Professional Notes: November 2009

Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Geology, participated in a workshop titled "Frontiers in Exploration of the Critical Zone II: The Geobiology of Weathering and Erosion," which was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, hosted by the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC from October 5-7 and co-organized by Penn State. The workshop participants discussed what the important directions of the next 10 years' soils science (critical zone) research should be and the outcomes of the workshop will be published by January 2010.

Instructor of Technical Theatre Gary Burlew designed the lighting for Chenango River Theatre's production of Lanford Wilson's acclaimed romantic masterpiece "Talley's Folly." One of America's best- known playwrights, in this breakthrough play that established his career and won the Pulitzer Prize, playwright Wilson "uses compassion and humor to show us two lively, lovable people finding the kind of love we all hope to find."

Associate Professor of Economics Karl Seeley presented "The origins of value and phantom dematerialization" at the Second International Biophysical Economics Meeting, October 16-17, at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY. Biophysical economics is an approach that integrates the social insights of conventional economics with the realism of ecological limits and the ways that innovation can and can't modify those constraints. Seeley's paper looks at how abundant energy makes it easy to raise the output of physical goods per worker; this raises the relative price of services and simultaneously allows more workers to go into the service sector; the combined effect raises the measured production of value per unit of energy by more than the increased ability of actually accomplishing work per unit of energy; the economy thus seems to be producing more value per unit of energy overall, but that result depends on the use of relatively large amounts of total energy.

Professor of History Peter Wallace delivered a paper titled "Imagining German Borders and Frontiers: Confessionalism and National Political Cultures in the Post-Westphalian French, Swiss, and Austrian Upper Rhine Valley, 1648-1697" on October 10 at the German Studies Association Conference in Washington, DC. The paper was part of a session titled "Nation and Religion in Germany 1500-1800."