Faculty Scholarship Lunch Series

Holy Cross faculty are invited to share with colleagues their important recently-published research and their experiences as they transition to new projects or research. This series is open to Holy Cross faculty members who register in advance. Lunch is provided. Space is limited.

Sponsored by the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture and the Dean's Office.

Past Events

April 10, 2024
Neuropsychiatric Applications of Machine Learning Shannon Stock, Associate Professor of Statistics, describes machine learning algorithms that aim to enhance clinical decision-making by providing transparent insights into the patterns of risk factors that influence patient outcomes.

March 14, 2024 
Himalayan Vistas Reflections on an Interdisciplinary Career in Religious Studies Todd Lewis, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Humanities, discusses the ways he broadened his work on textual analysis to include anthropology, art, ethnography, and Asian history as he studied the living Buddhist tradition in Kathmandu, Nepal. 

February 7, 2024
Worldschoolers: Mobile families, global kids, and the search for the “good life” in uncertain times — Jennie Germann Molz, Professor of Sociology, discusses her ethnographic study of worldschoolers, families who educate their children and work remotely while traveling the world. 

October 17, 2023
Diversity in the dark: Illuminating the secrets of cave beetle evolution — Karen A. Ober, Professor of Biology, explores the evolutionary history of eastern North American cave beetles focusing on how geology influences the impressive biological diversity.

September 12, 2023
Online writing interventions, LGBTQ+ well-being, & moments of reprieve: A mixed-method analysis in South Central Appalachia — Stephenie Chaudoir, Associate Professor of Psychology, describes research examining whether brief, theory-based writing interventions can improve mental and behavioral health among LGBTQ+ young adults living in South Central Appalachia.

March 28, 2023
Doom-scrolling with Lucan: The Ancient Roman Poet on Ecopolitical Catastrophe, Then and Now — Tim Joseph, Professor of Classics, draws parallels between Lucan’s “doom-scrolling” and our own, here in the climate catastrophe of the 21st century. He also considers how the Pharsalia, however doom-filled, shows a path towards transformation and progress in its persistently bold and even radical poetic approach.

March 16, 2023
High-Sugar Diets and (In)fertility: Insights from C. elegans — Together with a team of undergraduate researchers, Michelle Mondoux, Associate Professor of Biology, uncovers in her lab how a high-sugar diet affects fertility using a model organism—the microscopic worm C. elegans

September 12, 2023
“LGBT folks will defeat Bolsonaro”: Some Reflections on Gender, Democracy and Political Affect — Based on their ethnographic research in Brazil, Carmen Alvaro Jarrín, Associate Professor of Anthropology, analyzes the importance of affect for both sides of the political aisle in Brazil, especially as it relates to transgender rights.

March 17, 2022
Does anyone still need philosophy and why? — Trained as an analytic philosopher, to believe that philosophy is (like) a science, Predrag Cicovacki, Professor of Philosophy, explores how and why he has turned away from this approach over his thirty years of teaching and is much closer to defending a view that is opposite from that.

April 6, 2022 
The Ethics of Tainted Legacies—Karen Guth, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, identifies the Me Too movement, the removal of Confederate monuments, and reparations of slavery as actions addressing a unified moral problem she calls “tainted legacies.” She discusses how age-old debates in the Christian tradition over the Bible, the cross, and redemptive suffering illuminate these contemporary issues.

March 17, 2022
Does anyone still need philosophy and why? — Trained as an analytic philosopher, to believe that philosophy is (like) a science, Predrag Cicovacki, Professor of Philosophy, explores how and why he has turned away from this approach over his thirty years of teaching and is much closer to defending a view that is opposite from that.

November 15, 2021
Being Modern in Public: Architecture and Engagement with Changing Forms — Amy Finstein, Assistant Professor of Visual Arts, discusses how she explores concepts of architectural modernity in the public sphere, ranging from elevated highways, to little-known houses by famous architects, to urban neighborhoods displaced to make way for new “modern” interventions.

October 7, 2021
Two-Dimensional Mixing at the Molecular Level — Lynna Gabriela Avila-Bront, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, explores the fundamental driving forces that determine how a mixture of different molecules bound to a surface forms a two-dimensional pattern. Understanding the behavior of mixtures in two dimensions will provide scientists with unprecedented top-down control over surfaces modified with molecular patterns.

September 13, 2021
Simulating Neutron Stars on a Computer — Ben Kain, associate professor of physics, discusses how he writes computer code to simulate neutron stars on a computer and how these simulations might shed light on a mysterious, unknown component of our Universe, called dark matter.

February 12, 2020
Decolonial Aesthetics and Andean Modernisms: Dissonant Approaches to Twentieth Century Latin American Literature and Culture? — Juan G. Ramos, associate professor of Spanish and director of the Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Studies Program, traces his intellectual trajectory based on his two main scholarly projects thus far: Sensing Decolonial Aesthetics in Latin American Arts (University of Florida Press, 2018) and his current book project tentatively entitled “Andean Modernismos: Affective Forms in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.”

November 19, 2019
Twenty Years of Stadium Battles — Victor Matheson, professor of economics and accounting, shares his work estimating the economic impact of stadiums, franchises, and mega-events on local economies. In particular, his talk will examine the intersection of scholarly research, government decision-making, and the media, and the role of the academic in public policy.

October 22, 2019
Navigating the Space of Possibility — Andrew Hwang, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, introduces differential geometry of surfaces, a.k.a. two-dimensional manifolds, and surveys consequences ranging from collating a sheaf of printout to proving the earth is curved using geodesy. He suggests how mathematics can illuminate connections between disciplines.

October 3, 2019
FSL on the Road! LGBTQ+ Worcester for the Record — In this special edition of the Faculty Scholarship Lunch series, Stephanie Yuhl, professor of history, offers an introduction to her Scholarship in Action Project, LGBTQ+ Worcester For The Record. Yuhl and her community partner, WHM Executive Director Bill Wallace, share insights into their collaborative curatorial process and strategies for broad community and cross-institutional engagement in their work to create a physical and digital archive of the history of the city’s LGBTQ+ communities.

September 18, 2019
Petroleum Fuel Adulteration: Can Ultra-Fast Gas Chromatography Provide Real-Time Results? — Amber Hupp, associate professor of chemistry, discusses the potential of using Ultra-Fast Gas Chromatography (UFGC) in a roadside analysis to detect biodiesel adulterants in diesel fuels in a matter of minutes. She also explains how she collaborated with multiple industry partners on this research project.

April 3, 2019
Biochemistry in the Extreme — Kenneth Mills, professor of chemistry, discusses how the chemistry of biological processes in the archaea can proceed at extreme conditions, including the high pressure and temperature of deep sea thermal vents and the hypersaline environment of seas like the Great Salt Lake. He also discusses how engagement in early research experiences in Holy Cross laboratories can increase the persistence of under-represented students in STEM.

March 11, 2019
Designing Cognitive Supports for Children’s Science Learning — Florencia Anggoro, associate professor of psychology, discusses the challenge of relational learning and how she has developed and tested a method to support elementary students’ understanding of space science. Implications for learning and instruction in other STEM domains is also discussed.

February 5, 2019
English Visions of the East: Henry III, the Crusades, and the Cosmopolitan Culture of Display in Thirteenth-century England — Amanda Luyster, lecturer in art history, offers an innovative perspective on medieval England through the marshaling and analysis of evidence that attests to a strong trend in the thirteenth century of English fascination with the visual cultures of the East.

November 26, 2018
Studying Refugee Resettlement in Worcester, MA: Connecting Scholarship, Community Engagement, and Teaching via Scholarship in Action Grants — This special edition of the Faculty Scholarship Lunch series is a collaboration with Scholarship in Action and the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning to highlight the work of SIA grant recipient Susan Rodgers. Rodgers, professor emerita of anthropology and Distinguished Professor Emerita, Ethics and Society, and recent Holy Cross graduate Martina Umunna, a member of her research team, report on an anthropological ethnography-in-process focused on voice, narrativity, and refugee resettlement in Worcester. The study offers a good illustration of Holy Cross faculty/student research engaged with Worcester communities and with local nonprofits (in this case, Refugee Artisans of Worcester, Worcester Refugee Assistance Project, Worcester Center for Crafts).

October 22, 2018
The Sahel and its manifestations in the literature and cinema of Burkina Faso — Using primarily a selection of poems (in translation) and short texts, Jean Ouédraogo, O'Leary Chair in Francophone Studies, highlights the many representations of the Sahel in Burkina Faso, provides a context for the perception of the Sahel as a locus of old and new threats, and explores ways in which Burkinabe texts and films cultivate a comprehensive and sustainable approach to solving them.

September 24, 2018
Art, Aesthetics, and the Difference Catholicism Makes — Peter Joseph Fritz, associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies, has long worked at the intersection of art and Catholicism. He researches and teaches theological aesthetics, which in part pursues the question of art's "why?" Why does art appeal to people? Why do we make it?

April 10, 2018
Markets, Fashion, Social Work, and Interior Design: Changing Forms of Personhood in Vietnam — Ann Marie Leshkowich, professor of anthropology and director of Asian Studies, discusses how the emergence of a market economy over the past 30 years has raised profound dilemmas of personhood for residents of Ho Chi Minh City. In prior ethnographic research on entrepreneurs, fashion designers, and mental health professionals, as well as in a new project on the aesthetics of interior spaces, Leshkowich explores how urbanites respond to the question of “How then shall we live?” in a time of rapid change by developing a sense of themselves as gendered, classed, and moral beings embedded in meaningful family, work, and community relations.

March 20, 2018
“… and there be Dragons”: Modern Corporations as Political Actors —  Holists argue that highly organized groups of agents — e.g. the modern corporation, the government, a college — are agents in their own right, distinct from their members and possessed of their own moral obligations and moral responsibility. Despite decades of debate about the moral status of corporate agents, there has been surprisingly little exploration of their political status. Kendy Hess, Brake-Smith Associate Professor in Social Philosophy and Ethics, lays out a brief sketch of her own account of corporate agents and explore some of the political implications.

February 26, 2018
Aging: Why are our stem cells so exhausted? —  In many animals, including humans, declining stem cell function is a hallmark of aging. While the underlying reasons for this age-related stem cell exhaustion are still elusive, there are some animals that manage to resist stem cell decline and have prolonged lifespans. This suggests that perhaps aging is not as inevitable as we might imagine. Julia Paxson, associate professor of biology, discusses what we know about stem cell exhaustion, where our explanations still fall short, and what she and her students are trying to uncover in lab.

November 6, 2017
St. Mark Passion — Osvaldo Golijov, Loyola Professor of Music, talks about his most well known composition, La Pasión según San Marcos (2000). Originally commissioned for the European Music Festival in Stuttgart, Germany, to commemorate the 250th anniversary of J.S. Bach's death, the composition stylistically and visually reimagines Bach’s “Passions” on the streets of Cuba and Brazil.

October 17, 2017
Identity and Exclusion in Humanitarian Governance — Denis Kennedy, assistant professor of political science and director of Peace and Conflict Studies, discusses regulatory trends in relief work. He will introduce recent research on the American nonprofit sector, through which he explores the capacity of codes to build collective meaning, as well as the exclusions inherent in such forms of governance.

September 21, 2017
Seeing is harder than you think: How the brain solves an impossible problem in vision — Constance Royden, professor of computer science, will describe her recent research on how we interpret motion in visual images.  Vision is in some ways an impossible task, because there are many ways to interpret the two-dimensional pattern of light in an image. Professor Royden will discuss how the brain combines motion and stereo information to determine the presence and location of moving objects when we ourselves are moving. 

April 19, 2017
Open Scholarship: Ethical and Practical Considerations — Neel Smith, associate professor of classics, discusses how digital information technology changes our scholarship: not only the kinds of questions we can explore, but how we conduct our work in relation to the narrow circle of our peers and to society more broadly. This has important implications for disciplines like archaeology, where the consensus on the ethical obligations of working with cultural property  unambiguously requires open scholarship.

March 15, 2017
Troubling Visions of the Past: The Visual Culture of Slavery in the Dominican Republic — Rosa Carrasquillo, an associate professor of history who teaches in Latin American and Latino Studies, introduces research on the visual culture of slavery in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, by analyzing three historical sites and how they inform what Dominicans know, shape and believe about slavery.

February 14, 2017
Returning to the Roots of Mathematics — John Little, professor of mathematics, considers if the history of mathematics should try to "explain" ancient mathematics using the concepts of the present? Or should it try to understand the mathematics of the past on its own terms?

November 1, 2016
Making Sense of Mark’s Silent Ending: Reading a Gospel as Traumatic Haunting — Tat-siong Benny Liew, Class of 1956 Professor in New Testament Studies, discusses how psychoanalytic theory may mediate between Marxist and postcolonial understandings to inform a different reading of Mark’s Gospel.

October 5, 2016
The Dodo: Lessons from an Icon of Extinction — Leon Claessens, associate professor of biology, discusses his work on the dodo, the giant flightless pigeon-relative that once lived on the island of Mauritius. He will talk about the development of the scientific monograph on the only complete dodo skeleton known worldwide, which he and his collaborators recently completed, and about new research initiatives that highlight the continued promise of dodo research for increasing our understanding of extinction and conservation biology.

September 15, 2016
Yeats, Joyce, Beckett...and Who?: New Work on Modern and Contemporary Irish Literature — Paige Reynolds, professor of English, discusses her collection "Modernist Afterlives in Irish Literature and Culture" (Anthem, 2016), as well as her recent and forthcoming publications on modern and contemporary Irish literature and performance. She also talks about why a liberal arts college like Holy Cross provides such a good incubator for innovative research in the humanities — and how we must work to keep it that way.

April 13, 2016
Socrates among Strangers — Joseph Lawrence, professor of philosophy, explores three questions: 1) Can Socrates' famous battle against sophism truly be transformed into a battle with the contemporary cult of scholarly expertise? 2) If so, what, if anything, serves to distinguish Socrates from a radical deconstructionist like Deleuze? 3) How can a Socratic challenge to the norms and procedures of contemporary scholarship be carried out in such a way that it serves the greater aim of the scholar: the pursuit of truth?

February 1, 2016
Building Trustful Relationships in Urban Schools — Utilizing her book "Educating the Urban Race" (Lexington, 2014), Ericka Fisher, associate professor of education, discusses the complexities of urban public schools and the importance of relationships as a cornerstone of student engagement and achievement.

March 1, 2016
Epic Battles: Innate immunity versus HIV — Ann Sheehy, associate professor of biology, discusses her recent research on the cellular battle for control after HIV infection. Left to its own devices the cell ultimately loses that battle. However research has uncovered points of interaction between the cell and HIV that can be and have been successfully exploited for chemotherapeutic intervention.

November 9, 2015
Dr. Algorithm or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Digital Age — Associate Professor of Music Chris Arrell discusses how acoustics and computer science inform his creative process. The talk includes demonstrations of algorithmic pre-composition tools, digital sound synthesis, and live signal modification of amplified orchestral instruments.

October 21, 2015
Math and Music: The Greatest Hits — Gareth Roberts, associate professor of mathematics, uses a “music first” approach to reveal hidden connections between mathematics and music to his students, and in the process, encourages a greater appreciation and desire for mathematical thinking.

Thursday, September 17, 2015
Economic Aspects of Violent Conflict — Professor Chuck Anderton, Department of Economics and Accounting, offer a synopsis of his research journeys over 30 years across a variety of topics related to economic aspects of conflict risk and conflict prevention, including his most recent work on genocides and mass killings. He highlights what economics can add to understanding why violent conflicts break out, but also the necessity for perspectives from multiple disciplines to be brought to bear in understanding conflict and its prevention.

April 14, 2015
Leo Strauss on the Borders of Judaism, Philosophy and History — Jeffrey Bernstein, associate professor of philosophy, talks about his forthcoming book exploring how the thought of Leo Strauss amounts to a model for thinking about the connection between philosophy, Jewish thought, and history.

March 16, 2015
Poverty, Environmental Degradation, and Catholic Theology — Matthew Eggemeier, assistant professor of religious studies, discusses theological responses to the dual crises of global poverty and environmental degradation by drawing on the sacramental and prophetic resources of the Catholic tradition.

February 25, 2015
'Forget me not:' narrative marginalization in the making of Alzheimer's patients — Renee Beard, associate professor of sociology, draws on a sociological lens to explore what Alzheimer's means to seniors who are currently being diagnosed with the condition in American memory clinics.

November 19, 2014
Revisioning Talmud Study: When a Religious Treasure Hit the Secular University — Alan Avery-Peck, professor of religious studies and Kraft-Hiatt Professor of Judaic Studies, discusses the arc of his scholarly career, focusing on the emergence and development of the still relatively new field of the university study of Judaism.

October 20, 2014
Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality in America's First Gilded Age — Edward O’Donnell, associate professor of history, shares his research on Henry George, a self-taught political economist during America’s Gilded Age who addressed the deepening divide between the super rich and rest of society in the late 19th century.

September 18, 2014
Decomposing mathematical objects — Cristina Ballantine, professor of mathematics and computer science, has focused much of her work on breaking down mathematical objects into their basic building blocks. She discusses her past and current work in a manner accessible to non-mathematicians.

April 16, 2014
From Self to Other and Beyond: Sketch of a Holy Cross Vocation — Mark Freeman, professor and chair of psychology as well as Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Society, discusses the arc of his career at the College, focusing on both the continuities and discontinuities of his scholarly interests and pursuits.  His recent books include “Hindsight: The Promise and Peril of Looking Backward” (Oxford, 2010) and “The Priority of the Other: Thinking and Living Beyond the Self “ (Oxford, 2014).

March 17, 2014
The Inca Strikes Back: Drugs & Culture Wars in South America — Caroline Yezer, assistant professor of anthropology, speaks about her recent co-edited volume on post-war ethnography and reconciliation in Ayacucho, Peru as well as her current work on the efforts by indigenous coca growers in Peru's highland jungles to decriminalize coca leaf as a drug and reclassify it as a cultural right.

January 29, 2014
A Tale of Two Syndecans: Studies on cell adhesion and breast cancerRobert Bellin, associate professor of biology, has focused his research on a group of proteins called syndecans. He discusses some of the recent research in his lab on syndecan-4, and its role in cell adhesion, and syndecan-1 and its relation to breast cancer.

November 11, 2013
Aging and Religion - Andrew Futterman is professor of psychology and chair of the Health Professions Advisory Committee. His research focuses on the grief, depression, and psychological responses to uncontrollable stress in later life. He has authored many papers part of the landmark USC/Stanford Bereavement Project 1983-2013.

October 28, 2013
Peptides: Small Pieces of the Protein Puzzle - Sarah Petty, associate professor of chemistry, specializes in biophysical chemistry. Her current research studies protein molecules and the complex process by which they fold, or misfold, into three-dimensional structures to function. Misfolded proteins can result in diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease and Mad Cow Disease.

September 24, 2013
"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?: Mixed Marriage in Early Christianity" - Caroline Johnson Hodge, associate professor of religious studies, works on ethnicity, race and gender in early Christianity and presents her current research on mixed marriage in ancient households. What happened when a wife or a slave converted to Christianity and the rest of the household did not? Johnson Hodge explores the evidence for this dynamic and examines how Christians introduced their new religion into the traditional practices of the Roman household.

April 10, 2013
Life and Work From Beijing to Holy Cross to Hanoi and Home - Karen Turner, professor of history, discusses the arc of her scholarly career and how serendipity has often influenced her life's course. An expert in legal history and human rights history in Asia, her recent publications include "Law and Punishment in the Formation of Empire," in Rome and China: Comparative Perspectives on Ancient World Empires, ed. Walter Scheidel (Oxford University Press, 2009); Even the Women Must Fight: Memories of War from North Vietnam (Wiley 1998); and The Limits of the Rule of Law in China (U. Washington, 2000).

February 27, 2013
How One Overlooked Source Could Change Our Understanding of the Transmission of Gregorian Chant in the Early Middle Ages - Daniel DiCenso '98, assistant professor of music, completed his Ph.D. in musicology at the University of Cambridge with the support of a Gates Scholarship. He is currently working on a new edition of the earliest sources of Gregorian chant for the Mass ("Carolingian Mass Chant Books"), which will include work on a newly discovered ninth-century source of chant from Monza, Italy.

January 31, 2013
Melville's Uncle: Early Americans in the Pacific World - Gwenn Miller, associate professor of history, focuses on the history of the American west, Alaska and Siberia. In her book "Kodiak Kreol: Communities of Empire in Early Russian America" (Cornell University Press, 2010), Miller explores the Russian colonization of Alaska, one of the most neglected stories of the early American past.

November 15, 2012
Mountains vs. glaciers: The role of climate and ice in controlling the height of mountain ranges — Sara Gran Mitchell, assistant professor of biology, is a geologist who specializes in the long- and short-term evolution of landscapes. Her research has focused on the relationships between climate, tectonics, and erosion in the topographic development of mountain ranges.

October 17, 2012
Current Research and Future Plans: The Ruin of the Eternal City and Beyond — David Karmon, assistant professor of architectural studies, presents his book "The Ruin of the Eternal City: Antiquity and Preservation in Renaissance Rome" (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011) and discusses his new research on architecture and the senses.

September 5, 2012
Living Faith: Everyday Religion and Mothers in Poverty
Susan Crawford Sullivan, assistant professor of sociology and an Edward Bennett Williams Fellow, presents her book, "Living Faith: Everyday Religion and Mothers in Poverty" (University of Chicago, 2011), winner of the American Sociological Association 2012 Distinguished Book Award, Sociology of Religion, and discusses new directions in research.