Each Friday during the Fall and Spring academic semesters, a faculty volunteer gives a 30 minute lunchtime talk on her/his scholarship and/or teaching practices. Faculty members are invited to learn a little more about their colleagues, chat with others that attend the presentations, and enjoy a wonderful buffet lunch. Talks start at 12:30 p.m. and are usually over a little past 1 p.m.

The event is sponsored by the Provost's Office.

Spring 2017 Schedule

Jan 20      Brien Ashdown (Psychology)

Maybe You’re Just Jealous: Predicting Negative Perceptions of Ashley Madison Users After the Recent Hack

Abstract: Recently, Ashley Madison (AM), a website created to facilitate romantic/sexual cheating, was hacked and many users were identified. Although these users are technically the victims of a crime, there was very little empathy for them. In fact, many people engaged in victim blaming and derogation, furthering the victimization. This study examined what individual difference variables might predict blaming and derogation of AM users. Specifically, an online survey measured participants' demonization of the users, related demographics (i.e., gender, religiosity), attitudes toward deception, religiosity, sex guilt, and sexual attitudes and behaviors. I’ll talk about how the findings suggest that jealousy, religiosity, and sex guilt predicts whether a participant demonized the AM users.

Jan 27      Jennifer Biermann (Math & CS)

Graphs and Polynomials

Abstract: A graph is a collection of nodes with edges connecting them. Graphs can be used to model many different real world networks, such as facebook friend networks and city bus routes. In this talk I will show two different ways in which we can associate polynomial equations to graphs which allows us to study graphs via algebraic techniques, or study sets of polynomials using graph theory.

Feb 3       Alan Frishman (Economics)

Evolving Curricula of HWS

Abstract: Two years ago, when several committees were set up to reexamine our curriculum, I decided my contribution to the process would be to go to the registrar’s office and look through every catalogue from the 1940s to the present. I made notes on each curriculum, when it changed and what the requirements were for graduation. I thought an historical view would be helpful for those folks on the various committees who were thinking about a new curriculum. I sent it to CoAA, but I think very few people read it.

Please come to hear about the eight curricula that HWS has used over the past 75 years and how and why the curriculum changed. Interestingly, our new curriculum is essentially like the one that was in place before 1965; the colleges implemented several innovative curricula, but after 52 years, we have come full circle.

Feb 10     Kristen Slade (Chemistry)

Understanding Cancer with Pond Scum

Abstract: Before we can even begin to think about designing drugs to treat or cure a disease, we must first understand how the disease works at a molecular level. In a healthy organism, there is a process by which sick or injured cells kill themselves. If this process stops working, cells can grow uncontrollably, which is one of the hallmarks of cancer. In order to better understand this cell-suicide, one can study an analogous process (the destruction of a nucleus) in a much simpler organism: Tetrahymena (which live in pond scum). This talk will describe the process of characterizing a single Tetrahymena protein, Thd14, a histone deacetylase (HDAC), to illustrate the typical tricks in a biochemist’s toolbox. Understanding the fundamental step-by-step process of how Thd14 helps to destroy the nucleus of a Tetrahymena cell can provide necessary insight about the players involved in cell-death and thus potential targets for future cancer drugs.

Feb 17     Stacey Philbrick Yadav (Political Science)

Advocacy Outside the Academy: Mobilizing Our Resources in Challenging Times

Abstract: In our private lives, many of us engage in a wide range of activist activities, but rarely do so in our "capacity" as academics, explicitly leveraging our scholarship and expertise to advance policy change. In this presentation, I will speak briefly about why we should be more open to doing so, and will illustrate this with some of the work I have done over the past year as a board member of the Yemen Peace Project, a DC-based advocacy organization. While this kind of work is not without its challenges, recent literature on "action-research" as a methodology in the social sciences makes persuasive normative and empirical arguments for civically-engaged scholarship as both academic and ethical practice.

Feb 24     Courtney Wells (French and Francophone Studies)

Should a French Minister Speak Catalan?: Shame and the Politics of Language

Abstract: In this talk I will discuss some of the political, social, and economical implications of speaking Catalan in France and in Spain (two countries where the language is spoken natively). This discussion will be contextualized within the broader discussion of the politics of the use of “minority languages" in countries such as France, Spain, and the United States. More specifically, I will be examining the politics of speaking Catalan in the career of Catalan-born former Prime Minister of France, Manuel Valls, and in the music of the Columbian pop star Shakira. Through an examination of these two public figures’ unduly problematic relationship with the use of Catalan, I will argue that Catalan, unlike French, Spanish, or English, for example, is a language that, when used, subsumes multiple (and unrelated) forms of discourse, whether art, music, history, literature, into the domain of politics.

Mar 3       Ileana Dumitriu (Physics)


Abstract: For the past five years, undergraduate students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges have been involved in multiple NASA competitions. In 2014, HWS students won the first place in National Student Solar Spectroscopy Competition for designing, building and collecting data using a solar spectroscope. During the academic 2015 and 2016 years students designed and built a payload for a sounding rocket launched under the RockSat-C program at NASA’s Wallops Flight Center VA. The students implemented three experiments in their canister – two muon detectors to determine muon flux at various altitudes and a spectrometer to record spectra through layers of atmosphere. In this talk I will describe the RockSat-C program, its impact on the students, and its impact on my research.

Mar 10     Jeffrey Blankenship (Art and Architecture)


Abstract: TBA

Mar 24     Lisa Yoshikawa (History)


Abstract: TBA

Mar 31     Kristen Brubaker (Environmental Studies)


Abstract: TBA

Apr 7       Lisa Cleckner (Finger Lakes Institute)


Abstract: TBA

Apr 14     Ervin Kosta (Anthropology and Sociology)


Abstract: TBA

Apr 21     Robin Lewis (Environmental Studies) & Brandon Barile (Assistant Dean of Students/Director of Res Ed)


Abstract: TBA

Apr 28      Elizabeth Belanger (American Studies)


Abstract: TBA


Nick Metz ( Yan Hao (


Fall 2016

Spring 2016


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(315) 781-3000

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