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Faculty Seminars

Open Seating - Tickets are not required.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

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 – 3 p.m.

103 Wilson Hall

Jen Gunderman Jen Gunderman JEN GUNDERMAN & MICHAEL GRAY:  Why Are People Still Surprised That Jack White Lives in Nashville?

Rock and roll musicians have worked in Nashville since the early days of the genre in the 1950s, and country music’s influence on rock was present from the very beginning... but Nashville and its country music have also long represented a more conservative, mainstream side of America, which has seemed at times to stand in opposition to rock’s stereotypical long-haired liberalism.

Perhaps at no point in American history did the gulf between the conservative mainstream and liberal counter-cultures seem more pronounced than in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when clashes over Civil Rights and the Vietnam War were commonplace... and yet, this same era also saw Nashville blossom as a center of recording for hip, high-profile rock, folk, and pop musicians.  A new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, “Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City” (open March 2015), highlights the many cross-genre collaborations which happened in Nashville during this time.  Assistant Professor Jen Gunderman and Museum Editor Michael Gray will discuss the people and music that crossed cultural boundaries and helped lay the groundwork for our current “It City” status.

Assistant Professor of Musicology Jen Gunderman divides her time between teaching, performing, and recording.  She has been at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University since 2004, specializing in American pop and rock and roll, but she is also an active studio session musician, producer, and performer.  She earned an undergraduate degree in piano performance at Vassar College with Phi Beta Kappa honors and additional studies at the Heidelberg-Mannheim Hochschule Fuer Musik, and an M.A. in ethnomusicology from the University of Washington (Seattle).  She toured with rock bands Dag and the Jayhawks full time for several years, and since then has performed and recorded with a diverse variety of musicians, including Kris Kristofferson, Michael McDonald, Chris Robinson (Black Crowes), Roger McGuinn (Byrds), Exene Cervenka (X), Loretta Lynn, Steve Cropper (Booker T & the MGs), Willie Nelson, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, Vince Gill, Don Was, Duane Eddy, Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, Martina McBride, and many others.

She is currently on leave of absence from teaching at Vanderbilt while on the road performing in Sheryl Crow’s band.

Museum Editor Michael Gray joined the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2002.  He is the co-curator of the museum’s exhibitions Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City (opening March 2015); The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and California Country; I Can’t Stop Loving You: Ray Charles and Country Music; and Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945-1970

Gray won a Grammy for producing a CD set that accompanied the Night Train exhibit.  He moderates the museum’s Q&A series Poets and Prophets: Legendary Country Songwriters.  Gray, a native of Detroit, also was a music journalist at CMT and the Nashville Banner. He taught music history courses at Belmont University and Middle Tennessee State University, where he received a master’s in Mass Communication.


 126 Wilson Hall

Sharon Weiss JOEL HARRINGTON: The Modern Invention of the Medieval Executioner

We all know the hooded, ominous figure of the medieval hangman, but in fact that image owes much more to nineteenth-century imaginations than to any historical reality. After a brief description of a real sixteenth-century German executioner, based on his personal journal of forty-five years, this lecture will explore the legal, artistic, and literary origins of one of the modern age's most recognizable stereotypes, as well as how this has helped distort our common understanding of the European Middle Ages. This lecture will explore this topic as told in part in Harrington’s most recent book, The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Sixteenth Century (Picador, 2014).

 Joel F. Harrington is Centennial Professor and Chair of the Department of History.  He as published widely on various topics in social, legal, and religious history, particularly dealing with Germany during the early modern era (ca. 1450-1750).   Projects currently underway include a study of the late medieval mystic Meister Eckhart and a comparison of the early modern prosecution of infanticide and witchcraft. Professor Harrington has taught a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses at Vanderbilt since his arrival in 1989, including the history of Christian traditions, Reformation Europe, religion and the occult in early modern Europe, and early modern social history. From 2004-2011 he served as Vanderbilt's first senior international officer (Associate Provost for Global Strategy), a full-time administrative position, and before that, from 2000-2004, he was Director of the Center for European Studies.


3:15 – 4:15 p.m.

103 Wilson Hall

Bob Galloway DOUG ADAMS: When Planes, Trains and Automobiles Call In Sick

  The high calling of engineers is to build systems that improve our way of life.  The Achilles heel of the engineer has always been the mysterious ways in which materials fail. That is why we spend billions of dollars over decades to better understand how materials behave under a wide range of conditions.  What if we could design automobiles, airplanes, and even organ replacements that are intelligent enough to diagnose and repair themselves? It’s not just the stuff of science fiction anymore! This talk will describe how engineers are cracking the material code to prevent future failures making people more secure and the world more sustainable.

Doug Adams arrived at Vanderbilt in 2013 and is the Daniel F. Flowers Professor and Distinguished Professor and Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Professor Adams studies the health of materials and machines, and technology he develops is widely adopted by engineers throughout the manufacturing, energy, and defense industries.  He has graduated 55 graduate students and sponsored 35 undergraduate interns who have gone on to work in industry, the national labs, and academia.  Professor Adams was elected Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 2011 and has won national awards for his research including a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. He has authored over 250 articles and holds patents for technologies such as a 3-D laser measurement system to detect flaws in the lightweight materials being used in today’s airplanes. In 2014, his team opened the new Laboratory for Systems Integrity and Reliability in the School of Engineering – a 20,000 square foot, 27-foot high lab for conducting full-scale, realistic tests that translate research discoveries to practical applications. 


126 Wilson Hall

Laurie Cutting BRUCE COMPAS:  Against the Odds: Children and Families Coping with Extreme Stress

Exposure to stress is one of the most potent risk factors for the development of problems in physical and mental health.  In spite of the costs associated with stress, many individuals and families “beat the odds” and display resilience in the face of significant adversity. This talk will draw from our ongoing research at Vanderbilt with families coping with a range of powerful stressors---the diagnosis of childhood cancer, living with the chronic challenges of sickle cell disease, and the ongoing stress associated with a parent’s depression.  A focus of this research is the development of programs to help vulnerable families develop the skills and resources needed to overcome the challenges associated these significant stressors and move on the path toward resilience.

 Bruce Compas is Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Psychology and Human Development and Professor of Pediatrics. Since coming to Vanderbilt in 2002 he has served as the Director of the Doctoral Training Program in Clinical Psychology and Director of Psychology in the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center.  His research is currently funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.  He has published over 150 peer-reviewed articles on the effects of stress on children and families, including the impact of stress and illness on children’s cognitive and brain development, and the development and testing of programs to help children and parents effectively cope with stress. He is ranked by Microsoft Academic as the 93rd most cited author world wide out of over 850,000 authors in psychology and psychiatry. 

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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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