Logo

In the News: Experts discuss ‘superweeds,’ addiction, more

MTSU’s faculty experts recently shared their expertise with the national media on a number of topics, including agriculture, nuclear energy, economics and public health.

Dr. Justin Gardner

Dr. Justin Gardner

Dr. Michael Allen

Dr. Michael Allen

Dr. Justin Gardner, an associate professor in the Department of Agribusiness and Agriscience, commented on the creation of herbicide-resistant weeds in separate stories for CNBC and NBC News.

The CNBC story may be read here, and the NBC News story is available here.

Dr. Murat Arik

Dr. Murat Arik

Lisa Schrader

Lisa Schrader

Dr. Mike Allen, a professor of engineering technology and an expert on nuclear power security, commented for the Voice of America on Lockheed Martin’s fusion reactor plan.

Allen’s views can be accessed here.

Dr. Murat Arik, interim director of the MTSU Business and Economic Research Center, analyzed Tennessee’s high unemployment rate for the Credit Union Times.

His report is available here.

Lisa Schrader, director of health education, discussed addictions among college students for www.thechoiceblog.com. Schrader’s perspectives may be read here.

Reporters seeking expertise from MTSU personnel, as well as members of the campus community with expertise for media, may contact Gina Logue in the Office of News and Media Relations at 615-898-5081 or via email at gina.logue@mtsu.edu.

 

Civic duty, student success, Center for Popular Music on WGNS

MTSU faculty and staff shared efforts to increase student civic involvement, improve student graduation rates and promote the university’s Center for Popular Music with listeners of WGNS Radio during the Nov. 17 “Action Line” program with veteran host Bart Walker.

The live program aired on FM 100.5, 101.9 and AM 1450 from the WGNS studio in downtown Murfreesboro. If you missed it, you can listen to a podcast of the show here.

MTSU faculty and staff made guest appearances on the Nov. 17 "Action Line" program on WGNS radio. Clockwise, from top left, are Dr. Mary Evins, MTSU history professor and coordinator for the American Democracy Project; Dr. Greg Reish, director for the Center for Popular Music at MTSU; and bottom, left to right, Dr. Rick Sluder, vice provost for Student Success, and Vincent Windrow, assistant vice provost for Student Success. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

MTSU faculty and staff make guest appearances on the Nov. 17 “Action Line” program on WGNS radio. Clockwise, from top left, are Dr. Mary Evins, MTSU history professor and coordinator for the American Democracy Project; Dr. Greg Reish, director for the Center for Popular Music at MTSU; and bottom, left to right, Dr. Rick Sluder, vice provost for student success, and Vincent Windrow, assistant vice provost for student success. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

Guests included:

  • Dr. Mary Evins, MTSU history professor and coordinator for the American Democracy Project, who discussed efforts to get college students more engaged in the democratic process. Evins said one of the project’s goals is to increase “students’ growth in awareness of American heritage and their personal responsibilities in a participatory democracy.” Learn more about the project here.
  • Dr. Richard “Rick” Sluder, vice provost for Student Success, and Vincent Windrow, assistant vice provost for Student Success, who discussed MTSU’s ongoing efforts to help students earn their degrees. Sluder joined MTSU Sept. 15 as part of MTSU’s “Quest for Student Success” initiative, a series of reforms launched in October 2013 to better help students stay on track academically and complete their degrees. Windrow is assisting in this effort to make sure that students are aware of the many resources available to help them stay on track to graduate. Learn more here.
  • Dr. Greg Reish , director of the Center for Popular Music at MTSU, who discussed his goals after taking over as center director July 1. He is writing a book about American vernacular guitar styles from the mid-19th century through bluegrass and country music of the 1940s. In addition, Reish is a professor of musicology in the MTSU School of Music and an accomplished singer and instrumentalist on guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, dulcimer and ukulele. Learn more here.

Students, faculty and staff who are interested in guesting on WGNS to promote their MTSU-related activities should contact Jimmy Hart, director of news and media relations, at 615-898-5131 or via email at jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu.

‘MTSU On the Record’ prepares for ‘animated’ conversation

An opportunity for MTSU students to learn the art of stop-motion animation is the topic on the next “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Host Gina Logue’s interview with professors Erin Anfinson and Marc Barr will air from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 23, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org ).

Marc Barr

Marc Barr

Erin Anfinson

Erin Anfinson

Anfinson, an associate professor in the Department of Art, and Barr, a professor in the Department of Electronic Media Communication, will facilitate the 2015 Visiting Artists Seminar at MTSU Feb. 23-27, 2015.

The spring semester course is an intensive, interdisciplinary weeklong pass/fail course conducted under the auspices of the University Honors College. It is open to all students with a minimum 3.25 GPA.

For the course, MTSU will partner with Tiny Circus, “a community-based organization that uses the medium of stop-motion animation to create and tell stories,” according to www.tinycircus.org.

“They let the students collaborate together developing the story and developing the images,” Barr explained.

By week’s end, the students will have created a short film by painstakingly shooting one frame at a time, moving the props gradually in setting up for each individual shot.

“It’s a really great introduction for anybody who’s interested in collaborative work, collaborative creative work or in learning the stop-motion animation process,” Anfinson said.

The Visiting Artists Seminar has been offered 11 times at MTSU and has encompassed a variety of topics, including songwriting, filmmaking, poetry writing and performance art.

To learn more about the course, contact Dr. Claudia Barnett at 615-898-2287 or claudia.barnett@mtsu.edu, or visit www.mtsu.edu/honors/visitingartist.php.

You can watch view a film created by MTSU students with Tiny Circus during the April 2012 seminar below.

http://youtu.be/jCzCx8eBwyk

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at www.mtsunews.com/ontherecord/.

For more information about “MTSU On the Record,” contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

MTSU professor lays hands on folklore, snake handling in Nov. 20 talk

MTSU English professor and folklorist Patricia Gaitely will lay hands on a controversial yet fascinating religious practice when she speaks Thursday, Nov. 20, in a free public lecture on campus.

Gaitely lecture poster web“There’s a Whole Lot of Snaking Going On: Folklore, Serpent-Handling and Appalachian Life” is the topic of Gaitely’s talk, set from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 in the Tennessee Room inside MTSU’s James Union Building.

A searchable campus map with parking notes is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParking14-15.

Gaitely, an associate professor in the English department and a native of Great Britain, came to the United States to attend graduate school. She joined the MTSU faculty in 2006 and began a closer study of the predominantly Appalachian churches that use venomous snakes in their services to demonstrate the depth of members’ faith.

“As a Christian, I am very interested in how others of the same faith express that faith,” Gaitely said in an interview published in the fall 2014 edition of MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts magazine.

“I’m also interested in snakes and belonged to a reptile club in Alabama. So it was an intriguing combination for me.”

Snake handling was first documented in East Tennessee in 1909, and the state banned the practice in 1947. The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in 1975 that the practice was too dangerous to the public to be permitted in the name of freedom of religion.

Recent cases involving ministers arrested for possessing venomous snakes, however, have been dismissed after grand juries refused to indict them.

In addition to her research on snake handling, Gaitely’s folklore studies expertise has also led to publications, presentations and research on topics such as folklore in the fiction of James Lee Burke and the appearance of birds as harbingers of hope for grieving people.

You can read a printable version of the College of Liberal Arts magazine article “Faith Handlers: A folklorist studies a widely misunderstood Appalachian tradition” here.

Gaitely’s lecture is presented by MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts and the Department of English. For more information, contact Connie Huddleston at connie.huddleston@mtsu.edu or 615-494-7628, or Dr. Bené Cox at bene.cox@mtsu.edu or 615-898-2714.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU double feature focuses on professor’s animated short films

The short films in MTSU’s latest double feature are home-grown: they’re new animated short films by Kevin McNulty, an assistant professor in the Department of Electronic Media Communication.

“Tethered,” the story of a lonely red balloon fighting oppression, and “Coffee,” a tale of the delicious brew mixed with consumerism and ignorance, will be screened Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 4:30 p.m. in Room 103 of the Bragg Mass Communication Building.

The screenings are free and open to the public. A searchable campus map with parking notes is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParking14-15.

McNulty will be on hand to answer questions about the short films and the animation used to create them.

“Tethered,” which originated in 2009, was completed this summer. McNulty’s plan to explore an “otherworld” where balloons are alive began as a simple story of self-discovery but soon developed into a stirring portrayal of maltreatment.

Kevin McNulty

Kevin McNulty

“It’s about bullying and oppression as seen through the eyes of one balloon,” said McNulty. “It’s about how it can psychologically beat you down. The red balloon sees the atrocities going on, and it does something about it.”

Fellow mass communication faculty member Dr. Joseph Akins provided an original composition for the film. Otherwise, the film was a solo project; McNulty created, animated and rendered the film on his own.

McNulty’s writing, directing and producing efforts on that film convinced him to enlist help for “Coffee,” a commentary on consumerism and what McNulty calls the “don’t care where it comes from as long as it’s cheap, works and/or tastes good” mentality.

“I got smart on this one,” said McNulty. “I applied for the URECA (Undergraduate Research Experience and Creative Activity) Summer Teams grant in Spring 2014 and basically said, ‘Anybody want to make a film with me?’”

A group of MTSU animation students volunteered, and the team worked from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays beginning June 9. McNulty often came in on the weekends, too.

“The dedication was amazing,” the professor said. “Some students had jobs at night to go to after working on the film during the day.”

Senior Kelsie Richards even delayed her graduation until August to complete the film. Andie Ayotte, Derek Barnes, Chris Dyer, Simon Idiare Jr., Erin Thompson and Raphael Williams made up the rest of the student team.

MTSU assistant professor Kevin McNulty, far right, leads his digital animation students in a chorus of screams for the the soundtrack of his animated short film “Coffee.” Joining the professor are, from left, Kelsey Hoggard, Simon Idiare, Chris Dyer, Raphael Williams, Andie Ayotte and Michael Hegner (MTSU photo by Darby Campbell)

Jacob Loper, a member of the death-metal band Hell Forged, supplied the music, and Aaron Trimble, a graduate student in the Department of Recording Industry, helped with recording the vocal performances.

McNulty and the students provided all the voices for the film, creating a caffeinated 4.5-minute ride complete “with screams.”

McNulty earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology and focuses on digital animation, motion graphics, stop-motion and traditional animation.

Currently an adviser for the ACM SIGGRAPH Student Chapter, McNulty also teaches Intermediate Digital Animation 3310, Advanced Digital Animation I and II and Animation Seminar I and II classes, where students create a 30-second short film over the course of two semesters.

“Coffee” is part of Nashville’s 2014 Artlightenment Festival, and McNulty plans to submit “Tethered” to film festivals too.

You can learn more about the animation program in the College of Mass Communication at www.mtsu.edu/programs/animation.

The red balloon that stars in MTSU assistant professor Kevin McNulty’s animated short film, “Tethered,” appears to have picked up a passenger in this scene. “Tethered” and a second film, “Coffee,” will be screened free at MTSU Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 4:30 p.m.

One of the scenes from MTSU assistant professor Kevin McNulty’s animated short film, “Coffee,” shows a coffee-bean family happily growing in the sun.

Weather, mechanical woes shelve ‘Southern-Fried Fuel’ quest (+VIDEO)

Ridin’ with Ricketts, Day 4: Tuesday, Nov. 11 — End of the Road

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Plagued by a major mechanical problem and greatly concerned about arctic weather in his path Tuesday, Nov. 11, MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts postponed his “Southern-Fried Fuel” quest until spring 2015.

A broken drivetrain transmission on the left side of the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel pickup, plus winter weather affecting the Great Plains, combined to ended the alternative fuel researcher’s Nov. 8-13 cross-country journey.

http://youtu.be/bo0czLrujTI

Ricketts had planned to drive 3,550 miles from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, on pure biodiesel from waste chicken fat as part of his ongoing efforts to wean the nation from dependency on foreign oil.

“I said at the beginning of this journey that we are on an adventure, and it has been,” Ricketts said.

“We’ll just postpone it until a later date. That is the common-sense thing to do.”

Traveling from the southernmost point in Florida up through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri — six of 13 states along his planned route — the 38-year MTSU School of Agribusiness and Agriscience faculty member called the trip an amazing experience.

MTSU professor and alternative fuels researcher Cliff Ricketts points to the left side front end area where a broken drive-train transmission ended the Nov. 8-13 "Southern Fried Fuel" expedition from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington. The breakdown occurred near Kansas City in the middle of the night. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

MTSU professor and alternative fuels researcher Cliff Ricketts points to the left side front end area where a broken drive-train transmission ended the Nov. 8-13 “Southern Fried Fuel” expedition from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington. The breakdown occurred near Kansas City in the middle of the night. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

His fuel source, totally pure biodiesel, did not include petroleum. The mechanical problems had nothing to do with the fuel he was testing in the research.

“The biodiesel did great,” said Ricketts, who added that data showed miles-per-gallon ranges were from 36 to 45-plus.

“Equal speed, power, torque. The diesel vehicle has shown it is a viable fuel option as and when needed. Any issues we had had nothing to do with the biodiesel.”

In addition to potential bad weather, a broken drivetrain/transmission Nov. 11 near Kassas City, Missouri, halted MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts' "Southern Fried Fuel" expedition from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington. He plans to renew his quest in March or May 2015, (MTSU photo by Cliff Ricketts)

In addition to potential bad weather, a broken drivetrain transmission Nov. 11 near Kansas City, Missouri, halted MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts’ “Southern Fried Fuel” expedition from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington. He plans to renew his quest in March or May 2015, (MTSU photo by Cliff Ricketts)

The mechanical failure, which happened east of Kansas City about 2 a.m. Nov. 11, may have ended Ricketts’ quest for now, but he plans to resume the trip in March or May 2015.

Along with the successful performance of the pure biodiesel, which smells of fried grease in the smoke it emits from the stack exhaust in the loud truck, the trip also had other benefits.

Two females — MTSU junior animal science education major Abby Barlow of Viola, Tennessee, in Warren County, and alumna Lucy Prestwood of Hendersonville, Tennessee — participated in an opportunity that supports MTSU’s ongoing efforts to increase the number of women in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The MTSU-blue truck became a rolling billboard for the 1,620-plus miles it was driven from Key West to Kansas City.The university has gained increased stature overall in research and development and is a driving force in alternative fuels research.

The expedition also earned the university more media coverage for Ricketts’ alternative fuel research.

Along with Barlow and Prestwood, team members also included mechanical engineer Mike Sims of Jackson, Michigan, and researcher and entrepreneur Duane Griffin of Murfreesboro.

Brentwood, Tennessee-based Tractor Supply Co. and the MTSU Office of Research and Sponsored Programs are his primary sponsors, having contributed $480,000 for the past 23 years.

“All of this will be continued with our trip next spring,” Ricketts said.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)


 

Ridin’ with Ricketts, Day 3: Monday, Nov. 10

ST. LOUIS, Missouri — Cruising west on Interstates 24, 57, 64 and 70 in darkness en route to Kansas City, something is definitely missing in MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts’ “Southern-Fried Fuel” coast-to-coast pure biodiesel quest.

And it’s not the blasted overheating problems encountered in the first four — no, make that five — days of the journey to drive 3,550 miles from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, on pure biodiesel from waste animal fat.

MTSU junior Abby Barlow, left, and alternative fuels researcher Cliff Ricketts check for leaks in the plastic reservoir holding the coolant used in the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit pickup truck being used during the Nov. 8-13 “Southern-Fried Fuel” expedition from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington. The vehicle nearly overheated numerous times  Nov. 9-10. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

What’s missing is the volunteer assistance provided by MTSU junior animal science education major Abby Barlow and 2013 graduate Lucy Prestwood.

Barlow and Prestwood were valuable assets in their respective areas of expertise during their participation in the expedition.

Barlow is mechanically inclined, and Prestwood, a teacher in agriscience at The Academy of Environmental and Urban Planning and Biotechnology at Glencliff High School in Nashville, is lending technology and social media skills.

“Abby contributed very much mechanically because of her youth, agility and ability to reach tight spots with the engine, and she was able to help Mike (Sims),” Ricketts said, referring to the retired mechanical engineer, veteran and 2012 and 2013 participant in Ricketts’ coast-to-coast solar and hydrogen-from-water ventures who’s also on this year’s trip.

Prestwood, who is nicknamed “Max,” tweeted photos from the trip on a School of Agribusiness and Agriscience Twitter account and often used search engines to find information Ricketts needed on the spur of the moment.

“Her contribution was her computer skills and knowledge that helped us on the trip,” Ricketts said of Prestwood, who lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

On the southern portion of the “Southern-Fried Fuel” trip, MTSU alumna Lucy Prestwood, left, watches as animal science education major Abby Barlow checks the oil level for the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit used on the expedition from Key West, Florida to Seattle, Washington.

Barlow grew up on a farm in the Viola community in Warren County, Tennessee, not far from McMinnville. She transferred to MTSU this fall.

The young woman’s penchant for mechanics came “because you have to be (knowledgeable) and have a slight knowledge if the engines are to be able to run on the farm,” she said.

“Your tractors, your trucks and, technically, your animals are an engine. You’ve got to know the basics.”

“If they break down, you have to fix it,” added Barlow, who said she hopes to teach agricultural education in high school, preferably “somewhere close to home,” but is open to another area.

Prestwood, 22, a 2013 MTSU graduate of the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience, said she will carry the research data and stories of the trip experience to her Glencliff classroom.

Day 3 was delayed at least six hours because of mechanical issues. The crew’s arrival outside Kansas City came well past midnight Monday.

— Randy Weiler (randy.weiler@mtsu.edu)

 


 

Ridin’ with Ricketts, Day 2: Sunday, Nov. 9

East of TAMPA, Florida — Hundreds of cars seem to fly by the ailing 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel pickup truck — the one being used by MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts in his bid to drive across the country on pure biodiesel from waste chicken fat.

The vehicle seems to want to continually overheat. It is a menace, a bone of contention and a source of frustration for Ricketts, who grows weary with each passing hour his pit crew remains baffled by the problem.

In a last-ditch effort to salvage the situation, someone suggests, “Let’s take the thermostat out.”

“Let’s do it,” Ricketts says in response. And, rather than limping, the Rabbit hopped home to Murfreesboro without overheating again.

By day’s end — actually the middle of the night, 2:30 a.m. to be exact — there was a Nashville television station on campus for an on-site interview in the Vocational Ag shop. There was more work to be performed before the expected 8 a.m. departure, and the crew had little or no time to gain valuable sleep before heading west.

— Randy Weiler (randy.weiler@mtsu.edu)

 


 

Ridin’ with Ricketts, Day 1: Saturday, Nov. 8

DANIA BEACH, Florida — Middle Tennessee State University alternative fuels researcher Cliff Ricketts realizes things never come easy.

tana and other northwestern states next week. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

Using pure biodiesel processed from waste animal fat, MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts drives through downtown Key West, Florida, Nov. 8 on the first day of his quest to go 3,550 miles to Seattle, Washington, on the alternative fuel. Along the way, Ricketts will drive through 13 states. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

Before leaving Key West, Florida, Nov. 8 to begin a 3,550-mile jaunt across the country on pure biodiesel that essentially is waste animal fat from chickens, he and his crew were frustrated by a lingering overheating issue with the 34-year-old truck he is driving on the expedition.

He also heard about a potential weather situation totally opposite of the 82-degree, mostly sunny weather he was enjoying in south Florida, well aware some of the 13 states he will be driving through are northern and in the Pacific Northwest.

“This is going to be an adventure,” said Ricketts, a 38-year veteran MTSU professor, just before departing from Key West to head toward Miami, Fort Lauderdale and an eventual overnight stay in Bradenton.

“It’s 72 degrees this morning in Key West. We’ll hit 30-degree temperatures when we reach Tennessee Sunday night and hit 20 degrees in Kansas City Monday.

“In Montana, and we’ll go through Billings, we could hit 12-degree temperatures,” he said, explaining that an arctic vortex has blown through the region

The 66-year-old researcher, who grew up on a farm and still lives on the family farm outside of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, said the team “will go as far as we can with the research, experiencing as much as we can, but we will use wisdom if we have to call off or change a route later on.”

While still in Key West, MTSU junior Abby Barlow of McMinnville, Tennessee, suggested they pop the hood latch, allowing more air to reach the engine to help resolve the overheating issue.

Crew members Abby Barlow, left, MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts and Mike Sims stop at the Southernmost Point in the continental United States Nov. 8 in Key West, Florida. Ricketts, an alternative fuels researcher, then headed north on U.S. 1 toward Miami for the start of his 3,550-mile “southern-fried fuel” expedition to Seattle, Washington, on pure biodiesel.

By the time Ricketts reached Dania Beach for a media interview request, he said the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit pickup truck would need a new thermostat.

Mechanical engineer and volunteer Mike Sims of Jackson, Michigan, discovered an additional issue they were trying to fix as daylight faded to dark.

Observers have been able to both see and hear the truck coming; it is noisy. Someone suggested a quieter alternative.

The truck features an exhaust stack system that protrudes vertically from the truck bed.

“It’s loud, and when you demonstrate it to kids, they like that,” Ricketts said. They also find the aroma — the smell of French fries — amusing and entertaining.

In Key West, Ricketts drove past and tried to photograph the Ernest Hemingway Home and the home where President Harry Truman stayed.

He and the group quickly sampled the rich history and cuisine of the city, where you can find chickens wandering on downtown streets, people-watch and see almost anything in the way of the unusual.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

 


 

Southern-fried fuel: Prof ‘gases’ up with grease for 3,550-mile drive — Nov. 5, 2014

Longtime MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts holds a plastic bottle containing pure biodiesel made from animal (chicken) fat he will use as a fuel source to drive the approximately 3,550 miles coast-to-coast from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, Nov. 6-13. Ricketts’ expedition this year will be in a 5-speed, 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit pickup truck that should go about 550 miles on a full tank. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

Middle Tennessee State University professor Cliff Ricketts has driven coast-to-coast on fumes — in 2012 on only 2.15 gallons of petroleum, and in 2013, no gas at all.

What’s next? It’s a question the alternative fuels researcher is often asked.

The answer comes Nov. 6-13 during a 3,550-mile cross-country expedition from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington. The route will take him back through Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for a brief stop at his research base at the MTSU campus before heading west on his latest adventure.

The 2014 quest involves Ricketts driving a 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit pickup truck on pure biodiesel from waste animal fat mainly from chickens and waste vegetable oil from MTSU dining facilities.

Call it “Southern-fried fuel.” A full tank will carry him about 550 miles before needing to refuel.

“This has viability for not only daily driving, but also big semi-trucks,” said Ricketts, who admits there is a lot of emotion attached to petroleum prices. “Gas is one dollar less now than when it reached its peak, and people are pretty content right now.”

Knowing gas prices will rise again, the 38-year veteran School of Agribusiness and Agriscience faculty member knows pure biodiesel is a nontoxic, biodegradable, sulfur-free, renewable fuel. Using biodiesel could make a major impact on U.S. petroleum consumption.

“My goal and passion is to keep the U.S. from using foreign oil,” he said.

MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts stands next to the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit pickup truck he will drive from Key West, Fla., to Seattle, Washington, Nov. 6-13. Ricketts, who is in his 38th year at MTSU, receives corporate funding from Brentwood, Tennessee-based Tractor Supply Co. His other major funding source is the MTSU Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

So he’s taking the five-speed diesel pickup on a cross-country trek using no diesel and no gasoline. Ricketts chose this fuel source after considering green algae but was unable to obtain the amount needed to make the trip.

Abby Barlow

Abby Barlow

Along with Florida and Washington, this month’s mission will travel by interstate highways through 13 states. Others include Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

Three MTSU students and two Metro Nashville Public Schools teachers will be part of the travel party driving from Murfreesboro to Key West, where the coast-to-coast expedition will begin.

The students include junior Abby Barlow of McMinnville, Tennessee, sophomore Lindsey Rutherford of White Pine, Tennessee, and senior Fleschia Johnson of Smyrna, Tennessee.

Barlow will be making the Key West to Murfreesboro portion of the trip. Rutherford and Johnson plan to travel with the group from Key West to Seattle.

The trip leader said the three young women will witness “the diversity of agriculture” on the trip. He anticipates they will keep notebooks to not only document the research but also view the agricultural variety — soybeans, cotton, horses, aquatic, landscaping and more — along the route.

“Agriculture goes far beyond cows, sows and plows,” he said. “Agriculture is so diverse.”

MTSU alumna Lucy “Max” Prestwood, who teaches agriculture at Glencliff High School in Nashville, will go.

Most of the trip will be fueled by pure biodiesel from waste animal, specifically chicken, fat given by Brentwood, Tennessee-based Delek US, plus biodiesel made at MTSU and used in equipment at the Tennessee Livestock Center and MTSU farm in Lascassas, Tennessee. Ricketts’ Delek fuel came from its processing plant in Crossett, Arkansas.

The Delek Crossett facility uses a process called transesterification, converting fats so the glycerin in the oil is removed and the fatty acids are combined with alcohol to create a combustible fuel.

Using no gasoline in March 2013, Ricketts and co-driver Terry Young, an MTSU alumnus from Woodbury, Tennessee, drove a 1994 Toyota Tercel and a 2005 Toyota Prius from Tybee Island, Georgia, to Long Beach, California, on solar power and hydrogen from water harnessed at MTSU.

They made a similar trip in March 2012, needing only 2.15 gallons of gas.

Major sponsors through the years include Brentwood, Tennessee-based Tractor Supply Co. and the MTSU Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. Combined, they have provided $480,000 to fund his research projects.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

About Cliff Ricketts

Dr. Cliff Ricketts

Dr. Cliff Ricketts

  • Research: Cliff Ricketts has run engines off ethanol from corn, methane, cow manure, soybean oil and hydrogen from water. He and his students held the world land speed record for a hydrogen-fueled vehicle. Heavily involved in the National FFA Organization at all levels, Ricketts has made more than 1,000 presentations on leadership and alternative fuels. In May 2006, Ricketts testified during a U.S. House of Representatives Science Subcommittee on Energy, urging for a focus on flex-fuel plug-in hybrids and noting the potential for using hydrogen in the internal combustion engine component of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicles as well.
  • Age: 66
  • MTSU title/years of service: Professor; 38 years as a School of Agribusiness and Agriscience faculty member and alternative fuels researcher.
  • Hometown: Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.
  • Education: Earned bachelor’s in 1970 and master’s (’73) degrees from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and doctorate (’82) from Ohio State University.
  • Family: Wife Nancy Ricketts; children John Ricketts, Mitzi Pigg and Paul Ricketts; seven grandchildren.
  • Awards: MTSU Career Achievement Award, MTSU Public Service Award, two-time recipient of MTSU Foundation’s Outstanding Teacher Award and numerous other honors.

‘MTSU On the Record’ examines would-be U.S. amendments

Unsuccessful attempts to amend the U.S. Constitution are in the spotlight on the next “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Dr. John Vile

 Host Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. John Vile, dean of the University Honors College and constitutional law scholar, will air from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 16, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org ).

Vile is the author of “Re-Framers: 170 Eccentric, Visionary and Patriotic Proposals to Rewrite the U.S. Constitution.”

The book includes amendments that focus on specific rights and liberties, as well as more comprehensive libertarian, socialist, parliamentary and even monarchical plans.

Some proposed amendments are more amusing. One amendment would have prohibited the government from stopping marijuana sales and usage. Another would have extended voting rights to all 18-year-old citizens other than “idiots and the insane.” The definition of the word “idiots” in this context is subject to interpretation.

“To me, they are alternative paths that could have been taken — some fairly consequential, others often seemingly fairly trite and occasionally even misanthropic,” Vile said.

The conversation comes in the wake of the recent statewide vote during the 2014 midterm elections on four legislatively referred amendments to the Tennessee state constitution. Voters approved potential revisions to abortion law, state judicial elections, income taxes and gambling, which the Tennessee State Legislature could take up in its upcoming session in January.

To listen to previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, go to the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at www.mtsunews.com/ontherecord/.

For more information about “MTSU On the Record,” contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

Local AAUW promotes American Democracy Project Nov. 13

What is the key to getting college students more engaged in the democratic process, especially in an election year?

MTSU students Jayme Stevens, seated at left, and Kellye Guinan register students to vote on Constitution Day, Sept. 17, at MTSU near Peck Hall. (photo submitted)

The American Association of University Women of Murfreesboro will present Dr. Mary Evins, an MTSU history professor and coordinator for the American Democracy Project, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13.

The event will take place in Room 101 of MTSU’s Ingram Building, located at 2269 Middle Tennessee Blvd. in Murfreesboro.

Dr. Mary A. Evins

Dr. Mary A. Evins

Evins said one of the project’s goals is to increase “students’ growth in awareness of American heritage and their personal responsibilities in a participatory democracy.”

The American Democracy Project was founded in 2003 as an initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in partnership with The New York Times.

The organization’s website, www.aascu.org/programs/ADP, says it is a “multi-campus initiative focused on public education’s role in preparing the next generation of informed engaged citizens for our democracy.”

A $5-per-plate dinner at 5 p.m. will precede Evins’ presentation.

Reservations may be made by contacting Dr. Ayne Cantrell, MTSU professor emerita, at 615-893-1786 or acantrell@comcast.net.

AAUW of Murfreesboro works toward equity for women and girls in education and in the workplace. Membership is open to anyone with a college degree.

For more information, contact Dr. Meredith Dye at meredith.dye@mtsu.edu or visit http://murfreesboro-tn.aauw.net. You also can learn more about the MTSU American Democracy Project at its website, http://capone.mtsu.edu/amerdem.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

MTSU celebrates national grant to ADVANCE women in STEM

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, center, reflects on the benefits of the just-announced $195,000 National Science Foundation grant to further the advancement of women in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields at MTSU Oct. 30 in the Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium in the new Science Building. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, center, reflects on the benefits of a newly announced $195,000 National Science Foundation grant to further the advancement of women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields at MTSU Oct. 30 in the Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium in the new Science Building. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

There was cause — and nearly $200,000 worth of reasons — for celebration on the MTSU campus Thursday, Oct. 30.

The university announced a two-year, $195,000 National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant to further the advancement of women in STEM education — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — and potentially all female students and staff at MTSU.

The study, titled “A Catalyst to ADVANCE the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academics, STEM Careers at Middle Tennessee State University,” will focus on identifying barriers that affect recruitment, retention, participation and promotion of female STEM faculty at MTSU.

STEM faculty members come from both the College of Basic and Applied Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts.

“I’m certain this will be successful,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, who attended the event in the Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium in the new Science Building. “The teamwork across interdisciplinary areas of campus reflects our commitment in working together.”

Chemistry professor Judith Iriarte-Gross, one of the co-leaders of the effort, said this project has been years in coming to fruition.

“This tells us that MTSU is serious about women in STEM and we’re looking forward to seeing what the results will tell us,” said Iriarte-Gross, who is director of both the Women in STEM Center and the Expanding Your Horizons in Math and Science program for middle and high school girls.

Dr. Jackie Eller, front left, provides a welcome and introduction of people involved with the $195,000 National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant to help advance the careers of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers at MTSU Oct. 30 in the Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium in the new Science Building.

Dr. Jackie Eller, front left, provides a welcome and introduction of people involved with the $195,000 National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant to help advance the careers of women in STEM careers at MTSU Oct. 30 in the Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium in the new Science Building.

Dr. Mark Byrnes, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said his affected departments include sociology and anthropology and political science.

“What this means is an opportunity to look real carefully at what we can do to improve conditions for women across campus, but especially in the STEM disciplines,” he said.

Dr. Jackie Eller, interim dean for the College of Graduate Studies and vice provost for research, said the effort to obtain the grant had been a labor of love.

“This is a grant for us, to help us change,” said Eller, a longtime sociology professor, adding that “being able to inventory will allow us to get to know where our needs are.”

College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Bud Fischer noted that few women in the college “have administrative roles. The ADVANCE grant opportunity allows us to figure out who we are as an institution and our role in higher education.”

The program is promoting the Twitter hashtag #mtsuadvance.

For more details regarding the ADVANCE project summary, visit www.mtsu.edu/wistem/ADVANCE.

For more information, call Iriarte-Gross at 615-904-8253.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Keep up with MTSU faculty, staff news, accomplishments

Learn about recent accomplishments by MTSU faculty, staff and administrators and stay informed about their activities with these regular updates. To submit an item for the update, email gina.fann@mtsu.edu.

October 2014 Update

Accomplishments

Dr. David Lavery

Dr. Katie Foss

Dr. Katie Foss (mass comm graduate faculty) has published a chapter, “From Welby to McDreamy: What TV teaches us about doctors, patients, and the health care system,” in the new book “How Television Shapes Our Worldview: Media Representations of Social Trends and Change.”

The book, edited by Drs. Deborah A. Macey and Kathleen M. Ryan of Saint Louis University and Noah J. Springer, a doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado-Boulder, is published by Lexington Books. Foss also wrote an invited entry on breastfeeding in the “Encyclopedia of Health Communication,” edited by Dr. Teresa L. Thompson of the University of Dayton and published this year by Sage Publications.

Dr. David Lavery (English, graduate studies) presented an invited lecture, “Neverending Story: Time Lords and Narrative Time in Doctor Who,” Sept. 25 at Belmont University’s Humanities Forum.

Dr. Roy Moore

Regina Puckett

Dr. Roy Moore (School of Journalism) has been saluted with a rare honorary membership in the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses for his work as co-editor on the fourth edition of “Fundamentals of Occupational and Environmental Nursing: AAOHN Core Curriculum” (Occupational and Environmental Medicine Press, 2013).

Moore and his wife, Dr. Pamela V. Moore, a director of the nursing association’s Southeast Region, worked nearly two years on an extensive redesign and content revision of the textbook, which serves as a resource for a variety of readers, including beginning occupational health nurses, experienced OHNs seeking a “consult” on a particular topic, occupational health nurses studying for certification exams, nursing faculty searching for authoritative source information and more. Dr. Pam Moore also was honored at the AAOHN national conference in Dallas with a lifetime membership.

Regina Puckett (advancement services) has published her latest novel, “Concealed in My Heart,” planned as the kickoff for a five-book series. She writes in multiple genres, including romance, horror, inspiration and children’s picture books, and has been nominated for multiple awards for her prose as well as her poetry collections.

Appearances

Dr. Jim Williams

Kent Syler

Dr. Jim Williams (Albert Gore Research Center) and Kent Syler (political science) appeared on WTVF-TV and NewsChannel 5+ on the Inside Politics program Oct. 24-26 to discuss the Gore Research Center’s Political Jingle Project.

You can learn more about the project here.

 

 

 

 

 

In Memoriam

Dr. William F. Greene

Thomas “Buddy” Taylor

Dr. William Fisher Greene (accounting) died Oct. 24, 2014.  Dr. Greene was employed with MTSU from September 1968 until his retirement in July 1994, serving multiple roles at the university, including assistant professor, administrative assistant to the president, budget director, vice president of business and finance and as an associate professor in accounting.

Thomas “Buddy” Taylor (information technology) died Oct. 21, 2014.  Mr. Taylor was employed with MTSU as a manager for the Information Technology Division from September 1971 until his retirement in February 1996.