Haddix Faculty Incubator Awards
Haddix Faculty Incubator Awards

Creighton University College of Arts and Sciences congratulate these four faculty members selected for sabbaticals funded by the Haddix family and their generous gift.

Here at the College, we are impressed with the quality of work, and ambitious plans our five faculty members have and what their research will leave for future generations.

Incubator Projects and Summaries

Catholic Leadership in Modern Uganda

Jay Carney, PhD, Associate Professor of Theology

This project analyzes the sociopolitical impact and theological visions of seven transformative Catholic leaders in modern Uganda, utilizing these biographical sketches as lenses into the broader history and public influence of the Catholic Church in postcolonial Uganda. The subjects of study include:

  • Mr. Benedicto Kiwanuka, Uganda’s first prime minister later assassinated by Idi Amin;
  • Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga, the primate of the Catholic Church during the Amin dictatorship and Luweero War of the 1970s-80s;
  • Fr. John Mary Waliggo, preeminent Catholic scholar, human rights activist, and leader of Uganda’s 1996 revision of the national constitution;
  • Sr. Rose Mystica Muyinza, the charismatic “Mother Teresa” of Uganda who served war widows and HIV/AIDS orphans in the 1980s and 1990s;
  • Fr. Tonino Pasolini and Ms. Sherry Myer, missionary founders of the award-winning Radio Pacis in Arua; and
  • Ms. Rosalba Oywa, Catholic peace activist in Northern Uganda during the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict. 

All of these figures offer intriguing examples of the how Catholic imagination shapes public engagement with questions of human dignity, reconciliation, justice, identity, and political power. 

The sabbatical project will culminate in the writing of two separate book manuscripts: 1) For God and My Country: Catholic Leadership in Modern Uganda and 2) Benedicto Kiwanuka: Catholic Politics and Protestant Empire in Uganda (co-authored with Jonathon L. Earle, Centre College). 

Expanding the Perimeters of Democracy: Charting Reconfigurations of Race, Place, and Community in America, 1940 – present

Heather Fryer, PhD, Associate Professor of History, Fr. Henry W. Casper, SJ Professor in History, Director, American Studies Program

The main part of my sabbatical project is a multi-component scholarly/public humanities project titled “Rebuilding Hilo.” Its combination of archival research and oral history will document the processes and consequences of forced ethnic integration in Hilo, Hawaii, where tsunamis devastated densely populated areas of the city in 1946 and 1960. Hilo, where people integrated with relatively little racial conflict, offers a case study that answers the urgent call from the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) for research on the humanitarian dimensions of climate change. I intend for “Rebuilding Hilo” to yield both a scholarly monograph in American social history, and a study that will be of use to the UNHCR and other agencies responsible for responding to the needs of climate refugees. 

While in Hilo, I will collaborate with local museums, archives, universities, cultural centers and community members in the design of a tsunami-survivor directed public history project. This project originated from survivors’ request for the expertise and guidance of a professional historian knowledgeable about Hilo history in preserving, interpreting and presenting the history of plantation culture, World War II, life under martial law, and experiences surrounding both tsunamis. My ongoing participation in maintaining this public history site (in whatever form it takes) will form the centerpiece of a travel course and internship opportunities that I hope to offer when I return to campus. Creighton students will study Hilo history and public history practice as they work with me and the Hilo community to help them continue to tell their valuable history.

The sabbatical period will also enable me to complete my book manuscript, “Dangerous Allies: The White Racial Progressivism and the Perils of Benevolent Racism in American Civil Rights Struggles, 1940-present” about the problem of the “white savior complex” among Caucasian civil rights activists while I begin my second term as executive editor of Peace & Change: A Journal of Peace Research

The Development of Dental Formulations with Microencapsulated Remineralizing Agents

Stephen Gross, PhD, Associate Professor of Organic Chemistry

Tooth decay is the second most common ailment after the common cold. Recurrent tooth decay is most commonly observed at the margins and gaps at the interface of dental materials and the surface of enamel or dentin in the tooth structure.  Bioavailable calcium and phosphate ions are essential for bioremineralization of hard dental tissue. Providing biologically active ions needed for remineralization is one of the most important parameters in the design of topically applied formulations used in the prevention of caries. 

It has been suggested that ion release from dental materials can have protective and remineralization benefits for surrounding and adjacent tooth structure. However, creating materials with these ionic elements in a stable and releasable form is challenging. Our research group has successfully demonstrated the capability of formulating a pit and fissure dental sealant that in fact can release fluoride from acrylic based systems and bioavailable calcium and phosphate ions. This technology has led to the development of a pit and fissure sealant that is now commercially available. This project proposes implementing this new technology into other types of dental materials, including orthodontic bracket cement, flowable composite fillings and core build up materials used in the treatment of root canals.

Work in our laboratory has focused on the development of microencapsulated remineralizing agents that are capable of releasing slow, sustained amounts of fluoride, calcium and phosphate ions. The rate of release was tunable by the choice of polymer used for the capsule shell, the initial concentration of aqueous salt, the loading of microcapsules and counter-ion. In this study, we propose to develop other bioactive dental materials that have the potential to reduce the dental decay that is commonly found at the interface of the material and enamel or dentin. From a materials science perspective, the inclusion of microencapsulated aqueous solutions has a profound effect on the properties of both the pre-polymerized colloid and post-polymerized composite. A significant amount of experimentation is required to understand the characteristics of these colloids and the function and performance of the composites that they ultimately yield.  

Evolving Narratives of Developmental Disabilities in Postwar Clinical Professions

Andrew J. Hogan, PhD, Assistant Professor of History

After 1950, the understanding and management of developmental disabilities were impacted by two countervailing trends. As public support for the unique needs and experiences of affected individuals increased, physicians began to link developmental disabilities to genetic causes. Genetic associations led to new identities and resources, but also reified disability as a pathological target for medical intervention. Historians of medicine and other scholars have extensively explored increasing social support for persons with disabilities, highlighting legislative, judicial and popular culture victories. Less has been done to examine how evolving societal views of disability influenced physicians and other clinical professionals during this period.

This project draws on archival collections, published literature, and interviews with clinical professionals to analyze evolving clinical narratives of developmental disabilities. I examine how and why new understandings of developmental disabilities entered clinical fields, how clinicians responded to, adopted or rejected alternative viewpoints, and the role of some professionals in promoting broader adoption. This is done through an exploration of evolving perspectives in three fields: clinical psychology, genetic counseling and pediatrics. Clinical psychology was chosen because of its early role in promoting alternative views on the cause and management of disability; genetic counseling due to the field’s commitment to providing multi-faceted perspectives on clinical conditions to families; and pediatrics for its dual medical and social role in identifying, treating, and supporting children with disabilities and their families.

This project applies historical analysis and insights to helping people with disabilities to receive the social and medical support they need to live full lives and pursue various opportunities, while avoiding situations in which their unique attributes and experiences are reduced to a pathology. In line with the Catholic, Jesuit mission of Creighton University, this project contributes to improving acceptance, respect and support for human diversity and marginalized populations.

Reaction Dynamics of Anderson-Type Polyoxometalate Ions in Aqueous Solution: Relating Solid-State Structures with Solution-State Properties

Eric Villa, PhD, Assistant Professor of Inorganic Chemistry

Identifying how simple structural changes affect the reactivity of polyoxometalate ions (POMs) is crucial to transforming this unique class of compounds towards broad, real world applications. While POMs have a vast range of potentially valuable applications (including antiviral/antitumor activity, water oxidation catalysis, solar-cell technology, MRI contrast agents and magnetic materials), their practical usage is low and the underpinning chemical factors that govern their unique reactivity remain unknown. What basic structural properties (bond lengths, charge state, protonation) correlate with reactivity, and, most importantly, can the reactivity of POMs in water be easily predicted? Answering these questions will allow us to confidently predict POM structure-property relationships and enable the actual tuning POMs for these desired applications – important to us is creating easily employed POMs for the remediation of nuclear contamination. 

We aim to identify how structure-property relationships shift as a function of metal identity via systematic substitutions within a series of isotypic Anderson-type POMs. Our central hypothesis is a greater anionic charge on the polyoxometalate ion will result in a larger stability range, higher protonation constants and faster rates of oxygen-exchange. These small Anderson-type POM ions will allow undergraduate researchers to gain an understanding of how POMs react in solution and, most importantly, what dictates their reactivity.  In the absence of such knowledge, this large class of versatile compounds will continue to be underutilized and the tunability of polyoxometalate ions will likely remain difficult.