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Six Juniata Faculty Members Receive Promotions

(Posted May 23, 2006)

Top row, from left: Robert Miller, professor of religious studies; Jamie White, professor of physics; and Jay Hosler, associate professor of biology. Bottom row, from left: Cynthia Merriwhether-DeVries, associate professor of sociology; Cathy Stenson, associate professor of mathematics; and Donald Braxton, professor of religion.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Six members of the Juniata College faculty recently received promotions in the 2005-2006 academic year at the Juniata College Board of Trustees spring meeting.

Donald Braxton, J. Omar Good Professor of Religion, was promoted to full professor; James White, William I. and Zella B. Book Professor of Physics, was promoted to full professor; Robert Miller, Rosenberger Chair of Religious Studies, was promoted to full professor; Cynthia DeVries, assistant professor of sociology, was promoted to associate professor; Jay Hosler, assistant professor of biology, was promoted to associate professor; and Catherine Stenson, assistant professor of mathematics, was promoted to associate professor.

Donald Braxton, a resident of Huntingdon, joined the Juniata faculty as an associate professor in 2002, from Capitol University in Columbus, Ohio, where he was associate professor of religion. He earned a bachelor's degree in religion and political science from Wittenberg University in 1986. He went on to earn a master's degree (divinity) in 1987 and a doctorate in Christian ethics in 1993, both from the University of Chicago. He is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Braxton started his academic career as an instructor of religion at DePaul University in 1989. From 1991 to 1994, Braxton was visiting assistant professor of religion at St Norbert College in De Pere, Wis. and worked as a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh for the 1994-1995 academic year. He joined the faculty at Capitol University in 1995. He was a Presidential Scholar at Wittenberg University in 1985.

At Juniata, Braxton has created a series of cutting-edge religion courses covering such topics as the nature of evil, religion in films and a documentary film course on religious topics. He also team-teaches Juniata's course on "God, Evolution and Culture."

He has published articles in such journals as ARTS, Intersections and Theology and Public Policy. He has taught courses in Christian Theology and Ethics, Religion and Culture and Sociology and Religion. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, The Institute of Religion in an Age of Science and the Society of Christian Ethics.

James White, a resident of Huntingdon, Pa., joined the Juniata faculty in 1998 from the State University of New York at Potsdam, where he was assistant professor of physics.

He recently spent a sabbatical year studying at the University of Melbourne in Australia. He published several papers on laser optics while on sabbatical. He received the Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching from Juniata in 2004.

In addition to a full teaching load, White maintains an active research career. His work has been published in the Journal of Chemical Physics, Surface Science, the American Journal of Physics, The Physics Teacher and the Journal of the Acoustics Society of America. His academic and research interests include laser physics, surface physics, the physics of ice, and musical acoustics. He also is interested in high school science and physics education. White's enthusiasm for secondary science education found an outlet in his work for the Pennsylvania Science Olympiad, where he has worked as events coordinator since 1999.

White started his education career as a high school physics teacher at the Haverford School in Haverford, Pa. in 1985, and returned to college in 1989 to earn a master's degree in 1993 and a doctorate in physics in 1994, both from Penn State University. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Carleton College, in Northfield, Minn., in 1985.

He began his university teaching career in 1994 as assistant professor of physics at Baldwin-Wallace College. In 1997, he accepted a position as assistant professor of physics at SUNY-Potsdam.
Robert Miller, a resident of Huntingdon, Pa., joined the faculty at Juniata in 2003.

He has extensive academic experience, working as a professor of religion and philosophy at Midway College in Midway, Ky. from 1988 to 2000. He was named chairman of Midway's arts and humanities division in 1990 and promoted to associate professor in 1993. He received the Trustees Award for Faculty Excellence in 1996 and was promoted to full professor in 1999. In addition, Miller was named President of the Faculty in 1996 and 2000.

At Juniata, he teaches very popular courses on women in the Bible, the birth and death of Jesus, the Hebrew prophets, and the New and Old Testaments as literature.

He earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1975 from St. John's College in Camarillo, Calif. He spent a year pursuing theological studies at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo from 1975 to 1976. Miller earned a master's degree in religious studies from the University of California-Santa Barbara in 1978 and went on to earn a master's degree in philosophy from the Claremont Graduate School in 1980. He earned a doctorate in religion from the Claremont Graduate School in 1986.

Miller's research and teaching interests are centered on Biblical studies. He also is interested in early Christianity, Islam, women in religion and Native American religions. Miller is the author of "Born Divine: The Births of Jesus and Other Sons of God" (2002) and "The Jesus Seminar and Its Critics" (1999). He also served as editor and contributor for the books "The Apocalyptic Jesus: A Debate" (2001) and "The Complete Gospels" (1992).

Miller is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Biblical Association and The Jesus Seminar.

Jay Hosler, a Huntingdon, Pa. resident, came to Juniata in 2000 after working as a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral researcher in Ohio State University's Rothenbuhler Honey Bee Research Laboratory.

Hosler's research centers on honey bees. As a neurophysiologist, he studies how bees recognize and remember odors. He also teaches a variety of biology courses, including Neurobiology, Sensory Biology, Chemistry/Biology Laboratory and Organic Evolution. He has published his research in such journals as Behavioral Neuroscience, the Journal of Insect Physiology and the Journal of Experimental Biology.

An accomplished cartoonist, Hosler also has published two comic book series that were later collated into graphic novels. The first series, "Clan Apis," depicted the lifecycle of a bee, and the second series, "Sandwalk Adventures," told the life story of Charles Darwin. Hosler also publishes cartoons and illustrations in a variety of magazines and journals. His comic book career has been written about in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Discover magazine.

He recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation to create a science textbook incorporating comic-book style art into the text.

Hosler earned a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from DePauw University in 1989 and went on to earn a doctorate in biological sciences from the University of Notre Dame in 1995.

He often visits local schools and other colleges and universities to lecture on neurophysiology, bees or comic books. He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Council for Science Education and the National Council for Undergraduate Education.

Cynthia Merriwether-DeVries, a resident of State College, Pa., came to Juniata in 2001 after earning a doctorate in human development and family studies in 2000 from Penn State University. She earned a bachelor's degree and master's degree, both from Penn State in human development and family studies, in 1990 and 1994, respectively.

At Juniata, she teaches such courses as Introduction to Sociology, The Minority Experience, The American Family and Social Welfare Policy and Services. Before coming to Juniata she was a lecturer in the sociology department at Penn State from 1994 to 2000. In addition, she has collaborated on several oral history projects, including the Juniata College African-American Oral History Project.

Merriwether-deVries' doctoral research focused on how African-American adolescent mothers adjust to the role of motherhood. Her research has been published in such journals as Generations and Marriage and Family Review.

Before returning to college to complete her education, Merriwether-deVries worked as children's program coordinator at the Centre County Women's Resource Center from 1985 to 1988. From 1983 to 1985, she was assistant director of the First Steps and Kinderhouse Group Day Care Homes operated by the Child Development Council of Centre County. In 1983, she worked as an assistant teacher at the State College Children's House Montessori School.

Merriwether-deVries received the Penn State University Commission for Women Student Leader Award in 1997 and was awarded the Certificate of Citizen Service from the Pennsylvania Governor's Office of Citizen Service in 1991. She was named a New York Bicentennial Scholar in 1976. Merriwether-deVries was named to the Penn State College of Health and Human Development Honor Society in 1989 and became a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society in 1988.

She is a member of the Pennsylvania Sociological Society and the Friends Council on Higher Education.

Catherine Stenson, a resident of Huntingdon, Pa., came to Juniata in 1999 from Cornell University after earning her doctorate in mathematics. She earned a bachelor's degree. in mathematics from Brown University in 1994 and a master's degree in mathematics from Cornell University in 1997.
She has developed several new mathematics courses at Juniata, including Combinatorics, The Heart of Mathematics and the Mathematics Seminar. She also oversees research projects for mathematics students.

Her awards and honors include the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in 1992, Phi Beta Kappa, the David Howell Premium for Excellence in Mathematics in 1994, an Undergraduate Teaching and Research Assistantship in 1993, and an honorable mention in 1994 and 1995 for a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship.

In 2001 she was chosen as a Project NeXT Fellow, a program for new mathematics faculty sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America. Her research interests center on combinatorics and hyperplane arrangements, as well as the applications of mathematics to biology and chemistry
Stenson is a member of the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, the Association for Women in Mathematics and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

She has published articles in Discrete and Computational Geometry and Chemical Physics Letters.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.