Faculty Newsletter

Faculty News


Jason Koontz had a peer-reviewed scientific note recently accepted for publication in Castanea , the peer-reviewed journal of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society: Molano-Flores, B., J. A. Koontz, and M. A. Feist. Seed germination of the rare Aganlinis auriculata (Michx.) Raf. (Orobanchaceae)

Eared false-foxglove is a threatened plant species in Illinois it is rare throughout its range in the midwest. It is a hemi-parasite (establishes root connections to host plants in the sunflower family for water and mineral nutrients, but it is green and can make its own sugars through photosynthesis). We have been studying its germination and genetic varation in Illinois because it is a target species for restoration at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Will County, IL (the largest prairie restoration in the U.S. ). This study found higher levels of seed germination compared to other published reports and that our smallest population that is at highest risk of extirpation had the lowest germination rate.

Jason also had a scientific note published in Castanea, the journal of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society. To view the PDF version of this, please click here.

Jason Koontz presented the results of his winter 06-07 pre-tenure sabbatical at the Botany 2007 meetings in Chicago this past summer. Jason continued work on the gypsum-loving larkspur, native to California.  This larkspur is hypothesized to be of hybrid origin and Jason tested this using a newer and more variable genetic marker, Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP), while at Syracuse University.  The AFLP markers show that, unfortunately, this plant is not of hybrid origin.  However, Jason hopes to continue studying other interesting aspects of its biology in the years to come.  Jason’s work was funded through a New Faculty Research Award and a Faculty Research Committee Award.  The abstract of Jason’s talk can be viewed at http://2007.botanyconference.org/engine/search/index.php?func=detail&aid=2051.  

This summer Jason also received word that his proposal to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources was funded through the Wildlife Preservation Fund (Illinois residents may recognize this as the “check off for wildlife” on their income tax returns.)  Jason received funding through 2011 to continue his work on the Illinois wild blue larkspur.  The funding will pay for a student to work with Jason over the summers doing field work and lab work as well as the supplies associated with both endeavors.  Wild blue larkspur is only known from two counties in Illinois (Henderson and Pike), but this species is known from throughout the mid-west to southeast US.  In Illinois, it is restricted to hill prairie habitats that are a rare kind of prairie in Illinois.  Jason’s research involves surveying populations and sampling leaf materials for genetic analysis.  He hypothesizes that the plant may be rare in Illinois and his data will be used to propose listing to the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board.  The genetic data will be used to investigate questions about the levels and patterns of genetic variation, ultimately comparing the Illinois populations to those from throughout its range. During this summer’s field work, Jason located the largest population yet of 136 individuals in a hill prairie in Henderson County.  This is amazing given that the landowner grazes this site with cattle.  Even with that level of disturbance, this site has many “high quality” prairie plants in addition to the larkspur. 



Jason Peters edited Wendell Berry: Life and Work , published in June by The University Press of Kentucky. 

Wendell Berry: Life and Work celebrates this important man, appraising his written work and illuminating his influence as an activist and artist. Jason Peters has assembled a rich variety of scholars and writers including Hayden Carruth, Sven Birkerts, Barbara Kingsolver, Stanley Hauerwas, Donald Hall, Ed McClanahan, Bill McKibben, Scott Russell Sanders, Norman Wirzba, Wes Jackson, Eric T. Freyfogle, and many others. Each contributor examines an aspect of Berry 's varied yet cohesive body of work. Also included are personal glimpses of Wendell Berry himself: his career, his academic influence, and his unconventional lifestyle.

Essayist, social critic, poet, "mad farmer," novelist, and teacher: Wendell Berry has been described in many ways, but no combination of labels adequately articulates his relevance or his influence. Berry 's unique perspective and vision have allowed him to propose complex questions--especially about humankind and our relationship to the land--and to provide simple but profound solutions. All of Berry's writing--essays, novels, and poems--gives voice to a provocative but consistent philosophy, one that extends far beyond its agrarian core to include elements of sociology, nature, politics, religion, philosophy, linguistics, agriculture and other seemingly disparate fields of study.

Transcending traditional labels, Wendell Berry: Life and Work combines biographical sketches, personal accounts, literary criticism, and social commentary to provide the most comprehensive study of Wendell Berry and his profound, indelible message.

Jason Peters is associate professor of English at Augustana College in Rock Island , Illinois .


Larry Peterson is pleased to announce the acceptance of his 3rd composition for publication. It is entitled "O God, Beyond All Praising." It will be published by Kjos Music Publishers under the Music For the Church Year Series, edited by Bradley Ellingboe. The composition is for SATB choir and viola or clarinet. It was originally written for the Quad City Choral Arts group and has since been performed by the Augustana Choir.


Carla Tracy has begun her term as chair of the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI) Board of Directors. CARLI now has 113 member libraries, 71 of which are also members of the online I-Share catalog. The CARLI Board, which meets bi-monthly, will hold its May 16, 2008 meeting at Augustana.



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