Research in Arts & Sciences
>> Seeking a Healthy Planet >> Digging into Belize >> The Ethics of Healing >> Remembering Dr. Vivienne Malone-Mayes
FROM DEAN NORDT
s we kick off Give Light, our University fundraising campaign at Homecoming this year, there is a sense of excitement in the air as to our future. The campaign is closely aligned with our new academic strategic plan, Illuminate, and is an outgrowth of Pro Futuris, our strategic vision. Achieving the goals of Illuminate will require a considerable infusion of new revenue streams to the University. As Baylor’s rate of tuition increase continues to decline, we will have to rely more on non-tuition revenues — those generated from current operational and strategic budgets, from professional graduate programs, from external grants and, perhaps most importantly, from fundraising to support the research growth described in Illuminate. Raising a billion dollars, which is at first sight a staggering sum, is actually the minimum needed to launch the research enterprise and support the four pillars of Illuminate: A Christian educational environment; transformational undergraduate education; research and scholarship; and nationally recognized programs in human performance through the arts and athletics. The first pillar, our Christian educational environment as expressed in the mission, manifests itself through the faculty, in the classroom and curriculum, by research programs, in the Chaplain’s office, through aspects of student life, and in multiple centers and institutes around campus. The second pillar, transformational undergraduate education, requires excellent faculty in the traditional 12 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES
classroom setting but also those faculty members who provide engaged learning opportunities outside of the classroom (see the Spring 2018 issue of this magazine for more on this). Engaged learning has traditionally been a strength of ours upon which we will build. The third pillar is research and scholarship, which is the area that will require the greatest investment in human capital and infrastructure to become a Tier 1 Research (R1) institution. (See the article on page 10 to learn more about why research is so important to Baylor). Human performance, the fourth and final pillar, includes the arts and humanities and is in many ways the heart and soul of what we do, as practiced through our lens of faith. Regarding the need for more resources at Baylor, we have an excellent track record of fundraising for endowed student scholarships, as we should, because the cost of providing a top-tier undergraduate education at a private institution is high. However, to meet the needs of a burgeoning undergraduate student population and a rapidly growing graduate student body, as well as to meet our research goals, we will require many more faculty, more technical support staff, more basic infrastructure and more facilities. Whereas we will always need faculty at the entry level (including lecturers), it’s essential to recruit mid- and senior career faculty from other institutions to join our pursuit of becoming a faith-based R1 institution. It will be much easier to attract these new faculty by having the resources available to provide them with endowed chairs and endowed professorships. These faculty will then provide leadership to help us implement the five signature academic initiatives in Illuminate: Health;
Materials Sciences; Data Sciences; Baylor in Latin America; and Human Flourishing, Leadership and Ethics. Facilities and infrastructure are other important and expensive components of the research enterprise. There are plans for new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) research spaces to accommodate interdisciplinary research. In addition, the Tidwell Bible Building, which houses the religion and history departments, will be renovated. The Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center, which houses the Departments of Theatre Arts and Art and Art History, as well as the Martin Museum and Allbritton Institute, must be renovated soon. It’s also important that we improve our technology infrastructure, add administrative and technical staff and post docs and research assistants to support graduate and undergraduate research opportunities for our students. All this comes at a cost, but it’s a cost well worth it in the end if we achieve R1 status among the most elite institutions in the country. Upon achieving these research goals, Baylor will be in a position to help resolve some of the nation’s greatest challenges, because as an R1 institution we will have a seat at the national table for important conversations of the day, as Baylor, we speak from a faith-based perspective.
DR. LEE NORDT DEAN OF THE COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES
Seeking a Healthy Planet
Baylor scientists are preparing initiatives to promote global health
News & Notes
Why Research is Important to Baylor
Seeking a Healthy Planet
Digging into Belize
Data, Data Everywhere
A Noble Tradition
The Ethics of Healing
A Groundbreaking Edition
Our Back Pages
Data, Data Everywhere
Researchers use our ever-rising sea of information to take on social problems
Updates on students, faculty, staff and alumni
A special message from Dean Lee Nordt
aylor scientists are preparing initiatives to B promote global health
n international team is studying the impact of A climate and food supplies in Central America
oung Baylor researchers are working to point Y the way toward beneficial new products
esearchers use our ever-rising sea of R information to take on societal problems
igital humanities uses new technology D to aid in research
aylor’s religion faculty are engaging students B in the study of ethics
An innovative program is giving students of medical ethics a first-hand look at the issues
We preview the Baylor Annotated Study Bible
edical humanities director Dr. Lauren Barron says M Baylor prehealth students are learning by serving others
The life of Vivienne Malone-Mayes, Baylor’s first full- time African American professor, is being honored
Baylor Arts & Sciences is a publication of the Baylor College of Arts & Sciences that shares news of interest with the Baylor Family. As the University’s oldest and largest academic unit, the College of Arts & Sciences is a community of 25 academic departments dedicated to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. It is the foundation upon which all Baylor students’ educational experiences are built.
Baylor Arts & Sciences is produced for the College of Arts & Sciences by Baylor’s Division of Marketing and Communications.
PRESIDENT Linda A. Livingstone, PhD | ACTING VICE PROVOST OF ADMINISTRATION Gary C. Mortenson DEAN, COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES Lee Nordt | ASSOCIATE DEAN FOR HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES Kim Kellison ASSOCIATE DEAN FOR SCIENCES Kenneth T. Wilkins EDITOR Randy Fiedler | CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Bob Darden, Julie Engebretson, Jeff Hampton, Kevin Tankersley PHOTOGRAPHY Matthew Minard, Robert Rogers | ART DIRECTION & DESIGN Clayton Thompson, Scott Toby DIRECTORS OF DEVELOPMENT David Cortes, Clayton Ellis, Jim Shepelwich One Bear Place #97344 | Waco, TX 76798 | AS_Magazine@baylor.edu | www.baylor.edu/artsandsciences/
The Baylor University administration has given final approval for a new and unified core curriculum that will go into effect with the Fall 2019 semester. The new core will apply to all degrees certified by the College of Arts & Sciences — BA, BS, BFA and BSAS — and will reduce required core hours from as many as 79 down to 50 (giving students more flexibility in pursuing electives, minors and dual majors). It will also provide more common courses that all Arts & Sciences students must take, and it will include multidisciplinary and upper-level courses in the core for the first time.
Award-winning author and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns came to Baylor Oct. 1 to deliver the 2018 Beall-Russell Lecture in the Humanities before a packed house in Waco Hall. The lecture series was established in 1982 with a financial gift from Virginia B. Ball of Muncie, Indiana, and has featured speakers including David McCulloch, Amy Tan, Bill Moyers and Maya Angelou.
Baylor’s Martin Museum of Art in the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center has a new look and feel after getting a makeover and important upgrades to protect the art this past summer. The changes should open the door to a wider range of possible art exhibits in the future. The first exhibit in the new space was a special look at the art and life of American painter John James Audubon.
In response to a growing need for American healthcare professionals who are able to speak Spanish on the job, the College of Arts & Sciences has created a new certificate program that gives students concentrated instruction in medical Spanish. The program, created partly in response to student demand, requires nine semester hours in Spanish instruction beyond what is needed to fulfill the foreign language requirement for a bachelor’s degree — but calls for less than the 18 hours required for a minor in Spanish.
Thanks to a generous gift from a Baylor alumna, the biology department will welcome a new teaching position in memory of a beloved Baylor biology professor. The Floyd F. Davidson Endowed Memorial Chair in Biology was made possible through a gift of about $2.5 million from the estate of the late Lorene Taylor Davidson, Dr. Davidson’s wife. 12 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES
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At the invitation of his old friends Chip and Joanna Gaines, Doug McNamee (BA ’03) has left his position as Baylor’s senior associate athletics director for external relations to lead the executive team at Magnolia as the company’s president. He and his wife, Dr. Lacy McNamee, an associate professor of communication in the College of Arts & Sciences, were the couple featured on the pilot episode of the Gaineses’ HGTV “Fixer Upper” show.
Thanks to Arts & Sciences alumnus Michael Jenkins of Dallas for his long service on the Baylor University College of Arts & Sciences Board of Advocates. Jenkins, along with BOA members Virginia DuPuy, Dr. Jeff Herring and Jackie Baugh Moore, have completed their board terms. At the last meeting of the board, Jenkins was recognized for his service by Arts & Sciences Dean Lee Nordt (left) and board chair John Howard (at right). Leigh Ann Ganzar (BS ’11) was a Fulbright Scholar and ran cross country during her time at Baylor. She has a new sport now — cycling — and this past summer she scored an upset victory over competitors including an Olympic gold medalist by winning the US Pro Criterium Championship.
The nonprofit organization Mothers on the Move, founded by Arts & Sciences alumna Jolene Damoiseaux (BS ’14), won the Albert Schweitzer Prize Audience Award from the Nederlands Albert Schweitzer Fund, which provides money for local health projects in Africa. Damoiseaux started Mothers on the Move as a Baylor senior to provide expectant mothers in Western Kenya with free transportation to a health center to safely give birth.
Chris Dyer, who earned a BA in anthropology and museum studies from Baylor in 1998, is the new president and CEO of Waco’s popular Dr Pepper Museum.
Baylor Arts & Sciences students brought home a number of prestigious national and international scholarships at the end of the 2017-2018 academic year. Four students with ties to Arts & Sciences were chosen for Fulbright awards: Alexa Larsen, a neuroscience major, received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award to study global health in the United Kingdom; Sofia Sonner, a biology major from South Pasadena, California, received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) to Taiwan; Rebecca Voth, a University Scholar studying political science, international studies, philosophy and Spanish, received a Fulbright ETA to Mexico; and John Ryan Isaacson, an international studies major, received a Fulbright ETA to Germany. Since 2001, 56 Baylor University students have received some type of Fulbright award.
Hannah Byrd, who earned a BA in 2018 in Arabic and Middle East studies/ international studies, was awarded a Middle East and North Africa Regional (MENAR) Fellowship, which is allowing her to teach English to children ages 2-14 in Tunisia. 12 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES
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JOHN RYAN ISAACSON
Christina Gaw, a biochemistry and anthropology major, received a Barry Goldwater Scholarship, one of the oldest and most prestigious national awards for undergraduate researchers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.
Carter Anne Jones, who majored in international studies and Russian, was awarded the David L. Boren Scholarship to study in Indonesia for the 2018-2019 academic year.
Bart Yeates, a doctoral candidate in geosciences at Baylor, won an Outstanding Teaching Assistant (TA) award from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. It’s a national award open to all American geoscience graduate students, with only three or four winners chosen each year.
Adaline Bebo, a junior neuroscience major, won the world championship in strut at the World Federation of National Baton Twirling Associations competition in Norway — and she is using her skills to advocate for children with special needs.
The journalism students who produce Baylor’s campus newspaper, the Lariat, have added to their long list of awards for excellence. Two organizations — the Associate Press Editors and the Houston Press Club — have named the Lariat the best student newspaper in Texas. A number of students also received individual honors from the groups. In addition, the semiannual magazine Focus that is produced by Baylor student journalists and photographers was selected by the Society of Professional Journalists as the best student magazine in America for 2017.
PHOTO: JERRY LARSON/WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD
“God does have a sense of humor,” says Dr. Chris van Gorder, associate professor of religion. Van Gorder not only became a father again in May 2018 at the age of 57, but he and his wife Vivian are the somewhat surprised new parents of quadruplets. Doctors had told them to expect triplets, but a fourth child, not detected by testing, had remained hidden until birth.
FACULTY AWARDS AND HONORS
Award-winning author and historian Dr. Thomas S. Kidd has been named the inaugural holder of the James Vardaman Endowed Professorship of History at Baylor University. Kidd, who joined the Baylor faculty in 2002, is a Distinguished Professor of History and serves as associate director of the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion, where he also co-directs the Program on Historical Studies of Religion. The newly endowed professorship is named in honor of Professor Emeritus of History and Master Teacher Dr. James W. Vardaman, who died in January 2018 after a 33-year teaching career at Baylor. The professorship was made possible by gifts from Vardaman’s former students and other members of the Baylor Family, including a lead gift from the Baugh Foundation. Kidd is a prolific author whose books include Baptists in America: A History, George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father and God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution. His latest book, Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father, was named one of the 2017 Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Books by Booklist Online. “Dr. Kidd is one of the few historians who bridges the all-too-wide divide between the academy and the rest of the culture,” said Dr. Barry Hankins, chair and professor of history. “His voice has become important precisely because it is informed by his scholarship and deep Christian commitment, while also balanced by his appreciation for complexity.”
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“Three Arts & Sciences faculty members were honored by Baylor with Outstanding Faculty Awards this year: Dr. Bruce Longenecker (left), professor of religion and The W.W. Melton Honorary Chair in Religion (Tenured Scholarship Award); Dr. Karol Hardin (center), associate professor of Spanish (Tenured Teaching Award); and Dr. Rebecca Flavin (right), senior lecturer in political science (Non-Tenure Track Teaching Award). In addition, Flavin was chosen by the senior class to receive Baylor’s 2018 Collins Outstanding Professor Award.
Two Arts & Sciences staffers — Ann Westbrook, office manager in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures (left) and Carol McCulloch, undergraduate studies office coordinator in the College of Arts & Sciences Dean's Office — were among those honored as 2018 Baylor Outstanding Staff Award winners.
Dr. Beth Allison Barr, associate professor of history, was one of three Baylor faculty members who was selected as a 2018 Baylor Centennial Professor. The award provides tenured professors with funding for research projects.
Dr. C. Stephen Evans, University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, the director of the Baylor Center for Christian Philosophy and Distinguished Senior Fellow in the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor, received the 2018 Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year Award.
Dr. Sarah Ford, professor of English, won the Eudora Welty Society’s 2017 Phoenix Award for distinguished achievement and outstanding contributions to Welty studies.
Dr. Kenneth Hafertepe, professor and chair of museum studies, was recognized as a Fellow of the Texas State Historical Association — one of only about 80 current scholars in the state to be given the honor.
Five Arts & Sciences faculty members have been named Baylor Fellows for 20182019 for their excellence in teaching and innovation: Brian Elliott, senior lecturer in film and digital media; Dr. Bessie Kebaara, associate professor of biology; Dr. Karenna Malavanti, lecturer of psychology and neuroscience; Dr. Gabrielle Miller, assistant professor of Spanish; and Dr. Yuko Prefume, senior lecturer in Japanese.
The latest book by Dr. Leslie Hahner, associate professor of communication, has won two prestigious awards. The book, To Become an American: Immigrants and Americanization Campaigns of the Early Twentieth Century, received both the James A. Winans-Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address and the Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Public Address from the National Communication Association.
Dr. Jeffrey M. Hunt, lecturer in classics (shown at left), and Dr. R. Alden Smith, chair of classics and associate dean of the Honors College, received the 2018 American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) Award in Classics.
Dr. Kyle Lambert, a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been selected for the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship. The fellowships “support research training of highly promising postdoctoral candidates who have the potential to become productive, independent investigators in scientific health-related research fields.”
Dr. Marlene Neill, assistant professor of journalism, public relations and new media in Arts & Sciences, has been designated as a research fellow at the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication.
Dr. Mikeal Parsons, professor of religion and the Macon Chair in Religion was named the 2018 winner of the John G. Gammie Distinguished Scholar Award. The annual award given by the Southwest Commission on Religious Studies recognizes faculty for the quality and importance of their scholarship.
Baylor theologian Dr. Ralph Wood, University Professor of Theology and Literature, has received the 2018 Russell Kirk Paideia Prize in honor of his lifetime of dedication to the cultivation of wisdom and virtue. The Paideia Prize is presented by the CiRCE Institute, the Center for Independent Research on Classical Education. The institute regularly uses Wood’s essays about virtue and J.R.R. Tolkien in its curriculum, earning him the nomination for the award. 12 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES
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Dr. Alexander Pruss, professor and co-graduate program director of philosophy, has accepted the invitation to present the prestigious Wilde Lectures at Oxford University in May and June of 2019. Given at Oxford since 1911, the Wilde Lectures are regarded as among the most prestigious available to philosophers or theologians working in philosophy of religion or natural theology. Pruss plans to give four or five talks on arguments for the existence of God that have not received enough attention in contemporary philosophy.
“Flag on the Horizon,” a painting by Winter Rusiloski, assistant professor of art and art history, received the “Best of Show” award at the 30th annual Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council juried exhibition.
Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez, associate professor of journalism, public relations and new media, was selected to participate in the Institute for Diverse Leadership in Journalism and Communication this summer in Washington, D.C. The Institute is designed for people of color and women who are interested in academic leadership opportunities.
IN MEMORIAM Since our last issue, we have said our final goodbyes to six Arts & Sciences faculty members: Randy Jacobs, senior lecturer and undergraduate program director in sociology (died March 14); Dr. William Hillis, professor emeritus of biology and former executive vice president (April 26); Dr. Thomas Myers, professor emeritus of political science (June 29); Mary Booras, associate professor emeritus of communication studies (July 4); Dr. Stephen L. Williams, retired associate professor of museum studies (July 31); and Dr. Charles E. Reeder, associate professor emeritus of chemistry (Aug. 8).
Why Research is Important to Baylor A special message from Dr. Lee Nordt, Dean of the Baylor University College of Arts & Sciences
hen you read Baylor’s new academic strategic plan, Illuminate, you will see that the University is staking the claim that it will soon become an R1 (Research 1) institution, as defined by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. At present, 115 American colleges and universities are classified as R1, described as doctoral-granting institutions with the “highest research activity.” Baylor is currently classified as R2, a doctoral institution with “higher research activity.” As Baylor moves toward the R1 goal, recognition for achievements in research, nationally and internationally, must be a central part of our future. Consequently, this issue of Baylor Arts & Sciences magazine is devoted 12 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES
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solely to the research enterprise at Baylor and the role that the College of Arts & Sciences will play in achieving these research aspirations.
WHY RESEARCH? I have had numerous conversations through the years with faculty, administrators and alumni on the importance of research to Baylor’s future. One concern consistently voiced is that an emphasis on research will inevitably come at the expense of good teaching. I understand this concern, because the idea of research may conjure up visions of an absentminded professor sequestered away in a laboratory. And that this professor once or twice a week reluctantly shows up late, unprepared and irritable
at the sight of a class of students demanding some of his or her precious time. This is not the reality at Baylor. In fact, just the opposite scenario occurs. Faculty research, and the involvement of our students in it, has become an integral part of good teaching here. The teaching awards given each year to Arts & Sciences faculty provide evidence that the research endeavor is supporting undergraduate education. Many of these awards for excellence in teaching have been won by faculty members who are actively engaged in research. The number of courses that a professor teaches — whether it’s two or four courses in a semester — does not by default dictate the quality of instruction. Baylor continues to promote the value of teaching excellence in a multitude of
reputation? Will we be content to be known as a regional institution and leader and voice for liberal arts colleges, or should we aspire to be something more? This prospect is not a negative one, but if we follow President Linda Livingstone’s lead and become an R1 university, we will have a seat in the national conversation about the grand challenges of our time. Our faculty will be in greater demand to participate in solutions to societal problems. The public spotlight that would shine on Baylor faculty would give our Christian mission a national, or even international, presence.
TO US P 5 NW 0 R CHRISTIAN MISSION
ways, including faculty evaluations and guidelines for tenure and promotion. Baylor has chosen to embrace research as a critical component of its future for three main reasons. First, our society faces enormous problems, or grand challenges, where key research discoveries could lead to solutions. Baylor faculty with knowledge and insight into these issues will be engaged in the conversations regarding problem solving, whether through the national media, industry collaborations or through agencies that provide grants. The value of a Baylor degree will only increase based on such contributions by our faculty. Those who donate to the University will see additional evidence for entrusting their resources to an R1 institution with Baylor’s mission. Second, as faculty members integrate their recently published discoveries with the standard content of an academic discipline, they bring new life to classroom instruction. Many of our Baylor students collaborate with their professors and take advantage of undergraduate research programs. This is the ultimate form of engaged learning that inculcates critical thinking skills, writing skills and oral communication skills in ways not possible in a traditional classroom situation. This nexus between classroom learning and the real world is crucial for students who wish to enter graduate school, medical school and other areas of professional life. For an in-depth look at Baylor’s engaged learning programs, see the Spring 2018 issue of Baylor Arts & Sciences magazine. Third, Baylor has embraced research because it is the lifeblood of our graduate programs. Our graduate students mentor undergraduates in laboratory activities and gain teaching experience in their chosen academic fields. As I have stated before, Baylor graduate students also fling the green and gold far and wide. They become influential leaders, as educators, government workers and entrepreneurs. We must nourish and promote their careers as well. We are proud of Baylor’s past, but should we stop where we are? What should we do now as other institutions forge ahead to enhance their national
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WHAT DO THE RESEARCH RANKINGS MEAN? So, what do the R1 and T1 (Tier 1) rankings actually mean, if that is what we want to become? And how will we know that Baylor is making progress toward this goal? Tier 1 status typically corresponds to membership in the American Association of Universities (AAU), achievement of the highest research ranking by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and placing in the list of the top 50 national universities as determined by US News & World Report (USNWR). Even though USNWR bases its findings only on undergraduate metrics, 44 of the top 50 universities in its listing are Carnegie R1 institutions. This is telling us something. R1/T1 institutions receive considerable external funding for their research, produce a high number of doctoral graduates, and exhibit a large research
staff-to-faculty ratio. Greater external research expenditures and high doctoral production in all disciplines are significant in the rankings. Initial analyses indicate that Baylor needs to at least triple our research grant expenditures, doctoral production and research staff in order to be aligned with universities that are R1 according to Carnegie. All of our programs contribute to these R1 measures.
MOVING AHEAD How many faith-based institutions of higher education in America can say that they have Carnegie R1 research status while promoting excellent teaching? The number is miniscule, and this will be the elite group Baylor will join once we achieve R1 status. But just how will we do that? Here is where our new vision, Illuminate, comes into play, delineating key initiatives that will help us achieve this lofty aspiration. As one of my Arts & Sciences Board of Advocates members has told me many times, “If it isn’t difficult to achieve it probably isn’t worth doing.” And he is right. Having committed ourselves to this course of action, our task now is to spread the message regarding the important role research must play in the future of Baylor. This is especially true as we enter into the University’s comprehensive fundraising campaign. We must provide our alumni with illustrations that demonstrate why we need to address the problems in our world that nobody else can or will address. We must show how research and the undergraduate experience inform and enhance one another. We must share compelling stories about why research at Baylor matters. Most importantly, we must work to translate research discovery into positive action in the world. The message is clear. The path to becoming a top-ranked university must include excellence in research. Baylor will not relinquish its distinctive position that has focused on transformative undergraduate education and our Christian mission. Instead, the University will integrate all three critical elements. No other institution is in a position to attempt such a challenge. At this moment, Baylor has a unique opportunity. If we do not act now, it may be too late. n
Seeking a Healthy Planet BY KEVIN TANKERSLEY
Baylor environmental scientists are preparing two initiatives to aid global health efforts
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DR. BRYAN BROOKS LIKES DIRTY WATER. Not to drink or cook with or anything like that, of course, but to study as the focus of much of his scientific research. Brooks, Distinguished Professor of Environmental Science and Biomedical Studies and director of the environmental health science program in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, is involved with two research projects that hold the promise of improving public health and the availability of clean water around the world.
WATER FOR A GROWING WORLD It’s no secret that the world’s population is growing at a record rate, with more and more people becoming part of a relentless trend toward city living. “Because of urbanization, our planet is changing,” Brooks said. “You now have more people living in cities than ever before, than at any other time in history. Seventy percent of all people will live in cities by 2050 –– an estimated 9.6 or 9.7 billion people worldwide.” And by 2030 –– just a dozen years from now –– Brooks said it’s estimated that Asia will be home to at least 22 megacities, defined as cities with a population of 10 million or more. “These are profound numbers,” he said. And obviously, with that many people living in such concentrated areas, Brooks said resources will be concentrated there as well. Those cities will require adequate amounts of water –– not only for drinking, cooking and cleaning, but also to produce food. “But the water has to be clean enough to make sure you’re growing safe food,” Brooks said, and ensuring that a community of any size has clean water requires energy.
To address these and other concerns spawned by increasing urbanization, Brooks has taken a leading role in hosting a scientific conference next year that DR. BRYAN BROOKS will bring together experts from around the world. The conference –– titled “Urbanization, Water and Food Security” –– will be held July 21-26, 2019, in Hong Kong. It’s a Gordon Research Conference (GRC) –– one of a number of prestigious international scientific conferences organized each year by the nonprofit group of the same name. Brooks will serve as co-chair of the conference along with Kit Yu Karen Chan, an assistant professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. It will arguably be the highest-profile environment and health event ever launched by Baylor. “Gordon conferences usually bring together about 200 people for some truly cutting-edge scientific exchange,” Brooks said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to be involved with launching a new GRC.” Thanks to several research grants, Baylor has been doing environment and health work in Hong Kong for the past five or so years, and has had a partnership with Hong Kong Baptist University for more than 60 years. “What’s really exciting about the Gordon Research Conference is trying to tackle this complex interaction of cities, water and food security,” he said. “It should bring together some of the best scientific and engineering minds in the world to think about these intersections.” Brooks said one concern to be addressed is that the world’s soon-tobe megacities are growing at a faster rate than environmental management and public health systems can be implemented. For example, he said, about 80 percent of the world’s sewage goes untreated and is discharged into rivers or other bodies of water. “So the people downstream may On one of his research trips to Hong be exposed to bacteria or viruses Kong, Brooks spotted an oyster farm or chemicals through their water located near a site where wastewater and food supplies,” Brooks said. was being discharged. Oysters, he said, In addition to the people downstream are “filter feeders,” meaning they take in who are directly affected by untreated water, filtering that water through their sewage, the waste can have an impact on gills, and eating whatever is left over. food supplies, both locally and beyond. “They don’t have teeth to tear things For example, since 2014 more seafood for apart. They just filter water,” Brooks said. human consumption has been produced through aquaculture than through fishing. “It’s kind of like a whale that’s eating krill.” 12 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES
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And what happens to the chemicals or bacteria that were in the wastewater that the oyster filtered? “Some of the chemicals are persistent. In this case, they can stick around for a long time,” Brooks said. “They can go into fish and shellfish, sometimes at relatively high levels. Then, who’s eating the fish and shellfish? We are.”
To clothe and shelter and treat the sick. How do you meet the broader mission of Baylor University unless we’re engaging these topics in a serious way?
But cleaning up such water supplies is just one aspect that will be examined at the Gordon Research Conference, Brooks said, because, as noble of a goal as that is, it could have negative and far-reaching effects elsewhere. Say a developing country develops and grows food for export, and a large portion of that country’s economy is dependent on that particular crop. “What if their agricultural export gets flagged because it has contaminants in levels that are unacceptable for human health consumption? Think how devastating that could be for that local area and how that could influence their agriculture operations,” Brooks said. “We need to increase food production, and we need it to be safe and sustainable. We don’t want to produce food in ways that cause other problems.” Brooks said wrestling with these and other issues at the Gordon conference aligns with one of Baylor’s core convictions, which states: “Promote the health of mind, body and spirit as these are understood in the Christian tradition and by the best of modern physical and psychological science.” “To clothe and shelter and treat the sick,” Brooks said. “How do you achieve the broader mission of Baylor University unless we’re engaging these topics in a serious way?”
SURVEYING HEALTH WORKERS Brooks is also partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) to survey hundreds of environmental health professionals, with the goal of understanding the challenges they face in their day-to-day work. Environmental health professionals include doctors, nurses, toxicologists, engineers and others who work to provide health services to communities. They comprise the second-largest segment of public health workers, outnumbered only by those in the nursing field. “These are the folks who are critically important to the foundation of keeping our food safe, having clean air to breathe and water to drink, preparing for and responding to disasters, and managing waste streams,” Brooks said. “They are part of the backbone of the health delivery system in our country.” The work of environmental health professionals is important, Brooks said, because they are “critical to preparing, to responding and the recovery efforts” during a public health crisis such as an outbreak of the Zika virus, or the ongoing water woes in Flint, Michigan, or the E. coli contamination on romaine lettuce in the spring of 2018. “Another instance where environmental health professionals were called into service was a couple of years ago when Toledo, Ohio, had to shut down the drinking water supply for a town of more than 400,000 people because Lake Erie had a bloom of toxic algae producing toxins with decided health risks,” Brooks said. The study being done about the issues these workers face is the first of its kind, Brooks said. Dubbed UNCOVER EH –– for “Understanding the Needs, Challenges, Opportunities, Vision and Emerging Roles in Environmental Health” –– it’s “a national research initiative between NEHA, the CDC and Baylor University to learn more about the environmental health profession through an online survey and in-person workshops of [environmental health] professionals working at public health departments,” according to the NEHA website. “Similar kinds of efforts have been performed for broader public health or
other disciplines, but no one has focused on environmental public health practitioners,” Brooks said. “It’s an incredible process because it’s very inclusive and transparent. We’re hearing from people who are actually responsible –– the frontlines protecting local communities.” And the scope of the survey is also noteworthy. “This is big data collection,” Brooks said. “We’re not just randomly going out there and pulling data from some sample. We’re actually going to the people who have expertise. Some of them may be fresh out of an undergraduate program, while some of them may have 35 or 40 years’ experience.” In addition to the online surveys, many environmental health professionals had an opportunity to contribute to the research in two workshops. During the summer of 2018, one workshop took place in Anaheim, California, in conjunction with the NEHA’s annual education conference. The other workshop, in Denver, took place at the NEHA national headquarters. Brooks has presented some preliminary findings of the survey at the NEHA conference in Anaheim, and data continues to be analyzed. Different elements of the survey results will likely be published over the next few years. The issues that environmental health professionals wrestle with, such as clean water, food safety and outbreak investigations resonate with Baylor students, which is why Brooks said the University eventually created its environmental health science undergraduate program, one of only about 30 nationally accredited EH programs in the country. Another goal of the UNCOVER EH initiative will be to make sure students from Baylor and other universities are equipped for the workplace when they graduate, Brooks said. Job opportunities will be available since about 26 percent of public health employees will be eligible for retirement in the next five years. “One of the things that we are trying to also understand are the paths that people take, the training that they have, and perhaps the educational needs that are emerging,” Brooks said, “as well as making sure our workforce is prepared to meet those challenges.”
Belize BY KEVIN TANKERSLEY
Multidisciplinary researchers from Baylor and other universities are discovering how climate and food supplies have affected Belize residents over the centuries
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f you ever find yourself having dinner in the Central American country of Belize and you’re served chicken-pineapple enchiladas, or maybe chicken in coconut sauce, there’s a good chance that the bird on your plate came from Spanish Lookout, a Mennonite farming community close to the western border with Guatemala. An interdisciplinary team of scholars from the Baylor College of Arts & Sciences has been conducting research in Belize over the past year, but they are doing much more than just sampling the local cuisine. Spanish Lookout is one of three communities in the western interior Cayo District where the Baylor group is studying the long-term influence of climate change on livelihood strategies that focus on agricultural production and distribution. How food security impacts nutritional security and human health status is a second primary component of the project. The Baylor faculty members lead a larger research team with members from Northern Arizona University and Penn State University, as well as a pair of climate scientists from Ruhr University in Germany. Besides studying Spanish Lookout, the team is looking into the agricultural habits of the Maya village of San Antonio as well as an Amish community called Upper Bartons Creek. “We are looking at how these populations have responded to changing environmental conditions
over roughly 1,500 years, largely in terms of their agricultural activities,” said Dr. Sara Alexander, associate professor of anthropology. “We’re documenting not only the interrelationships between the ecological system and the human system, but also how humans are impacting the natural world and the ways in which local ecology is influencing human lifeways. The ultimate focus is on how humans are responding to changing environmental conditions and, in turn, the ultimate impacts on human health.” The work is important, Alexander said, because the researchers, working within their own specialties, will determine a timeline of when the area flourished agriculturally and how communities responded to major environmental changes — in this case, severe drought occurring with some frequency. They will examine 1,500 years worth of soil samples, human remains and other archaeological artifacts including pottery shards to establish when the residents were in the middle of political upheaval, and when their society suffered collapse. Dr. Julie Hoggarth, assistant professor of anthropology, is leading the archaeological component of the project. The Maya, research has shown, dug a series of ditches to either irrigate their fields or move water out of the area during excessive rainy seasons. “The part I’m directing focuses on excavating some of these ditch fields to collect soil samples
“We are looking at how these populations have responded to changing environmental conditions over roughly 1,500 years.” DR. SARA ALEXANDER in order to date the construction of the ditch field complex,” Hoggarth said. She’s hoping to learn whether the Maya dug the ditches during periods of high precipitation to move the water away, or during droughts when water was scarce. Hoggarth said that while she’s collecting the samples, researchers in the geosciences will do the actual analysis of the soil to determine what plants and crops were growing at the time. They will “analyze the carbon content and the nitrogen content from each of the different levels of the soil, and that will tell us about the types of crops that they grew and about the local environmental conditions,” she said.
DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES The research being done in Belize relating to modern agricultural patterns is both exciting and challenging because of the diverse natures of the three
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communities being studied. All three are located within the same river valley in Belize, which is a country about the same size as Vermont or New Hampshire. “Belize is a relatively small country, yet ethnically diverse,” Alexander said. “In present-day Belize, there are 14 different ethnic groups.” There has been a Maya presence in the area since the early 16th century, so it was crucial to include Maya in the study, Alexander said. The present-day village of San Antonio is populated mostly by Maya, with “some other kind of folks living there, including migrants from Guatemala and other parts of Belize, primarily through marriage,” she said. Today, residents in this village still subsist through farming and ranching. The Mennonites of Spanish Lookout, meanwhile, have only been in the area since 1957, migrating from Manitoba, Canada, through Mexico. Alexander said they raise a lot of chickens, providing most of the country’s supply, as well as cattle, sheep, goats and corn. The Mennonites are also known for their work in mechanics and construction, she added, and they’re considered to be economically successful. “Spanish Lookout is considered to be a very developed community,” Alexander said. “Some of the Mennonites wouldn’t necessarily call themselves wealthy, but
they’re secure economically, able to withstand different types of environmental shocks, whereas the Maya and Amish communities are more vulnerable.”
INTERVIEW CHALLENGES In addition to the archeological and geological work that will allow Baylor researchers to help collect data from a 1,500 year-period, Alexander and other scholars from the team are also in the process of interviewing residents of the three communities about modernday conditions and beliefs, which presents another set of challenges. In the Amish community, for instance, Alexander said team members were able to gain access to people living in the Upper Bartons Creek area, but were discouraged from contacting those living in Lower Bartons Creek, which is generally regarded as a more closed community. Language differences are another challenge to overcome. While English is spoken in Belize — a former British colony — other languages are used throughout the country, including Spanish, an Englishbased “creole” language (a hybrid mixture of different languages native to the area) and a dialect called “low German.” “I grew up in a family that spoke low German,” said Dr. Paul Martens, an associate professor of religion at Baylor who serves as director of interdisciplinary programs for the College of Arts & Sciences. As part of the Belize team, he’s looking at how the communities’ basic religious convictions “align or don’t align with certain practices or beliefs, and whether these convictions have any bearing on how residents think about their food and how they live on the land.” Martens said his modest familiarity with low German and Canadian Mennonite communities comes in handy when he’s interviewing members of the Belize Mennonite community which originated in Canada, where Martens grew up. “We spent several weeks doing interviews,” Martens said. “We were invited into homes and machine shops and garages, and we had long conversations that took up to two-anda-half hours. We would talk through the
way that the farmers talked about their experience of climate, droughts and floods. We talked about health issues in the family and community, and we talked about some cultural and religious convictions they held individually and as a community. It was both incredibly informative and fascinating.” In addition to interviewing farmers and ranchers, Alexander and Dr. Alan Schultz, assistant professor of anthropology, interviewed a number of healthcare professionals to identify major present-day health issues in these communities. They also identified some of the challenges faced in providing quality healthcare in a developing country in Central America — a region with a mixed record in terms of basic health demographics.
MAKING PREDICTIONS After Hoggarth and other team members use archaeology to gather 1,500 years’ worth of soil and climate data, and interviewers (led by Alexander and assisted by Martens and Schultz) talk to residents about current conditions, they will pass on all the information they’ve gathered to Dr. Joseph White, professor of biology at Baylor. He will use modeling to determine how agricultural and natural ecosystems in Belize might have changed over the past 1,500 years, as well as predict what they might look like 80 years in the future. “Models allow us to incorporate decisions made by pre-classical Mayan farmers to simulate how intensively crops were growing with resulting impacts on soil quality and food production,” White said. The model White uses was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and he also uses the Soil and Water Assessment Tool that was developed by Dr. Peter Allen, professor of geosciences at Baylor, and Jeff Arnold, an agricultural engineer with the USDA Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory in Temple. White said the model can show indications of past decisions regarding the growing of crops under a particular climate. This can also be used to help farmers in Belize determine what they might do now and in the future to ensure agricultural success.
DR. SARA ALEXANDER
INTERDISCIPLINARY BENEFITS The interdisciplinary nature of the research being done on the Belize project is crucial, said White, who, along with colleagues in biology, geosciences and environmental studies, created The Institute for Ecological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (TIE3S) at Baylor to promote interdisciplinary collaboration on global environmental issues. “We traditionally did things in isolation,” White said. “In other words, someone might go out and study how stalagmites form under different conditions, for example — and that’s important simply for learning how that system works. An archaeologist might study the types of ceramics that were produced, or an anthropologist might look at how bones and burial mounds are preserved. These are all valuable individually, but when you put all those pieces together, you begin to see interactions. We go from having a single-dimension view of the past, present and future to having this multi-dimensional view that requires different types of minds and specialties.” Martens said that he and Alexander had worked together on smaller projects on campus, and said his involvement in the Belize project emphasizes the true interdisciplinary aspect of the work. “Traditionally the anthropologists used their own kind of disciplinary tools, and the geologists as well,” he said, “and the religious
and ethical piece I am researching is something that we at Baylor value as an institution. We’re very curious whether there are correlations here that matter.” To enable the research being done in Belize to begin, Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences provided $25,000 in seed money to kickstart the project. To continue the work, the team has applied for a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. “If you’ve ever applied for NSF funding, it’s very unusual that you get it the first go-round,” White said. “It’s almost like they want you to accomplish the study before you can go on. But the seed money allowed us to get important information such as the preliminary surveys and quantitative analysis on soil samples. This has provided, hopefully, key preliminary results for consideration of full funding from NSF. That’s what this money has given us the capability to have.”
“We go from having a single-dimension view of the past, present and future to having this multi-dimensional view that requires different types of minds and specialties.” DR. JOSEPH WHITE
BY JULIE ENGEBRETSON
THROUGH THEIR RESEARCH, TWO YOUNG BAYLOR PROFESSORS ARE HOPING TO POINT THE WAY TOWARD NEW PRODUCTS TO BENEFIT SOCIETY
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arlier this year, two junior faculty members in the Baylor College of Arts & Sciences each received the most coveted grant awarded by the National Science Foundation to young researchers. Not only was the twin win unprecedented at the University, but it also underscored the growing importance of the research in the field of materials science done by the two honorees — research that promises to make a significant impact on future technology. Prior to this year, two Arts & Sciences faculty members had received a coveted National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program Award (CAREER award), as seen on the chart below. Those two awards won over a nine-year period paved the way for the two additional CAREER awards brought home in 2018 — by Dr. Caleb Martin, assistant professor of chemistry, and Dr. Howard Lee, assistant professor of physics. “This is the first time that two College of Arts & Sciences faculty members have received this honor in the same year,” said Dr. Kevin Chambliss, associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Arts & Sciences. “Dr. Martin and Dr. Lee have also received nationally competitive funding from other sponsors. Their accomplishments to date are an exemplary model for other junior faculty to emulate as Baylor NSF CAREER GRANT WINNERS moves forward along the trajectory of IN BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES becoming a preeminent Christian research 2009 - Dr. Lorin Matthews university with Carnegie ‘R1’ status.” (astrophysics) Chambliss said most junior faculty 2014 - Dr. Bryan Shaw members in the sciences aspire to receive (chemistry and biochemistry) an NSF CAREER award, which are 2018 - Dr. Howard Lee (physics) given to those who show the exceptional Dr. Caleb Martin (chemistry) promise of an early-career investigator in research, education and public outreach.
THE SCIENCE OF STUFF Both Martin and Lee are working on projects that fit neatly under the multidisciplinary umbrella of materials science, which, simply put, is really the science of “stuff.” Researchers in chemistry, physics and biology are responsible for the discovery of new materials or the improvement of existing materials, be they naturally or synthetically derived. And sometimes, these discoveries are serendipitous. In the earliest stages, research projects like Martin’s or Lee’s don’t necessarily begin with a specific application in mind, either. “In my research group we’re synthetic chemists, and we are interested in compounds featuring the element boron that have unique properties,” Martin said. “We make the compounds that would potentially be an ‘individual layer’ or ‘component.’ Then, someone who would apply or advance the technology further — an engineer — would design and fabricate a device using our new chemical component. Engineers don’t have the expertise to make the compounds or components, but they know how to take what we make and put it together to advance the technology. Ultimately, to make an impact on research problems, it is critical to involve experts in all areas.” Whether they know it or not, Martin said virtually everyone benefits by advances in materials science, from consumers to corporations, as well as the state. “The military agencies fund a lot of materials research — Kevlar, for instance, would be a material,” Martin said, referring to the well-known, bullet-resistant component in body armor, combat helmets, ballistic face masks and ballistic vests. “With materials, what we’re considering is anything that’s a solid that can perform some function.”
*UPDATED FEBRUARY 2018
DR. HOWARD LEE
Another popular product of materials science is Teflon, accidently discovered in 1938 by a researcher working for DuPont. Teflon is the key compound in the coating that slicks non-stick frying pans and countless other surfaces. Teflon has applications on land, sea and in the air — from coatings for the bottom of large ships, making them resistant to barnacle adhesion (which causes resistance and ultimately requires more fuel for transport), to protective coatings on spacecraft.
LIGHT AND POWER Both Martin’s and Lee’s research groups focus on components that will eventually benefit a variety of electronic or optical devices and systems. Martin’s five-year, $650,000 CAREER grant, funded through the NSF’s Chemical Synthesis Program, will support his group’s research into organoboron chemistry. “We’re trying to take advantage of the unusual conductive properties that boron presents, particularly the ability to transport electrons much more easily than existing state-ofthe-art materials,” Martin said. This special capability makes these boron compounds useful for organic
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light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) that are used to create digital displays in common, everyday devices including TVs, computer screens and mobile phones. “With OLEDs, there are always improvements in the technology that can be made by getting more efficient components, which decrease the amount of electricity required and the size,” Martin said. “With this in mind, thinner and smaller devices can be made based on the efficiency of each individual component.” Martin’s research also stands to impact the efficiency of solar panels. A phenomenon known as the photovoltaic effect is the reason why solar panels on roofs and buildings can convert absorbed sunlight into electricity to power homes and businesses. First observed in 1839, the photovoltaic effect is both a physical and chemical property — essentially the generation of voltage and electric current in a given material when that material is exposed to light. “Organic solar cells, such as ones that could be made incorporating boron, are not as common, but they do offer advantages over inorganic ones,” Martin said. “The ones you see on roofs are inorganic. These contain toxic heavy
DR. CALEB MARTIN
metals and lack flexibility. Organic devices, by contrast, do not contain these metals and offer the advantage of flexibility.” Here in the United States, as population growth and other factors drive the cost of electricity higher and higher, many states are beginning to lean more heavily on solar power. Beginning in 2020, California will become the first state to require all newly built homes to have solar power, while other states including New Jersey and Massachusetts are also looking at legislation that would require all new buildings be solar-ready. Equally as timely, Lee’s research involves a super-thin film — a metasurface — that can serve as a “perfect absorber” of light, according to Lee. His research group received a five-year, $500,000 CAREER Award to develop these metasurfaces, whose soon-to-be patented nanostructure makes them electrically tunable — that is, they are capable of changing the properties of light. (For reference, prefixes “meta” and nano” allow scientists and engineers to discuss materials that are so unbelievably small, they exist on their own scale. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. And Lee’s metasurfaces are 1,000 times thinner than the width of a human hair).
In promoting research, now that there is a materials science initiative in place, I think we’re going to be able to compete with some top-ranked research universities. DR. CALEB MARTIN
“The key thing here is that we’re making these metasurfaces really thin,” Lee said. “And this surface can absorb 100 percent of the light that falls on it.” The virtual weightlessness and absorptive capacity of Lee’s metasurfaces alone could significantly improve the efficiency of photovoltaic solar cells and other light-absorbing devices. In other variations of this ultra-thin film, by changing the electrical voltage applied to the film these metasurfaces may filter out specific colors on the electromagnetic spectrum, or actually direct or steer beams of light. Lee said this ability to manipulate the electro-optical properties of this film by controlling the voltage is what makes this project so unique. “If you can control the light really well using this nanostructure, you can design all the optical properties such as transmission and absorption of light,” Lee said. “You can filter the light so that only one color is transmitted or absorbed.” Though research into this kind of ultra-slim optical film is still a few years away from any material application, Lee said several companies have already expressed an interest, including Google, Samsung and Sony.
“We really want to demonstrate the electrical tunability of the film, so we are trying to develop prototypes to show functionality for the perfect absorber, the color filter and the beam-steering metasurfaces,” Lee said. “At the moment, no one is actually demonstrating all of these properties efficiently.”
GIVING BACK Besides fostering quality research by young faculty members, the NSF CAREER awards include an important community impact component. Recipients must outline the way(s) in which they intend to serve others with their time and particular expertise. Martin and his research group partner with The Cove, a nonprofit, 2,600-square-foot shelter for homeless teens in Waco Independent School District. Founded in January 2016, The Cove offers a safe place for homeless students, along with access to computers and Wi-Fi, academic tutoring, laundry facilities, showers, family-style dinners, haircutting services and medical and counseling services. “The NSF wants to know how the investigators and their research will impact the community as well as the scientific field. We visit The Cove during the academic year and conduct interactive demonstrations for the students,” Martin said. “Some demonstrations illustrate general concepts of chemistry in fun ways — such as making liquid nitrogen ice cream or the concept of density easily seen in helium balloons. Applicable to our research, we demonstrate the utility and breadth of fluorescence, including the watermarks on a driver license for security. We also demonstrate how fireflies and glow sticks function, and let the students make their own glow sticks from the chemical components.” Concerned about the lack of nanotechnology training available in McLennan County, Lee is planning to invite students from Waco’s Texas State Technical College into his lab at Baylor to observe and take part in his team’s various nano-optics research projects. “In the Waco area, nanotechnology training is just not very common, so we
plan to focus on the two-year colleges to give those students experience in advanced nanotechnology that they cannot get anywhere else,” Lee said. “As applications for nanotechnology continue to grow, this kind of training better positions graduates for more jobs.” Lee will also be presenting a kind of primer in nano-optics for the public at Baylor’s Mayborn Museum through “Portal to the Public” — a program designed to familiarize museum-goers with current topics in scientific research and innovation and their possible applications. “We’ve already participated in one training session on how best to introduce and present this material to all ages and particularly high school students and we hope to present through Portal to the Public toward the end of this year,” Lee said. “In my field, nano-material is often poorly understood. The way in which you can use nanotechnology to control the material properties of light is a relatively new concept and the general public may not know we can make optics components this small — so, so small. I think it may interest the public to understand how we can use this nanotechnology within materials science to create new functionalities.”
MATERIALS SCIENCE AT BAYLOR Illuminate, Baylor’s new academic strategic plan, includes five multidisciplinary Signature Academic Initiatives aimed at addressing key challenges facing our world today. One is an emphasis on materials science, which comes as welcome news for these CAREER-funded researchers. “When I was offered a position at Baylor in 2013, I was very encouraged by the trajectory of the University, specifically the emphasis on research,” Martin said. “It’s important to me that this is a Christian university, and that Baylor is really prioritizing research, particularly within the last year. The collaborative lab I’m working in with some of the senior faculty is in exceptional condition and the facilities here are quite good in terms of optics. In promoting research, now that there is a materials science initiative in place, I think we’re going to be able to compete with some topranked research universities.”
*UPDATED FEBRUARY 2018
DATA , DATA , EVERYWHERE Baylor researchers hope to use our ever-rising sea of information to take on societal problems 12 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES
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BY JULIE ENGEBRETSON
should come as no surprise that the amount of data created by modern society is growing at an incredible rate. The traditional sources of data we’re most familiar with, such as credit card and bank transactions, retail purchases, social media accounts, medical visits and government records, are constantly receiving more and more information about us. And things that used to be entirely data-free — automobiles, household appliances, vending machines, even the clothes and shoes we wear — are now equipped to silently collect and transmit data that make even our simplest and most private activities a new source of information ready for analysis. Just how big is the wave of data washing over us nowadays? Huge – and getting much bigger. It’s estimated that about 16.3 zettabyes of data — the equivalent of 16.3 trillion gigabytes (GBs) — is produced in the world each year. Using a cell phone with 256 GB of storage for comparison, that’s enough data produced each year to fill up more than 59 billion phones. Another way to think about it is, we’re producing enough data annually to allow each person on Earth to take about 22 million digital photos on their phone each year. And there’s no end in sight. By 2025, the amount of data produced in the world each year is expected to increase 10 times. These huge sets of collected information are sometimes referred to as “big data,” and faculty members in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences are busy looking for ways that such massive data sets can help scientists and researchers solve some of the challenges faced by society.
ENTER DATA SCIENCE The growing field of data science studies big data, seeking to take these massive stores of facts and figures and find the patterns or meaning buried within. The job’s complexity requires an interdisciplinary approach, and experts in mathematics, statistical science, computing and engineering must work together to first collect, manage and store these unwieldy volumes of raw data reliably, and then hopefully discover new knowledge from them. “The data sets we’re talking about tend to be too large to fit on a single computer or to manipulate with traditional statistical methods and databases,” said Dr. Amanda Hering, associate professor of statistical science. “The data also tend to be messy, incomplete and of unusual type and unknown quality. So, machine learning — also referred to as artificial intelligence — as well as data mining, databases, statistics and visualization tools are being used to extract information and value from these massive data sets.” Statisticians such as Hering are applying any number of established methods — or, in some cases, developing new methods as research projects demand them — to identify and then verify the significance of patterns found in these data. “With small data sets, you worry about being able to find any pattern at all,” Hering said. “And with large data sets, you’re worried about finding patterns that aren’t real, or aren’t relevant. As humans, we’re attuned to patterns as we look
for them in the world around us. Sometimes we’ll see patterns that aren’t meaningful, but are based simply on our own experience or anecdotal evidence. And the patterns we see locally don’t always hold true for the world at large. So, when we have large data sets, ‘statistical significance’ does not always imply practical relevance.”
GOOD GENES In the Department of Environmental Science in the College of Arts & Sciences, Dr. Cole Matson, an associate professor, is an environmental toxicologist specializing in the genetic effects of contaminants on wildlife. One of his current projects looks at wild Gulf killifish living in the Houston Ship Channel. “With the Houston Ship Channel, we’re talking about a highly polluted aquatic environment,” Matson said. “We identified that we had populations of killifish living in the ship channel that were highly resistant to some of the industrial chemicals that are found there, so we wanted to understand how they have become resistant, from a mechanistic standpoint. How have they adapted? Genetically, how have these fish been altered to make them better able to survive that pollution?” Matson said these questions required the sequencing of the entire genome (i.e., an organism’s entire set of DNA) of 288 individual fish from seven different populations — which is just the sort of project where data science shines. In fact, genome sequencing was among the earliest applications of data science.
Launched in 1990, The Human Genome Project aimed to identify the sequence of chemical base pairs that comprise human DNA. But mapping the more than three billion nucleotides found in a single human reference genome (a representative example of a species’ set of genes) presented some immediate challenges. Every genome is unique, so mapping them had to account for multiple variations of each gene, and working with the overwhelming volume of data produced required expertise in the field of computer science. After Matson’s success in mapping the genomes of 288 fish, he and his colleagues can now approach the entirety of that data without having to make too many assumptions ahead of time. “What data science has really allowed us to do is approach projects without the need for any a priori hypotheses (i.e., hypotheses assumed as facts beforehand) about which genetic pathways are going to be important,” he said. “In the past, we could probe gene expression — using tools that have been around for 15 to 20 years — to look at a handful of genes that we knew we wanted to look at going in. We were limited to only probing pathways that we had already identified as likely important. Now, thanks to data science, we don’t have to make those assumptions going in. We’re looking at everything at once. We let the data, really the organism itself, tell us what’s important. We can simply ask the data set, ‘Where are the strongest signals of selection in our adapted populations?’ and, ‘What has changed the fastest in the resistant populations relative to the reference populations?’” As valuable as data science is for projects such as Matson’s, involving these uniquely adaptable killifish, he says making use of data is even more critical when researchers leave the lab and “go out into the real world.” “If I want to understand the toxicity of a single chemical or compound, I can design really targeted experiments because I have a decent idea about the types of toxicity I might expect to see,” Matson said. “When I go out into the real world, I’m not dealing with one chemical compound — I’m dealing with hundreds if not thousands of potentially toxic chemicals that organisms are exposed to. So it’s extremely difficult to predict what types of toxicity we could see.” 12 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES
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DATA IN THE WATER Due to factors such as population growth, changes in climate and the high cost of water treatment, water — for any variety of uses — is becoming an increasingly precious resource in the United States, and not just in drought-stricken California. Many cities and counties across Texas impose water restrictions on residents. In the Department of Statistical Science in the College of Arts & Sciences, Amanda Hering is part of a project that hopefully will lead to clean water becoming available in more places. Specifically, the project seeks to decentralize the treatment of wastewater by using smaller and virtually self-sustaining (unstaffed) treatment facilities serving individual communities. Hering is part of a team working on one such decentralized facility near the Colorado School of Mines, where she was on the faculty before coming to Baylor in 2015. The facility is now in its pilot phase and is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. “As a pilot project, the treatment facility is not ‘online’ yet, but it is drawing water from a big apartment complex,” Hering said. “All of the water that goes down the drain, toilet and bathtub funnels to this system, where it is treated. The treatment of wastewater for drinkable re-use gets a bad rap, but oftentimes the wastewater that is cleaned and then released back into the environment is as clean as the water produced by water treatment plants.” As the water is treated via physical means (e.g., barriers, screens), biological means (e.g., organisms put into the water as part of the treatment process) and chemical means, 30 to 35 different sensors placed at specific points along the treatment cycle collect information about the water quality such as pH and dissolved oxygen levels. Sensors “read” the water every minute, then those data are recorded and charted by a proprietary computer program. “At one point recently, operators noticed very visibly on the chart that the pH level began to drop,” Hering said. “And it dropped so low that the entire community of biological organisms was killed, shutting down that part of the water treatment process entirely. It
“The data sets we’re talking about tend to be too large to fit on a single computer or to manipulate with traditional statistical methods and databases.” DR. AMANDA HERING
took more than two months for the biological community to recover.” Most interestingly, however, Hering said the operators at the facility only noticed that something had gone wrong by monitoring each variable individually. “But, the methodology that we developed identified the problem two and a half days before the operators did,” Hering said. “In hindsight, if we can flag serious faults ahead of time, operators will have more time to assess the situation and take steps to correct the fault.” Ideally, Hering’s work will enable plant operators to catch active or potential faults before they cause twomonth shutdowns. Ultimately, as even more data are collected and statistical methods are used to maximum effect, the hope is that decentralized water treatment facilities will operate with increasing reliability on their own — without the need for 24/7 staff. “As they’re using our method to identify faults, the system sends a text message to their phone — which, here, is recruiting some computer science expertise. I don’t know how to develop an app for a phone, so we needed a computer scientist. The operator can click on the
app using their phone wherever they happen to be, see a strongly flagged fault, monitor it and then make decisions about whether they need to go out to the site.”
ILLUMINATING DATA SCIENCE AT BAYLOR As the usefulness and even necessity for data science grows across multiple academic disciplines, a vision has emerged to establish some kind of data science center or institute at Baylor. A prime supporter of this vision is Dr. Erich Baker, professor of computer science in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. In Baker’s own research, discoveries typically are made where biology, statistics and computer science intersect, making him one of many faculty members whose work outside the classroom is absolutely dependent on innovations in data science. “In the last five years, it has become obvious that we need to coalesce our data science needs on campus so that we can all work together across all the academic units,” Baker said. “Because the need is in all the schools and colleges, I’ve been trying to get together a critical mass of people on campus to spearhead an
initiative that will let us see data science as more of a core on campus — a physical, centralized place where researchers could go. It would be a place where we could combine and leverage all of our computing and data science assets for the benefit of graduate students and faculty — the people asking the questions.” Baker isn’t alone in his desire to expand the profile of data science on campus. Baylor University’s new academic strategic plan, Illuminate, includes five multidisciplinary academic initiatives — one of which centers on data science. “Baylor will address the mounting need for dynamic and rapid data analytics that spans virtually all major research emphases on campus,” according to Illuminate. “Data Science is the field that can drive all others.” Illuminate calls for data science objectives to initially be focused in three complementary areas — biomedical informatics, cybersecurity and business analytics, with an overarching theme of ethical uses of large-scale data. “It is encouraging and exciting that the Baylor Board of Regents recognizes the need in this area and gives us the support to continue to explore what data science
at Baylor will look like,” Baker said. “We hope to support data science through strategic hiring across all academic units, enhancement of our scientific computing infrastructure, new data science education programs and through the creation of centers where research faculty can collaborate on issues in data science.”
“It has become obvious that we need to coalesce our data science needs on campus so that we can all work together across all the academic units.” DR. ERICH BAKER
In the growing field of digital humanities, scholars are finding new ways to collect and share what they study
BY RANDY FIEDLER
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ILLUSTRATION: SAM FALCONER
oday, the image you’d probably bring to mind when asked to picture a professor doing research in fields such as history, English or museum studies would be of someone camped out in a library or archive, surrounded by stacks of books and documents as they methodically type notes into a laptop computer or scribble on legal pads. While the reality of that scene is still widespread today, it’s slowly giving way to an alternate mode of research — where seekers of knowledge access vast stores of information from around the world via the internet, then collaborate with others in their field to produce scholarly works available online to anyone through the click of a mouse.
This new mode of scholarship, called digital humanities, has been described as “where humanities meet computing,” and it’s allowing faculty members in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences the chance to do research in exciting new ways and work with scholastic partners from a wide variety of fields and locations.
CREATING DIGITAL ARCHIVES Dr. Julie Holcomb, associate professor of museum studies and director of the department’s graduate program, is busy writing the first full-length biography of George W. Taylor, a 19th century Quaker reformer who was a leader in the antislavery movement and took part in crusades for women’s rights, temperance and other causes. Much of the original source materials relating to Taylor are in archives in Pennsylvania and other eastern states, so Holcomb used digital humanities methods to help her collect and manage her research materials. “I was on a fellowship at Haverford College in 2015, and that’s when I really started the research on Taylor,” she said. “Haverford has hundreds of letters from Taylor and his family. Because there is no way in a month-long fellowship that I could read all of those letters, I went through and photographed them all. All in all, I photographed around 2,000 documents — about 70 gigabytes of data. If I had not been able to do that, I would have had to take multiple trips to Pennsylvania over a long period of time.” The concept of digital humanities involves not just making digital copies of documents (or accessing scanned documents through digital databases online), but also using new tools to organize and analyze all that digital material. Holcomb uses a data analysis program for digital humanities called Palladio that was developed at Stanford University. Its tools allow a researcher to take information from digitally archived sources such as letters, photographs, documents and notes, and then analyze that information in a number of ways. For example, Holcomb can take the letters written by Taylor and use Palladio to display graphically such things as who the letters were written to,
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BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON, WORDSWORTH ON HELVELLYN (1842)
what spots on the globe each letter was written from or to, and what words and names were mentioned most frequently throughout the correspondence. “I can display information from the letters and see, for example, that there is a spike in the number of letters Taylor wrote in mid-1827. It helps me visualize how the subjects he wrote about and the people he shared letters with changed over time,” Holcomb said. “Palladio allows me to see the relationship between Taylor and other Quakers and non-Quakers, and also the relationships between those individuals, even if they didn’t know Taylor personally. Were they talking about the same people and issues around the same time? I can see those connections quickly and easily. Palladio allows me to see the relationship between any two dimensions of my data.”
CRITICAL COLLABORATIONS Two characteristics of digital humanities that account for much of its popularity are that it allows researchers from different universities, cities and even countries to work together on projects without the cost of travel — and that it easily fosters interdisciplinary projects, inspiring researchers with a wide variety of interests and skill sets to collaborate. These factors are evidenced in recent projects taken on by Dr. Josh King, associate professor of English in the College of Arts & Sciences and The Margarett Root Brown Chair in Robert Browning and Victorian Studies at Baylor’s Armstrong Browning Library. “I’m not someone trained in the digital humanities who does a lot of computing,” King said. “I’m more
like a scholar who does work on literature and religion using traditional publishing, but who also has become interested in trying to use computing technologies to advance teaching, research and scholarly networking.” King said one successful use of digital humanities technology is to take literary works, post them online and then invite scholars from around the world to contribute annotations, comments, critiques and even links to relevant documents and visual works — all archived and accessible online to other scholars. “One such online edition I helped to build was done for COVE, the Central Online Victorian Educator. This edition concerns a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning which talks about the painting done by a famous artist of the time, Benjamin Robert Haydon, of the poet William Wordsworth,” King said. “It’s
they will not only match the quality of those being produced by traditional print publishers, but will provide open access at a fraction of the cost of print versions. “You still get the high quality scholarship [in online editions], but you don’t have all the interference of the regular presses who are, it’s fair to say right now, standing in the way of doing a lot of scholarly editions if they don’t think they’re going to be bought by lots of people,” he said.
SHARED LEARNING EXPERIENCES King is also using digital humanities technology to enable Baylor to cohost digital academic conferences that combine events held at physical locations with online presentations. In October 2018, Baylor’s Armstrong Browning Library joined with Canada’s University of Victoria and the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland,
all locations could share the experiences in real time. In addition, videos and other digital presentations pre-produced by faculty and students at the three universities were shared online and viewed at each conference site. “Our students at Baylor produced an exhibition for the conference that included artifact displays, a digital timeline and map and two videos. The first video, White Slaves of England, provides an overall view of what life was like for children working in the mines during the 1840s. The students did a great job of finding images of what some of the actual jobs were that children did, and images of children who were maimed on the job,” King said. “The second video showed the day in the life of a child working in the factories.” The materials from the conference, both pre-produced and recorded live, will be available online for use by scholars in the future.
“Before, you might have one or two scholars collaborating on a project… How much better it is if you’ve got a team of people, each who can contribute very profoundly in their particular area.”
– DR. JOSH KING
cooperatively edited, and includes things that a print edition cannot, such as certain images, web links, an interactive timeline and a geospatial map that displays locations connected with the poem. At the same time, it is also a peer-reviewed publication — not just anyone can write in and say I’d like to add something. And, unlike Wikipedia, once these online editions are published they are sort of static — no more edits are allowed.” King said the hope of those involved in producing such online editions is that
as hosts for a digital conference titled “Rhyme and Reform.” The conference was centered around a single poem — The Cry of the Children by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, which protests the abuses suffered by children forced to work in 19th century factories. Scholars attended paper presentations, panel discussions, live dramatic and musical performances and other events at each of the three physical locations — and many of these events were transmitted online so that attendees in
King said that the group effort required to produce digital humanities projects such as these will hopefully open the door for better quality work. “Before, you might have one or two scholars collaborating on a project, but usually it’s just one person, and they somehow pull all the relevant information together,” he said. “How much better it is if you’ve got a team of people, each who can contribute very profoundly in their particular area. In my mind, it’s obviously going to be a better product.”
A Noble Tradition BY KEVIN TANKERSLEY
Baylorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s religion department makes it a priority to engage students in the study of ethics
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thics — sometimes defined as the moral principles that govern our behavior — has been the subject of instruction, research and discussion at Baylor since its founding as a Christian university in 1845. And now, faculty members in the College of Arts & Sciences are prepared to play an important role as Baylor gives even more emphasis to the study of ethics as part of one of five academic initiatives in Illuminate, the University’s new academic strategic plan.
Ethics are already the focus of several current classes at Baylor, spanning a number of departments and academic units and incorporating subjects such as philosophy, medicine, business, media and film, the environment and biology. But Dr. William Bellinger, chair of the Department of Religion in the College of Arts & Sciences and the W. Marshall and Lulie Craig Chair in Bible, said the religion department’s strong emphasis on ethics dates back at least to the mid-1960s with courses taught by the late Dr. Daniel McGee. “Dan McGee began work on Christian ethics in our department, and he understood ethics as a service area for the University,” Bellinger said. “It wasn’t just religion — he had courses like bioethics, which were very important to pre-health students. And he had a course like environmental ethics that related to environmental sciences.” McGee, a professor of religion and the Emeritus Melton Endowed Chair of Religion, taught at Baylor for 40 years and died in 2014. At the time, Bellinger spoke about his former colleague’s devotion to ethical study. “Dr. McGee had a profound influence on Baylor University, the Baylor Department of Religion and the discipline of Christian ethics,” Bellinger said in a 2014 Baylor news release. “He came to Baylor as part of a group of faculty who were instrumental in beginning the Ph.D. program in the department and in forging interdisciplinary approaches to ethics.” Bellinger said that the mantle that McGee originated at Baylor has been passed on to younger religion faculty members. “They are the next generation of ethicists in our department and they reflect, I think, the trend that theology and ethics are really understood to be heavily interrelated,” Bellinger said. “When I first came to Baylor, which was a long time ago now, I think we tended to think about ethics in terms of dealing with ethical issues. And there’s still some of that that goes on. But this generation of theologians and ethicists tend to think about it in terms of what kind of ethical theory are we working with, or what is the history of theology and ethics on various issues that arise in our society.”
ETHICS IN SOCIETY Dr. Elise Edwards, lecturer in religion, teaches classes in both Christian ethics and bioethics. She deals with contemporary issues in her bioethics class, discussing topics with students such as physician-assisted suicide and emerging medical technology and its capabilities to sustain life much longer than before. “We’re looking at bioethics from a Christian perspective. There’s a sense in which we’re never just individuals interacting with individual doctors,” Edwards said. Instead, she said her students look at bioethics from the point of view as community members, parents with children or as people taking care of aging parents. “This also makes sense in terms of what we mean to each other and what we mean to God,” she added. Edwards said many modern-day ethical issues are covered in her gender, feminism and theology course as well, topics such as gender
“I think within the Christian tradition we have a lot of help and guidance that can assist us, and we’re never alone in our decisions.” DR. ELISE EDWARDS
roles in the church, and the evolving definitions of marriage and family. “I love feminist ethics and feminist theology because there, we get into questions about social justice related to gender or sexuality and gender roles,” she said. Students in her ethics classes also learn about post-Christian feminists — women who in the 1960s and ‘70s felt they had no place in a male-dominated church that was not designed for them nor inclusive of them, Edwards said. Yet the course primarily addresses Christian feminists who say, “There’s something here that I can work with to change and make more inclusive,” Edwards said. Edwards said both the bioethics course and the gender, feminism and theology class start with the same basic questions that she poses early in the semester in her Christian ethics classes: “What does being Christian bring to ethics? What does ethics bring to being a Christian? How do these two match up?” In her classes, Edwards waits a few weeks each semester before tackling difficult topics — physician-assisted suicide and gender roles, for instance — and uses numerous reading assignments to expose students to different points of view before asking them to weigh in with their own points of view. This
allows the students to “engage in a process of self-reflection, of seeing where they already are on certain issues and why they are there,” she said. Edwards begins that process by having her students take place in a “social location narrative” where they talk about their religious influences, race, gender, ethnicity, educational background and economic class, as well as what they’ve been taught about those aspects of their lives and whether any of those have ever changed. By the third week in class, her students begin to see that because of those things, they've already been acculturated to see the world in a particular way, Edwards said. “And it doesn’t mean any of those groups are monoliths, but it means that we are informed by the people we’re raised by, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But part of being in college is learning to examine who you are and beginning to ask those important questions about whether or not those are things you actually want to commit to.” What is Edwards’ goal in teaching ethics? “It’s not to lead students to a particular conclusion or a particular position on any particular subject,” she said. “I want them to know that Christians disagree on topics for some very good reasons. It’s never to say, ‘as a Christian
you must believe this right or else you’re not a real Christian,’ or ‘you’re some sort of heretic or have no relationship with God.’ I would never make that claim in my students’ lives. But I want them to come to their own position by having looked at the different informed positions that others have come to.” That message is important to emphasize in classes at Baylor, Edwards said, because some students, up to this point in their lives, have been “doing what they’ve been told in following a vision of morality that is simply given to them, and they do not feel they should question that,” or that they feel they lack the courage or power to question that. “I think it’s important for people who are living in the world that we’re in, consistent with what I think a liberal arts education does, that we learn to be engaged thinkers, readers and writers, and that we come to know our own minds and come to our own decisions,” Edwards said. “I think within the Christian tradition we have a lot of help and guidance that can assist us, and we’re never alone in our decision-making. We have the church with us even though there are so many different views within it.”
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS While Edwards encourages her students to begin looking inward as they’re considering important questions, Dr. Paul Martens urges students in his Christian ethics and environmental ethics classes to consider some outward factors in their discussions. He asks them to consider the ethical implications — for example, of choosing what they eat and what they wear.
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“The task of Christian ethics...is the task of seeing the world through Christian eyes, or determining what it means to live as a Christian in this particular time and place.” - DR. PAUL MARTENS “You begin to realize you own habits and behaviors,” said Martens, an associate professor of religion and director of interdisciplinary programs for the College of Arts & Sciences. “As soon as you start looking at the systems we participate in, it can be very unsettling. In some cases, it’s no big deal. But in some cases — for example, if you or your pet are eating fish from the waters of Thailand — there’s pretty close to a 100 percent probability that it was fished from boats that are run by slave labor. If we, as Christians, don’t think we ought to support human trafficking with our purchasing power, this is a big deal. We tend to think of human trafficking in terms of women in prostitution, which is also terrible, but human trafficking is much broader in large parts of the world.” And the world of fashion can be just as challenging, Martens said — only in a different manner. “It has been observed, over the last couple of decades, that you can tell what colors are in fashion in Paris by the color of the rivers in China,” he said. “It takes a tremendous amount of water to dye clothes. The wastewater, with dye and toxic mordants, often just gets released into the rivers and then the ocean, and that’s how it goes. And we still happily buy those clothes.” While these are obviously large systemic problems, Martens said, they’re not insurmountable, and the choices his students make can have an impact. “‘Who am I? What can I do?’ To start, you can decide if you can wear your shoes another week or two, or a year, and then you can replace more responsibly only as necessary,” he said. “And cumulatively, those are things that actually change
the world. It’s not the big things that generally change the world.” Martens said he and his colleagues in religion, and those faculty members across campus teaching ethics in fields such as law, business, philosophy, media and film, are perfectly positioned to guide students in ethical conversations at this juncture in their lives. “Christianity is always lived in a particular context or culture at a particular time,” Martens said. “So, even though one might share a biblical faith or Christian convictions that reach back all the way to the first century, we no longer live in the first century. The task of Christian ethics, therefore, is an interdisciplinary task that is new each generation. It is the task of seeing the world through Christian eyes, or determining what it means to live as a Christian in this particular time and place, which also means that it requires one to attend carefully to the world in which one lives.”
ETHICS AS MISSION Just why is Baylor’s emphasis on teaching ethics so important? Bellinger said there are at least two reasons. First, as ethical matters arise in societal life, “we
“Ethics will be more front and center than it has been. It’s one of the ways we can make a difference at Baylor.” DR. WILLIAM BELLINGER
tend to resolve those issues, it seems to me, using whatever kind of works for the moment. And I think we would say that it would be helpful to have a thoughtful attitude about those things ahead of time, so we can then think about, ‘How does this play out in international relations?’ or ‘How does this play out in integrity in public life and politics?’” Also, Bellinger said Baylor’s distinctive character makes it critical that the University be at the forefront of ethics education. “It’s very important for a university that has a Christian mission,” he said. “Theologically, ethics has been a very important part of the Christian faith all through the years. You get the teachings of Jesus and a lot of legal material in the Old Testament. There is also a long history of reflection on ethics in the Christian church. In higher education, Baylor is one of the places that needs to be speaking to these kinds of questions.” The emphasis on ethics in Baylor’s religion department will continue to grow, Bellinger said. Some ethics classes will more than likely have a place in the new Arts & Sciences core curriculum, he said, adding that’s just how it should be. “If you’re going to talk about Baylor and its Christian mission to educate men and women to serve as worldwide leaders, ethical issues will be central to that for the young people taking undergraduate classes in the future in a way even more pressing than it has been,” Bellinger said. “Ethics will be more front and center than it has been. It’s one of the ways we can make a difference at Baylor.”
t’s 7 a.m. at Waco’s Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Hillcrest and time for the morning report — the daily ritual where the doctors who have tended to patients through the night hand off those patients to the morning shift. Around the table at the morning report, which will be followed by morning rounds, are the attending physicians, residents and interns, all identifiable by their scrubs or white jackets. But in the mix this morning is someone new — a young woman dressed in professional business attire. She’s a Baylor Clinical Fellow, and like everyone else in the room she is there to both learn and teach.
The Baylor Clinical Fellowship is a unique and innovative collaboration in the College of Arts & Sciences between the Department of Philosophy and the Medical Humanities Program that gives graduate students in philosophy who teach medical ethics a firsthand look at the real world of clinical medical practice. Medical ethics spans a range of topics — from treatment choices and end of life issues to resource allocation and financial dilemmas. Historically, medical ethics has been taught by theologians. “There are unavoidable questions that every human being faces which are not answerable simply by
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appeal to scientific knowledge. Philosophy deals with these inescapable fundamental questions,” said Dr. Michael Beaty, chair and professor of philosophy. Therefore, the study of philosophy can provide a sound framework for considering ethical issues in the medical arena. Beaty himself has studied medical ethics and has taught it on numerous occasions, using the accepted practice of reviewing case studies — summaries of real-life medical reports. “I believe I’ve taught medical ethics well in the past,” Beaty said, but he acknowledged that times have changed. “[In case studies] we don’t always see the challenges that arise as doctors make treatment decisions often under great
The Ethics of Healing
BY JEFF HAMPTON
An innovative program at Baylor gives students of medical ethics a first-hand look at the issues
pressure and very quickly,” he said. “In the last 20 or 30 years there has been a maturing of efforts on understanding and teaching medical ethics. There has been a recognition among many that some better instructional strategies are required.”
RARE OPPORTUNITY Baylor’s response to the need for a deeper understanding of medical ethics is the clinical fellowship that was launched in the summer of 2017. While it is not the only program of its type offered in the United States, it is rare. “We are among a small group,” Beaty said. While the approach may not be widespread, the benefits of giving future instructors in medical ethics exposure to real treatment situations are clear, said Dr.
Lauren Barron, M.D., the longtime family medical doctor who now serves as director and clinical professor in Baylor’s Medical Humanities Program. She said that while doctors working at the bedsides of patients face ethical choices all the time, the resulting case studies presented in many medical ethics lectures and textbooks don’t always reflect that — being too pristine and lacking the chaos of real life. “So, bringing philosophers into the hospital and introducing them to the actual pragmatics that have to be considered and the contingencies that don’t show up in the theories in medical textbooks really enhances their ability to communicate and teach medical ethics after they’ve seen how difficult it is,” Barron said.
The clinical fellowship was conceived over a dinner between Beaty, Barron and Dr. Michael Hardin, director of the Waco Family Medicine Residency Program. It was a collegial discussion because Barron and Hardin were medical school classmates and longtime practicing colleagues, and Hardin is Beaty’s personal physician. Those close connections and shared goals between academics and healthcare professionals have helped ensure that Baylor’s clinical fellows are welcomed and accepted by the medical staff at Baylor Scott & WhiteHillcrest and incorporated seamlessly into their meetings and rounds. Clinical Fellows attend at least 20 hours per week of hospital rounds for between two and four weeks.
They attend the morning report at the hospital each weekday, then meet with a clinical faculty member from medical humanities at Baylor each week to discuss what they have experienced. The students are also required to keep logs that comply with the federal law regarding the privacy of medical information (HIPAA) — which will come in handy later when teaching — as well as make a presentation to the medical team about an ethical topic and provide a written summary report at the end of their fellowship. Before they can begin the clinical fellowship, students must complete lots of paperwork, undergo HIPAA training, make sure their immunizations are current and submit to a criminal background check — standard expectations of those working in a medical environment. They’re given an ID badge that provides access to sensitive areas of the hospital, and they’re required to dress professionally, but not in scrubs or any clothing that might prompt someone to mistake them for a medical professional.
FROM THE MUNDANE TO THE COMPLEX Dr. Allison Krile Thornton, who earned her doctorate in philosophy from Baylor in the spring of 2018, joined the philosophy department at the University of Southern Alabama as an assistant professor this fall. She said the clinical fellowship at Baylor in the summer of 2017 “immersed” her in the environment in which doctors must make decisions. “A lot of what we dealt with were very mundane ethical issues that don’t necessarily rise to the level of cases that are going to show up in your medical ethics textbook,” she said. “So that was a really good experience for me to familiarize myself with very normal, run-of-the-mill everyday issues.” Thornton also experienced less routine cases, such as that of a woman who was transported from hospice care to the hospital with a broken hip and who had a “do not resuscitate” (DNR) order in place. “It raised a lot of questions for the medical team about how to treat patients who come in on hospice, which is not what most doctors in particular are trained to do. They’re trained to see a problem and fix
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it,” Thornton said. “There was quite a bit of working out among the doctors, but also engaging with the patient, who changed her mind a few times about what she wanted.” The patient ultimately canceled her DNR and requested surgery, but went into cardiac arrest and died before the medical staff could operate. Thornton talked to the attending physician afterward, who explained why she had offered the patient the option of surgery. But she also explained why another doctor could be correct in making a different decision in the case. “I think there are objective answers in ethics,” Thornton said. “I don’t think relativism is true. I think there are answers, but I think that there’s also a lot of gray area where the answers are hard to find. It takes a certain kind of investigative ability in order to ferret out the right thing to do in those gray areas.”
they had, questions they asked each other, seeing the administrative work that they had to go through and hearing some of their frustrations,” he said. Tweedt said the residents were open to his presence and would even ask his opinion. “Sometimes they were discussing something and they knew I was listening, and they’d turn to me and say, ‘What do you think?’ and we’d have a conversation about ethics,” he said.
PATIENT ROOMS AND DOCTOR LOUNGES Far away from Waco at Virginia’s Christopher Newport University, Dr. Chris Tweedt is teaching medical ethics to premed students using the experience he gained as a Baylor Clinical Fellow making rounds at Hillcrest. In addition to earning his doctorate from Baylor in 2017, Tweedt has earned master’s degrees from Baylor and Southern Evangelical Seminary, and has a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University — all in philosophy. He also spent a lot of time in hospitals with family members during his high school years, but the clinical fellowship gave him an in-depth look at the lives of doctors and the decisions they make. “In general, it was really helpful to know what their lives are like. Even just being there gave me an idea of what the culture is like among a medical team,” Tweedt said. Some days he would stay after his scheduled hours and hang out with the medical residents in the hospital lounge. “I spent time there some afternoons witnessing the kinds of conversations
Tweedt also learned much from the attending physicians, who displayed their different personal styles and approaches to similar situations. “Talking to the attending physicians helped me see what the progression of a medical student to a resident is like, and helped me to identify the various maturity levels of medical residents in that timeline,” he said. But the heart of the fellowship experience was making rounds and observing the interactions between doctors and patients. “In almost every room we walked into there were people just holding on to hope. The situations were really bad in most of the rooms. You only saw people at their worst. The kinds of authority that doctor’s
words have carry a lot of power for those people,” Tweedt said. Meanwhile, “the doctor’s perspective is that it’s like fighting a war out there — you save as many as possible. You do your best, but you can’t spend all your time with one patient.” Like Thornton, Tweedt saw some difficult cases. One that stands out was a woman dying of cancer who developed a blood clot. There was a procedure available that might add a couple of days to her life, and while
the case,” Thornton said. “We had a hard time finding other cases that did that.” “There are certain details about particular situations and certain experiences that people have which are really difficult to convey in writing, especially in a really short piece,” Tweedt said. “So I’ve endeavored to write my own cases and focus on the less-sterile aspects that you might get in the American Medical Association’s list of cases.” Tweedt added that while medical ethics courses typically cover large-scale issues like availability of health insurance and services for under-served communities, he focuses on clinical practice. “I’m seeing that these physicians and nurses and even administrators will be able to have more of an impact in clinical practice than they will in determining what health insurance coverage or what government policies are like,” he said. In addition to presenting her own case studies, Thornton is drawing on the “guild” nature of medical education she witnessed where each level of experience and authority —attending physicians, residents and interns — helps teach the next. “There is this interesting, dynamic method of instruction of always being both a student and a teacher,” she said. “To be a good teacher, you have to ask the right questions, and that in turn makes you understand the situation better. I try to model that in my ethics class, where we practice asking the right questions and not just answering correctly.”
“I n class we might discuss issues pertaining to confidentiality, truthtelling and informed consent one at a time, but in many of the cases I observed, all three factors were active and relevant at once.” NICK COLGROVE
she was content to just let nature take its course, she agreed to the procedure to honor the wishes of her family. “It was really impactful that she, at the end of her life, wasn’t thinking about herself. That was really shocking to me,” Tweedt said.
SHARING THE EXPERIENCE Learning from case studies still makes up the core of medical ethics course work, and Tweedt and Thornton have added to the canon by writing case studies, both together and independently, that will help them prepare future generations of doctors. “What we wanted to do with these cases is write something that put the students in the shoes of the characters in
RESHAPING THE LESSONS Nick Colgrove, who defended his PhD in philosophy at Baylor in April 2018, was already teaching medical ethics at the university before undertaking the clinical fellowship in May 2018. He went into the experience hoping it could add
some reality to some of the more abstract principles often found in case studies. “Philosophers, whether this is fair or not, get some flak for abstract thinking that’s detached from reality in these sorts of contexts,” Colgrove said. He said one of the realities he observed during the first month of the fellowship is that ethical questions often are “entangled” with each other in real life. “In class we might discuss issues pertaining to confidentiality, truthtelling and informed consent one at a time, but in many of the cases I observed, all three factors were active and relevant at once,” he said. “As such, I will work to reshape some of the case studies to make them more multi-faceted, rather than just focused on one ethical consideration at a time.” Colgrove also observed how prevalent ethical issues are in medical practice and how quickly they must be resolved. “This, in my mind, underscores the importance of equipping medical personnel with tools they require to navigate tricky ethical waters quickly,” he said. “So I will work to help students identify ethical issues as well as understand a variety of perspectives in each case and the reasons behind each perspective so that they will not blindly proceed according to their own, unreflective intuitions.” Dr. Lauren Barron said the experiences gained and shared by Colgrove, Tweedt and Thornton are exactly what she and her colleagues hoped for when they came up with the idea for the clinical fellowship. The reports and debriefing sessions with the Fellows are adding content to the orientation for future participants. And they’re illuminating another desired result — the students are learning, but they are contributing to the medical teams as well. “Having someone like Alli or Chris or Nick there opens up the potential for conversations that you would not have had,” Barron said. “It’s outside the box; it’s outside the usual medical conversations about potassium and liver enzymes and ventilator settings. Having an ethicist as part of the team is symbolic and representative of the need to ask these very important, big questions.”
The new Baylor Annotated Study Bible will give readers fresh insights into the text from a variety of Baylor scholars
The Baylor Annotated Study Bible will have a long shelf life. By Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s good grace, [it] will live on for a very long time. DR. TODD D. STILL 12 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES
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aylor’s Department of Religion in the College of Arts & Sciences is playing a major role in creating a new study Bible that promises to impact Baylor students and alumni for generations to come. The culmination of roughly five years of research, planning and collaboration, the first edition of the Baylor Annotated Study Bible (BASB) will be available for purchase in fall 2019. Published by Baylor University Press in partnership with Tyndale House Publishers, the BASB will contain the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Old and New Testaments along with original 500- to 700-word introductions and extensive notes accompanying each of the 66 Biblical books. “You have any number of study Bibles out there, but they are typically linked to a translation, such as the NIV Study Bible or the ESV Study Bible,” said Dr. Todd Still, dean of Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary and editor of the New Testament section of the BASB. “One of the things that makes this project so much fun is that although it is based upon the NRSV, it is anchored to an institution, Baylor University, with respect to the introductions to and notes on each biblical book. These are written by Baylor faculty, Baylor alumni and friends of the University, Truett Seminary and Baylor Press.” Still said a study Bible affiliated with an American college or university is quite distinct. The BASB is a unique project in Christian higher education and indeed in U.S. higher education broadly. “I wish I could take credit for this idea,” said Carey Newman, director of Baylor University Press. “But, it was my colleague, Peter Dougherty [former director of Princeton University Press], who first suggested it to me one day about four years ago, ‘Baylor needs a study Bible. Oxford University has one. The Catholics have one. Why shouldn’t Baylor sponsor one?’” After about a year’s worth of research on his own, Newman invited Still and Dr. William Bellinger, chair of religion and the W. Marshall and Lulie Craig Chair in Bible, to lunch, asking if they would serve as editors for the New Testament and Old Testament, respectively.
“Carey [Newman] has an enthusiasm for things that is just infectious,” Still said. “And when he shared with us the vision of the BASB, Bill [Bellinger] and I said nearly in unison, ‘We’re in. How may we help?’” Still brings to this project nearly 30 years of New Testament study and published scholarship, while Bellinger is an internationally renowned Old Testament scholar who also brings a lifetime of teaching and research to the project, with special expertise in the Psalms, Leviticus and the prophetic texts. Since spring 2017, around 145 contributors from a number of Christian church traditions and all connected to Baylor, have been commissioned to provide entries. Contributors were carefully selected based on academic qualifications as well as area of biblical expertise. “This is the Baylor Annotated Study Bible, but it is not a Baptist-only study Bible,” Still said. “It is ecumenical in spirit. But it does come from a decidedly Christian perspective. It is intended to allow the biblical texts to speak and help in laying bare the meaning of these texts so that a reader from any or no Christian tradition may understand them more fully.” “Not everyone who contributes is Baptist,” Bellinger said. “I just received some material today from a colleague who is Roman Catholic, herself. One of our contributors is an alum who now teaches at Abilene Christian University [affiliated with the Church of Christ]. These entries and annotations will be meaningful to anyone, regardless of their church tradition, whether reformed, Catholic, Baptist or from other denominations.” Many contributors bring a formidable reputation in the world of biblical scholarship, including leading biblical scholars such as N. T. Wright, Richard Hays and Walter Brueggemann. Brueggemann is widely considered to be the most influential Old Testament scholar in recent decades and will supply the introduction to Genesis. “[Bruggemann] wrote a commentary on Genesis a number of years ago that’s quite famous, so I think that one is going to generate a lot of interest,” Bellinger said. “Dr. Dennis Tucker at Truett is a recognized Psalms scholar as well, and he wrote the notes for the Psalms. I think readers will find the notes in Psalms to be very inspirational and informative.”
Much like the Oxford Annotated Bible, annotations in the BASB will appear at the bottom of each page, beneath the biblical text, Newman said. “They are there to help readers read. They’re not there to discuss scholarship. They are notes that will help readers read the text for all its worth.” By teaming up with Tyndale House Publishers to produce the BASB, Baylor University Press will not only benefit from more than 50 years of expertise in Bible publishing, but Tyndale’s support will allow purchasers — including individuals, churches and other organizations — to order specially bound and burnished versions of the BASB. “Baylor University Press will be the publisher of record, but Tyndale will be handling a lot of the ‘back office’ for this project,” Newman said. “And what this alliance will do is allow the opportunity to produce leather-bound Bibles burnished with a specific name or logo as requested. We could do the Chi Omega [sorority] Bible, we could do the Baylor Line Camp Bible, and we could do the First Baptist Church Amarillo edition.” “I can think of no better Christmas present,” Still added. One of the main aims of the BASB is to provide Baylor students of Religion 1310, Baylor’s required Bible survey class, with a reliable course text. Plans for this are still in the works. “From the basic design stage, we’re talking about a three-year process, which is astonishing,” Still said. “And, when Baylor University Press teamed up with Tyndale, it was a game-changer. In essence, they’re going to be able to take our product and package it. Tyndale is the gold standard in Bible publishing, and we want this study Bible to meet that gold standard. The Baylor Annotated Study Bible will have a long shelf life. By God’s good grace, this study Bible will live on for a very long time. One of the joys in working on this is thinking about the generations of Baylor students, alumni and friends that will use and benefit from the Bible in the coming years.”
To learn more about the BASB, including how to order or create a special edition of the BASB, visit baylorpress.com/BASB or call Baylor University Press at (254) 710-3522.
Learning to Serve, Serving to Learn BY LAUREN BARRON
Lauren Barron, M.D., is a family physician who serves as director of Baylor’s Medical Humanities Program. In this First Person essay, she describes how Baylor prehealth students are receiving valuable training and research skills through volunteering at Waco’s Family Health Center.
often say that the Medical Humanities Program at Baylor gives me the opportunity to teach to my 20-year-old self. Let me explain. In the 1980s I came to Baylor as a premed student. I remembered how badly I wanted opportunities for experience in the medical field while I was an undergraduate. I applied for volunteer positions and part-time jobs, but never landed one. I am sure opportunities were there — I just didn’t know how to tap into them. Fast forward to medical school. I was a third-year medical student when the attending physician I was working with asked, “What do you want to do?” When I answered, “family medicine,” I could not have been more surprised when she said, “You need to go to Waco!” I told her I had just come from Waco — I graduated from Baylor! That’s when she told me about Waco’s Family Health Center (FHC), saying it was one of the best family medicine residency programs in the country. She was right. It was hard for me to believe that I had never heard of FHC during my time as 12 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES
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a Baylor student. During my residency, I trained under and alongside some of the finest family doctors in the nation. I was incredibly honored to be invited to join the FHC faculty after my residency, and I spent the next seven years helping to train residents and provide medical care to the vulnerable and underserved citizens of McLennan County. I would venture to say that anyone reading this magazine has probably been shielded from the kind of poverty that exists here in Waco and surrounding the Baylor campus. When I first joined the faculty of the Medical Humanities Program here at Baylor, I lay awake at night trying to think of ways to bridge the massive gap between the experience of our students and the lives of those just beyond the bounds of our campus. If we could find a way for Baylor students to volunteer at FHC, I thought, it would give them a window into the medical profession, the world of primary care and care of the underserved. In time, we found ways to get Baylor students involved. The FHC has a main
clinic site that houses the residency program, plus 14 satellite clinics around town. We started with a pilot project that paired Alpha Epsilon Delta (one of Baylor’s many student prehealth organizations) with FHC’s Tom Oliver South 18th Community Clinic. It was a smash hit, with most of the credit going to Drs. Clint and Josephine Watson, who were champions of the project. Baylor student volunteers performed supportive tasks — taking phone calls, filing, faxing, stocking rooms, assisting the front desk and nurses, running errands, escorting patients to the lab, and so on. But their service organically grew into other opportunities — being invited into the examination rooms, observing the interactions between patients and practitioners, and developing relationships with the doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners whose work is so exhausting and inspiring. Omar Sahibzada, a Fall 2018 medical humanities graduate who was also one of the program’s DeBakey Scholars, is interested in psychiatry and wants one day
to work with the underserved. It would be impossible to exaggerate the extent and severity of the mental health needs in Waco. Dr. Janie Castillo leads FHC’s Austin Avenue Clinic, located in the same building that houses our local MHMR (Mental Health Mental Retardation) Center. Omar has had the opportunity, under Dr. Castillo’s supervision, to provide support in a variety of ways — providing companionship to patients while they are waiting for appointments, assisting illiterate patients with paperwork and patient education materials, calling patients to confirm appointments, and encouraging exercise and wellness. Omar is attending medical school this year at the UT Medical Branch in Galveston, and he credits his work as an FHC volunteer with fueling his drive to become a doctor and confirming his interest in psychiatry. In addition to service and shadowing, many students have had the opportunity to participate in significant research as well. Daniel Truesdale, who graduated in May 2018 with a double major in medical humanities and biology, was a tireless volunteer and an officer in the Medical Service Organization (MSO) at Baylor. He served at FHC’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Clinic on Herring Avenue. “I used my position as an officer in MSO as an excuse to go out of my way to show the FHC staff how much we appreciate them,” Daniel said. “The FHC offers a doorway to serve people in Waco that Baylor students would rarely interact with otherwise, and also allows them to work with excellent physicians and allied health workers who act as teachers and mentors.” Daniel’s outstanding leadership and service earned him the privilege of working with Baylor’s Dr. Karol Hardin, an associate professor of Spanish, on a project titled “Implementation of a Spanish Language Track at a Family Medicine Residency Program.” This project helped to evaluate an exciting new FHC offering to resident physicians who want to become fluent in Spanish by the end of their residency. Daniel’s experience is a perfect example of the range of professional opportunities that service at FHC can provide. Krupa George, a senior University Scholar major whose time at Baylor has been profoundly affected by her work with FHC, puts it this way: “I’ve been involved with the FHC since my
freshman year, when I had the incredible opportunity to be a research assistant for Dr. Jackson Griggs and his project on patient health literacy. I collected data by surveying patients in the exam room during the vulnerable time they waited to be seen by a physician. Through this unique experience, I heard heartbreaking stories that broadened my perspective and showed how diverse the backgrounds of patients can be. This experience revealed the relevance of conversations regarding doctor-patient communication in my medical humanities classes.” Krupa added that the FHC volunteer program is a phenomenal opportunity for Baylor students to serve undeserved patient populations and gain invaluable healthcare exposure. She cites the example of Baylor’s chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), which volunteers at Madison Cooper Community Clinic to help with the Wellness Center, and has worked with the
school supplies for pediatric patients — even picnic tables for the staff. It is difficult to convey how much this means to the physicians, faculty and staff at FHC. “The Baylor students are really passionate about doing anything to help our staff and the patients at our clinic. They have a drive to make the lives of our patients better,” said Stacy Fagan, a nurse who once worked at the MLK Jr. Community Clinic. “There is too much to mention — from going out of their way on a Saturday to paint and put toys together so our children have a place to have fun, to helping raise money for hygiene supplies and books for our facility.” Leslie Smith, a family nurse practitioner at the South 18th Street clinic, said, “Having Baylor student volunteers has been a joy. Their eagerness to learn and willingness to help is so refreshing. I recently had a student help an illiterate parent fill out an ADHD
“In addition to service and shadowing, many students have had the opportunity to participate in significant research as well.” Physician Assistants Society to organize a book drive for clinic waiting rooms. “I’ve personally served at the South 18th Street Clinic helping with paperwork, filing charts, recycling, cleaning rooms and shadowing,” Krupa said. “This has been such a rewarding experience, especially since I know the FHC’s mission and have seen firsthand how necessary its services are to the Waco patient population. I have truly enjoyed serving at the FHC.” It is incredibly gratifying to see well over 100 students volunteering at FHC, with more and more Baylor students and faculty participating in innovative research targeted at improving wellness in Waco. Baylor students, working through campus prehealth organizations, have been incredibly generous with their time and energy. They have even raised funds to sponsor things such as children’s play areas, books and bookshelves for the waiting rooms, backpacks and
questionnaire and family counseling form, which was a great experience for the student and helpful to me.” Despite the incredible role that the Family Health Center plays in ensuring the health of Waco and McLennan County, I am still amazed that so many local people don’t know about this incredible organization, the caliber of the physicians and the kind of research and innovation that is happening there. But in recent years there have been more and more collaborations between FHC and Baylor that involve students and faculty from across the university. Now that I am on the faculty of Baylor, I don’t want any student to leave the university (as I did) without knowing about the Family Health Center. Because of its consistent commitment to Central Texans — in no small part because of partnerships with Baylor University — that is starting to change.
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Long Time Coming BY ROBERT F. DARDEN Professor of journalism, public relations and new media
The struggles of Vivienne Malone-Mayes, Baylor’s first full-time African American professor, will be remembered with a new campus memorial
n a stormy day in August 2017,
I stood by the gravestone of Dr. Vivienne Lucille Malone-Mayes, the first African American professor hired at Baylor University. I was at Waco’s historic Greenwood Cemetery, a forgotten, wind-swept triangle of land hidden between Interstate 35 and Highway 77. Vivienne’s stone had been vandalized. Some idiot had taken a crowbar and smashed out the porcelain image of her face. What drives such hate? In that moment, I saw Dr. MaloneMayes — who could call such an imposing figure “Vivienne”? — on the Baylor campus in 1972. I was a freshman, having grown up in the U.S. Air Force, which was integrated from its founding. Vivienne was one of the few blacks on the campus then, outside of the athletic teams. I still remember seeing her walking towards Sid Richardson, tall, every hair in place, beautiful and — seemingly — terribly, terribly alone. And in that moment, by that damaged tombstone, despite the nearby graves of family and friends, Vivienne MaloneMayes seemed alone once more. 12 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES
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Vivienne recorded several hours of interviews for the Baylor Institute for Oral History in 1987, just a few years before her untimely death in 1995. The stories Vivienne tells are often bittersweet, tinged in pain and loss and, sometimes, contain a palpable sense of having spent a life apart. She was the beloved daughter of a relatively well-to-do African American family, at least by the Jim Crow standards of Waco in the 1930s and ’40s. Her family’s relative affluence made her a target of other children. Even teachers in the all-black schools she attended, she recalled, took delight in singling her out, embarrassing her. Vivienne’s skin color — not her grades — kept her out of Baylor University in 1952. She instead attended Fisk University. When she applied to Baylor for a master’s degree in 1961, the university turned her down. Her daughter Patsy Ann Wheeler still has the rejection letter. From Fisk, she taught for a time at Paul Quinn College in Waco before eventually, grudgingly being accepted in the Ph.D. program in mathematics at the University of Texas. Vivienne’s memories of UT in the late 1950s and early ’60s are difficult to listen to — professors who wouldn’t
accept her in their classes, fellow students who wouldn’t talk to or sit by her. She couldn’t eat or live or park on campus. She couldn’t participate in extracurricular activities. She could never escape the fact that she was black and unwelcome and, again, always, always someone
Dr. Vivienne Malone-Mayes would become a significant transcendent figure both on the campus and nationally. ROBERT F. DARDEN
who stood apart. At one point in the recordings, she softly tells her interviewer, “But you get used to being alone.” Patsy told me that while the family lived in Austin, the two would talk about their days: “She’d say, ‘A group went to the café today to eat — and didn’t invite me.’ ‘But why not?’ I’d ask. ‘There are people who are just not nice,’ she’d say, ‘and there are people who are so small-minded that they are threatened by everything.’ Of course she was hurt. But she rose above it.” In 1966, after she graduated with honors from UT, President Abner McCall offered her a position in the Baylor math department. Dr. Vivienne MaloneMayes would become a significant, transcendent figure both on the campus and nationally, an inspiration not just for women and African Americans, but also for all math students everywhere. I called Dr. Steve Gardner that afternoon in August and together we tracked down Alex and Patsy Ann Wheeler. With their blessing, I went to Dr. Lance Littlejohn, chair of Baylor’s mathematics department. Lance immediately said, “Yes, whatever it takes.” We involved Dean Lee Nordt and Associate Dean Kim Kellison from the College of Arts & Sciences — both of whom enthusiastically joined our quest to create a significant memorial to Vivienne’s courage and legacy.
Lance commissioned a bust of Vivienne and began fundraising for a display case for the sun-lit atrium on the third floor of Sid Richardson, outside the math department, an area perpetually full of students. An unveiling ceremony is planned for February 2019 and friends, colleagues, sorority sisters and former students of Vivienne Malone-Mayes will be invited to attend and celebrate this singular life. As for long-neglected Greenwood, the City of Waco announced an ambitious plan in April 2018 to finally restore the city’s historic African American cemetery, including markers for the host of significant graves in its grounds. It’s all a beginning…well-deserved honors for a life well-lived.
Coda: When word spread that Baylor had broken the color barrier and hired Vivienne, reporters approached Waco civil rights activist and civic leader Jeffie Allen Conner for a comment. Conner smiled and said, “Yes, isn’t that a great blessing for Baylor?” And it was. Though no one could yet know how great a blessing. For an excellent detailed essay on the life of Dr. Vivienne Malone-Mayes, see “A Remarkable Legacy” by Lane Murphy in the Spring 2018 issue of Baylor Magazine.
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GETTING TO WORK
The second cohort of Baylor students selected annually for the College of Arts & Sciencesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s prestigious Science Research Fellows (SRF) program received their white lab coats Aug. 23 in 12 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES a ceremony that marks the beginning of study for the group of Baylor freshmen. The SRF major allows students to earn a bachelor of science degree with increased opportunities for research.