Charles Dodd White, assistant professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College, has received the 2015 Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award from Morehead State University in Kentucky. The award, which includes a prize of $1,000, recognizes outstanding Appalachian writers. White is the author of “A Shelter of Others,” “Lambs of Men” and “Sinners of Sanction County.” Previous winners of the Chaffin Award include Denise Giardina, Silas House and Donald Ray Pollock.
Julie Reed leads a book discussion at Pellissippi State Community College’s Magnolia Avenue Campus 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22. Reed will speak about the history and culture of the Cherokee in Appalachia. The event is free and open to the community. The Magnolia Avenue Campus is located at 1610 E. Magnolia Ave.
Strange as it might seem, East Tennessee was once quite beachy.
Geologically speaking, this area lay on the floor of a warm, shallow sea 500-plus million years ago, and Pellissippi State Community College students will soon be studying the rock formations and mineral deposits in Knoxville’s Cherokee Caverns that point to the fact that East Tennessee once had a climate similar to that of the Bahamas.
“[Cherokee Caverns] is good exposure to the geological history of East Tennessee and a new way to see your own hometown,” said Kathleen Affholter, associate professor in Natural and Behavioral Sciences at Pellissippi State. “This cave is unique — not just in Tennessee, but in the world. It’s a great outdoor laboratory.”
Affholter and Garry Pennycuff, an associate professor in the same department, recently applied for and were awarded a $750 grant from the National Speleological Society to study the mineralogy of Cherokee Caverns, one of the most geologically unique caves in the world. The cave, despite the effects of vandalism and improper use, is still home to flower-like crystal formations called anthodites and hollow stalactite-like formations that hang from the ceiling and look like bulbous soda straws. There are only a handful of caves around the world that feature anthodites and few others reported to have the bulbous-soda-straw stalactites.
“Tennessee has more caves than any other place in the United States — more than 10,000,” Affholter said. “But Cherokee Caverns is special.”
“When we grow up in a place, we often don’t realize or don’t take advantage of the amazing resources that are around us,” Pennycuff said. “But this amazing cave is right in our students’ backyards.”
The professors say their beginning physical geology, chemistry and environmental geology students will have the opportunity to take field trips to Cherokee Caverns. In class, students will study responsibly collected research samples and have remote access to Florida International University’s scanning electron microscope to analyze those samples. Some of the grant funds will be used to pay for the use of the electron microscope.
The biggest advantage of using an electron microscope over a more common optical microscope is that the electron microscope has a higher resolution and is able to magnify an object up to two million times. Optical microscopes can only magnify up to 1,000-2,000 times.
“So many times, students think of school as one thing and the ‘real world’ as another thing,” said Pennycuff. “But this opportunity lets them conduct real-world tests, explore real-world places and make real observations. This is what science looks like.”
“For community college students, this is a rare opportunity to have this type of field experience and to use special equipment like the scanning electron microscope,” Affholter said.
The duo hopes the hands-on science experience will teach students the importance of conservation, particularly given Cherokee Caverns’ history. (Today, the cave can be accessed only with the permission of its caretaker.) But more than that, Affholter and Pennycuff hope students take away a love of science.
“Maybe the students will learn terms like ‘anthodites,’ but what’s more important to me is that they see that science is fun,” Affholter said.
The National Speleogical Society grant funds came through the Pellissippi State Foundation. The Foundation works to provide student scholarships and emergency loans as well as to improve facilities and secure new equipment.
For more information about the Foundation, visit www.pstcc.edu/foundation or call (865) 694-6528. For more information about Pellissippi State and its science and other academic offerings, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.
Peggy Wilson, vice president of College Advancement and executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation, has been named Rotary District 6780’s assistant governor. The position oversees Knox County’s four Rotary clubs, and Wilson will serve as an administrator to help each club become more effective. Wilson has been a member of the Rotary Club of Farragut for 10 years with 100 percent attendance. She served as the club’s president from 2010-2011.
“Hypostyle Paths,” featuring the work of faculty member Brian Jobe, will premiere in the Bagwell Center Gallery of the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, Monday, Aug. 24. Opening reception is 4-7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 27. Exhibit runs through Sept. 10, and gallery hours are 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. “Hypostyle Paths” invites viewers to physically enter the interior space of an installation. For more information, visit pstcc.edu/arts/bagwell.
Community auditions for The Arts at Pellissippi State’s upcoming theatre season are 7:30-9:30 p.m., Sept. 1-2, in the Clayton Performing Arts Center at Pellissippi State Community College, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. Men and women of all ages are encouraged to audition. Two contrasting monologues plus a headshot and/or resume are preferred, but not required. Auditions will include cold readings from the upcoming productions “She Kills Monsters,” “Which Side Are You On: The Florence Reece Story” and “Still Life.” For more information, contact Charles R. Miller, head of Theatre productions, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carole Gary has joined Pellissippi State Community College as director of Human Resources.
Gary comes to the college from Blackberry Farm, where she had been over the human resources department since 2010.
“Blackberry Farm’s organization is built around customer service,” Gary said, “and I told myself I would only leave there for a very special place. I got that opportunity earlier this year. I feel Pellissippi State has a great brand and a dedicated group of employees who are devoted to the college’s own brand of customer service: to our students.”
Gary’s responsibilities at the college include oversight of staffing and other institutional concerns, such as Affordable Care Act compliance. She says she hopes her role also offers opportunities for training and professional development.
“I love working in organization development,” she said. “I look forward to helping the college reach its goals, while also helping employees reach their personal goals.”
Gary has worked in human resources for nearly 20 years, beginning at National Book Warehouse.
“I was asked by the owners of National Book Warehouse to step into the role of human resources director,” she said. “I agreed, though I didn’t know much about it at the time. They provided me training and resources, and I found that human resources fit me well. I didn’t find it — it found me.”
Gary earned her Senior Professional in Human Resources credential in 2005.
For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.