What began as a botany class project has blossomed into an outdoor museum that puts Belmont on a regional map for its diverse landscaping. The University hosted a ceremony on Sunday for the Nashville Tree Foundation to designate Belmont as among eight new tree arboretums.
“Each of the properties has met the stringent requirements to be recognized an arboretum which include 75 or more named and labeled specimens or as few as 25 in unique, natural or wayside areas and a subsequent inspection by a professional forester,” said foundation President Pat Wallace.
The purpose of establishing arboretums is to increase environmental awareness, provide a learning experience, encourage the creation of arboretums and enhance the image of Nashville for visitors and travelers. Tree arboretums are considered prestigious because they signify a commitment of landowners to maintain and protect their landscape diversity, which is significant in the botanical community.
Belmont’s tree identification project began in 2006 with students in Associate Professor Darlene Panvini’s botany class identifying tree species and taking samples on the main quad. Since then, 45 students have worked on the project and cataloged trees on most of main campus. While engaged in this project, students learned about plant morphology, how to use a taxonomic key, techniques of drying and mounting specimens, and the ecological importance of herbaria. They have covered most of main campus and this semester trekked to Hillside and Kennedy Hall. (more…)
Belmont University is hosting its 11th annual Humanities Symposium this month, featuring author Stephen L. Carter as the keynote speaker. Carter, a law professor at Yale University, has helped to shape the national debate on issues including religion in politics and culture and is author of 12 books.
Centered on the theme “Civility and its Discontents,” the 2012 Humanities Symposium will occur Sept. 24 through Oct. 1 and parallels the 2011-12 university theme of “E Pluribus Unum: Dialogue in the Digital Age.” The Humanities Symposium seeks to stimulate intellectual conversation through its 33 events, which together will engage in a week-long conversation about civility from many perspectives including technology, democracy, culture and education.
“As we struggle to find a healthy balance between community and individual rights, Americans have experienced new forms of public discourse which thrive on the language of discord and distortion. Through visiting lecturers, interactive projects and a service learning project we hope to act as a model of talking through difference in support of the common good,” said English Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty for the College of Arts & Sciences David Curtis, who is co-chairing the symposium.
A professor and two alumni have received a grant to further understanding of gravity and the universe through a computer code.
The National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS) at Oak Ridge National Laboratories has awarded Physics Assistant Professor Scott Hawley a grant of 250,000 service units, valued at $112,500, to upgrade the code and allow it to be interfaced with other research groups around the world. The grant is a follow-up to the “startup” allocation of 20,000 service units Hawley was awarded last fall. It reflects NICS’s mission to support Tennessee institutions of higher learning and the National Science Foundation’s EPSCOR program.
“The fact that Belmont is a teaching university and located in Tennessee made it very easy for NICS to award my grant request,” Hawley said.
Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity says that gravity is an effect of the geometry of space and time being warped. When matter becomes super dense, it forms a spinning black hole, which is a region of gravity that is so intense that nothing can get out. Hawley’s research concerns the effects that the direction of the spin has on the gravitational attraction between two nearby-black holes and the ripple of gravitational waves.
“My research involves writing a general purpose, publicly-available computer code for solving Einstein’s equation, which will allow researchers around the world to produce more accurate simulations of gravitational wave signals,” Hawley said.
It took Hawley 10 years to develop the former version of the code, known as Tex Mex. He has dubbed the new version as BRUISER, an acronym standing for Belmont Research for Undergraduates In Studies of Einstein’s Relativity.
Alumnus and campus security officer Tyler Welton is working with Hawley to overhaul the codes to make them directly interface with the most popular simulations used in the relativity community. The two met when Welton took a class on the physics of audio engineering from Hawley, and they spent time writing plugins for digital audio work stations on Welton’s senior research project. Welton plans to re-enroll as a computer science major this fall as he works on BRUISER.
Hawley also continues to work with alumna Lindsey Thompson, a psychology honors student who took an interest in physics and ran simulations and computations on TexMex using a Belmont server until its 48 gigabyte memory was exhausted. She currently is a Fulbright scholar in England.
“Other people will begin collaborating with me to use the code in all of the wonderful simulations that they can dream up to do dealing with neutron stars and black holes,” Hawley said. His code currently works only for vacuum solutions, or empty space, and he is working with a Louisiana State University professor to make it functional on mass like neutron stars. “It really is a group effort and my code is just one important piece.”
Associate Professor of Philosophy Mark Anderson has received national media attention this academic year for his discovery of an author’s misappropriated material.
Last spring, Anderson said he was comparing two books on Friedrich Nietzsche while researching for a lecture on the philosopher for his undergraduate course on Plato, Andrew Melville and Nietzsche. He read Curtis Cate’s Friedrich Nietzsche and Julian Young’s Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography concurrently, alternating chapters between the two books. It was then that Anderson said he noticed that Young appeared to borrow material from Cate’s text without quotation or proper attribution. He published the article “Telling the Same Story of Nietzsche’s Life” in The Journal of Nietzsche Studies in August 2011.
“I suspected [my article] would have impact because it is an important field of study, and [Young’s Friedrich Nietzsche] was a widely received publication coming from Cambridge, an important press,” Anderson said. His article was picked up by NewAPPS, a prominent art, politics, philosophy and science blog. The Chronicle of Higher Education published the article “When One Biographer ‘Borrows’ From Another, the Dispute Gets Philosophical” on July 2, and this week the same author wrote a Wall Street Journal blog post on Anderson’s findings.
“All of us here in the department have been following this discussion for several months. Mark is an internationally recognized scholar on the work of Friedrich Nietzsche and his work in this area is highly respected,” said Philosophy Department Chair Ronnie Littlejohn. “As you can see in [The Chronicle of Higher Education], even philosophers such as Ray Monk, who is the world’s leading biographer of Wittgenstein and Russell, two other great philosophers, has heralded Mark’s analysis and lined up to support his work. We are very fortunate to have a scholar of Mark’s capabilities at Belmont.”
Earlier this month Young reached out to Anderson and asked the professor to let the author know what other passages in his biography mirrored Cate’s book.
“He doesn’t deny it,” Anderson said. “He said he was sloppy and forgot that those notes were from the other book. He even tried to give other explanations of what happened.”
He spoke to his class about the use of “misappropriated materials” and has sent article links to the students that showed interest. Moving forward, Anderson said he advises students and aspiring authors to tread lightly when researching and writing.
“If it’s plagiarism, just don’t plagiarize. If it’s sloppiness or not just knowing how to write a biography, write the kind of works that you are capable of writing. Keep track of your notes and make sure everything you write is connected to a source.”
A Belmont student will go to tracks, courts and fields in London this summer to study sport performance as it relates to the world’s best athletes as they compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Last week, Colleen Arends left Nashville for London where she is taking the class Olympic Games: Sport Performance, History and Administrations through the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA). Northern Kentucky University clinical exercise scientist Renee Jeffreys is teaching the course, which focuses on training principles and conditioning for elite performance, as well as factors that affect performance in specific sports. Olympic history and what is required to conduct the Olympic Games will also be briefly discussed. The class will visit Olympic venues, various sport governing bodies and sport facilities in and around London.
“The way the course is set up, each of us have to choose a different sport within the Olympics; compile a presentation on anaerobic, vital oxygen intake max for most athletes, average BMI; focus on how athletes train and how their muscle tone and cardiovascular tone are different between sports; and how different sports require different physiological adaptions through the body,” said Arends, a junior from St. Louis, Mo., studying exercise science. She also is required to keep an exercise journal of studios and group exercise classes she visit in London as well as running and walking routes.
Field trips for the Olympic Games classes include touring Olympic venues, taking cricket lessons, watching the Olympic torch relay and volunteering at the Olympics marathon and a cycling event. The students must purchase tickets on their own to the actual Olympic events.
The class is offered through CCSA, a consortium of more than two dozen universities that do study abroad programs together, for which Belmont is the host institution. Seventeen of the 205 students in the CCSA London program are from Belmont and all are staying at Kings College, said CCSA Public Relations Specialist Joe Woolley. Other courses throughout the five-week program include art history, audio engineering, English, creative writing, theater, psychology, education and criminal justice, he said.
Click here to read Jeffreys’ blog on the Olympic Games class.