On November 21st, Providence hosted the sixth annual Provf Talks. The audience gathered in the lecture hall for a day of presentations delivered by 10 of our faculty. Cameron McKenzie, Provost and VP Academic, hosted the event.
The sessions highlighted speakers from our University College and Theological Seminary programs. Freddy Muganza, Instructor of Chemistry, started it all with an investigation into the topic of finding antioxidants and antibacterials in nature. “I’m not against medications, but scientists and pharmacists should come together, and revisit natural products in antibiotic drug discovery.”
Subsequent to the discovery of penicillin in the 1940s, society over the years has developed an increased resistance to antibiotics primarily due to overuse/misuse of medications. Muganza spoke about his research on plants – such as asparagus suaveolens and helichrysum caespititium – used by African Indigenous to treat gonorrhea and heal infection. “Most of the time, I don’t use drugs from the pharmacy for the flu or cold, but I make herbal concoctions from natural products such as garlic, ginger, lemon curds and honey.”
Randy Holm, Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation, spoke about his summer reading list. “If you look at the books people choose to read, you can gain insight into who they are.” He cited the book Holy Envy by Barbara Brown Taylor as his number one recommended book to read this year.
Associate Professor of TESOL, Cathy Rust-Akinbolaji, entitled her Talk “Of Elephants and Dogs” and shared a lively (and sometimes humorous) look at the cross cultural use of metaphors and idioms.
“Wetlands for Watershed Health” was the topic of Environment Science Instructor Bruce Friesen-Pankratz’s Talk. He spoke on the news headlines about algae forming on Lake Winnipeg caused by phosphorous – a combination of agricultural runoff, industrial effluent and municipal sewage.
“Currently, there are groups working on addressing the Lake Winnipeg problem,” stated Friesen-Pankratz, who’s also a scientist with Native Plant Solutions. He shared about Phytoremediation, a project in St. Pierre Jolys that is developing a wetland lagoon cell, using cattails to remove phosphorus before water is discharged into the river system.
Christopher Lortie, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, advocated for the Septuagint (LXX) translation of the Old Testament to become our default Bible. “Reading the LXX helps us get closer to the original text and interpretations of the Hebrew Bible. We can follow along with the New Testament authors and the early church in discovering what it means to live out our relationship with God.”
Rebecca Dielschneider, Assistant Professor of Biology, shared, “Vaccination has become a victim to its own success. We’re so healthy that we’ve forgotten what it feels like to get sick.” Her Provf Talk outlined (through comparative scientific research) the overall benefits of getting routine vaccines.
Looking to the ‘greats’ in missions work (such as the Apostle Paul, James Hudson Taylor & Mother Teresa), Director of Distance Education Sunday Olukoju, inspired the Provf Talks audience by stating that seminary isn’t a place where we produce employees for churches. “We should be people who are trained to change society, to plant a church and to start parachurch agencies and organizations. Don’t look for a job, look for a vocation.”
Jeremy Funk, Associate Professor & Director of the Buller School of Business, talked about retirement, citing culprits like loneliness and losing purpose to an acceleration of the aging process. “My identity should be truly found in Christ, not primarily in my job.”
Elfrieda Lepp-Kaethler, Assistant Professor of TESOL, spoke on “The Effects of Doodling on Attention and Well-being.” Is doodling merely scribbling or drawing? Or is it visual thinking? Researchers have found that the more we take in visual information, the more we remember.
Providence’s Professor of Sociology, Dennis Hiebert, ended the day by looking at the emerging topic “Problems of Personhood in Humans, Artificial Intelligence and God.”
He concluded the day by saying, “Just because AI may be able one day to check all the 30 capacities of a person does not mean it will have the emergent quality of a person. And just because God can check all the capacities of a person doesn’t mean that He is not also incomprehensibly more than a person. Together with all creation, when we human persons have acknowledged the finite limitations of our knowledge and the brokenness of our personhood, we must bow in silence before God however infinite, unfathomable He may be.”
Provf Talks proved to be a smorgasbord of topics and interests, highlighting the diversity of our Providence community and the different areas of research and study available to explore.
You can click on the live links above to view each presenter’s Provf Talk.