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(March 7, 2002, Gazette)

Annual Aldrich lecture series

The Aldrich Interdisciplinary Conference for Graduate Students is organized every year by the Graduate Student’s Union of Memorial University and spearheaded by the GSU’s vice-president communications and research, this year undertaken by Lynn Hartery and her committee. The Aldrich Lecture Series took place on Tuesday, Feb. 26, in the Business Building. The day began with a welcome from Ms. Hartery and Dr. Chet Jablonski, acting dean of Graduate Studies. The evening program offered a presentation from Robert Giroux, president and CEO of the Association of Universities’ and Colleges of Canada, who spoke on Preparing our Universities’ Future Faculty: A Challenge for our Graduate Schools. This year 43 presenters were involved. Below is a selection of abstracts and information provided at these presentations. For abstracts of all the presenters, see

Sabrina Giddings, Chemistry
Barbara Leskovec, Archaelogy
Kristin M. Harris, Folklore
Sonja Allen, German and Russian
Hari Indermohan, Engineering
Robert H. Dennis, Political Science
Brenda Kitchen, Sociology
Anne Whelan, MBA Program
Tyson MacCormack, Ocean Sciences

Sabrina GiddingsSabrina Giddings, Chemistry
Ionic Liquids, a New Media For Organic Synthesis

Ms. Giddings explained that ionic liquids are molten salts composed of a cation and an anion, held together by ionic forces. Room temperature ionic liquids remain in the liquid state at relatively low temperatures. These novel compounds have received a great deal of interest in the synthetic organic chemistry field. This recent interest is because of some of their unique properties, such as high thermal stability and very low vapour pressure. These liquids are of particular interest to chemists because ionic liquids provide a new, more environmentally friendly media to conduct synthetic organic experiments. They are a safer alternative to original organic solvents, are cleaner and safer to use and can be cleaned easily for reuse. Using these liquids has many benefits in fields such as nuclear fuel cycles, electrolytes in dye-sensitive solar cells and in the synthesis of polymers/rubbers.

Barbara Leskovec, Archaeology
A Rural Drinking Establishment in Ferryland: Social Life in 18th-Century Newfoundland

By the early 16th century migratory fishermen were making summer forays to Newfoundland to exploit the abundant codfish resource. This fishery eventually gained such importance that English investors attempting to secure control of the Newfoundland fishery began constructing permanent settlements along the Avalon Peninsula. Ferryland, established in 1621, thrived as one of these major commercial fishing ports. Archaeological excavations have yielded numerous features including the remains of an 18th-century tavern. During the early modern period taverns played an integral role as a centre for community activities. The tavern functioned as a place for educational performances, business activities and entertainment.

Kristin M. Harris, Folklore
Outwit, Outplay, Outlast: Survivor as Popular Culture

When Ms. Harris returned from time abroad, it was the week that the last Survivor I episode was airing. As everyone talked about a show that she had never heard of, Ms. Harris experienced a kind of culture shock. She says “It is perhaps a moot point to argue that television is part of our popular culture in Canada; however, the forms that television programming take, and the resulting messages they convey and meanings they reflect are salient points of reference for study. Survivor is a TV program that defies categorization. It has been alternately billed as a game show and as reality television, also identified as a drama. It brings to the forefront not only a social Darwinist attitude, but also the myth of success, the elusive yet attainable American Dream.” In this presentation, she argued these ideas in reference to both content and context analysis combined with interviews and audience survey responses as they pertain to the study of popular culture.

Sonja Allen, German and Russian
Children’s Literature - More Than Entertainment

Literature studies, including those at the university level, often neglect to mention the beginning of reading. Children’s literature is more than entertainment; it is also an educational tool. Ms. Allen provided a definition of children’s literature and explained how fairytales were often overheard by children in bed as adults told stories to each other. In this way, children’s literature is reflective of socio-political worries of the era and often never intended for children. Ms. Allen uses Erich Kästner (1899-1974), a German author for adults and children, to present as an example. In many literary overviews and biographies, Kästner’s satirical works for adults are often described in length, while his works for children are merely summarized to “Kinderbücher” (transl. children’s books). Kästner is the author of Das doppelte Lottchen (transl. Lisa and Lottie), which Disney converted into the film The Parent Trap.

Hari IndermohanHari Indermohan, Engineering
Estimation of Lower Bound Limit Loads by M¥ - Method
Mr. Indermohan presented a paper that investigates the m¥-method based on old and new formulations to calculate limit-based design loads for a variety of pressure component configurations. The m¥-method is based on Mura’s lower bound theorem and Seshadri’s modulus modification method. The lower bound limit loads of mechanical components for a variety of pressure vessel components like thick and thin unwelded flat head and a spherical shell with a nozzle are estimated using m¥-method. The lower bound limit loads estimated by m¥-method are compared with elastic compensation method. The results are found to be better for m¥-method when compared with non-linear elastic analysis results.

Ian Brockie,English
Pop-Cultural Representations of Reading Supplements: The Cliffs Notes Version

Ian Brockie’s lecture examined the changing significance of the popular reading supplements Cliff Notes and Coles Notes. Cliffs Notes books have been published since the late 1950s, these days most people think of them as providing the easy way out of reading a book for school. Mr. Brockie discussed how this public perception differs significantly from founder Cliff Hillegrass’s original philanthropic goals of providing a literary resource to students and teachers. He illustrated this by showing manifestations of Cliffs Notes in popular culture, like TV’s Frasier and movies like Clueless. The format established by Cliffs Notes, the distinctive black and yellow covers and consistent stylistic format continues to be replicated by generations of subsequent publications. Pop cultural references often rely on knowledge of this unique format, as illustrated by satirical versions of Cliffs Notes Mr. Brockie displayed, that humourously mocked the readers guides. Mr. Brockie’s work contextualizes Cliffs Notes, Coles Notes and all other similar reading supplements as a literary genre that will persist culturally beyond the bookshelves of embarrassed students everywhere.

Robert H. Dennis, Political Science
The Social Union Framework Agreement: A Clash of Liberal Ideals

Robert H. Dennis’ paper studies the intricate and complex politics of the Social Union Framework Agreement (SUFA). Signed on Feb. 4, 1999, by the federal, provincial, and territorial governments – Quebec being the lone exception – the SUFA is a non-binding administrative agreement impacting areas of fiscal and social policy. Its political purpose, Mr. Dennis suggested, is to renew the Canadian federation without mega-constitutional reform. Drawing together elements of public policy and political theory, Mr. Dennis argued Quebec’s failure to accept the SUFA does not turn on different understandings of democracy; rather, it rests in a conflict between the province’s substantive liberal values and the procedural ones adhered to by the rest-of-Canada. While recognizing the conceptual value of a social union, Mr. Dennis posited an agreement which limits federal spending in areas of provincial jurisdiction is necessary to bring Quebec on-side. .

Brenda KitchenBrenda Kitchen, Sociology
In the Trenches and in the Top Ranks? The Place of Women in our Canadian Forces Reserve Unit, The Royal Newfoundland

Over the last few years the Canadian Forces has made gender integration a top priority. Brenda Kitchen set out to examine the positive and negative consequences this shift in policy is having on the lives of women within the military. Ms. Kitchen has been involved with the military for years and is currently serving as a CIC officer and is very involved with the cadet movement. Through funding from the Institute for Social and Economic Research, Ms. Kitchen was a participant observer with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Her research focuses on the recurring themes of physical training, sexual categorization, and soldier mentality through a sociological feminist framework. Men have dominated this regiment for the last two centuries, trained to kill and known by their motto “better than the best”. Key to Ms. Kitchen’s research are conceptions of the constraints of the female body, given the persisting discrepancies between the physical training regimes of men and women. Part of her research focuses on how these discrepancies affect gender relations within the military, as well as analysing how women relate to a male dominated social structure to become all that they can be.

Anne Whelan, MBA Program
Can you Teach Entrepreneurship? - Experiential, communicative and transformative learning theory and their implications for entrepreneurial education.

How would one go about teaching someone to be a self-starter, a motivator, to be the kind of person who could effectively manage the challenges of being an entrepreneur? No doubt the task is difficult, some argue as to whether or not it can be taught at all or if its the kind of thing people have to learn on their own through experience. Anne Whelan has found that it takes a combination of tactics to foster the kind of environment needed to facilitate the teaching of entrepreneurship. These tactics must address the differing learning styles of students while providing a positive learning environment where they can feel truly comfortable and motivated to take the reins, learning in both a formal and informal structure. Ms. Whelan’s paper proposed following a model that combines theories from adult education about transformative, communicative, and experiential learning methods towards better entrepreneurship education.

Tyson MacCormack, Ocean Sciences
Fish Surviving Heart Attacks

Tyson MacCormack has been researching the way different species of fish cope with reduced oxygen levels. His research is focused on species of fish indigenous to Newfoundland in addition to the research he’s been involved with on the fish who survive the low-oxygen levels of Northern Brazil’s Amazon river through funding from NSERC. While mammals are often incapable of existing in climates with low oxygen levels, certain species of fish are able to physiologically and behaviouristically adapt such that they can function for extended periods of time with little or no access to oxygen. In this way these certain species of fish are capable of surviving what would have been a heart attack for many other creatures. The fish were studied as they swam live and free in their respective climes using electrocardiography and respiratory impedence technology.