Faculty & Staff – The Citadel Today https://today.citadel.edu Mon, 22 Apr 2019 19:32:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 https://today.citadel.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Citadel-Favion-new-150x150.png Faculty & Staff – The Citadel Today https://today.citadel.edu 32 32 144096890 Citadel School of Engineering gives and receives awards for building better future https://today.citadel.edu/johnston-peeples-ecedha-citadel-school-of-engineering-academy-of-engineers/ Fri, 19 Apr 2019 10:00:44 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=7375 Peeples receives Outstanding Service and Leadership AwardPeeples receives Outstanding Service and Leadership AwardCitadel Professor Johnston Peeples, Ph.D., is honored for service and leadership while the School of Engineering recognizes industry leaders for their accomplishments.]]> Peeples receives Outstanding Service and Leadership AwardPeeples receives Outstanding Service and Leadership Award

Photo: Johnston Peeples, Ph.D., (center), accepting award from representatives of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association during conference in Arizona

Citadel professor Johnston Peeples, Ph.D., is honored for service and leadership while the School of Engineering recognizes industry leaders for their accomplishments

Johnston Peeples, Ph.D. is the 2019 recipient of one of the electrical engineering industry’s top awards. The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association (ECEDHA) presented Peeples with the Robert M. Janowiak Outstanding Leadership and Service Award this spring at their conference in Arizona.

The award is given to an individual with a sustained record of leadership and service to the ECEDHA and to the field of electrical and computer engineering.

His nomination letter, written by the electrical and computer engineering department head, Robert Barsanti, Ph.D., reads in part:

Dr. Peeples serves the students as an outstanding teacher. Based on recommendations from both faculty and students, Dr. Peeples was the recipient of the 2015 Lawton Ellis Teaching Award. An excerpt from that award states, “Dr. Peeples is a life-long teacher with vast industry experience who brings a generation of engineering know how to the classroom. He takes his students on an exciting ride through the world of engineering, and makes engineering a reality for them.”

Peeples speaking at ECEDHA
Peeples speaking at ECEDHA

Peeples served as the electrical and computer engineering department head for 12 years and has been teaching at The Citadel since 1999.

He also served as president of ECEDHA in 2015.

Peeples’ scholarly interests span a broad range of physical electronics, from novel techniques of cooling high performance electronics to emerging methods of energy conversion. He has written numerous technical papers, journal articles and two book chapters, and holds two U.S. patents.

Effective January 1, 2015, Peeples was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to serve on the South Carolina Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. In this capacity, Peeples helps develop and promote legislation governing the engineering profession, and with his fellow board members adjudicates disciplinary cases concerning the profession of engineering.

Peeples earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from The Citadel. After that, he competed a tour in the U.S. Air Force and then earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of South Carolina.

The Citadel School of Engineering Academy of Engineers inducts four new members

The Citadel School of Engineering has four new industry leaders in its Academy of Engineers. The four were recognized for their professional successes, as well as for making a significant contribution to their community.

Every year, The Citadel School of Engineering Academy of Engineers honors engineers who have lived a life consistent with the school’s mission, which is to “educate and develop principled engineering leaders to serve a global community.”

The academy’s 2019 inductees include the following professionals:

Chris Van Metre

Chris Van Metre
Chris Van Metre

Chris Van Metre is being inducted for his dedication that has resulted in the growth of Advanced Technology International (ATI) to a $1.5 billion collaboration management services company. He is also being honored for his deep community involvement, which includes serving on the Lowcountry Heart Walk Executive Leadership team and as chair of The Citadel’s Engineering Leadership and Program Management Advisory Board.

Van Metre is the president and CEO of ATI, a research and development management services company in North Charleston.

Lt. Col. Harry Mills, Sr., U.S. Army (Ret.)

Harry Mills, Sr.
Harry Mills, Sr.

Harry Mills, a member of The Citadel Class of 1958, is being inducted for more than 40 years of service, both in the military and as a civilian civil engineer. Mills is also being honored for his work on large infrastructure projects that have had a lasting effect throughout the world, as well as his expertise in bridge engineering that resulted in completion of numerous hallmark bridges in Florida and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

Mills is a district bridge engineer with the South Carolina Department of Transportation, responsible for the maintenance of many bridges in the Lowcountry.

B. Chris Tye

B. Chris Tye
B. Chris Tye

B. Chris Tye, a member of The Citadel Class of 1974, is being inducted for his 43-year career with Fluor Corporation, most notably within the nuclear industry. He is also being recognized for his business skills as an engineer and his leadership, helping to develop others within Fluor and their clients. Tye is also being inducted because of his dedication to his alma mater through service on the School of Engineering Advisory Board.

Tye recently retired from Fluor Corporation, where he last served as the president of Fluor’s Power Business Group.

Marc Tye

Marc Tye
Marc Tye

Marc Tye, a member of The Citadel Class of 1982 and brother of Chris Tye, is being inducted for his exceptional 36-year career in the power industry. He is also being recognized for his long association with the American Public Power Association where he has served as a chair, taught others key skills in rate design, advanced rate design and economic development rates. Tye has also served his community and The Citadel through service on the School of Engineering board and as current chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering board.

Tye is the executive vice president and chief operating officer at Santee Cooper.


Celebrating some of the employees who help make The Citadel so mighty https://today.citadel.edu/employee-of-the-year-team-of-the-year-2019/ Wed, 17 Apr 2019 15:40:15 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=7443 Employee of the Year recognized during Awards ParadeEmployee of the Year recognized during Awards ParadeThe Citadel is proud to recognize Multimedia Services as the Team of the Year and Stanton Adams as the Employee of the Year for 2019.]]> Employee of the Year recognized during Awards ParadeEmployee of the Year recognized during Awards Parade

Photo: Stanton Adams, 2019 Employee of the Year, recognized during awards parade

Each year The Citadel rewards one employee and one team for their superior performance and contributions

The Citadel is proud to recognize Multimedia Services as the Team of the Year and Stanton Adams as the Employee of the Year for 2019.

The Team and Employee of the year were honored with a special reception and recognized at the Awards Parade on April 12.

Here’s a look at what sets these employees apart:

Stanton Adams, 2019 Employee of the Year

Employee of the Year during Awards Reception
Employee of the Year during Awards Reception

Stanton Adams is a marketing specialist who supports nearly every department on campus to advance The Citadel’s brand reaching all college stakeholders from prospective cadets and students, to parents and presidential communications.

The nomination letter, written by Kara Klein, Director of Marketing, reads in part:

Stanton measures everything he works on against case studies from colleges nationally recognized for excellence in that area.  If he doesn’t know something, he learns it.  Stanton simultaneously works on many projects and manages to keep his focus and do an exceptional job.  He is always willing to step up to the plate for campus initiatives outside the scope of his job duties. He currently serves on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council and Employee Enrichment Committee.

Stanton took initiative to lead and design a new brand identity and logo system for the college.  This was a huge undertaking, benefiting the college in many ways. The system makes it easier for the college as a whole to adapt the logo for different placements, enables all departments and groups on campus to have a unique identity while still adhering to a consistent brand presence, and is easier and more cost effective to reproduce.  The system features a new, user-friendly website which enables all campus partners to quickly obtain custom files (logos, letterhead, business cards and more) and send them directly to print. 

Multimedia Services, 2019 Team of the Year

  • Conyers Bull
  • John Whitten
  • Mary Chapman
  • Lawrence Galasso
  • Jeff Leonard
Team of the Year during Awards Reception
Team of the Year during Awards Reception

Multimedia Services is a division of the Information Technology Services (ITS) department of The Citadel devoted to promoting the use of instructional technology in education.

The nomination letter written by Kyle Herron, the Chief Information Officer for The Citadel, reads in part:

The Citadel undertook an initiative to refresh the aging technology in it’s classrooms. Additionally, the technology was standardized so that faculty could walk into any classroom and have it operate in a similar manner to any other classrooms. Our students benefit significantly through better audio/visual aids and to see that The Citadel is investing in current technology.

Due to the tight scheduling of The Citadel’s classrooms, much of this work is performed after hours and during holidays. This work is also performed in addition to the staff’s day to day tasks of supporting faculty and student graphical design needs, sound support for the numerous special events on campus, video conferencing support, equipment rentals and all of the last minute “help me!” calls received when someone has waited till the last minute to complete a project. The entire team is dedicated to supporting the needs of everyone at The Citadel, even when it means working strange hours to make sure The Citadel’s daily function go as planned.

Pondering Plastic – Wildlife, Bans and Trash https://today.citadel.edu/pondering-plastic-wildlife-bans-and-trash/ Mon, 08 Apr 2019 17:17:59 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=6916 Voldemort, a loggerhead being treated at the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital (Courtesy: Victoria Hansen, SC Public Radio)Voldemort, a loggerhead being treated at the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital (Courtesy: Victoria Hansen, SC Public Radio)Citadel professor John Weinstein, Ph.D. interviewed for a three-part series on plastic pollution in the ocean by South Carolina Public Radio]]> Voldemort, a loggerhead being treated at the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital (Courtesy: Victoria Hansen, SC Public Radio)Voldemort, a loggerhead being treated at the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital (Courtesy: Victoria Hansen, SC Public Radio)

From South Carolina Public Radio, by Victoria Hansen

Listen to the three-part radio broadcast here:

Behind the scenes at the sea turtle hospital at the South Carolina Aquarium and their efforts to track plastic trash.

State lawmakers and Lowcountry leaders debate plastic bans as local kids form an activist group.

Citadel professor talks about his research on microplastics and Charleson County recycling coordinator offers advice.

He weighs less than five pounds, but Zazu had big belly problems when he was rescued off the Isle of Palms coast nearly three months ago.  The tiny, green sea turtle had eaten plastic, all kinds of plastic; part of a balloon, clear sheets of plastic and material from a grocery bag.

Zazu, a green sea turtle found with a belly full of plastic Courtesy: South Carolina Aquarium (Courtesy: South Carolina Aquarium)
Zazu, a green sea turtle found with a belly full of plastic Courtesy: South Carolina Aquarium (Courtesy: South Carolina Aquarium)

The tiny turtle is the 23rd patient admitted to the South Carolina Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital because of sea debris.  He swims in a private tank next to 17 others now in recovery, including a 260 pound loggerhead named Voldemort who got caught up in crab traps nearly a year ago.

“Sea turtles are definitely a canary in the coal mine,” says aquarium conservation manager Kelly Thorvalson.  “They can show us what is happening in the ocean even before we are ultimately harmed by those things.”

What is happening in the ocean when it comes to plastic? Scientists say anywhere from 5 to 12 million tons of plastic are swept into the sea each year.  Some are large, identifiable chunks of plastic.  Others are microplastics, so small they can’t be seen with the naked eye.  It’s believed by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

What’s more,  millions of marine animals worldwide are killed each year, including seabirds, because of plastic.  They either ingest it, as Zazu did or become entangled as those crab traps caught big Voldemort.

“As we saw this increase in turtles coming in with plastics we decided that we needed to get out in front of the problem,” says Thorvalson.  “We can’t just sit back and keep triaging this issue.”

So the aquarium started an education campaign.  Sea turtles that require quiet for recovery still get it.  Only now, an interactive exhibit allows visitors to peer into the recovery center without disturbing them.

Children and adults are both fascinated and saddened.  This up close view of an otherwise mysterious sea creature is due in part to man-made hazards.  The turtles have become a kind of poster child in the fight against plastic.

“It is really powerful to know what is trashing our communities,” says aquarium volunteer Linda Rowe.

Howard Hogue, known as Beach Santa, and Linda Rowe pick up litter on the Isle of Palms (Courtesy: Victoria Hansen, SC Public Radio)
Howard Hogue, known as Beach Santa, and Linda Rowe pick up litter on the Isle of Palms (Courtesy: Victoria Hansen, SC Public Radio)

At least once a week, she meets Howard Hogue at the sea turtle statue near the county park on the Isle Palms.  Together, they collect and track trash using an app the aquarium offers for anyone to download.

“Many days I fill my five gallon bucket four or five times,” says Hogue, who’s already picked up 500 pieces of litter in his Moncks Corner neighborhood 30 miles inland before meeting Rowe.

The 68 year-old is dressed in red with a long beard, blue eyes and glasses that slip down his nose.  As he walks toward the beach, bucket and grabber in hand, a woman collecting money from parking kiosks screams his name.

“Hey, beach Santa,” she says.  “It’s good to see you.”

Hogue is well known in the community.   He fills his naughty bucket with every kind of imaginable trash.  “It’s a zip tie,” he tells Rowe as she quickly makes a list of the items they’ve found.

Together, they’ve picked up hundreds of discarded plastic toys; buckets, shovels and nets.  All are potential death traps for wildlife.  They’ve also gathered thousands of cigarrette butts, which by the way, are filled with plastic and toxic chemicals.

Plastic toys and trash picked up on the Isle of Palms (Courtesy: Victoria Hansen, SC Public Radio)
Plastic toys and trash picked up on the Isle of Palms (Courtesy: Victoria Hansen, SC Public Radio)

Hogue and Rowe estimate he’s collected 30 thousand pieces of trash since they began working together last summer.  The aquarium’s app shows 360,000 pieces of litter tracked since 2016.  Nearly 70 percent was plastic.

Just around the corner, Isle of Palms mayor Jimmy Carroll remembers the families who came to town council nearly four years ago worried about sea turtles.  They wanted a ban on single use plastic grocery store style bags, the kind that look like a delicious jelly fish to sea turtles.

“It was an easy decision,” says Carroll.

Nearly a dozen coastal communities have banned single use plastics like bags, straws and cups.  Scientists believe they can take hundreds of years to decompose.  They’re also lightweight and are easily scattered.

“I wish we could have a poster put up at every restaurant showing the cycle of plastics,” says Carroll.  “Why can’t I have a straw?  This is why.”

Carroll is passionate and ready for a fight.  He’s headed to Columbia to protect the plastic bans local communities are pursuing.

Two upstate senators have introduced a measure giving the General Assembly the power to ban plastic containers, not municipalities.  A similar measure failed last year.  This one not only prohibits future bans, but takes back those already enacted.

“I don’t think any municipality should have the power to ban any consumer good period,” explains Republican Senator Wes Climer of York County.

“I have to wonder what’s next?” he asks.  “You know some say cows contribute to global warming.  Is there going to be a municipality that bans red meat?”

“They’re trying to take away home rule,” says Carroll.  “We know we have some big plastic companies here in South Carolina but it’s time for them to start thinking forward about being more environmentally friendly.”

Kids with the James Island Ocean Actkidvists group clean up litter on Folly Beach (Courtesy: Victoria Hansen, SC Public Radio)
Kids with the James Island Ocean Actkidvists group clean up litter on Folly Beach (Courtesy: Victoria Hansen, SC Public Radio)

On Folly Beach, dozens of kids are picking up trash as part of a clean-up organized by the James Island Ocean Actkidvists.  Founded by Betty and Louis Henderson and Makena and Liam Ryan, the group was inspired by a trip to the South Carolina Aquarium and its ambassador turtles.

“When we get older, we don’t want to live in a disgusting place like it kind of is now,” says 9 year-old Makena Ryan.

The kids have spoken at city council meetings in favor of single use plastic bans and they make Youtube videos demonstrating how to use less plastic when packing lunches.    Their mother Lindsey Henderson is proud.

But she’s also worried.  How does she tell them about the ban on plastic bans adults are now considering?

“I feel like it would be really disheartening to them to even know that was even being discussed.”

Dr. John Weinstein, the chair of the biology department at the Citadel, says much of his research about plastics has been student driven.  He was finishing a project about the impact of oil spills when cadets expressed an interest in plastic trash.

Dr. John Weinstein studies microplastics at The Citadel (Courtesy: Victoria Hansen, SC Public Radio)
Dr. John Weinstein studies microplastics at The Citadel (Courtesy: Victoria Hansen, SC Public Radio)

“It was about five years ago, when the great Pacific garbage patch was in the news just about every day,” he says.

They decided to track plastic trash in the Charleston Harbor by teaming up with a local beach sweep.  What they found was more than 7 tons of plastic debris along the shore, mostly single use plastics like bags, straws and cups.

“We don’t know how much is underwater,” he says.  “There’s probably more.”

Study military history from almost anywhere in the world – with the experts https://today.citadel.edu/military-history-experts-online-citadel-masters-degree/ Wed, 03 Apr 2019 18:00:38 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=7074 American troops of the 23rd Infantry advance against German forces. National Archives photo.American troops of the 23rd Infantry advance against German forces. National Archives photo.Some of the most distinguished minds in military history today will teach students enrolled in The Citadel Graduate College’s new Master of Arts Degree in Military History.]]> American troops of the 23rd Infantry advance against German forces. National Archives photo.American troops of the 23rd Infantry advance against German forces. National Archives photo.

(Above) American troops of the 23rd Infantry advance against German forces in WWI (Photo: National Archives)

Explore the greatest military achievements and the most excruciating defeats. Learn lessons from witnessing historic military acts of courage, skill and leadership genius, as well as epic mistakes leading to war. Some of the most distinguished minds in military history today will teach students enrolled in The Citadel Graduate College’s new Master of Arts Degree in Military History. The fully online program is accepting applications now, for the courses that will begin in the fall of 2019.

“The Citadel Graduate College’s new Master of Arts Degree in Military History is designed for working people anywhere – officers in the U.S. Armed Forces, professionals in diplomacy, national defense, homeland security and intelligence, or business leaders wanting a deeper understanding of human conflict,” said David Preston, Ph.D., award-winning author/historian and director of The Citadel’s military history program. “And, who better to teach military history than The Citadel with its distinguished faculty and thousands of graduates serving in U.S. military forces right now around the world?”

Why study military history?

Smithsonian image of the Battle of Zama by Henri-Paul Motte
Smithsonian image of the Battle of Zama by Henri-Paul Motte

“The eminent historian John Keegan is entirely correct when he says that ‘the written history of the world is largely a history of warfare.’ We study war not in celebration, but in preparation for it, and in recognition of its immense costs and the profound ways that war has transformed nations and societies,” Preston said.

Dr. David Preston, Director of The Citadel Military History graduate program
Dr. David Preston, Director of The Citadel Military History graduate program

Preston, the Westvaco Professor of National Security Studies in The Citadel School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and The Citadel Department of History faculty, created the program.

“Students will examine the full range of conflicts in world history from Greece and Rome to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the broader ways that war is shaped by its social, cultural, economic and political contexts,” said Joelle Neulander, Ph.D., head of The Citadel Department of History.

WWII recruiting poster by McClelland Barclay, 1942.
WWII recruiting poster by McClelland Barclay, 1942

The Citadel Department of History and affiliated fellows from other disciplines on campus bring together acclaimed and experienced scholars in the fields of war and society and military history for this new graduate degree. Students will be led by faculty subject matter experts in areas that include:

  • The study of war, its conduct, meaning, and consequences
  • The evolution of warfare and its relationship to modern operational environments, joint warfare, civil-military relations, and strategy
  • Armed conflict at all levels of warfare: strategic, operational, and tactical
  • The political, social, economic, environmental, geographic, and cultural contexts of war
  • Analysis and application of military leadership and decision making throughout history
  • The human dimension of war and experience of combat

    Staff Sgt. Jen Brooks, with the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team, gives candy to students from the Abdul Karzai Middle School in Khandahar, Afghanistan, Sept. 14, 2004. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Joseph P. Collins Jr.)
    Staff Sgt. Jen Brooks, with the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team, gives candy to students from the Abdul Karzai Middle School in Khandahar, Afghanistan, Sept. 14, 2004 (Photo: Staff Sgt. Joseph P. Collins Jr.)

The Military History program consists of a 30-hour curriculum lending itself to completion in two years or less. Students may obtain either a Master of Arts Degree in Military History or both a Master of Arts Degree in Military History and a Graduate Certificate in Military Leadership at the same time.

To apply to the program or for more information, please visit this web link, or call (843) 953-5073.

Master Sgt. Darrell Shelton gives a daily situational awareness briefing during security forces guardmount Feb. 15 2007 at Balad Air Base, Iraq. Sergeant Shelton is assigned to the 332nd expeditionary Security Forces Squadron (U.S.A.F. photo)
Military Historians Tell Us Who Will Win ‘Game of Thrones’ https://today.citadel.edu/military-historians-tell-us-who-will-win-game-of-thrones/ Mon, 01 Apr 2019 14:36:03 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=6975 Game of Thrones map WinterfellGame of Thrones map WinterfellCitadel professor Michael Livingston, Ph.D., was one of the experts asked who will be sitting on the Iron Throne at the end of the HBO series. ]]> Game of Thrones map WinterfellGame of Thrones map Winterfell

Note: Citadel professor Michael Livingston, Ph.D., was one of the experts asked who will be sitting on the Iron Throne at the end of the HBO series. Livingston is often interviewed on medieval matters due to his regular column on tor.com, a science fiction and fantasy website. Livingston is also an award-winning writer who has published a trilogy of historical fantasy novels and multiple nonfiction books.

As seen on Vice, by Noel Ransome

It’s not the easiest thing to be a military historian and a Game of Thrones fan, apparently. Sure, a lifetime of studying armed conflict and seeing it reflected in an HBO fantasy series sounds rad, but in the case of historian Michael Livingston, there’s also Jon Snow to think about.

“Look, I love Jon, but he’s pulled a Leeroy Jenkins into battle without a [expletive] helmet,” Livingston jokes, referring to the Battle of the Bastards. “It’s like, I love him, but please, someone shoot an arrow in his head already.”

I couldn’t agree more.

With 67 episodes of Game of Thrones past us, we’ve witnessed the many ways George R.R. Martin’s GoT flirts with history as well as fantasy. In fact, it’s been a particular trait of GoT creator to borrow ideas from battles from history. With a single season left, and with my heart and yours aged for destruction, it stands to reason that if we want answers to the most important question—who will take the Iron Throne and rule the seven kingdoms?—we might as well look to history for some hint of an answer, and I did just that.

As of last season’s end, we were left with an army of the wintery dead traversing past the wall, and toward civilization. Our blue terminator The Night King now has a dragon—as if he wasn’t OP enough. In defense, the groups of Cersei Lannister (currently sitting on the Iron Throne), Daenerys Targaryen, and Jon Snow have made a pact with the shelf-life of week old milk—Cersei can’t be trusted, and Jon himself, who we discovered is half Targaryen, slept with Daenerys, hinting at a new dynasty, continuing GoT’s odd obsession with incest.

With three weeks until the season premiere, we spoke to some historians for a few hints, because frankly, our feels could all use some time to prepare.

Michael Livingston

Middle Ages historian, novelist, professor at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.

Michael Livingston, Ph.D.
Michael Livingston, Ph.D.

VICE: What does history tell us about the leaders who can rule and maintain an area as large as the seven kingdoms?
Livingston: History tells you a lot of competing bits of information. On one hand, we can rule massive land off of pure charisma. On another, we can do so with pure physical intimidation. The best most successful rulers of enormous swathes of land had both. Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great comes to mind. Both enormously charismatic individuals but frightening as hell. I’d never want to be within ten miles of the guy. Human life isn’t exactly on Alexander’s priority list (laughs). That can make for an incredibly successful ruler, but not as someone you’d want hanging around for too long.

In our current times, we’ve got bureaucracy. As a leader, you just keep things rolling without burning the house down in the process. But with Game of Thrones, that’s not applicable. We’ve got competing dynasties. Somebody’s got to rule because people are dying, armies are in the field, and someone has to come out on top. and that’s going to need both charisma and raw power.

Going with what history may tell us, who do you have on the Iron Throne?
Here’s how I look at it, and you can look this stuff up. At the core, George R.R. Martin began by imitating the War of the Roses, a series of English civil wars that lasted from 1455 to 1487. You had this guy Henry VI, the King of England during that era, also referred to as The Mad King. He was later removed by Edward IV of the house of York, followed by Edward V for a short period. Then came Richard III, who was famously known for being deformed in both body and spirit. He was later defeated and the civil wars ended when Henry VII came along across the sea with an army for a win at the Battle of Bosworth. He marries the daughter of Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville, and takes the throne and establishes a dynasty that’s still on the throne today.

We’ve got the foundation. Henry VI starts things off, and that’s Aerys, the second Targaryen in GoT speak. Who got rid of him? That’d be Robert Baratheon, also known as Edward IV, with his wife being Cersei. When we look at what Cersei has experienced, and her attitude, she matches nicely with the wife of Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville and mistress Jane Shore. There’s a nice connection there. With Edward V, that’s Tommen Baratheon, a young and decent enough guy, but things don’t go well (laughs).

So who’s left?
From a historian point of view, we have to figure out who Richard III is. Who’s going to defeat Richard, and establish a dynasty? There are three candidates. Stannis Baratheon, which makes sense in genealogy terms as a Baratheon. You could also say he was a bit deformed too, he had issues (laughs). Most may point to Tyrion Lannister due to his physical appearance, and the Night King who’s obviously a tad inhuman. That’s three possible final bosses.

And our winner?
We also have to consider who can be our Henry VII, the dynasty maker. In terms of genealogy, it’s our surviving Lancastrians from history, which would be our Targaryens in GoT speak. That’s Daenerys or Jon Snow. Both have a blood connection, so they have a legitimate claim; always necessary for a ruler of these times. It matches up with the real Henry VII, who was exiled. Both Jon and Daenerys were exiled across distances, and made a return. Now our Richard III has more context. Tyrion couldn’t be up against Jon or Daenerys, it wouldn’t make sense. Stannis is already dead. It really comes down to The Night King, who is a Richard III sort of figure. It may take one or both of them to defeat the Winter King, and they arguably have the most military strength making each or both of them our Henry VII. And to stabilize the term, they would need to marry.

Tyrion coming out on top is how I want to see this work out, but Tyrion is invested in Daenerys as a ruler. He’s trying his best to steer her power and charisma. She’s certainly the most qualified person in that department, and by all rights, she’s earned it, but this is George R.R. Martin. I see Daenerys going down with the ship to defeat GOT’s Richard III, leaving Jon alone if he doesn’t die stupidly.

Brian Pavlac

Brian A. Pavlac, historian and Professor of History at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre. Author of Game of Thrones versus History.

VICE: What kind of person is more than likely to rule the seven Kingdoms?
Brian Pavlac: Well historically, in a society where obedience is based on a combination of tradition and personal promises, the leader who can best honor both will succeed. Even better if the leader knows how to satisfy the desires of friends and foes. Under those conditions, Jon Snow would seem to be the best suited to rule. But it takes more than that.

For one, I’d have to mention that Jon Snow is a terrible commander. As the Battle of the Bastards show, he can’t be dispassionate. He can’t keep order among his troops and only possesses personal heroism. Daenerys herself has no real military experience, her only advantage is her dragons. An ice dragon takes away a lot of that. Cersei herself seems ready to betray anyone at the moment she sees it as an advantage. Her ability to gain allies however, who don’t seem to consider her a threat enough to be worried about this trait, may continue to be useful.

For Tyrion, he’s shown himself out thought by others time and again, especially by Jamie Lannister. Jamie seems to have the best strategic and military mind of them all, mostly aided by his inability to be the hero. He’s no longer the swordsman he once was but Cersei is too much of a complication. By what we know, it would probably be Jon Snow.

Ken Mondschein

History professor at American Intentional College and Westfield State University/Medieval and Renaissance historian. Author of Game of Thrones and the Medieval Art of War. 

VICE: What is history telling you about the kind of person it takes to rule the Seven Kingdoms?
Ken Mondschein: The Seven Kingdoms are comparable to the medieval period because it’s this big centralized place that’s been kind of static. Why is it static? Because Aegon the Conqueror came in with his dragons and the dragons can be seen as your nuclear equivalent, or the cannons in the 15th century. Naval war in itself was essentially about castles, castles control territory. Conquest and all that proceeded pretty slowly because you could simply hold up in your castle. But a cannon can easily subdue a fortress, so you’ve got to go out and ultimately battle. Whoever has the most men is going to win. How do you get the most men? Well you’ve got to have the most money, and this is what we call the military revolution. It lead to the formation of states. If we’re talking about who’s going to rule Westeros, it’s going to be the person who’s going to be able to establish and rule a state.

So who can accomplish that?
Genghis Khan wouldn’t have worked because they couldn’t centralize themselves in that way. They were basically a coalition and it fell apart. From my perspective, you don’t rule an empire like the Seven Kingdoms by fighting, you do it by, excuse my language, [expletive]. You inter-married those who you conquered. The best historical example is Hernan Cortes. He comes in, conquers the Aztec empire, but where did they go from there? They intermarried. That’s the pre-modern form of conquest and expansion; biracial powers that can speak both languages. Who’s most representative of that? It’s Daenerys and Jon who’s our William Wallace and the only person who can likely impregnate Daenerys due to his Targaryen blood. Absent Daenerys, the next best contender to that kind of expansion is the Night King. But my bets are on Daenerys sitting on the Iron Throne and keeping it because of sex. She also happens to have dragons, which is our military equivalent to 12th century cannons.

Maybe some might consider Cersei, but she’s not the type to sleep with anyone, whether it be allies or potential enemies beyond Jaime. She’s practicing incest, and that’s why she can’t win. Even if she sat on the Throne, it would never last. It’s a harsh thing to say, but you could almost say that Cersei is sterile, despite being pregnant. There’s no telling how her child will turn out this time around if she doesn’t suffer a miscarriage.

Kelly DeVries

Kelly DeVries, an American historian specializing in the warfare of the Middle Ages. Participated in HBOs documentary, “Historical Connections”

VICE: I know you’re sworn to secrecy since you know the outcome, but at least tell me what history suggests about characters that can win it all, and sustain it. 

Kelly DeVries: Well, there were empires that ruled for over 400 years—the Franks come to mind. No matter how dreadful, they were in power because no one else was strong. That’s the bottom line to conquering and maintaining peace in this age. The question of who’s going to sit on the throne and be effective as a ruler matters less than if they’re powerful enough to survive. For the better part of Game of Thrones, Daenerys was away from most danger and had the time to build herself up against very weak opponents. And then we had Jon Snow, surviving by pure luck and resurrection.

The question I have to ask, in very Mark Twain form, is: Would I want to be a member of any club with these as leaders? A 62-year-old woman once asked me that question, and my only thought of someone truly good was Tyrion, but he doesn’t have a chance. He was set up to be an advisor, and he was always going to advise someone against his sister because she blamed him for their mother’s death in childbirth. Then there’s Jon, who’s a good example of leaders who rose from small beginnings throughout history. Jon and Danny at least are about to face the very worst in Cersei. I can’t say who will win, but ideally, it would be Jon and Danny.

South Carolina Politics Consider A Ban On Plastic’s Ban https://today.citadel.edu/south-carolina-politics-consider-a-ban-on-plastics-ban/ Sun, 24 Mar 2019 10:00:10 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=6778 Plastic bottle, courtesy of The Island Eye NewsPlastic bottle, courtesy of The Island Eye NewsThe Island Eye News interviews Citadel professor about microplastics in the water, and also investigates bill in statehouse that would ban plastic bans.]]> Plastic bottle, courtesy of The Island Eye NewsPlastic bottle, courtesy of The Island Eye News

As seen in The Island Eye News, by Gregg Bragg

Something to know before visiting the Statehouse in Columbia; water from the drinking fountain contains microplastics.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration defines the substance as any plastic debris smaller than 5 mm (about the size of sesame seed, they say). Dr. John Weinstein, Chair of the Biology Department and Professor of Physiology at The Citadel said during a phone call on March 8, he was probably the only person who wasn’t surprised by the findings in a study he administered for The Citadel.

“What around us isn’t made of synthetic materials? Everything is wrapped in plastic. Tires are made of rubber and plastic elastomers that deposit on roads and wash into Charleston harbor with every rain… [Microplastics] are everywhere we’ve ever looked; in the air, Arctic ice, on mountain tops, beer, table salt and in water,” said Weinstein.

Weinstein first started looking in earnest when studying the effects of microplastics in Charleston’s own back yard was added to his bailiwick in 2013.

“WISTV’s Paul Rivera first contacted us about doing the study… so we looked at reservoirs, surface water and tap water in and around Richland County,” said Weinstein.

College of Charleston graduate student Sarah Nell usually works in Weinstein’s lab studying the effects of microplastics on grass shrimp. Because of her experience with the emerging science, Nell was tapped for the project in Columbia and did a lot of the fieldwork for the study. Nell and Weinstein’s findings came at an interesting time for a couple of reasons.

The Atlantic reported in an article dated Feb. 27 that Newcastle University professor Alan Jamieson found microplastics in every single critter pulled from the Mariana Trench.

A particularly alarming part of the article reads, “The world produces an estimated 10 tons of plastic a second, and between 5 million and 14 million tons sweep into the oceans every year. Some of that debris washes up on beaches, even on the world’s most isolated islands. About 5 trillion pieces currently float in surface waters, mostly in the form of tiny, easy-to-swallow fragments that have ended up in the gut of albatrosses, sea turtles, plankton, fish, and whales. But those pieces also sink, snowing into the deep sea…”

There are also political considerations when it comes to plastic.

Neither Dr. Weinstein nor Sarah Nell were comfortable weighing in on the politics of plastics, but the Coastal Conservation League’s Land, Water, and Wildlife Program Director Emily Cedzo lives for it. She recently touted the findings in a call to action following the resurrection of the “ban on [plastics] ban” in the current legislative session.

Cedzo’s email of Jan. 22 said in part, “Senators Talley and Climer, both from the Upstate, are sponsoring Senate Bill 394—a proposal that violates home rule, and would prevent towns and cities in South Carolina from passing local bans on single-use plastics.

“Noticeably missing from the bill? A clause grandfathering in communities that have already taken meaningful steps to address single-use plastic[s including;] Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, Surfside Beach, Mount Pleasant, Sullivan’s Island, Charleston, James Island, Beaufort County And every single municipality in Beaufort County.

“We need to call out this bill for what it is; an industry-backed proposal that is meant to blunt local progress, and your right to protect your waterways, wildlife and public health…”

It is worth noting report that Georgetown should be included in that list, that Seabrook and most Myrtle Beach area municipalities are considering ordinances similar to their coastal brethren, or that the Small Business Chamber of Commerce echoed her sentiments.

S0394 is modeled after the House version of the bill, which failed during the previous legislative session. Asked who was behind the resurrection, Cedzo said many American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) backed organizations like the SC Retail Association, the SC Manufacturers Association, as well as the SC Chamber of Commerce. She also noted the headquarters of several plastics manufacturers are located in Hartsville, SC, and may be contributing to S394’s reintroduction.

The bill is currently in a subset/sub-committee of the Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee, but will likely pass to the full committee after a hearing scheduled for March 20.

Remembering Prof. Dan Bellack https://today.citadel.edu/remembering-prof-dan-bellack-citadel-psycology/ Wed, 20 Mar 2019 19:12:40 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=6777 Dr. Dan BellackDr. Dan BellackThe life of Dan Bellack, Ph.D., a visiting professor with The Citadel Graduate College for 20 years, will be celebrated at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 24 at Trident Technical College.]]> Dr. Dan BellackDr. Dan Bellack

The life of Dan Bellack, Ph.D., a visiting professor with The Citadel Graduate College for 20 years, will be celebrated at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 24, with a gathering of the Trident Technical College community in Building 920. All are welcome.

Dr. Bellack served as department head of behavioral and social sciences at Trident Technical College for more than 20 years and also taught at the College of Charleston, in addition to teaching master’s level courses through the Department of Psychology at The Citadel.

One of Dr. Bellack’s colleagues and friends at The Citadel, Steve Nida, Ph.D., offered these reflections:

Dan Bellack had been teaching at The Citadel for several years when I arrived as psychology’s new department head in the fall of 2002. Dan quickly became a good friend, and we remained close until his untimely passing.

Dan was bright, loyal, and witty. He was a kind soul who genuinely cared about his students, and I don’t know that I have ever encountered anyone who loved teaching as much as Dan did; furthermore, he was good at it — truly a master teacher.

Throughout most of the time that I knew Dan, he was serving as chair of the Social & Behavioral Sciences Division at Trident Tech. Most department chairs seek to minimize their teaching obligations simply because the administrative duties occupy so much of one’s time, yet Dan — without fail — was always willing to step in and help us out whenever and wherever we needed him (even though he always had a full slate of teaching responsibilities at Trident). That was because, as I have noted, he just loved the classroom. Dan primarily taught developmental psychology to Citadel graduate students, and he had recently been one of the authors of a successful textbook in that area.

Although Dan was an accomplished psychologist, everyone who knew him thinks of him first as someone who was, very simply, a great guy. His gentle manner, quiet competence, and sharp sense of humor will be missed. Dan’s death is a real loss for The Citadel, for Trident, and for the field of psychology.

Dr. Bellack’s obituary:

Daniel Robert Bellack, 73, left this life on Thursday March 14, surrounded by his loving family. He is survived by his wife Yongmei, in-laws Maoyin Wang and Min Fang, sons Jason (Danielle) and Braden (Kelly), sister Sandi Bellack (Vido Chavez), three grandchildren (Liam, who had an especially close relationship with his PopPop, and twins Nathaniel and Amelia), his former wife (Jan), and numerous cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, William “Billy” and Terri Bellack.

Dan was born on January 15, 1946 in Brooklyn, New York, but spent most of his childhood in Miami, Florida. He attended the University of Miami, and received bachelor’s, master’s, and specialist degrees from the University of Florida, where he was a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. Dan moved to Virginia in 1973 and worked as a college counselor. He and his family then moved to Lexington, Kentucky, where he attended the University of Kentucky and earned his PhD in cognitive developmental psychology. While there, he became an avid lifetime Kentucky Wildcats fan.

Dan devoted his career to being in the classroom with students. He served on the faculty and as department head of behavioral and social sciences at Lexington (KY) Technical College. Upon relocating to Charleston in 1988, he served as visiting professor of psychology at the College of Charleston, and in 1992 joined the faculty at Trident Technical College, where he also served as department head of behavioral and social sciences for more than 20 years. He continued to teach there until his death. He also served as visiting professor of psychology at the Citadel Graduate College for more than 20 years.

Co-author of a psychology textbook, Visualizing the Lifespan (Wiley, 2015), Dan was an invited regular presenter at the National Institute for the Teaching of Psychology. He was a member of the American Psychological Association and the South Carolina Psychological Association, and a Fellow of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. His research focused on pedagogy in the classroom and critical thinking. He served as a reviewer and consultant to publishers for numerous introductory and developmental psychology textbooks. Notably, he presented at TEDx-Charleston in April 2018.

Dan was a great teacher, beloved by thousands of students whose lives he touched. He also was an avid musician and accomplished trumpet player. An inaugural member of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, he played with the Charleston Community Band for more than 20 years, and in many concerts, theater, and social events over the years.

Known best for his wit and sarcastic humor, Dan brought smiles to the faces of his family, friends, students, coworkers, and even strangers he met in passing. He often used his gift of humor to create welcoming learning environments for his students and to alleviate tense moments of discussion with friends and family alike. His gift for making others laugh will be greatly missed by those who had the privilege of knowing him. Funeral services will be private.

A celebration of Dan’s life will be held on Sunday, March 24th at 3:00 pm with a gathering of the Trident Technical College community, Building 920. In lieu of flowers (no flowers, please), donations may be made to the Daniel R. Bellack Memorial Scholarship at Trident Technical College Foundation, PO Box 61227, Charleston SC 29419-1227 to honor Dan’s life and legacy in perpetuity. Every dollar donated will be matched by an anonymous donor. Visit our guestbook at www.legacy.com/obituaries/ charleston


Tire particles found in Charleston waterways, researchers say https://today.citadel.edu/tire-particles-found-in-charleston-waterways/ Tue, 19 Mar 2019 19:21:32 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=6729 tire particles in shrimp GI tracttire particles in shrimp GI tractMost people see some form of plastic pollution every day like water bottles or single-use straws, but it’s the plastic we don’t see that’s a larger concern.]]> tire particles in shrimp GI tracttire particles in shrimp GI tract

Photo: Tire particles in shrimp GI tract

As seen on ABC News 4, by Caroline Balchunas

From bags to bottles, cars and clothing, plastic is truly the fabric of our lives.

Most people see some form of plastic pollution every day like water bottles or single-use straws, but it’s the plastic we don’t see that’s a larger concern.

About five years ago, researchers at the Citadel and College of Charleston began looking into microplastics around the Charleston Harbor and made a new discovery.

Dr. John Weinstein, biology professor and head of the biology department at the Citadel, leads the research.

Weinstein said from that study, they found two interesting things.

“We found Daniel Island had some of the highest levels that were being reported and we were also finding that the majority of the particles that were being reported were black particles,” said Weinstein. “We did chemistry on them and we found that they are composed of carbon-black and polybutadiene which are charred components of tires.”

Weinstein said the black specks were tire particles, another form of microplastic. Weinstein said it was an unexpected discovery, but not exactly surprising.

“When you think about tires and what happens to tires over the course of their lifetime, the tread on a tire will wear down,” he said. “But you don’t see 2,000 tons on the side of the road, right? So, where is it going?”

Weinstein said storm water runoff is likely to blame, washing the particles from the roadway to the waterway.

College of Charleston graduate student Sarah Kell studies the potential pathways and the role stormwater detention ponds may play.

“One of the questions we’re trying to look for is if there’s higher concentrations at the point where they’re flowing into the tidal creeks and any kind of impacts they could have on the environment there,” Kell said. “I hypothesized that storm water ponds would serve as a sink for microplastics because storm water ponds are designed to trap and filter pollutants.”

In the 900 samples she’s collected over the years, Kell said every single one contains microplastics.

“I’m finding all types of microplastics, I’m finding tire particles, different types of fibers, fragments as well as microbeads,” she said.

Weinstein believes there’s likely an engineering solution, but until a tire is invented that doesn’t wear down, he feels the most viable current solution is to control where the runoff goes.

The tire manufacturing industry is aware.

In a statement, the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association said:

The USTMA cares deeply about the impact of tires on the environment. In 2005, USTMA members formed the Tire Industry Project (TIP) organized under the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD). TIP works to proactively identify and address potential environmental impacts associated with the life cycle of tires to contribute to a more sustainable future.”

USTMA provided a study that concluded “tire road wear particles” are unlikely to have adverse effects on freshwater and sediment-dwelling species.

Weinstein said there’s a growing body of evidence that points to the contrary. He said a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has funded a grant for them to study the potential impacts on human health and added the new findings will be published sometime this fall.

“These particles may be getting into our seafood, like shrimp and oysters,” Weinstein said. “There are chemicals associated with these tire particles, there are heavy metals and there’s hydrocarbons that could potentially be leaching out of the particles as they pass through the gut of the shrimp.”

THE MOTHER OF ALL ARTICLES https://today.citadel.edu/the-mother-of-all-articles/ Sun, 10 Mar 2019 10:00:00 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=6515 Citadel Chaplain Joe MolinaCitadel Chaplain Joe MolinaIn honor of Women’s History Month, Chaplain Joe Molina pays homage to those special women in our lives that played or are playing an extraordinary role]]> Citadel Chaplain Joe MolinaCitadel Chaplain Joe Molina

As seen in The Brigadier, by Joe Molina CDR, UMSC

Okay, now that I have your attention allow me to proceed.  The Persian Gulf War is still part of our contemporary history.  As our armed forces mobilized a momentum started to build up which we knew would reach a climax.  You may also remember, or have read, that people tended to be more spiritual. The old maxim, “there are no atheists in foxholes” rang truer in those days.  As the moment of ultimate confrontation approached, Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, described the anticipated encounter as “The Mother of all Battles.” When I first heard the expression, I could not help grinning.  It sounded funny. However, let us look at the meaning of this superlative expression. In this context, it is obvious that the use of the word “mother” meant something along the lines of “overwhelming,” “immense,” “spectacular,” “awesome.”

Now, the word “mother” is worthy of those kinds of thoughts and as we celebrate Women’s Month I would like to pay homage to those special women in our lives that played or are playing an extraordinary role.  To be sure, motherhood truly defies comparison. I should think that during Women’s Month, every chaplain across the land should desire to write “The Mother of All Articles.” I do not know if you’ve noticed but mothers and chaplains have a great deal in common.  I know that I don’t look like your mother but both chaplains and mothers commit their lives to trying to get people to do what they do not want to do in order that they might become what they have always wanted to become. Mothers are change agents and chaplains try to be.  Mothers and chaplains appreciate being affirmed and recognized but think we would prefer that people follow what we preach rather than honoring what we do. Mothers and chaplains seek to nurture growth and personal development in those entrusted to us. The approaches are sometimes gentle, other times challenging and from time to time disturbing.  Mothers and chaplains may get ignored and sometimes insulted but deep down inside remains a genuine concern for the people around us. At times, a chaplain, like a mother, is not the best friend you have. Sometimes he/she is the only friend you have.

But nothing truly and totally parallels the inimitable reality of motherhood.  I, therefore, celebrate this Month of the Woman with a thankful heart for the gift of motherhood and the gifts that these special women have brought to our lives.   Mark Twain once said: “my mother had a great deal of trouble with me. But I think she enjoyed it!” What I think he meant was that she enjoyed the forgiving and restoring.  I can relate to this. From my mother, I received the gift of forgiveness. Indeed, I came to understand God’s capacity to forgive through my mother’s enormous capacity to forgive me.  Experiencing her forgiveness taught me to live and grow with a sense of confidence and certainty that everything was all right. I came to understand the value of perseverance through a mother who would not give up on her God-given responsibilities.  She taught me a few things about patience and spiritual endurance.

In William Gibson’s classic work Mass for the Dead, he writes about the events surrounding his mother’s demise.  After her death, he yearned for the faith that upheld her wonderful life.  It was a faith that held-up during a difficult death. He took up her gold-rimmed glasses, her faded, well-used Bible and sat in her favorite chair.  He wanted to experience what had so deeply centered and empowered her. Her impact profoundly influenced his life. That, my friends, is powerful mentoring!

Have a fantastic Women’s Month and celebrate “the gift.”

-Joe Molina CDR, UMSC / Chaplain to the Corps of Cadets

See Chaplain Molina’s latest published work: Musing Form The Heights on Amazon

What Are Orangutans Thinking? https://today.citadel.edu/what-are-orangutans-thinking/ Mon, 04 Mar 2019 11:00:41 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=6354 Orangutan Lucy at the zoo's Great Ape HouseOrangutan Lucy at the zoo's Great Ape HouseCitadel professor Audrey Parrish, Ph.D., featured in an article for the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Let’s play a game…for science! With a tap of the touch-screen computer, orangutans at the Smithsonian’s National]]> Orangutan Lucy at the zoo's Great Ape HouseOrangutan Lucy at the zoo's Great Ape House

Citadel professor Audrey Parrish, Ph.D., featured in an article for the Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Let’s play a game…for science! With a tap of the touch-screen computer, orangutans at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo try their memories at matching pictures. These games are more than just enrichment, says primate keeper Erin Stromberg. They also help scientists—like Dr. Michael Beran and Dr. Audrey Parrish—study the apes’ metacognition: do they know what they know?

Why study the way orangutans think?

Beran and Parrish: We share many cognitive processes in common with our closely-related primate species, including orangutans. The fun part of comparative cognition research is to try and develop tasks that allow us to tap into the minds of other animals.

Humans continuously monitor their thoughts, knowledge and cognitive processes. Our metacognition is sophisticated. We express this in our language, and we take for granted that other humans around us do the same thing.

Studies like this—which assess metacognition in orangutans and other species—give us a sense of where that sophistication comes from, and how we developed this capacity through evolution. We can better understand our own mental abilities by studying the ways in which orangutans and other primates use theirs.

Batang selects a photo on the screen, then moves to another area of the room to receive her reward. 

How is metacognition useful for orangutans?

Stromberg: Orangutans make lots of decisions every day, both in the wild and in human care. They decide where to move to, what to eat, whom to interact with and how closely to watch the world around them. These decisions require perceiving the environment and remembering things about the world around them. Sometimes, decisions require reflection—thinking about what they may be seeing or remembering.

For example, orangutans have to try to remember where food is located. But, decision-making can also be more complicated. Is an approaching individual aggressive or friendly, or even a combination of these? The last time that individual approached, did things go well or not? If enough information is available, they can behave confidently.

But, if their memory is weak, or if they are uncertain that they know what they need to know, they may instead try to adjust their behavior to reduce this uncertainty. For example, they may choose to avoid the social interaction until they are certain the other orangutan is a friend or foe. That is the function of metacognition.

How do you determine if an orangutan is confident?

Beran and Parrish: An orangutan’s confidence can be reflected in movement. The Zoo’s orangutans play memory computer games as part of their daily enrichment program. They tap a picture on the screen and have to remember it during a 1-, 2-, 4-, 7- or 10-second delay in which the screen goes blank. Then, they choose the original picture from a set of four options—similar to a multiple-choice test. The test may be easier if the delay is short, or harder if the delay is long.

Once they try to match the picture they saw, they have a few seconds before the computer sounds an auditory tone, telling them if they are correct or incorrect. If correct, they are rewarded with one of their favorite foods—grapes—but the treat is delivered somewhere else in the test room.

If they wait to learn from the computer that they correctly matched the image, they have to hustle to the reward area to get their treat or risk missing the treat altogether (it rolls outside of the testing area, out of the orangutan’s reach). However, if they answer and know they are correct, they can go over to the treat area early, take their time, and get their reward. If they are not sure if they are correct, they can wait for the “correct” tone and then hustle. If incorrect, a different tone will sound, indicating they do not get a grape and should remain in front of the screen and play the next matching game.

Thus, the best response to this task would be for the orangutan to move to the grape site as soon as they answer the question—but only if they think they are correct. This requires meta-memory. Their movements tell us their level of confidence in how they did on the matching game.

Lucy is in the training phase of the metacognition study. She does not yet have to move to receive the reward. 

Which of the Zoo’s orangutans participate in this study?

Stromberg: As with any of our enrichment and training programs, all of our orangutans have the opportunity to participate. Some studies—including this one—have a criterion level that the orangutans must meet on the on the Match-to-Sample memory game in order to be included in the study.

For this particular research, our 42-year-old female orangutan, Bonnie, and her 31-year-old son, Kiko, did not reach the criterion required to be included in this study. They still have access to the touchscreen computer game, but only for enrichment.

Our other orangutans—45-year-old female, Lucy, 31-year-old female, Iris, 22-year-old male, Kyle and 22-year-old female, Batang—passed the training phase and are included in the data collection phase of the study. They have been participating in this study since early 2018 and will continue until the data collection is complete.

Do the orangutans do this activity individually or with others?

Stromberg: We have been focusing on one orangutan at a time during the data collection phase of the study. They participate individually so that they have limited distractions and can act without being influenced by another orangutan. However, Kyle and Batang’s son, 2-year-old Redd, gets to hang with his mom while she plays the memory game.  Sometimes, Batang will share her grapes with Redd, too!

Does personality influence their participation at all?

Stromberg: Patience varies between individuals. Iris and Lucy tend to diligently work until the entire task is over, which takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Batang has trouble sitting still and waiting for the pictures to appear on the screen and often fidgets until it does. Kyle is easily distracted by what the other orangutans may be doing, but he is a hard worker and does quite well on the task.

In the Zoo's Think Tank exhibit, primate keeper Erin Stromberg rewards Bornean orangutan Batang with a grape for selecting the correct answer during the metacognition memory game.
In the Zoo’s Think Tank exhibit, primate keeper Erin Stromberg rewards Bornean orangutan Batang with a grape for selecting the correct answer during the metacognition memory game.

Do some orangutans have better memories than others?

Stromberg: It doesn’t seem that any one orangutan has a better memory than another, but some tasks do come easier to some individuals and harder to others. For example, Batang and Bonnie excel in cognitive studies that task the orangutans to use problem solving and tool use. For studies that require patience, Kiko does quite well, but Kyle does not.

Our orangutans have participated in a variety of cognitive studies that involve memory. The results vary greatly in terms of what problem the orangutans need to solve. Their responses are often as unique as their own personalities!

What has this study taught you about orangutan memory?

Beran and Parrish: We are seeing mixed results so far. The orangutans sometimes seem to move early during games where they end up being correct, but this is not always the case. We are thinking about how we can give them a better sense of how to adjust their movements to demonstrate any sense of confidence (or uncertainty) they might feel.

As we work on these studies, it will help us understand whether orangutans do appear to experience such confidence in this test, and perhaps in other kinds of tests. It will be interesting to compare their performance to other primates including chimpanzees, capuchin monkeys, and human adults and children.

Was there a moment in this study that surprised you?

Stromberg: During the testing process, I need to stand still and cannot pay attention to either the orangutans or the computer. If an orangutan gives the correct answer, a tone will sound, and I will hand the participating orangutan a grape.

When Lucy is unsure of the answer, she will sit in front of me with her arms folded across her stomach. This is the exact stance I have during testing. It seems like she is trying to mimic me in the hopes that doing so will earn her a grape!

Can Zoo visitors observe these research sessions?

Stromberg: We are a part of some really exciting research projects, and visitors can learn more about our animals and these studies at the 11:30 a.m. keeper talk at Think Tank and the 1 p.m. keeper talk at the Great Ape House.

Our orangutans choose whether to participate in the study or spend their time doing other things. More often than not, they choose to engage in games like these that test their cognitive abilities. Seeing animals willingly engage in cognitive tests helps visitors understand how intelligent these animals are and how psychologically enriching these activities can be for them. This research is a win-win—it helps advance science and enhances the lives of our orangutans at the same time.

This story appears in the March 2019 issue of National Zoo News. Dr. Michael Beran is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Georgia State University. Dr. Audrey Parrish is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at The Citadel. Learn more about their research in the Journal of Comparative PsychologyLearn more about animal enrichment and training at the Zoo here