Faculty Colloquium: Me (Brenda Ueland)

Please joins us on Friday, November 9th at 3 p.m. in Cone Chapel for this week’s Faculty Colloquium. Me (Brenda Ueland), a song cycle for piano and voice composed by Libby Larsen and published in 1994; performed by pianist, Marva Duerksen and soprano, Christine Elder.

Brenda Ueland (1891-1985), an American journalist, editor, freelance writer, and teacher of writing, is best known for her book If You Want To Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit. Carl Sandburg liked it so much that he claimed “it was the best book ever written on how to write.” In the unrelated field of Arctic exploration, Brenda is famous for her letter exchange with the Norwegian explorer, Fridtjof Nansen. Only his letters to her survive, but they are so explicit in their sexual details that one must be over 18 to read them at the Minnesota Historical Society!

All of this brings us to our presentation for Friday’s faculty colloquium. Here, you will encounter Brenda Ueland through the words of her autobiography, Me: A Memoir (1939), excerpts from which comprise the text for American composer Libby Larsen’s marvelous song cycle for soprano and piano. Ueland was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota into a relatively progressive family in which her father was a prominent lawyer and judge and her mother a suffragette and first president of the Minnesota League of Women Voters. After completing her baccalaureate at Barnard College, Ueland spent some years in New York and its environs working as a staff writer, composing scripts for radio broadcasts, and eventually teaching writing classes. She married three times, had one child and, by her own account, numerous lovers. Her autobiography details elements of her childhood, time in college, life in Greenwich Village, and various love affairs. In our reading of Ueland’s autobiography, we have found Ueland to be engagingly self-confident, witty, insightful, and wise, but never preachy. As Libby Larsen explains in a note to the published score of her cycle: “Ueland’s gist is to confirm in us the true art into which we are all born, the art of living.”

Archaeology and the Death and Burial of Jesus

Dr. Jodi Magness
Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In this slide-illustrated lecture, we survey Jewish tombs and burial customs in Jerusalem in the time of Jesus, and consider the archaeological and literary evidence for the burials of Jesus and his brother James. The lecture includes a discussion of the claims surrounding the so-called “James ossuary” and the “Talpiyot tomb” (recently said to be the tomb of Jesus and his family).

Thursday, November 8th 7:30 PM
Rogers Music Center

The Lane C. McGaughy Lecture in Ancient Studies
Sponsored by Willamette University’s Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology (CASA).

What is QR? Quantitative Reasoning: “As If Your Life Depended on It”

Faculty Colloquium: James Friedrich, Professor of Psychology

Title: What is QR? Quantitative Reasoning: “As If Your Life Depended on It”


Mathematics and science requirements have long been standard components of the undergraduate curriculum, and specific applications of mathematical tools and scientific reasoning permeate work in many disciplines. Recent discussions of liberal education goals have begun to reframe some of the justification for these courses in terms of the importance of “quantitative reasoning” (QR) and “quantitative literacy,” and yet the significance of the broader meaning behind these new labels is not widely understood. If QR is not simply “math” or “science,” then what is it? In this faculty colloquium, I hope to take up the conceptual issues underlying the recent changes in terminology and discuss their implications for general education (including Willamette’s current revision efforts). In doing so, I will be drawing examples and illustrations from health care and medical decision making as a way of illustrating why your life might, indeed, depend on QR.

Details: Friday, November 2 at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room

Faculty Colloquium: Always more to NO

Please join us on Friday, October 12 at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room for this week’s Faculty Colloquium being presented by Gary Tallman, Professor of Biology.

TITLE: Always more to NO: Heat blocks nitric oxide accumulation required for plant growth hormone function

ABSTRACT:  Nicotiana glauca (Graham), tree tobacco, is an equatorial perennial plant with a high tolerance to heat stress.  One particular type of cell in this plant, the guard cell (GC), is useful for studying the effects of heat stress on fate-determining hormonal signaling.  At  lower temperatures (< 32ºC) two plant hormones, auxin (1-naphthalene acetic acid; NAA) and cytokinin (6-benzylaminopurine; BAP), cause GC to expand 20-30 fold, regenerate cell walls, dedifferentiate, re-enter the cell cycle, and divide.  At higher temperatures (> 34ºC) GC expand only 5-6 fold; they do not regenerate walls, dedifferentiate, re-enter the cell cycle, or divide.  Heat (38ºC) suppresses activation of an auxin-responsive gene “switch” (promoter) in GC suggesting that inhibition of cell expansion and cell cycle re-entry at high

temperatures is due to suppressed auxin signaling.  A molecular gas, nitric oxide (NO) has been implicated in auxin signaling in other plant systems.  During my sabbatical my lab showed that heat stress
inhibits NO accumulation by GC and that L-NG-monomethyl arginine  (L-NMMA), an inhibitor of NO production in animals and plants, mimics the effects of heat by limiting cell expansion and preventing cell wall regeneration; inhibiting cell cycle re-entry, dedifferentiation, and cell division; and suppressing activation of the  auxin-responsive promoter.  We also showed that heat and L-NMMA reduce the mitotic indices of primary root meristems and inhibit lateral root elongation similarly.  These data link reduced NO levels to suppressed auxin signaling in heat-stressed cells and seedlings of thermotolerant plants and suggest that even plants that have evolved to withstand sustained high temperatures may still be negatively impacted by heat  stress.


Faculty Colloquium: Robert Gottlieb

Robert Gottlieb from Occidental College is the scheduled speaker for this week’s Faculty Colloquium. Robert is the Henry R. Luce Professor of Urban Environmental Studies and Director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute and will deliver his talk on Friday, September 7th at 3:30 pm. in the Hatfield Room.

Robert is also the co-director of Occidental’s LIASE (Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment) program,and is therefore a very appropriate speaker to help Willamette launch its own LIASE program.  He is the author of over 11 books, and considered one of the major founders of modern environmental studies in the United States, with a specific interest in urban sustainability and related questions of social and environmental justice.

A reception will follow the talk across the Mill stream in the Smith Gallery.


Faculty Colloquium: Alison Fisher

Please join us on Friday, April 13th at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room for the weekly Faculty Colloquium. This week’s Colloquium will be presented by Alison Fisher, Assistant Professor of Chemistry. The title of the talk is: “How do plants determine when to flower? A molecular perspective”.

Abstract: Spring has finally sprung, and Salem is awash in a beautiful pallet of colorful spring blossoms. Of course, we all know that many plants and trees flower in the spring, but have you ever wondered how these plants actually “know” when to flower? In this talk I will discuss the myriad ways that environmental factors regulate the timing of plant flowering, focusing on our understanding of these processes at the molecular level. I will also share some of my lab’s research on the role of the plant hormone ethylene in promoting the floral transition in plants.

Faculty Colloquium: The Global Eradication of Smallpox: Really?

Please join us on Friday, March 16th at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room for the weekly Faculty Colloquium. This week’s Colloquium will be presented by Bob Reinhardt, Visiting Assistant Professor of History and / Environmental and Earth Sciences. The title of the talk is: “The Global Eradication of Smallpox: Really?”.

Abstract: My talk seeks to explain how–or whether?–the world achieved freedom from smallpox in 1980, when the World Health Organization certified the success of its global Smallpox Eradication Program–the first and only deliberate elimination of a disease. I invite all comers to learn more about this remarkable story, to witness environmental history’s interdisciplinary tools and approach in action, and, of course, to learn whether you are truly safe from one of history’s most gruesome scourges.

Faculty Colloquium: Risky Pedagogy

Please join us on Friday, March 9th at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room for the weekly Faculty Colloquium. This week’s Colloquium will be presented by Anna Cox, Assistant Professor of Spanish and Film Studies. The title of the talk is: “ Risky Pedagogy: Successes and Failures in Implementing Educational Technology”.

Abstract: Educational technology is all the rage, but effectively implementing it requires a great deal of planning and risk. I will present a couple of exemplary projects that I have used in my classes during my first year of teaching at Willamette. The first is a social network for day-to-day online interaction with students and the second, iMovie for the creation of movie trailers. I will explain why I chose to experiment with these technologies, showcase samples of student work created using them and how I evaluated this work, and draw conclusions about the successes and failures of their incorporation in my courses. By sharing my own risky pedagogy, I hope to contribute to an ongoing, campus-wide practice of sharing innovative approaches to teaching.

Faculty Colloquium: Finding Grants

Please join us on Friday, February 17th at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room for the weekly Faculty Colloquium. This week’s Colloquium will be presented by Willamette’s Office for Faculty Research and Resources (OFFRR) and the Dept. of Corporate and Foundation Relations. The title of the talk is “Funding for Research and Teaching: What Kind of Grant Makes Sense for You?”.

Abstract: In this one-hour interactive discussion we will share useful tips for getting your research and programs funded. We will cover the gamut of all things grant-related at Willamette, including the on-campus process for seeking funding, examples of successful projects, and upcoming opportunities for research and program grants. Feel free to come with questions and project ideas. Light refreshments will be provided.

Faculty Colloquium: Chris Smith

Please join us on Friday, February 3rd at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room for the weekly Faculty Colloquium. The Colloquium will be presented by Chris Smith, Assistant Professor of Biology. The title of the talk is “Darwin’s Abominable Mystery: Coevolution of flowers and pollinators”.

His abstract: February 12th marks the 203rd anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the beginning of a conceptual revolution in science that the eminently respectable and proper Mr. Darwin could never have envisioned. At the heart of the Darwinian revolution is the idea that order and ‘extreme perfection’ can arise through purely natural, undirected processes. One area in which Darwin saw this extreme perfection was also a favorite example for early advocates of Natural Theology: the adaptations of flowering plants to their pollinators. How reciprocal natural selection and adaptation – a process now termed ‘coevolution’ – has shaped the interaction between plants and their pollinators remains a major question in evolutionary biology. My talk will review the history of coevolution and describes the ongoing research of Willamette students that examines coevolution between Joshua trees and their pollinators.