David Frye Interviewed for ‘History Channel’ Documentary

History Professor David Frye sat down on July 26 for an interview with producers from Onza Entertainment, who flew in from Spain to get Frye’s perspective on geo-political forces impacting the global order. Onza Entertainment is producing a series for the History Channel titled “A History of the Future.”

The series was conceived by Diego Rubio, professor of applied history and global governance at IE University in Segovia, Spain. The History Channel is part of the A&E Network, which will air the television series this fall and in early 2020 in the United States, Spain, Portugal, Iberia and several other European countries.

“Claudia Lorenzo, who serves as line producer for the series, and I wanted to talk with Professor Frye because he is one of many renowned experts from around the world who is best qualified to discuss the ‘The Future of Globalization’ episode,” said Rubio via telephone from Spain during the interview.

Rubio and his colleagues had read Frye’s new book, “Walls: A History of Civilization in Blood and Brick,” which has received rave reviews from around the world. New York Magazine, the History Book Club, Booklist and Kirkus Review are among the many literary organizations that have written glowing reviews of the book. The book has been ranked one of the “20 best books of 2018,” and best-selling author and historian Tom Holland praised it as “a haunting and brilliant achievement.”

Another insightful review came from Barry Strauss, author of “The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination.” Strauss commented that Frye “writes . . . about what lies on either side of them (walls) with so much grace and insight that you hardly noticed that 4,000 years of history have passed, and now you have to rethink all your perceptions.”

Ferran Estelles, director of content for Onza Entertainment, said, “We wanted Professor Frye to share his wisdom and reflect on how some historical events can shed significant light on the societal, political and economic changes that the near future will bring to the international order, i.e., power balances, migration, trade and so on.”

During the interview, Frye said walls have shaped human behavior throughout history. He said in ancient times, walls were on every continent. They were not controversial; in many instances, walls created the security needed for citizens to safely pursue art, culture and commerce. “Without walls, there would have been no Chinese scholars, Babylonian mathematicians or Greek philosophers.”

Written by Dwight Bachman

Eastern Grad Accepts Digital History Fellowship at George Mason University

 Manchester-native Dana Meyer ’19, a recent graduate of the history program at Eastern Connecticut State University, accepted a digital history fellowship at the George Mason University Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM). This Ph.D.-track fellowship is given to two students per year and provides full tuition for five years along with a stipend.

The Digital History Fellowship at RRCHNM was established in 1994 and is the oldest digital history center in the country. It creates websites and open-source digital tools that maintain and showcase the past, advance history education and historical understanding, encourage participation in the practice of history and more.

Meyer’s fellowship will focus on the American Revolution, as he works with Christopher Hamner, editor-in-chief of the “Papers of the War Department” – a project that transcribes documents that were destroyed in the U.S. War Office.

Meyer will also further work on his digital research about Connecticut Revolutionary War deserters, which he says was motivated by “the lack of secondary scholarship exploring the Continental soldiers’ psychological response to the Revolutionary War.” He hopes this research will benefit early-American digital scholarship and offer answers to an issue not often explored.

As an incoming Digital History Fellow in George Mason University’s Ph.D. program, Meyer will work alongside professional researchers, developers, programmers and more. “The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University is by far the most reputable Digital Humanities graduate program in the world,” said Meyer. “The Digital History Fellowship will allow me to continue the analysis I have been conducting at Eastern… on a much larger and collaborative platform.”

Speaking to the undergraduate opportunities afforded to him, Meyer said, “Eastern’s digital history lab provided the resources and support necessary to embark on a data-driven historical project centered around a quantifiable thesis that has never been answered before.”

Meyer acknowledges his mentor, Professor Jamel Ostwald, for guiding him throughout his independent study. “Dr. Ostwald has offered his knowledge and support, and without his help I would never have been able to create such a provocative research project.”

He concluded, “Eastern has far exceeded my expectations. The History Department is truly unparalleled.”

Written by Bobbi Brown

Eastern Alumna Salutes Inclusive Excellence Award Winners

On May 9, Eastern recognized more than 100 students with a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or higher, and an additional 11 students who have demonstrated exemplary co-curricular engagement at the University’s Seventh Annual Inclusive Excellence Student Awards Ceremony. The ceremony recognized the achievements of African, Latino, Asian and Native American (ALANA) students at Eastern.

Eastern President Elsa Núñez said the ceremony was not just about inclusion, but also spoke to the University’s other core values of academic excellence, integrity, social responsibility, engagement and empowerment. “It is important for each of you to stand tall and be proud of who you are and what you are capable of. Never, ever, ever let anyone attempt to diminish your worth or your talents.

“Today’s honorees join thousands of other successful Eastern alumni who are making their own personal contributions out in the real world, including our guest speaker today, Dr. Kawami Evans. Today, we show respect and celebrate the accomplishments of students who too often have been forgotten in the past.  Thank you for being part of this celebration; to our honorees, congratulations.  We are very proud of you.”

Keynote speaker Evans ’97 serves as associate director at the Center for African Diaspora Student Success at the University of California at Davis. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history and social science at Eastern, her Master of Education in educational policy and research administration from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a doctorate in educational management and leadership from Drexel University.

Evans encouraged the students to use their curiosity and optimism to persevere through unseen psychological struggles that can become their staunchest challenges. She said many high- achieving students fall prey to chasing individual achievements, accolades or material gain as their goal, even confusing their self-worth with what they can accomplish.

“This is dangerous; it can lead to anxiety and depression. Don’t let this be your reality or focus,” said Evans. “Who you are is what we are celebrating today. All the earned accolades you are receiving are but a byproduct of the brilliance within you . . . You are the promise of our ancestors’ prayers and walk with the wisdom and swag of those who have grit, resilience, the social and emotional intelligence, curiosity and hope.”

Evans told the students the most important element they need to resurrect in discussing their future success is their spirituality, ways in which students discover their destiny — answers to the big questions of who they are, what is their life purpose and how do they make difference in the world.

“Much of the world right now is relegated to systems and polices. We have to raise the bar with our vision of what’s possible,” Evans said. “It will take hard work, community, love, bravery, unrelentless effort and celebration.  I sincerely believe that we can create a world that works for all.”

A total of 280 students qualified for an Academic Excellence Award with a 3.5 cumulative GPA or higher, and more than 100 of them were able to attend the May 9 event. During the ceremony, several students received service awards. Adrianna Arocho and Mayra Santos Acosta was presented the Volunteer Service Award; Aiyana Ward, the Athletic Excellence Award; Kimberly Allen and Sommer Bachelor, the Career Development Award; Jenilee Antonetty, the Resident Assistant Diversity Impact Award; Rafael Aragon, the Residential Community Leadership Award; Tristan Perez, the Social Justice Advocacy Award; Emma Costa, the Inspirational Leadership Award; Ishah Azeez, the Resilient Warrior Award; Kimberly Allen and Vishal Jungiwalla, the Advisor’s Choice Award; and the Freedom at Eastern Club, the Building Bridges Award.

By Dwight Bachman

Students Honored at Library Research Awards

Winners of the J. Eugene Smith Annual Library Research Awards, left to right, are Jackson DeLaney, Emily Miclon and Cassaundra Epes

On May 15, Library Director Janice Wilson announced the selection of three Eastern Connecticut State University students as winners of the Ninth Annual Undergraduate Student Library Research Award. The prize was established to recognize and celebrate exemplary student research projects that demonstrate the ability to locate, evaluate, select and apply information from appropriate resources. Primary emphasis is placed upon the creative and effective use of library resources, services and collections encompassing print, microform and online databases.

Jackson DeLaney ’21, a political science major from Southbury, won the $350 prize in the freshman/sophomore category for his paper “The Influence of Political News Consumption on Voting Behavior.” Political Science Professor Nicole Krassas provided the faculty statement of support.

Emily Miclon ’19 a music major from Enfield, won the $350 prize in the junior/senior category for her paper titled “La Musique en Plein Air: Debussy’s Open Air Emplacement.” Timothy Cochran, assistant professor of music, provided the faculty statement of support.

Cassaundra Epes ’19, a history major from Baltic, received Honorable Mention in the junior/senior category for her paper on “The Ideal Woman: Sexology, Sex Reform, and Engineering Marriage in Weimar Germany.” Scott Moore, assistant professor of history, provided the faculty statement of support.

Eastern President Elsa Núñez congratulated the winners saying,Today, knowledge on this planet doubles every 12 hours—12 hours!—and within that mass of information exists detailed information on every conceivable topic.  There has never been more information available, yet the task of locating and synthesizing information continues to be a skill unto itself.”  She said academic success and the intellectual growth of student scholars “speak to the scholarship on our campus, the relationship between student scholars and their faculty mentors, and of the importance of having a vibrant library in the 21st century academy.” 

Librarians and teaching faculty comprised the committee that read the research of all the applicants and selected the award winners. “Each year, we are pleased to receive applicants from students showing the product of their extensive research and inspired use of library resources,” said Library Director Janice Wilson. “This year was no exception, as we received an above average number of entries and decided to recognize a deserving paper as Honorable Mention.”

By Dwight Bachman

Professors Davis and Graham Wrap up Spring Faculty Forum Series

Davis Presents on “An Elephant’s Eye View: Megafauna and Dominion in Southeast Asia.”

During the Punic Wars, Hannibal famously led an army of war elephants across the Alps.
Elephants at Hai Ba Tung Celebration in Vietnam 1957.
Elephants during military conflict in Vietman and Laos 1970s.

 

On April 17, Bradley Davis, associate professor of history, presented a talk titled “An Elephant’s Eye View: Megafauna and Dominion in Southeast Asia.” As a member of a multi-disciplinary team working on the history of elephant populations in Africa, Europe and Asia, Davis has worked with anthropologists, forest ecologists, and biologists to reexamine the cultural history of large animals and their relationships with plants and humans.

He said the more than 3,200 elephants in Southeast Asia over the years have been the center of tourism in the region and are also used for transportation. “Throughout the region, elephants are still the best source of transportation, often called “tractors that poop.”

Davis’ talk covered findings from recent archival research in Vietnam, including a case of death by elephant from the 1830s. He also cited the unique role of elephants throughout history when they served as “war machines” around the world. He and his colleagues, who began their interdisciplinary investigation in Singapore this past November, will continue with a meeting in Paris this summer. His work on elephants is part of his second book project, an environmental history of Vietnam, which he will complete during his sabbatical leave as a visiting fellow in the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University this fall.

Graham Discusses “The Roles of Evolving Landscapes, Ancient Waterways and Shifting Climates in Structuring Desert Arachnofaunas.”

 

Matthew Graham, assistant professor of biology, discussed “The Roles of Evolving Landscapes, Ancient Waterways and Shifting Climates in Structuring Desert Arachnofaunas” on May 1, wrapping up the Spring Faculty Forum Series.

Normally when one thinks of deserts, sand, cactuses and camels come to mind. Maybe, a rattlesnake too. But for Graham, it is scorpions and spiders. He has travelled to the American Southwest, to research these ancient species for years. It is why students, who have learned much about not only scorpions but big camel spiders and tarantulas too, affectionately call him “The Scorpion Man.”Graham said the rugged and varied landscapes of the American Southwest were shaped by a dynamic history of Neogene tectonics and Pleistocene climates. Mountains uplifted, rivers changed course, and climates fluctuated between the ice ages and warmer interglacial periods.

Graham’s talk summarized genetic data from scorpions, tarantulas and camel spiders to evaluate the impact of their history on shaping modern compositions and distributions of arachnids in our southwestern deserts.

Graham said scorpions have been around for nearly 400 million years. They can live in the hot, arid desert by secreting a wax over their exoskeleton that lets them live in dry environments. Some can construct burrow holes up to six feet deep.

Mitochondrial and nuclear data from scorpions and tarantulas suggest that arachnids diversified in response to changing landscapes and waterways. Shifting climates during the Pleistocene significantly altered the abundance and distributions of arid-adapted arachnid species.

Graham finished by presenting new genomic data that highlight the profound effects of recent climatic warming on arachnid distributions, especially in the Great Basin Desert.

Written by Dwight Bachman

Eastern Alumna Wins 2 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

LaToya Smith (left) was named “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by the New York Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Here she stands with Lizbeth Rodriguez, advisor with SBDC.

Eastern Connecticut State University graduate LaToya Smith ’06 has been named “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the New York Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Smith is the CEO and founder of Brass City Media, Inc., located in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated magna cum laude from Eastern in 2006 with degrees in communication and history. Smith received a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University in 2008.

The SBDC recognized Smith at its annual awards dinner on April 30 in Ithaca, NY. The SBA ceremony occurred on May 7 at the Microsoft Technology Center in New York City.

LaToya Smith offers tips on how to market your business to aspiring entrepreneurs in New York City.

“My undergraduate experience at Eastern helped shape my career and professional life,” said Smith. “I will forever be grateful for the knowledge and skills that I learned from my professors and my former employers in the offices of Financial Aid and University Relations, and in the Department of History. I’m incredibly blessed to have such a huge community of love and support.”

“These two SBA and the SBDC Young Entrepreneur Awards being presented to LaToya are the result of her business vision, dedication and focus, along with her ability to incorporate the resources and experts that have helped her to take her business to the next level,” said Lizbeth Rodriguez, SBDC business advisor. “As her business advisor, I am so very proud of this top-of-the-line, well-deserved recognition for LaToya.”

“This truly is an honor,” said Smith. “SBA has been an incredible resource to me. My SCORE (“Service Corps of Retired Executives”) mentors helped me incorporate my business and have been with me every step of the way. SBDC helped me refocus my business and expand it beyond a service-based business.”

SBA and SBDC’s “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” award “recognizes business owners under age 40 who have demonstrated a substantiated history as an established business that fosters local economies by creating job opportunities; has shown an increase in sales, net profit, and/or net worth for the three prior calendar years; and supports their neighborhood through community-oriented projects.”

“LaToya has shown remarkable growth and ingenuity in delivering her products or services,” said Beth Goldberg, SBA New York district director. “She has taken all that she learned as a journalist and in building her own brand, helped other entrepreneurs tell their stories more effectively.”

A native of Waterbury, CT, Smith is launching a new platform this fall as a direct result of the guidance of her SBDC business advisor and the SBA. “With SBA and SBDC’s support, I hope to reach profitable new markets that will ensure the growth of my company. Equally as important is their advice, which has unleashed excellent, new ideas that will help me carry out a plan on which I place very high value-making wise investments to better increase employment opportunities in the community.”

Smith has used SBA’s free live webinars, on-demand trainings and in-person events to improve her business finances, marketing, sales and operations. She also worked with the Local Development Corporation of East New York (LDCENY), a city agency under SBA, to receive her Minority and Woman Business Enterprise Certification (M/WBE), which provides increased access to government contracting opportunities.

Written by Dwight Bachman

43 Strong, Eastern Represents in Georgia at National Conference

With 43 student presenters, Eastern was among the top 20 schools nationwide for NCUR participation, and the only school from New England to make the list.

Forty-three students from Eastern Connecticut State University traveled to Georgia on April 11-13 to present original research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR). The 2019 conference occurred at Kennesaw State University and featured hundreds of undergraduate students from across the country.

Eastern was among the top 20 schools nationwide for NCUR participation this year – the only school from New England to make the list – and one of the few with a student population of less than 6,000.

Eastern students from a range of majors presented artwork, music performances and oral/poster presentations. Research questions probed topics such as the microbiome of scorpions, the link between casual sex and online dating, pop-culture glamorization of eating disorders, and much more.

Adella Dzitko-Carlson presents “Finding Faith in the 21st Century: The Search for the Sacred in John Luther Adams’ “In the Name of the Earth.”

Music major Esther Jones ’20 commented on the experience of performing a lecture-recital. “This experience at NCUR was a milestone in my life because I didn’t think that I could actually do it when the time finally came around. I thought that I would be trembling so badly that my mind would go blank.”

Jones’ piano performance was titled “‘Theme and Variations on an Egyptian Folksong’ by Gamal Abdel-Rahim.” She added, “This experience helped to boost my confidence and has given me courage to face new challenges.”

“One of my greatest takeaways from this conference is how it pushes you and makes you a better academic,” said Michael Tuttle ’19, who majors in psychology and mathematics.

“Presenting at a conference subjects your research to a higher level of scrutiny, challenging your thoughts and ideas. When audience members ask questions and offer suggestions, it pushes you to think critically and creatively.” Tuttle’s presentation was titled “Overconfidence and Impulsivity of College Students in a Cognitive Reflection Task.”

Theresa Parker presents “Echo Chambers in Social Media: Why do People Seek or Reject Opposing Viewpoints.”

Biology major Chris Shimwell ’20 presented “Molecular Identification of the Scorpion Telson Microbiome.” He said, “Presenting at a national conference is a valuable experience because it allows you to synthesize information into an audio-visual format and present it to others who are highly educated and knowledgeable about your field.”

Jacob Dayton ’19, a biology major who presented two projects – one on the genetic diversity of a migratory bird group and one on the behaviors of strawberry poison-dart frogs – added that the value of presenting at national conferences is threefold.

“One, it provides students with the opportunity to practice communicating their research to a diverse audience. Two, questions and comments from audience members challenge students to defend and/or expand their thinking. And three, it provides the opportunity to publicize Eastern and the quality research that its students are conducting.”

Students also cited being exposed to new research questions during others’ presentations, interacting with peers from across the country, and sharing the NCUR experience with their Eastern friends as highlights of the conference. Psychology Professors Carlos Escoto and James Diller and Biology Professor Patricia Szczys accompanied the Eastern group.

NCUR was established in 1987. From a pool of several thousand applicants, students are accepted into the conference if their research demonstrates a unique contribution to their field of study. NCUR offers undergraduates the opportunity to present their research findings to peers, faculty and staff from colleges and universities across the nation, providing a unique networking and learning opportunity.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern Professor Examines Role of Elephants in Southeast Asia

During a Q & A, Davis referenced how Hannibal famously led an army of war elephants across the Alps as part of his war machine.

On April 17, Bradley Davis, associate professor of history, presented a talk titled “An Elephant’s Eye View: Megafauna and Dominion in Southeast Asia.”

As a member of a multi-disciplinary team working on the history of elephant populations in Africa, Europe and Asia, Davis has worked with anthropologists, forest ecologists, and biologists to reexamine the cultural history of large animals and their relationships with humans.

Davis’ talk covered findings from recent archival research in Vietnam, including a case of death by elephant from the 1830s. 

Davis and his colleagues, who began their interdisciplinary investigation in Singapore this past November, will continue with a meeting in Paris this summer.

Davis’ work on elephants is part of his second book project, an environmental history of Vietnam, which he will complete during his sabbatical leave as a visiting fellow in the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University this fall.

Written by Dwight Bachman

Annual CREATE Conference to Showcase Student Art, Research

 

WILLIMANTIC, CT (04/08/2019) Eastern Connecticut State University will host its premier academic and artistic conference of the year on April 12. CREATE – Celebrating Research Excellence and Artistic Talent at Eastern – will take place from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Student Center and surrounding venues. An award ceremony with remarks by Eastern President Elsa Núñez will take place at 12:30 p.m. in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center.

Hundreds of student researchers, artists and performers will present their talents at CREATE. Students from all majors will lead oral and poster presentations, participate in panel discussions, showcase music and dance performances, exhibit their art and photography, and present documentary films and more.

Registration will take place at 8 a.m. at the Student Center Café. President Núñez will present two undergraduate awards and two mentor awards to outstanding students and faculty members at the 12:30 p.m. award ceremony.

For more information, visit http://www.easternct.edu/create/, where you can view the day’s agenda and download the event’s cell phone app for iPhone and Android.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern Students Present at CSU Making History Conference

Eastern students and faculty represent Eastern at the CSU Making History Conference, which took place at Southern Connecticut State University this year.

Twelve history students from Eastern Connecticut State University presented at the 2019 Connecticut State University Making History Conference on March 22. The fifth-annual conference was held at Southern Connecticut State University.

Eastern students presented on a range of topics, from Hiram Bingham and Machu Picchu to Japanese samurai culture. Several students also gave presentations on developments in the discipline of history, including discussing tools for digital history dissection and a roundtable discussion on teaching the historical methods course.

“I learned a lot about the value of coming together to discuss new research and ideas,” said Martha Ennis, a history major who gave a presentation titled “Mexican Migration in Connecticut: Braceros and Beyond.” She added, “I also learned about subjects I had never even thought about before.”

Eastern History Professors Joan Meznar and Thomas Balcerski accompanied the students to the conference and helped them prepare for their presentations.

“Students in the history department are conducting impressive original research, and are presenting at local, regional and national conferences, said Meznar. “This year’s conference was another affirmation of Eastern’s role as Connecticut’s Public Liberal Arts University.”

Conferences such as these are vital for student research and thesis development. History student Raven Dillon, who was a part of a presentation called “Re-tooling the Historical Methods Course” said: “This conference really helped me envision my future as an indigenous professor and researcher. I’m already planning my proposal for next year.”

Some students study broad historical eras, while others focus on a specific field of study. Allen Horn, a history major who also presented “Re-tooling the Historical Methods Course,” is focusing his research in the study of Morgan horses in the Civil War. “I want to elevate the field of human interaction with horses to a legitimate field of scholarship,” Horn said. 

“It was a banner day for Eastern’s history department,” Balcerski concluded. “Our history students exhibited high-quality research and effectively presented their findings to a broader audience. They exhibited polish, poise and passion for their subjects.”

Written by Raven Dillon