CAS - Ampersand E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

April 2014

Dear Arts and Science Friends:

DeanDeverLast summer, I embraced a return to my research on Victorian literature and culture in a month spent in the reading rooms of the British Library. Across the range of disciplines represented in the College of Arts and Science, my faculty colleagues pursue a truly dazzling array of research topics: How do mosquitos find human targets? Why do stars sometimes escape their solar systems? Would better mental health programs prevent mass shootings?

Regardless of their fields or methods, all researchers start with an idea or a mystery and follow where it leads. Accompanying all faculty on that journey are our students, both graduate and undergraduate. Vanderbilt is one of the top research universities in the country and a professor’s passion for research and creative expression is inspiring, if not infectious. In turn, students’ fresh perspectives can bring invaluable originality to established fields of research.

This year, the College of Arts and Science launched a new program that paired undergraduates with faculty researchers. The Littlejohn Family Undergraduate Research program was funded by the Littlejohns—many of whom are Vanderbilt alumni—to provide opportunities to inspire and engage young scholars by involving them in the research of their faculty mentors.

Six undergraduates worked directly with Littlejohn Faculty Fellows in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences on projects that included planning how to market a nutritional supplement for Guatemalan children and creating a filmography of Shakespeare’s works.

The Littlejohn Scholars reported their work in a symposium this month that made clear the program’s success. Along with their original research findings, two students presented plans to continue to graduate school, another outlined what the next stage of her research should be, and still another is seeking continuing research opportunities for his junior and senior years.

I congratulate these young scholars, their faculty mentors, and the Littlejohn family on the successful launch of an influential new program. Their commitment to creative expression and research is an investment in promising futures and the passion for learning.

Best regards,

DeanDever signature

Carolyn Dever

CTamberRosenau_3MinuteThesisYou have three minutes: Go

Graduate students strove to explain their research quickly and succinctly in the university’s second Three-Minute Thesis competition. Second place went to Jewish Studies’ Caryn Tamber-Rosenau’s Lethal Women.

CougarOther Arts and Science stories

Discovery, Scientific American and additional press devour Larisa DeSantis’ cougar research; senior Alexis Hunter participates in the national discussion about women in politics on MSNBC; and are we closer to synthetic organs for humans? John Wikswo and John McLean talk micro-organs in Reuters and other media.


Vanderbilt dreams

One Arts and Science student’s powerful story.



Three out of nearly 3,000

Kenneth Catania and Helmut Walser Smith have been named 2014 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellows. Alumnus Mark Kendall, BA’05, MA’08 (above), also received a Guggenheim. He’ll film a documentary in Sweden’s Arctic circle.


National honors for students

Four Arts and Science students have earned national scholarship honors. Juniors Joshua Eggold (biological science) and Paul Ponmattam (mathematics) will receive Goldwater scholarships, and sophomore Nikita Lakomin received a Goldwater honorable mention. Michael Diamond, a junior Earth and environmental sciences major (pictured), has been named a 2014 Udall Scholar.



Ampersand  |  Vanderbilt University College of Arts and Science
301 Kirkland Hall  |  Nashville, TN 37240

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