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CCU Atheneum: Dan Abel gets up close and personal with a tiger shark in the Caribbean Sea.
Dan Abel gets up close and personal with a tiger shark in the Caribbean Sea.

Faculty, staff having fun in summer

by Derrick Bracey
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Yes, summer can be a drudge through humid air and unforgiving sun. But the summer can also be a season of exploration. This sense of discovery is alive and well with the faculty of Coastal Carolina University.

Some of CCU’s faculty reserve their summer months for adventures. Sometimes they venture out for academic reasons, sometimes the reasons are personal. Sometimes they volunteer their time and services to the environment or communities that are in need, both locally and abroad. Occasionally, it’s a combination of these reasons.

Here’s how a few of the CCU community spent their summer.

Abel swims with the fishes
Dan Abel, associate professor of marine science, seems most comfortable swimming around with sharks and sting rays. He started his summer in the Bahamas, teaching a course on the biology of sharks. “I took CCU students on a Maymester to the Bimini Biological Field Station in the Bahamas,” he says. “I not only lectured about sharks, we swam with and observed several species of sharks, including Caribbean reef sharks and blacktips.”

Abel has made this trip nearly 20 times since 1994. But there’s a reason he keeps taking this journey. “In the middle of a magical, star-filled Bahamas night, while we were about 3 miles offshore,” he says, “we caught an 11-foot tiger shark and observed it in the water.”

The following month, Abel and his wife flew to Southampton, U.K., where they boarded a ship for his third Semester at Sea. In the past, Abel has been aboard a Semesters at Sea that circumnavigated the globe. This year, he taught biology and led field trips in Morocco, Malta, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, France and Portugal, as they sailed around the rim of the Mediterranean over 66 days.

“The experience is intended to be transformative for students, but it is equally transformative for me,” Abel says. “I've been introduced to the best and worst of the world, amazing art and unfathomable poverty. I've celebrated my birthday on the Indian Ocean while hearing a surprise reading of an unpublished Jack Kerouac piece about the sea and adventure. I’ve observed a pod of humpback whales not 25 meters starboard. I’ve read ‘Jaws’ aloud at night over white shark migratory routes. I’ve gone on safari in Africa. I’ve seen the Sistine Chapel. I’ve drunk espressos throughout the world. This summer I swam with bluefin tuna in Malta.”

Port says ‘aloha’
Cynthia Port, an associate professor of English, traveled to Hawaii in May to participate in the Summer Freeman Institute on Japan Studies. The Institute is offered at the Hawaii Tokai International College in Honolulu and provides three weeks of intensive study of Japan’s history, politics, literature, language, business and arts.

“The primary purpose is to introduce faculty and administrators from colleges and universities around the world to all aspects of Japanese society,” Port says. “The goal is for these educators to begin incorporating Japanese studies into their courses.”

Port believes this experience can enrich CCU’s Department of English’s curricular offerings and contribute to an Asian studies minor. “Studying the culture of Japan will also enhance scholarly research on transnational approaches to the process of aging,” she says.

A large portion of the Institute is devoted to seminars about teaching various elements of Japanese culture. “But the Institute also included several demonstrations and workshops where these cultural experiences could be seen firsthand,” Port says.

M'Cormack returns to Sierra Leone
Assistant professor of health promotion Fredanna M’Cormack was born in Sierra Leone and traveled back to the turbulent country, accompanied by a student conducting an internship with the Sierra Leone chapter of the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa. “I know firsthand the horror and heartbreak that has occurred in my homeland since the 12-year civil war ended in 2002,” M’Cormack says.

The trip lasted about eight weeks. In addition to her assistance with the internship, M’Cormack used her time there to explore future opportunities for internships and research projects with various organizations in the region.

For Schwinke and Earnest, all the world’s a stage
Gwendolyn Schwinke, an assistant professor in the theatre department, ventured out in May to Soesterberg in the Netherlands to attend the Annual General Assembly of the International Feldenkrais Federation (IFF). The IFF is the professional association for the Feldenkrais Method of Movement Education – techniques that expand the human body’s ability to move more freely and without pain. At the assembly, Schwinke was elected secretary of the IFF board.

From there, Schwinke traveled to Berlin to observe the work of Familie Floz, a German theater company where the actors wear masks as they use mime, improvisation, physical comedy and humor to create a family-friendly show. She then followed the company to Italy to study the troupe’s work with masks.

In August, Schwinke returned to the U.S. for the annual conference of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association in Minneapolis. After the conference, the globe-hopper will head out to San Francisco for the annual conference of the Feldenkrais Guild of North America.

Professor of theatre Steve Earnest went to Porto Alegre, Brazil, for the 14th Symposium of the International Brecht Society, held at the Federal Universidad Rio Grande del Sul. He presented a paper dealing with the work of German director Frank Castorf.

Flaten and Case ask Thailand to say cheese!
Arne Flaten, chair of the Department of Visual Arts, accompanied Jeffrey Case, an assistant professor of graphic design, in leading students on CCU's first tour of northern Thailand during their Maymester abroad.

From Bangkok to the River Kwai, from Chang Mai to Chang Rai, students engaged with the culture, art, architecture, history and cuisine of Thailand. “Case is fluent in the Thai language,” Flaten says. “He was our intrepid leader through 1,000-year-old temple complexes, the king's palaces, elephant rides, a floating market, the colorful craziness of evening bazaars, and the frenetic traffic of modern Bangkok.”

Stegall and Jones take their talents to foreign stages
Professor of music Gary Stegall took May to travel overseas and tickle his piano keys in Vienna, Austria and Istanbul, Turkey. First, he performed a piano recital at Fac University in Istanbul, before going over to Vienna to play the new Yamaha Saal.

In June, assistant professor of music Jeffrey Jones also traveled to Austria to sing the baritone solos in both the Faure and Durufle Requiems. He performed with the Durango Choral Society at the New Cathedral (or Neuer Dom) in Linz, Austria.

Woodson and Bell recreate the “O” and play the Lombardis
John Woodson, teaching associate of theatre, directed nine of CCU’s BFA theatre students in a production of “This Wooden O,” a compilation of scenes and songs derived from the works of Shakespeare.

Woodson worked with Monica Bell, an associate professor of theatre, and Brookgreen Gardens to bring back the piece he helped create and performed back in the ’70s. “This Wooden O” was presented every Wednesday throughout the summer in Brookgreen Gardens.

In July, Woodson and Bell left the gardens behind for the Second Stages theatre in Buford, Ga. He played Vince Lombardi, and Bell was cast as Marie, Vince Lombardi’s wife, in a production of “Lombardi,” a play about the life and career of the legendary coach. The show did a run on Broadway in 2010.

Daoud monitors movements in Israel
Suheir Daoud, a lecturer of politics, not only traveled to Israel for field research, she also worked as an adviser and assistant for the Israeli Knesset (the legislature of Israel). She conducted interviews with politicians and other parties concerning the Islamic movement.

“My research explores the roots of the Islamic movement in Israel’s growth, and how its adaptations to the challenges it faces have contributed to its rising power,” Daoud says. “It will also examine whether the wave of Arab revolutions in the region is having an impact on the movement’s politics, performance and discourse.”

Walters makes a splash in local waters
Keith Walters, a professor of marine science, rallied his troops to protect the coast. He organized visiting researchers, his students, interns, volunteers and all the local businesses that participated in the Coastal Oyster Recycling and Restoration Initiative (CORRI), as they worked together to recover more than 15 tons of oyster shells, fill 1,200 bags with shell and return more than 1,000 bushels of shell to tidal creeks from Cherry Grove to North Inlet.

“These shell reefs will attract local fishes to the reefs,” Walters says. “The developments of these reefs are being studied by a national team of researchers from Florida, Louisiana, New York and South Carolina, as well as CCU’s undergraduate and graduate students.”

Kellogg gets blinded by science in Singapore
Kellogg is an assistant professor of English, but he spends his summers immersed in the subject of biology in Singapore. “I teach a graduate course at the National University of Singapore in the Department of Biological Sciences,” Kellogg says.

He created the course a few years ago to help develop a curriculum designed to help graduate students in the sciences learn to write better. “The challenges I face in Singapore help my teaching,” Kellogg says. “I find that instructing a range of students makes me a better teacher overall.”

Oh, the places they did go
Those aren’t the only adventurous members of the CCU faculty. For instance, Min Ye, assistant professor of politics, went to China and North Korea to continue his ongoing research in the areas of international relations, East Asian studies and political data analysis.

Richard Aidoo, assistant professor of politics and geography, put both of those disciplines to work when he spent four weeks in Ghana this summer studying Chinese investments in Ghana’s energy and oil sectors. “It was also fascinating to come across this new-age gold rush involving the Chinese and other nations who’ve come to southern Ghana in search of gold,” Aidoo says.

Aneilya Barnes, assistant professor of history, wandered among the ruins when she spent three weeks hopping around Rome, Istanbul and Cairo. “Largely, my travels were for personal enjoyment,” Barnes says. “But I was able to take a lot of good photos, which will be useful in the world history textbook I’m currently writing.”

The reasons for these adventures are many and varied, but there’s one constant at work here – CCU is on the move, both locally and globally.


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