Tag: neuroscience

Lawrence welcomes eight new tenure-track appointments to the faculty

Lawrence University welcomes eight new scholars to tenure-track faculty appointments this fall for the 2018-19 academic year. The first day of classes for Lawrence’s 170th year is Sept. 11.

The new tenure track appointments include: Ann Ellsworth, conservatory of music (horn); Danielle Joyner, art history; Nora Lewis, conservatory of music (oboe); Linnet Ramos, neuroscience; Andrew Sage, statistics; Elizabeth Sattler, mathematics; Katherine Schweighofer, gender studies; and Allison Yakel, Spanish. Each joins the faculty at the rank of assistant professor, except for Lewis, who will start her Lawrence career as an associate professor.

“Over the past year, I had the great pleasure and privilege to work closely with search committees in the college and conservatory to identify and recruit talented candidates to our tenure track faculty rank,” said Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of the faculty. “These eight new faculty members will enrich the university in myriad ways, introducing new fields of study and fresh perspectives on traditional subjects. I’m thrilled to be able to welcome our newest colleagues to campus.”

Ann Ellsworth
Ann Ellsworth

Ann Ellsworth, conservatory of music (horn)
An international performer and recording artist, Ellsworth also brings nearly 30 years of teaching experience to the Lawrence Conservatory of Music. She joins the faculty from New York City, where she teaches at New York University, the Brooklyn College Conservatory and the City University of New York Graduate Center.

With a focus on new music, overlooked or rarely played pieces and arrangements, Ellsworth has recorded four solo albums, including “Rain Coming,” which was released in 2017. She has performed in music festivals around the world, been a guest artist or principal horn with nearly 20 orchestras or symphonies, including Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and the Oslo Philharmonic, among others. She also has performed for more than a dozen Broadway shows, as well as in concert with touring artists ranging from Shakira and Aretha Franklin to Diana Ross and Johnny Mathis.

A native of Palo Alto, Calif., Ellsworth earned a bachelor of music degree from Eastman School of Music, a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Rochester, took graduate studies at Juilliard School of Music and the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in Russia and earned a master of music degree from the University of

Danielle Joyner
Danielle Joyner

Danielle Joyner, art history
Joyner, whose scholarship interests include ecocriticism, environmental history and conceptions of the natural world, spent eight years in the department of art, art history and design at the University of Notre Dame and since 2015 has taught in the art history department of Southern Methodist University.

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Joyner is the author of the 2016 book “Painting the Hortus Deliciarum: Medieval Women, Wisdom and Time,” and has a second book “Before there was Nature: Rethinking Landscapes and Early Medieval Arts” in progress.

She earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in art history from the University of Utah, a master’s degree in medieval studies from the University of Toronto, and a master’s and doctorate degree in art history from Harvard University.

Nora Lewis
Nora Lewis ’99

Nora Lewis, conservatory of music (oboe)
It will be a homecoming for Lewis, a 1999 Lawrence graduate who returns to her alma mater, replacing her former oboe professor, Howard Niblock, who retired earlier this year. She has taught oboe the past two years at Western Michigan University. Prior to that, Lewis spent nine years building oboe studios at Austin Peay State University (2007-08) and Kansas State University (2008-13).

During her career, Lewis has engaged extensively in national and global outreach, including artist residencies in Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, India and Panama and has delivered scores of master classes throughout the United States.

Since 2010, she has performed with the PEN Trio, touring with the chamber ensemble across the country. Her first book, “Notes for Oboists: A Guide to the Repertoire,” is in progress with Oxford University Press.

A double degree graduate of Lawrence — she earned a B.A. in philosophy and a B.M. in performance — Lewis also holds a master’s degree from the Yale University School of Music and a doctor of music degree from Northwestern University.

Linnett Ramos
Linnet Ramos

Linnet Ramos, neuroscience
Ramos joins the faculty from Temple University, where she held an appointment as a postdoctoral researcher. She also held an adjunct professorship in the psychology department at Temple. Prior to Temple, Ramos worked as a postdoctoral researcher at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia from 2015-17. She served as a member of the diversity committees at both Temple and Children’s Hospital.

Her scholarship interests focus on identifying novel therapeutics to manage various mental health disorders, including drug addiction. Her research has examined the effects of these therapeutics on the neural circuits underlying social behavior.

A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Ramos earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Temple University, a master’s degree in neuroscience from the University of Hartford and a Ph.D. in behavioral pharmacology from the University of Sydney in Australia.

Andrew Sage
Andrew Sage

Andrew Sage, statistics
A former high school math teacher, Sage has taught statistics courses at Iowa State University since 2014. As a graduate teaching assistant at Miami University prior to Iowa State, Sage was recognized with the mathematics department’s “Effective Graduate Teaching Award.

Sage’s research interests include data mining, statistical machine learning and statistics education. While at Iowa State, he was involved in a project using data analytics to help improve student retention among STEM majors.

Originally from Chardon, Ohio, Sage graduated Phi Beta Kappa from The College of Wooster, where as an undergraduate, he wrote a computer program to project complete times for tire tests at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. He earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in statistics at Iowa State.

Elizabeth Sattler
Elizabeth Sattler

Elizabeth Sattler, mathematics
Sattler joins the mathematics department with research interests in symbolic dynamics, ergodic theory and fractal geometry.

A native of Dickinson, N.D., Sattler has spent the past two years on the faculty at Carleton College, where she’s taught courses in calculus, real analysis and complex analysis. From 2011-2014, she taught at North Dakota State University, where she also earned her bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in mathematics.

While at NDSU, she was the recipient of two graduate student teaching awards. She’s been involved as a faculty advisor and mentor for undergraduate research projects at Carleton and NDSU. As a proponent of fostering an inclusive environment, Sattler co-founded the Society of Women in Math and Statistics (SWiMS) at Carleton for women and non-binary math students.

Katherine Schweighofer
Katherine Schweighofer

Katherine Schweighofer, gender studies
Schweighofer brings teaching and research interests in histories of sex and gender, feminist and queer theory, LGBTQ studies, queer geography and gender and sports cultures to the Lawrence faculty. She is especially focused on the histories of sexual identity, geography and political resistance and how it reframes the impact of the U.S. women’s land movement of the 1970s and ’80s.

Since 2015, Schweighofer has taught at Dickinson College following appointments at Butler University and Indiana University, where she received the Barbara C. Gray Award for Teaching Excellence. At Dickinson, she served on the college’s LGBTQ Advisory Board and was recognized in 2017 with a service award by the office of LGBTQ Student Services.

Schweighofer, who grew up in Rochester, Mich., earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a certificate in women’s studies from Princeton University. She also holds a master of arts from New York University and earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in gender studies from Indiana University.

Allison Yakel
Allison Yakel ’06

Allison Yakel, Spanish
Like Lewis, Yakel is returning to alma mater, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and government in 2006. Since 2014, she has taught Spanish courses as a graduate assistant at the University of Houston.

With an interdisciplinary approach, Yakel’s scholarship unites phonetics and phonology, sociolinguistics as it pertains to Spanish and English in contact, and applied linguistics. Her teaching experience includes teaching Spanish as a Heritage Language.

While a student at Lawrence, Yakel spent three years as a Spanish/Italian tutor in the university’s Center for Teaching and Learning. After graduating from Lawrence, she earned a master’s degree in Spanish at Texas State University and a Ph.D. in Hispanic linguistics at the University of Houston.

A Wisconsin native, Yakel grew up in Edgerton.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.



Neuroscientist Julie Brefczynski-Lewis ’97 discusses new brain scanning technology in science colloquium

Emerging technology for conducting brain scans with potential for a variety of applications will be discussed in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

Julie Brefczynski-Lewis wearing PET scanner on her head
Julie Brefczynski-Lewis ’97

Julie Brefczynski-Lewis, assistant professor of neuroscience at West Virginia University’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, presents “Walking with a Brain Scanner: A Novel Wearable PET Scanner,” Monday, March 5 at 4:30 p.m. in Thomas Steitz Hall of Science 102. The event is free and open to the public.

Until now, research on the brain has been limited to testing subjects who need to be perfectly still in an MRI scanner or who can move but only have the surface of the brain imaged through an EEG, leaving many human behaviors unstudied or understudied.

Brefczynski-Lewis, a 1997 Lawrence graduate, is working on a prototype of a new neuroimaging tool that images the entire brain during motion. Incorporating a small and highly sensitive type of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) detector, the imager moves with the head, so the subjects can be upright and perform tasks that involve movement, including walking.

The wearable PET has potential applications for stroke recovery, social cognition and virtual reality environments.

Brefczynski-Lewis primary research focus is on testing how compassion meditation training can help relieve stress, especially the stress of difficult interpersonal relations.

After graduating from Lawrence with a major in biology and having completed an interdisciplinary area in neuroscience, Brefczynski-Lewis earned a Ph.D. in cell biology, neurobiology and anatomy at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Making connections: Intersection of liberal arts, brain research explored in new lecture series

The intersection between the liberal arts and emerging technologies that reveal new answers for the way the human brain functions will be the basis for a new speaker series at Lawrence University.

Over the course of the next eight months, five national experts will explore how brain research is connected to various areas of the liberal arts, including religious studies, music, art and literature.

Edward Vessel

The series, “Liberal Arts in the Century of the Brain,” will incorporate the interdisciplinary areas of neuroscience and cognitive science to create connections with other disciplines at Lawrence by examining questions such as whether the brain processes literary fiction differently than formula fiction or how perception, emotion and cognitive processing impact creative expression.

Edward Vessel, director of the New York University ArtLab and a noted research scientist at NYU’s Center for Brain Imaging, opens the series Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m in Steitz Hall of Science 102 with the presentation “Art and Neuroesthetics.”  A question-and-answer session follows. The event is free and open to the public.

The emerging field of neuroaesthetics uses neuroscience to study art to determine why certain works of art produce an emotional response. Through the use of neural imaging, Vessel will share recent research that focuses on understanding the basis for how people derive pleasure and inspiration from various art forms and how this may be related to learning, motivation and well-being.

“With the advent of new brain imaging technologies we are able to get better and deeper glimpses of a working brain,” said Nancy Wall, associate professor of biology and of the series’ organizers. “These glimpses not only help us learn how brain function engenders humanistic endeavors but also how such endeavors influence and shape brain function. Or, put another way, ‘this is your brain, this is your brain on the liberal arts.’

“One of the goals of this series is to engage faculty and students across all liberal arts disciplines with what we’re learning about how a brain works,” Wall added, “and with this shared knowledge find new ways to collaborate to enhance liberal learning at Lawrence.”

“This is your brain, this is your brain on the liberal arts.”
— Professor Nancy Wall

Joining Vessel on the series schedule are:

  • Richard Davidson, William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior and founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Oct. 29, 11:10 a.m., Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

One of the nation’s leading experts on the neural bases of emotion and emotional style,  Davidson will discuss the ways people can change their brains by cultivating habits of mind that will improve well-being, including happiness, resilience, compassion and emotional balance.

  • Darya Zabelina, post-doctoral fellow at Northwestern University, February, 2016.Zabelina’s presentation will examine the neural aspects of creativity. Her research focuses on ways of enhancing and fostering the development of creative thinking and problem-solving ability.
  • John Iverson, associate project scientist at University of California-San Diego’s Institute for Neural Computation. February 2016.

A cognitive neuroscientist, Iverson will discuss his research on rhythm perception and production in music and language, work that spans behavioral and neuroscience approaches. He is currently overseeing a study of the effect of music training on children’s brain and cognitive development.

  • Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the department of philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. April 12, 2016.

The author of five books and more than 100 published articles, Sinnott-Armstrong is a scholar of moral psychology and brain science, which his presentation will focus on, as well as uses of neuroscience in the legal system.

The “Liberal Arts in the Century of the Brain” lecture series is supported by a $20,500 grant from the New York City-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Faculty Approves Curriculum Changes for Neuroscience, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Driven by faculty interest, Lawrence University students soon will have options for a new major, a new minor and a new interdisciplinary area of study.

At its recent February meeting, the faculty approved proposals to create a major and a minor in neuroscience, while also formally creating an interdisciplinary area in innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E). The changes will be effective beginning with the start of the 2014-15 academic year.

“These curricular changes, originated by the faculty, will significantly enhance interdisciplinary options for our students,” said President Mark Burstein. “Neuroscience is increasingly emerging as one of the most dynamic research areas and important fields of study of our time. In today’s global marketplace, where graduates are likely to change careers multiple times during the course of their professional life, an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset and approach can serve as powerful catalysts when combined with any course of study.”

Neuroscience_newsblog-2The Century of the Brain

Neuroscience, the study of the brain and the nervous system, was first added to the Lawrence curriculum as an interdisciplinary area in 1980. Since then, neuroscience as a field of study has experienced tremendous growth and recognition. In the past 10 years, the field has seen significant breakthroughs in non-invasive brain imaging, computational modeling and experimental visualization techniques that have contributed greatly to the understanding of how brains function.

Inherently interdisciplinary, neuroscience integrates psychology, biology and chemistry in the study of brain development, learning and memory, sensation and perception, neurological and psychological disorders as well as the molecules, cells and genes responsible for nervous system functioning.

There are currently 16 students who have declared a concentration in the neuroscience interdisciplinary area, which is taught by Bruce Hetzler, professor psychology, Nancy Wall, associate professor of biology, Lori Hilt and Judith Humphries, assistant professors of psychology and biology, respectively.

“This is going to be the century of the brain,” said Wall. “Earlier this year, President Obama announced the creation of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, which certainly speaks to the growing prominence of neuroscience today.

“After two years of discussions on developing it as a major, we’re all very excited to be moving forward with it,” Wall added. “This change will be especially beneficial for students who want to pursue graduate studies in the field.”

Promoting Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Lawrence faculty from a variety of disciplines and divisions first introduced innovation and entrepreneurship courses six years ago as a way to enable students to further pursue their passion through innovative and entrepreneurial ventures both in coursework and co-curricular activities.

Rabbit-Gallery-logo_werblogAmong the latter were the development of The Rabbit Gallery, a temporary art gallery that showcased an empty storefront in downtown Appleton, the Greyfell Theater Company,  which launched last December in Door County with the performance of four, original 10-minute plays written by students, and Flickey, a kiosk-based movie distribution system that allows consumers to download movies to a flash drive for playback on a computer or television, among others.

Multidisciplinary by nature, the I&E curriculum has been developed by the faculty of six departments — the conservatory of music, economics, government, physics, studio art and theatre arts — with several courses involving instructors from multiple departments.

Much of the curriculum was developed by a core of nine faculty members: John Brandenberger, physics; Marty Finkler, economics; Adam Galambos, economics; Rob Neilson, studio art; Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory; Ben Rinehart, art history; Claudena Skran, government; Tim Troy, theatre arts; and Gary Vaughan, economics.

“The new interdisciplinary area in I&E will present a coherent collection of courses to students interested in adding an I&E component to their liberal education,” said Adam Galambos, associate professor of economics. “It also will promote interdisciplinary collaboration among students and faculty and enable students to show on their transcripts that they have completed a coherent I&E curriculum.”

One unique aspect of the program is an advisory committee of a dozen committed alumni who have helped faculty develop a program that fits with Lawrence’s mission and culture.

“I&E means different things to different people, but at Lawrence, we think of it in broadly conceived terms that mesh well with the liberal arts,” Galambos added. “Our graduates who embrace innovative and entrepreneurial attitudes will be better equipped to create fulfilling lives for themselves, lives that extend their liberal arts experience.”

During the 2013-14 academic year, more than 10 percent of the student body — 160 students — have enrolled in an I&E course.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.