Tag: Lawrence faculty

On Main Hall Green With … Dane Richeson: Lawrence’s percussion maestro

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Dane Richeson (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Dane Richeson, professor of music in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, has crafted a performance and teaching career that has allowed him to explore music around the world and share performance space with a widely diverse array of talented artists.

As director of percussion studies since 1984, he leads the Lawrence University Percussion Ensemble (LUPÉ), which has released two well-received albums and has been honored by the Wisconsin Music Educators Association and the Percussive Arts Society. He was given Lawrence’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015.

As a performer, Richeson has been featured as a solo marimbist, contemporary chamber music percussionist, world percussion specialist, and jazz drummer and has performed with such notable artists as Bobby McFerrin, Gordon Stout, Nancy Zeltsman, and Gunther Schuller.

His research has allowed him to live, study, and teach in three distinctly different cultures: Ghana, studying the music and dance of the Ewe people; Matanzas, Cuba, where he worked with celebrated Afro-Cuban drummers; and Salvador and Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he studied the drumming traditions of the State of Bahia.

We caught up with Richeson to talk about interests in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

That I care about them as individuals and understand—and am sympathetic to—the challenges they will face during their undergraduate journey. I think most students don’t realize that some of their professors have had very challenging experiences in their own college years. My mentors held high standards that helped me get through challenging periods and improved my chances of a career in music.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited? 

Creating music with my colleagues and students. Witnessing the progress and growth of each student in my studio across the four years. Encouraging my students to not be afraid of taking chances and making mistakes. In addition, traveling abroad to research the music traditions of indigenous cultures outside of Europe.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

I have been fortunate to have performed in many countries around the world with a variety of great artists and in many styles of music. I never thought that I would have had these experiences as a performer. Being afforded to take sabbaticals to places I dreamt of visiting while very young to study the drumming traditions, e.g., Ghana, Brazil, Cuba, has been a life-changer.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing? 

When I was young, I wanted to be an astronaut. 

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

Alexander Gym’s all-weather track. I am usually the only one there when going for a slow run; always a nice breeze—geese, hawks, and eagles keeping you company while running in circles. Peaceful.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

Hard to narrow it to one. For books, Black Elk Speaks; Essays and Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson. For recordings, Alina by Arvo Pärt; Love Supreme by John Coltrane. For viewing, Battlestar Gallactica (2004–09) series; Cinema Paradiso.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

See more faculty profiles here.

On Main Hall Green With … Alyssa Hakes: Digging deep into plant ecology

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Alyssa Hakes (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Alyssa Hakes, an associate professor of biology, has focused on plant ecology since joining the Lawrence faculty in 2012.

Much of her research has involved plant-insect interactions. She involves her students in that research, using observational studies, field experiments, and computer models to understand how the spatial location of plants and plant traits might influence interactions with other organisms and what that might mean for plant reproduction and trait evolution.

Over the past year, Hakes has used goofy costumes to lighten the mood and help her students on Zoom get through the pandemic.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University.

We caught up with her to talk about interests in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

I always get nervous and excited on the first day of class. I’m nervous because I care about you and your learning experience and I want to do a good job. I want our classroom—whether in Steitz, Youngchild, or on Zoom—to be a fun and welcoming space. My office is overgrown with potted plants and if you visit me, I will likely offer to give you one. 

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

My lab conducts field work at Whitefish Dunes State Park located near Bjorklunden. I study a rare plant called Pitcher’s thistle and an invasive insect, an evil weevil, that is eating their seeds. We discovered areas of the dunes that are more susceptible to weevil infestation and are studying how weevils move and select their plant hosts so that we can use this information to develop conservation strategies. It’s exciting research in a beautiful natural area. 

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional, or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

As a college freshman, I knew I wanted to become a biologist but I was worried that learning about evolution in my classes would damage my religious faith. I was surprised to find support and acceptance from both my church—turns out my denomination is fine with evolution—and science mentors who insisted that I belong. It turned out not to be the issue I thought it would be. Now, evolution is one of my favorite topics to teach.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing? 

I would want to work for the Girl Scouts of the USA organization. I’m a lifetime member of Girl Scouts and I benefited from their girl-centered mission and programming. When I was a graduate student at LSU, I volunteered for Girl Scouts and led local scouts on several backpacking and canoeing adventures. 

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

The Briggs greenhouse is one of my favorite spots on campus, especially during the Winter Term when I’m missing green plants and warmth. We have a nice teaching collection of desert and tropical plants that are used in several of our biology classes. My favorite plants are the cycads and the Amorphophallus titanum corpse flower plant, which I hope will grow large enough to flower someday and bless our campus with its famous stench.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

I’m going to focus my answer to the art that got me through this past year. My favorite book and movie of 2020 were Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi and The Forty-Year-Old Version, respectively. During the pandemic I also turned to the nostalgia and comfort of familiar music and TV. I listened to a lot of David Bowie and laughed along to old episodes of MST3K.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

See more faculty profiles here.

On Main Hall Green with … Benjamin Rinehart: Creativity, art, and equity

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Benjamin D. Rinehart (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Benjamin D. Rinehart, a professor of printmaking and artist books, knows a thing or two about the creative field of book-making. He’s written the book on it.

A member of the Lawrence art faculty since 2006, Rinehart specializes in socially charged images with an emphasis on printmaking, book constructions, painting, and drawing. His work is included in numerous public and private collections and has been exhibited both nationally and internationally.

He’s the author of Creating Books & Boxes, a book that explores a range of art techniques.

Rinehart received a bachelor’s degree at Herron School of Art and a master’s degree at Louisiana State University and previously taught at Pratt Institute in New York and New Jersey, Rutgers/Mason Gross School of the Arts, Long Island University, Fordham University, Fashion Institute of Technology, and Manhattan Graphics Center.

We caught up with him to talk about his passions in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

I aim to create a welcoming, challenging, and equitable learning environment in my classes. Teaching and making art are two of my greatest passions in life aside from my family—including the fur babies. I enjoy finding solutions to problems and challenges whether big or small. I especially enjoy anything centered around artistic practice.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

Becoming a Posse mentor is one of my proudest achievements on campus. In the past year and a half, I have learned so much about myself and the scholars that I support. It has made me a better advisor, teacher, advocate, artist, and socially engaged human being. The connections that I’ve made through this program are extremely meaningful and fulfilling.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

I moved to NYC with less than $1,500 in my bank account after grad school with no job prospects. Expecting to only stay for a year, I was reluctant to settle down. Things in my life started falling into place after a few months and I made connections all along the eastern seaboard that I maintain to this day. The eight years that I spent in NYC—Brooklyn primarily—was an exciting, uncertain, challenging, and extremely rewarding time in my life.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing?  

I would definitely want to become a chef. I love making a wide variety of foods, and it’s a fun challenge to try out new recipes. Cuisine outside of the United States offers a glimpse into commonalities between cultures. They all seem to have a similar foundation when beginning the cooking process, but the ingredients vary according to region and availability. One of our family favorites is a Masaman curry with homemade naan and mango lassis. Serving others something tasty brings me great joy. It is satisfying to see smiling faces after spending time in the kitchen whether it be from the flavor or presentation. Only the best recipes make it into the family cookbook.

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

I enjoy the view from the hill behind Memorial Hall. Seeing the garden, river, and shoreline offers a peaceful vantage point. Seeing bald eagles isn’t something that I ever saw growing up, and their majestic presence is undeniable. Also, I hear the hill is amazing for sledding during the winter. I haven’t tried it out yet but imagine that I would be screaming (mostly with joy) the entire way down.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

The book Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin is a work that has influenced my view of the world since I first read it. Perhaps it’s cliché, but his writing style and observations resonated with me deeply. Baldwin represented a world that was real and fraught with problems while simultaneously and desperately trying to connect with others. He was a person who was decades ahead of his time and is still one of my heroes.

I never grow tired of listening to Sade. Her hypnotic voice floods my brain, encouraging creative flow and contemplation.

It’s hard to pinpoint a single film, so I choose any of the Marvel movies.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Find more On Main Hall Green With … features here.

On Main Hall Green With … Eilene Hoft-March: Focused on the student journey

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Eilene Hoft-March (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Eilene Hoft-March joined the Lawrence University faculty with a student-focused teaching style and a deep love of French literature and autobiographies. Thirty-two years later, that all remains true.

The Milwaukee-Downer College and College Endowment Association Professor of Liberal Studies and professor of French has been the recipient through the years of some of Lawrence’s most esteemed teaching awards—the then-named Young Teacher Award in 1991, the Freshman Studies Teaching Award in 1997, and the Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2011.

She has taught courses in Gender Studies, has directed Lawrence’s Francophone Seminar in Dakar, Senegal, and has advised students coming to Lawrence via the Posse Program.

She holds a bachelor of arts degree in French and English from what was then Carroll College and master’s and doctoral degrees in French from the University of California-Berkeley.

We caught up with Hoft-March to talk about her interests in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

I’d like students to know that, while I have a professional responsibility to guide them through the course material, each class is uniquely shaped by who shows up in the classroom. The mistakes we make—and I include myself—the questions we ask, and the challenges we encounter all give distinctive worth to the whole enterprise. The more we dig in, the more our work becomes part of our personal strategies for dealing with what’s beyond the classroom.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

Being at the far end of my career at Lawrence, I am grateful for having been able to participate in the launch of Gender Studies and Global Studies, and in the integration of Francophone Studies into my own department, as well as being part of the Posse program. Looking forward, I want to return to the project of reconstructing and writing the story of my grandparents’ immigration to this country.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

I first went to Dakar, Senegal in 1998 when the French and Francophone Studies department’s Francophone seminar was new. I had no practical experience and little knowledge of French-speaking West African cultures. My Dakar friends’ and family’s warm hospitality, their patience in making me culturally presentable, and their curiosity about my indelible American-ness was a lot to undertake. I fell in love with their vibrant culture. Every March, the season when we leave for Dakar, I still feel a tug of nostalgia for the sandy, Sahel heat and the musical sounds of Wolof.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing?  

I suspect I’d still be teaching, but a back-up career would focus on feeding people. Making food is, in my humble opinion, a sacred and fulfilling task. You can do a lot with food to rekindle energy, friendship, and love.

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

My office. I am blessed with two stunning views of the campus from my office windows. The north window gives a view of the Chapel, Lawrence’s iconic performance space open to Lawrentians and, just as importantly, to the community beyond the University. From the south window, you can see the library, also a public space symbolizing a lot of what Lawrence is about. It’s lovely to look on these buildings that support endless potential for engagement with knowledge and art.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

One favorite book? That’s like asking me who my favorite relative is, though I wouldn’t want to push that analogy too far. I have special relationships to books that have accompanied me through tough phases of life or books whose readings shared with others have enriched my relationships. For now, I’ll go with, in English, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and, in French, Marie Darrieussecq’s Bref séjour chez les vivants (Brief Sojourn Among the Living).

One recording? So many choices. Jaap Schröder on violin playing Bach Sonatas and Partitas, Joni Mitchell’s Mingus, and Tracing Astor by Gidon Kremer. The Piazzolla recordings are great for gliding around the kitchen while cooking.

Films? Branagh’s Dead Again and Nolan’s Memento. I’m a sucker for psychological thrillers.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

On Main Hall Green With … David Gerard: Economics in real time

Portrait on Main Hall Green: David Gerard (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

David Gerard, the John R. Kimberly Distinguished Professor of the American Economic System and associate professor of economics, has spent considerable time over the past year studying and teaching about the economics of the COVID-19 pandemic.

No surprise there. A specialist in risk regulation and public policy, particularly in areas of energy and the environment, Gerard regularly brings real-time issues into his teaching.

In 2015, his research and teaching on environmental issues earned him Lawrence’s annual Faculty Convocation Award. He then delivered a Convocation address on the growing economic and political challenges associated with climate change.

Gerard joined the Lawrence faculty in 2009 following eight years at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was executive director of the Center for the Study & Improvement of Regulation in the College of Engineering. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College and a master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.

We caught up with Gerard to talk about his interests in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

I developed this class especially for you, the Lawrence student, and I believe in my heart that you can do well. This is especially true for the introductory economics students, who often want me to know that they have never taken an economics class. I tell them, hey, this is intro, you are in the right place.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

The pandemic has really shaken things up for me. My research and teaching focus on risk regulation and on the interface of the public and private sectors, so there is a lot going on.  There is so much going on, in fact, that I pushed back my Spring 2020 sabbatical to teach a seminar on the economics of pandemics. We followed along with the economics and policy scholarship that was emerging in real time, and we also surveyed the social science and historical scholarship on how epidemics and pandemics have shaped the arc of history. There are elements of that material in just about every course I will teach going forward. It was a pretty central focus of my Public Economics course this past fall. In our Senior Experience seminar this term we are examining recent economics scholarship on topics ranging from vaccine allocation decisions to the effects on public trust in scientists to the lasting impacts on civil liberties. Professor Shober and I are hosting a reading and discussion group on the U.S. experience with infectious diseases. I’m looking forward to finding out how this one ends.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

My first time teaching First-Year Studies we covered The Tempest. This was the year we had that giant class of 450 first-year students, so we moved the lecture to the Chapel.  The place was packed. Professor Bond brought the house down with a lecture that featured two student actors and a big log. The Actors from the London Stage were on campus to perform the play and to conduct these hands-on acting workshops for our sections. There was this extended, exhilarating Shakespeare buzz across campus for a week or more. I wasn’t expecting the campus-wide Shakespeare buzz. 

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing?  

My wife, Kirsten, tells me that I am happiest when I am teaching, so I count it as a blessing that I will never have to find out. My students will tell you it would have to be something with an “inelastic demand for my services.” The correct answer is a professional bocce player. 

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

That would be the Fishbowl on Briggs 2nd.  The back wall is a big window that looks into the hallway, so passersby can look right in. It is such a ridiculous room, I love teaching in there. Our tutors also hold office hours in there at night sometimes, and I like dropping in to see how that’s going and chat with the students in a more relaxed setting. My second choice would be a chair next to the window in the Nathan B. Pusey Room overlooking the Fox River. Professor Parks and I used to go drink our coffee and while away the hours there back when we were young and carefree.   

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both? 

The book is Michael Chabon’s Wonderboys. It is about navigating successes and failures and coming to terms with who you are and who you might become. I have read it at different stages of my life and take different things away every time. It is one of the rare books where the book is considerably more violent than the film. And it is set in Pittsburgh!  

The recording is Miles Davis’ Right Off from the Jack Johnson album. A friend gave it to me and I could not believe I had never heard it. The energy is incredible. Everything about it is incredible.

The film that speaks to me is Breaking Away. I still cry every time I see it. Well, now you know.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

For more On Main Hall Green With … features, see here.

On Main Hall Green With … Celia Barnes: In search of Enlightenment

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Celia Barnes (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Celia Barnes, associate professor of English, has forged an impressive track record in working across departments, merging her deep interest in 18th-century literature with related subject matter in areas as seemingly far-ranging as philosophy and physics.

She’s been doing that since joining the Lawrence University faculty just over a decade ago, teaming with other faculty to present such classes as “Newtonian Lit: Chronicles of a Clockwork Universe” (physics) and “Enlightenment Selves” (philosophy).

Her love of literature was nurtured as an undergrad at the College of William & Mary, where she majored in English. But it wasn’t until her graduate school days at Indiana University that she went all in on 18th-century British literature, including women writers of that period.

Her classroom work at Lawrence earned her the 2020 University Award for Excellence in Teaching, one of three annual faculty awards presented at Commencement.

We caught up with Barnes to talk about her interests in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

That if you had told me when I was a college student and an English major all those years ago that I would be a scholar and teacher of 18th-century literature, I would have laughed in your face. As many of my students have heard—this is a favorite Professor Barnes story—in my undergrad 18th-century British lit class we never read one work by a woman. So, this period came to me by surprise years later, in graduate school, when I recognized that there was a beauty and weirdness to the literature—and that women and people of color, and not just bewigged white men, were writing it. I was hooked; the rest is history. When I tell this story to my students, I insist that they will be hooked, too, after a novel or two. And many of them are.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

Last Winter Term, I taught a class called “Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa and the #metoo Eighteenth Century” in which we read one of the longest—and, really one of the most depressing—novels in English in just 10 weeks. Clarissa is long, depressing—and it’s an epistolary novel, which is a form 21st-century readers aren’t really used to reading. I thought I would be lucky to have four people sign up for this class, but we were full, and we had such a wonderful time. The students came to class every day ready to dig in. It was one of the most rewarding teaching experiences I’ve had here, and I’m excited to offer the course again next year.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

I have a small person at home, so literal travel when there isn’t a pandemic raging is limited to the annual conference trip, but I did have the opportunity to prepare, with my friend Jack Lynch at Rutgers, an Oxford World’s Classics edition of two texts that chronicle one of the most famous 18th-century vacations: Samuel Johnson’s and James Boswell’s accounts of their journey to the Scottish highlands together in 1773. The two friends went to the Hebrides together, but they both wrote up very different accounts of their trip, so both texts are fun to read and consider together. I had never prepared a student edition before, so it was certainly new territory, as it were, for me.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing? 

Canning vegetables. Can you make a living doing that? No, seriously, I really do love cooking, baking, and preparing jams, sauces, and the like. As anyone who is a friend of mine on Facebook knows, cooking has been something that has really grounded me during the pandemic.

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus? And why?

I miss Andrew Commons so much. I miss eating there with colleagues and seeing students and chatting with them over lunch. I miss the wonderful staff. I miss that ridiculously delicious tofu on the salad bar. It’s really my favorite place, hands down.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

Everyone should read—or try to read, because it’s not for everyone—Laurence Sterne’s strange and wonderful novel Tristram Shandy, which is basically about a guy who is trying to tell us his life story but he’s so digressive that it takes him almost half the book before he’s finally born. Meg Pickett and I teach it in our “Newtonian Lit” course, and it’s just a transformative reading experience for some of our students. Highly recommend. But if you can’t make it to the end—it really isn’t for everyone—then Michael Winterbottom made a really wonderful film version in 2005 with Steve Coogan and Gillian Anderson. A recording? Last March, Sir Patrick Stewart began reading one Shakespeare sonnet each day, starting with Sonnet 1 and going in order, and posting his readings on Instagram. He finished in October. It’s a fabulous, fabulous series.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

For more On Main Hall Green With … features, see here.

On Main Hall Green With … Allison Fleshman: For the love of science

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Allison Fleshman (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Allison McCoy Fleshman, an associate professor of chemistry, has a deep love of science.

It’s evident when she’s teaching or conducting research as an associate professor of chemistry. She’s been a key member of the Lawrence University chemistry faculty since 2013. It’s also evident when she joins her husband, Bobby Fleshman, at their McFleshman’s Brewing Co. in downtown Appleton. The Mc in the name comes from McCoy, and she revels in the science of beer-making at the micro-brewery and taproom.

Fleshman has a bachelor of science degree in physics and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Oklahoma.

We caught up with her to talk about interests in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

I absolutely love science, and in particular physical chemistry, and my enthusiasm is sincere. When I teach the Periodic Table of the Elements to my introductory chemistry students, my eyes fill with tears as I talk about its beauty. Those are real tears. Having a deep passion for the subject helps students appreciate what it means to be a life-long learner. I tell them that even something as simple as table salt, sodium chloride, still has so many secrets to share. Sincere enthusiasm fuels us to keep asking questions, even on things we think we understand.  

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

I work with liquid salts that have fascinating physical properties, and have potential use in battery systems, carbon sequestration; you name it, these nifty materials can likely do it—except your taxes, they probably can’t do that, but they could be used in inks, so yeah, I guess they can do your taxes. My research focus is developing mathematics that describes the behavior of these liquids. I get super excited when the theoretical models explain experimental observations—sounds nerdy, but when the math works out, I do a happy dance. 

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

In 2017, a chance encounter at a conference resulted in me moving to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for six months as the resident director of an off-campus study program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. I was shocked to have the door open for me, but took advantage and learned so much science and met some great people. I admit that Imposter Syndrome is a real thing, but working at Oak Ridge helped build my confidence in my abilities as a scientist. My project was on the same liquid salts I mentioned, but using a completely new technique. I essentially got to play with a big laser that tracked little fluorescent molecules as they danced through the liquid salts. It was an absolute blast.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing?  

Not a fair question. If I wasn’t teaching physical chemistry, I’d likely be teaching yoga, so still teaching. If I had to avoid teaching altogether, I’d probably join my husband at McFleshman’s Brewing Co. and write articles for the Society of Brewing Chemists. You can take the scientist out of the lab, but you can’t take the lab out of the scientist?

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation, or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

My personal favorite spot: The Esch Hurvis Room in the Warch Campus Center has yoga classes facing the windows that overlook the river. I highly recommend them because you get a remarkable view to accompany a great yoga practice in the middle of the day. 

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

I’m not sure what this says about my soul, but for a book: Salt by Mark Kurlansky. A fascinating tale of how salt has changed the world, although when I have recommended it to friends, they don’t tend to like it. Their loss. It is so fascinating. Although I should also give a shout out to Eric Scerri’s The Periodic Table, which now dons the First-Year Studies list. It has become a close runner-up to Salt. 

Recording: Tom Petty’s Southern Accents. My husband and I saw him and the Heartbreakers over 30 times in concert, but never heard this song live. There are many others, but this one does speak to my soul, in particular the live version in Gainesville, Florida, for the 30th anniversary tour. Check out YouTube. You’re welcome. RIP, Tom.

Film: I’m a child of the ’80s. Raiders of the Lost Ark for the win. 

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu.

Find more faculty profiles from the On Main Hall Green With … series here.

On Main Hall Green With … Scott Corry: New frontiers for a mathematics scholar

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Scott Corry (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Scott Corry is leading the Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science into new territory.

The professor of mathematics is the chair of the newly renamed department, which has grown significantly, adding two faculty positions, one last year in statistics and one upcoming in computer science. Multiple new courses have been added to the curriculum, the mathematics major has been redesigned, including the addition of a statistics track, the computer science major has been reconfigured, and a new minor in statistics and data science has been launched.

Corry joined the Lawrence mathematics faculty in 2007. He returned to the department chair position in 2019 after previously holding that post in 2014-15 and 2017-18. He has taught calculus, algebra, number theory, and geometry courses while pursuing his research interests in analogies between Riemann surfaces and finite graphs. He was a visiting fellow at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge, England, in 2009, and was recognized with Lawrence’s then-named Young Teacher Award in 2011.

He earned his doctoral degree at the University of Pennsylvania and his bachelor’s degree at Reed College.

We caught up with Corry to talk about his interests on and off campus.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

Students should know that I believe they can enjoy math. Too often, people have fixed ideas about whether or not they are “math people,” and they carry anxieties about their mathematical abilities. This is the wrong approach. I want students to relax into the creative play that lies at the heart of mathematical exploration, and to feel the joy of solving problems and studying interconnections between ideas. As in all things, the more you enjoy your work, the more likely you are to succeed at it.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

In recent years, more and more of my energy has been devoted to chairing the Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, and I’ve been surprised at how much I enjoy hiring and supporting new colleagues, working with them to revise our curriculum, and collaborating to support students in new and more substantial ways. My own mathematical work and teaching will always be the bedrock of why I love being at Lawrence, but the recent challenge of department-building and curricular revision is exciting.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

A few years ago, I wrote a book called Symmetry and Quantum Mechanics that describes the exquisite mathematical structure underlying the central physical theory of the microscopic world. While I’ve been interested in physics for a long time—I started out as a physics major before switching to math—I never expected to make a scholarly contribution. But I found myself writing that book as a labor of love after embarking on a reading project with my good friend Doug Martin from the LU Physics Department. This is a great example of the power of collaboration to push us in unexpected directions, and it was honestly the most fun I’ve ever had with an intellectual project.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing?  

I think it would be nice to be a science journalist, doing the important work of explaining scientific developments to a popular audience. I’m thinking especially of someone like Natalie Wolchover and her writings for Quanta magazine. Over the past decade or so, I’ve discovered a real passion for writing, and I enjoy the challenge of learning and explaining new things.

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

There is a secluded bench next to the Buchanan-Kiewit Wellness Center that looks out to the Fox River over the LU Sustainable Garden. Although I haven’t been there recently, in my early years at Lawrence I often ate my lunch there, weather permitting. It is a nice place to take a break, read a book, or simply catch your breath during an otherwise busy day.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

Stanley Cavell’s The Claim of Reason. This ambitious and unusual book of moral philosophy traverses a wide swath of thought, beginning with Wittgenstein’s ideas about language, moving through the epistemological challenge of skepticism, and culminating in an exploration of Shakespeare’s tragedies. It had an immense impact on me as a college student, and I continue to return to it to this day.

Mahalia Jackson’s rendition of If I Can Help Somebody. Just listen.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia. An ensemble cast delivers a complicated and touching performance tied together by an excellent Aimee Mann soundtrack.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

On Main Hall Green with … Rosa Tapia: A passion for Spanish literature, cinema

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Rosa Tapia (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Rosa Tapia has left her imprint on the Spanish faculty in a myriad of ways since coming to Lawrence University in 2002, but perhaps nowhere as visibly as her work with the annual Latin American and Spanish Film Festival.

Working in partnership with faculty colleague Cecilia Herrera, Tapia helped launch the festival in 2012, bringing award-winning films from Latin America and Spain to Lawrence and connecting the community to national and international filmmakers. It’s an extension of her ongoing study in contemporary Spanish and Latin American literature and cinema.

The professor of Spanish has been drawing rave reviews herself since arriving on campus 18 years ago. In 2005, she earned the University’s then-named Young Teacher Award. She also serves as a co-chair of the national Development Committee for the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam.

In addition, Tapia has been a leader in academic advising at Lawrence, receiving the Excellence in Advising Award in 2014 and serving as faculty director of advising from 2016 to 2020. She chaired a task force that developed a new guide and resource page for advising and led initiatives that improved connections between faculty advisers and students.

More faculty features can be found here.

Tapia holds a doctorate in Spanish from Penn State University, a Master of Arts in Spanish from the University of Delaware, and a Licenciatura in English philology from the University of Granada in Spain.

We caught up with Tapia to talk about her interests in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

Students should know that I’m very passionate about what I teach and I’m always looking for ways to share that passion with them. My Spanish classes and my work on literature and film are tightly connected. They naturally include a variety of academic and cultural perspectives, so I expect students to contribute their own point of view. They should come ready to jump into other cultural frameworks and ways to see and study the world.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

I love being able to blend my research with my classes, with student projects, and with initiatives like the Latin American and Spanish Film Festival. It’s an amazing opportunity to interact with international filmmakers and it feels great to welcome such a diverse audience to campus. It was also energizing to participate in initiatives to improve academic advising for student success and I cherish my years as a Posse mentor.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

Oh, there are too many surprises to list here. Pursuing an academic career as an immigrant opened my eyes time after time. I learned to negotiate and inhabit a number of cultural, social, and symbolic borders, both in my everyday life and in my academic interests. These are not always easy to separate when one studies identity, power, and representation as a Spanish-born scholar of Latin American culture in the U.S. The flip side of the coin is, of course, the wonderful opportunity to see various parts of the world, meet incredible people, and be a lifelong student of other cultures. I had no idea this was going to be my life! I’d love to go back and tell my 18-year-old self when I was starting my own college journey in Granada, Spain.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing? 

I’d love to work on projects related to college access and success, or the promotion of cultural connections through the study of the arts, particularly film, across different communities and countries. Ideally, I’d like to do something that would allow me to keep growing and learning, travel, and collaborate with people from different origins and diverse backgrounds.

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus? And why?

One of my favorite places on campus is the Cinema, because it brings me wonderful memories of the film festival.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

Carmen Martín Gaite’s novel The Back Room, Caetano Veloso’s version of the song Cucurrucucú Paloma, and Pedro Almodóvar’s film All About My Mother.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Stunning talent, passion, wisdom guide John Holiday’s journey on “The Voice”

John Holiday found a home three years ago with the Lawrence Conservatory of Music. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

As contestants on NBC’s The Voice scrambled to pull together family and friends for virtual watch parties on the show’s opening night, John Holiday had other ideas.

The voice professor in Lawrence University’s Conservatory of Music knew he was about to catch lightning in a bottle. He knew the coaches’ response to his performance of Misty was off the charts, and he knew there was a pretty good chance his world was about to explode. He also knew with whom he wanted to share that moment—his students.

The John Holiday Tracker: Follow along on his journey on “The Voice.”

So, as Holiday watched from his Appleton home as John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, and Gwen Stefani all turned their chairs and showered his performance with such overwhelming praise that he became the show’s immediate favorite, 10 of his students, connected by Zoom, hooted and hollered along with him and his husband, Paul, and their two house guests, Brian Pertl and Leila Ramagopal Pertl. They screamed when Legend called Holiday’s voice “otherworldly,” and again when a surprised Clarkson dropped the “I didn’t know you were a dude” line.

“One of the things I wanted to do in doing this show is to show my students what’s possible when you stretch yourself beyond what you think is possible,” said Holiday, an associate professor of music who has been on the Lawrence faculty since 2017. “There are people who dare to dream bigger than themselves; they never stop learning, never stop growing. I wanted to show my students what that looked like.”

In the more than two weeks since his audition aired, much has changed in Holiday’s universe, even though he, like most of us, remains mostly homebound in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. He continues to teach during Lawrence’s Fall Term, but he’s doing so while juggling multiple media requests and a growing social media presence. His path as part of Team Legend, under the guidance of the iconic singer, is still very much a secret, but viewers will begin to see it unfold as the battle rounds begin in the coming days. The show airs Mondays and Tuesdays.

On campus, Holiday has become the frequent focus of conversation, a welcome respite amid the frustrations of a year dominated by COVID-19. In the Conservatory offices and halls, faculty and students have been leading the cheers. Alumni have been reaching out. Even other music schools have been calling with congratulations.

“There is a definite buzz around John’s performance,” said Brian Pertl, dean of the Conservatory. “Everyone is so excited that the rest of the world is hearing this remarkable voice.”

Holiday, a countertenor with the ability to hit the highest notes, made it to the televised blind auditions in front of the coaches—Clarkson, Legend, Stefani, and Blake Shelton—after being selected from among thousands of hopefuls who went through the open-call audition process. He said he opted to enter the TV fray in part because his busy performance schedule, mostly on opera stages, came to an abrupt stop when the pandemic shut down performances around the world.

The reaction was immediate

Holiday’s phone blew up as soon as his audition aired on Oct. 19. A clip from the show featuring his performance quickly drew more than 500,000 views, and posts on various media sites piled on the praise and dubbed him the favorite to win it all.

Success isn’t necessarily new to Holiday. He has performed on some of the biggest stages in the world, and in 2017 received the Marian Anderson Vocal Award from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Washington National Opera, given to a rising star in the area of opera, oratorio, or recital repertory. He knows his way around applause. But this reaction was different.

“My social media has gone kind of bonkers,” Holiday said. “And that is absolutely something I was not expecting. I didn’t know people were going to receive it that way. In general, I’m a person who doesn’t read reviews. I think even if they’re great, sometimes it can get to a person’s head, and if the reviews are bad, they can make you feel bad. So, I tend to be a person who, generally, if I feel good about what I’ve done, I won’t read anything. I just kind of sit in the moment and reflect on what I felt was good and what I felt needed some work. But from the moment this came on, it was kind of hard to not see the things that were going on.”

Hannah Jones ’22, a voice student from Houston who came to Lawrence in large part because she wanted to work with Holiday, was on that Zoom call, watching with classmates through the two-hour episode in hopes of seeing the man they affectionately call Prof. For an hour and 50 minutes, there was nothing. Until they saw the boots.

“As soon as we heard and saw Prof’s heeled boots, every single square erupted,” Jones said.

The only shriek that was louder came from Holiday himself.

“The one thing that truly made this moment special is the fact that Prof shared this huge moment in his journey with us,” Jones said. “He could have easily shared this unforgettable moment with his close family and friends, but he chose us.”

John Holiday arrives in The Voice spotlight having already performed in some of the world’s most iconic venues. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Building to this moment

That journey Jones speaks of is one that’s been building for Holiday. What heights he reaches via The Voice, and what doors they open, have yet to be revealed. But the transition from rising opera star to a performer who lives in a more mainstream music world is one that’s very much deliberate. Holiday has frequently dabbled in jazz and gospel genres, and he said he’s long felt the urge to wade into more pop-focused opportunities. The pandemic shut-down and the arrival of a new season of The Voice provided the perfect storm.

“There are a lot of people who feel like opera is elitist,” Holiday said. “As an opera singer, I can understand that. But I also believe that it is not elitist. Opera is music that makes you feel things, the same way that Nicki Minaj might make people feel, the same way Smokey Robinson might make someone feel, the same way that Coldplay might make someone feel. Opera has that same ability. So, for me, the reason I also want to cross over is because I’ve always longed to be the bridge between opera and jazz and pop and gospel music.”

The 35-year-old Holiday grew up in Rosenberg, Texas, learning to play the piano and singing in his church choir, all with enthusiastic encouragement from his beloved grandmother, who he calls Big Momma. He would later join the Fort Bend Boys Choir of Texas, giving him his first introduction to classical music.

He held tight to family as he grew up amid frequent bullying. His high voice, now embraced, was often the source of ridicule from others, he said. He was harassed for being gay long before he knew in his heart that he is gay.

“I’m lucky to have my grandmother, Big Momma, in my life,” Holiday said. “She has been my biggest cheerleader.”

She was among the first to tell him that his voice was a gift, not a curse.

He went on to earn a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from Southern Methodist University, a Master of Music in vocal performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and an artist diploma in opera studies from Juilliard School.

He has since performed in operas—in four languages—at some of the most iconic venues in the world, from the Glimmerglass Festival to Carnegie Hall to the Kennedy Center. He’s performed with the Los Angeles Opera, Dallas Opera, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Phoenix Symphony, among others.

About the time he was awarded the coveted Marian Anderson Vocal Award three years ago, the Washington Post called him “an impressive figure on an opera stage” and the New York Times hailed him as “an exceptional singer with a strong voice, even in its highest range.”

His left turn onto The Voice stage and into more mainstream circles isn’t out of character. He’s not running away from opera, he said. He’s simply drawing new fans to his journey.

“For me, I want to be able to change the narrative across the board and make opera more accessible,” he said. “Also make jazz more accessible because there are people who think jazz is far from opera, but it’s actually not. It’s very close to it.”

Holiday grew up singing gospel music and “hearing all the oldies and goodies.” Opera wasn’t something his family was initially drawn to. It wasn’t until he joined the boys’ choir that he gave much thought to classical music.

“It’s not something that was part of our fabric growing up,” he said.

Now, as he reaches his mid-30s and ponders new challenges, Holiday is looking toward those other musical influences. He understands that the ability to excel across the musical spectrum is a challenge with a high bar. He doesn’t want to shy away from it.

“I know that I am more than one-dimensional,” he said. “I feel like boxes are the death of art. … I want to go outside of the boxes in how people perceive the way I should sing. … For me, just singing opera, it would be inauthentic to who I am. I love opera in every fiber of my being. But I am also more than an opera singer. I am more than jazz. I am more than gospel. I am more than pop. Music is just a part of me. And I want to be able to give that in every single way that I can.”

John Holiday: “It is the most amazing gift to be a teacher and to inspire others.”

Landing at Lawrence

When Lawrence’s Conservatory had an opening in its voice department in 2017, Holiday was immediately intrigued. He had worked a number of times with Lawrence alumni in his opera and symphonic performances. He knew the school’s strong reputation was legit. And he had gotten a taste of teaching while working with the Ithaca College School of Music.

A chance to teach at Lawrence while still juggling a busy performance schedule was the dream, Holiday said.

It didn’t take long, Pertl said, for that interest to be mutual.

“John’s material immediately stood out,” he said. “The video samples he submitted were stunning, so we were very excited about his application. When he came to campus, he sealed the deal. His live recital was so moving that most of us in the audience were in tears, and the wisdom, connection, and compassion he demonstrated in his teaching made him the perfect fit.”

Three years later, Holiday continues to mesh seamlessly within the talent-filled Conservatory. From the start, he was often on the road due to his performance schedule, but he quickly grew adept at doing voice lessons remotely, connecting with students from back stages or studio locations or hotel rooms. It’s a skill set that other faculty members tapped into in the spring when the pandemic sent students home for Spring Term and all classes and lessons went remote.

Read more: John Holiday loves to recruit talented students to Lawrence

Holiday also serves as a de facto recruiter for the Conservatory while on the road, visiting high schools, particularly those that cater to the arts, whenever he can.

Jones, the third-year Lawrence student from Houston, said she first considered Lawrence after meeting Holiday her senior year when he visited her Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

“He came to my school to do a masterclass with some of the students,” Jones said. “At the end of the masterclass, Prof sat down at the piano and sang a Negro spiritual, Over My Head, I Hear Music in the Air. I went up to him after the masterclass ended to express how amazed I was, and then he started speaking life into me and dismantling the unspoken doubts I had in my mind at the time. I remember bawling in the restroom and making the decision to go wherever Prof was. Prof is the reason why I am at Lawrence.”

Holiday doesn’t take those words lightly. It’s building that connection with students, making them understand what’s possible, making them believe in themselves, that gives him his greatest joy, he said. Allowing them to now see him being coached while competing on The Voice is one more piece to that puzzle. The teacher has become the student.

“I am not a coach, I am a teacher,” Holiday said. “And a teacher is someone who is teaching the science of the vocal anatomy. … How to breathe, how to stand, what it means to have good posture, what it means to have good vocal health, and how to navigate the complexities of the vocal apparatus. It is the most amazing gift to be a teacher and to inspire others to be the best of themselves and discover who they are meant to be in the world.

“And what is really beautiful to me is now being able to be in a position to show my students what it looks like for me to be taught and coached on the biggest of levels.”

Jones said she and other students are well aware that they have to share Holiday with the world. That’s always been the case, his performance demands being what they are. It may be even more so now that The Voice is introducing him to a wider audience.

“There have been a few times where we have had to remind Prof to not spread himself too thin,” Jones said. “But Prof’s ability to teach never wavers. We were having Zoom lessons long before the pandemic. … He pushes us to be better versions of ourselves. ‘You are your own competition’ is one of Prof’s signature quotes, and it’s a quote that has changed my life.”

Embracing what’s ahead

Now comes the next step on The Voice, a show that in its 19th season still draws an audience of nearly 8 million viewers. The coaches have established their teams. The battle rounds are set to begin.

For obvious reasons, Holiday can’t reveal what’s ahead. But he can say the experience of working with Legend was spectacular, and the opportunity to get to know and work with the other contestants was a beautiful experience.

He was in Hollywood filming the show earlier this fall, connecting with his students for lessons but unable to reveal where he was or what he was doing.

“I haven’t missed a step,” Holiday said. “All of my students have gotten all of their lessons, and I’ve just enjoyed it. They didn’t know what was going on, and, of course, I couldn’t tell them. I couldn’t tell anyone. My students are used to it. They’re used to me being on the road and teaching from the hotel or teaching from the studio where I’m at. I was teaching from the hotel room where I was staying in Los Angeles. That was an experience in itself, to be experiencing all these wonderful things and then also be teaching my students.”

Now, as the show progresses, he hopes his students will enjoy what they’re seeing—his commitment to the work and the music, even amid obstacles and challenges, his enduring love for Texas and his family, his attachment to Lawrence and his adopted home in Wisconsin, and his never-compromising eye for fashion. And he hopes other viewers looking on, 8 million strong, will share in the joy. After all, this is supposed to be fun.

“We’re living in such a time that can be devoid of hope and joy and peace, and I want to be able to give that with my music in every way,” Holiday said. “I don’t know if I succeed with that but I think that people who really connected with me can feel that. That’s my biggest hope and my biggest prayer.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu