/ Provost's Office

Sabbatical Summaries

Welcome back to our faculty returning from sabbatical or leave of absence!

Barry Bandstra – Religion

Barry Bandstra’s sabbatical project was the continuation of his research on and writing of a monograph and accompanying online materials titled, “The Texture of Tanakh: A Functional Approach to Biblical Hebrew Discourse.” His functional approach to Biblical Hebrew grammar involves a fundamentally different understanding of the lexicogrammar of the language from that of the traditional philological grammar that still largely rules the field of biblical studies; it elaborates a new a framework for analyzing Hebrew discourse that complements traditional formal grammar by exposing personal, social and cultural meanings in ways that traditional grammar is ill-equipped to tackle. The grammar takes its inspiration from the work of the renowned linguist M.A.K. Halliday, called systemic-functional linguistics (SFL).

Working from home over the course of the sabbatical, Barry came close to completing a draft of the monograph. In addition to the work on the grammar and its reconfiguration as an online pedagogical resource, he was privileged to confer with scholars in Canada who are also working with functional grammar. He was invited to be the external examiner of a doctoral dissertation at the McMaster Divinity College of McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, and was a participant in the oral examination of the McMaster Ph.D. dissertation titled, “Enigmatic Enemies and the Development of Faith: A Discourse Analysis of Habbakuk.” At a subsequent time during his sabbatical he was invited to present a paper at the Bingham Conference on biblical linguistics at McMaster. His presentation was primarily focussed on the circumstantial and textual meanings of temporal particles. Additional work on SFL: he contributed a chapter to a festschrift for Christo Van der Merwe, professor of Biblical Hebrew at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, titled, “Now and Then: Telling Time in Text and Translation” (forthcoming in Ancient Texts and Modern Readers in the E.J. Brill series Studia Semitica Neerlandica).

Andrew Le – Music
Music department faculty member and pianist Andrew Le spent his sabbatical leave concertizing, teaching master classes and workshops, and studying new music. Andrew performed and taught in Madrid (Spain), Arlington (Texas), and Grand Rapids (Michigan). His recitals included newly-learned solo and chamber works, including the Preludes of Claude Debussy, works by Spanish composer Enrique Granados, and works by living composer Eddie Mora. Andrew also learned the Piano Concerto in G major by Maurice Ravel, one of the most challenging works in the piano repertoire, in preparation for upcoming performances with the Charlottesville (VA) Symphony. Andrew completed and released his newest album which includes the complete Etudes for solo piano by Claude Debussy, and is now available on compact disc and commemorates the 100th anniversary of Debussy's death. Andrew will be presenting a piano recital at Hope on January 12, 2019; the program will include a potpourri of all the newly-learnt music that Andrew studied during his sabbatical leave.
Laura Pardo – Education

During her sabbatical, Laura spent time in alternative high schools to continue a line of research focusing on the history and current practices of alternative education. A thorough compilation of alternative high schools in West Michigan provided several insights and led to the crafting and submission of a manuscript.

Spending three weeks in Florida allowed Laura to work on two additional manuscripts and to read current literature in her field. She was also able to spend some quality time with her grandchildren and other family members.

Mike Pikaart – Chemistry

For the past few years, Mike has been working with colleagues at half a dozen colleges and universities around the country on an NSF-funded project to transform the biochemistry teaching lab course into a research-based experience. They’ve taken to calling their group BASIL, for biochemistry authentic scientific inquiry lab. The BASIL group has written up a set of 11 labs (yes, this one goes to 11) that can be used individually or as a full course. Mike’s main sabbatical goal was turning these into modules that can be adapted to a typical upper level biochem lab. These are being submitted to CourseSource, a peer-reviewed open access journal of undergraduate biochemistry teaching resources. Two of the modules Mike submitted are under review, with the rest in various stages of prep. As the “sabbatical guy” member of the BASIL project, Mike handled the details of manuscript organization and communication with the journal’s editors, as well as writing. As Mike heads back into the teaching rotation this semester, a colleague at Ursinus college is starting on her sabbatical over the spring and will pick up the wrangling of the manuscripts.

Given the miracles of Google Docs and video conferencing, Mike was able to work with the BASIL group from his office, so he has no tales of travel to far locales. Off-campus trips included driving a vanload of Hope students to Chicago for the Midstates Consortium for Math and Science conference, and another to Indianapolis for the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, or ABRCMS. He also took advantage of the evenings free of grading and class prep to rejoin the Holland Chorale, and enjoying singing in the fall and holiday concerts.

Jeff Polet – Political Science

Jeff Polet spent his sabbatical at home, but also frequently on the road for speaking engagements. He was the featured at the Constitution Day celebration at University of the Cumberlands, spoke on liberalism and the American founding at Calvin College, was a panelist hosted by The New Criterion in New York discussing the centenary of Russell Kirk’s birth, gave a presentation on the emergence of the war state at the Front Porch Republic conference, was a featured panelist at Kirk on Campus’s reflection on populism, presented two research papers at the American Political Science Association’s conference in Boston, and was a discussant on a panel on civil discourse. Additionally, he participated in various organizational activities, including a student retreat to the Russell Kirk Center.

He was mainly busy writing, however. Three articles were written, submitted and accepted for publication at academic journals. Additionally, he wrote a number of shorter essays that appeared in various venues. Most importantly, he made significant progress on his monograph dealing with the nexus between systems of authority and assumptions about what human beings are. He hopes to finish it this spring.

Lindsey Root Luna – Psychology
During the fall 2018 semester, Lindsey Root Luna was able to commit dedicated time to further her research program and strengthen her service outside of Hope College. She drafted and revised several manuscripts, which involved reacquainting herself with R and multilevel models. She contributed to multiple ongoing collaborative research projects and launched new data collection. She also presented at the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, California. Additionally, as she was elected to the Board of Psi Chi, the International Honors Society in Psychology as the Midwestern Vice President, she served on several committees and began organizing the Psi Chi program at the Midwestern Psychological Association’s Annual Conference in 2019.

Personally, Lindsey was thrilled to spend a portion of her sabbatical in Miami, Florida, and to spend time with her parents when her mom was unexpectedly hospitalized for much of September. Supporting her during her recovery was a valuable component of her sabbatical.
Josph Stukey – Biology

Joseph Stukey from biology had a busy, productive and satisfying sabbatical. A significant part of his time was devoted to advancing his two research projects:

  1. Investigating the biology of a particular group of bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria) known for their ability to infect a wide range of bacterial host species of Mycobacterium, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  2. Investigating the hypothesis that bacteriophages actively create, by a natural selection-driven molecular process, new and novel genes, and its implications, including the possibility of being a major contributor to the genetic diversity on Earth

He was successful in most of his key objectives outlined for his sabbatical:

  1. He minimized (completely) his involvement in departmental obligations
  2. Although he still mentored research students during the summer and fall, he was able to minimize his direct interaction times while still helping them make progress (doable since his students were all “experienced” and Joe worked largely from his assigned library carrel or from home)
  3. He made steady progress on both research projects and began drafting three manuscripts
  4. He initiated a self-directed learning program to advance his skills in computational biology
Charlotte vanOyen-Witvliet – Psychology

Charlotte Witvliet invested in new research collaborations and presentation opportunities across the areas of accountability, mental health, neuroscience and positive psychology.

Her primary work was serving as Principal Investigator of a three-year research project on the willingness to be accountable. Charlotte oversees a sub-award to Hope College from a $2 million grant from the Templeton Religion Trust to Baylor University for interdisciplinary research on accountability as a relational virtue. Charlotte Witvliet collaborates with philosopher C. Stephen Evans (PI) and sociologists Byron Johnson and Sung Joon Jang (Co-Is) from Baylor, theologian Andrew Torrence from St. Andrews, psychiatrist John Peteet from Harvard, and philosopher emeritus Robert C. Roberts. Her work focuses on theory and scale development (with two nationally representative studies completed thus far), psychophysiology and genetics, and mental health, and it will include a study of people who are incarcerated.

Her scholarly writing addressed the areas of forgiveness, accountability, humility, gratitude and hope, genetic and gender predictors of empathy and relational virtues, the psychophysiology of virtues, interventions to cultivate forgiveness, religious comfort as a predictor of depressive symptom alleviation during psychiatric hospitalization, and how to speak well in worship about people who live with mental illnesses. Her presentations addressed mental health in worshiping communities, accountability, forgiveness and restorative justice.