A Gothic Church, a Holy Tear

Jesus wept. And for seven centuries, a Benedictine abbey church in France claimed to have preserved the tear he shed. Dr. Anne Heath doesn’t challenge the belief that the Abbey of La Trinité (the Holy Trinity) in Vendôme once maintained and venerated a tear that Jesus cried at the tomb of Lazarus, as described in … Continue reading “A Gothic Church, a Holy Tear”

Spera 2020
Code / Decode

Streamlining Robotic Coding

In a Hope College engineering laboratory, a roomful of Roombas® — or more accurately, Kobuki mobile robots (shaped like the popular Roomba vacuums, but with no cleaning power) — are carrying on earthbound research that grew out of knowledge a professor acquired while working on other robots intended for space exploration. And if the work … Continue reading “Streamlining Robotic Coding”

Spera 2020
Code / Decode

Combing Statistics for Clues to Future Mass Shootings

Sandy Hook. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The Capital Gazette newspaper. The Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas. Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. The First Baptist Church of Sutherland, Texas. The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. The roll call and the death toll keep rising, steadily and seemingly unchecked, and random mass shootings are … Continue reading “Combing Statistics for Clues to Future Mass Shootings”

Spera 2019
Damage Control

What’s Stressful in Your Work?

Of course college students feel stress. Grades. Tuition. Peer pressure. Choosing the right table at Phelps Dining Hall. But what about college faculty? How does the pressure they feel at work compare to their corporate counterparts? Those are some questions Dr. Marcus Fila is examining in the latest of his studies on workplace stress, and … Continue reading “What’s Stressful in Your Work?”

Spera 2019
The Inner Life

Abstract Visions of the Human Body

You are, by choice and training, an abstract artist. Because, in your words, “There is an inherent and permanent interest in creating bodies,” your work frequently features the human form. Professor Katherine Sullivan, do you ever feel you need to explain your “body art” to viewers? “Yes, yes I do,” admits Sullivan with a laugh. … Continue reading “Abstract Visions of the Human Body”

Spera 2019
The Human Body

Culturally Dislocated?

Is Dr. Rajesh Koothrappali, the winsome astrophysicist played by Kunal Nayyar on the long-running CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, responsible for the alienation many Indian-Americans experience from mainstream U.S. media? That may be overstating matters a bit — but according to recent research by Dr. Marissa Doshi and a colleague, “Raj” is one of … Continue reading “Culturally Dislocated?”

Spera 2018
Life in the Public Square

Crafting a Theology of Disability

When his 7-year-old son Benedict was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3, it set Dr. Jared Ortiz on a personal, impassioned research track. “I did a lot of reading, and there are wonderful resources in the Holland area, so we’ve been very blessed,” Ortiz says regarding his son’s condition. “What I found in … Continue reading “Crafting a Theology of Disability”

Spera 2018
Dimensions of Disability

Engineering Informed by Biology

Destructive earthquakes in Mexico, Chile and Russia in 2017 underscored the importance — and urgency — of the kind of innovative research Dr. Courtney Peckens is pursuing in VanderWerf Hall’s Haworth Engineering Center. Supported by a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation and a Nyenhuis Grant from Hope College, Peckens is developing and testing … Continue reading “Engineering Informed by Biology”

Spera 2018
Science on the Cutting Edge

21st-Century Graffiti, with a 19th-Century Twist

Dr. Heidi Kraus remembers precisely the moment it happened. “When I was a young kid, I traveled to France,” recalls Kraus. “I remember walking into the Grand Gallery in the Louvre, where all the large-format paintings are. There was one painting in particular, ‘The Coronation of Napoleon’ by Jacques-Louis David. It’s basically life-sized and it … Continue reading “21st-Century Graffiti, with a 19th-Century Twist”

Spera 2018
The Fine Arts

On the Eve of Shakespeare

How might the playwrights of the Reformation and pre-Reformation eras — even the great Bard of Avon himself, William Shakespeare — have reacted to seeing their works dissected and reviewed online? Dr. John Cox doesn’t know, of course — but he could make an educated guess. An internationally respected Shakespeare scholar and former president of … Continue reading “On the Eve of Shakespeare”

Spera 2018
Looking Back at the Reformation