Biology Graduate Making Waves


Taylor at his desk at Coastal Carolina University, where he’s earning his graduate degree

Jon-Erik Taylor may study one of nature’s slower sea-dwellers, but this Webster graduate’s career as a marine biologist is moving full-speed-ahead. Taylor, currently pursuing a master’s degree in Marine Systems Science at Coastal Carolina University, researches the relationship between soil density and resistance to fungal pathogens among sea turtle nests for his Master’s thesis. Thanks to a recent $25,000 grant from the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, he now also works collaboratively with the Consortium on a rip current awareness project meant to make beaches safer.

The grant funds Taylor’s and the Consortium’s efforts to educate the public about the hazards of rip currents. As part of their efforts, they meet with science, law, and industry professionals to communicate the potentially life-saving benefits of properly informed beach communities.

“The award means a lot to me for several reasons,” Taylor said. “It provides me with the means to better provide for my family, it validates me being here [in graduate school], and it gives me the opportunity to work on a project that I feel has a significant impact on lives of beach-goers the world over.”

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Big Passion. Big Conflict. Big Wedding: Global Leaders in Residence to Lead Post-Show Discussion after Conservatory’s “Big Love”

Photo by Eric Woolsey

Photo by Eric Woolsey

Join the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University for its production of Charles Mee’s Big Love. A contemporary adaptation of Aeschylus’ The Suppliant WomenBig Love follows the story of fifty young women seeking refuge in Italy in their escape from unwanted marriages. When their prospective husbands arrive, the battle between men and women, between love and power, between heart and mind reaches epic proportions.

Big Love is presented February 18-22 and February 25-March 2 in the Emerson Studio Theatre at Webster University. Performances are at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm. For tickets ($12/adults, $6/seniors, students, and Webster alumni, free/Webster students, faculty, and staff) call 314-968-7128. This production of Big Love features brief nudity and graphic violence. It is intended for adult audiences.

Please join us also for a special post-show discussion following the February 27 performance, featuring Cuban theatre artists Flora Lauten and Raquel Carrio and members of the Big Love cast. Founders of the award-winning Teatro Buendia in Cuba, Lauten and Carrio will reflect on their own process of adapting classic texts for the contemporary stage. Lauten and Carrio join us from Cuba as Webster University’s College of Arts & Sciences 2015 Global Leaders in Residence.

For more information about Webster’s production of Big Love, watch our trailer or visit For more information about the Global Leaders in Residence, visit

Global MA Spotlight: Claire Mosby

Claire in Croatia

Claire on her visit to Croatia during the 2014 Fall Break.

Each term, the College of Arts & Sciences highlights one of its Global MA students from the International Relations or International Nongovernmental Organizations programs.

Claire Mosby is part of the first Global MA in IR cohort to study in Havana, Cuba as part of their year abroad. We snagged a few moments to talk to Claire as she prepares to swap the Gulf of Thailand for the Gulf of Mexico.

What is your current city, and what’s your next stop?

Currently in Bangkok, Thailand. Next stop is Havana, Cuba.

Why did you choose Webster’s Global MA program?

I chose this program because I loved my study abroad experiences in undergrad and being able to complete my MA while studying in different regions of the world seemed like a valuable track for a program in International Relations.

Claire with some of her students in Thailand

Claire with some of her students in Thailand

Describe a memorable cultural experience that you’ve had after almost three terms in the program.

There have been so many memorable cultural experiences. In London we went to a QPR football game; it was such a contrast to sporting events in the States. Everybody was so focused on the match, not eating or drinking or talking. Those fans were impressive. Another great experience for me has been traveling to the Northern Province [in Thailand] where I previously lived and taught primary school. I was able to spend a few days with my former Thai students and friends and pal around my beloved village. I’ll get to go up there again before I leave Thailand. It’s one of my favorite places in the whole world with some of my favorite people and I love that I’m doing a graduate program that allows me to visit them!

What are some challenges that you have faced when trying to adapt to new cultures?

There’s always an element of “culture shock” when travelling and living abroad but I think some of the toughest challenges are the small things, not the screamingly obvious differences (like fried cricket snacks in food carts). Last term we were in Vienna. Most of the city was closed on Sundays — campus, shops, grocery stores, etc. At home, being able to access everything at all hours and days of the week makes even such a small thing difficult to get used to. It slows you down a little, which isn’t always a bad thing!

From left: Global students Sarah Laycock, Leon Forrest, Will Tobin, and Claire Mosby at Stonehenge

From left: Global students Sarah Laycock, Leon Forrest, Will Tobin, and Claire Mosby at Stonehenge

Academically speaking, what is the most enlightening part of the program?

The diversity of students in our classes is unique because we get broad spectrum of perspectives and ideas. As we move to each new campus we’re in class with students from different parts of the world [which] makes learning about International Relations more, well, international. We’ve for the most part had classes with around ten people in them that makes discussions more dynamic and our interactions with each other and the professors more meaningful and enlightening.

What are your plans for the future after you complete the GMAIR program?

I am interested in human rights, particularly human trafficking. I’ve been doing research and writing about this topic along the way in the program and I hope to work with the efforts of anti-trafficking in persons. I’m not sure where that will take me. Through professional seminars I’ve been able to see some organizations that work on that issue; a couple weeks ago here in Bangkok we visited the International Labor Organization’s regional office. So my plans are up in the air, but I have plenty of ideas and have gotten some useful exposure throughout the program.

Claire (left) with fellow Global student Sarah Laycock on a side-trip to Prague

Claire (left) with fellow Global student Sarah Laycock on a side-trip to Prague

What aspect of Cuba do you think will be the most exciting?

Everything about studying in Cuba seems like it will be exciting as we’re preparing to go there. People I know who have traveled there have wonderful things to say and I’m looking forward to getting there myself! It’s such a special opportunity to study in Cuba. I personally hope to explore the island and see as much as possible. We’ll have courses about US/Cuban Relations and Latin American Studies, so we’re in a great environment to learn those subjects. What I’m most looking forward to though is having the chance to form a better understanding of real Cuban life, aside from pure politics.

The Global MA program is still accepting applications to join our 2015-16 cohorts. For more information, visit, or contact Sarah Nandor at

Interview by Gracie Gralike.

Culture Connections: Magalí Finds Her Passion for Language Education at Webster

cultural connections bigger

Each month, Global Thinking will feature a “Cultural Connections” guest post written and curated by a member of the Department of International Languages and Cultures (ILC). This month’s post profiles Spanish language Teaching Assistant Magalí (Magui) López Cortez.

Magali on a visit to New York City

Magali on a visit to New York City

Magalí (Magui) López Cortez is the Spanish language teaching assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences. Originally from Buenos Aires, she grew up in San Rafael, Mendoza then moved to Mendoza City almost 6 years ago to attend university. As the Spanish teaching assistant, she teaches Spanish Elementary II and Intermediate I levels, as well as two workshops, in one of which the class reads and analyzes a novel. The two things Magalí loves most about St. Louis is its people and the arch. She says that everyone she has met has been very kind and helpful. The arch was love at first sight, and she feels that it is a perfect frame for the beautiful Mississippi River in the front and the city behind it. She also finds its history extremely engaging.

Magalí is part of a long-standing partnership between Webster and the Universidad de Cuyo in Argentina. She feels proud to be a part of this tradition and does her best to represent both her university and her country. It is a great exchange opportunity that she hopes continues, as it has enriched her enormously. This is an opportunity for which she is thankful to both Webster University and the Universidad de Cuyo.

Magali (left), Mika (center), and Nas (right) on the way to their first American Thanksgiving.

Magali (left), Mika (center), and Nas (right) on the way to their first American Thanksgiving.

Her experience here, both in the United States and at Webster, has been an adventure, and it is too hard for her to choose only one favorite memory.  But she says the faculty and staff are comfortable and supportive. Teaching has been the best, as she can take everything she learns here back to Argentina where she wishes to become a teacher. She says her students here are wonderful and show a great deal of interest in learning not only the Spanish language, but also the culture of Spanish-speaking countries. A definite plus is that she was able to travel to a couple different cities and participate in American traditions such as going to baseball and football games, tailgating, and spending Thanksgiving with an American family. All of this she has been able to share with the other TAs, building a nice multicultural family.


Magali on her 2014 trip to the Grand Canyon.

Magalí is looking forward to bringing back her experience in teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language at Webster to her home university. In the classroom, she has found a real passion for being an educator, in addition to learning about being a foreign language teacher. She is currently doing research on a dreaded part of grammar—the subjunctive.  She is writing a paper for her Argentine program, hoping to turn this “scary and hated” grammar concept into a friendlier part of speech. She feels that teaching your own language to non-native speakers gives you a better insight into it and of the difficulties that it poses. For Magalí, who loves linguistics, being a TA is an interesting and enriching experience.  As the educational systems between Argentina and the United States are different in many ways, too, she feels she is learning all the time. It has only been half of a year and Magalí has already learned so much and she cannot wait to finish the spring semester.

From left: 2015 TAs Magali, Nas, Mika, and Aori

From left: 2015 TAs Magali, Nas, Mika, and Aori

Summer Study Abroad in Athens, Greece

The view from Webster's site in Athens, Greece.

The view of the Acropolis from Webster’s site in Athens, Greece.

2510: Philosophic Classics: Ancient Greece and Rome
Summer Session 2 (June 29 – July 24, 2015), M-Th, 1:00 – 3:00pm
Athens, Greece

Spend this summer getting back to where it all began: Athens, Greece – one of the world’s oldest cities, the birthplace of democracy, and the philosophical hub that gave us the founders of Western Philosophy. PHIL 2510: Philosophic Classics will take you to Athens for a four-week exploration of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle on a campus nestled right below the Acropolis. Dr. David Carl Wilson will lead students in examining the intellectual context of these thinkers and the key themes in their work, with special attention to their ethical and political teachings. Outside the classroom, you and your fellow students will have opportunities to visit the historic sites that mattered most to these philosophers.

Airfare is available for eligible students taking 6 or more credits during the summer term in Athens! Webster University recommends pairing PHIL 2510: Philosophic Classics with PHIL 2080/RELG3050: Greek Mythology and Religion or ANTH 2100/ARHS 4600/SOCI3000: Greek Art and Architecture to take full advantage of your immersive study abroad experience in Greece.

For more information, visit or contact the Office of Study Abroad:
Toll Free: 800-984-6857
Main: 314-968-6988


Centre Francophone Film and Live Music Event Features World-Renowned Composer


Director Léon Poirier used actual soldiers who survived the Battle of Verdun to film Verdun, Visions of History.

Because of the political, social, economic and cultural impact it generated worldwide, the First World War is a singular event in the history of mankind. With 4.4 million soldiers mobilized and a financial contribution of 500 billion today, the United States played a major role in the Great War and the victory of the Triple Entente. The long French-American friendship was strengthened by this conflict.

Since September 2014, as part of the worldwide commemoration of the centenary of the First World War, the Cultural Service at the Consulate General of France in Chicago, in partnership with Midwest US partner institutions, is organizing a series of events aimed at raising general public awareness about the key issues of the First World War.

In that framework, the Cultural Service at the Consulate of France in Chicago has partnered with local institutions to present the Midwest tour of the ciné-concert Verdun, Visions of History  February 14-19, 2015. Presented with live piano accompaniment by internationally acclaimed French composer and pianist Hakim Bentchouala-Golobitch, who plays the original score by André Petiot, Verdun, Visions of History (1927) was directed by pioneering director and WWI veteran Léon Poirier (French, 1884–1968) about one of the most devastating battles of World War I—the Battle of Verdun in 1916. The tour comes to Webster University’s Winifred Moore Auditorium on February 15 at 7:00pm courtesy of Le Centre Francophone.

The Midwest tour was made possible thanks to a grant from the Institut français and the Mission du Centenaire 1914-1918 in Paris in partnership with the Cinémathèque de Toulouse and the Cultural Service at the Consulate General of France in Chicago.

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$1 million Endowment Donated for Biological Sciences Professorship

A student hard at work in one of Webster's biology labs

A student hard at work in one of Webster’s biology labs

Larry and Jinny Browning have donated $1 million to Webster University to establish the Laurance L. Browning, Jr. Endowed Professorship in Biological Sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences. The person hired for that new position will be tasked with elevating the study of biology in the community.

“This gift is an important step in enhancing our exemplary STEMM – science, technology, engineering, math and medicine – programs at Webster University, at the same time we make plans to construct the new Interdisciplinary Science Building,” said Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble, president of Webster University. “We know that our region needs more students educated in STEMM disciplines, and this generous donation from 2008 Webster University Visionary Honorees Larry and Jinny Browning will fortify Webster’s comprehensive effort to prepare our future leaders for these needs.”

In a written statement, Jinny Browning said her husband was a firm believer in the importance of science learning. He passed away in 2012. “Larry truly loved Webster. He always said, ‘You cannot have a good university without a good biological sciences program,’” the statement says. “It is a fitting legacy of Larry’s love of Webster to ensure exceptional academic leadership and student engagement in the biological sciences through the creation of an endowed professorship.”

Get the full story here.

HPIR Faculty Present on Magna Carta in London

From left: Dr. Gwyneth Williams, Dr. David Pennington, Lady Sophie Laws, Dr. Tom Russo

From left: Dr. Gwyneth Williams, Dr. David Pennington, Lady Sophie Laws, Dr. Tom Russo at the International Partners Conference, London. 

Faculty across the University are celebrating Webster’s centennial in 2015. For faculty in the Department of History, Politics, and International Relations, this year also marks another historic milestone: the octocentennial of Magna Carta.

Dr. David Pennington (Assistant Professor of History) and Gwyneth Williams (Professor of Political Science) traveled to London in January to participate in a symposium on Magna Carta at the International Partners Conference at Regents University/Webster University London. Professors Pennington and Williams were joined by Professor Tom Russo of Drury University and Lady Sophie Laws of Regents.

Professor Russo presented the political and intellectual context of the actual signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

Dr. Pennington’s presentation explored the importance of Magna Carta in the decades leading up to the English Civil War of 1642-1649. Parliament men and taxpayers’ belief that royal government ought to be limited by the liberties enshrined in Magna Carta severely hamstrung the early Stuart monarchs, leaving them unable to quell revolts in Scotland, Ireland, and ultimately, England itself.

Professor Williams focused on the symbolic meaning of the Magna Carta to American political thought, from the time of the first colonial settlements to the present. She emphasized the ways in which the American and British interpretations of the Magna Carta began to differ in the 18th century, resulting in the document ultimately having more symbolic importance to Americans than to the British.

While in London, Dr. Pennington spent several days in the British Library researching the diaries of members of the House of Commons from the year 1624 as part of a larger project which explores how political conflicts in Elizabeth and Stuart parliaments reshaped England’s political economy.

Dr. Williams attended the exhibition “Women Fashion Power” at the Design Museum in London, of which she is writing a review for the Journal of Fashion, Style, and Popular Culture. This exhibition explored the ways in which powerful women have used clothing to express their influence and sense of self.

“I really appreciate Webster’s willingness to fund these opportunities for professional development,” said Dr. Williams. “This is what makes us a truly global university.”

Good Fortune for Calamity: Playwriting Alumna wins $25k Grant

Lizz Edele, AKA Calamity West

Lizz Edele, AKA Calamity West

Many of Lizz Edele’s former classmates and professors at Webster know her by her pen name – “Calamity West.” But despite her pseudonym, things are looking up for Calamity: this fall, her work as a playwright earned her a $25,000 grant from 3Arts – a nonprofit in Chicago that advocates for the city’s women artists, artists of color, and artists with disabilities who work in the performing, teaching, and visual arts.

West was chosen as the 2014 3Arts Playwright Awardee from a pool of over 100 artists, each nominated by an anonymous member of the Chicago arts community. According to the 3Arts website, the grants come with a bevy of resources for the artists they support – workshops, mentorships, public exposure — but there are ultimately “no strings attached.” You’d expect an award of this caliber to really make an impression on its recipient, and it has. But for West, her experience at Webster still stands out as “the single most important and influential time of [her] life.”

“I literally wouldn’t be an artist without having graduated from Webster,” West says. “There’s never been a misfiring when connecting my current success to Webster University; the two will always be inextricably linked for me.”

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