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Faculty News - Winter 2017

Published Monday, March 20th, 2017

Faculty news from the winter 2017 alumni magazine.

Dr. Carolyn Albracht

Carolyn AlbrachtDr. Carolyn Albracht, professor of art education, received the Higher Education Art Educator of the Year Award at the Nebraska Art Teachers Association fall conference banquet. NATA recognizes educators from across the state each year for various contributions to the field of art education. Albracht’s contribution for which she was recognized was organizing the Spring Forum for Pre-Service Teachers at Wayne State College in April 2016.





Matthew Armstrong

Matthew ArmstrongMatthew Armstrong, director of choral activities and assistant professor of music, had choral music published for mixed choir and men’s choir in 2016. “Shenandoah” for men’s choir, cello, and piano was published by Santa Barbara Music Press. “Bonse Aba” was published by MusicSpoke, and a performance of it by the Wayne State College concert choir can be heard on the MusicSpoke website at http://musicspoke.com/downloads/bonse-aba/ “The Water Is Wide” was published by Santa Barbara Music Press in 2015 and was No. 6 on the best-seller list for the company’s men’s choir music for the year after being premiered by the 2015 South Dakota All-State Chorus. Each of these pieces was arranged jointly by Armstrong and his wife, Shelly Armstrong, conductor of the Wayne State College orchestra.



Dr. Alan Bruflat

Alan BruflatDr. Alan Bruflat, Interim Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, has had an article, “Metaphors of Transformation and Potential in Alvaro García’s Para lo que no existe,” accepted for publication in the 2017 issue of the Journal of Christianity and World Languages. García is a contemporary poet from Spain.






Dr. Meena Dalal

Meena DalalDr. Meena Dalal, professor of economics, served as President of the Nebraska Economic and Business Association (NEBA) during 2015-16. She also published an article titled “Economic and Social Impact of Microfinance – A Case Study of Rajasthan, India” in the Economics and Business Journal: Inquiries and Perspectives, (PP 39-50) Vol. 6, No. 1, 2015.






Dr. Susan Ellis

Susan EllisDr. Susan Ellis, professor of sociology and anthropology, coauthored and published “Excavations at Tall Jawa, Jordan, Vol. 5.” The book contains excavation reports from Tall Jawa, focusing on several special studies conducted in the area. Ellis’ contribution to this volume was an ethnoarchaeological study of Ottoman houses in the village of Jawa. Other authors of the book include Drs. Michele Daviau, James Battenfield, and Peter Popkin. Ellis has been an active excavator since 1983, including projects in Syria, Egypt, and Jordan. Her sites have included Tall Qarqur, Abila of the Decapolis, Tall Jawa, and Khirbet Iskander (an Early Bronze walled city).

“I have had the opportunity of living in Egypt and Jordan multiple times, and taking students to Israel and Turkey several times,’’ Ellis said. “I love the people, the culture, and the archaeological sites of the area and think of the Middle East as my second home.”


Dr. Barbara Engebretsen

Barbara EngebretsenDr. Barbara Engebretsen, professor of exercise science, has been collaborating with university and community health partners at Bahir Dar University College of Medicine and Health Sciences in Ethiopia; Children’s Hospital for Eyes, Ears, and Rehabilitation Services in Kathmandu, Nepal; and Northeast Nebraska to address hypertension and noncommunicable diseases in developing countries and in Nebraska. This collaboration has been recommended by a Fulbright peer review committee for the Fulbright Global Scholar Award, with the final decision pending resources and priorities in the host countries to be announced by June.

Meanwhile, Engebretsen is working on plans to bring small groups of WSC honors students for international service-learning study abroad as collaborators with her in the proposed teaching and research activities, pending development of memorandums of understanding, and board approval. This is planned for May and June of 2018 and 2019.

In collaboration with WSC faculty from several departments and schools, Engebretsen submitted a proposal for an interdisciplinary minor in Public and Global Health, approved by WSC academic policies, the VPAA, and the Nebraska State College System board in 2016. 

Engebretsen has also been asked to participate as a panelist on “The Importance of Cultural Competency in Global Health Practice” for the Global Health Conference-Midwest in February at Creighton University.


Dr. Allyn Lueders

Allyn LuedersDr. Allyn Lueders, professor of communication arts, has recently been selected to present her work on social support online, Facebook messaging support, and teaching public relations at the meeting of the Central States Communication Association conference. She plans to take five or six students along on this trip to Minneapolis.






Drs. Shawn Pearcy, Doug Christensen, and Gustavo Zardeneta

Shawn PearcyDoug ChristensenGustavo ZardenetaDrs. Shawn Pearcy, Doug Christensen, and Gustavo Zardeneta have successfully secured continued National Institute of Health research funding as part of the Nebraska INBRE network. This program is designed to prepare students for entry into Ph.D. programs in biomedical research. Current undergraduate INBRE research students Cleofes Sarmiento (Wakefield, Neb.) and Nathan Hatch (Aurora, Neb.) were recognized for their outstanding research. Cleofes was awarded the C. Bertrand and Marian Othmer Schultz Collegiate Scholarship through the Nebraska Academy of Sciences and received first place for an undergraduate research poster at the Nebraska Physiological Society annual meeting. Nathan was awarded third place in an oral research presentation at the Annual Nebraska INBRE Conference. Previous graduates of this program are now completing Ph.D. and postdocs around the country and the world including students at Oxford (England) and in Japan. The INBRE grant has been key in securing cutting edge research equipment that is not only used by Wayne State research students but can be dual-purposed for teaching labs.


Joshua Piersanti and Chris Holton

Joshua Piersanti and nine of Wayne State College’s graphic design students designed and developed the new website for the John G. Neihardt State Historic Site. The new website can be accessed at www.neihardtcenter.org and was designed to highlight activities and encourage the public to visit the site. 

Piersanti and 17 graphic design students also designed a new publication about John G. Neihardt for the Neihardt Foundation. The publication, which will also be distributed to regional elementary schools, is an extension of work begun in a previous honors course with Nancy Gillis, who is the former executive director of the Neihardt Historic Site and current board member of the Foundation.

Piersanti, Chris Holton, and 28 graphic design students collaborated with Conn Library to restore damaged historical photographs dating from the early 1900s of the campus, faculty, and students. 

Piersanti and 11 graphic design students collaborated with the A. Jewell Schock Museum of Natural History and the Fred G. Dale Planetarium to create large visitor signs for the entrances to the Carhart Science building. Thanks to funds from Service-Learning, the signs will soon be guiding visitors to these important campus resources.


Dr. Lesli Rawlings

Lesli RawlingsDr. Lesli Rawlings, associate professor of geography, was appointed by Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts to a three-year term on the Nebraska Geographic Information Systems Council. She will serve as liaison between the GIS Council and the Geographic Educators of Nebraska, a part of the National Geographic Alliance Network.






Dr. Joseph Weixelman

Joseph WeixelmanDr. Joseph Weixelman, professor of American history, presented a paper titled “‘To Conserve the Scenery’: The Progressive Origins of the National Park Service,” at the 56th Annual Conference of the Western Historical Association on Oct. 21. This was part of a panel commemorating the centennial of the National Park Service this year. The research for this paper was funded in part by Wayne State College.