Academic Achievement

Student designer Syl Xu fits the skirt of Vice President for University Advancement Louise Furrow’s gown

Student designer Syl Xu fits the skirt of Vice President for University Advancement Louise Furrow’s gown

Physics department and John Perkins Center collaborate on NSF-funded research

A grant from the National Science Foundation, begun in June 2016, is funding SPU research on university-level physics teaching methods that will challenge and empower instructors to make their teaching and assessment more inclusive for students from underrepresented minority groups. In a partnership between two SPU departments, the Physics Education Research Group and the John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training, and Community Development, the research will gather best practices from a variety of physics departments around the U.S. and train instructors in how to use those practices.

Business professor Denise Daniels to collaborate on Faith and Work research grant from Lilly

A grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. will enable researchers from Rice University and Seattle Pacific to examine the relationship between work and faith. They hope to gain an understanding of how people from diverse workplaces and socio-economic backgrounds integrate their religious views into their work. Funded by the $1.5 million grant, Denise Daniels, SPU professor of management in the School of Business, Government, and Economics, will collaborate with Elaine Howard Ecklund, Religion and Public Life Program director at Rice and scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Stephen Newby

Stephen Newby composes music for musical Free Boy

Associate Professor of Music Stephen Newby was commissioned by Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre to compose a children’s musical theatre production based on the novel Free Boy: A True Story of Slave and Master, about an African-American enslaved boy who ran away to Canada. The musical was on tour until the end of May in schools across Washington state. Based on the book by Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry historian-emeritus Lorraine McConaghy and Seattle historian Judy Bentley, the musical tells the tale of young Charles Mitchell, brought to Washington Territory as a slave in 1855, and his subsequent escape to British Columbia.

Classical mythology and pop songs highlighted in annual lecture

Owen Ewald, associate professor of classics, delivered the 2017 C. May Marston Lecture “Classics and Popular Music” on February 7. Classical literature has inspired popular music of the last six decades in often surprising ways. Four ancient genres — epic, tragedy, philosophy, and historical writing — seem to have the most influence on Anglophone popular music, from Bob Dylan to Sarah Dougher. Ewald offered examples including brief allusions or metaphors, as well as others that rework ancient narratives or even offer creative translations set to music.

Michaela Rubenstein

Meet a 2017 graduate: Michaela Rubenstein

This ecology major spent time abroad in Costa Rica, after which she served as a study abroad global ambassador, sharing her experience with other students. Rubenstein also worked as an intern at the Seattle Aquarium on the bird and mammal team. During her time at SPU, Rubenstein also participated in the University Scholars program, with her final paper titled “Effects of ZooTunes Concert Decibel Levels on the Behavior of Five Species at Woodland Park Zoo.” Following graduation, she returned to Costa Rica for an internship as a naturalist guide in the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

Meet more graduates from the Class of 2017 and read their stories at

Theologian speaks on global Christianity

Daniel Castelo delivered the 2017 Winifred E. Weter Lecture, “The World is Our Parish: Struggling with Catholicity in our Western Context” on April 10. He spoke about how, given demographic changes, Christianity is significantly a non-Western religion today, yet those of us in the West continue to perpetuate a kind of privilege in the way we speak and understand Christianity in part because of the intimate connections between Christianity and the West historically. What would be involved, he asked, if Western Christians were to change course and truly believe, as they confess, that they are part of the one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church? Castelo is professor of dogmatic and constructive theology in SPU’s School of Theology.

Annual conference showcases student research

Now in its 15th year, the annual Erickson Undergraduate Research Conference gives students an opportunity to present their original scientific research, as well as hear from a leading scientist. This year’s keynote address was given by Richard Feely, senior scientist at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

The conference, held May 12, featured seven concurrent student oral presentation sessions, with a total of 28 presentations of original research and engineering design. Meanwhile, 52 student groups presented posters across all of SPU’s STEM disciplines — biochemistry, biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, computer science, and engineering.

Left to right: Furrow, student designer Sarah Maberry, Pam Martin, and apparel design faculty member Sarah Mosher.

Left to right: Furrow, student designer Sarah Maberry, Pam Martin, and apparel design faculty member Sarah Mosher.

Designers create custom styles for gala gowns

Following a Project Runway-style competition, student designers Syl Xu and Sarah Maberry designed and produced custom evening gowns for Louise Furrow, vice president for University Advancement, and Pam Martin, wife to SPU President Dan Martin. Furrow and Martin wore the gowns to SPU’s 125th Anniversary Gala.

Her style goal was “elegant, simple but beautiful,” says Xu, who is completing a yearlong program at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology as part of her SPU degree. Both Xu and Maberry are apparel design and merchandising majors in SPU’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. With fittings throughout the year, Furrow and Martin debuted their dresses at the gala. Furrow says she enjoyed getting to tell other gala attendees that her dress was student-designed.

See the dresses from concept to creation.