As the Fall 2022 semester comes to a close, it is time to celebrate the good news of our faculty publications, grants, awards, and conferences. Congratulations to all. 

Natural and Computational Sciences

Inside Indiana Business featured research from the environmental science program about the invasion superhighways through which aquatic species spread across the United States. The research was conducted by. Dr. Venturelli, associate professor of Fisheries and director of the Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences program; Jessica Weir, a Ph.D. candidate in Ball State’s Environmental Sciences program; Dr. Jay Bagga, professor of Computer Science; and Dr. Adam Berland, associate professor of Geography.

Dr. Jessica Ward, an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology, was awarded a $487,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study embryonic social learning and communication in aquatic vertebrates. The project will advance our understanding of the evolution and development of animal behavior, and provide research opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students.

The Chemistry Department received a National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation award of $184,267.00 to purchase a state-of-the-art laser-based scanning platform Typhoon-5TM to expand the scope of student training and support faculty to study nucleic acid (RNA and DNA), proteins, and other biomolecules. Dr. Emil Khisamutdinov, who was spearheading this proposal, and a team of co-Investigators from the Chemistry and Biology departments Drs Jordan Froese, Mary Konkle, Wei Shi, Eric (V.J.) Rubenstein, Philip Smaldino, and Doug Bernstein worked together to acquire this instrumentation. The equipment is expected to make a research and training impact on at least seven faculty members from the chemistry and biology departments and more than 100 undergraduates each year, including students from the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities, and visiting students from local Taylor University. Associate prof. of chemistry, Dr. Emil Khisamutdinov said, “the new biomolecular imaging platform is a “must-to-have” equipment in any modern biochemical facility, as it allows not only to perform a quantitative and qualitative analysis of various types of biomolecules but also serves as an imperative tool to develop light-emitting biomarkers and RNA-based diagnostic probes.” Dr. Khisamutdinov is a PI on, yet another active grant sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (AREA R-15, $417,416) where he and his students are developing monoclonal antibody mimics for the detection and treatment of prostate cancer. “The presence of the biomolecular imager such as Typhoon-5 in our department will provide a symbiotic relationship between these two projects,” said Emil.

Dr. Lan Lin of the Computer Science Department was recently awarded a federal grant ($69,999.00) from the National Science Foundation to continue her collaborative, interdisciplinary work with computer and domain science researchers at the University of Pittsburgh (lead institution) and Indiana University, to develop a new open source cyberinfrastructure framework, called “CyberWater2,” that fuses earth system models in an “information coupling” rather than “code coupling” approach eliminating the need to write glue code in large-scale simulations, a major obstacle for cross-institutional collaborations and scientific investigations across disciplines and geographic boundaries while supporting complex model calibration and data assimilation processes to benefit diverse research communities including water, climate, coastal, engineering and beyond. This grant was awarded at the conclusion of an earlier collaborative NSF grant, called “CyberWater,” which Dr. Lin and her undergraduate students have been working on since 2019.

Two faculty in our Math department were recently awarded grants for the Spring 2023 semester. Dr. Andrew Gatza received a Provost Immersive Learning Pilot Grant for his proposal “Building a Mathematics Community of Practice:  An Immersive Collaboration,” and Dr. Catherine Frazee also received a Provost Immersive Learning Pilot Grant for her proposal “Creating a Financial Tool and Statistical Analysis for Greater Muncie Habitat for Humanity.”

Dr. Vaccaro and Dr. Berrington of the Physics and Astronomy department obtained 2.2 hours of time on the Gemini 8.1 meter telescope to get spectra of one of the binary stars that they have been researching with the optical capabilities from The Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA) and work done by a few of their current and former students. Their time with the Gemini 8.1 was made possible by the Gemini Fast Turnaround program (FT), which allows for proposals to be implemented quickly after a review by other proposers for the same observing period, which is in about a month’s time. The Gemini data will be combined with SARA data and recently released TESS space telescope data to better determine the physical characteristics of the stars and how their orbit may be changing over time.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division featured a story about the life and career of physicist Elixia Ross. Ms. Ross was born and raised in Puerto Rico, where she earned her bachelor’s degree, but decided to take a leap and attend Ball State for her graduate studies, earning her master’s degree in Astrophysics in 2009. Ms. Ross currently works as a scrum master for the Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile Planning, Analysis and Research Branch, and is the technical point of contact for two contracts that are developing a Remote Telescope Control for the U.S. Naval Observatory.


Social Sciences

Two faculty from the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology have received the ASPiRE New Faculty Start-Up Award for 2022. Dr. Brittany Acquaviva received the award for her project “Sexual violence pre-help-seeking decision-making”, and Dr. Andrew Gray received the award for his project “Police Violence at the Intersections: Race, Gender, and the Media Coverage of Lethal Force Incidents”.

New Criminal Justice and Criminology faculty member Dr. Brittany Acquaviva had a fantastic semester with an internal grant (above), two presentations, and three publications.

  • Acquaviva, B. L., & Cox, A. (2022, September). Sexual Harassment and Professional Misconduct at Academic Meetings. Roundtable accepted for the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association, Chicago, IL.
  • Acquaviva, B. L. (2022, September). A Qualitative Analysis of Formal Sexual Violence Pre-Help-Seeking Decisions for White Survivors and Survivors of Color. Paper accepted for the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association, Chicago, IL.
  • Acquaviva, B. L., Kelley, S. M., Meeker, K. A., Fleming, J. C., & O’Neal, E. N. (Forthcoming). “Policing and prosecuting sexual assault against women of Color: Applying Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality frameworks to examine arrest and charging decisions in cases involving Black and Latina victims.” Crime and Delinquency.
  • Acquaviva, B. L., Hayes, B. E., & Clevenger, S. L. (2022). “College students and alumnus knowledge and perceptions of mandatory online sexual assault training.Journal of Criminal Justice Education.
  • Acquaviva, B. L. & Randa, R. (2022). “Examining student exposure to and attitudes toward #metoo-related content in the classroom.” Journal of Criminal Justice Education.

Dr. Wendy Koslicki published a new article, “Crucial considerations when using 1033 Program data as a measure of police militarization” in the journal Police Practice & Research: An International Journal.

WRTV in Indianapolis featured the Hon. Mario Garcia, the first judge of Hispanic heritage to serve the Southern District of Indiana. Judge Garcia was selected for the position of Magistrate Judge on the U.S. District Court for Indiana’s Southern District late in 2020, and his appointment began in April 2021. Judge Garcia received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology from Ball State in 1995.

Dr. Steven Hall was sponsored by the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan to speak at a conference hosted by the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. He participated in a moderated session titled, “The Culture of US Foreign Aid.” While in Pakistan, he also worked with faculty from Quaid-i-Azam University as a part of an ongoing collaboration with Ball State faculty to develop and support American Studies programs in Pakistani universities.

Chad Kinsella, associate professor of political science and director of Ball State’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs, served as an analyst live in the studio for ABC57 in South Bend, Indiana, throughout its coverage of the general election. Dr. Kinsella also joined ABC57 to review landmark Supreme Court rulings and their possible repercussions. And Inside Indiana Business reported on results from the new 2022 Indiana Public Broadcasting/Ball State University Hoosier Survey that indicate a vast majority of Hoosiers polled believe marijuana should be legal in some form. The annual Hoosier Survey is intended to provide policymakers with a measure of public opinion on current issues facing the state and nation.

The Echo, the student newspaper at Taylor University, featured town manager Jonathan Perez being recognized as one of the Elevated Latinos Under 40 by the Indiana Latino Institute. Mr. Perez earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Ball State in 2008.

PsyPost reports on a new study, conducted by Dr. Thomas Holtgraves, professor of Psychological Science at Ball State, that indicates liberals and conservatives differ in how they interpret conversations. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, “provides evidence that people who are more politically liberal in the United States are more likely to endorse indirect meanings of conversational utterances.”

Dr. Rachel Kraus, professor of Sociology, wrote a piece for The Conversation, about the observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month each October, and how its messages of early detection and “beating cancer” “overlook the experiences of millions of breast cancer patients.” Dr. Kraus, diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer in 2009, started to study the experiences of women with the disease in 2019, and found that “my own experiences, and that of so many others with metastatic breast cancer, make it clear that public campaigns and breast cancer organizations can do much more for these patients.” 

Dr. Mellisa Holtzman, Dr. Ellen Whitehead, and Ayrlia Welch’s paper titled “Adjusting Class Policies Amid a Pandemic: How Lessons Learned During COVID-19 Can Help Faculty Prepare for Other Institution-Wide Crises” was accepted in Teaching and Learning Inquiry.

Amber Urban and Dr. Mellisa Holtzman’s publication, “Menstruation, Menstrual Stigma, and Twitter,” is forthcoming in Sociological Focus. This work is also the basis upon which Amber won the 3-Minute Thesis Competition a few years ago (Amber is now working on her Ph.D. at Western Michigan University.)



Drawing on the award-winning Virginia Ball Center Seminar, “Muslims in Muncie,” Dr. Elizabeth Agnew’s article “On (Not) ‘Humanizing’ Muslims: Challenge and Opportunity in an Oral History Project with American Muslims” has been published in the Oral History Review, the leading journal in the field of Oral History.

Dr. Max Felker-Kantor, assistant professor of History at Ball State, was interviewed for the Tampa Bay Times about how Florida trains its police officers about discrimination and bias, diving into a controversial training presentation that was given to officers.

Ball State graduate Emma Cieslik wrote this piece about the diversity of American rosaries in the collection at the National Museum of American History. “As these rosaries show, the physicality of religion—the objects that people hold, burn, bury, and worship—are critical to understanding the history of what it has meant to be religious in America,” she writes. Ms. Cieslik, an intern in the museum’s Office of Curatorial Affairs, earned her bachelor’s degrees in Public History, Biology, and Anthropology. Read more about Ms. Cieslik’s research into Jewish Identity and religious history of Muncie, Indiana.

Dr. Joseph Marchal of Philosophy and Religious Studies has had two articles published this fall, “Toward Feeling Fragments: Melancholic Migrants and Other Affect Aliens in the Philippian and Corinthian Assemblies” in Biblical Interpretation 30 (2022): 600-623 and “Appalling Afterlives in Appalling Times: Constructing Counter-Kyriarchal Survival Kits” in Bible and Critical Theory 18:1 (2022).

For more, check out the English Department’s Good News 2022 on their blog and the History Department’s in this post.