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University sabbaticals: robot handicaps, turtle DNA, mosquito hearing… and the boudoir

2/2/2022

The following excerpts are a sample of the professional development assignments, also known as sabbaticals, that were approved by the Board of Regents for 2022-23 at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. 

Iowa State University:

Debra Marquart, a distinguished English professor and former Iowa Poet Laureate and Fellow of the Academy of American Poetry, will “conduct research in North Dakota for a book-length work that blends docu-poetics and research nonfiction to tell both the human and scientific story of the true cost of oil extraction.” The title? “Things Go Boom in the Bakken: Dispatches from an Oil Patch – A Work of Docu-Poetics and Research Nonfiction.” Boom.

Shoba Premkumar contends that “there are currently no quality textbooks with pedagogical elements and instructor resources in the areas of financial technology and crypto currency.” As such, the finance professor is working on a textbook titled: “Fintech and Crypto Currency.” The book “will help future students acquire knowledge in these emerging fields.”

Jacqueline Reber, associate professor of geological and atmospheric science, will “work to better understand deformations in the earth’s crust and the generation of earthquakes” within the scope of her project, titled: “Extending Scholarship and Grant Funding on Semi-Brittle Deformation Dynamics.” 

Have you ever wondered about “Robot Resilience Sparked by Creative Constraint Satisfaction”? If so, Kristin Yvonne Rozier, an associate professor of aerospace engineering, will soon “focus on making robots more resilient in dynamic, dangerous environments, so they can still accomplish their goals even after suffering handicaps, or as environments change.” 

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Stacy Tye-Williams, associate professor of English/communication studies, has plans for a project titled: “Workplace Bullying: An Investigation of Intervention Strategies and Conflict Communication Book Proposal.” This will be an “in-depth data collection on workplace bullying intervention strategies…resulting in a book proposal on conflict communication. The book will collect personal stories about heated communications exchanges online, in personal relationships and at work to better understand why we engage in seemingly petty conflicts, and what we can do to avoid them.” 

Nicole Valenzuela, a professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, will examine the “Co-evolution of Recombination Rates and Repetitive DNA in Turtles” while working with “colleagues in Spain (to) employ state-of-the-art methods to analyze turtle genome sequencing data to estimate the co-evolution of repetitive DNA and recombination rates.” 

Alan Wanamaker, professor, geological and atmospheric sciences, plans to “collect and measure the isotopic composition of phytoplankton, zooplankton, and mollusk shells to develop a baseline of isotopic variability across the Gulf of Maine coastal system, which is undergoing rapid environmental change.” His project is titled: “Developing Isotope Baselines in the Gulf of Maine in the Context of Environmental Change,” and it “will advance the fields of geochemistry and ecochemistry, and benefit ISU students through teaching, mentoring, and research efforts.”

The University of Northern Iowa:

Taraneh Matloob Haghanikar, associate professor of curriculum and instruction, received the greenlight to pursue a project titled: “How do African American Characters Feel?” Which is a “Sentiment Analysis of Characters Emotional Status in YA (young adult) novels.” Historically, “while African Americans have been depicted in young adult novels, their frequently victimized image perpetuated misguided messages about Black culture. The widespread stereotypes…can be viewed by others as facts and it is likely for adolescents of color to internalize these persistent assumptions.” 

Jeffrey Tamplin, a biology professor, is to pursue information regarding the “Conservation of the Wood Turtle in Northeastern Iowa and Southeastern Minnesota.” The Wood Turtle is an endangered species in Iowa, and is one of the most “at risk” North American turtles. 

The University of Iowa: 

Diana Cates, a professor of religious studies, “will complete a full draft of her book manuscript ‘The Concept and the Morality of Hatred.’ ” The project will “draw on, extend and integrate several published articles and book chapters, as well as scholarly lectures, in which she has advanced a theory of hatred as it relates to several other states of mind, including love, anger and compassion.”

Daniel Eberl, a professor of biology, won approval for his work regarding “Genetics of Mosquito Hearing.” Apparently, “mosquito-borne diseases directly impact one third of the human population. … Mosquito genetic techniques continue to advance, offering a novel approach to controlling mosquito populations.” Eberl “will generate new mosquito mutants that disrupt their ability to hear, and characterize their effects on the mosquito’s Johnston’s organ, a large auditory organ in the antenna. Male mosquitoes use their hearing to detect female flight sounds, and both male and female rely on hearing for swarming, another important courtship behavior. …” The project will also “test effects of targeting specific mosquito genes, using electrodes inserted into the antenna, as well as microscopy to determine developmental effects on Johnston’s organ. These studies will advance the field of genetic mosquito control.”

Dorothy Johnson, a professor of art and art history, is all set to further her book project on “The Imaginary of the Boudoir in Eighteenth-Century French Art.” “During this period the boudoir developed as a separate room in domestic architecture dedicated to the privacy and pleasures of the woman of the household. The vast number and types of depictions of women in the boudoir in the visual arts of the period will be investigated in a multiplicity of contexts, including treatises in medicine, anatomy and the natural sciences that explored the cultural, psychological, biological and physiological nature of women. Johnson will conduct research in France in libraries, archives and museums.” …

The top 5 commercial real estate sales in Polk County in 2021 included 2300 Shiloh Rose Parkway S.W., Bondurant, which sold Oct. 13 for $75,908,230. The behemoth Amazon building in Bondurant sold for more than any other Polk County commercial real estate in 2021. The 282,750-square-foot building sits on more than 48 acres. Ryan Bondurant, LLC is listed as the seller; 2300 Shiloh Rose Parkway Property, LLC was the buyer.

Second was 1704 N.E. Gateway Court, an apartment complex in Grimes, which sold Sept. 10 for $46,619,076. 

Third was 235 Fifth Ave., a downtown Des Moines parking garage that is part of the development project known as “The Fifth,” selling March 9 for nearly $42 million.

Fourth on the list was 201 S.E. Sixth St., more apartments in Des Moines called District at 6th, which sold Oct. 1 for $40.75 million.

Fifth was 100 Jackson Ave., with even more apartments in Des Moines, selling Aug. 27 for $36 million. ♦

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