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Westminster faculty members will continue scholarly work during 2022-2023 sabbatical leaves

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Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Four Westminster College faculty members have been granted sabbatical leaves during the 2022-2023 academic year and will use the time to broaden the scope of their research, creative and scholarly interests.

Dr. Jeffrey Bersett, professor of Spanish and film studies, has been approved for a spring 2023 leave and plans to work on selected journalism of the award-winning Spanish novelist, short story writer and essayist Antonio Muñoz Molina, as well as examine the works of British cinematographer Douglas Slocombe.

Bersett intends to translate and publish a series of Muñoz Molina’s non-fiction essays. A scholar of Muñoz Molina, Bersett provided the 2018 Westminster College Henderson Lecture, “The Case of Antonio Muñoz Molina: Autobiography and Autofiction in the Contemporary Spanish Novel,” a deep dive into Muñoz Molina’s contribution to Spain’s literary culture.

Bersett will also research Slocombe’s works, which includes “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” developing comparisons to contemporary photography work in mainstream cinema.

Bersett, who joined the Westminster faculty in 2002, is the author of several publications on Spanish literature and theater, including “El Burlado de Sevilla: Nineteenth-Century Theatrical Appropriations of Don Juan Tenorio,” a book on parody and satire in 19th-century Spain. Bersett earned an undergraduate degree from Washington University and his master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Helen Boylan, professor of chemistry and director of Westminster’s Center for the Environment, has been approved for a spring 2023 sabbatical leave. Her leave which will serve as an extension of her previous work with Westminster's Environmental Project Management Academy (EPMA), a multi-disciplinary collaboration on campus that was awarded a $207,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Boylan’s upcoming leave will focus on increasing the transferability of successful elements of the EPMA program to other disciplines and/or universities. Through the EPMA program, Westminster sophomores and juniors pursuing either STEM or business majors work together on semester-long service learning projects with community partners. Past community participants have included the Borough of New Wilmington, Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition, DON Services Inc., and Westminster’s Field Station.

Boylan, who joined the Westminster faculty in 2001, is the Gibson-Drinko Distinguished Faculty Member and currently serves as chair of the faculty. Her research focuses on environmental and forensic science applications of analytical chemistry and chemometrics. She earned her undergraduate degree from Westminster and her Ph.D. from Duquesne University.

Dr. Craig Caylor, associate professor of physics, has been approved for leave during the spring 2023 semester. Caylor’s leave will support his change of research area from experimental condensed matter physics to computational materials science.

Caylor will work through several computational materials science textbooks and explore recent literature in several subfields of computational materials science. He will also evaluate literature on the use of physical computing platforms in collegiate general education courses, leading to the development of a new general education lab science course in physical computing.

Caylor, who joined the Westminster College faculty in 2001, has chaired the Department of Physics and has served as director of Westminster’s Summer Science Splash Camp, an II-VI Foundation-supported program. He holds an undergraduate degree in physics from Kansas State University and a Ph.D. in experimental physics.

Dr. David Swerdlow, professor of English, approved for a spring 2023 leave, will spend his sabbatical writing essays about the poetic craft and revising a 95,000-word novel and two poetry manuscripts.

Swerdlow, who specializes in creative writing, modern and contemporary American literature and postcolonial literature, is the author of two books of poetry—"Bodies on Earth” (2010) and “Small Holes in the Universe” (2003)—and a novel, “Television Man,” which was released in 2019.

His works have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Poetry, The Ohio Review, The Iowa Review, American Literary Review, Poetry Northwest and others. He is the recipient of two major grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and an award for “Best Poetry with a Jewish Theme” from the Anna Davis Rosenberg Foundation.

A member of the Westminster College faculty since 1990, he earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland and his master’s and Ph.D. from Ohio University.

Pictured from left are Jeffrey Bersett, Helen Boylan, Craig Caylor and David Swerdlow.