Taking the Lead: Undergraduates to Present Collaborative Research


This Friday, April 18 in the University Center’s Sunnen Lounge, a select group of Webster undergraduate students will give presentations on the research projects they have undertaken in collaboration with Webster faculty. The conference is the first of its kind at Webster and is meant to showcase the undergraduate research opportunities afforded at the University, as well as the hard work of the students featured.

Students were chosen to present at the conference based on the “their hard work and dedication to a research topic that contributes to a broad and meaningful field.”

Dr. Goedereis

Dr. Goedereis

“Our students deserve a lot of credit for developing and pursuing this ambitious goal,” said Eric Goedereis, assistant professor of psychology and academic director of gerontology.

The American Association of Colleges and Universities identifies both collaborative projects and undergraduate research as “high-impact educational practices,” meaning that studies suggest such endeavors help increase student retention, engagement, and learning.

“The College of Arts & Sciences is committed to providing students with cooperative and exploratory educational experiences,” said Dean David Carl Wilson. “’Taking the Lead’ will allow the Webster community to see the fruits of that commitment, and the high-quality work our students do in the classroom on a daily basis and across all our disciplines.”

The conference begins with opening remarks by Dean Wilson and Provost Julian Schuster, followed by student research presentations on topics as diverse as solid state chemistry to The Sun Also Rises. Refreshments will be provided throughout the day, and conference activities will wrap up at 3:15pm with an awards ceremony and a celebratory reception. All members of the Webster community are welcome to attend.

Click through for the full conference schedule.
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Former A&S Advisory Board Chair and Board of Trustees Member Jane Robert Inducted into MO Sports Hall of Fame

Ms. Jane Robert

Ms. Jane Robert

To the Webster community, Jane Robert is many things: a proud alumna, a member of the University’s Board of Trustees, former Advisory Board chair for the College of Arts & Sciences, and the donor behind the Jane and Bruce Robert Endowed Professorship for French and Francophone Studies. But to several hundred former athletes on the Parkway West High School girls swim team, Ms. Robert is Coach Kelly – the coach who led the Longhorns to four state championship victories in 1974, 1977, 1978, and 1979. The Parkway West swimming program has won 23 state championships between 1968 and 2013, and in January of 2014, this incredible record earned them a spot in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

A group of girls at Parkway West first approached Ms. Robert – then Ms. Kelly, a French teacher – about helping them form a girls’ swim team in 1973. Ms. Robert did not have a background in competitive swimming but enjoyed the sport nonetheless: as a young woman, she loved swimming every summer with her family, and had earned a Red Cross life-saving swim skills badge as a Girl Scout. The girls were so eager and so motivated, Ms. Robert recalls, that she couldn’t turn them down. So Parkway West’s first girls’ swim team took to the water that year with Ms. Robert at the helm.

parkway west longhornsMs. Robert reached out to Dr. Lane Page, then coach of Parkway West’s boys’ swim team, for guidance in her new role. She recalls how helpful Dr. Page was in giving her resources – getting her a subscription to Swimmer’s World, for example, and having members of the boys’ team help the girls during practice. He gave Ms. Robert the piece of advice she used most in her coaching career: “if you just make the girls want to win, they’ll figure out how.”

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Thinking the Body: Webster’s Undergraduate Philosophy Conference Enters its 8th Year


“Mind over matter.”

“I think, therefore I am.”

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

“I am not my body.”



Most people are so comfortable with the idea that the mind and body are two different entities – an idea called mind/body dualism – that these common expressions don’t strike us as inaccurate. But for most contemporary philosophers, says Webster philosophy professor and interim department chair Dr. Kate Parsons, that distinction no longer rings true. Thought, Parsons suggests, is not just a mental phenomenon, and philosophy is more than “the life of the mind.”

From this modern vantage point comes “Thinking the Body,” the theme of Webster University’s 2014 undergraduate philosophy conference. The conference takes place on Saturday, April 5 at Webster’s main campus in St. Louis Missouri, and will feature peer-reviewed academic presentations by undergraduate philosophy students from universities around the country, as well as a keynote by philosopher Mark Johnson of University of Oregon. Each presentation engages somehow with the theme of the body as both a source of and a means of knowing.

Feminism and the Body



Though the theme of the conference varies year to year, “thinking the body” hearkens back to the conference’s beginnings in 2006 when a group of philosophy majors – many of them particularly interested in feminist philosophy – worked together to bring to life their idea for an undergraduate philosophy conference at Webster, headlined by keynote speaker and feminist philosopher Tina Chanter. Dr. Britt-Marie Schiller, philosophy department chair, notes that feminist philosophy addresses issues of the body often absent from the male-dominated traditional philosophical canon, and that many of the ideas up for discussion at that first conference in 2006 resonate with the notion of “thinking the body” in 2014.

Parsons agrees: “Philosophies of the body have profound implications for theoretical work on sex and gender. In fact, most of the leading accounts these days stem from attention to feminist concerns.”

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Students and Faculty in Biological Sciences Share Research at National Conference

Biological Sciences Student Anthony Fairman shares his research with a fellow AAAS Conference participant

Biological Sciences Student Anthony Fairman shares his research with a fellow AAAS Conference participant

In February, several Webster University students and faculty had the exciting opportunity to present their research at the Advancing Science, Serving Society (AAAS) meeting in Chicago, IL. At the AAAS Annual Meeting Conference, plenary lectures are given by world-renowned speakers, and the research posters are judged. The 2014 annual meeting theme focused on finding sustainable solutions that are most useful to society and economic growth. Webster professors in attendance were Mary Preuss, Victoria Kennerly-Brown and Ryan Groeneman. Five Biological Sciences students (Aaron McCrary, Anthony Fairman, Devin Ericson, Zachary Zurfluh-Cunningham and Katherine Kummer) were all in attendance as well.

Dr. Brown-Kennerly and Dr. Preuss are leading a small group of undergraduate students with a research project that focuses on several different fields including molecular biology, ecology, and bioinformatics. The main focus of this research is the Natural Area which is located on Webster’s home campus in St. Louis behind the parking garage. The area originally was a retention pond, but now the group is developing it into a natural area through cleanup efforts along with the introduction of native species and management of the grounds. Jeff DePew (an adjunct instructor in the department of Biological Sciences), facilities (led by Gil Morales) and the Sustainability Coalition (led by Brad Wolaver) have all worked together in this endeavor.

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IR Professor Nominated as Expert by UN Institute for Disarmament Research

Dr. Vautravers

Dr. Vautravers

Dr. Alexandre Vautravers, an international relations professor at Webster’s Geneva campus, has been nominated as an expert by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). A team of experts will meet for three workshops in Geneva, and produce an outcome document for the Conference on Disarmament (CD) and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Read more about Dr. Vautravers’ accomplishment here.

Webster University Signs Biotechnology Articulation Agreement with St. Louis Community College System

preuss classroom

Webster professor Mary Preuss, left, works with a biological sciences student

Webster University and St. Louis Community College (STLCC) entered into an articulation agreement this February, formalizing a process whereby students pursuing an AAS in Biotechnology at STLCC can easily transfer credits to earn a BS in Biological Sciences with an Emphasis in Research and Technology at Webster.

According to Christina Gilbert, Transfer and Articulation Coordinator in Webster University’s Office of Admissions, STLCC is the “top feeder” for Webster transfer students; more than 5700 students have transferred from the St. Louis Community College system to Webster in the past decade. The new articulation agreement will facilitate future transfers by clearly identifying course equivalences between STLCC’s biotechnology program and Webster’s BS in Biological Sciences with an Emphasis in Research and Technology, thereby offering a seamless transition for STLCC students who wish to apply their work toward an associate’s degree to their pursuit of a baccalaureate.



“An AAS degree prepares students to enter the workforce, and is typically not considered a ‘transfer degree,’” Gilbert explained. “Under this new agreement, Webster provides a path toward completing the Bachelor of Science with an Emphasis in Research & Technology, aimed to serve those students who may have changed career goals or are looking to further their career with an advanced degree.”

In addition to providing a clear and easy process for STLCC transfer students, the articulation agreement also gives Webster the opportunity to reach out to STLCC students who may be interested in a bachelor’s degree but unfamiliar with Webster’s science programming. To that end, Gilbert and members of Webster’s science faculty will visit a biotechnology classroom at STLCC later this month to help spread the word, and plans are in the works to connect STLCC biotech students to students in Webster’s Students for the Biological Sciences club for additional networking opportunities.

“This transfer articulation agreement further solidifies the strong, collaborative relationship between STLCC and Webster – two institutions which share a dedication to the quality of their students’ education,” said Danielle MacCartney, Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences’ Liberal Arts Division. “We are thrilled that STLCC biotech students will transfer to Webster with the background necessary to be successful graduates in Biological Sciences.”

Alumni Spotlight: GMAIR Graduate Dan Donovan Turns Passion into Action with African Community Advancement Initiative

ACAI Tanzania Country Director Bonus Caesar, left, Executive Director Daniel Donovan, center, and two Chumbi representatives

ACAI Tanzania Country Director Bonus Caesar (left), Executive Director Daniel Donovan (center) and two Chumbi representatives

On Tuesday, March 18 at 7:00pm in the University Center’s Sunnen Lounge, Webster alumnus Daniel Donovan returns to campus to give a presentation on African Community Advancement Initiative – a non-profit organization which works with communities in rural Africa to establish sustainable development programs for their citizens. Donovan founded ACAI after graduating from Webster’s Global MA in International Relations program in 2012. His presentation will feature a brief documentary on the ACAI’s Rufigi River Project – a program designed to spur development and curtail poverty in southeastern Tanzania – and provide information on volunteer and job opportunities within the organization. The event is free and open to the public.

African Community Advancement Initiative: “We must empower the people of these communities”

ACAI’s website explains that the organization was founded “in response to the alarming deficiencies of sustainable development in rural Sub-Saharan Africa” – deficiencies which result in large numbers of Sub-Saharan Africans suffering from extreme poverty, poor health, and highly limited access to resources. Donovan first became aware of the need for greater sustainable development in this part of the world through researching an assignment for Consultancy Africa Intelligence, an online African think-tank.

Chumbi farmers in an agricultural field

Chumbi farmers in an agricultural field

“I was assigned to write a policy piece on African farming and my research led me to the Green Revolution in Asia in the 1960s,” Donovan said. “I started looking into why such policies were never fully implemented or successful in Africa. I knew the harsh realities of small landholders in rural Sub-Saharan Africa, but I never knew that there was a way to fix it. I started doing more research and came up with the concept of partnering with rural farming communities and filling in the gaps in development in livelihood, education, and healthcare.”

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Writer, Historian Jefferson Cowie to Headline Panel Discussion on Issues of the 1970’s American Working Class

Jefferson Cowie, John Chappell, and Allan MacNeill will discuss the American working class in the 1970s at a free panel discussion on March 17 at Emerson Library

Webster University and The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis invite members of the community to an afternoon with writer and Cornell University historian Jefferson Cowie and Webster professors Dr. John Chappell and Dr. Allan MacNeill for a panel discussion on the economic and social upheavals of 1970’s America.

The panel discussion will take place at the Webster University Library (101 Edgar Road, Webster Groves, MO 63119) in the Emerson Conference Room #120 at 4:00pm on Monday, March 17. It is free and open to the public.

Mhari Sandoval as Elaine and Nancy Bell as Kat in Rebecca Gilman's "Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976"

Mhari Sandoval as Elaine and Nancy Bell as Kat in Rebecca Gilman’s “Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976″

The panel discussion occurs in conjunction with The Rep’s world premiere of Rebecca Gilman’s “Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976” and will explore issues raised by the play: labor disputes, the shrinking working class, and the evolution of economics and culture in a decade of dramatic change in America.

“Rebecca Gilman is one of the leading American playwrights of her generation,” said Seth Gordon, Associate Artistic Director at The Repertory Theatre St. Louis. “When putting Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976 together, she read Jefferson Cowie’s [book] Stayin’ Alive and it filled her with inspiration to write about this period of our history and how it so deeply affects the challenges we face today. We now have a wonderful opportunity to explore the play, written by one of the leaders of her field, and the book, written by one of the leaders of his, and see just how they complement each other. It should be a very engaging, lively discussion.”

"Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class"

“Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class”

Jefferson Cowie holds the ILR Dean’s Professor Chair at Cornell University, where he teaches courses on labor relations, law, and history. His most recent book Stayin’ Alive: The 1970′s and the Last Days of the Working Class (2012, The New Press) was called “the most groundbreaking and original national history of a working class since E.P. Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class” (New Politics) and won both the 2011 Francis Parkman Prize for the Best Book in American History and the Merle Curti Award for the Best Book in Social and Intellectual History. Cowie also edits Dissent, a political journal established in 1954, and has appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition and other media outlets.

John Chappell serves as chair of Webster’s Department of History, Politics, and International Relations. He earned his doctorate from Indiana University, and specializes in post-1945 American history.

Allan MacNeill is a professor in Webster’s Department of History, Politics, and International Relations. He earned his doctorate from the University of Massachusetts, and specializes in economic history and political economy.

“Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976” runs March 12-30 at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves, MO 63119). Call (314) 968-4925 for tickets. More information about the play at www.repstl.org.

Tango Takes the Stage: Mauro Peralta to Lead Free, On-Campus Workshop on Argentinian Tango

Tango Takes the Stage: Mauro Peralta to Lead Free, On-Campus Workshop on Argentinian Tango

Mauro Peralta teaches tango in St. Louis and around the world.

At noon on February 25, professional tango dancer Mauro Peralta will bring his talent to the University Center’s Sunnen Lounge for the third installment of “Dance to a Different Beat” – an event series hosted by Webster’s Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs (MCISA) department.

The series, comprised of workshops highlighting dance styles from around the world, is meant to “give our students an opportunity to diversify their dance experience,” said Bethany Keller, MCISA’s assistant director.  Last September, sophomore dance major Kevin Hamilton shared his hip hop skills at the first workshop. Members of Soorya Performing Arts, a nonprofit organization supporting and promoting Indian art forms in the St. Louis area, came to Webster in November to teach students various styles of traditional Indian dance. Next week, Peralta will give a performance of the Argentine Tango and provide free lessons to interested attendees afterward.

Peralta’s visit comes courtesy of numerous Webster organizations: MCISA, the Department of International Languages and Cultures (ILC), the Center for International Education, the Latin American Student Organization, and the Dance Club. Mercedes Stephenson, adjunct faculty in ILC, called the workshop “a truly collaborative effort.”

Mercedes Stephenson

Mercedes Stephenson

“ILC came up with the idea and then we fit it in the Multicultural Center programming,” Stephenson said. “Once we proposed it, we thought about the Dance Department, since it would be a natural fit for them. As a result, we formed a team composed of ILC, [the] Multicultural Center, [the] Dance Department, and also the Center for International Studies. All of them offered financial support, as well as LASO (Latin American Student Organization).”

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Webster’s First Endowed History Scholarship Honors Dr. Michael Salevouris

Dr. Salevouris taught in Webster's Department of History, Politics, & International Relations for forty-one years before retiring in 2011.

Dr. Salevouris taught in Webster’s Department of History, Politics, & International Relations for forty-one years before retiring in 2011.

In the fall of 2014, Webster will welcome to campus the first recipient of the Michael J. Salevouris Endowed Scholarship for History. The scholarship honors the lasting impact  that Dr. Salevouris, a former professor of European History in the department of history, politics, and international relations, had on his colleagues and students during his forty-one year tenure at Webster.

Dr. Salevouris is the author of "The Methods and Skills of History: A Practical Guide"

Dr. Salevouris is the author of “The Methods and Skills of History: A Practical Guide”

Dr. Allen Carl Larson, a former professor of music in Webster’s Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts, and his wife, Debra Mack Larson, spearheaded the effort to establish a scholarship befitting Dr. Salevouris’ legacy. With help from a group of Dr. Salevouris’ family and friends, the Larsons were able to pay tribute to their colleague by providing financial aid for a full-time undergraduate student studying history – the discipline Dr. Salevouris loved. “Students in the College of Arts & Sciences who display serious scholarly effort in historical inquiry shall be the proud recipients of Salevouris Scholarship funds for years to come,” Dr. Larson said.

The Larsons speak fondly of Dr. Salevouris as “an exemplary figure of academic excellence and dedication to his students for over forty years.” Citing his involvement in numerous faculty committees, his well-regarded publication record, and his concern for his students, the Larsons believe Dr. Salevouris “embodies the Webster tradition of faculty-wide participation in the life of the institution.”

Mr. Justin Blandford, Class of '99

Mr. Justin Blandford, Class of ’99

Justin Blandford is a member of the College of Arts & Sciences’ advisory board and a 1999 Webster history program alum whose education Dr. Salevouris helped shape during Mr. Blandford’s time at the university. “Dr. Salevouris genuinely cares about students and their ability to understand change over time, which is what history is all about,” Mr. Blandford said. “His commitment to learning from the past has made a lasting impression on the way countless individuals see the world and engage with it.” Now, through the Michael J. Salevouris Endowed Scholarship for History, Dr. Salevouris will continue to impact history students in a new and fitting way.

Former students, faculty, staff, and friends are encouraged to contribute to the scholarship fund in Dr. Salevouris’ honor. Contributions may be made online at www.webster.edu/giving. Please enter your gift amount at “gift amount,” choose “select the fund(s) for your gift,” and enter “Michael J. Salevouris Endowed Scholarship for History” for the “other” designation listed at the bottom of the pop-up screen. For more information, you may also contact Cathy Sullivan, development officer for the College of Arts and Sciences, at (314) 968-7124 or csullivan15@webster.edu.