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A World of Change

Thursday, May 30, 2019
Theatre professor Roberto Prestigiacomo sits in a row of red chairs, reading a notebook.

Theatre professor Roberto Prestigiacomo makes notes during a forum theater rehearsal.

Trinity supports more than 60 faculty research projects for the 2019-20 academic year

by Jeanna Goodrich Balreira '08

Imagine yourself in a small village in Sicily, one of a dozen people in a room with Trinity theatre professor Roberto Prestigiacomo. You’ve been armed with the tools to go out into your community to interview your neighbors and friends about the effects of African immigration on your village. Your goal is to collect stories that will help create a 20-minute play on the topic. Admittedly, you’re nervous; this is a topic you’ve avoided thus far at the supermarket or at church. What will they say? What will they think of the play? What will they think of me?

Lucky for you, Prestigiacomo is armed with the tools of forum theater, an innovative and relatively new form of theater in which audience members engage with a performance as both spectators and actors with the power to stop and change its storyline. He plans to do just that with a forum theater project in Sicily in spring 2020, when he will be on a semester-long  academic leave. Prestigiacomo has brought forum theater to Trinity before as well, most notably with a Mellon-initiative partnership project on ending the stigma around HIV and AIDS.

“Theater provides tools to establish communication and dialogue, and find solutions to issues that people are often uncomfortable addressing in the first place,” Prestigiacomo says. “The nature of forum theater—and in this case, theater for social change—is creating a constructive environment that leads to problem solving. It is important to establish this environment before conversations and dialogue become impossible.”

While it has long been a hallmark of Trinity University that faculty support their students, it can’t be overlooked how Trinity supports its faculty, too. Annually, Trinity faculty members are awarded academic leaves—a semester or a year spent on an in-depth study—and summer stipends—monetary awards that allow faculty to devote the summer to a scholarly or creative project. For the 2019-20 academic year, Trinity has funded 32 academic leave proposals and 30 summer stipends. In sum, this amounts Academic Affairs providing more than $1.25 million in support of more than 60 faculty research projects.

This means Prestigiacomo is just one of dozens of others who will be using research to impact the world around him. Trinity is also excited to showcase the research projects of other faculty for this summer and for the academic year ahead.


Dania Abreu-Torres, Modern Languages and Literatures
Writing in Caribbean: Three Women’s Perspectives on the Hispanic Caribbean

Dennis Ahlburg, Economics
“Stupid men out, clever girls in”: The introduction and impacts of coresidence at the University of Oxford.

Laura Allen, Education
The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Natural Environments on Novice Teachers’ Well Being

Alan Astro, Modern Languages and Literatures
Yiddish Writings by Élie Wiesel

Ellen Barnett, Education
A case study of elementary pre-service science teacher mentoring

Gerard Beaudoin, Biology
Mechanism of cocaine-induced changes of an excitatory synapse on midbrain dopamine neurons

Brad Beauvais, Health Care Administration
Dancing with Debt: The Association Between Hospital Financial Leverage and Value Based Purchasing Performance

Rosana Blanco-Cano, Modern Languages and Literatures
Repositioning Masculinity in Contemporary Mexican Television: XY (2009-2012) and Club de Cuervos (2015-present)

Douglas Brine, Art and Art History
Brazen Splendors: The Art of Brass in the Burgundian Netherlands

Jenny Browne, English
Until the Sea Once More Closes Over Us, a new poetry collection that considers the geology and psychology of ecological crisis in both form and content.

Bert Chandler, Chemistry
Hydrocarbon Conversion over Supported Au Catalysts

Courtney Crim, Education
The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Walking in Various Environments on Novice Teachers’ Well-Being

David Crockett, Political Science
Returning to Normalcy: The Perils of Restoration Politics

Tianxi Dong, Finance and Decision Sciences
A Deep Learning Approach to Identification of Risk Factors in Aviation Safety Management

Ashley Douglass, Business Administration
The Effect of Audit Partner Specialization on Audit Quality in the Banking Industry

Christine Drennon, Sociology and Anthropology
Piles of Policy: The accumulation and impact of successive policy regimes on San Antonio’s inner-city neighborhoods

William Ellison, Psychology
Psychological Assessment via Smartphone: Incorporating New Research into Real-World Clinical Contexts

Seth Fogarty, Computer Science
Applying Theoretical Computer Science to Software Engineering

Alexandra Gallin-Parisi, Library
Creating a MILK Bank for Parent-Librarians: Sharing Stories and Resources to Help Us Grow [The Motherhood in Libraries Knowledge Bank (MILK Bank) Project]

Jessica Halonen, Art and Art History
Relics and Incidentals (Helicopters, snowflakes and the sky)

Jinli He, Modern Languages and Literatures
The Issue of Modernization and Westernization in Chinese Philosophy: Case Study of the Early 20th Century

Frank Healy, Biology
Dynamics of bacterial flagellar motility in fluid environment transitions

Matthew Hibbs, Computer Science
Gamification of Computer Science Education

Amer Kaissi, Health Care Administration
Agility and Resilience in Healthcare Leaders, Teams, and Organizations

Andrew Kania, Philosophy
Philosophy of Western Music: A Contemporary Introduction

Sarah Beth Kaufman, Sociology and Anthropology
To Be Honest: Voices on Islam from an American City

Patrick Keating, Communication
Film Noir and the Arts of Lighting

Lawrence Kim, Classical Studies
Resisting (Roman) Classicism: ‘Asian’ Oratory in the Second Sophistic

Daniel Lehrmann, Geosciences
Trends over Earth History in the Composition and Architecture of Tropical Carbonate Platform and Reef Systems: Controlled by Biology or Seawater Chemistry?

Kah-Chung Leong, Psychology
Emotional Modulation of Addiction

Kenneth Loiselle, History
Freemasonry and the Catholic Enlightenment

Steven Luper, Philosophy
On What We Are: Two book chapters about the nature and significance of various changes that we do or might come to undergo.

Kelly Lyons, Biology
Assessing the Role of Restoration and Fungal Endophytes on Grass Species Fitness

Natasa Macura, Mathematics
Geometric representatives of automorphisms of right angled Artin groups (RAAGs).

Nicole Marafioti, History
Crime and Sin in Anglo-Saxon Law

Jacquelyn Matava, Music
On the Matter of Art Song

Brian Miceli, Mathematics
Generalized Invertible Sequences

Randall Nadeau, Religion
Religion and the Problem of Taiwanese Identity

Scott Neale, Human Communication and Theatre
Port of Entry: set design for the 3rd and final phase of  the world premiere of Port of Entry, a fully immersive theatre production co-devised by Albany Park Theater Project and Third Rail Projects.

Hoa Nguyen, Mathematics
Bacterial Chemotaxis Near Smooth Surfaces: Novel Simulations and Experiments

Kevin Nickels, Engineering
Complex Modeling and Motion Planning for Autonomous Vehicles

Peter O’Brien, Political Science
Islamophobia and Europhobia in Cyberspace

Kathryn O’Rourke, Art and Art History
Archaism and Humanism in Modern Architecture

David Pooley, Physics and Astronomy
Zooming in on Black Holes (and Advocating for the Future of X-ray Astronomy)

Roberto Prestigiacomo, Human Communication and Theatre
Forum Theatre Project on the Impact of African Immigration in Sicily

Camille Reyes, Communication
The Public Relations of Citizenship: Naturalization and American Myths

Ricardo Santos, Economics
The Champions League, Bosman Rule, and Competitive Balance in Domestic European Football Leagues

Michael Schreyach, Art and Art History
Barnett Newman’s Totality

Gary Seighman, Music
Exploring the British Choral Pedagogy of Today

Benjamin Sosnaud, Sociology and Anthropology
Socio-economic and Racial Inequalities in Infant Mortality in U.S. Counties

David Spener, Sociology and Anthropology
Solidarity of the Latinx Arts Community with the Chilean Democratic Resistance in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1973-1990

Chad Spigel, Religion
Duke University Galilee Database

Jennifer Steele, Physics and Astronomy
Surface plasmon enhanced Forster resonance energy transfer using gold nanogratings

Benjamin Surpless, Geosciences
Fracture network development in normal fault transfer zones

Gina Tam, History
When Languages Don't Need Armies: A History of Dialect and Nationalism in China

Deli Yang, Business Administration
Understanding and Profiting from Intellectual Property: third edition.

Carol Yoder, Psychology
Making inter- and multidisciplinary collaborations productive

Diana Young, Finance and Decision Sciences
An Exploration of Organizational Business Analytics Coordination and Governance

Jie Zhang, Modern Languages and Literatures
Emotions that Go Viral: Perspectives on the Internet Culture of Post-Socialist China

Shage Zhang, Finance and Decision Sciences
The Shape of the Bird: Sentiment in Central Bank Communication

Brady Ziegler, Geosciences
Comprehensive assessment of trace element mobilization in a petroleum contaminated aquifer


Jeanna Goodrich Balreira ’08 is the director for content strategy for Trinity University’s Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing. Get in touch at jgoodri1 [at] trinity.edu or @jeannabalreira.