November 11, 2019

Grothe Pens Article on El Niño in ‘Geophysical Research Letters’

UMW Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Pam Grothe has published a paper – Enhanced El NiñoSouthern Oscillation Variability in Recent Decades – in Geophysical Research Letters. The biweekly peer-reviewed scientific journal of geoscience is published by the American Geophysical Union.

The article includes the following plain language summary:

Recent modeling studies suggest El Niño will intensify due to greenhouse warming, Grothe’s paper states. Here, new coral reconstructions of the El Niño‐Southern Oscillation (ENSO) record sustained, significant changes in ENSO variability over the last 7,000yrs, and imply that ENSO extremes of the last 50 years are significantly stronger than those of the pre‐industrial era in the central tropical Pacific. These records suggest that El Niño events already may be intensifying due to anthropogenic climate change.

“In short, this work suggests that El Nino events may already be more extreme than before the industrial era,” Grothe said, “suggesting that anthropogenic climate change may be the reason, as the climate models predict.”

Stommel Interviewed by Chronicle of Higher Ed on his ‘Start by Trusting Students’ Philosophy

Jesse Stommel, Senior Lecturer of Digital Learning

Jesse Stommel, Senior Lecturer of Digital Learning

Jesse Stommel, senior lecturer in digital studies, was interviewed by the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled, “Forget Grades and Turnitin. Start Trusting Students.” In it, he talks about his #4wordpedagogy, “Start by trusting students.”

“There’s a lot of talk in faculty development about best practices. But every teacher teaches at a different institution, they teach different students, they’re a different body in the classroom, and so the idea of best practices seems flawed to me,” Stommel said to the Chronicle. “Instead I think about best philosophies. That’s really where ‘start by trusting students’ came from. That looks different for different teachers in different classrooms, but it is a place to put your foot as you enter a classroom.” Read more. 

Konieczny Publishes in Journal of Algebra

Janusz Konieczny, professor of mathematics

Janusz Konieczny, professor of mathematics

Janusz Konieczny, professor of mathematics, co-authored a research article, Conjugacy in inverse semigroups,  published in the Journal of Algebra. The journal’s website reads:

“The Journal of Algebra is a leading international journal and publishes papers that demonstrate high quality research results in algebra and related computational aspects. Only the very best and most interesting papers are to be considered for publication in the journal. With this in mind, it is important that the contribution offer a substantial result that will have a lasting effect upon the field.”

Gupta Presents Research on India-China Economic Relations at the University of Heidelberg

Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Surupa Gupta

Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Surupa Gupta

Surupa Gupta, associate professor of Political Science and International Affairs, presented a paper titled “India-China Economic Relations: Competition, Conflict and Cooperation” at a seminar on The Future of Sino-Indian Relations: Problems and Prospects at the Center for Asian and Transatlantic Studies at the University of Heidelberg in Heidelberg, Germany on October 18, 2019. The one-and-a-half day seminar covered the relations between China and India and the prospect of conflict and cooperation between the two in issue areas such as security, economics, culture and society, environment and regional influence in South Asia.

Al-Tikriti Presents Azerbaijan Paper at Central Eurasian Studies Society Conference

History of Baku's Manuscript Collection

History of Baku’s Manuscript Collection

Associate Professor of Middle East History Nabil Al-Tikriti presented a paper entitled “Some Notes on Manuscript Collections in Azerbaijan on Saturday, October 12. The presentation took place on a panel entitled Sources and Methodological Questions” in Washington, D.C., at the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS) Conference.

The paper abstract was: “This past year, while serving a Fulbright grant based at Baku State University (BSU), I was fortunate to explore Azerbaijan’s known manuscript collections. In the course of such explorations, I learned what I could about the history of such collections, their current state of preservation, and their place in regional book culture.

In this paper, I first provide a brief historical summary of Azerbaijan’s manuscript holdings, and an overview of what I understand to be the state of the country’s manuscript collections currently. As is widely known, manuscript collections in Azerbaijan suffered great disruption in the wake of the 19th century Russian imperial conquest, the Great War, and 1930s Soviet anti-religion campaigns. In light of these developments, I provide my views on the region’s early modern and modern manuscript history.

Following this overview, I concentrate on describing the history and current state of the ‘AMEA M. Fuzuli adina El Yazmalar Institutu,’ or ‘Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences Manuscript Institute named after M. Fuzuli.’ For this portion, I describe the institute’s manuscript holdings, the importance of the most prominent texts, and the practicalities of conducting research at this institution. I also make general observations on the periods which this collection primarily covers, and the broader significance of this collection for national and regional historical research.”

This panel was chaired by Dr. Eren Tasar (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). In the same panel, Dr. Khodadad Rezakhani (Princeton University) presented a paper entitled ‘Diplomats on the Steppe: Ibn Fadlan, the Samanids, and the Rise of the Steppe Road’ and Dr. Sherzodhon Mahmudov (Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan) presented a paper entitled ‘Russian factors in Khoqand-Istanbul correspondences: analysis of letters of Khoqand rulers kept in Ottoman archives.'”



Richardson Column in The Free Lance-Star

College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson’s weekly column in The Free Lance-Star discusses the dynamic of hiring for optics. Read HIRING FOR OPTICS.

College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson

College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson

RICHARDSON: Hiring for optics

I WAS talking with someone recruiting for a newly created position with fairly structured duties. The organization chose to do an internal search, wanting to promote from within.

The message from the supervisor of the person I was talking to is that he needs to hire a woman. It wasn’t that he needs to hire a woman if she’s the best qualified for the position, it was that he needs to hire a woman.

OK, so I’m a woman. And I can tell you that I never have wanted to be hired because I am a woman.

So let’s unpack this. When we hire people into positions in our organizations, in my opinion, we should first and foremost hire the people who are the best qualified to do the work required. These hires are generally people who have done similar work or have transferable skills to ensure they can successfully perform the tasks assigned.

Of course, in order to select the best fit for our position, we must create as diverse a pool of candidates as possible. This may be more difficult for internal hires, but less problematic for external hires. If we cast a wide net, we’re likely to have a robust group of candidates to select from.

If we don’t hire the most prepared or best qualified candidate, we are most likely going to hurt the organization. Or, as a supervisor, we are either going to be micromanaging or dealing with the results of poor performance. Neither works for me, for either the supervisor or the organization. Read more.





Kemp Presents on Digital Archiving Lab at Digital Scholarship Conference

UMW community members collaborate on a variety of digital preservation projects in Simpson Library’s Digital Archiving Lab.

Angie Kemp, Digital Resources Librarian at Simpson Library, presented on UMW’s Digital Archiving Lab at the Bucknell University Digital Scholarship Conference in early October. The presentation provided an overview of the lab as a space for the digitization of unique materials and as a collaboration space for faculty, staff, students and community members. The presentation also discussed how a digitization lab can be a space for preserving community history, learning marketable skills and building confidence with technology tools.

Blevins Presents at Western States Rhetoric and Literacy Conference

Assistant Professor of English Brenta Blevins

At the 2019 Western States Rhetoric and Literacy conference at Montana State University, Assistant Professor of English Brenta Blevins presented a paper as part of the “Contemplating Rhetorical Futures in a Post-Desktop Computing World” roundtable with Jacob Greene, Arizona State University; David Rieder, North Carolina State University; Shannon Butts, University of Florida; and Jason Crider, University of Florida.

Blevins’ presentation, “Approaching the Event Horizon of a Digital Black Hole: Contemplation in Augmented Reality in an Era of Technological Change,” explored the tensions in post-desktop composing between attention and preservation, on the one hand, and, on the other, between distraction and deprecation. Taking augmented reality as one example, she explored how digital information risks falling into an information black hole where technology change renders digital texts inaccessible to future audiences. The digital black hole is a risk not just for augmented reality, but all instances in which human history, inquiry, and expression are recorded solely in digital media.

Farnsworth and Seltzer ’21 Publish Opinion Column in the Washington Post

Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies

Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies

Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies, and Kate Seltzer ’21, a double major in political science and communication at UMW and a research associate at the center, recently published a column in The Washington Post entitled “No matter who controls Virginia’s legislature, redistricting reform must continue.”

No matter who controls Virginia’s legislature, redistricting reform must continue (The Washington Post)


Farnsworth has been quoted in a number of other recent regional and national news stories:

Va. Senate Candidates Ramp Up Attack Ads Ahead Of Election Day (WHSV; Henrico Citizen; RVA Hub)

Two years ago, their race ended in a tie. Now they’re back for a rematch. (The Washington Post)

Will Higher Interest Lead to Higher Turnout on Election Day? (WVTF)

Democrats Poised to Take Over Virginia Legislature, Poll Shows (Courthouse News Service)

National Interest in Virginia’s Statehouse Elections is Drawing Big Fundraising Numbers (WVTF)

Lobby to end gun violence outspends NRA by over half million (WHSV)

Wilson Speaks with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tree of Life Anniversary

Laura Wilson, associate professor of psychology

Laura Wilson, associate professor of psychology

Associate Professor of Psychological Science Laura Wilson, an expert on the psychological effects of traumatic events, spoke to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the first anniversary of the Tree of Life Synagogue mass shooting, in an article entitled “Stronger, more unified, survivors face risks and move forward after the Tree of Life tragedy.”

Wilson said “the responses of members of the three congregations who worship at Tree of Life, as well as a growing sense of unity, don’t surprise her.”

“It’s a common reaction we see. There is a long-term impact on psychology but what we see often is that people feel greater unity and are proud of their community when shootings target one group. It’s a way people collectively cope afterward.” Read more.