It’s Psychophyisiological!

The Department of Behavioral Sciences has been putting its new Biopac equipment to good use! The Biopac systems allow researchers to collect psychophysiological measures (e.g., electrical conductivity of the skin, brain activity, heart rate, facial muscle activity, etc).

For example, last semester Maya Mackenzie used the Biopac systems as part of her practicum to measure how different aromas could influence retention and anxiety levels. In addition, Dr. Jeff Sable routinely uses the Biopac systems to demonstrate course principles in his classes (e.g., Biological Psychology, Sensation & Perception, and Psychophysiology). In fact, the members of Dr. Sable’s Psychophysiology class are currently conducting a study examining the possible differences in brain activity between those who experience migraine headaches and those who do not. Also, students in both Correlational Research Methods and Experimental Research Methods can use the Biopac systems as part of the research project for the courses.

Other students and faculty are also currently using the Biopac systems as part of their research programs. For example, Stephen Schenck and Antwa’nae Briars, under the supervision of Professor Chanda Murphy and Dr. Rod Vogl, are measuring Electro Dermal Activity (EDA) and Pulse (PPG) in a new technique to detect deception. As seen in the picture above, all the equipment for this study is connected to the non-dominant hand of the participant who has volunteered for the study. The participant was then put through a series of tests where he was asked to purposefully attempt to deceive the researcher. Also, Dr. Rod Vogl, Chanda Murphy, Katie Hicks, and Allie Fairly-Kirkpatrick are using the Biopac systems to examine how the emotions associated with memories change over time.

In their study the participants are exposed to a variety of pictures. As the pictures are presented the researchers are measuring facial muscle activity (fEMG) in the zygomaticus muscle area (smile muscle) and corrugator muscle area (frowning muscle). If a picture evokes a memory the participants will be asked how they felt about the event at the time that the event occurred and how they currently feel about the event. The participant’s facial muscle activity should coincide with their self-report. The acquisition of the Biopac systems has definitely strengthened both the teaching and research programs in the Department of Behavioral Sciences.

17th annual Mid-South Psychology Conference

The Behavioral Sciences Department hosted the 17th annual Mid-South Psychology Conference (MSPC) on Saturday, March 1, 2014. The conference welcomed more than 120 attendees and presenters from Christian Brothers University, The University of Memphis, Delta State University, Union University, Rhodes College, and University of Alabama in Huntsville. The Keynote address, Applications of Magnetoencephalography to the Psychological Sciences, was presented by Dr. Andrew C. Papanicolaou of University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center.

Pictured are two award winning student presenters, Antwa’nae Briars, who received 2nd place in the poster category with her presentation of Student Burnout related to Procrastination, and Diana Lockett and Daryl Stephens, who received 3rd place in the paper category with their presentation of Self-esteem, Distortion of the Truth, and Gossip. Other CBU student awardees included Talisha Frazier and Sarah McClain, who received an honorable mention in the paper category with their presentation of Attitudes toward Dating Violence and a Need for Control; Kierica Barnett and Gina McNeil, who received 3rd place in the poster category with their presentation of The Relationship between Personality and College Dormitory Life; and María Fernanda Fallas, who received an honorable mention in the poster category with her presentation of Perception of Cultures.

CBU Recognized as Top College for Teacher Education

Christian Brothers University has been recognized as a top college for teacher education. The College Database – the most current and comprehensive source for U.S. college and university data – has named its top colleges in the state for teacher education. The new list entitled “Top Colleges in Tennessee: Shaping the Next Generation,” highlights the post-secondary institutions in the state that produced the most education graduates during the 2012 school year.

“Many colleges and universities have tremendous teacher education programs,” said Doug Jones, founder of The College Database. “But which ones are producing the most  young educators today? We wanted to identify the colleges making the largest impact on our students.”

The College Database used the following methodology to identify the top colleges shaping the next generation:

- Must be fully accredited
- 4-year colleges only
- Public or private, not-for-profit colleges only
- No for-profit schools
- U.S. colleges only
- Minimum of 10 grads from education or teaching programs in 2012

The College Database is a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to provide free information about education options both nationally and locally to students, parents and other interested parties. The goal is accomplished by making all information and tools on the site free and easy to access. While still a relatively young company, The College Database has become a leader in providing educational information to libraries, high schools and career centers across the country.

A Note from the Dean

PaulHaught“The mission of the School of Arts at Christian Brothers University is to advance the Lasallian synthesis of knowledge and service by teaching students to think, to communicate, to evaluate and to appreciate.”

If you saw our previous newsletter, you’ll recall that in this space I introduced the new mission statement for the School of Arts. The development of the new statement was motivated by a practical intent: to make it easier to measure the effectiveness of our academic programs, a requirement for sustaining academic quality (not to mention our accreditation). As crucial as it is to sustain excellence, it should almost go without saying that as faculty we are more excited about the spirit of the statement, which invites us to explore creatively how each program is invested in teaching students to think, communicate, evaluate, and appreciate.

Outside academia, these goals are often appreciated for their alignment with so-called soft skills. Increasingly, we hear that employers want to hire people who are are creative, knowledgeable, ethical, and skillful in communicating with others. As educators in fields where these skills are cultivated, we salute the public’s recognition of the practical tools with which we equip our students. At the same time, however, we want students to appreciate the deeper richness of their engagement with the values central to our academic mission.

Take thinking for instance. The Oxford English Dictionary lists at least fifteen distinct definitions for the verb to think. We hear all the time that students need to be trained in critical thinking, but this is only one important mental activity relevant to the education we provide across an incredibly wide range of disciplines within the School of Arts. As a result, it should come as little surprise that a CBU student is likely to encounter all fifteen modes of thinking in her college career, and not only in psychology or philosophy, but in literature, art, history, theatre, and education. And in the School of Arts, her courses may even investigate the OED’s claim that thinking is “essentially predicated of humans, but also (in any sense) in extended or figurative use, as of gods, animals, plants, or natural forces personified.” We’re well beyond soft-skills here, but who knew that thinking (about thinking) would sound so interesting, and aren’t we better off knowing of all the ways there are to think?

Many of these are also highlighted in this newsletter. Among our upcoming events is a lecture by Boston College professor Dr. Shawn Copeland (part of our Distinguished Catholic Lector Series) that will recall for us King’s vision of the “beloved community.” Nic Picou reflects on his experiences in CBU’s theatre program, and we will also have a chance to see him perform in Steven Dietz’s “Private Eyes.” Dr. Karl Leib shares his perspective on a recent discussion of the U.S. Constitution. We learn about the generous grant from the H.W. Durham Foundation that will support the imaginative field work of art therapy students. And Dr. James Wallace helps us picture a symposium of New Testament scholars in Belgrade, Serbia.

It is another exciting year in the School of Arts, and we hope to see you at some of our events. In the meantime, we always want to hear your stories, especially those that reveal how CBU has influenced your own thinking.

Upcoming Events

Private Eyes copySteven Dietz’ “Private Eyes” is a comedy that is a roller coaster ride between truths and lies. It is filled with surprises and misdirection. Matthew and Lisa are rehearsing a play. Lisa may or may not be having an affair with their British director, Adrian.  In any case, Matthew tries to cope with his troubled marriage by seeing his therapist, Frank. Then, there is Cory, a mysterious woman, who seems to be shadowing their every move.  She helps bring the story to its surprising conclusion. Or does she? The audience itself plays the role of detective in this hilarious relationship thriller about love, and the power of deception. The cast includes Nic Picou, Jessica Love, Alani Lee Denise, Cale Baskin, and Chelsea Smithers.

Seating is limited and reservations must be made at to guarantee seating.

General admission is $ 5.00 and CBU staff/faculty/students $1.00.
Performances are Oct. 31st – Nov. 2nd at 7:30pm and November 3rd at 2pm inthe University Theater. Email questions to Matthew Hamner:

Distinguished Catholic Lectors Series: Dr. M. Shawn Copeland
Tuesday, November 5, at 7:00 p.m. in the University Theater

CopelandDr. M. Shawn Copeland, Professor of Systematic Theology at Boston College, will present “The Beloved Community and the Mystical Body of Christ” as part of the Distinguished Catholic Lectors Series on  at Christian Brothers University.

Prevailing interpretations of the Civil Rights Movement analyze its political, economic, and legal advances and setbacks. Over the past several years, theologians have come to recognize Martin Luther King’s agenda for social transformation as a practical-political theology. Copeland’s lecture draws out the theological orientation of King’s activism, since the deepest goal of that work was neither desegregation, nor integration, but the achievement of “the beloved community,” a concrete realization of the Catholic notion of the Mystical Body of Christ.

Copeland holds a doctorate in systematic theology from Boston College. She is a prolific author, with more than 100 publications to her credit. She is author of Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race and Being (Fortress 2010) and of The Subversive Power of Love: The Vision of Henriette Delille (Paulist 2009); principal editor of Uncommon Faithfulness: the Black Catholic Experience (Orbis 2009), and co-editor with Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza of Feminist Theologies in Different Contexts (Orbis 1996) and Violence Against Women (Orbis Books, 1994) both of which have been translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information about this lecture at CBU, contact Dr. Emily Holmes at (901) 321-3325 or

Wes Moore
Thursday, November 21, 7:00 p.m. – University Theater

Wes_Moore_credit_Amunankhra_House_LtdThe Commercial Appeal, in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves, Fresh Reads and Christian Brothers University, presents New York Times best-selling author, Wes Moore.

The Other Wes Moore tells the true story of two kids with same name, living in similar family situations in similar rough neighborhoods. One grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader. The other
is serving a life sentence in prison for felony murder.

Raised by a widowed mother, Moore grew up in a rough neighborhood in Baltimore. Despite early academic and behavioral struggles, he graduated as a commissioned officer from Valley Forge Military College, and from Johns Hopkins University, where he also earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations. He then became a Rhodes Scholar, studying International Relations at Oxford University. After completing his studies, Moore served a combat tour of duty in Afghanistan. He then served as a White House fellow to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He also founded an organization called STAND! that works with Baltimore youth involved in the criminal justice system, and is the host of Beyond Belief on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

The partnership with Facing History and Ourselves and the sponsorship from International Paper has made this event free and open to the public. For more information on this event, contact Dr. Karen Golightly at (901) 321-4483 or RSVP to Facing History and Ourselves at

Past Events

New York City based poet Ekere Tallie read her work and answered student questions during an intimate poetry workshop in Kenrick Hall this past October 22nd.

2013-10-22 13.40.33

The recipient of a 2010 Queens Council on the Arts grant for her research on herbalists of the African Diaspora working in urban and non-traditional settings, her writing has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Crab Orchard Review, BOMB, Paris/Atlantic, Go, Tell Michelle (SUNY), Listen Up! (One World Ballantine) and Revenge and Forgiveness (Henry Holt). She has appeared on Dutch television and her work has been the subject of the short film “I Leave My Colors Everywhere.”

Her first collection of poetry, Karma’s Footsteps, was released by Flipped Eye Publishing in September of 2011. She currently teaches at York College. For more info please visit her website.

Note From A Loving Wife2013-10-22 12.42.28

The dishes all want to break,
My Love
one by one
they wriggle from my hands
shattering in unsorry pieces

Leave him cries
the cracked bowl
You are too much whispers
a shard of plate
Too good jagged mouth
of glass to be here

your very own dishes,
betrayed you, My Love
spoons beat your secrets
‘till they bent in fatigue

so when you come home
with her scent in your hair
and you walk from room
to room finding no sign
of me, keep your shoes on

particularly in the kitchen,
my freedom might get
stuck in your feet

Tiny Circus Comes to Town

tiny circusTiny Circus, a community based collaborative art group, was on campus conducting a workshop during the week of Oct. 21st – 24th, with the Visual and Performing Arts Dept. Visual and Performing Arts students worked with the group to create a stop-motion animation documenting the retellings of ghost stories, spooky tales, hauntings, and supernatural events attached to Kenrick Hall – CBU’s oldest building on campus.

Honors Program Ignites CBU


Kaci Murley, ’10, English for Corporate Communications

April 9th was an explosive evening in Spain Auditorium as the CBU Honors Program and Alumni Office sponsored IgniteCBU. Ignite is a worldwide phenomenon in which “presenters share their personal and professional passions, using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds for a total of just five minutes.” More than a dozen speakers including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees shared their insights on topics that included social media, racism, pet adoption, litter, and education. If you missed this great event or would like to relive the excitement – you’re in luck. These entertaining and intriguing talks are now available on the Honors Program YouTube page!

Art Therapy Grant

The Visual and Performing Arts Department at CBU has been awarded a $10,000.00 grant by the H. W. Durham Foundation to be used in collaboration with the Ave Maria Home.  Students working within this concentration will be a part of creating CBU’s first field study course in the area of Art Therapy.   The course will be led by Art Therapist Sarah Hamil and the VAPA Chair Jana Travis. Students will learn the skills needed to design and execute art therapy sessions for Alzheimer patients while documenting their progress through hands on research.   The course will be taught in spring 2014 and again in fall 2014.  CBU is the only University in Memphis and the surrounding area offering a BFA with a concentration in Art Therapy.

CBU Theatre Offers Perspectives on Acting, Life by Nic Picou

Acting is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Don’t get me wrong, I love every minute of it and I find no greater joy than that which is afforded me through creating art. But my many years of adherence to the stagecraft has provided me a realization that my art, like so many, is a struggle with forces internal and external. It is a battle to resist that which is false and easy in favor of that which is true and arduous. I say this because, contrary to what caricatures have been illustrated for us, acting is not make-believe. In fact, it is far removed from the realm of pretend. True acting is true life. That is, acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances. Though I have always held this truth somewhere in my spirit, it did not become so clearly and beautifully articulated until my time at Christian Brothers University.

I must admit I never anticipated saying such a thing. Theatre at CBU is as minimalist as it gets. Look to our productions for evidence. The Turn of the Screw (2011): Two actors, no sets or props. Almost, Maine (2012): Very minimal scene changes with props and costumes from home. Even our upcoming production of Private Eyes (running from 31 Oct. – 3 Nov.) has only two small set pieces and a table borrowed from Canale Café. Austerity has its upside, however. Often lost in the extravagance and proverbial “glitter in the eyes” of a lot of college-level productions, acting takes center stage at CBU.

The theatre program has nurtured my creative lifestyle, and I have Matthew Hamner, professor of Speech and Acting at CBU, to thank for my revelations and discoveries in acting. His ability as an educator and experience as an actor himself allows for something unique and coveted among those studying the craft: a chance to work with the Sanford Meisner approach to acting. It was Sanford Meisner’s philosophy that actors “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances,” and that philosophy was passed to Hamner by his instructor Larry Silverberg. I cannot further explain here the ideas and techniques behind the philosophy, but instead reiterate the effectiveness and genuineness of it. My ongoing studies in acting under Hamner at CBU have placed me, sudden and welcome, in the realm of all those who have learned precisely what I am studying: Sandra Bullock. Gregory Peck. Robert Duvall. Steve McQueen, to name a few.

Living truthfully is not easy, even in our daily lives. We often think we know how we will react to certain situations based on past behaviors and based on things we witness and file away every day. This is simply not the case. None of us knows exactly how we could react to anything. This is where acting holds the potential to teach us about life: that all our behaviors, all our emotions hold unexpected and hidden, sometimes explosive capabilities that we know very little to nothing about. That is why people come to the theatre.


Nic Picou (right), English, ’14

Alumni News

Jennifer Bonds-Raacke (Psychology, ’00) is now president-elect of the South Western Psychological Association.

IMG_20131003_175147_958On October 3rd, CBU alumna Olivia Blow (Psychology ’13, pictured on the left) presented a research poster at the annual meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research in Florence, Italy. Co-authors on the poster, entitled “Unpredictable trains produce atypical ERP changes to sound repetitions”, included former CBU students Kimberley Gardner (Psychology ’13) and Savannah McGahey, current and former students from the University of Memphis and Rhodes College, Dr. Frank Andrasik (Chair of Psychology at the University of Memphis), and Dr. Jeff Sable (CBU Behavioral Sciences). The poster was one of two produced by Dr. Sable’s undergraduate research team, which relies on equipment in Dr. Andrasik’s lab at the University of Memphis. The other poster, “ERPs show differential sensitivity to omission-induced rhythms”, was presented by Breya Walker from the University of Memphis. Dr. Sable also participated in a panel discussion focused on identifying resources for non-traditional psychophysiology labs. Abstracts for both posters and the panel were published in a supplement to the society’s journal, Psychophysiology.

On August 23rd, Hannah Nelson (Visual Arts ’13) showcased her visual and performance work with RAWartists, a non profit that organizes events for artists of different mediums to showcase together. Each showcase is funded by the last and each artist who is showcased gets tons of promotional material like photographs and a video interview.