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Faculty Seminars


The following information reflects Commencement 2016 details.

Open Seating - Tickets are not required.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Vanderbilt faculty members will discuss their research in seminars open to graduates, families and guests. There will be an open Q&A session for the last 15 minutes of each session. 

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

103 Wilson Hall

Doug Clark DOUG CLARK : What Digital Games Tell Us About Motivation, The Future of Education, and You

Doug Clark's research investigates the learning processes through which people come to understand core science concepts. This work focuses primarily on conceptual change, explanation, collaboration, and argumentation. Clark's research often explores these learning processes through the design of digital learning environments and games. Much of this research focuses on public middle school and high school students in classroom settings. Clark’s work has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Education, and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation.

Clark is the principal investigator on the EGAME grant from the National Science Foundation and the EPIGAME grant from the Department of Education. These grants explore designs for integrating the rich intuitive understandings players develop through popular game-play mechanics with explicit formal understandings that players can apply and transfer across other contexts. Clark is also a co-principal investigator on the NSF CTSim grant exploring the integration of argumentation, modeling, and programming to support science learning.

126 Wilson Hall

Ifeoma IFEOMA NWANKWO : Cultivating Innovation through Intergenerational Wisdom

The Wisdom Working Group (WWG) is rooted in the idea that older adults are lifelong innovators and experiential researchers whose informal findings can prove invaluable to Vanderbilt’s project of solving “problems of importance to society” through discovery and learning. The WWG’s guiding questions are:

  • How can researchers, medical professionals, educators, and senior-serving agencies better identify and understand the sociocultural aspects of mental health–promoting behaviors of older adults, especially in underserved communities, and translate that understanding into policies, programs, and curricula?
  • How can intra-curricular and co-curricular collaborations with older adults enhance undergraduate, graduate, and professional education at Vanderbilt and beyond?
  • How can close reading older adults’ autobiographical portfolios help medical students and other healthcare providers-in-training to better contextualize and better treat their patients, including especially their older adult patients and patients from traditionally underserved communities?

Ifeoma Kiddoe Nwankwo (Ph.D., Duke University) is Director of the Program in American Studies and Associate Professor of English in the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt University. Her work centers on the impact of the peoples of the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean on each other’s identities, particularly as they surface in literary texts, oral narratives, popular music, and film. Her publications include Black Cosmopolitanism: Racial Consciousness, and Transnational Identity in the Nineteenth-Century Americas; “Bilingualism, Blackness, and Belonging: The Racial and Generational Politics of Linguistic Transnationalism in Panama,” “Langston Hughes and the Translation of Nicolas Guillen’s Afro-Cuban Culture and Language,” and “Race and Representation in the Digital Humanities: An Inter-American Case Study.” Kiddoe Nwankwo’s edited volumes include Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World (co-edited with Mamadou Diouf, Columbia University) and African Routes, Caribbean Roots, Latino Lives. Her other innovative projects use community-engaged research methodologies alongside literary critical ones to analyze and advance intercultural and intergenerational relations. These projects include Voices from Our AmericaTM, an international public scholarship project that uses semi-structured interviews, autobiography and art production, along with archival research to uncover new aspects of communities’ histories then draws on those new sources to develop and run workshops and other programs for K-12 teachers, older adults, and youth and The Wisdom of the Elders, an initiative focused on revealing and recognizing older adults’ life- and soul- sustaining wisdoms and productively incorporating them into K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and professional education.

3:15 – 4:15 p.m.

103 Wilson Hall


BRIAN O. BACHMANN: How low will we go for antibiotics and cancer drugs? Caves as an untapped source of new therapeutics

When you think about caves, your first thoughts might not include microbes and antibiotics, but these isolated and starved environments may hold the key to better understanding the long battle with drug resistant bacteria. As the Principal Investigator of the Vanderbilt Laboratory for Biosynthetic Studies, Dr. Brain Bachmann leads a multidisciplinary group working on the construction and deconstruction of biosynthetic pathways and the discovery of their products. The impact of this lab’s work include providing new avenues for drug discovery by combinatorial biosynthesis and “green” cost-effective ways of producing high-value products and intermediates for pharmaceutical and life sciences.

 Dr. Brian O. Bachmann received his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University in 2000 and is an associate professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Prior to arriving at Vanderbilt University, Professor Bachmann was Director of Chemistry at Ecopia Biosciences, a natural product-based drug discovery company in Montreal, Quebec. Professor Bachmann has served as a scientific consultant for multiple corporations, and as a Board of Directors member. He holds several U.S. and international publications and patents.

126 Wilson Hall

Doug Shadle

DOUG SHADLE  : When Beethoven Met Santa Claus: The Symphony in Antebellum America  

Go to an orchestra concert today and chances are high that you will hear music by a German composer. You are equally likely not to hear music by an American. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. Nearly one hundred American composers wrote over fifty symphonies during the nineteenth century alone. Some of the most colorful of these works appeared very early in the country’s history, even before the Civil War. This talk introduces listeners to the orchestral music of antebellum America—including a wonderful piece called Santa Claus: Christmas Symphony—and explains why this music has been forgotten for nearly two centuries.

 Douglas Shadle joined the Blair School of Music in 2014 as Assistant Professor of Musicology. His first book, Orchestrating the Nation: The Nineteenth-Century Symphonic Enterprise (Oxford, 2016), examines the challenges faced by Americans who sought entry into the pantheon of great composers. He is currently writing a new book that examines the legacy of Antonín Dvořák’s famous “New World” Symphony. His article “How Santa Claus Became a Slave Driver: The Work of Print Culture in a Nineteenth-Century Controversy” won a 2015 ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award for excellence in musical writing.

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Future Commencement Dates

 2017  -  May 10, 11, 12
 2018  -  May 9, 10, 11
 2019  -  May 8, 9, 10
 2020 -  May 6, 7, 8

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