By Abby Wargo
Student Life Editor
The grind doesn’t stop for most Washington College professors, even during the summer months. Many participate in activities that further their own personal research or somehow enrich them in their field.
Chair of the English Department Dr. Kathryn Moncrief spent her summer working as a Literary Seminar Director at the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
“It’s a major regional theater and one of the most important Shakespeare festivals. People will come and stay a week just to see all the shows,” she said.
During her time there, Moncrief said that there were seven shows in three different theaters, with four shows being performed each day.
The Festival, which won the Tony award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 2000, is a part of Southern Utah University. According to their website, bard.org, their mission is to, “present life-affirming classic and contemporary plays in repertory, with Shakespeare as our cornerstone. These plays are enhanced by interactive festival experiences, which entertain, enrich, and educate.”
Dr. Moncrief worked as a Shakespeare scholar, leading discussions after the shows. She also had to be knowledgeable about other shows as well, such as “Guys and Dolls” and “Treasure Island.”
“It was a fun summer…I got to teach Shakespeare to the public, and the humanities. I got scholarly questions and anything else as well. The most common one was, ‘How do actors memorize all those lines?’ There was one man who had been coming [to the festival] for 44 years straight, so he was basically an expert,” she said.
The opportunity came about through ties with the university and the theater. Dr. Moncrief and Dr. Kate McPherson, her collaborator, have a good publications record with each of their books, and they are a known entity among Shakespearean scholars.
“The two of us running a panel was almost like a morning radio talk show…we would actually introduce ourselves like, ‘This is Kate and Kate in the morning,’” she said.
Directing literary discussions on Shakespeare plays directly connects to both her research and her teaching, as her specialty is the unique relationship between Shakespeare and performance, text, and script.
“I’m really interested in Shakespeare being accessible for everyone, and this opportunity furthers what I’m doing in the classroom,” she said.
On the other end of the spectrum, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. James Lipchock spent his fourth summer collaborating with J. Patrick Loria at Yale University to further his research on the enzyme protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B or PTP1B.
“It’s linked with diabetes and the role of insulin and leptin, and it plays a regulatory role in their processes,” Lipchock said. “[PTP1B] removes phosphorylation, which leads to maximum insulin sensitivity that inhibits enzymes, meaning the cells are more sensitive.”
The goal of his research is to create better drugs to combat diabetes, advance the field, and better understand the enzyme.
This summer’s experience will help Lipchock’s teaching to become more current and informed.
“I learned how to play around with structural refinement difference, which is something I’ve always talked about the technique of. Now, I better understand it and can do it myself, which will tie into my teaching experience,” he said.
This was the first summer where he did not bring any WC students along. Toll Fellows are usually invited, and many have co-authored research papers with him. He enjoys working with students to train them as well as teach them.
Dr. Moncrief, too, is looking forward to returning to her summer job next year. She hopes that she will be able to open up opportunities for WC students to intern at USF alongside her.
Dr. Lipchock prefers project-based learning, where students simulate real research by working on integrated projects instead of several different ones. His research experiences help strengthen the interplay between methods, research, and teaching.
In terms of keeping curriculum current and up to date, Dr. Lipchock cites faculty enhancement funds as being fundamentally important.
“I want to stay current to prepare my students for the careers of today, not the careers of yesterday,” he said. “The best way to ensure that is by staying engaged in my own research, so I can integrate new teaching methods.”