Three Luther College professors awarded the Doris and Ragnvald Ylvisaker Endowment

May 24, 2018

Three Luther College professors, Jane Hawley, Olga Michels and Holly Moore, were granted Luther’s Doris and Ragnvald Ylvisaker Endowment this spring.

This award was established by Doris and Ragnvald Ylvisaker to support summer work on projects suitable for publication or to be presented outside the Decorah area. With the assistance of this endowment, Hawley, Michels and Moore will present their research at Luther during the 2018-19 school year. The Doris and Ragnvald Ylvisaker Endowment endeavors to favor the widest possible range of faculty involvement in the selection process for endowment recipients.

Hawley, Luther professor of dance, earned a Bachelor of Arts in theatre from Luther and went on to graduate Phi Kappa Phi with a Master of Fine Arts in performance and choreography from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her research emphasizes understanding the body as a vehicle of expression, and the realization of self through continuous study of mind/body interdependence. Challenges with her research lie in negotiating boundaries of developing movement vocabulary, organizing dance making, performing, and engendering movement vitality.

Michels, professor of chemistry, received a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and chemistry from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, before pursuing a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. She has established an active research group at Luther where she and several students examine host-guest photochemistry using fluorescence spectroscopy. The current project focuses on curcumins (the yellow color of the spice tumeric) as potential drug targets in photodynamic drug therapy (PDT). The researchers are looking at how a series of these curcuminoid drug tragets interact with Human Serum Albumin (HSA) as it is the most abundant protein found in human blood plasma.

Michels is grateful for the Doris and Ragnvald Ylvisaker award in supporting this research this summer: “Research experiences for our undergraduate students are crucial to the success of our students in their lives beyond Luther. The Ylvisaker funding allows me to provide those experiences to students while still taking care of my own family, and providing high quality child care to my pre-school aged daughter. I am grateful for donors who support the important work we do as faculty for the good of our students,” she said.

Moore, associate professor of philosophy, obtained a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Pennsylvania State University. She went on to receive a Master of Arts in philosophy from Villanova University in Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in philosophy from DePaul University in Chicago. Her research interests include Platonic ancient philosophy, contemporary European philosophy, philosophical methodology and pedagogy. Moore’s current research includes examining the relationship between the methods and philosophy of Plato’s dialogues. Additionally, Moore said she is working on a manuscript project analyzing Platonic dialectic and its characterization as the “free person’s science”.

The Ylvisaker Award will support her research while she is in residency as a visiting researcher at the “Philosophy Science and the Sciences” training group at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. As part of her upcoming sabbatical project, Moore will work with researchers and doctoral students in the training group. She will also work at the Altes Museum, which has an extensive collection of classical Greek pottery.

“In particular, I seek primary source grounding for a central claim of my sabbatical manuscript project””that Plato sought to establish philosophical dialectic as the ultimate epistemic authority, contrasting it with competitor discourses, such as prophesy, sophistry and poetry,” Moore said.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college’s website: