Faculty Scholarship Celebration showcases work by 41 Norwich professors and instructors

A crossdisciplinary trio of Norwich University professors will present virtual talks Friday to culminate this week’s Faculty Scholarship Celebration.

The four-day celebration, in its 18th year, highlights work by 41 Norwich University faculty and staff that was published or presented over the past year from August 2019 to September 2020. The Faculty Senate Library Committee collaborated with the Office of Academic Research and Kreitzberg Library to organize the event.

From noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Dr. Seth Frisbie, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and Dr. Michael Prairie, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, will present “A Multidisciplinary Lab Project Goes International for Low-Cost Drinking-Water Quality Testing,” and Dr. Lea Williams, an English professor, will share insights from her new biography “Ellen N. La Motte: Nurse, Writer, Activist.”

The four-day celebration, in its 18th year, highlights work by 41 Norwich University faculty and staff that was published or presented over the past year from August 2019 to September 2020.

— Nurse, writer, activist: Williams, who joined Norwich’s faculty in 1996 and serves as English and Communications Department chairwoman, will discuss her book on La Motte (1873-1961), published this year.

Williams will discuss La Motte, who entered the Johns Hopkins Training School for Nurses in Baltimore in 1898 and developed as a nurse, writer, and activist as she moved toward her 1902 graduation. La Motte’s many published writings cover tuberculosis-fighting nursing, World War I nursing, women’s suffrage and the opium trade.

Williams first wrote about La Motte, along with several other American and British wartime nurses, while working on her dissertation on women at war. Williams received an H-15 grant from the American Association for the History of Nursing in 2014 to continue researching La Motte’s life and writings.

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Dr. Lea Williams, who joined Norwich’s faculty in 1996 and serves as English and Communications Department chairwoman, will discuss her book “Ellen N. La Motte: Nurse, Writer, Activist.” (Photo by Mark Collier.)

“Studying La Motte’s life and works helps us to understand ... how women used nursing as a way of inserting themselves into public conversations about topics they saw as related — the vote and politics, for example,” Williams told the Norwich Record alumni magazine in spring 2015.

In an August review of Williams’ book, Dr. Kate Law of the University of Nottingham in England wrote that La Motte’s story of fighting tuberculosis offered an instructive parallel to fighting the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Law wrote that La Motte fought tuberculosis by asserting the importance of community over individual and advocating for surveilling and, if necessary, isolating tubercular patients. La Motte also recommended removing advanced cases to sanitoria to thwart the disease’s spread.

“In the United States, public health recommendations such as masking have been politicized,” Law wrote. “Measures that should be unquestionably followed to protect the larger community have thereby been twisted into assaults on individual liberty.”

— Safe to drink: Frisbie and Prairie will discuss research they collaborated on that was published in January in the science journal PLoS ONE. The research described developing an affordable light-emitting diode spectrophotometer to test drinking water. The professors collaborated with Erika J. Mitchell, Frisbie’s research partner and wife, and Anyamanee H. Saksri, K. Kesava Rao and Shreyas Parbat.

The research describes light-emitting diode spectrophotometers, gadgets that measure concentrations of chemical contaminants in drinking water. The LED spectrophotometers, which can be powered by a 6-volt motorcycle battery, cost $63 for parts. By contrast, four commercial spectrophotometers that the LED gadgets were tested against in U.S. and India-based trials, cost $2,424 to $7,644.

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Dr. Seth Frisbie, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry collaborated with Dr. Michael Prairie, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, on developing a low-cost light-emitting diode spectrophotometer. (Screenshot from video by Ronny DiMasi.)

In a video, Frisbie and Prairie discuss their project with Susan Murcott, who teaches water and wastewater engineering in developing countries at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

“We’re ... in an electronics lab and this ends up being a really nice project," Prairie says in the video, showing a basic spectrophotometer Frisbie and chemistry students have worked on. “Because our students are going to get a chance to take it from this state here, and do some design work to clean up ... the electronics and put it into a robust printed electronic circuit board and give (researchers) something that’s going to be a little more robust and won’t fall apart in the field.”

Frisbie and Mitchell in November 2019 published a PLoS ONE article on how outdated U.S. regulations for manganese in infant formula and toddler nutritional drinks potentially put children at risk. The study analyzed manganese levels in 44 varieties of infant formula and toddler nutritional beverages sold in the United States and France and found that manganese concentrations were 32 to 1,000 times greater in those products than levels reported in human breast milk.

Click here to see the talks by Williams, Frisbie and Prairie.

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As in previous years, the Faculty Scholarship Celebration’s highlighted work includes:

  • Books, chapters, journal articles, poetry, or fiction that have undergone editorial or peer review before publication
  • ­Editorial work
  • Juried art shows
  • Encyclopedia and reference work entries
  • Presentations/papers/posters delivered at professional or scholarly conferences
  • Extended review essays, or overviews of the state of scholarship for peer-reviewed journals
  • Faculty–student summer research fellowship projects.

Faculty and staff showcasing work are Addie Armstrong, Natalia Blank, Lisa Chalidze, Kate Donley, Heather Driscoll, Richard Dunn, David Ebenstein, Cathy Frey, Seth Frisbie, Lyndsey Gates, Brian Glenney, Emily Gray, Laurie Grigg, Elizabeth Gurian, Connie Hassett-Walker, Karen Hinkle, Llynne Kiernan, Yangmo Ku, Tara Kulkarni, Kyle Lincoln, Carl Martin, Sophia Mizouni, Daniel Morris, Susan Nevins, Darlene Olsen, Maria Payares-Asprino, Simon Pearish, Jay Petrillo, Robert Poodiack, Michael Prairie, Sean Prentiss, Edwin Schmeckpeper, Thomas Shell, Steven Sodergren, Judith Stallings-Ward, Lasha Tchantouridze, Kaitlin Thomas, David Ulbrich, Lea Williams and Amy Woodbury Tease.

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