Campus Scholarship Showcase

Every year, the Faculty Center highlights the excellence of our faculty, librarians, and staff at Westfield State University. Department chairs and directors are asked to nominate two or three faculty, librarians, or staff in their department for his or her outstanding scholarship. Recently published, presented, or commissioned work (e.g. book, book chapter, scholarly article, conference presentation, original art or musical piece) will be given preference.

The Faculty Center Advisory Committee will select up to 4 presenters based on the scholarship and the diversity of presentations.

Once selected, the faculty member will prepare a 10 minute presentation for the annual campus scholarship showcase event, which is sponsored by the Faculty Center. There will be time provided for a question and answer period.

Watch Recording

Passcode: rKUT5nb@

Fall 2020 Recipients

Dr. Robert Bristow (GPS)  

Title: Liminality in Tourism Geographies

Covid-19 changed the rules. Up to now, tourism has basically been a fun experience.  We now live in a pandemic world and the tourist is facing an unknown future.  Spatial and temporal tourism considerations in liminal landscapes delivers a provocative examination into the multidimensional aspects of tourism that is even truer today.   

Liminality is not typically associated with tourism, even though it can be viewed as an intrinsic element of the social/cultural experiences of tourism.  Built upon the tradition of liminality as expounded in social and anthropological disciplines this brief presentation elaborates on its theoretical principles and concepts found within certain aspects of the tourist’s journey and tourist product. The emergence of post-modern society has impelled a change in the tourist gaze towards a more experiential and adventuresome globalised experience.  A tourist phenomenon recognised as transformative experiences triggered by entering liminoid tourist space leaves the tourist permanently transformed psychologically before they return to their normalised society. 


Dr. Paul Cacolice (Movement Science)

Title: Power As a Cost Effective and Practical Clinical Intervention to ACL Injury

“After more than 30 years of research, Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury rates remain elevated and are climbing in certain populations.  Identified factors with a direct impact on ACL injury risk are elevated ground reaction forces (Y and Z) with single limb landing.  These factors do not provide practical measurement methods for athletic trainers at the high school or college setting. Additionally, prevention programs are effective in reducing ACL injury risk, but present with large Numbers Needed to Treat (NNT), along with demanding, and impractical staff and resource requirements.

One emerging strategy is the role of lower extremity power to optimally dissipate landing forces without adversely affecting sport performance.  The purpose of these accepted publications and presentations then are to explore lower extremity power as clinical ACL injury identification and prevention strategy.  Utilizing multiple linear regression models, the research team addresses the predictive value for risk identification, and practical means for clinical intervention is made for power as a measure for practicing clinicians in the athletic trainers in the underserved high school and college settings.”


 Dr. Brian Chen (English)

Title: Teaching Asian American Experience Through Graphic Memoir 

Both Miné Okubo’s Citizen 13660 and Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do portray the authors’ personal stories within specific contexts in U.S. history. With the shared genre and critical sensibility, they serve as appropriate course material through drawings and other visuals to engage students in learning about the Asian American experience. Not only do they review the historical contexts in which these personal stories are embedded, but they also provide an empirical and empathetic depiction of Asian Americans struggling in personal life, community relationship, and national atrocity. They are also pedagogically effective in the Asian American literature course. Through these graphic memoirs, students learn not only about the Asian American experience in the face of racial discrimination and prejudice but also about different ways to represent Asian Americans. Their contents draw attention from students of various disciplines and can easily solicit an engaging debate and discussion. 


Dr. Omeed Ilchi (Criminal Justice)

Title: Supporting the Message, Not the Messenger: The Correlates of Attitudes towards Black Lives Matter

Since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement during the summer of 2014, calls for police accountability have become louder and more common. In response, many Americans, particularly conservatives and whites, voiced strong opposition to the movement. Many of those in opposition claimed that Black Lives Matter was waging a "war on cops" and calling for violence against police officers. Because there is no evidence to back any of these claims, the current study seeks to examine the correlates of negative attitudes towards Black Lives Matter using a sample of students at a large Midwestern university where a campus police officer had recently shot and killed an unarmed Black man.


Spring 2020 Recipients

Dr. Alina Gross (GPS)

Title: Housing in America: An Introduction

Marijoan Bull and Alina Gross

(Introductory textbook geared towards undergraduate students)

Housing is a fundamental need and universal part of human living that shapes our lives in profound ways that go far beyond basic sheltering. Where we live can determine our self-image, social status, health and safety, quality of public services, access to jobs, and transportation options. But the reality for many in America is that housing choices are constrained: costs are unaffordable, discriminatory practices remain, and physical features do not align with needs. As a society, we recognize the significant role housing plays in our overall quality of life and the stability of our communities. We have made a national commitment to decent housing for all yet this promise remains unrealized.

Bull and Gross's introductory textbook, Housing in America, provides a broad overview of the field of housing, with the objective of fostering an informed and engaged citizenry. The evolution of housing norms and policy is explored in a historical context while underscoring the human and cultural dimensions of housing program choices. Specific topics covered include: why housing matters; housing and culture; housing frameworks and political ideologies; housing and opportunities; housing and the economy; housing discrimination; and housing affordability. Readers will gain an understanding of the basic debates within the field of housing, consider the motivations and performance of various interventions, and critically examine persistent patterns of racial and class inequality.  With an exploration of theoretical frameworks, short case studies, reflective exercises, and strong visuals, this introductory text explores improving housing choices in America.


Dr. Sophia Sarigianides (English)

Letting Go of Literary Whiteness: Antiracist Literature Instruction for White Students

Sophia Sarigianides's book, Letting Go of Literary Whiteness: Antiracist Literature Instruction for White Students, was published in September 2019 with Teachers College Press. The book utilizes critical race theory and critical whiteness studies to offer discipline-based strategies for addressing race and racism through literature study in middle and high school classrooms, as well as in teacher preparation programs. Whereas much research and scholarship in the field of education has focused on the need for and importance of culturally relevant and culturally-sustaining pedagogy so that the majority-white teaching profession does a better job of teaching minoritized students in schools, this book focuses on the need for majority-white schools to build racial literacy and to examine the role of whiteness in education and in the world. The book, co-authored with Carlin Borsheim-Black of Central Michigan University, has been nominated for the Grawemeyer Award in Education.


Dr. Karsten Theis (Chemical and Physical Sciences)

Title: Tutoring to support students who are learning how to solve quantitative problems  

One of the largest hurdles for science learners is to apply concepts in a quantitative manner when working out exercises, solving problems and analyzing experimental data, i.e. “the math”. The research spanning a sabbatical and a year funded by an SoTL consisted of creating tutoring software, incorporating tutoring sessions into a General Chemistry II course and studying the tutoring interactions on the Stackexchange.Chemistry Q&A site by observation and participating in asking and answering questions. 

Learning happens inside the student’s brain, mostly when they are outside the classroom. Studying how students interact with the material and how they seek help when they get stuck is crucial to understanding their independent learning process. 

During a sabbatical in 2017, I wrote the PQtutor software to give feedback to students while they are solving quantitative General Chemistry problems. I have since published this work, together with some limited field-testing data. While I was researching the literature for the manuscript, I become fascinated by human tutoring, arguably the most efficient way to help students learn. Human tutoring is very different from teaching – the tutor talks less and provides the minimum amount of feedback to get students to do the next step by themselves. From 2018 – 2019, I incorporated aspects of tutoring into my General Chemistry courses, supported by an SoTL grant from the faculty center. 

While incorporating these changes into my face-to-face classes, I also immersed myself into a Q&A site, Stackexchange.Chemistry. On this site, students ask questions. Questions that are low-quality (i.e. the student did not demonstrate how they tried to answer it by themselves) are closed. High-quality questions receive an answer or multiple answers. Both questions and answers are crowd-evaluated through up- and downvoting. Seen through the lens of scholarship of teaching and learning, the site is a treasure-trove of where students get stuck, and a lesson plan of how to get them past misconceptions (the comments to answers more than the score of answers shows which post was most valuable to the person asking the question). 

Together, these activities have improved my teaching and led to the development of new teaching materials. In closing, I want to thank my students for their thoughtful and generous feedback on this journey. 


Dr. Subramanian Vaitheeswaran (Chemical and Physical Sciences)

Title: On the Rational Design of Zeolite Clusters for Converging Reaction Barriers: Quantum Study of Aldol Kinetics Confined in HZSM5

Zeolites are porous, crystalline materials primarily composed of silicon and oxygen. They are widely used as filters and catalysts in chemical industries. Computer modeling is essential in understanding chemical processes at the molecular level. We developed a new computational method to model how chemical reactions occur inside zeolite crystals. The method offers a systematic way to assess errors and eliminate artifacts that plagued earlier computational models in the field. Our work opens the door to systematic design of zeolite catalysts using computer simulations.