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Lipscomb 2021 Summer Grant Recipients

Annual program funds study of infection prevention, public policy and spiritual practices and an oral history project.

Janel Shoun-Smith | 615.966.7078  | 

Brian Cavitt with student working in chemistry lab

Brian Cavitt, professor of chemistry, and research assistant, junior Pooja Patel, work on experiments to understand how bacteria attach to surfaces.

Each year, Lipscomb University awards up to six grants to allow faculty to focus on research and scholarship during the summer. Past grants have benefitted the development of new courses, the writing of books and poetry, innovative research in chemistry and biology and programs to enhance Lipscomb’s relationship within the national and international community.

In 2021, five faculty were awarded grants to conduct projects adding to humanity’s knowledge base in infection prevention, public policy, oral history and spiritual practices.

Read more below about how each 2021 grant awardee is advancing their academic field below.

Brian Cavitt

Brian Cavitt

T. Brian Cavitt
Professor of Chemistry
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

For 13 years, Cavitt has been researching the question: is it possible to stop bacteria from settling on a surface, especially surfaces that people touch and use on a daily basis, to diminish the possibility of human infection.

That question has led to developing and obtaining two patents on biofilm resistant coatings, involving numerous Lipscomb students in testing various bacteria to see how easily they stick to those coatings; presentations at various academic conferences worldwide and articles published in the scientific journals iScience, STAR Protocols and Mendeley Data.

Cavitt’s 2021 summer research grant will allow him and his student assistants to look at the “specific proteins that cause the bacterial attachment and determine what their surface energies are,” he said. “So instead of looking at the entire bacteria, we can look at the individual bacterial component that is responsible for the attachment.”

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Susan Haynes teaching
Susan Turner Haynes
Associate Professor of History, Politics & Philosophy
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Haynes, a member of the International Studies Association and American Political Science Association, will spend the summer working to document and explain an existing discrepancy in the amount of government grants awarded to faith-based nongovernmental organizations vs. secular NGOs that provide domestic and international aid services.

Despite a shift in the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence toward religious neutrality and executive orders issued by the U.S. government, faith-based organizations still “remain underrepresented among federal grant recipients,” states Haynes’ proposal for the summer grant.

Haynes has previously surveyed more than 400 U.S. nongovernmental organizations in the summer of 2019 to explain this trend. This summer she will work to interview faith-based NGOs who have applied and received funds from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to determine “to what extent, if any, they feel as though the government has discriminated against them” or “implemented aid conditions that compromise their religious beliefs.”

Her conclusion could have a direct impact on public policy as well as on the fund-raising agendas of faith-based aid organizations.

Time Johnson speaking at conference
Tim Johnson
University Research Professor in History, Politics & Philosophy
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

The Vietnam Voices Oral History project is a joint venture between Lipscomb’s Beaman Library archives and the Department of History, Politics and Philosophy. In fall 2018, students in Johnson’s U.S. War in Vietnam class embarked on a project to bring local Vietnam veterans to the Lipscomb campus to share their stories. Interviews were filmed and will eventually be available to the public in perpetuity.

Now, with 25 videotaped interviews available, Johnson will use the Lipscomb summer research grant to add six to eight interviews to the collection over the summer. 

Veterans recount their memories of the war, and how it affected their lives. Johnson describes the project as a “bottom-up history which illuminates not policy decisions, but feelings, thoughts and attitudes.”

With few institutions carrying out such a public history project, and the veterans of the Vietnam War now largely in their 70s, Johnson says that it is crucial to save this piece of the puzzle for future historians who will “construct a larger picture of this controversial time in American history.”

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Richard Goode speaking at conference
Kris Miller, Assistant Professor of Bible
Director, Institute for Christian Spirituality
College of Bible & Ministry
Richard Goode, Professor of History
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

This project will be carried out in 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the late 2010s, Lipscomb’s leadership charged the College of Bible & Ministry to hold an intentional conversation about how Lipscomb defines itself as a Christian university in a world that was then, and is now, in a season of division. As an outgrowth of that charge, the Board of Trustees in 2018 approved and adopted the Centering Core, a statement intended to declare who we are and who we can be together.

Kris Miller with small group

As part of an overall effort to develop Centering Core mentoring workshops for faculty, Goode and Miller plan to participate in a two-week immersion of monastic practice and culture at St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai. St. Catherine’s is one of the oldest working monasteries in the world and houses the oldest continually working library in the world, according to the professors’ grant proposal.

The two faculty will attempt to answer how the Centering Core and corresponding centering practices work together “to produce a beloved community.” Upon returning they will develop the faculty mentoring workshops based on Lipscomb’s Centering Core and their experiences at St. Catherine’s.