CLP-Is Fair Trade Fair? 2/18

6 p.m., February 18, Trone Student Center/Watkins Room. Documentary: “The Dark Side of Chocolate.” Free admission.

CLP-Rumors 2/17-22

8 p.m., February 17-21. 3 p.m., February 22, Theater Playhouse. Tickets: $8.

CLP-Raise the Roof 2/17

7 p.m., February 17, Trone Student Center/Burgiss Theater. Film.

CLP-Conservation Lecture Series 2/16

7 p.m., February 16, Patrick Lecture Hall. Speaker: Hayley Murphy, DVM.

Paul Thomas co-edits new book

Paul Thomas (ed.) book cover haruki murakami, sizedFurman University education professor Paul Thomas has published a new book about renowned Japanese writer Haruki Murakami.

The 158-page volume, Challenging Authors: Haruki Murakami (Sense Publishers), is co-edited by Matthew C. Strecher of Sophia University (Tokyo). Furman English major Kristen Marakoff (Class of 2016) and future secondary English teacher assisted with proofreading.

The book is the seventh title in the series, Critical Literacy Teaching Series: Challenging Authors and Genres.

One of Murakami’s central and enduring themes is a persistent warning not to suppress fundamental desires in favor of the demands of society at large. Murakami’s writing over his career reveals numerous recurring motifs, but his message has also evolved, creating a catalog of works that reveals Murakami to be a challenging author.

Many of those challenges lie in Murakami’s blurring of genre as well as his rich blending of Japanese and Western mythologies and styles — all while continuing to offer narratives that attract and captivate a wide range of readers, according to the authors.

The book is designed to open new lines of inquiry into what constitutes national literatures, and how some authors, in the era of blurred national and cultural boundaries, seek now to transcend those boundaries and pursue a truly global mode of expression.

Before joining the Furman faculty in 2002, Thomas taught high school English in rural South Carolina. He earned undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in education from the University of South Carolina.

He was the 2013 recipient of the George Orwell Award presented by National Council of Teachers of English. A collection of essays that he co-edited, De-Testing and De-Grading Schools, was named an Outstanding Academic 2014 title by Choice magazine.

He is a column editor for the English Journal, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English and has written commentaries for the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, Education Week, The State, and The Greenville News.

Read Thomas’ blog at The book is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or by visiting the publisher’s website,

For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at (864) 294-3107.

Lyric Theatre presents “The Magic Flute” Feb. 25 & Feb 27

the magic flute, featured

Mason Lambert as Papageno, Alexa Cripe as Papagena

Furman University Lyric Theatre will stage two performances of Mozart’s The Magic Flute Thursday, Feb. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium on campus.

Open to the public, the performances are presented by the Furman University Department of Music. Tickets for the Sound Quality Concert Series event are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students. The production is part of Furman’s Cultural Life Program.

Directed by Professor of Voice, Dr. Grant Knox, the immensely popular opera will be performed with the Furman Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Dr. Thomas Joiner.

Sung in English, the whimsical fairy tale is considered a jewel of the operatic stage, accessible to adults and children of all ages. Tamino, on an adventure to save the Queen of the Night’s daughter, Pamina, from the grip of the evil Sarastro, learns a higher truth: Sarastro is actually good, and, guided by him through a series of physical trials, Tamino and Pamina gain the light of knowledge.

For more information about the event, contact the Furman Music Office at (864) 294-2086, or email the department at Tickets may be ordered online.


Paladins defeat 9th ranked VMI, next up D1 South Carolina

Prop Adrian Marcoliese.

Prop Adrian Marcoliese. (photo by Deborah Miller)

Furman used rejuvenated scrum play to defeat VMI 42-27 Saturday at Roberts Field.

The Keydets, champions of the Cardinal Conference, finished the fall season ranked 9th nationally among Division II teams.

The game marked the return of Adrian Marcoliese, the Paladins’ tight head prop who spent the fall semester in Brussels. With Marcoliese and Jeff Tongue working at number 1 and 2, the Paladins pushed the VMI scrums. That dominance helped Thomas Trankle score on an 8-man pick from the base of the scrum 8 minutes into the contest to stake Furman to 7-0 lead.

Jacob Milchuck and RJ Bradley also added trys as Furman constructed a 21-17 halftime lead. In the second half Trankle, Marcogliese and Miles Lerner scored trys as the Paladins opened the bench and pulled away.

While the Paladins offense played fluidly at times, Furman was done in by their own mistakes, committing 16 penalties.

“Our aggressiveness improved from last week’s scrimmages,” said Coach John Roberts. “Adam Miller, Miles Lerner, Thomas Trankle and RJ Bradley had strong games today.”

The Paladins travel to Columbia Saturday to face the University of South Carolina. The Gamecocks, a Div. 1 AA power, finished runner last fall in the powerful Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference. The Gamecocks, consistently ranked among the top 15 programs in the nation, won the SCRC 2012-14.

Furman defeated the Gamecocks 22-14 a year ago and hold a 9-7 advantage over USC in a rivalry that dates back to 1998.

“I am sure USC is hungry to avenge their loss to us last year,” said Roberts, a USC alum and past president of the South Carolina rugby program. “We are expecting a good game.”

02.16 lineup


Koumandarakis to join Paladins

Koumandarakis serves as team captain of the Alpharetta Phoenix, on of the top high school programs in the nation.

Koumandarakis serves as team captain of the Alpharetta Phoenix, one of the top high school programs in the nation.

Nikolas Koumandarakis, team captain of the 8th ranked high school team in the nation, has committed to Furman and will suit up for the Paladins this fall.

Koumandarakis, son of Ivy and John Koumandarakis, lives in College Park, Georgia and plays flanker and scrumhalf for the Alpharetta Phoenix. The program was crowned state champion in 2014 and 2015. Koumandarakis attends Woodward Academy

Koumandarakis’s will join former teammate Austin Willis ’19 this fall. Koumandarakis attend the Furman Rugby Camp last July.

“Furman first entered my college search when Austin urged me to look into Furman. I quickly added it to my list, and signed up for the Furman Rugby Camp. I fell in love with the beautiful campus, and the rugby program really impressed me,” says Koumandarakis. “In all, I chose Furman for the excellent education, beautiful campus, nice people, and the strong rugby program with a great coach.”

“Nik was the most outstanding player during camp’s scrimmage,” said Furman Coach John Roberts. “He has a really strong work rate, is aggressive and is tremendously versatile athlete. We are fortunate to have him.”

Koumandarakis will join a Furman team that is replete with high school rugby captains. Currently, seven members of the Paladins squad have served as captain of their high school team.

Making science fun



It’s elementary, my dear Watson.

It doesn’t take Sherlockian sensibilities to understand our nation is in trouble when it comes to STEM education. In recent years, only 34 percent of American fourth graders and 21 percent of seniors performed at or above the proficient level in science according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Roughly one in three students met the 2013 ACT benchmark for college readiness in science.

The numbers are sobering considering reports claiming that by 2018, 8 million U.S. jobs will require a college degree in a STEM discipline. But studies also show that by the time students reach fourth grade, a third of boys and girls have lost interest in science, and by eighth grade, 50 percent of kids consider science to be irrelevant to their education or future.

In an effort to right the ship and spur interest in science among elementary children, Furman chemistry professors Karen Buchmueller, Tim Hanks, John Kaup, and Jeff Petty have crafted an outreach program for at-risk kids who attend Camp Frazee at the Frazee Center in downtown Greenville.

Each year with funding from the National Science Foundation and its Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, Buchmueller and company, and a cohort of summer research students invest time at Frazee showing kids just how fun science can be through riveting, hands-on experiments.ChemistryStudents_Frazee-34

In the space of two hours during Frazee’s summer camp, research students introduce scientific concepts to Kindergarten through third-graders. It’s a short amount of time, but like preparing for a symphony concert, students spend copious hours practicing to ensure a quality performance. “We only go once in the summer, but the idea is to do that one time really, really well,” says Buchmueller, now principal investigator for the project.

Buchmueller says one of the goals of the program is to debunk the popular thinking about what a scientist looks like. “We want to build excitement about science and show kids that scientists are real—they can be men and women, they can be young,” she says.

Buchmueller’s team uses ordinary household ingredients to make science entertaining and engaging. “We do things like make silly putty or goop using borax and glue as the primary ingredients.” Without knowing the science parlance, kids get exposed to making polymers in a fun way, says Buchmueller.

Kids learn about chromatography as they separate pen ink into individual colors. They learn about static electricity found in different dry cereals by how well cereal sticks to a balloon. “We look at density of liquids by layering different fluids to show how some will mix and some won’t,” says Buchmueller. With soap, milk, and food coloring, students demonstrate how solutions can be hydrophobic or hydrophilic.

Furman science team member Melissa Kuester ’18 of Lilburn, Ga. says the milk and soap experiment was her favorite. “We prepped plates of milk and scattered bottles of food coloring around the table . . . we asked the kids to put a few drops of food coloring in different areas of the plate, then we showed them how you could dip a Q-tip with no dish soap into the plate and nothing happened. But when you dip a Q-tip into dish soap and then swish it around the plate, the food coloring makes the most interesting patterns.”ChemistryStudents_Frazee-8

We explained how milk is made up of water, proteins, and fats and other healthy things . . . , and that fats are hydrophobic and don’t like mixing with water, while proteins are hydrophilic and like mixing with water.” Kuester says kids were so excited they would ask, ‘Can we do this at home?’

Buchmueller says the impact the program has on college students is just as important as the learning that takes place among the elementary school children. “They come back to campus so energized by the experience and excited to share their stories,” she says. “REU students also learn how to do outreach . . . They learn how to engage children—how do you explain what you’re doing to a first-grader? Our students build awareness about the amount of preparation necessary, and how to weave a good story linking what the kids are seeing to the science behind it.”

Furman senior Ryan Alexander (Rochester, Minn.), who knows Frazee well through his other volunteer activities there, says he came away knowing children are eager to learn, and aren’t just interested in how the science works, but also why it works. Alexander says he also became more aware of the role enthusiasm plays for both teachers and students in the educational process, saying, “. . . as I was interacting with these very excited students, I realized I needed to match their excitement.”

Ralph White ’17 (Stone Mountain, Ga.) was struck by the wonder displayed by the Frazee students. Scientific concepts, which might seem uninteresting if confined to words on a page, come alive “ . . . if you put in the work and add some showmanship to science,” he says. “Then the kids will eat it up . . . they will want to learn more.”

Dr. Jeff Petty in recent years has had the honor of wrapping up the morning of science with epic demonstrations. Alexander says he’ll never forget the reaction when Petty dipped a ball in liquid nitrogen, and created an explosion after he threw it on the ground. “The students went crazy!”

White remembers Petty’s hydrogen balloon experiment which also yielded a nice blast. “Once Dr. Petty ignited the first balloon, this kid jumped out of his seat and ran around the gym, just amazed at Dr. Petty.” To the group the youngster said, ‘I can’t wait to get to college so I can do more chemistry experiments,’ recalls White.ChemistryStudents_Frazee-55

And there are others. Homemade lava lamps are popular among the Frazee campers. Another favorite, elephant toothpaste, brings down the house. Not surprising, homemade ice cream frozen with liquid nitrogen is always a crowd pleaser, says Buchmueller.

The outreach program funded through REU got its start through Dr. John Kaup who had early conversations with Frazee leadership about introducing science to kids. While Furman has received three-year cycles of research funding for 10 undergraduates for the last 30 years, the outreach program has been in place for the last five years. Buchmueller says the initiative grew out of a mandate from the NSF to expand its impact to local communities.

But the program is so much more than bridging town-gown relationships. Buchmueller’s hope is that the short amount of time spent with Frazee kids will leave a lasting impression—one that will inspire kids to reimagine what science is and how it might play out in their lives. She has a few dozen clues to let her know the program is on the right track—“The smiles, the excitement on everybody’s faces tell the whole story,” says Buchmueller.

Learn more about Furman Department of Chemistry and the Frazee Center.