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The Don Difference Story

In August 2015, IPFW launched the Don Difference series (sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs) to highlight faculty research, scholarship, and creative endeavor from across campus. Planning for the Don Difference Series began about a year ago, when Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Carl Drummond asked IPFW’s Marketing Communications office to design a program highlighting faculty research, scholarship, and creative endeavor. There is much happening at IPFW that impacts northeast Indiana and beyond, but the public is often left unaware. The result was the Don Difference, a series of videos and stories about IPFW faculty, their research, their students, and more. A new video featuring an IPFW faculty member is released every week—anyone can view the videos on the Don Difference site.

Assistant Professor of Biology Punya Nachappa was one of the first faculty members featured in the Don Difference. Nachappa’s vignette highlights how her research on soybeans, insects, and disease impacts local soybean farmers. She is currently researching a new devastating soybean virus and notes that scientists are vital to local and national soybean farmers because they can “get the knowledge [from their research] to the growers so they can implement these control strategies.” Check out her video “Save Our Soybeans” to learn more about Nachappa’s innovative research.

Associate Professor of English Damian Fleming’s video and article, “Meeting the Medievalist,” highlight his research on medieval understandings, interpretations, and translations of Hebrew. As a medievalist who studies thousand-year-old texts, Fleming often has to travel to places like Oxford University or the British Library to access the manuscripts he studies. However his students are his primary focus. In the video he emphasizes the importance of teaching and expresses hope that his enthusiasm is “creating the next generation” of medievalists.

Finally, Associate Professor of English and poet Curtis Crisler’s vignette, “The Liars and the Truth-Tellers,” explores his idea that poets are “the most truthful liars” and the interdisciplinary impact of poetry reading, writing, and performance. Crisler’s first work, Tough Boy Sonatas, is nonfiction, but blurs the line between truth and fabrication, and blends nonfiction, poetry, and young adult fiction. In the classroom, he uses poetry to teach interdisciplinary skills, such as using the performance of poetry to improve communication skills. Crisler wants poetry to help students find their voices because “when they connect to their voices, they begin to see how to address that in writing,” which helps them compose better persuasive essays, job applications, and more.

The Don Difference series will spotlight more faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences throughout the upcoming months. Associate Professor of Philosophy Abe Schwab will discuss his research in medical ethics and his work in northeastern Indiana. A vignette of Assistant Professor of Communication Art Herbig will highlight his documentary filmmaking. And Associate Professor Michelle Drouin will discuss her research on the relatively new phenomenon of sexting. A full list of released Don Difference faculty can be found here. Check the website each week for new videos.

Faculty, staff, students, and alumni are all invited to share their stories with the Don Difference creators. If you have a story you’d like to share with the university, community, and beyond, visit their website. For general and media inquiries, see the Don Difference contact page.