SPIN Sessions

Nanette HarmonAs part of New Student Orientation, Niagara University professors will offer engaging presentations on particularly interesting facets of their research.

SPIN - Students, Professors, Ideas, Niagara - Sessions are modeled after the popular TED talk format, 30 minutes in length and intended to stimulate critical and outside-the-box thinking. Below are the list of SPIN topics from 2014.  Look for some new and eye-catching topics for 2015!

  • Reading the Undead: Cultural Anxiety, the Pleasure of Terror and the Post-Human

    Dr. Jamie Carr, Department of English
    Dunleavy Hall, Room 227

    Why do the undead continue to haunt contemporary culture? This talk analyzes society's preoccupations with Gothic fiction, examining how a culture's anxieties, fears and desires symbolically raise vampires, zombies and other creatures from the dead.

  • Living to 200: Super-Athletes Designer-Babies and the Ethics of Human Genetic Enhancement

    Dr. James Delaney, Department of Philosophy
    St. Vincent’s Hall, Room 201

    In a very important sense, our genes make us who we are. For example, they determine the color of our eyes and how tall we are. They also influence our personalities, the talents we have, and whether or not we are vulnerable to certain diseases.

    For the most part, we must simply make do with the genes we have. However, as technology advances, it may become possible to change our genetic makeup, both in ourselves and in our offspring. Perhaps we could drastically reduce the rate at which we age, or give an average person the size and athletic prowess of LeBron James, or even pick and choose the traits of our children out of a catalog.

    Many people argue that such genetic interventions would be morally wrong. However, this presentation will show that the most common arguments against human enhancement are surprisingly difficult to defend.

  • Places of Healing, Places of Tourism: An Examination of Modern Pilgrimage

    Dr. Amelia Gallagher, Department of Religious Studies
    Dunleavy Hall, Room 211

    What is the place of faith healing and miraculous cures in modern religious life?  With so many advances in medicine, why are healing shrines more popular than ever – even among people with access to “scientific” medical care and treatment? Dr. Gallagher will talk about her research of healing shrines and faith healers in Turkey that are visited by Muslims, Christians and tourists.

  • “Oops”¦I Said That?” The Lighter Side of American Sign Language

    Professor Nanette Harmon, Coordinator of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies
    St. Vincent’s Hall, Room 301

    This session is an introduction to the beauty of ASL and what makes it so challenging to learn. A simple error can make the difference between being understood and being embarrassed.

    Bring your hands and give it a try!

  • Violent Tales of Gang Members: Telling Stories of Street Culture

    Dr. Timothy Lauger, Department of Criminal Justice
    Leary Theatre

    Gang members often tell personal stories about violence when they hang out with their peers. Dr. Lauger spent 18 months with active gang members on the streets of Indianapolis and heard (recorded) many of these stories. This presentation examines some of those stories to help better understand how they influence gang members’ lives.

    Dr. Lauger contends that personal narratives about violent events apply and help clarify the meaning of local street culture. They provide context for cultural ideas and follow a cultural script that both justifies the use of violence and reinforces expectations for when and how to use violence during interpersonal conflicts. They clarify the meaning of manhood, little boy, respect, imposter, killer, and love as understood by members of the gang. They communicate that violence is a proper response to the improper conduct of peers and violent retaliation is an expected reaction to victimization.

  • Nasty, Brutish, Short”¦but Alive! The Zombie Apocalypse, Globalization and You!

    Dr. David Reilly, Department of Political Science
    Leary Theatre

    The zombie genre has exploded into pop culture. But what is the attraction? What do zombies represent and why have they captured our interest?

    This talk explores the answers and offers a novel hypothesis: In both the zombie apocalypse and the destructive path of globalization, individuals are empowered as states fail. 

    Globalization has been described as a “Coming Anarchy” of fragmentation and homogenization that creates a sense of despair and powerlessness not unlike the onslaught of zombie hordes.  Despite this, through an analysis of the diffusion process of zombification, I argue that the common theme in both globalization and zombification is that the individual is empowered as the state collapses.  We can identify the parallels between the zombie and globalization apocalypses that result in a state of nature.  Within, the individual has the ability to guarantee his own survival and to make choices that only he is accountable for. This is the attraction of the zombie apocalypse and the basis of our fascination with the undead.

  • Measuring Your Success”¦One Marshmallow at a Time

    Dr. Jay Walker, Department of Economics
    Dunleavy Hall, Room 205

    Surprisingly, marshmallows may have a larger impact than anyone ever dreamed possible. As you cross the boundary between high school and college many of you will enjoy more freedom than you’ve ever previously enjoyed. What will you choose to do with it?

    Researchers have found that a simple test, allowing young children to either have one marshmallow immediately or giving the option to wait 10 minutes and have two marshmallows, was correlated with later measures of success.

    You’ll face these decisions constantly as a student and later as a working professional. Things such as going out versus studying, exercising versus sleeping in, choosing a major that may be more difficult but could be more financially rewarding, or saving for retirement versus a vacation this year.

    How can we better set ourselves up to succeed by making it easier to delay gratification?

  • Going Viral - Sometimes What You Don't Know CAN Kill You

    Dr. Mark Gallo, Department of Biology
    Golisano Center, Room 101

    The viral world contains more members than anything else, it is estimated that there are more viruses in the ocean than grains of sand on all the beaches. When you are sick with a cold, every one of your infected cells can produce over 10,000 viruses and because of the number of your cells infected, you can produce 100 trillion viruses.

    Nobody dies of the cold, but hardly a week goes by when there is not some report of a newly emerging deadly virus or re-emergence of some well-known virus somewhere in the world.

    We will discuss why this continues to occur and why they will always win in the biological race for survival.

  • Socially Responsible Investing ”“ Using the Power of the Stock Market to Create a Better World

    Professor Edward Hutton, Department of Finance
    Gallagher Center, Multi-Purpose Room

    This year, more than $4 trillion will be invested in funds recognized as “socially responsible.” These funds encompass religious and social considerations, such as Islamic and Catholic beliefs, environmental causes such as nuclear power, and social justice issues such as the living wage.

    Many corporations have changed practices as a result of the immense influence of these investment funds. However, the growing popularity of these funds brings new controversies as well – are they being managed in order to benefit the investor or the cause?

    We will examine this issue and the future of socially responsible investing in this talk.

  • Cybercrime and Identity Theft: Protect Yourself!

    Dr. Petter Lovaas, Department of Computer and Information Sciences
    St. Vincent’s Hall, Room 407

    Various studies have indicated that the 18-29 age bracket continues to account for 24 percent of all identity theft complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

    Why are college students at such a risk of identity theft and what can students do to prevent this type of crime? 

    In 2012, ID theft accounted for $25 billion in losses; in comparison, losses for household burglary, motor vehicle theft and property theft totaled $14 billion. 

    This talk will give you the awareness and knowledge to prevent this disaster from happening to you!