How I Spent My Summer Vacation

August 28, 2008
Summer isn't only a time for family trips and relaxation. It's also a break from normal routine that allows many Baylor faculty and staff to pursue research, teaching abroad or personal intellectual goals. For the fourth summer in a row, we asked a number of faculty and staff how they spent their time off, and the responses reveal a varied mixture of activities.


Dr. Joel S. Burnett
Associate professor of religion

"In late May, I completed training in digital photography of ancient religious artifacts at West Semitic Research at the University of Southern California. Afterwards I did some traveling with my family to Minnesota, Colorado, coastal South Carolina and France. In between, I've written a journal article, "What Kind of Goddess: Terra-Cotta Shrine Figurines from Iron Age Jordan," and have worked on my book Where is God?: Divine Absence and the Problem of Theodicy in the Hebrew Bible, which is under contract for publication by Fortress Press."


Dr. Marianna A. Busch
Professor of chemistry

"During summer 2008 I held a sabbatical to write articles for publication. In early July, I submitted a short, invited article on the topic "spectroscopy" to the World Book Encyclopedia, which targets readers in the 9th-12th grades. Then, as part of the activities of the Baylor Center for Analytical Spectroscopy, I submitted a statistical pattern recognition study on textile identification. Finished garments and textiles are a significant part of the U.S. domestic and international trade, and with the quota removal on U.S. apparel imports from China, there is a special need for rapid, non-destructive methods of fabric authentication at the present time. Dr. Judith Lusk in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences provided a large textile collection that is, to the best of our knowledge, one of the largest collections ever reported for a textile pattern recognition study. As a result of this study, Drs. Christopher Davis, former graduate student and now a faculty member at St. Philip's College, San Antonio, Dennis Rabbe, Kenneth Busch, Judith Lusk and I have been able to demonstrate that we can identify six important types of textiles with an 89-98 percent accuracy rate -- without any form of sample pretreatment or any consideration of differences in fiber origin, manufacturing process residues, topical finishes, weave pattern, or dye content.

As a former Fulbrighter, I was invited to the Fulbright New Zealand 60th anniversary gala dinner. Ken and I attended the event in June at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington, D.C. The embassy is housed in a beautiful building near the Naval Observatory and Senator Clinton's Washington home. We were treated to a magnificent dinner with many New Zealand specialties and had a chance to learn about the past, present and future of the program from Mrs. Harriet Fulbright, widow of the late Senator Fulbright."


Dr. Gerald B. Cleaver
Associate professor of physics

"I presented a 60-minute lecture at the Workshop on Cosmology and Theology, Aug. 11-15, at the Wheaton College Science Station near Rapid City, South Dakota. I was one of 10 who participated in this 'by-invitation-only' workshop. Following this, I traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, to attend the 2008 International Conference on String Theory at the European Center for Nuclear Research. During May and June I taught a 'minimester' graduate special topics course on string cosmology.

I carried on strings theory research this summer with Baylor physics lecturer Dr. Tibra Ali, with PhD students Richard Obousy, Matt Robinson and Tim Renner, and with former Baylor REU student Jared Greenwald (BYU), who will be attending Baylor this fall. Tibra and I continue our investigation of half-flat manifolds for heterotic strings and of string cosmology with Dr. Anzhong Wang and his PhD student Mike Devin. My students and I also continued our long-term systematic study of the physical properties of the free-fermionic heterotic region of the string landscape. In addition, Richard and I furthered their study of Casimir effects in string theory-inspired models."


Dr. Steven G. Driese
Chair and professor of geology

"During the summer of 2008 I continued with field research at a geoarchaeological site near Salado, Texas, that may possibly be the oldest (15,000-17,000 years before present) pre-Clovis site in North America, working with Drs. Lee Nordt from Baylor, Mike Waters from Texas A&M and Zheng-Hua Li from Tennessee. I also conducted field research at the Pledger Hardwood Bottomlands site in Brazoria County, Texas, searching for pedogenic siderite in ponded soils, in conjunction with a current National Science Foundation grant that includes four co-investigators at the University of Kansas. In late July I traveled to the First International Hydropedology Conference to help present a paper at Penn State University, and followed that with a week of field work in early August in Catskill Mountains State Park in upstate New York, with new PhD student Jason Mintz, examining evidence of one of the oldest fossil forests of Middle Devonian age.

As geology department chair I have been tracking construction of the new Carlile Geology Research Building that is to be completed early in the fall semester. I also participated as part of a working group at the Academic Summit on Tenure in June, which was very rewarding. I completed a manuscript on the genesis of deeply weathered clay-rich soils in Tennessee that was submitted for review, and helped current PhD student Aaron Shunk shepherd his first published paper for his dissertation.

My wife and daughter also enjoyed a brief Fourth of July vacation at Port Aransas, Texas."


Cynthia C. Fry
Senior lecturer in computer science and engineering and faculty-in-residence at the Engineering and Computer Science Living-Learning Center in the North Village and assistant dean

"This summer was the second offering of Baylor's I5 (Immersion Into International Interdisciplinary Innovation) Program in China. This program is a joint endeavor by the Hankamer School of Business and the School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS), where Baylor ECS and business students are joined by students from American University and Thunderbird Institute of Global Management. They are placed in project teams with Chinese students from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology and Lingnan University in Guangzhou, and they complete a project for a multinational company considering a technology-based venture in China. This year five interns (who are the team leaders for each of the projects) left for China on May 20 and participated in a summer internship to prepare the project for their teams, who joined them on June 30. In addition to much study, the students had the opportunity to go on a river cruise of the Yangtze River and tour the Three Gorges Dam, visit Hong Kong, spending half of their program time in Guangzhou and the other half in Shanghai. The student teams made a final presentation and presented their business plans to their clients Aug. 4 and returned home four days later."


Dr. C. Alton Hassell
Senior lecturer in chemistry

"I spent a week grading AP chemistry tests. To grade the same four parts of one question 1,500 times in seven days is an experience. There were more than 100,000 exams to grade. I also wrote four articles on different moons for The Solar System and six articles on different scientists for Great Lives from History: 400 Inventors and Inventions, both for Salem Press."


Dr. Thomas S. Kidd
Associate professor of history

"I spent most of this summer working on several book projects. I completed work on a book titled American Christians and Islam: Evangelical Culture and Muslims from the Colonial Period to the Age of Global Terrorism, which is due out in November with Princeton University Press. I continued revisions on a book on religion and the American Revolution, which will be published in 2009 by Basic Books. I also wrote several chapters of a biography on Patriot leader Patrick Henry, and in May I traveled to the Library of Virginia and the University of Virginia to do research in Henry's papers there. I also wrote a chapter on Henry for a forthcoming collection on the Founding Fathers."


Dr. Sarah-Jane Murray
Assistant professor of medieval literature and French and faculty mentor and faculty-in-residence for the Honors College Living-Learning Center

"I spent this summer traveling around Europe and chasing down manuscripts of the Ovide moralise, a 14th century translation and Christian commentary on Ovid's Metamorphoses. Paris, Geneva, Brussels, Copenhagen and Berne were on my itinerary (July 5-Aug. 11) thanks to a Franklin research award from the American Philosophical Society. I also met up with the Baylor in Oxford group to show them around Paris July 11-13."


Dr. Richard R. Russell
Associate professor of English

"I spent the month of June conducting three Master's thesis defenses and a dissertation defense, and served as reader on another dissertation while also copyediting my book manuscript on the Northern Irish author Bernard MacLaverty for Bucknell University Press, which is publishing it in its series "Contemporary Irish Writers." From July 5-Aug. 2 I participated in an National Endowment for the Humanities institute, "Reassessing W.B. Yeats," led by internationally renowned Yeats scholars, which took place in Galway, Dublin and Sligo, Ireland. Finally, I made revisions to a book manuscript focusing on the conciliatory poetry and prose of Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley, wrote two book reviews and made revisions to two articles."


Dr. Bennie F.L. Ward
Distinguished Professor of Physics

"My summer was highlighted by two trips, one in which I traveled to the Theory Division, PH Department, CERN (European Laboratory for Elementary Particle Physics), Geneva, Switzerland, and to the Werner-Heisenberg-Institut, Max-Planck-Institut, Munich, Germany, and one in which I traveled to the 34th International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP08) in Philadelphia, Penn. The trip to CERN, where I am a Short-Term Visiting Consultant, allowed me to continue the exciting and challenging preparations for the imminent turn-on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest peacetime physics experiment in the history of civilization -- the beams were scheduled to start circulating in early August. The objective is to probe the deep underpinnings of the origin of mass in the Standard Model of elementary particles, where we note that the simplest paradigm involves the Higgs particle which could then be one of the main discoveries of the LHC.

My research group here at Baylor (Dr. Swapan Majhi, Mr. Sammy Joseph, our graduate student, and myself), together with our collaborators Dr. Scott Yost, currently at Princeton, and Dr. Mikhail Kalmykov, currently at II. Institut for Theoretical Physics, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany, is focused on the precision theory of LHC physics, always keeping an eye as well toward the possible application of our work for the precision theory needs of the physics of the International Linear Collider, a project that is still in its developmental stages but which promises to deliver 1TeV e+e- annihilation energies (a possible site for it is Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory just outside Chicago). I presented a talk at CERN on our recent results on precision QEDXQCD resummation theory for LHC physics at the 2008 HERA-LHC Workshop. At the ICHEP08 Conference in Philadelphia, my group made three presentations: 1) in the formal theory session, I presented "Towards Exact Quantum Loop Results in the Theory of General Relativity" in which I conveyed recent results in my new approach to Einstein's theory at the quantum level; 2) Dr. Yost presented our recent progress on our new hypergeometric function representation for Feynman diagrams in a poster presentation titled "All Order Epsilon-expansion of Generalized Hypergeometric Functions;" 3) finally, I presented our recent results on precision QEDXQCD resummation for LHC physics in a poster presentation titled "Precision Resummed QEDXQCD Theory for LHC Physics: IR-Improved Scheme for Parton Distributions, Kernels, Reduced Cross Sections with Shower/ME Matching."

These presentations and talks show that we continue to achieve pioneering results during the summer aimed at supporting the analysis of LHC data for discoveries and that I continue to develop the view of quantum general relativity implied by my new approach. Our eye is always toward MC methods for comparison with LHC/ILC data. The participation by Baylor at ICHEP08, which was the 34th in this series of big international symposia, is essential to Baylor's continued recognition as an institution in contact with the mainstream of particle physics worldwide. Our being a part of the U.S. delegation to the meeting helps to assure that American interests on the world stage of the field will move forward and that Baylor will be attuned to that movement to the extent that we can influence that tune.

These activities show that our group had a successful summer."
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