. Admission to the reception is free for BAM members and $10 for non-members.

Organized every three years by the Boise Art Museum, the Idaho Triennial is a juried exhibition that showcases exemplary works of art created by a broad selection of Idaho artists. For the last 80 years, the museum has celebrated the creativity of artists living and working in Idaho, and the museum’s series of biennial and triennial exhibitions has become a respected and treasured tradition.

The juror for the 2017 Idaho Triennial is John D. Spiak, who has been the director and chief curator of California State University Fullerton’s Grand Central Art Center (GCAC) in Santa Ana for the past five years. His curatorial emphasis is on contemporary art and society, with a focus on works in social practice and video.


COAS in Action

Ken Cornell

Image of Ken CornellAssociate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Ken Cornell will spend much of January 2017 as a visiting professor at the University of San Agustin in the Philippines, sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). After Cornell returns, a graduate student from the University of San Agustin will spend a year in his lab conducting research on novel compounds to reverse microbial drug resistance as part of a cooperative Philippine-U.S. science fellowship program, also supported by USAID.

Pei-Lin Yu

Image of Pei-Lin YuAssociate Professor, Department of Anthropology

On Dec. 19, Pei-Lin Yu will arrive in Taiwan to study ancient crops cultivated by indigenous Taiwanese farmers. The six-month research project is funded through a Fulbright Fellowship.

Although industrial monocultures of rice and other cash crops make up most Taiwanese agriculture today, Taiwan’s indigenous communities continue to cultivate old strains of millet, taro and a variety of quinoa as traditional foods and to assist with religious ritual. These crops were brought to the island more than 6,000 years ago by Neolithic Chinese farmers, transforming hunting and gathering cultures.


Matt King

Image of Matt KingAssistant Research Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Matt King has been recognized by the American Chemical Society Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling. His artwork depicting a computational approach to screen more than 40 billion peptide structures for receptor interaction will be featured on the journal’s cover for this coming month’s issue


Upcoming Events

  • Dec. 5–Jan. 16: Cycle Learning Center Holiday Sale
  • Jan. 5–7: Advocates for Arts Exhibition
  • Jan. 13: Faculty Artist Series Recital
  • Jan. 16 – MLK March and Rally
  • Jan. 17–Feb. 15: 2017 Annual Student Juried Exhibition

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.