Scholars from Bemidji State University will headline the Spring 2022 Honors Council Lecture Series covering topics ranging from baseball to Alzheimer’s disease.
This semester’s presentations will also feature two professors entering emeritus status at the close of the 2021-2022 academic year in May – Dr. Marty Wolf, professor of mathematics and computer science, and Dr. Mark Christensen, professor of English.
The Honors Council Lecture Series is hosted by the Bemidji State Honors Council, an advisory group to the honors program composed of 12 faculty members representing each of the university’s colleges. Student representatives are also elected to the council by their cohorts for one-year terms.
The series provides BSU faculty with a forum to share their expertise and the results of their research with the Bemidji community. All Honors Council lectures are open free to the public.
- Feb. 15 – Ethical Reflections on Handling Digital Remains: Computing Professionals Picking Up Bones
- Feb. 23 – Equity, Enrichment and Engagement for Students’ Summer Success
- March 1 – Exploring Sibling Bereavement
- March 15 – Unraveling the Developmental Mechanisms of Alzheimer’s Disease
- March 30 – Prince Honeycutt: The First African American Baseball Player in Minnesota
- March 30 – Uncle Sam Strikes Out: Commissioner Landis and the Rehabilitation of Baseball’s Patriotism
- April 7 – Understanding BSU Library Space from a Student Perspective: A Photo Elicitation Study
- April 21 – Reflections on Teaching, Book Reading and Signing
Ethical Reflections on Handling Digital Remains: Computing Professionals Picking Up Bones
Have you ever asked what happens to your online information when you die? What should happen to your online information – your digital remains? Typically understood as existing online content of deceased users, some scholars see digital remains as an extension of one’s person or digital bones. Others see them more as things once possessed by someone, akin to a teddy bear.
In his lecture, Wolf will describe a different approach to digital remains that he developed with Fran Grodzinsky, professor of computer science and information technology at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, and Keith Miller, professor of computer science at the University of Illinois Springfield. Their approach suggests that while ideas of personhood and respect are both important when considering digital remains, due to environmental concerns, as well as practical and privacy considerations, digital remains should be deleted by online services.
Wolf has over thirty years of experience teaching undergraduate computer science. His research spans theoretical computer science, bioinformatics and graph theory.
Over the last twenty years, Wolf has engaged in collaborative interdisciplinary scholarship in computing and information ethics and the philosophy of computation. He is active in the Mozilla Foundation Responsible Computer Science Challenge and is currently co-chair of the Association for Computing Machinery Committee on Professional Ethics. In addition, Wolf was part of the team that led the recent update to the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.
Equity, Enrichment and Engagement for Students’ Summer Success
In her lecture, O’Connell will review the outcomes of a three-summer study on summer learning loss. The study, which spanned from 2019-2021, analyzed the effects of equitable resources and an enrichment-focused Literacy Academy for fourth through eighth-grade students within a rural, Title I school.
Results from this study indicate the importance of and need for equitable summer resources like transportation, nutrition, book access and instruction that support learning all year.
O’Connell holds bachelor’s degrees in elementary education and Spanish, a master’s degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages and a doctorate in educational leadership. She has taught in international, private, public, Department of Defense Educational Activity, and Bureau of Indian Education schools in Spain, New York, North Dakota and Minnesota.
Additionally, O’Connell received the Minnesota Rural Education Association’s Educator of Excellence Award in 2020. The Literacy Academy, which was created in conjunction with her research 2019, was a semi-finalist in the 2021 National Summer Learning Association’s Summer Learning Award.
Exploring Sibling Bereavement
Each year in the United States, approximately two million children experience the death of a sibling. However, sibling grief is the least researched of all familial loss.
“Sibling grief is a powerful influencer of health yet is often a neglected form of loss,” Funk said. “Within this presentation, two studies are featured that highlight the nature and impact of this grief experience.”
In her presentation, Funk will explain how understanding the impact of this grief experience is an important gap to fill within bereavement literature.
Funk has undergraduate degrees in psychology and nursing, a master’s degree in gerontology, a doctorate in nursing and achieved board certification in Gerontological Nursing in 2014. She has also received the Dr. Jean Aldag Award for Outstanding Commitment to Education, Research, Health and Social Services as well as the Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing Excellence in Nursing Award.
A member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Funk’s teaching expertise focuses on community health nursing, mental health nursing, addictions and gerontology. Her primary research interests are sibling grief and homelessness, which she combats as a member of the policy committee and the board of directors of the National Health Care for the Homeless Committee. She also focuses on older adult care and end-of-life issues.
Unraveling the Developmental Mechanisms of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that develops late in adulthood. Most cases of Alzheimer’s disease typically manifest themselves once a person reaches 65 years old.
“Though first identified in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer, the pathology of the disease as well as the prevalence of the disease in certain populations, remains largely a mystery,” Hellmann Whitaker said.
The development of Alzheimer’s disease can be the result of a person’s genetics, their lifestyle choices or both. Hellmann Whitaker’s research focuses on the gene LINC00298 which can lead to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in those under the age of 65.
Hellmann Whitaker received her doctorate from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in biochemistry and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in nucleic acid chemistry. She was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholars Award at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, where she served as the chair of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Chemical Society Executive Committee.
American Baseball – Double Feature
In this tag-teamed honors lecture, Berg and Bell will discuss two select histories within America’s national pastime – baseball. In “Prince Honeycutt: The First African American Baseball Player in Minnesota,” Berg will outline the life of Prince Honeycutt who, among other accomplishments, founded Minnesota’s Fergus Falls North Star Baseball Club in 1873
“Prince Honeycutt lived a remarkable life by any account,” Berg said.
In his presentation, Berg will also focus on how professional baseball got started under Honeycutt’s leadership on the Minnesota prairie.
Bell’s research, titled “Uncle Sam Strikes Out: Commissioner Landis and the Rehabilitation of Baseball’s Patriotism,” explores how organized baseball influenced America’s perceptions of race, manhood and identity between 1917 to 1947. His research primarily explores how and why the game’s first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, initiated a campaign to rehabilitate the image of the professional ballplayer.
Berg holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy from Minnesota State University, Moorhead, a master’s in theology and doctrine from the Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
Bell received his doctorate from Iowa State University in Ames May 2020 and specializes in early twentieth-century United States history, specifically the role of sports to the construction of modern American culture. He has presented his research at the Baseball Hall of Fame’s annual consortium and virtually as part of the 2020 Society for American Baseball Researchers national conference.
Understanding BSU Library Space from a Student Perspective: A Photo Elicitation Study
In the Fall of 2021, BSU librarians Leeport and Deel developed a study to gain BSU-specific insights on how students use library spaces. As academic library resources become increasingly available online, many librarians face the challenge of creating user-focused, service-rich libraries in buildings designed primarily meant to hold growing book collections.
In their presentation Deel and Leeport will present preliminary results from their study and next steps.
Deel has served as Bemidji State’s interlibrary loan and collection management librarian since 2017. Her research interests include critical library pedagogy and library collection strategies. She holds a Master of Library and Information Science from Kent State University in Ohio and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Bemidji State.
Patrick Leeport has also served as the university’s research and instruction services librarian since 2017. His research interests include information seeking behavior and information literacy pedagogy. He holds a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Science in Educational Technology from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Reflections on Teaching, Book Reading and Signing
In November 2021 Christensen published the fourth book of his career, “Reflections on Teaching, A Passion for Learning,” which outlines 47 years in the classroom, 22 of which have been spent at Bemidji State. This honors lecture will feature Christensen reading select passages of the new book which features 23 reflections, two essays, occasional poems and additional information for educators.
“It isn’t even a book about how to teach, as that is far too large an aspiration for me to attempt,” Christensen said in an interview. “It is meant to be a book to be opened to any random page in hopes that the reflection you fall upon is one you can build upon as you develop your own presence in your own life.”
Christensen holds bachelor and master’s degrees in English, a Master of Education in Professional Development and doctorate in English education. He also holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a bachelor’s degree in music.
Christensen publications including a poetry collection that was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, a textbook for the writing of essays and a memoir in prose poems. In addition, he has published poems in venues around the country, as well as scholarly articles and popular press essays and commentaries. He maintains an active teaching and research agenda, centering on issues of composition theory, pedagogy and creative writing.