Feature Stories Campus Events

Hurd to Give Herwick Professorship Inaugural Lecture

Lawrence E. Hurd, professor of biology at Washington and Lee University, will give the Herwick Professor in Biology Inaugural Lecture on Tuesday, March 3, at 7 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library. Hurd was named to the professorship last fall 2008.

The title of his talk is “Nature, Red in Tooth and Claw: A Predatory Life.” It is free and open to the public.

Hurd joined the Washington and Lee faculty in 1993 as a full professor and served as head of the biology department for 15 years. Previous to this he was a professor of biology at the University of Delaware for 20 years. He is currently editor in chief of the Annals of the Entomological Society of America and fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London.

Hurd has authored more than 90 publications in journals including Science, American Naturalist, Ecology, Environmental Entomology and Animal Behaviour. He is also co-editor of “The Praying Mantids” (Johns Hopkins Press, 1999).

Hurd’s current research interests include tropical biodiversity, indicator species and human coexistence with nature; plant community succession and arthropod consumer diversity; and what regulates predator populations. A graduate of Hiram College, Hurd received his Ph.D. from Syracuse University.

The John T. Herwick, M.D., Professorship in Biology was created in 2008 by Dr. John T. Herwick, W&L Class of 1936, and his wife, Mary T. Herwick, as a memorial to Oscar E. and Edith D. Herwick, Dr. Herwick’s parents. The donors’ gift honors William Dana Hoyt, Ph.D., W&L professor of biology from 1920 to 1945, who was Dr. Herwick’s professor from 1932 to 1936.


W&L’s German and Russian Department to Perform Foreign Language Plays

The Brothers Grimm and the Brothers Karamazov will take their turns this week on the Troubadour stage. Generalprobe, in its eighteenth year of performing German language comedy at Washington and Lee, will present Märchenwald II on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, March 5-7 at 7:30 p.m., in the Troubadour Theater.

Both student productions are free and the public is invited. Märchenwald will be performed in German and The Brothers Karamazov in Russian. English synopses will be provided. The Troubadour is located at the corner of Main and Henry Streets.

Building on the success of the first Märchenwald performance in 2005, faculty and students have dramatized five Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales: Snow White, The Golden Goose, Cat-Skin, King Thrush Beard and The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs. Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm narrate from the stage, composing the tales as the actors act them out. But the authors do not always have the situation under complete control, and the whims of the actors contribute to creative changes in the plot.

On Wednesday, March 11, W&L students studying the Russian language will take over the Troubadour stage for The Brothers Karamazov. Accomplished playwright/director Anna Rodionova has created a condensed dramatic version of Dostoevsky’s most famous novel for fourteen characters that features the most important scenes from the narrative underscored with Gypsy music. Intermittent English commentary will aid non-Russian speakers in understanding the plot. Anna Rodionova is directing her eighth Russian play at W&L.


W&L Biologist’s Research Aims to Help Yellowstone Bison, Elk

What’s a bottle of Roundup Weed and Grass Killer doing in Yellowstone National Park?

It turns out that Roundup might be one of the most important tools in the battle invasive plant species that threaten one of America’s last native prairie grasslands, home to bison, elk and pronghorn antelope.

In 2005, Bill Hamilton, associate professor of biology at Washington and Lee University, took 11 W&L students to Yellowstone during the spring term as part of a pilot project to investigate the interactions of bison and elk with grasses and soil microbes. The results of that pilot project helped define an experiment conducted in the summer of 2005. The results were published in Soil Biology & Biochemistry with Paul Hinchey of the Class of 2006 listed as a co-author along with colleagues at Syracuse University.

In the spring of 2007, Hamilton led another team of students to Yellowstone where they investigated the effects of invasive mustard species. The results from these experiments were so intriguing that the National Park Service postponed a grasslands restoration project so Hamilton could gather more data. He is returning this spring with yet another student research team to work with NPS and USDA scientists on the start of a five-year grassland restoration project.

“One of the basic questions grassland ecologists ask is why do grasses re-grow?” said Hamilton. “For the longest time we thought it was a simple case of animal fertilizers — nitrogen. Animals run around; they pee and plants grow. You can see a link between a urine hit and plant growth. But that’s just part of the story, because it doesn’t explain why you can find lots of nitrogen in the soil in the absence of grazers. It turns out there’s something going on belowground that stimulates new growth as well.”

Bison, often called the ecosystem engineers of Yellowstone’s grasslands, play an important role in stimulating new growth. In the spring, like lawnmowers, they remove dead plant tissue from the previous summer, allowing fresh green grass to grow. Bison also trample dead tissue into smaller fragments that are broken down further down by soil micro-arthropods and microbes.

In previous studies, scientists have observed that grazing causes grasses to release carbon into the soil. “What happens is that when some species of grasses get eaten, it triggers a response mechanism that sends a flush of carbon into the soil,” explained Hamilton. “The higher concentration of carbon stimulates soil microorganisms that further break down organic matter, helping cycle nutrients through the ecosystem. As discussed in our Soil Biol & Biochem paper, we’ve documented this in the lab and have also seen this feedback system at work in some grass species in the field.”

Knowing that bison and prairie grasses depend on one another, Hamilton focused next on what happens when an invasive species — a mustard species, in this case — appears in a natural setting like Yellowstone. The question he asked was: “Does an invasive species break down that interaction between grazer, plant and microbe?” The answer seems to be yes, and the consequences for grazers such as bison are serious.

He and his students have been studying soil samples from the Gardiner Basin, located in the upper northwest corner of Yellowstone. “This is a prime winter range for bison, elk and pronghorn deer,” Hamilton said. “The problem is that these grasslands have been completely overgrown by mustard, and the animals, bison in particular, are wandering beyond the protection of Yellowstone’s borders in search of new pastures.” Rangers chase first-time wanderers back into Yellowstone. Second-time offenders are sent to slaughter. Last year approximately 3,000 bison were sent to slaughter.

What he and his students discovered is that mustard inhibits the growth of microbes in the soil. “You cannot find native grasses in the presence of mustard,” Hamilton noted. “There’s something going on that disrupts the chemistry between the native grasses and the microorganisms in the soil.”

The solution is to restore the grassland, first by killing the mustard with Roundup, planting barley to stabilize the soil and then planting a native species mix the following year.

If that process seems like a lot of work for a few thousand large herbivores, Hamilton argues it’s well worth the effort. “Other than Ted Turner’s ranch, the only genetically pure bison left in the U.S. are in Yellowstone and Wind Cave National Park. Herbivores impact how grasses grow, and without them, you change the entire ecosystem.”

So despite the tough conditions Hamilton and his students endured in Yellowstone — snow and 30-degree nights — he looks forward to returning. “I like working on this project, because I can do all this neat research with my students,” he said. “But it’s really great to be able to work on a project that has relevance. This is something the Park Service itself wants done because bison aren’t allowed to leave the Yellowstone, and the pronghorn population is in decline. So even though restoring these grasslands has merit from a purely ecological standpoint, it needed this political pressure to get the funding. Otherwise it wouldn’t get done at all.”


Senior Vice President of The Coca-Cola Company to Speak at W&L

Ingrid Saunders Jones, senior vice president of The Coca-Cola Company, chairperson of The Coca-Cola Foundation and senior vice president of Global Community Connections, will present a lecture on Thursday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater in Washington and Lee University’s Elrod Commons.

The title of Jones’ talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Corporate Responsibility and Philanthropy and How It Relates to the Public Image of Coca-Cola.” Jones, who will be the Williams School Executive-In-Residence on March 5 and 6, will also meet with faculty and students during her visit to campus.

The Global Community Connections is The Coca-Cola Company’s global community engagement function. Under Jones’ leadership, the Global Community Connections works to make a unique and sustainable difference everywhere The Coca-Cola Company sells products, one community at a time. The four priorities they focus on are water stewardship (conservation and sanitation), fitness and active lifestyles (physical fitness and nutrition), sustainable packaging (recycling) and education.

As chair of the foundation, Jones leads the Company’s philanthropic commitment to sustainable communities. Under her leadership, The Coca-Cola Foundation has contributed more than $256 million to education and other community initiatives. The Foundation continues to provide scholarships to high school students from across the country.

Additionally, she serves on the board of The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.

A teacher by training, Jones’ commitment to education and community development extends beyond the doors of the Coca-Cola corporate headquarter. She is a board member of Clark Atlanta University, the Carter Center, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, The Ohio State University President’s Council on Women and the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

She received her bachelor’s degree in education at Michigan State University and a master’s degree in education at Eastern Michigan University.


2009 Spring Speakers Series Topic is “George Washington and Robert E. Lee”

The 2009 Spring Speakers Series at Washington and Lee University, titled George Washington’s and Robert E. Lee’s Rise to Prominence and Legacy, will present speakers comparing and contrasting various aspects of the lives of these great men.

The first event will be held on Sunday, March 8, at 2 p.m. in Lee Chapel. All presentations are free and open to the public. The series is sponsored by the Lee Family Digital Archive, Lee Chapel and Museum and W&L’s history department.

The topic of the first talks, presented by Peter R. Henriques and William J. Miller, will be Preludes to Greatness: The Making of George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Henriques, professor of history emeritus at George Mason University, is the author of Realistic Visionary: A Portrait of George Washington and The Death of George Washington: He Died as He Lived.

Miller, who teaches at Stuart Hall School in Staunton, Va., is the author of Mapping for Stonewall: The Civil War Service of Jed Hotchkiss, Great Maps of the Civil War: Pivotal Battles and Campaigns Featuring 32 Removable Maps and the three-volume The Peninsula Campaign of 1862.

The other two events in the series will be on March 22 and April 5. Event titles and speakers for the rest of the 2009 Speakers Series, all at 2 p.m. and in Lee Chapel, are:

March 22-Farewell to the Armies: Success and Defeat will be given by Edward G. Lengel, associate editor of the papers of George Washington at U.Va. and author of General George Washington: A Military Life and This Glorious Struggle: George Washington’s Revolutionary War Letters; and James Holmes Armstead, author and professor of strategy and international law emeritus at the United States Naval College. He is currently a visiting professor at VMI.

April 5-Measures of the Men: Now They Belong to the Ages will be presented by Jack D. Warren Jr., executive director of the Society of the Cincinnati in Washington, D.C., and author of The Presidency of George Washington; and Charles F. Bryan Jr., president emeritus of the Virginia Historical Society, co-author of Eye of the Storm: A Civil War Odyssey, Images from the Storm and Facts and Legends of the Hills of Richmond.

The Lee Family Digital Archive is an online repository of the collected papers of the Lee Family of Virginia, and when complete, will make it possible to read from anywhere in the world virtually any Lee Family document known to survive. For more information, see leearchive.wlu.edu.


Medical Ethics Institute Keynote Speaker is Duke Professor Gopal Sreenivasan

Gopal Sreenivasan, Crown Professor of Ethics at Duke University, will deliver the keynote address at the Washington and Lee University Medical Ethics Institute on Friday, March 13, at 4:30 p.m. in Huntley Hall, room 221.

The title of Sreenivasan’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Ethics and Epidemiology: Residual Health Inequalities.”

“Inequalities in health are intuitively unjust,” said Sreenivasan, when describing his lecture. “Some of these health inequalities are plausibly seen as the effects of other independent injustices in income. But what if other health inequalities remain, even after the rest of social justice had been achieved? Would these residual health inequalities also be unjust? And why?”

Sreenivasan’s work in bioethics has concentrated mainly on questions of distributive justice and health, both domestically and internationally, as well as the ethics of informed consent. He has published articles on a wide range of other topics in moral, political and legal philosophy including rights, democracy, judicial review, international agreements, global distributive justice, cross-cultural ethics and moral psychology.

Before joining Duke, Sreenivasan taught at Princeton University and the University of Toronto. He also was a senior fellow in the Department of Clinical Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health for two years.

Sreenivasan is the author of one book, The Limits of Lockean Rights in Property (Oxford University Press) and Emotion and Virtue is forthcoming from the Princeton University Press. He also has written 15 articles and multiple book chapters, review essays and commentaries.

Sreenivasan received his B.A. jointly in economics and philosophy from McGill University, his B.Phil. in philosophy from the University of Oxford and his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley.

The Medical Ethics Institute is sponsored by the W&L Society and the Professions Program in Ethics.


USA Today Supreme Court Reporter Joan Biskupic to Speak at W&L

Joan Biskupic, Supreme Court reporter at USA Today, will bring her considerable expertise and experience to Stackhouse Theater in Elrod Commons on Wednesday, March 18, at 5 p.m. for a talk entitled, “Antonin Scalia vs. Sandra Day O’Connor: Dueling Supreme Court Legacies.”

The talk is free and open to the public and will be followed by a book signing outside the theater.

Biskupic has been following, reporting on and writing about the Supreme Court for 20 years. She covered the court for the Washington Post from 1992 to 2000 and was legal affairs writer for Congressional Quarterly from 1989 to 1992. In 2007, she was a featured commentator in the 2007 PBS series “The Supreme Court” and is a frequent guest on the PBS TV show, “Washington Week,” commenting on legal issues of the day.

Biskupic has written several books, including the 2005 legal biography, “Sandra Day O’Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice.” She is currently working on a biography about Justice Antonin Scalia, tentatively scheduled to be published next fall.

While she was writing about the law, Biskupic also was studying it, getting a law degree from Georgetown University in 1994. (She’s now a member of the D.C. Bar.) She also has a master’s in English from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor’s in journalism from Marquette University. A Chicago native, Biskupic began her reporting career in the 1970s at the Milwaukee Journal, where she covered local government.

Along with the O’Connor book — which the Washington Post called “a powerful and persuasive account” and the New Republic described as “a superbly thorough and perceptive biography” — Biskupic has written or co-written several legal references, including Congressional Quarterly’s two-volume encyclopedia on the Supreme Court. She won the 1991 Everett Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting on Congress for her coverage of the Clarence Thomas hearings.

Biskupic’s visit is made possible by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nev., the Reynolds Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.


CNN Reporter to Speak on “Women in TV News” at W&L

CNN reporter Carol Costello will bring stories about her experiences with hurricanes, disasters and more when she gives a talk, “Women in TV News,” on Thursday, March 12, at 5:00 p.m. at Washington and Lee University’s Stackhouse Theater in the Elrod Commons.

Costello knows something about hurricanes. In her eight years as a reporter with CNN, she has covered Katrina, Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne–not to mention the massacre at Virginia Tech, the Asian tsunami and the Russian school hostage shoot-out.

Disasters, however, are not the only highlights of Costello’s lively broadcasting career. Currently a contributor to CNN’s weekday show, “American Morning,” Costello has interviewed presidents, given fitness tips to millions of viewers and run through the streets of Atlanta carrying the Olympic torch.

Costello has hosted many of CNN’s programs and contributed to “The Situation Room.” She joined CNN in 2001 from WJLA-TV in Washington, where she’d worked five years as an anchor and investigative reporter. Before that, she spent three years at WBAL-TV in Baltimore as an anchor and co-anchor. She began her career as a weekend anchor and reporter for WAKR-TV in Akron, Ohio, and WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio. She earned a degree in journalism from Kent State University.

Costello’s honors include a 1991 Emmy Award for a special on crack and cocaine, a UPI award, several Associated Press awards and an Emmy nomination in 1993.

Costello’s visit is funded by the Office of the Dean of the College and the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.


Law Dean Elected to Board of Governors of Virginia Bar

Original story at:
http://law.wlu.edu/news/storydetail.asp?id=506.


W&L Negotiations Teams Finishes Fourth at National Championships

Original story at:
http://law.wlu.edu/news/storydetail.asp?id=509.