Notre Dame News https://news.nd.edu/ Notre Dame News gathers and disseminates information that enhances understanding of the University’s academic and research mission and its accomplishments as a Catholic institute of higher learning. en-us 2021-06-22T01:11:27+0000 Statement from Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on Juneteenth https://news.nd.edu/news/statement-from-rev-john-i-jenkins-c-s-c-on-juneteenth/ news_138401 2021-06-18T09:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News “Today, as we commemorate the effective end of slavery in our nation, we recognize that we have much more work to do to ensure that every person, regardless of race, is afforded the dignity that comes from being made in the image and likeness of God. While we at Notre Dame pause to recognize Juneteenth, we commit ourselves to creating an inclusive community on campus and an equitable society at large.”

Statement from Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on Juneteenth

Notre Dame News

“When Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, he invoked ‘the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God,’ and declared that as of Jan. 1, 1863, all enslaved people in the states currently engaged in rebellion against the Union ‘shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.’

“Nearly three more years would pass before Gen. Robert E. Lee would surrender at Appomattox and another two months before federal troops would enter Galveston, Texas, to free the last slaves in the United States. That day, June 19, 1865, became known as Juneteenth and has been celebrated by African Americans throughout the country for more than 150 years. It is now a national holiday.

“Today, as we commemorate the effective end of slavery in our nation, we recognize that we have much more work to do to ensure that every person, regardless of race, is afforded the dignity that comes from being made in the image and likeness of God. While we at Notre Dame pause to recognize Juneteenth this weekend, we commit ourselves to creating an inclusive community on campus and an equitable society at large.”

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Use of PFAS in cosmetics ‘widespread,’ new study finds https://news.nd.edu/news/use-of-pfas-in-cosmetics-widespread-new-study-finds/ news_138287 2021-06-15T06:00:00-0400 Jessica Sieff Many cosmetics sold in the United States and Canada likely contain high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a potentially toxic class of chemicals linked to a number of serious health conditions, according to new research from the University of Notre Dame.

Use of PFAS in cosmetics ‘widespread,’ new study finds

Jessica Sieff

Many cosmetics sold in the United States and Canada likely contain high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a potentially toxic class of chemicals linked to a number of serious health conditions, according to new research from the University of Notre Dame.

Scientists tested more than 200 cosmetics including concealers, foundations, eye and eyebrow products and various lip products. According to the study, 56 percent of foundations and eye products, 48 percent of lip products and 47 percent of mascaras tested were found to contain high levels of fluorine, which is an indicator of PFAS use in the product. The study was recently published in the journal of Environmental Science and Technology Letters.

“These results are particularly concerning when you consider the risk of exposure to the consumer combined with the size and scale of a multibillion-dollar industry that provides these products to millions of consumers daily,” Graham Peaslee, professor of physics at Notre Dame and principal investigator of the study, said. “There’s the individual risk — these are products that are applied around the eyes and mouth with the potential for absorption through the skin or at the tear duct, as well as possible inhalation or ingestion. PFAS is a persistent chemical — when it gets into the bloodstream, it stays there and accumulates. There’s also the additional risk of environmental contamination associated with the manufacture and disposal of these products, which could affect many more people.”

Cosmetics Table Jpg

Previously found in nonstick cookware, treated fabrics, fast food wrappers and, most recently, the personal protective equipment used by firefighters across the country, PFAS are known as “forever chemicals,” because the chemical compounds don’t naturally degrade — which means they end up contaminating groundwater for decades after their release into the environment. Use of PFAS in foam fire suppressants has been linked to contaminated drinking water systems, prompting the Department of Defense to switch to environmentally safer alternatives, for example.

Studies have linked certain PFAS to kidney cancer, testicular cancer, hypertension, thyroid disease, low birth weight and immunotoxicity in children.

Peaslee and the research team tested products purchased at retail locations in the United States as well as products purchased online in Canada. The study found high levels of fluorine in liquid lipsticks, waterproof mascaras and foundations often advertised as “long-lasting” and “wear-resistant.” Peaslee said this not entirely surprising, given PFAS are often used for their water resistance and film-forming properties.

What is more concerning is that 29 products with high fluorine concentrations were tested further and found to contain between four and 13 specific PFAS, only one of these items tested listed PFAS as an ingredient on the product label.

“This is a red flag,” Peaslee said. “Our measurements indicate widespread use of PFAS in these products — but it’s important to note that the full extent of use of fluorinated chemicals in cosmetics is hard to estimate due to lack of strict labeling requirements in both countries.”

Peaslee’s novel method of detecting PFAS in a wide variety of materials has helped reduce the use of “forever chemicals” in consumer and industrial products.

Following a study from his lab in 2017, fast food chains that discovered their wrappers contained PFAS switched to alternative options. Peaslee continues to receive samples of firefighter turnout gear from fire departments around the world to test for PFAS, and his research has spurred conversations within the firefighter community to eliminate use of “forever chemicals” in various articles of personal protective equipment.

Co-authors of the study include graduate student and lead author Heather D. Whitehead; Emi Eastman, Megan Green, Meghanne Tighe, John T. Wilkinson and Sean McGuinness at Notre Dame; Marta Venier and Yan Wu at Indiana University; Miriam Diamond, Anna Shalin and Heather Schwartz-Narbonne at the University of Toronto; Shannon Urbanik at Hope College; Tom Bruton and Arlene Blum at the Green Science Policy Institute; and Zhanyun Wang at ETH Zurich.

Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Great Lakes Protection Initiative of the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada partly funded the study.

 

Contact: Jessica Sieff, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-3933, jsieff@nd.edu

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Doctoral candidate Shaun Evans named 2021 Lilly Graduate Fellow https://news.nd.edu/news/doctoral-candidate-shaun-evans-named-2021-lilly-graduate-fellow/ news_138345 2021-06-14T15:35:00-0400 Erin Blasko He is one of 10 Lilly Graduate Fellows from a pool of more than 60 applicants nationwide.

Doctoral candidate Shaun Evans named 2021 Lilly Graduate Fellow

Erin Blasko

Shaun Evans, a doctoral candidate in theology at the University of Notre Dame, has been named a 2021 Lilly Graduate Fellow. He is one of 10 Lilly Graduate Fellows from a pool of more than 60 applicants nationwide.

Established with a grant from the Lilly Endowment and based at Christ College, the interdisciplinary honors college at Valparaiso University, the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program supports exceptionally well qualified young people who have bachelor’s degrees from Lilly Fellowship Program Network Schools and who are interested in becoming teacher-scholars at church-related colleges and universities in the U.S.

Fellows participate in a three-year program in which they meet regularly with a mentor, attend four conferences, participate in a long-distance colloquium and receive an annual $3,000 stipend to use at their discretion.

A native of Erie, Pennsylvania, Evans worked closely with Jenny Smith, undergraduate research adviser with the Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement at Notre Dame, to apply for the fellowship.

“Shaun is an outstanding example of a bright mind formed by the humanities at Notre Dame, having studied in the theology, philosophy and classics departments during his time here. We are exceptionally pleased that his intellectual curiosity, diligent work ethic and commitment to integrating faith and learning have been recognized by the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program,” said Smith.

“The Lilly Graduate Fellows Program will be a wonderful opportunity to come to know other graduate students committed to church-affiliated higher education and to receive mentorship from senior scholars who view their teaching as a form of Christian service,” Evans said. “I am grateful to the many members of the faculty of the Department of Theology at Notre Dame who have modeled for me an integration of academic work and Christian vocation, and I am especially grateful to Professors Joseph Wawrykow, Yury Avvakumov and David Lincicum, who wrote letters of recommendation in support of my application, and to Professors Ann Astell and Robin Jensen, who first informed me about the Lilly program.”

Evans completed his bachelor’s degree in theology in 2018 and his master’s degree in theology in 2020, both at Notre Dame. He was a Sorin Fellow, a member of the Glynn Family Honors Program, a mentor in faith at the McGrath Institute for Church Life and a Graduate School Dean’s Fellow. He spent spring 2017 studying in Rome with Notre Dame International.

Evans is currently pursuing his doctorate in theology at Notre Dame, with a focus on the intersection of Christology and grace in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. Ultimately, he hopes to teach at a Catholic college or university, where he can introduce students to the riches of the Christian theological tradition — in particular, the medieval understanding of Christ’s involvement in the Christian’s life of grace.

For more on this and other fellowship opportunities, visit cuse.nd.edu.

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127, eblasko@nd.edu

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Summer computer science program at Notre Dame leads to statewide recognition for Penn-Harris-Madison teacher https://news.nd.edu/news/summer-computer-science-program-at-notre-dame-leads-to-statewide-recognition-for-penn-harris-madison-teacher/ news_138335 2021-06-14T11:00:00-0400 Erin Blasko Amanda Fox was recently honored as a finalist for the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) for her work to develop computer science curricula for students at Prairie Vista and other local elementary schools.

Summer computer science program at Notre Dame leads to statewide recognition for Penn-Harris-Madison teacher

Erin Blasko

For the past four summers, Amanda Fox, a teacher with Penn-Harris-Madison (PHM) School Corp., has worked closely with Michael Niemier, professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, to devise ways to incorporate computer science concepts into the existing STEM curriculum at Prairie Vista Elementary School in Granger.

Now, Fox, who teaches third grade at Prairie Vista, is being recognized for that work.

Fox was recently honored as a finalist for the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) for her work to develop computer science curricula for students at Prairie Vista and other local elementary schools.

“The recognition is amazing,” Fox said. “I’m just so honored that someone saw I had the skills and knowledge for this, because as an elementary teacher I never thought of myself in that capacity.”

Established in 1984, the PAEMST is the highest honor bestowed upon educators by the U.S. government specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering, math and/or computer science teaching, recognizing teachers “who have both deep content knowledge of the subjects they teach and the ability to motivate and enable students to be successful in those areas.”

“It’s great that Amanda is being recognized, because she’s put in a fair amount of work, and she’s been super creative in how she has translated things she’s done over the summer into the classroom — both in very conventional ways and in very unconventional ways,” said Niemier, who in addition to teaching co-directs the Hardware-Software Co-Design Research Group, leads the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program and is a theme leader with the National Science Foundation Extremely Energy Efficient Collective Electronics (EXCEL) Center at Notre Dame.

Aside from Niemier, others who contributed to Fox being recognized as a finalist for the PAEMST include Clare Roach, coordinator of the English as a new language program with the Alliance for Catholic Education at Notre Dame, and fellow PHM teacher John Gensic, a past PAEMST winner in science. Roach, a Prairie Vista parent who leads the afterschool program there, introduced Fox and Niemier. Gensic, a past RET participant who now serves as a workshop assistant for the program, nominated Fox for the award.

The PAEMST is given annually to as many as two teachers — one in math and one in science — from each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Department of Defense Education Activity schools and the U.S. territories as a group.

Fox is the only Indiana finalist in math. She and the two finalists in science were honored in April at a luncheon in Indianapolis with Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner. Jenner also recognized Fox, as well as Notre Dame, and the other finalists in her weekly newsletter for state educators.

Through the EXCEL Center, Fox, along with a handful of other local K-8 educators, has worked with Niemier and other Notre Dame faculty, as well as graduate students and computer science educator Kelly Brandon, to develop a foundation in computer science and devise ways to incorporate computer science into the classroom in alignment with existing standards for STEM education in Indiana.

Recently, she had students create book reports and multiplication games using Scratch, a free block-based visual programming language and website, and led students in a “telephone”-style game designed to demonstrate how different parts of the computer communicate. She also works with Roach to incorporate computer science into the after-school program at Prairie Vista.

“They love it, they crave it,” Fox said of the students. “And once they see the connections to how it works in the real world, they want more of it.”

Last summer, while continuing to develop original content for her classroom, Fox also participated in research activities alongside Notre Dame graduate students as part of the RET program, which typically is aimed at high school teachers.

Fox has also mentored other STEM teachers, developed computer science content for K-8 students in other local school districts, started a Computer Science Teachers Association chapter for Northern Indiana and organized a backpack program for Prairie Vista students to complete computer science activities at home, including during the pandemic.

In addition to broadening students’ perspectives around science and technology, Fox’s efforts have contributed to the development of a framework for K-12 schools to meet new state standards around computer science designed to better prepare students for the future.

“Computer science is more and more pervasive,” Niemier said. “So having a foundation for seniors as they graduate high school will be useful for when they move onto college” or other educational or career opportunities.

For more information on the RET program, visit ret.nd.edu.

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127, eblasko@nd.edu

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Community by Design: Architecture students help reimagine South Bend neighborhood https://news.nd.edu/news/community-by-design-architecture-students-help-reimagine-south-bend-neighborhood/ news_138333 2021-06-14T09:00:00-0400 Erin Blasko William Street in South Bend was primarily residential until about 1940, when the city decided to extend it north to Portage Avenue. Designed to establish a new commuter corridor linking downtown to the far north side, the decision would have lasting consequences. Almost immediately, traffic increased, altering the historical character of the street and hastening its decline. Homes became apartments or businesses and then parking lots, as people abandoned the area for the suburbs. Property values plummeted, until urban renewal drove the final nail into the coffin.…

Community by Design: Architecture students help reimagine South Bend neighborhood

Erin Blasko

William Street in South Bend was primarily residential until about 1940, when the city decided to extend it north to Portage Avenue. Designed to establish a new commuter corridor linking downtown to the far north side, the decision would have lasting consequences. Almost immediately, traffic increased, altering the historical character of the street and hastening its decline. Homes became apartments or businesses and then parking lots, as people abandoned the area for the suburbs. Property values plummeted, until urban renewal drove the final nail into the coffin.

Today, the formerly quiet, tree-lined street is a sterile corridor of vacant land and parking lots, of narrow sidewalks and substandard commercial buildings. A liminal space dividing downtown from the near west side. Void of charm and character.

For developers and investors, this presents a challenge in the form of an “appraisal gap” — a negative relationship between the cost of a newly constructed home or building and its ultimate value. Currently, absent tax incentives or other public support, the return on investment in the area is negative.

“The primary deficit of this part of the city is the absence of a coherent, friendly and generally attractive public realm. Because the streets are devoid of streetscapes, and the carriageways are very wide, encouraging drivers to speed, it is impossible for a visitor to say ‘This is a civilized place,’” said Stefanos Polyzoides, the newly appointed Francis and Kathleen Rooney Dean of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture.

To read the story, click here.

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‘Disagreeable’ married men who shirk domestic responsibilities earn more at work, study shows https://news.nd.edu/news/disagreeable-married-men-who-shirk-domestic-responsibilities-earn-more-at-work-study-shows/ news_138299 2021-06-10T15:00:00-0400 Shannon Roddel New research from the University of Notre Dame shows that “disagreeable” men in opposite-sex marriages are less helpful with domestic work, allowing them to devote greater resources to their jobs, which results in higher pay.

‘Disagreeable’ married men who shirk domestic responsibilities earn more at work, study shows

Shannon Roddel

Married men who don’t help out around the house tend to bring home bigger paychecks than husbands who play a bigger role on the domestic chores front.

New research from the University of Notre Dame shows that “disagreeable” men in opposite-sex marriages are less helpful with domestic work, allowing them to devote greater resources to their jobs, which results in higher pay.

In contemporary psychology, “agreeableness” is one of the “Big Five” dimensions used to describe human personality. It generally refers to someone who is warm, sympathetic, kind and cooperative. Disagreeable people do not tend to exhibit these characteristics, and they tend to be more self-interested and competitive.

Why Disagreeableness (in Married Men) Leads to Earning More: A Theory and Test of Social Exchange at Home” is forthcoming in Personnel Psychology from lead author Brittany Solomon and Cindy Muir (Zapata), management professors at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, along with Matthew Hall, the David A. Potenziani Memorial College Professor of Constitutional Studies and concurrent law professor at Notre Dame, and Elizabeth Campbell from the University of Minnesota.

Brittany Solomon
Brittany Solomon

“Across two studies, we find evidence that disagreeable men tend to earn more money relative to their more agreeable male counterparts because they are more self-interested and less helpful to their wives at home, which allows for greater job involvement and, ultimately, higher pay,” Solomon said. “This effect is even stronger among disagreeable men with more traditional gender role attitudes and when their wives are highly conscientious, presumably because in these cases their wives take on more household management and more seamlessly carry out the responsibilities.”

The concept may bring to mind the ’50s and ’60s sitcom “Leave it to Beaver,” where Ward Cleaver always arrived home in time for dinner and June Cleaver wore dresses and pearls to clean floors. Did they have advanced understanding of their respective roles?

The study suggests that because these men are able to preserve more time and energy at home, they can invest these resources into their work and earn more. However, the team found that disagreeableness does not predict career success for more egalitarian men, those whose wives are less conscientious or any men outside opposite-sex marriages.

“While disagreeableness in the workplace may lead some employees to success, those hoping to attain higher pay should at least hesitate before leaning into a disagreeable workplace persona,” Solomon cautioned. “Indeed, if self-interested and less communal work behavior was the only key to higher pay, then disagreeable men would tend to earn more, regardless of whether they were married, how they viewed gender roles or to whom they were married.”

Prior research has shown that disagreeableness predicts financial success (especially for men), and this association is attributed to workplace behavior. However, this effect remains puzzling given that disagreeableness is negatively associated with valued workplace behaviors, such as cooperation and prosocial behavior. In contrast, the team theorizes the male disagreeableness premium can be further understood by considering imbalanced social exchanges at home, specifically with one’s spouse. 

“Our findings build on the conventional wisdom that organizations seem to reward disagreeable workplace behaviors and highlight the importance of social exchange at home for success at work,” Solomon said. “Our research suggests that organizations acknowledge the role that spousal exchange plays in individual success and points to the potential for organizations to refocus efforts to fuel job involvement on lightening the burden of at-home responsibilities. Doing so could allow employees to preserve resources that could then be invested in their jobs.

“Presumably, this type of initiative would be especially beneficial to those who do not have the persona and gender that, we found, naturally drives individually advantageous spousal exchange — that is, everyone other than disagreeable, married men,” she said. “To help those who do not have the built-in at-home arrangement that enhances job involvement and pay, organizations may consider investing in infrastructure that helps establish more level career-related playing fields.”

These may include providing non-work resources, such as lists of reputable providers for home services and maintenance, establishing child care programs, pre-vetting caregivers or having couriers on retainer, which Solomon speculates may enhance job involvement even more than traditional work-focused incentives like bonuses.

“Practices that situate employees more equitably outside of work may offer more employees the opportunity to succeed,” Solomon said. “Also, some research shows that men are stigmatized for taking advantage of flex work policies. Changing the organizational culture, in addition to implementing such policies, may influence calculations within a marriage or partnership about whose career should take priority and who should do more at home. Consequently, organizations may also help support initiatives aimed to promote gender diversity and inclusion, especially efforts to reduce male dominance in high-income positions.”

The study also carries implications for career self-management. Most notably, the findings may influence how employees view other people’s roles in their own success, beyond their boss and other organizational members, and help improve the understanding of how one’s choice of romantic partner and social exchange at home can have substantial implications for one’s career success.

“Professionals often publicly thank their spouses when receiving achievement awards or earning promotion,” Solomon said. “And, at least for disagreeable men, our findings quantify the truth behind this sentiment.”
 

Contact: Brittany Solomon, 574-631-5395, bsolomon@nd.edu

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K. Matthew Dames appointed chief librarian of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Libraries https://news.nd.edu/news/k-matthew-dames-appointed-chief-librarian-of-notre-dames-hesburgh-libraries/ news_138261 2021-06-09T10:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News K. Matthew Dames, university librarian at Boston University, has been appointed the Edward H. Arnold University Librarian at the University of Notre Dame by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., effective Aug. 1. 

K. Matthew Dames appointed chief librarian of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Libraries

Notre Dame News
K. Matthew Dames
K. Matthew Dames

K. Matthew Dames, university librarian at Boston University, has been appointed the Edward H. Arnold University Librarian at the University of Notre Dame by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., effective Aug. 1. Dames succeeds Diane Parr Walker, who is retiring after serving 10 years as university librarian.

Dames has been integral in Boston University’s strategic planning process as chief librarian, chairing a faculty-led, provost-appointed committee charged with developing the library system’s 2030 priorities. Dames led the merger between Boston University’s library and the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, a special collections and archives unit. He also served as the center’s acting director after the merger. Dames launched the digital ventures unit to develop enterprise-level digital scholarship capacity, a move that resulted in a Boston University partnership with Boston Public Library to professionally digitize the papers of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Prior to joining Boston University, Dames was associate librarian for scholarly resources and services at Georgetown University and interim dean of libraries and librarian for Syracuse University. In these roles, he helped develop a comprehensive digital preservation vision and strategy for Georgetown and established a fund at Syracuse to develop new library spaces and services.

“Matthew is a proven leader among the nation’s academic research libraries with a track record of driving innovative processes, technologies and settings that meet the current and emerging needs of students and faculty,” Father Jenkins said. “We welcome him to the Notre Dame community and look forward to the ways he will contribute to our distinctive mission and make the Hesburgh Libraries an even more valuable resource for the teaching, learning, research and collaboration of our scholars.”

Dames has cultivated strong relationships inside and outside of university environments throughout his career, implementing innovative programs to enhance staff development and successfully securing resources to advance key library initiatives.

He developed and sponsored the In House Leadership Development Program at Boston University. The program received a $100,000 Strategic Talent Development for Library Leadership grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant, for which Dames served as principal investigator, was the foundation’s first award for executive talent development in academic libraries. While at Georgetown University, he was integral in acquiring a $1.5 million gift of contemporary, award-winning first edition books, including Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart.” In addition, Dames’ efforts at Syracuse resulted in the establishment of a scholarship fund to help high-performing library student employees defray the cost of education.

“Matthew is a catalyst, an innovator and an accomplished scholar. Hesburgh Libraries will greatly benefit from his ability to establish meaningful connections with external partners, academic colleagues and the teams he leads,” Marie Lynn Miranda, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at Notre Dame, said. “In each of his previous roles, he has inspired new ways of thinking and working that make libraries and universities greater contributors to scholarly production and to society. We are fortunate that Matthew will be bringing his talents and creativity to Notre Dame.”

Dames is nationally recognized as an expert in copyright law, holding a faculty appointment in Boston University’s School of Law. He has conducted research focused on copyright law, policy and history — emphasizing culture and norms of the media industries. Dames began his academic library career as founding director of Syracuse University’s Copyright and Information Policy Office, one of the nation’s first full-time university copyright offices. Syracuse’s copyright policy, which he authored, has been copied in full or in part by more than 20 other U.S. universities.

As the Edward H. Arnold University Librarian, Dames will lead a team of more than 175 faculty and staff members at the flagship Hesburgh Library — which houses the Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship, the Medieval Institute Library, the University Archives, and Rare Books and Special Collections — and four specialty libraries located on the Notre Dame campus. The library system holds more than 3.5 million monograph and subscribes to more than 35,000 serials, all in support of learning, teaching and research.

Dames earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from City University of New York and a master’s degree in information studies and a doctoral degree in information science and technology from Syracuse University. He earned his juris doctorate from Northeastern University. Dames also serves as vice president and president-elect of the Association of Research Libraries, the nation’s leading association for research libraries in academia and government. He has served on the board of directors executive committee for the NERL Consortium of academic research libraries.

“I am delighted to join the Notre Dame community, particularly as a successor to Diane Parr Walker, who has led the Hesburgh Libraries with distinction for the past decade. I look forward to collaborating with students, faculty, leadership, Libraries staff, donors and alumni to ensure that the Hesburgh Libraries not only remain one of the campus’s most vital units, but ascend to greater national and global prominence,” Dames said.

Miranda commended the search committee that conducted a competitive national search, recommending Dames from a diverse pool of highly accomplished candidates. 

“I deeply appreciate the dedication and professionalism of the search committee members,” Miranda said. “They helped identify an extraordinary field of candidates and championed the needs of our students and faculty at every step in the process. I am grateful for their service and good work.”

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Political science professors sign statement warning of threats to US democracy https://news.nd.edu/news/political-science-professors-sign-statement-warning-of-threats-to-us-democracy/ news_138243 2021-06-08T11:00:00-0400 Colleen Sharkey Five University of Notre Dame professors who specialize in different areas of democracy studies recently signed a strong statement of concern issued by the think tank New America warning of the serious threats to democracy in the U.S.

Political science professors sign statement warning of threats to US democracy

Colleen Sharkey

Five University of Notre Dame professors who specialize in different areas of democracy studies recently signed a strong statement of concern issued by the think tank New America warning of the serious threats to democracy in the U.S. Notre Dame is a longtime leader in research on democratization in comparative perspective through a number of campus institutes, and the American politics subfield that is part of the Department of Political Science emphasizes research on inclusion.

Michael Coppedge
Michael Coppedge

As demonstrated by the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project, there has been a “significant erosion of liberal democracy in the U.S. since 2016,” Michael Coppedge, professor of political science and one of the V-Dem principal investigators, said. V-Dem has measured hundreds of attributes of democracy and governance for most countries going back to 1789. The 2021 V-Dem report on democracy, “Autocratization Goes Viral,” underscores the dramatic spikes in countries becoming more autocratic. In fact, V-Dem reports that, as of 2020, only 4 percent of the world’s population is living in democratizing nations. It also reports that no country in North America or Western and Eastern Europe has advanced in democracy in the last decade, while democracy in the U.S. (along with Hungary, Poland, Serbia and Slovenia) has declined substantially.

“A decline is already underway. If recent and pending state-level legislation erects more and more barriers to voting and makes the translation of votes into seats and electors even more distorted than it already is, I am sure this trend will worsen,” added Coppedge, who is also a faculty fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.

The U.S. has dropped in three out of six indices studied by V-Dem that measure everything from the quality of elections and individual rights to rule of law and whether political decisions are made in the interest of the common good. The 2021 report shows the U.S. declined substantially on the Liberal Democracy Index from 0.86 in 2010 to 0.73 in 2020. This is in part, the researchers write, a consequence of former President Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on the media and opposition politicians, and the substantial weakening of the legislature’s de facto checks and balances on executive power. The V-Dem team also reported significant negative changes in the U.S.’s deliberation score, the component that captures the extent to which public speech, including counterarguments, and respect for political opponents is respected by political leaders. It moved from 0.91 in 2016 to 0.61 in 2020.

Christina Wolbrecht 300x400
Christina Wolbrecht

Although the V-Dem team saw an overall decline in pro-democracy mobilization worldwide, the U.S. had its highest number of protests in recent history. The June 6, 2020, protests with more than half a million people spurred by the murder of George Floyd and the months of protests that followed are seen as a condemnation of systemic oppression of people of color. Race was key in the fight for voting rights in 2020 in states like Georgia, where Black voters not only handed President Joe Biden a win, but also ensured victories for the state’s first Black senator and first Jewish senator over their Republican opponents. More recently, the Republican-led state legislature has been successful in changing voting laws in Georgia — a move that has been criticized as an attempt to limit voting for people of color.

“Marginalized and intersectional communities have been crucial leaders in the contemporary struggle to defend and secure voting rights. Black women in particular have turned their commitment to community into sophisticated voter mobilization organizations,” said Christina Wolbrecht, professor of political science and director of the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy. “It’s important to emphasize, however, that resisting and overcoming discriminatory voting rules requires time, energy and attention that these communities do not have in abundance and that distract from other work that advances human flourishing.”

Luis Fraga, the Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Professor of Political Science, whose areas of expertise include Latino politics, politics of race and ethnicity, voting rights policy and immigration policy, emphasized that the contemporary fight for minority rights is nothing new.

Luis Fraga 300x400
Luis Fraga

“We are a nation founded on the basis of slavery and its related racism,” he said. “We have culture wars and our racist historical past and its lingering contemporary effects and immigration — particularly from Latin America — is identified as a threat to American identity and elements of American ideals. Add to that people coming from Muslim countries, and this intensifies the culture wars. We’ve seen the decline of the material status of some blue-collar workers in some parts of the country. All these things together have led to — and research backs this up — the importance of white identity. Working against this threatens the status of the Republican Party and spurs the gerrymandering/voting tricks. Their goal is to dehumanize the people who are the sources of that threat.”

Echoing the V-Dem team’s deliberation score for the U.S., Fraga said this rhetoric, combined with political leadership doubling down on misinformation with the intent of spreading it as widely as possible via likeminded news outlets, has caused extreme political polarization in the U.S. He added, “It’s not that the people who are influenced by that are in any way unsophisticated — it’s things changing in the U.S. in a way that they are not comfortable with.”

Fraga, who also serves as the Rev. Donald P. McNeill, C.S.C., Professor of Transformative Latino Leadership and the director of the Institute for Latino Studies, sees hope in proposed legislation. The goal of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act is to restore and strengthen parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the For the People Act aims to expand voting rights, change campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics, limit partisan gerrymandering and create new ethics rules for federal officeholders. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has announced that he will not support the For the People Act, as he believes any reforms in voting and election practices should be bipartisan. In a recent op-ed, he wrote, “Partisan policymaking won’t instill confidence in our democracy — it will destroy it.”

Fraga sees it differently, noting that many lawmakers see clearly that “this is not America at its best,” and that the proposed acts would be a way to prevent democratic backsliding.

“The New America statement is supported by my research, teaching and values and is in the best traditions of Notre Dame,” he continued. “We were established to provide education to predominantly immigrant, working-class and marginalized Americans. This attack on voting rights one can understand as a threat to what Notre Dame stands for and what has brought it its greatness.”

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Aníbal Pérez-Liñán

Professor of Political Science and Global Affairs Aníbal Pérez-Liñán studies processes of democratization, political instability and the rule of law in new democracies, particularly in Latin America. He sees parallels in some Latin American countries to attempts by U.S. state Republican legislatures to restrict voting rules, thus securing long-term partisan control of their states.

“This strategy only works if federal legislation fails to enforce voting rights nationally,” said Perez-Liñán, who holds a joint appointment at the Keough School of Global Affairs. “Students of Latin American politics call this phenomenon ‘boundary control.’ In Latin America, authoritarian governors are known to preserve power in their enclaves by fending off the influence of national governments.”

The idea of eliminating the filibuster — a Congressional tactic, meant to delay a vote on or kill a bill, that requires 60 percent of senators to overturn — has been bandied about since the Biden administration began and Democrats gained control of both the White House and the Senate. Perez-Liñán, who recently wrote an article for the Dignity & Development blog on the damage legislative supermajorities can do to democracy through altering the independence of courts, notes that the filibuster is an important maneuver that protects legislative minorities.

“Paradoxically, however, some Republican senators are using this institution to disempower minorities in their own states,” said Perez-Liñán, who is also a faculty fellow at the Kellogg Institute. “By blocking the adoption of federal legislation to defend voting rights, they sadly exercise boundary control to protect the adoption of restrictive voting laws.”

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Scott Mainwaring

Eugene and Helen Conley Professor of Political Science Scott Mainwaring agrees and stresses that the overt attempts to suppress minority votes, the partisan manipulation of electoral administration and the refusal to accept Trump’s defeat are all harbingers of the demise of democracy.

“These practices represent a movement toward competitive authoritarian regimes, and they are a deep threat to democracy,” said Mainwaring, who is also a faculty fellow at the Kellogg Institute. “As a student and scholar of democracy for more than 40 years, I am disheartened to see these practices.”

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Scientists identify a rare magnetic propeller in a binary star system https://news.nd.edu/news/scientists-identify-a-rare-magnetic-propeller-in-a-binary-star-system/ news_138221 2021-06-07T13:00:00-0400 Jessica Sieff Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have identified the first eclipsing magnetic propeller in a cataclysmic variable star system, according to research forthcoming in the Astrophysical Journal.

Scientists identify a rare magnetic propeller in a binary star system

Jessica Sieff
Propellor Star
An illustration of a fast-spinning, magnetic white dwarf rejecting the donor gas in the cataclysmic variable known as J0240. (Credit: Dr. Mark Garlick)

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have identified the first eclipsing magnetic propeller in a cataclysmic variable star system, according to research forthcoming in the Astrophysical Journal.

The star system, referred to as J0240, is only the second of its kind on record. It was identified in 2020 as an unusual cataclysmic variable — a binary system consisting of a white dwarf star and a mass-donating red star. Normally, the compact white dwarf star collects the donated gas and grows in mass. In J0240, however, the fast-spinning, magnetic white dwarf rejects the donor’s gas and propels it out of the binary system.

“It takes a rapidly spinning dwarf with a strong magnetic field in order to create a propeller,” said Peter Garnavich, professor of astrophysics and cosmology physics and chair of the Department of Physics at Notre Dame, and lead author of the study that presented evidence of the propeller system. “Normally, gas coming off of the donor star will land on the white dwarf. That’s as common as sand on a beach. But in a magnetic propeller, the gas is ejected from the binary in a wide spiral pattern — like a lawn sprinkler watering your yard.”

White dwarfs are the dense remnants of low-mass stars like our sun, which scientists say will evolve into a white dwarf in another five billion years or so. Without a companion star, however, the sun will never be part of a cataclysmic variable system.

The only other cataclysmic variable similar to J0240 is AE Aquarii, a binary star system known since the 1950s and believed to also be a magnetic propeller system. Conversely, J0240 is observed close to the binary orbital plane, meaning that the gas ejected from the system is seen silhouetted against the light of the stars. This is the first direct evidence that a magnetic propeller ejects the red star’s donated gas.

 “What’s unique about the system is that we actually can see blobs of gas as they’re ejected by the propeller,” Garnavich said. “That gas is blocking some of the light from both stars and we can directly see that absorption in our data.”

Garnavich’s team began observations at the Large Binocular Telescope in Safford, Arizona, where the researchers were able to record the occurrence of flares and eclipses that illustrated the rapid spinning of the white dwarf star, and the pull of the magnetic field — which expels incoming gases that would otherwise be added to the star but instead creates a spiral of gas expanding away from the two stars.

 “The more we observed the star, the more exciting it appeared,” said Garnavich. The team gathered observations in September, October and November of 2020. Data gathered in September captured the first half of J0240’s orbit. In October, the team captured the second half.

“The flares we see are mini-explosions that blow off gas at 6 million miles per hour, or 1 percent of the speed of light,” he said.

The flaring disappears when the red companion gets in the way during an eclipse. From the timing of the eclipses, the team was able to pinpoint the location of the flares. “The flaring is coming from very close to the compact companion, likely from the whack the gas receives as it approaches the rapidly spinning magnetic field,” Garnavich said.

Garnavich hopes to learn a lot more from the J0240 binary from further observations. One of the big unknowns is the white dwarf spin period, which the team was unable to detect.  “The energy of the propeller is coming from the spinning white dwarf, so we expect the spin rate to be slowing over time. When it runs down, the propeller will stop and the system will look like a ordinary cataclysmic variable,” said Garnavich.

“The biggest question is exactly how do you get into this state,” he said. “It’s a very short-lived phase where you have a magnetic white dwarf spinning about as fast as it can spin without actually flying apart. Spinning so fast with a strong magnetic field — seems like it can’t be just coincidence.”

Co-authors on the study include Colin Littlefield, also at Notre Dame; Mark Wagner at Ohio State University and the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory; Jan van Roestel and Amruta Jaodand at the California Institute of Technology; Paula Szkody at the University of Washington; and John Thorstensen at Dartmouth College.

A preprint of the study is available here.

 

Contact: Jessica Sieff, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-3933, jsieff@nd.edu

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Father Jenkins joins with other community leaders at the annual Prayer for Peace https://news.nd.edu/news/father-jenkins-joins-with-other-community-leaders-at-the-annual-prayer-for-peace/ news_138187 2021-06-06T17:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., joined other local clergy, elected officials and community leaders at the annual interdenominational Prayer for Peace today at the Jon R. Hunt Memorial Plaza in downtown South Bend.

Father Jenkins joins with other community leaders at the annual Prayer for Peace

Notre Dame News

University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., joined other local clergy, elected officials and community leaders at the annual interdenominational Prayer for Peace today at the Jon R. Hunt Memorial Plaza in downtown South Bend.

After speaking of the suffering and isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the pain and injustice endured by Black members of the South Bend community and beyond, Father Jenkins offered a portion of a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

We pray this and ask for God’s blessings for our South Bend community, in Christ’s name, amen.

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