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Purdue Libraries Faculty Returns from Fulbright Specialist Trip to Morocco

June 9th, 2022

By: Matthew Hannah

Nestled along the northwestern coast of Africa where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea, Morocco is a land of ancient beauty with a complex history. Colorful bazaars, known as souks, line the ancient city walls of the medina in imperial cities like Fés and Marrakech, selling Moroccan spices, bright flowing scarves, and silver jewelry. Cafés serve steaming mint tea along the sidewalks of bustling cities such as Casablanca and Meknès. Gorgeous riads—sumptuous hotels located in traditional mansions with interior courtyards—can be found down narrow alleyways characterized by decorative doors, arches, and lamps. And in the south, the dunes of the Sahara stretch over a thousand miles into the distance. Morocco is a land that has long captivated artists and writers…and now digital humanists.

The seeds for this trip were planted in 2019 when a colleague from the History Department, Stacey Holden, contacted me about applying for a Fulbright Specialist trip to Morocco. She had maintained a long and fruitful relationship with universities in the region and believed they would be interested in digital humanities. But the story of my trip grew complicated as COVID-19 ravaged the world and shut down international travel. I literally had the plane tickets in my hand when the trip was cancelled by the U.S. Department of State due to pandemic concerns. Over the next two years, we kept planning and re-planning my visit to Morocco, finally arranging my trip in March 2022. I planned to visit two universities and conduct weeklong bootcamps in digital humanities at each, but I would also be given some opportunity for personal travel. Thus, I began a 21-day trip around the country.

I arrived in Casablanca on March 3rd and spent three days along the Atlantic Ocean. I walked daily along the sea wall to the Hassan II mosque, the second largest mosque in Africa built in 1993 by the former king of Morocco. I could see the beautiful green minaret perched on the edge of the ocean in the distance, and I was even fortunate enough to be able to enter the mosque and observe the faithful praying during the afternoon prayers. The interior was hushed and cool as worshipers prayed, and I was greatly moved by the beauty of faith.

Hassan II Mosque in the distance
Hassan II Mosque in the distance
Atlantic coast at Casablanca
Atlantic coast at Casablanca
Snails served by street vendors along the coast in Casablanca
Snails served by street vendors along the coast in Casablanca

From Casablanca, I caught a high-speed train to Marrakech for the day. An ancient imperial city, built in 1070 CE, Marrakech features vast and vibrant souks filled with intriguing treasures. I walked from the train station along a shady street lined with fragrant orange trees and wandered through noisy squares, dodging mopeds, observing snake charmers playing flutes for wriggling cobras, bartering with vendors selling fresh fruit and other delectable, and watching henna artists tattooing tourists. Marrakech is a vibrant and loud city, a must-see for any traveler.

Marrakech souk
Marrakech souk

From Marrakech, I traveled north to Tangier and arrived on a rainy afternoon. In the words of novelist Tahar Ben Jelloun, Tangiers is a city “built on a succession of hills and wrapped in a legend—a pleasant, ineffable enigma of a city.” This enigma rests on a series of hills at the northwestern point of Africa, with square white buildings perched along the coast. Tangiers has long been a destination for expatriate artists and writers such as William S. Burroughs, Paul Bowles, and Tennessee Williams but has also fired the imaginations of Moro

Marrakech gardens
Marrakech gardens

ccan writers such as Mohamed Choukri and Tahar Ben Jelloun. I spent a few days in Tangier at the Hotel Continental, nestled on the remains of the historic citadel, known as the Kasbah, alongside the port of Tangiers, and explored the various souks and local parks full of stray cats. I enjoyed shark tagine at Chez Hassan located near the Kasbah on the Rue de la Kasbah, where the owner cuts fresh fish and vegetables for exquisite tagines. I secretly fed some to a stray cat who followed me most of the way back to my hotel.

Image: Hotel Continental, Tangiers
Hotel Continental, Tangiers
Image: Ancient Roman graves atop a cliff in Tangiers
Ancient Roman graves atop a cliff in Tangiers
Image: Shark tagine and grilled calamari
Shark tagine and grilled calamari

I took the train from Tangiers to the southeast and stayed a night in Meknès, one of four imperial cities built in the 11th century CE. I stayed in one of the riads, located down a maze of narrow passageways only accessible by foot. These riads are incredible, cheap places to stay, housed within sumptuous former mansions with intricate internal architecture. This riad was owned by a Spaniard who directed me to some of the best food in Meknès at Aisha where I ate delicious Berber chicken. I wandered around the city along the ancient walls and stopped to watch a carnival, with whirling rides beneath an ancient wall.

Image: A street in the Meknès medina
A street in the Meknès medina
Image:  Rooftop café in Meknès
Rooftop café in Meknès
Image: Berber chicken and mint tea in Meknès
Image: Berber chicken and mint tea in Meknès

After a brief visit to Meknès, I boarded the train again for Fès. Fès is the oldest city in Morocco, built in the 8th-9th centuries CE, and is famous for its vibrant souks and ancient Moorish architecture. I strolled through a vast labyrinth of markets filled with vendors selling souvenirs and delectable open-air food stalls selling sweets and fruit. The markets are located within the walls of the ancient city, and you enter and exit through ornate arches such as the Blue Gate. During my stay in Fès, I hiked north up the Avenue des Merinides to the Borj Nord, a fortress overlooking the city. Each morning, breakfast was served on a terrace on the rooftop of my hotel, with astounding views of the countryside.

Image: The Blue Gate
The Blue Gate
Image: Borj Nord
Borj Nord

From Fès, I headed northeast into the Atlas Mountains to Ifrane, where I began the first week of workshops hosted by Dr. Paul Love at Al Akhawayn University. Ifrane is a small, delightful town in the mountains, with a French architectural flair. Moroccans travel to Ifrane because it is one of the few places in Morocco to receive snow, and it snowed while I was there. My first week of workshops were conducted in the Mohammad VI library, and were attended by librarians and faculty interested in digital humanities. Participants learned about some of the unique challenges in applying computational tools to the humanities and social sciences, but we also applied specific methods to humanistic datasets. But we also discussed the ways in which librarians could begin developing a suite of digital scholarship workshops for students and faculty at Al Akhawayn. During the week, I gave a lecture entitled “Digital Futures for the Humanities.”

Image: Al Akhawayn University
Al Akhawayn University
Image: Participants in Digital Humanities Workshops at Al Akhawayn University
Participants in Digital Humanities Workshops at Al Akhawayn University

My second week of workshops took place in Tétouan, at Abdelmalek Essaâdi University. Tétouan is located at the base of the Rif Mountains in the Martil Valley, just a few miles from the Mediterranean. Hosted by Dr. Karim Bejjit and Dr. Briham Barhoun, I conducted a second week of workshops for graduate students in the English Department who were enthusiastic about the possibilities for DH in studying the humanities. Abdelmalek Essaâdi University is the only university in Morocco to offer a dedicated English literature program. After an opening lecture and discussion about the possibilities for DH approaches, we got our hands dirty with computational methods. Each workshop was full, and the students learned important computational methods such as network analysis, text mining, data visualization, social media analytics, and geospatial analysis.

Image: Participants in Digital Humanities Workshop at Abdelmalek Essaâdi University
Participants in Digital Humanities Workshop at Abdelmalek Essaâdi University

During my visit to Tétouan, I was given a wonderful guided tour of the old markets by some of the students, who told me much of the history of the city. Tétouan was destroyed by the Spanish and rebuilt by the “pirate queen” Sayyida al Hurra. From her base in Tétouan, Sayyida waged piracy against the Spanish and amassed a vast fortune. Unlike many cities in Morocco, which were colonized by the French, Tétouan has pronounced Spanish cultural influence from the days of the Spanish protectorate in the area. Much of the architecture in Tétouan is influenced by Spain, and many speak Spanish here whereas French is spoken elsewhere in Morocco. The students also fed me couscous, a Friday tradition in Morocco, accompanied by a sour milk that somehow complemented the couscous (after getting used to it). On a rainy afternoon following one of the workshops, my hosts took me up into the mountains to a wonderful local restaurant located beside a rippling waterfall, and we enjoyed fava bean soup and mint tea. Located near a mosque, local spring water ripples out of the ground, and we drank the cold water from the spring for health.

Image: Mountains outside Tétouan
Mountains outside Tétouan
Image: Walking tour of Tétouan with students
Walking tour of Tétouan with students

During my week in Tétouan, I also had the unique honor to meet with the President of the University, Bouchta El Moumni, in Tangiers. We discussed the possibilities for computational technology to advance the study of the humanities in Morocco, and I was impressed by his interest in such an initiative at Abdelmalek Essaâdi University. We also discussed the possibilities for further relations between Purdue and Abdelmalek Essaâdi. I also had the privilege to speak with Dr. Bejjit about DH during an interview for the event during which I shared some thoughts about my particular vision for digital humanities.

Image: Matthew Hannah at the place where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea
Matthew Hannah at the place where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea
Video interview with Matthew Hannah conducted by Dr. Karim Bejjit at Abdelmalek Essaâdi University
Video interview with Matthew Hannah conducted by Dr. Karim Bejjit at Abdelmalek Essaâdi University

Although my trip is over, the lasting impact of our collaboration is still visible. I have agreed to serve as an affiliate of a new educational module in digital humanities at Abdelmalek Essaâdi University, which will provide students further opportunities to explore and develop experience with computational methods. I am also committed to working with faculty and librarians at Al Akhawayn University as they develop a suite of workshops for faculty and students. I look forward to watching the seeds we’ve planted with this Fulbright experience blossom into a new digital humanities effort in Northern Africa.

 


MakeYourStory Student Podcast Contest Winner Shares Her Journey to Leadership

June 9th, 2022

Bridget Arnold
Bridget Arnold, 2022.

In February 2022, we introduced you to Bridget Arnold, a 3rd year Anthropology and Organizational Leadership major with minors in Spanish and Design & Innovation. She had just won our MakeYourStory narrative student podcast contest for her charming story, “How Tiny Homes Help Me Explain My Majors.” Well, what’s an Episode 1 without an Episode 2? Libraries is thrilled to announce that Bridget has returned to podcasting with a brand new award-winning episode, “How small moments had Big impacts on my TEDxPurdueU leadership journey.” In this episode, get to know the 2021–2022 executive director of TEDxPurdueU, Ray Bradley, as he talks about his leadership journey within TEDx. At the same time, Bridget is on her own journey. Follow along as she explores the small and seemingly insignificant moments that encouraged her to become the executive director of TEDxPurdueU for the 2022-2023 academic year.

The student podcast contest is part of the MakeYourStory podcast series created by Libraries and the Brian Lamb School of Communication. Following the success of 2020-2021’s Diversity and Making podcast and video series, a collaboration between Libraries and the Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center, the MakeYourStory series aims to introduce Purdue students to the beauty of oral storytelling, the craft of writing a compelling narrative, and the tools needed to effectively deliver that narrative through the popular medium of podcasting.

 

We caught up with Bridget to ask her about her more about podcasting and what she is up to this summer…

How have your storytelling and podcast skills grown or developed since we last talked after your first winning episode? 

In my last episode, it was just me talking and telling my own narrative, but what I was really excited about this time around was having the opportunity to invite a guest along and get to weave our narratives together. I was really thankful to Ray for making the time to talk with me. Admittedly, it was a little last minute, and we were in the booth talking until close to midnight, so I’m really grateful that it worked out so well.

What is your personal tip for creating a great narrative podcast?

I think the most helpful think for writing a great narrative podcast not being so committed to your first idea that you can’t adapt when you find a better story. Originally, I had a completely different lineup for this podcast, and then realized that it didn’t tell the story I wanted to share. I ended up scrapping about five pages worth of text and switching gears completely to look at my TEDx experience instead. Another thing that’s a testament to opportunistic flexibility was talking to Ray before the interview and making the connections between what I wanted to say through the poem and what his relationship to the story was through his favorite TEDx talk. Looking for those details and seeing the small threads the weave into the greater web is going to give your narrative that much more substance and emotional pull.

TEDxPurdueU
TEDxPurdueU

In your opinion, why should young people give podcasting a shot? What does it free you to do that you can’t necessarily capture in other forms of media? 

I think the beautiful thing about podcasting is that you’re really heavily relying on words and words alone. There is a lot you can do with sound effects and voice inflection, but at the end of the day, you’re in someone’s ear and you have to make every word count. In doing an unscripted interview, both Ray and I had to be really intentional about saying what we meant and conveying our message meaningfully and concisely, and if you go through all my outtakes you’ll see it was something both of us struggled with at different points. That being said, you have so much more freedom to focus on crafting a narrative. It’s almost like an audiobook, and while that intentionality is an added challenge, it’s really satisfying to get into the weeds of refining and perfecting your message. For someone like me who really enjoys the storytelling, that was definitely the most gratifying part of the process.

Bridget Arnold
Bridget Arnold spends her summer as a National Park Service ranger.

What are you up to this summer? 

Currently I am living and working in Yosemite National Park and a ranger in the interpretation and education division. While my job is specific to Spanish-speaking visitors as well, interpretation in this context is about interpreting the history, culture, geology, and ecology of a space to others. So, it’s essentially a different kind of storytelling. (Are you sensing a pattern here?) I’ll be doing two-hour tram tours through the valley, as well as a 90-minute bear walk, and an hour-long junior ranger program, alongside my duties in the visitor center answering questions or walking through the camp grounds on bear roves informing people about proper food storage and bear management. So far, it’s been an absolutely incredible experience, and I’m only about three weeks in. The landscape and the people here are just spectacular, and I have a feeling I’ll come away from this summer with plenty more stories to tell any future listeners!

We can’t wait to see the giant leaps Bridget takes in her new role as executive director of TEDxPudueU this fall as she continues to make her own story.


Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver: A Q & A with author Robert Hershberger

June 9th, 2022

We talked to Robert Hershberger, the author of Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver about his experiences as a caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer’s and the process of writing their story to inform others.

 

Q: Will you please give us a brief description of your book?

A: The book (diary) provides an up close and personal view of Deanna (Dee) Hershberger’s four-and-a-half year journey through Alzheimer’s disease, from its first manifestations to her death.

Q: What is the goal of your book?

A: The goal is to make others aware of and better prepared to deal with what might happen to them or a loved one if either one should contract the disease.

 

Q: What motivated you to write the book?

A: I began to keep a record of changes in Dee’s disease to answer questions from medical personnel about the course of the disease. When changes began to occur rather rapidly I began to record them on the computer several times a week. As the disease progressed I recorded the happenings of each day late in the evening after Dee fell asleep. It became a kind of diary recorded on my laptop computer. It also allowed me to unload the emotional toll of the day so I could get some sleep…an important unplanned benefit of keeping the diary.

A year or two after Dee passed I reviewed the diary entries and realized things had happened to us that other’s could profit from should they ever find themselves in a similar situation. That is what really motivated me to make the diary into a book.

 

 

Q: What surprised you most about what you and Dee experienced?

A: There were so many surprises this is a hard question to answer. I guess the most surprising was how unprepared I was to deal with the situation. We thought we were “bullet proof” and would go on living until someday in the far future we would die. It certainly never occurred to me that Dee would contract such a horrible disease and die while still relatively young. She had always been a model of health in every way.

 

Q: What advice do you have for someone at the beginning of their journey with Alzheimer’s or Alzheimer’s caregiving?

A: Currently there is nothing much the person with Alzheimer’s can do once they know they have it. The disease has already progressed to the point where nothing will change its inevitable course toward death. On the other hand, the primary caregiver (usually the husband, the wife, or one of the children) will suddenly be thrust into the role without any preparation. In this case I recommend reading the Diary…for a possible “worst case” scenario, The 36 Hour Day for practical caregiving advice, Still Alice (or the movie) for what might happen early on, and, perhaps, In Love for an alternative that may work for some people. It is urgent that the caregiver read these and other books right away because it won’t be long before they will not have time or energy to do so. Also get your financial affairs in order very early on when your loved one can still agree to needed changes.

 

You can get 30% off Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver and any other Purdue University Press book by ordering from our website and using the code PURDUE30 at checkout.


Spearheading Environmental Change: A Q & A with authors Jill and Robert May

June 7th, 2022

We talked to Jill P. May and Robert E. May, the authors of Spearheading Environmental Change: The Legacy of Indiana Congressman Floyd J. Fithian, about their approach to biography, what they learned while writing, and why the life of Floyd J. Fithian is relevant to readers today.

 

Q: Could you describe your book? How is this book different than a typical biography?

Bob: Spearheading Environmental Change: The Legacy of Indiana Congressman Floyd J. Fithian embeds late-twentieth-century U.S. environmental controversies and policy within a biographical framework. Although one can read this book for the life and public career of one of Indiana’s most canny politicians during the presidencies of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan, one can also read it to explore the environmental disputes roiling the nation and especially the Midwest during the period Fithian was in the public eye — pesticides, excessive federal dam construction, growing the nation’s national parks, reining in big oil and nuclear energy, and the like. Uniquely perhaps (we know of no other biography of a prominent politician that works quite like this one), Spearheading Environmental Change highlights environmental policy and legislation, bookending Fithian’s life story around core chapters devoted exclusively to environmental concerns. This allows in-depth concentration on individual controversies rather than simply inserting information here and there as one might find in a more conventionally organized biography.

Most especially, we wanted, as Purdue University colleagues of Fithian’s who lived in northern Indiana for over forty years, to uncover the story of how he dealt as a Democratic four-term congressman representing a red district with three environmentally charged issues that greatly impacted the people he represented —issues that swirled while we resided in Lafayette, where Purdue is situated. We hoped to position Floyd and his congressional district within the overall narrative of U.S. environmental history, so that readers would not only learn about a highly talented politician’s record, but also get a sense of the flow of environmental progress and retrogression nationally in a fraught period of our history.

Jill: Floyd’s ability to continually win in a conservative Indiana congressional district as a moderate to liberal thinking Democrat not once but four times also inspired us to begin considering writing a biography. We were curious to find out how he won so many times, why he finally ended his political career. We wanted to look at the ways Floyd succeeded in Indiana, and we hoped to find out how his personal beliefs and values as well as his strong Christian upbringing, military service record and teaching at Purdue University helped shape his political career. We were intrigued by Floyd’s decision to forego a secure, tenured teaching and research position at one of America’s finest institutions of higher learning for the unpredictable and often highly stressful life of a professional politician. What drove him?

 

Q: What is the goal of your book? What motivated you to write it?

Bob: Really, Jill deserves entire credit for initiating this project, so I’ll let her speak for herself on this one. I will say that once she got me on board by sharing the rich materials she had seen in the Purdue archives both in terms of Floyd’s political career and told me about the fascinating environmental issues he grappled with, I got excited about working on the book with her. After all, Floyd had been my colleague on the Purdue faculty for years and someone who I greatly liked and admired (even though he made me grimace each time he exposed me to his crushing handshake!), and I’ve been worried about environmental degradation most of my life. It didn’t hurt in terms of motivation that I had visited the Hill with his congressional aide during pesticide committee hearings during his congressional tenure and been fascinated with what I had observed, or that I had attended some of his campaign events with Jill.

Jill: Our primary goal was to bring attention to the vast importance that Congress has and can have in shaping our country’s future. Although we ended up concentrating on the environmental change that has come to the Great Lakes area, we did not initially see this as our focus. Floyd had been involved in a myriad of legislative concerns and he was an expert in Russian/U.S. relations from his PhD studies. We wanted to explore how congressional members involve themselves in issues that concern their constituents, especially since their reelection depends upon their district’s concerns.

 

Q: You were personally acquainted with Floyd Fithian and his family. How do you think a personal relationship with the subject affects the process and result of writing his biography?

Bob: That’s an interesting question. Jill and I sought for objectivity in our writing about Floyd’s life and career, and readers will find criticism within our narrative of Floyd’s decisions and policies in cases where we believed criticism is merited. But I’ll concede that we approached our subject matter with positive predispositions. From everything we knew about Floyd from our acquaintance with him, he was an ethical politician who fought for values and policies that we mostly endorsed. Therefore, it was a labor of love in a sense to bring his story to others. Knowing Floyd’s family, moreover, gave us a leg up in the sense that we could call, phone, write or email them when we were confused about details in his personal life. And his wife Marjorie and his eldest daughter Cindy were extremely generous in sharing family photographs, many of which are reproduced in the book.

Jill: I had worked on Floyd’s first campaign for Congress in 1972, and Warren Stickle was Bob’s best friend in the Purdue history department.  He and his wife Marilyn remained some of our closest friends even after they moved. I have a good many fond and zany memories that involve Warren — it was his exuberance that first caused him to catch our attention, his ability to see the positive side of every incident. So, when I learned in 2016 that the Indiana bicentennial commemoration organizers planned to have a torch carried through the individual counties by past and present leaders, I nominated Floyd even though he was no longer alive. I believed he was one of the few Democratic national leaders who had significantly altered Indiana’s political landscape, and I felt his contributions should be recognized. I went to the Purdue University Libraries and read everything easily unearthed about Floyd. When I stumbled onto the information that the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections held his congressional records and read that they held important information on the conservation movement, I was intrigued. I wanted to use the archival materials to see what was there. Simply put, I had found a mystery that involved a personal acquaintance, and I wanted to follow the trail. But quite simply, I was not really considering our past relationships with the Fithians and the Stickles when I talked Bob into the project. I wanted to play detective, to go with whatever we found out.

 

 

Q: You previously wrote another book (Howard Pyle: Imagining an American School of Art, University of Illinois Press) together. What was different about this experience? What was similar?

Bob:  Jill has this habit of enticing me into projects way out of my comfort zone. Both projects compelled me to try to absorb and master subjects that I neither taught during my classroom career nor read heavily in previously. As a person who mostly taught and researched about America’s nineteenth-century story (especially the history of the South, the Civil War, and American territorial expansion), it was challenging for me, especially in the early stages of both projects, to get into the stuff of twentieth century art history, environmentalism, and politics. Both times, too, we had to work through our different perspectives on the process of organizing and writing the project. The fields of history and literature, which we separately embody, don’t always line up in concert on these things. In both cases, we partly argued and compromised our way to the finish line.

But there were obvious differences, too. For instance, our research for the Howard Pyle book was more incremental. In Fithian’s case, because of his generous donation of papers to the Purdue archives, we had a huge bulk of material to work with from the get-go. In the Pyle project, our research was much more a case of discovering materials here and there, and it involved far more out-of-state travel.

Jill: I think that’s a great answer! Lots of good sharing and sharp arguments! I’ll leave it at that, except to say I had written a good deal about Pyle as a writer and illustrator before we began and I was familiar with his work, so in some ways it was an easier project than Floyd was for me.

 

Q: What lessons or events from the life of Floyd Fithian strike you as being most relevant to readers today? Why? In what way?

Bob: One of the things that I think struck us the most from studying Floyd’s career is how excruciatingly difficult the congressional legislating process is, that issues drag on from session to session often with no likelihood of being resolved in the immediate future, if ever. This is certainly true within the environmental field, with the very issues that absorbed Floyd’s attention like nuclear power, pollution, dam deterioration and decertification, oil versus solar power, and the like, resisting conclusive resolution to this day. Even a seemingly containable issue, like growing the boundaries of a national park, might have ramifications for many years requiring new legislation. We talk a lot about congressional gridlock today; and while partisan gridlock might have been less defined during Floyd’s time on the Hill, it was often just as difficult to get legislation through because of the powers vested in committee chairs and members’ seniority.

We also learned that even in the 1970s and 1980s when Floyd served, congressmen were plagued just like today with the need to prioritize fundraising and campaigning over their legislative duties. Floyd regularly called for reforms in these areas.

Jill: For me, the most important issue is that nothing has really been solved yet concerning our environment. For instance, we have found that although Floyd is especially remembered for his legislative efforts to increase the size of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Park during his first congressional term, much of that expansion left issues that would affect him throughout his tenure in Congress. And they continue to be unresolved. There are still conflicts between NIPSCO and environmental groups concerning the coal ash ponds at the Michigan City Generating Station. The industrialization of the area has never been completely resolved. Linked to that — for me — is the overriding issue of good political representation for any area’s constituents. We keep watching the political parties as they gerrymander districts for power, often so that the very strong politicians who work for change can be replaced with less ethical  party advocates.

 

Q: Is there anything that shocked or surprised you while working on this project?

Bob: Jill and I have always been inveterate newspaper/news magazine readers, so I can’t say that I was totally taken aback at any one thing we encountered in our research, but I must say I was stunned by the tactics of one local environmentalist, Connie Wick, in fighting the project of building a reservoir in the Lafayette area, not far from the Purdue campus. I had heard about her husband Joe, I think, more than about Connie, prior to undertaking this book. But Connie Wick must be one of the most colorful characters I’ve ever encountered in my research, and her interactions with Floyd, including taking a pig to one of her protests, should inspire activists everywhere. We have quite a bit about Connie Wick in our book, but she would be well worth a book in her own right.

Jill: And I was really pleasantly surprised to see how much of the environmental change that Floyd accomplished was aided by women, groups like Save the Dunes Council, and the national organizations of the Izaak Walton League, the Audubon Society, and the Sierra Club. Bravo to my newfound heroes!

Finally, I have to add that in all of our interviews with people who knew and worked with Floyd, we heard nothing but praise and strong commendation. We both are especially proud to have spent our time researching an intelligent man who turned out to be every bit as good as we thought he might be — perhaps even better than we knew before we embarked on this project. In the end, the puzzle pieces concerning Floyd’s departure from the academy revealed a man more genuinely motivated to serve his Indiana constituents while protecting the land in his district then to pursuing academic work concerning Russian and U.S. trade efforts.

 

You can get 30% off Spearheading Environmental Change and any other Purdue University Press book by ordering from our website and using the code PURDUE30 at checkout.


Recommended Reading for Space Day

May 6th, 2022

To celebrate National Space Day, Purdue University Press is featuring books on NASA, astronauts, and spaceflight.

 

 

The Sky Above: An Astronaut’s Memoir of Adventure, Persistence, and Faith

Looking up at the stars at the age of ten, John Casper dreamed of being a space explorer. The Sky Above tells how persistence and determination led to flying in space, after serving the nation as a combat fighter pilot and test pilot. Despite life-threatening experiences and failures, his spiritual faith was pivotal in overcoming life’s challenges. Through vivid storytelling, the reader rides alongside the author in the cockpit, feeling the fear of enemy antiaircraft fire and the pressure of high g-forces during combat maneuvering. His insider accounts of four Space Shuttle missions vividly describe exhilarating launches, the magical experience of weightlessness, and the magnificent beauty of Earth from hundreds of miles above.

 

John Houbolt: The Unsung Hero of the Apollo Moon Landings 

It was a small group of engineers led by John C. Houbolt who came up with the plan that propelled human beings to the moon and back—not only safely, but faster, cheaper, and more reliably. Houbolt and his colleagues called it “lunar orbit rendezvous,” or “LOR.” At first the LOR idea was ignored, then it was criticized, and then finally dismissed by many senior NASA officials.

Nevertheless, the group, under Houbolt’s leadership, continued to press the LOR idea, arguing that it was the only way to get men to the moon and back by President Kennedy’s deadline. Houbolt persisted, risking his career in the face of overwhelming opposition. This is the story of how John Houbolt convinced NASA to adopt the plan that made history.

 

 

Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA’s Record-Setting Frequent Flyer 

From the age of ten, looking up at the stars, Jerry Ross knew that he wanted to journey into space. This autobiography tells the story of how he came not only to achieve that goal, but to become the most-launched astronaut in history, as well as a NASA veteran whose career spanned the entire US Space Shuttle program.

 

Becoming A Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA’s Record-Setting Frequent Flyer

This nonfiction picture book is a children’s version of NASA astronaut Jerry L. Ross’s autobiography, Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA’s Record-Setting Frequent Flyer, designed for ages 7–12. Told in friendly first-person narration, it represents how Ross followed his dream from rural 1950s northern Indiana to Purdue University and then outer space.

 

Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom

Unlike other American astronauts, Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom never had the chance to publish his memoirs—save for an account of his role in the Gemini program—before the tragic launch pad fire on January 27, 1967, which took his life and those of Edward White and Roger Chaffee. The international prestige of winning the Moon Race cannot be understated, and Grissom played a pivotal and enduring role in securing that legacy for the United States. Indeed, Grissom was first and foremost a Cold Warrior, a member of the first group of Mercury astronauts whose goal it was to beat the Soviet Union to the moon. Drawing on extensive interviews with fellow astronauts, NASA engineers, family members, and friends of Gus Grissom, George Leopold delivers a comprehensive survey of Grissom’s life that places his career in the context of the Cold War and the history of human spaceflight. Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom adds significantly to our understanding of that tumultuous period in American history.

 

Through Astronaut Eyes

Featuring over seventy images from the heroic age of space exploration, Through Astronaut Eyes presents the story of how human daring along with technological ingenuity allowed people to see the Earth and stars as they never had before.

Photographs from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs tell powerful and compelling stories that continue to have cultural resonance to this day, not just for what they revealed about the spaceflight experience, but also as products of a larger visual rhetoric of exploration.

 

Piercing the Horizon: The Story of Visionary NASA Chief Tom Paine

Thomas O. Paine served as NASA’s third administrator, leading the space agency through the first historic missions that sent astronauts on voyages away from Earth. On his watch, seven Apollo flights orbited our planet and five reached our moon. From those missions came the first of twelve men to walk on the moon.

As robotic missions begin leaving the earth, Tsiao invites the reader to take another look at the plans that Paine articulated regarding how America could have had humans on Mars by the year 2000 as the first step to the exploration of deep space. Piercing the Horizon provides provocative context to current conversations on the case for reaching Mars, settling our solar system, and continuing the exploration of space.

 

 

 

Wings of Their Dreams: Purdue in Flight, Second Edition

Throughout 100-plus years of flight, Purdue University has propelled unique contributions from pioneer educators, aviators, and engineers who flew balloons into the stratosphere, barnstormed the countryside, helped break the sound barrier, and left footprints in lunar soil. Wings of Their Dreams follows the flight plans and footsteps of aviation’s pioneers and trailblazers across the twentieth century, a path from Kitty Hawk to the Sea of Tranquility and beyond. The book reminds readers that the first and last men to land on the moon first trekked across the West Lafayette, Indiana, campus on their journeys into the heavens and history. This is the story of an aeronautic odyssey of imagination, science, engineering, technology, adventure, courage, danger, and promise. It is the story of the human spirit taking flight, entwined with Purdue’s legacy in aviation’s history.

 

Dear Neil Armstrong: Letters to the First Man from All Mankind

In the years between the historic first moon landing by Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969, and his death at age 82 on August 25, 2012, Neil Armstrong received hundreds of thousands of cards and letters from all over the world, congratulating him, praising him, requesting pictures and autographs, and asking him what must have seemed to him to be limitless—and occasionally intrusive—questions.

Today, the preponderance of those letters—some 75,000 of them—are preserved in the archives at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Dear Neil Armstrong: Letters to the First Man from All Mankind publishes a careful sampling of these letters—roughly 400—reflecting the various kinds of correspondence that Armstrong received along with representative samples of his replies. Selected and edited by James R. Hansen, Armstrong’s authorized biographer and author of the New York Times best seller First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, this collection sheds light on Armstrong’s enduring impact and offers an intimate glimpse into the cultural meanings of human spaceflight. Readers will explore what the thousands of letters to Neil Armstrong meant not only to those who wrote them, but as a snapshot of one of humankind’s greatest achievements in the twentieth century. They will see how societies and cultures projected their own meanings onto one of the world’s great heroes and iconic figures.

 

A Reluctant Icon: Letters to Neil Armstrong

Artfully curated by James R. Hansen, A Reluctant Icon: Letters to Neil Armstrong is a companion volume to Dear Neil Armstrong: Letters to the First Man from All Mankind, collecting hundreds more letters Armstrong received after first stepping on the moon until his death in 2012. Providing context and commentary, Hansen has assembled the letters by the following themes: religion and belief; anger, disappointment, and disillusionment; quacks, conspiracy theorists, and ufologists; fellow astronauts and the world of flight; the corporate world; celebrities, stars, and notables; and last messages. Taken together, both collections provide fascinating insights into the world of an iconic hero who took that first giant leap onto lunar soil willingly and thereby stepped into the public eye with reluctance. Space enthusiasts, historians, and lovers of all things related to flight will not want to miss this book.

 

You can get 30% off all Purdue University Press titles by entering the code PURDUE30 at checkout on our website.


Books for Boilermakers

May 6th, 2022

To celebrate Purdue’s 153rd anniversary and the graduation of the class of 2022, Purdue University Press will be having a 50% off sale on all Purdue related books from May 6-May 20. All you need to do to is enter code 21PURDUE50 when ordering from our website to redeem the discount. You can find the full list of eligible books below.

 

The most recent additions to our collection of books on Purdue include the two most comprehensive histories of the university to date. In Ever True: 150 Years of Giant Leaps at Purdue University author John Norberg deftly covers 150 years of Purdue history, a task he equates to trying to fill a thimble with water pouring out of a fire hydrant. The book is filled with stories of the faculty, alumni, and leaders that make up Purdue’s distinguished history. In Purdue at 150: A Visual History of Student Life  authors and archivists David M. Hovde, Adriana Harmeyer, Neal Harmeyer, and Sammie L. Morris pored over decades of student papers, scrapbooks, yearbooks, letters, newspapers, historical photographs and memorabilia to create a stunning pictorial history of Purdue.

The list also includes selections on Purdue’s history in space & flight, many from our series Purdue Studies in Aeronautics & Astronautics. You can find biographies on some of Purdue’s most distinguished alumnus flyers like John CasperJerry Ross, and Gus Grissom, as well as two collections of letters to Neil Armstrong curated by his official biographer James R. Hansen, sourced from a collection of Neil Armstrong’s papers housed in the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections.

The rest of the books in the sale cover a wide swath of all things Purdue, from five legendary women deans with a secret bond to the popcorn king himself. Whether you are a current student, alumni, or even a Boilermaker enthusiast this sale will have the perfect choice for you. All books on this list make a wonderful gift for the Purdue Class of 2022 as well. Hail Purdue and read up!

EVER TRUE: 150 YEARS OF GIANT LEAPS AT PURDUE UNIVERSITY BY JOHN NORBERG

PURDUE AT 150: A VISUAL HISTORY OF STUDENT LIFE BY DAVID M. HOVDE, ADRIANA HARMEYER, NEAL HARMEYER, AND SAMMIE L. MORRIS

DEAR NEIL ARMSTRONG: LETTERS TO THE FIRST MAN FROM ALL MANKIND EDITED BY JAMES R. HANSEN

A RELUCTANT ICON: LETTERS TO NEIL ARMSTRONG EDITED BY JAMES R. HANSEN

 

 

WINGS OF THEIR DREAMS: PURDUE IN FLIGHT, SECOND EDITION BY JOHN NORBERG

CALCULATED RISK: THE SUPERSONIC LIFE AND TIMES OF GUS GRISSOM BY GEORGE LEOPOLD

SPACEWALKER: MY JOURNEY IN SPACE AND FAITH AS NASA’S RECORD-SETTING FREQUENT FLYER BY JERRY ROSS AND JOHN NORBERG

BECOMING A SPACEWALKER: MY JOURNEY TO THE STARS BY JERRY L. ROSS AND SUSAN G. GUNDERSON

 

 

THE DEANS’ BIBLE: FIVE PURDUE WOMEN AND THEIR QUEST FOR EQUALITY BY ANGIE KLINK

DIVIDED PATHS, COMMON GROUND: THE STORY OF MARY MATTHEWS AND LELLA GADDIS, PIONEERING PURDUE WOMEN WHO INTRODUCED SCIENCE INTO THE HOME BY ANGIE KLINK

SLOW BALL CARTOONIST: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF INDIANA NATIVE AND PULITZER PRIZE WINNER JOHN T. MCCUTCHEON OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE BY TONY GAREL-FRANTZEN

FOR THE GOOD OF THE FARMER: A BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN HARRISON SKINNER, DEAN OF PURDUE AGRICULTURE BY FREDERICK WHITFORD

 

 

JUST CALL ME ORVILLE: THE STORY OF ORVILLE REDENBACHER BY ROBERT W. TOPPING

ROSS-ADE: THEIR PURDUE STORIES, STADIUM, AND LEGACIES BY ROBERT C. KRIEBEL

UNCLE: MY JOURNEY WITH JOHN PURDUE BY IRENA MCCAMMON SCOTT

THE QUEEN OF AMERICAN AGRICULTURE: A BIOGRAPHY OF VIRGINIA CLAYPOOL MEREDITH BY FREDERICK WHITFORD, ANDREW G. MARTIN, AND PHYLLIS MATTHEIS

THE GRAND OLD MAN OF PURDUE UNIVERSITY AND INDIANA AGRICULTURE: THE BIOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM CARROLL LATTA BY FREDERICK WHITFORD AND ANDREW G. MARTIN

MIDAS OF THE WABASH: A BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN PURDUE BY ROBERT C. KRIEBEL

LETTERS OF GEORGE ADE EDITED BY TERENCE TOBIN

EDWARD CHARLES ELLIOTT, EDUCATOR BY FRANK K. BURRIN

THE HOVDE YEARS: A BIOGRAPHY OF FREDERICK L. HOVDE BY ROBERT W. TOPPING

RICHARD OWEN: SCOTLAND 1810, INDIANA 1890 BY VICTOR LINCOLN ALBJERG

MY AMIABLE UNCLE: RECOLLECTIONS OF BOOTH TARKINGTON BY SUSANAH MAYBERRY

THE DEAN: A BIOGRAPHY OF A. A. POTTER BY ROBERT B. ECKLES

 

 

A PURDUE ICON: CREATION, LIFE, AND LEGACY EDITED BY JAMES L. MULLINS

A UNIVERSITY OF TRADITION: THE SPIRIT OF PURDUE, SECOND EDITION BY PURDUE REAMER CLUB

FORCE FOR CHANGE: THE CLASS OF 1950 BY JOHN NORBERG

HEARTBEAT OF THE UNIVERSITY: 125 YEARS OF PURDUE BANDS BY JOHN NORBERG

 

THE SKY ABOVE: AN ASTRONAUT’S MEMOIR OF ADVENTURE, PERSISTENCE, AND FAITH BY COL. JOHN CASPER, USAF (Retired)


Dr. Chao Cai Receives NSF REU Site Grant for New Undergraduate Research Experience at Purdue

April 27th, 2022

Dr. Chao Cai

Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies assistant professor and principal investigator Dr. Chao Cai has received a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site grant totalling $402,971 for his project “REU Site: Purdue Undergraduate Research Experiences for Plant Biology and Data Science (PURE-PD)” in conjunction with Co-PI Dr. Natalia Dudareva, Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and director of the Center for Plant Biology (CPB) in the College of Agriculture. This award will support the plant biology, data science, and research training of ten students from under-represented backgrounds for ten weeks during the summers of 2022–2024. 

PURE-PD traces its roots to 2019, when Dr. Cai was invited by Dr. Clint Chapple, then-director of the CPB, and Dr. Jody Banks to consult on the idea of establishing the CPB as a new REU site. Dr. Cai’s training as a plant biologist, and his affiliation with Purdue Libraries, known for its excellent research and pedagogy support, made him an ideal choice for a new and innovative collaboration. “With my experiences working with big biological datasets and teaching research data management, I proposed a data science-focused theme for the REU site,” said Dr. Cai. “Data skills are crucial for 21st century researchers, as well as important, transferable skills for nearly every professional career our students may pursue.”  

As the group brainstormed how to build the proposal and program, Dr. Cai realized that Libraries’ support for research, and undergraduate student research experiences, is unmatched, and that it would be critical for the successful development of a summer research program. “Information literacy, data literacy, and scholarly communications form the foundation for efficient research practices, and this is where Purdue Libraries excels.” Dr. Cai said. “Thus, I volunteered to take the lead in designing the program and writing the proposal. We went through a couple rounds of revisions with some awesome suggestions from reviewers. Finally, we were selected for funding in 2022, and our first cohort of undergraduate researchers will arrive on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus in May.”

Through diverse research projects and hands-on training, the program will increase the participation of students in STEM disciplines and prepare them for careers in plant biology and data science. Thirty students in total, primarily from schools with limited research opportunities or from under-represented groups, will be trained and tracked after the program ends in order to determine their career path outcomes. 

Of his goals for the project, Dr. Cai said “Because our REU program targets students from institutions with limited research resources and from underrepresented backgrounds, I hope it will give them an exciting opportunity to participate in the remarkable research projects conducted in the CPB, inspire them to continue doing research, and that the skills we teach them will have a positive impact on their future careers.”

The PURE-PD REU program is one of the first programs of its kind led by an academic research library. “I’m very excited about this opportunity to explore how to maximize the integration of library instructions and activities in summer undergraduate research programs,” Dr. Cai said, “and possibly set up an example for other academic research libraries to take the lead on similar programming opportunities.”

Recruitment for the ten-week 2022 summer season has already begun. More information about the program and application process for students can be found at https://ag.purdue.edu/cpb/intern/

About Chao Cai: Dr. Cai is an assistant professor and Plant Sciences Information Specialist in Libraries and School of Information Studies. He acts as the Libraries liaison to departments within the College of Agriculture, as well as the Institute for Plant Sciences. Dr. Cai holds a PhD in plant biology, and is actively involved in the research and instruction of bioinformatics, information literacy, and data literacy. He may be reached at caic@purdue.edu.


Featured Database: Web of Science

April 26th, 2022

Parrish Library’s Featured Database will give you a very brief introduction to the basic features of one of our specialized subscription databases. This time we’re featuring Web of Science brought to you by Clarivate Analytics.

Focus

Web of Science provides access to the world’s leading scholarly literature in the science, social sciences, arts, and humanities and examine proceedings of international conferences, symposia, seminars, colloquia, workshops, and conventions.

Access

The List of Business Databases is the alphabetical list of the databases specially selected for those in a business program of study. Access the databases off-campus with your Purdue Career Account.

Tutorial

Click Getting Started with Web of Science to see the basics of using this database.

Related Resources

Some other resources you might want to explore are:

  • Business Source Complete, indexes and abstract articles in business management, marketing, MIS, accounting, finance, international business, and related disciplines.
  • EconLit, provides access to bibliographic citations, journal articles, books, dissertations, and more in the areas of economic development, forecasting, and history; fiscal and monetary theory; and more.

Featured Database comes to you from the Roland G. Parrish Library of Management & Economics. If you would like more information about this database, or if you would like a demonstration of it for a class, contact parrlib@purdue.edu. Also let us know if you know of a colleague who would benefit from this, or future Featured Databases.

Since usage statistics are an important barometer when databases are up for renewal, tell us your favorite database, and we will gladly promote it. Send an email to parrlib@purdue.edu.


Recommended Reading for Earth Day

April 22nd, 2022

To celebrate Earth Day, Purdue University Press is featuring books on weather, climate, environmental issues, and the energy crisis. Read through the list below, or check out our books on Gardening, Botany, and Horticulture.

 

Spearheading Environmental Change: The Legacy of Indiana Congressman Floyd J. Fithian

Largely remembered for his participation in the Democratic reform wave that took over Congress in 1975 post-Watergate (the so-called Class of ’74) and as an advocate for Hoosier farmers, Fithian has been overlooked for his role as a force to be reckoned with on the House floor when it came to the nation’s environmental challenges. Fithian was a highly ethical, pragmatic reformer bent on preserving his country’s natural resources. Spearheading Environmental Change gives covers Fithian’s positions on ecologically sensitive issues such as pesticides, noise pollution, fossil fuels, and nuclear power and Fithian the credit he deserves as an environmental warrior on the national stage.

 

Reginald Sutcliffe and the Invention of Modern Weather Systems Science

Despite being perhaps the foremost British meteorologist of the twentieth century, Reginald Sutcliffe has been understudied and underappreciated. His impact continues to this day every time you check the weather forecast. This book makes the case that three important advances guided the development of modern dynamic meteorology, which led directly to the astounding progress in weather forecasting—and that Sutcliffe was the pioneer in all three of these foundational developments: the application of the quasi-geostrophic simplification to the equations governing atmospheric behavior, adoption of pressure as the vertical coordinate in analysis, and development of a diagnostic equation for vertical air motions. Shining a light on Sutcliffe’s life and work will, hopefully, inspire a renewed appreciation for the human dimension in scientific progress and the rich legacy bequeathed to societies wise enough to fully embrace investments in education and basic research. As climate change continues to grow more dire, modern extensions of Sutcliffe’s innovations increasingly offer some of the best tools we have for peering into the long-term future of our environment.

Ethics of the Global Environment

This book is about the ethical principles and concepts relating to the environment: nature, resources and the planet. Issues addressed include the intrinsic value of nonhuman species, obligations to future generations, and the aesthetic needs of humanity. Both universal responsibilities and their application are investigated while international responsibilities to the planet are considered in the context of some of the most alarming future scenarios: limited access to water, the changing global climate, population explosion, the destruction of ecosystems, and even the extinction of humanity.

Understanding the Global Energy Crisis

In this accessibly-written volume, central issues in global energy are discussed through interdisciplinary dialogue between experts from both North America and Europe.

Agriculture, Human Security, and Peace: A Crossroad in African Development

Covering more than the conventional “food-only” role of the agriculture, the international contributors to Agriculture, Human Security, and Global Peace detail how the solution to agricultural problems can lead to the general socioeconomic and political development of impoverished countries.

Energy and Innovation: Structural Change and Policy Implications

The move towards sustainable energy production and use is one the most challenging and profound changes currently taking place in the world’s established and emerging economies. Energy and Innovation: Structural Change and Policy Implications presents a series of informative case studies from Norway, the United Kingdom, Poland, the United States, Russia, Japan, and China that demonstrate how the pace of sustainable energy production differs by country.

You can get 30% off all Purdue University Press titles by entering the code PURDUE30 at checkout on our website.


The Sky Above-A Q&A with astronaut John Casper

April 12th, 2022

In this interview, we talk with author, Purdue alumnus, and astronaut Colonel John H. Casper, (USAF, Ret.) about his forthcoming autobiography, The Sky Above: An Astronaut’s Memoir of Adventure, Persistence, and Faith.


Q: Could you give a brief description of your book?

The Sky Above tells how persistence and determination led me to fly in space, after serving the nation as a combat fighter pilot and test pilot. Despite life-threatening experiences and failures, my spiritual faith was pivotal in overcoming life’s challenges.

Throughout flying stories told in “pilot lingo,”  I invite the reader to ride alongside me in the cockpit, feeling the fear of enemy antiaircraft fire and the squeeze of high g-forces during combat maneuvering in jet fighters. I describe exhilarating Space Shuttle launches, the magical experience of weightlessness, and the magnificent beauty of Earth from hundreds of miles above.

 

Q: What is the goal of your book? What motivated you to write it?

The goal of my book is to tell readers my life story, which is a true adventure of overcoming adversity through dedication, perseverance, passion, and endur­ing faith to make a lifelong dream and vision a reality. I hope those trying to reach their dreams, whatever they are, will find inspiration; those unsure or challenged in their faith, encouragement.

 

Q: Military Service is a tradition in your family. You describe a “service before self” family mentality toward your dad’s service as a pilot. Was this mentality impacted by your family’s faith? Conversely, do you think this mentality affected the way you view(ed) and practice(ed) your faith?

Yes, I believe there is a link between my faith and military service, because both ask a person to “serve” something greater than oneself. Christian faith asks you to love God with all your mind, body, and spirit, and to love your neighbor—those around you—as you love yourself. Those in military or government service are serving our country by defending and upholding our foundational values and traditions. Both faith and the military emphasize the idea of serving others, rather than self-centeredness.

While growing up, I watched my grandparents and parents help others as an extension of their faith, and I witnessed their service to our country in both peace and wartime. They didn’t brag about it; they were merely helping those in need or helping our country defeat those who would destroy our way of life. I’m grateful for the strong example they set for me.

 

 

 Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring astronauts?

My advice to anyone with a dream or vision is to work hard and not be discouraged if you don’t succeed the first time. For most of us, following our passion or dream takes determined, persistent effort over a period of time to reach the goal.

Those who want to be astronauts will need to study hard and perform well in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. NASA also selects a small number of medical doctors in each incoming group. It’s best that you study subjects and work in career areas that interest you or that you have a passion for. Then, if you don’t become an astronaut, you’ll be working in a career field you enjoy.

 

Q: Do you have any thoughts on what the future of NASA and American space missions might look like? What would you most like to see explored? What challenges do you think NASA and aspiring astronauts will face along the way?

Future missions to the International Space Station, or ISS, will continue as humankind learns how to live and work­­ in space. ISS is a microgravity laboratory with a multi-nation crew (­15 nations cooperate) orbiting Earth at 250 miles altitude. The space vehicle weighs nearly one million pounds, has been continuously crewed since 2000, and has conducted over 3000 experiments and technology demonstrations. Because ISS is also valuable as a primary testbed for future deep-space exploration to the Moon and Mars, NASA plans to operate it at least until 2031.

Artemis is NASA’s Moon landing program to learn how to live on other worlds. This time, the goal is to stay by establishing a true outpost on the lunar surface. The first Artemis mission will fly no earlier than June 2022, using the new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. The mission will be un-crewed to test the rocket and crew vehicle on a 3-week voyage beyond the Moon and back to Earth. Artemis 2 is planned about a year later with a crew of four NASA astronauts on a similar 21-day mission to check out the human support systems in deep space. A lunar-orbiting habitat called Gateway is being built to sustain our ability to explore the lunar surface.

The next step is Mars: NASA’s goal is to land humans on Mars before the end of this century. The commercial company SpaceX also plans to fly humans to Mars. A human mission to Mars is hard because Mars is much, much farther away than the Moon—Mars is 35 to 250 million miles distant from Earth, depending on the two planets’ orbital positions. At their closest point, a trip to Mars takes about nine months with current rocket technology. A round trip could theoretically be completed in 21 months, with three months on the surface to wait for favorable alignment of Earth and Mars orbits before returning.

Future astronauts will face challenges similar to the ones they face today on the International Space Station—reduced or zero gravity, confinement in a relatively small space, isolation and separation from family and friends on Earth, and risk of damage to their spacecraft from micrometeorites. Radiation is the number one threat for deep space missions: ISS is in a low Earth orbit and shielded from most solar radiation by the higher Van Allen belts. However, crews on Moon or Mars missions will be outside that protection and exposed to greater solar radiation and occasional solar flares. Deep space crewed vehicles will require additional radiation shielding to keep the crew healthy.

 

Q: Is there anything that shocked or surprised you while working on this project?

I was surprised by the amount of time and effort it took me to research, write, and edit even my own memoir, where I knew the storyline! I had written many technical papers before, but crafting a story that interests and inspires readers is another level of creativity and complexity. Someone advised me that producing the first draft was about 50% of the writing process and I found that to be true—editing, condensing, choosing which stories to tell and which to delete, all took enormous amounts of additional time. Choosing a publisher and negotiating a contract required a completely different expertise and I had to learn that skill.

 

Q: Any comments for the future readers of your book?

If you like to read adventure stories, especially true ones, where the character overcomes odds to reach a goal, you will enjoy this book. If you would like to know more about flying airplanes and flying in space, this book is for you. If you’re looking for a story about spiritual faith helping someone overcome obstacles in life, my story might interest and inspire you.


Thank you to Col. Casper for answering our questions!

You can get 30% off The Sky Above and other Purdue University Press books by ordering from our website and using the discount code PURDUE30.