Student and Alumni Co-Present at National Research Conference

COBABelmont student Alexander Marsh and alumni Matthew Graham, economics, recently attended and presented their co-authored paper titled “GDP, Unemployment, and the Great Recession: Utilizing Okun’s Law to Analyze the GDP Drop from 2005-2013”at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) held at Eastern Washington University.  The NCUR is an interdisciplinary conference where students representing universities and colleges from all around the world present research and creative works in oral, poster and performance/visual arts presentations.

The team’s research studied the relationship between an economy’s output and unemployment, a relevant topic that has recently been an ongoing topic of discussion. The application of Okun’s law to modern business cycles can produce valuable insight to a country’s economy. Using quarterly data from 2005 to 2013, the study utilized a production function approach to analyze the relationship between GDP gap and unemployment during the Great Recession. Findings revealed that unemployment, capacity utilization and the size of the labor force have a statistically significant impact on the GDP gap during this time period.

Belmont is a member of the NCUR, whose mission is to promote undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity done in partnership with faculty or other mentors as a vital component of higher education.

The students were accompanied at this conference by research advisor and faculty member Dr. Colin Cannonier.

AET Students Build Speaker Cabinet for Physics Acoustics Lab Isolation Booth


AET majors Ryan Yount, Chris O’Brien and Ryan Morris take measurements of the telescoping speaker cabinet they built

Students in Dr. Scott Hawley’s Physics for Audio Engineering course recently built a ported speaker cabinet for the new isolation booth obtained for the College of Sciences & Mathematics Acoustics Teaching Lab.

AET majors Ryan Yount, Chris O’Brien and Ryan Morris built a ported speaker cabinet for which the resonant frequency (of the port) was tunable by varying the interior volume of the cabinet. The isolation booth was secured by CSM faculty Drs. Thom Spence, Robert Magruder and Scott Hawley for use with student undergraduate research and class projects which require more precise acoustical measurements than is afforded by a regular classroom environment.

Mathematics Students and Professor Present at STEM Expo

STEMExpoBelmont Professor of Mathematics Dr. Daniel Biles and four mathematics majors gave probability demonstrations at the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Expo at Middle Tennessee State University on April 9.  The Belmont students taking part were Annie Brunelle, Katie Kruzan, Savannah Halliday and Mallory White.

This exposition is an annual event, hosted by the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub (MTSIH), that features projects by middle and high school students. Students from schools and districts that are MTSIH partners regularly engage in projects involving an extended process of inquiry in response to a complex question, problem or challenge. These rigorous projects help students learn key academic content and practice skills necessary for success such as communication, collaboration and critical thinking.

Davidson Saves the World with His Day Job

Achievers.DavidsonSam Davidson is a storyteller, social entrepreneur and leader. As president of Cool People Care, a company that connects people who want to do good with nonprofit organizations, Davidson has honed in on his passions, talents and ability to meet the world’s needs. Davidson spoke at this year’s final Belmont and Beyond event on Monday, April 13 and asked students not, “What do you want to do for a living?” but instead, “What do you want to do for a life?”

Davidson‘s charismatic and engaging ability to tell stories further aided his analogy of taking his 3-year-old daughter to the grocery store. He asked her, “Do you know what makes ice cream even better?” While she thought ice cream couldn’t be improved, Davidson described sprinkles. Cool People Care, for Davidson, is the brightly colored, princess sprinkles on top of his career, because as he explained, when one aligns his or her passions and talents to impact the world, an already great career can become even better. 

Davidson started his company in 2006 when he discovered the need for a online nonprofit presence. Nine years later, the company has grown to include a successful merchandise line, though this process did not happen immediately after his college graduation. There was a period of time where he had to work “bill-paying” jobs and ask the difficult questions about what he was looking for. His advice for getting through this time is the Social Enterprise Success Model, finding the spot where one’s passions, talents and the needs of the world overlap.


Murray Presents at English-Speaking Union and American Society for 18th Century Studies

MurrayEnglish Professor Douglas Murray recently spoke to the Nashville chapter of the English-Speaking Union at a breakfast meeting held at Belmont’s Massey Business Center.  His talk, entitled “The Road to ‘Downton Abbey,’”concerned the way the popular television series has encapsulated previous literature about the English Country House.  The English-Speaking Union celebrates British heritage and seeks to foster global understanding and good will.

Following that engagement, Murray participated in a panel on picaresque fiction at the annual meeting of the American Society for 18th-Century Studies, held in Los Angeles March 19-21.  Other participants were from DePaul University, the University of North Texas and UCLA.  Murray’s talk was entitled “Jane Austen and the Embedded Ramble Novel:  The Case of Pride and Prejudice.”

Dean Taylor Published in ‘The Mother & Child Project,’ Sheds Light on Global Maternal and Child Health

IMG_09521 (2)Dean of the College of Health Sciences Dr. Cathy Taylor was recently featured “The Mother & Child Project: Raising our Voices for Health and Hope,” a compilation of personal narratives, research and essays from inspirational leaders, politicians, philanthropists, speakers and musicians including Kimberly Williams Paisley, Amy Grant, Melinda Gates, Senator Dr. William H. Frist and Michael W. Smith, among others.

The project was compiled by Sen. Frist’s Hope Through Healing Hands, a nonprofit whose mission is to promote improved quality of life for all people around the world. Using health to lead the charge, Hope Through Healing Hands seeks to educate all people on ways to have access to a fuller, healthier lifestyle.

Published with the intent to raise awareness on maternal and child health issues in developing countries, the book also includes personal stories from women in other countries who have been positively affected by family planning, prenatal care access and post-natal medical assistance. The book outlines the critical role family planning plays in preventing mortality, combating extreme poverty, keeping girls in school, promoting gender equality and preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Dr. Taylor said she was immediately interested in supporting the project through the writing of a chapter because with the advancements in science for maternal and child health, the ways to ensure health among young children is clear. “We know how to nurture those babies to grow into healthy, productive adults, but in developing countries, many of the ingredients are missing. We can do something about that,” Dr. Taylor said. “Raising awareness of the tragic plight of millions of young women and children in developing countries can make a difference.  As Christians, we are called to carry each other’s burdens, and this is a burden we should share.”

Bennett Receives Local and National Recognition, Participates in Panel and Delivers Key Note Address

photo (8)Professor of Media Studies Dr. Sybril Bennett recently participated on a panel, the first in a series entitled “A Conversation about Color.” The event, “How Media Can Shape Perceptions on Civil Injustice, Crime and Punishment,” was held at the John Seigenthaler First Amendment Center.

Other panelists included award-winning journalist and retired former Columnist for The Tennessean Dwight Lewis and the Director of the Vanderbilt University Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center and author of “Rendered Invisible” and “The Race is Not Given” Dr. Frank Dobson, Jr. The panel was moderated by WTNTribuneRadio COO and Tennessee State University Journalism Professor Harriet Vaughan-Wallace. The event was organized by the Nashville chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. Belmont’s Media Relations Director for Women’s Sports Kenisha Rhone serves as chapter secretary and was on the panel’s organizing committee.

photo (9)

(L to R) Dr. Bennett and Volunteer State Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives Director Kenny Yarbrough

Nationally, Bennett was recently tapped by Emerson College in Boston as one of three external reviewers for the Journalism Department.

Closer to home, Bennett returned to Volunteer State Community College where she received her first post secondary teaching assignment in 1995.  She was the keynote speaker for the Women’s History Tea sponsored by the Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives.  

Belmont Honored as Hall of Fame Member in Nashville’s Workplace Challenge

Challenge recognizes companies for being green, healthy and involved in the community 





Nashville’s Mayor Karl Dean recently honored Belmont University through induction into the Mayor’s Workplace Challenge Hall of Fame, an initiative to recognize companies who have implemented continued improvements since its 2012 start. The third round of the Workplace Challenge concluded in March with 235 companies participating representing more than 105,000 employees in Nashville.

Focusing on three areas that contribute to a high quality of workplace life, the Hall of Fame recognized 20 companies who have excelled in being green, healthy and involved throughout the Nashville community. The first three-tiered challenge of its kind in the country, other cities have begun replicating the initiative to recognize top businesses.

“I applaud the continued success of these workplaces in being environmentally friendly, promoting healthy choices among its employees and encouraging a culture of service through volunteerism,” Mayor Dean said. “The responses to the Workplace Challenge continue to be impressive and further exemplify why Nashville is such a great city to live and work.”

In addition to the Hall of Fame recognition, Belmont also received Platinum recognition for the Community Involvement and Health areas and a Gold recognition for the Green area for 2014. In 2013, Belmont was recognized as a Gold recipient for the Community Involvement and Green areas.

For more information on the Mayor’s Workplace Challenge, click here.

Bunch Library Faculty Participate in National Research Study

Bunch Library is one of 10 college and university libraries participating in Project Information Literacy, a large-scale, national study about early adults and their research habits. Facilitated by Jenny Mills, coordinator of research services, and Claire Wiley, research and instruction librarian, and in partnership with Debbie Coppinger, senior director of alumni relations, and John Hostler, director of advancement services, Belmont graduates were surveyed last fall on their lifelong learning needs after college and what information sources and systems they use for continued learning. An infographic and detailed report have recently been released and reveal some interesting findings. Recent graduates strongly agreed that the information skills learned in college were applicable in their later lives, especially extracting information needed, evaluating the credibility of content and presenting information effectively. In addition, 87 percent reported that they still relied on books for staying informed. Sixty follow-up interviews will be conducted this spring, and recent graduates will be asked about best practices and obstacles to lifelong learning. Visit the library’s guide for more information about the Information Literacy Program.

Makemson Presents at Digital Humanities Conference

makemsonBelmont’s Art Education Program Coordinator Justin Makemson recently presented at the Digitorium Digital Humanities Conference at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Makemson’s presentation, “Tagging, Caching, and Augmented Realities on a 19th Century Campus,” recounted the development of a student-designed, student-implemented geographic information systems and augmented reality technologies tour of Belmont’s campus.

For the development of the self-guided art and architecture tour, students “tagged” multiple campus landmarks, linking the contemporary site to a video-based discussion of historical photography taken on location. Makemson has presented at a number of national and state art education conferences including a presentation on his research on artistic self-definitions and the “artistic other” at the iJADE/NSEAD Conference in Liverpool, UK earlier this year.


Belmont ECO Club Hosts 3rd Annual Richland Creek Clean-Up

FullSizeRender (2)Belmont’s Environment and Conservation (ECO) Club hosted a clean-up for their adopted section of Richland Creek on Saturday, April 11. Adopted in the fall of 2013 through an environmental science course service learning project, the adoption requires at least one clean-up event be hosted yearly.

Saturday’s event was a part of the Cumberland River Compact’s 2nd Annual Spring Cleaning Day where 10 Belmont students joined nine other Nashville organizations to clean adopted areas. Participants walked the river banks, waded through the water and picked up all trash. Following the event, a lunch was hosted for all participants.

In addition to the ECO Club’s hosted event, a second clean-up is held annually as a project for an environmental science course. Because of the high levels of pollution in the Richland Creek area, President Katie Keast said hosting two annual clean-ups allows the group to take responsibility for their area.

“We appreciate the land we live on and feel that it is our responsibility as citizens of Nashville to do IMG_1672our part in keeping it clean. This past weekend, the creek was the clearest it has been since the first clean-up in 2013. This was exciting to see, because it shows that our hard work is paying off!” Keast said.

The event aligns with Belmont’s commitment to serve the greater Nashville area and provide students with opportunities to actively engage with their community. Other Belmont sustainability initiatives include yearly Earth Day celebrations, a recycling program and the pursuit of LEED certifications on multiple new buildings.

Click here to learn more about Belmont’s sustainability commitment.

Skinner to Participate in First Cuban Fulbright Insight Tour

Dr. Kathy Skinner

Belmont’s Director of International Student Services Kathy Skinner will travel to Cuba with the first Fulbright Insight Tour to Cuba, April 12-20. The trip will provide the opportunity to gain insight into Cuban culture and will include meeting with Cuban architects, economists, and musicians to discuss Cuba’s culture and economy.

The Fulbright Insight Trip is sponsored by the Fulbright Association, an organization that promotes educational opportunities through travel, networking and service. For more information on the Insight Tours, click here.

Morris Releases Final Book, ‘Surface,’ in Trilogy

(Photo by Jake Giles Netter)

(Photo by Jake Giles Netter)

James Morris, a sophomore majoring in audio engineering technology, celebrated the release of the third book, “Surface,” in the “Three Kingdoms Trilogy” with a reading and book signing April 8 at Parnassus Books in Green Hills. Morris authored the series while attending Belmont and pursuing musical aspirations.

Click here to read an article about his success and here to visit Morris’s website.


Biology Students Win Award at National Alpha Chi Convention


Award-winning student participants

Two Belmont students and biology majors, Dora Geving and Zara Latif, attended the annual National Convention of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society from March 19-12 in Chicago, Illinois and were awarded The Bonnie Revelle Prize in Molecular/Cellular Biology for their efforts titled “Nematodes Roaming the Field of Parkinson’s Disease.” Their presentation was based on research results generated with the Department of biology’s Dr. Nicholas Ragsdale.

Among the Convention’s 260 presenting students, 29 received prizes for scholarly, creative or artistic presentations in their fields. Geving and Latif earned top honors in the Molecular/Cellular section of student presentations.

A national college honor society, Alpha Chi admits students from all academic disciplines, but membership is limited to the top 10 percent of an institution’s juniors, seniors and graduate students. Invitation to membership comes only through an institutional chapter.

Hatch and Students Selected to Participate in Research at National Laboratory

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Duane Hatch was recently selected to participate in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Visiting Faculty Program at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for summer 2015, a highly competitive program that allows faculty to collaborate with some of the most talented scientists in the world.

Selected faculty and participating students spend 10 weeks at a DOE national laboratory engaged in a research project under the guidance of a laboratory scientist. Faculty members build collaborative relationships with research scientists and become familiar with DOE sponsored research programs, scientific user facilities and potential funding opportunities. Students participate in enrichment activities, including career and professional development workshops, laboratory tours, scientific lectures and seminars. Dr. Hatch will be working under Dr. Pete Silks.

Ryan Agh, a chemistry major and mathematics minor and Ambrose Rice, a biology major and chemistry minor, will work under Dr. Hatch on his research and will receive a $5,000 stipend for the 10-week experience. The proposal’s estimate total value is $25,000.

This program is renewable for up to 3 years and opens the door for further student involvement with the Laboratory. For more information, click here

Pathways Scholars Tour Space Flight Center

pathwaysOn March 28 Mathematics and Computer Science Professor Dr. Daniel Biles took five Pathways Scholars to Huntsville, Alabama for a Marshall Space Flight Center tour and a private visit with famed NASA scientist Alex McCool, Jr.

McCool was involved in the US space program from its very earliest days, beginning in 1954.  In the photo, L to R, are Dr. Biles, Kailee Gerzema, Grant VanderKallen, Kara Garrett, Daniel Beagan and Tanner Marion.

McEntire Published in Encyclopedia of Bible and Theology


Professor of Biblical Studies Dr. Mark McEntire recently published an entry entitled “Theology of Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 and 2 Chronicles” in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Bible and Theology.

The Encyclopedia includes nearly 170 entries by more than 150 individual contributors, including Dr. McEntire, and overviews key traditional and modern biblical and theological topics.


Bursch Receives Physical Therapy Award, Students Present Research Projects at Statewide Meeting


Belmont Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Gail Bursch recently received the 2015 Carol Likens Award (CLA) presented by the Tennessee Physical Therapy Association (TPTA) at their annual meeting. The award is given annually to a TPTA member who has provided exceptional service to the profession of physical therapy.

Bursch served as Chair of the Nashville District of TPTA for 11 years, was vice president of the Tennessee Chapter for 5 years and most recently chaired the TPTA nominating committee for 4 years. The Likens award is named for its first recipient who served the chapter as president from 1985 to 1995 and whose vision, leadership and commitment to the profession brought the TPTA through one of its greatest periods of growth and service to members.

The TPTA meeting also provided Belmont’s School of Physical Therapy with the opportunity to present student research projects. One group, mentored by Professor of Physical Therapy Dr. Cathy Hinton, presented a poster entitled “A Comparison of the Effects of Superficial Heat and Thermal Ultrasound on Hamstring Extensibility.” The group consisted of students Danielle Wisse, Jennifer Braswell, Morgan McBride, Chelsea Taylor and Katie Wood.

Another group, mentored by Professor of Physical Therapy Dr. Renee Brown and Adjunct Professor Penny Powers, presented on “Effects of Educational Intervention on use of Tilt-in-Space, Functional Mobility, and Pain in Full-time Wheelchair Users.” Student researchers included Ashley Barrett, Leigha Cuellar, Meagan Heney and Martha Schumpert.

A third student research group, also mentored by Dr. Brown, received a TPTA grant for their study, “Exploring the Effects of Kinesiotaping on the Gait and Level of Pain in Individuals with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease.” This team included Kelly Weaver, Casie House and Lisa Farrar.


Murphree Participates in ‘Cheekwood in Bloom’ Saturday, March 21 and Saturday, March 28, Biology Professor and Entomologist Dr. Steve Murphree hosted “Friendly Bugs and Big, Bad Pests” at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art’s Cheekwood in Bloom.

Cheekwood is a privately funded 55-acre estate on the western edge of Nashville.

Tarr Published in Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

Achievers.TarrAssistant Professor of Audio Engineering Technology Dr. Eric Tarr co-authored an article recently accepted for publication in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. The article is titled “Measuring the Effects of Spectral Smearing and Enhancement on Speech Recognition in Noise for Adults and Children.”

Tarr’s research investigated and sought to explain speech perception deficits by listeners with hearing loss.  As part of the research, Tarr developed a novel digital signal processing algorithm to simulate hearing loss for listeners with normal hearing.

Alumna Tillotson Featured in The Washingtonian

Achievers.Tillotson2Kelly Tillotson, a Belmont songwriting alumni and Washington, D.C. native, was recently featured in the Washinton D.C. publication, “The Washingtonian,” in an article entitled “Take Me Home, River Road.” The article is a dialog piece between Tillotson and another musician, Maggie Rose, about their journey from their hometown of Potomac to their careers as country singers.

After gradutating from Belmont in 2012, Tilltotson went on to form the trio MamaDear with her husband, Parker Bradway, and her friend Daniel Wilson. Last year, ”Rolling Stone” named the group Best Up-and-Comer at the Country Music Assotiation’s CMA Fest.

In the interview, Tillotson discusses her realization that Belmont was the place she had to be. “In high school, I was always banging at the piano, singing my songs, but I didn’t know you could be a singer. When I visited Belmont, it was for neuroscience. But after I heard about their music program, Belmont was the only school I… even applied to” (correction from Tillotson).

Tillotson talks about the importance of a hometown support system and how one’s home is a big part of his or her success. She is quoted in the article saying, “You need that support. After I graduated from Belmont, I put out my EP, I finally had a solo album, and at the same time, MamaDear was happening. I had a little identity crisis.” But thanks to her roots in Potomac, she understands why music is so important.

To learn more about Tillotson and her band, MamaDear, click here.




Kraus and Belmont Wind Ensemble Receive Several Honors

Achievers.WindEnsembleDirector of Bands Barry Kraus and the Belmont Wind Ensemble were recently featured in a research presentation at the national conference of the College Band Directors National Association, held Friday, March 27, at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

The Wind Ensemble collaborated with Director of the Musicianship Program at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music Marianne Plogger Hill in a session titled, “Concepts of Tuning: Wagner’s Trauersinfonie.” The presentation highlighted challenges and solutions for wind instrument intonation in performance. In addition to playing several excerpts, the ensemble performed Richard Wagner’s “Trauersinfonie” for a national audience of college band directors.

The group will perform Friday, April 10 at 2 p.m. as part of the Tennessee Music Education Association (TMEA) Annual Convention at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tennessee. The Wind Ensemble was selected for this honor by blind peer review among several collegiate ensemble recorded applications.

The Convention features performances, clinics and exhibitions representing all levels of music instruction in the state. This performance marks Wind Ensemble’s second Convention appearance since 2011.

Mills’ Poster Presented at Libraries Conference

Mills_headshotCoordinator of Research Services Jenny Mills created a poster with her library research cohort, “Closing the Assessment Loop: Lessons Learned about Managing the Information Literacy Assessment Cycle and Acting on Results,” which was presented at the biannual conference of the Association of College & Research Libraries in Portland, Oregon on March 26. Mills has been working with librarians from Syracuse, Towson, Dominican and the University of Washington, Bothell since 2010 on research related to rubric assessment of information literacy skills. This poster presents lessons learned about closing the assessment loop and using the results to improve teaching and learning.


Belmont Vision Brings Home Accolades

The Belmont Vision continued its success this year with five awards earned at the 2015 Tennessee Associated Press College Journalism Awards held Saturday at the First Amendment Center in Nashville.

The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media Editors recognized as the Best College Website and its sport broadcast “Bruin Blitz” as the Best Online Sports Coverage/Program.

“The Vision staff really came together as a team this year. And that’s evident in the breadth of awards earned in the Tennessee competition. To be ranked with and above most of the large journalism programs in the state is quite an accomplishment. And there’s a solid foundation in place for continued success in 2016,” said Thom Storey, media studies department chair.

Reporters Sam Denlinger and Gracie Helms received first place in the Best Online Investigative/In-Depth Reporting category for their piece “Breaking Belmont,” which examined campus accessibility to buildings after hours. Editor Courtney Martinez placed second in the Best Online Sports Reporting category for her piece  “Belmont Ties Kickstart Nashville FC.” Reporter Ally Willis received third place in Best Specialized/Topic Reporting for her article “Exponent Manor,” an inside look at the house show scene in Nashville.

The Vision competed against journalism programs from across the state including Middle Tennessee State University, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, University of Tennessee at Martin, Trevecca Nazarene University, Vanderbilt University, Lipscomb University and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Wedgewood Academic Center Wins Outstanding Project in Learning By Design

Achievers.WACThe newly constructed Wedgewood Academic Center won a 2015 Outstanding Project Award in the prestigious magazine, Learning By Design. The building was blindly judged by a nationally appointed panel of architects and educational facility specialists. Earl Swensson Associates of Nashville, Tennessee was the architectural firm for the the building.

Award submittals are judged on six criteria: Innovation, Community Need, Interior Design, Sustainability, Functional Design and 21st Century Learning. Projects that exemplify contemporary standards and contain design attributes one might emulate in a new space design are recognized as Outstanding. Comments from the judges on the Center included, “Nicely integrates into built context of the existing campus…Achieves its mission as an elegant and stately building, inside and out…Clever integration of green (seeking the highest level LEED certification, Platinum) elements in a traditional design…Seems to work well as a campus hub.”

Learning by Design is published biannually and recognizes the nation’s preeminent architectural firms by featuring outstanding pre-K to 12 and college or university projects. The magazine circulates to more than 50,000 leaders in all levels of education across the country.

Click here to see the feature on page 78 of the online edition of Learning By Design.


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