Lectures take place during Common Hour, 1:10p.m. - 2:00p.m. in Dangremond Family Commons or via Zoom. A light lunch is provided at in-person lectures.

Fall 2020

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 24, 2020
Lin Cheng, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor
Characterizing Large Scale Vehicular Networks from Realistic Road and Traffic Environment

While crash and proximity sensors create the “safety bubble” for high-end vehicles today, wireless on-board units will empower future vehicles for everyday people to form Vehicular Ad Hoc Networks (VANETs). In VANET, vehicles exchange and relay messages wirelessly so drivers can look further away in space and farther ahead in time. This Dana Professorship talk will discuss some of my newest work on characterizing large scale vehicular networks, integrating real-world road environments and traffic data extracted from empirical measurements. I will present a number of network characteristics resulting from realistic simulations for tens of thousands of vehicles.


 

Lecture Series in Past Years

FEBRUARY 27, 2020:
Per Sebastian Skardal, Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Fireflies, Power Grids, and Parkinson’s Disease: ​What Mathematical Modeling and Coupled Oscillators Tell Us About the Science of Synchronization

Many natural and man-made systems rely on robust synchronization of many smaller parts, including firefly mating patterns, cardiac pacemakers, and the power grid. On the other hand, excessive synchronization can be pathological, like in the human brain where Parkinson’s disease is linked with stronger-than-normal synchronization. In this talk we’ll explore a wide range of systems that exhibit synchronization and describe how to model these systems mathematically. This gives us a tool for studying large scale-behavior in such systems, allowing us to answer questions and explain behaviors in the original systems using properties such connectivity patterns between individuals.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2019:
Rosario Hubert, Assistant Professor of Language and Culture Studies
The Surface of the Ideograph

While Chinese classical poetry was a crucial reference for modernism at large, Chinese scriptural poetics did not penetrate in Latin America’s textual tradition as it did in its visual arts. It was not traditional lyricists but visual poets, translators and plastic artists working on the intersection of these fields who innovated poetically by engaging with the texture of the Chinese script. By exploring the physical dimension of writing (instrumentation, support, interface) in handcrafts, design and painting this talk casts light on the material dimension of the Chinese script and its transformations in world literature.


OCTOBER 24, 2019:
Kevin Huang, Assistant Professor of Engineering
Teleoperation – Controlling Robots at a Distance

Robots offer practical physical advantages over human beings, e.g. they are stronger, faster, more repeatable and precise. However, robotic autonomy is not yet amenable to dynamic and unpredictable environments. Humans on the other hand are adaptable and adept at making high-level decisions on-the-fly. Marrying the flexibility and understanding of humans with the physical advantages of robots produces a powerful combination, and effectively extends human intervention to spaces that are too dangerous or otherwise inaccessible. In this talk, I will describe a few pieces of published and ongoing work that investigate the design of teleoperated architectures to improve user performance as well as a novel modality in which human operators are tasked with controlling the gait of legged robot devices.


NOVEMBER 21, 2019
John Platoff, Professor of Music
An Opera is Not What You Think it is: Sarti’s Fra i due litiganti and Mozart’s Don Giovanni

Today an opera is thought of as a complete and unchangeable work of art, much like a novel or a film. But in Mozart’s time, an opera was fluid and evolving; from the very beginning it reflected negotiation and compromises among the composer, the librettist (who wrote the text), and the singers who would perform it. And once an opera moved beyond its original theater to other cities, it might be extensively altered without the composer’s control or even knowledge. In this talk I will demonstrate how this fluidity in operatic transmission affected the presentation and meaning of an opera, using as my examples a highly popular comic opera (from 1783) that is largely forgotten today, and Mozart’s famous masterpiece Don Giovanni (1787).

FEBRUARY 28, 2019
Christopher Hager, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of English
Illiterate: A Brief History of an American Prejudice

“Illiterate” means “unable to read,” and when large numbers of Americans were, in fact, unable to read, that meaning was ascendant; but as education became more or less universal, and illiteracy in this strict sense became uncommon, emphasis shifted to its other meaning—in the Oxford English Dictionary’s phrasing, “characterized by ignorance or lack of learning or subtlety.” An often neutral demographic marker became a pejorative, and illiteracy, once a social problem to be alleviated by education, became an identity trait almost as powerful as ethnicity. Cruising across centuries of American history, this talk explores this transformation, its effects, and its bearing on cultural divides based on education in the U.S. today.


MARCH 7, 2019
William H. Church, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry and Neuroscience
“Nip it in the Bud” – In Search of Biomarkers for Early Detection of Parkinson’s Disease

A significant roadblock to developing useful therapeutic strategies for Parkinson’s Disease is that patients don’t present with clinically relevant symptoms until the loss of the brain cells responsible for the disease has reached 70% or greater. The ability to accurately determine if cell death is taking place prior to clinical presentation might provide a strategic advantage in diagnosing and managing the disease. This presentation will report on work done in identifying and measuring candidate biomarkers in blood from a rodent model of Parkinson’s Disease. The development of an analytical method using liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry and the correlation of these candidate biomarkers to dopamine cell loss will be presented.


APRIL 25, 2019
Yipeng Shen, Associate Professor, Language and Culture Studies and International Studies
Wolf Totem
and 21st-Century Chinese Ecological Fiction

Through descriptions of religious rituals, folk traditions, and nomadic life on the Inner Mongolian steppe, the 2004 novel Wolf Totem compares the cultures of the ethnic Mongolian nomads and the Han Chinese farmers and condemns the agricultural collectivization imposed on the nomads by the Han settlers in the 1970s. My research explores the cultural meanings of Wolf Totem as a seminal case of 21st-century Chinese ecological fiction. Particularly, it reassesses the Confucian idea of “The Fusion of the Heaven and the Human” in the discursive context of global indigeneity, “ecoambiguity” (Karen Thornber 2012), and Chinese globalization.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2018
Meredith Safran, Associate Professor of Classical Studies
The Aeneid in America: From First Contact to Final Frontier

Unlike Homer’s Trojan War epics the Iliad and Odyssey, Vergil’s Aeneid, in which the Trojan refugee Aeneas fulfills his destiny by founding the future site of Rome, enjoys little popular recognition in the United States today. Yet for centuries, the Aeneid was crucial to the formation of American identity and continues to exert unrecognized influence. This talk traces the Aeneid’s influence from the colonial period to the post-9/11 television series Battlestar Galactica.


OCTOBER 25, 2018
Kent Dunlap, Charles A. Dana Research Professor of Biology
Evolution of Brain Size and Brain Cell Production in Trinidadian Killifish

Brain size and structure varies tremendously among animals. Usually, biologist analyze this variation between species. However, from such studies, it is difficult to identify which evolutionary forces have influenced the brain. Here, I examine brain size and brain cell production among populations in a single killifish species (Rivulus hartii) living streams in Trinidad. These populations differ in one primary way: the level of predator exposure. Compared to fish living predator-free populations, fish living among abundant predators have smaller brains. However, they produce new brain cells at a higher rate, suggesting that they might be more flexible in their behavioral responses. This study demonstrates that predators are likely a potent evolutionary force shaping the brains of fish.


NOVEMBER 29, 2018
Janet Bauer, Associate Professor of International Studies
The Social (and Moral) Geographies of Islam in Diaspora: a project in search of its theme

This presentation provides an introduction to my multi-sited, longitudinal ethnographic project on diaspora and inclusion in muslim-minority societies in the West and articulates some of the conceptual issues this research poses for comparative diaspora studies. It will highlight the impact of gender, generation and race on the diaspora imperative to create local identities and belonging through translocal connections as well as the role of engagement (or non-engagement) with heritage Islam, using cases from the Caribbean, North America, and Europe.

2017-2018 Lecture Series
Tim Cresswell, Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs, Professor of American Studies Fence
A Topopoetic Exploration​ of Place and Connection

Joseph Byrne, Fine Arts
Connemara Paintings: Excavating Place. Constructing Memory

​​Michelle L. Kovarik, Chemistry
​Quick, Small, and Complicated: Meeting the Challenges of Single Cell Measurements of Stress Responses

​Sarah A. Raskin, Psychology and Neuroscience
​Remembering to Remember

Shafqat Hussain, Anthropology
Political Economy of Snow Leopard Conservation in Pakistan

Shane Ewegen, Philosophy and Julia Goesser Assaiante, Language and Culture Studies
The Task of Translator(s)

Sara Kippur, Language and Culture Studies
Transatlantic Pacts: America and the Production of Postwar

 

2016-2017 Lecture Series
​Chris Hager, English
Letters of the Unlettered: Class, Literacy, & Comm​unication in the Civil War

Cheyenne S. Brindle, Chemistry​
Using Organic Triarylcations as Tu​nable Catalysts for “Green” Chemical Reactions

​Stefanie Chambers, Political Science
​Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus: Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations

Abigail Fisher Williamson, Political Science and Public Policy and Law
​Welcoming New Americans? Local Governments and Immigrant Incorporation

Anne Lambright, Language and Culture Studies
Yuyachkani’s Human Rights Theater: Modes of Theorizing beyond Academia

 

2015-2016 Lecture Series
​Dan Román, Music
Music of the 21st Century: A New Common Practice?​

​Jack Dougherty, Educational Studies
On The Line: Hartford’s Urban-Suburban History in an Open Access Book​

​Joseph Palladino, Engineering
​Biomechanics of the Heart

​Ellison Findly, Religion
Lao Shamanism and the Mythic Imagination

​Jim Trostle, Anthropology
Some adventures in global health and interscalar travel​

 

2014 – 2015 Lecture Series
​Kifah Hanna, Language and Culture Studies
Love and Desire in Lebanese War Literature

Zayde Gordon Antrim, History and International Studies​
Mapping the Middle East

Martha Risser, Classics​
Sacred Space at the Bridge of the Untiring Sea: The Sanctuary of Poseidon at Isthmia during the 6th through 4th Centuries BCE

​John Platoff, Music
Francesco Benucci, Nancy Storace, and Sarti’s Fra i due litiganti in Vienna

Kent Dunlap, Biology
Ecology of the Brain: How Social Interactions and Predators Influence Brain Cell Production in Electric Fish

Kevin J. McMahon, Political Science
​The Mass is Over: Law, Politics, and the Death of the Great American Church

 

2013 – 2014 Lecture Series
​Pablo Delano, Fine Arts
​The Lives of Photographs: Puerto Rico 1980 and Beyond

​Brett Barwick, Physics
Imaging at the femtosecond and nanometer scales with ultrafast electron microscope

​Lida Maxwell, Political Science
​Zola, the Dreyfus Affair, and the Politics of Lost Causes

​Scott Gac, History and American Studies
​An Attempt to Reduce them my Force: George Washington and the Origins of a Violent American State

Scott Smedley, Biology
​Into the Woods: How Human Activity, Past and Present, Influences Connecticut’s Forest Wildlife

Jeffrey Bayliss, History
​Western Sport, Eastern Empire: the Dilemma of the Colonial Athlete in Imperial Japan