Collaboration Helps Babies and Puppies

A collaborative study in Helsinki between genetic scientists and veterinarians describes a myoclonic epilepsy syndrome in dogs and discovers the genetic cause as the DIRAS1 gene. The dogs began having seizures at around 6 months old, usually while asleep. This canine epilepsy syndrome is much like the human juvenile myoclonic syndrome in certain aspects. The study therefore has meaningful possibilities for epilepsy research across different species. The DIRAS1 gene had not been connected to any neurological dysfunctions before the study and genetic scientists are looking to see how this could help humans with juvenile myoclonic syndrome by finding the genetic cause. Several veterinarians and geneticists studies studied 600 Rhodesian Ridgebacks and about 1000 epileptic dogs in other breeds. They discovered that the gene was specific for Rhodesian Ridgebacks. This allowed vets to produce a genetic test to screen the puppies of this breed to allow breeders to alter their breeding plans, reducing breeding more with the syndrome.

CC BY-NC-ND v_silvestri

This scientific example is one of multidisciplinary work. The geneticists worked to discover how this could be applied to humans as the veterinarians worked on how this can help dogs and their owners. The veterinarians worked on studying the dogs as that was their area of expertise, and the geneticists words on the DNA in their labs. Their jointed efforts discovered an abnormality that can help both humans and dogs, and even ended up producing a genetic test to discover which dogs will develop the syndrome. Without the two different fields of science collaborating, breeders would continue breeding and selling these special needs dogs that could avoid having the disease in the first place. And genetic scientists would still be trying to figure out how to detect juvenile myoclonic syndrome in humans with little to no leads. The collaboration of these two fields are going to save a lot of people and puppies from unnecessary suffering in the future.



University of Helsinki. “Significant epilepsy gene discovery in dogs.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2017. <>.

Communication, The Discipline

Communication is a discipline that deals with the different processes of human communication. This discipline is a part of my major because of how films are a form of communication from directors and writers to an audience. The discipline also offers a multitude of classes at Plymouth State University relating to my “Cinematic Production” major, mainly about the production of putting this form of media together.

Communication has been around since the beginning of human beings. In the early twentieth century, a man named Charles Horton Cooley contributed literary importance for communication as an important academic discipline. “The mechanism through which human relations exist and develop—all the symbols of the mind, together with the means of conveying them through space and preserving them in time,” is how Cooley defined communication. I find that this greatly applies to cinema as a form of communication as it uses the relationships of humans to convey symbols to  an audience and is preserved in time. Whether it’s digitally uploaded or kept in film in some collector’s basement, it’s as much a form of communication as a book is.

CC BY-NC Shanks

The courses I’m taking from the Communication department mainly focus on the production aspect of what goes into putting a film or television show together. The classes Film and Production Techniques, Advanced Digital Video Production, and Advanced Digital Art Production focus on that area. These classes teaches me the basics of the layout of what goes into a film in order to communicate what the crew wants to the audience. Thoroughly planning out a cinematography style or as simple as how a screenwriter phrases sentences is how they communicate subtext through cinema.

The other classes I’m taking from the department, Analyzing Film and Analyzing Television, focus on how the great communicators of media in the past have used this art form to convey their messages through this space. It my version of education majors learning how to teach from their professors, only I’m learning from a professor teaching from the past rather the future of educating children. Which I am thoroughly looking forward to.

I follow the Twitters of Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB and they critically analyze what aspects of a movie and a television show that made it good. The likability of the characters, cinematography, plot line, etc.. The ratings these sites give are overall how well the story was communicated and received by the audience the filmmakers made it for. It’s interesting to be able to see how a recent film either successfully communicated their story, or fell flat and left the audience dissatisfied.

Communication is a vital discipline to the major I am trying to create here at Plymouth State University. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to do half of the stuff I want to do in the film industry. I would probably have just gone for a Business degree or English rather than try to build one of my own that will set me on the path that I can actually see myself walking down. Thanks, communication!


Some well known journals of the discipline:

International Journal of Communication

Journal of Communication

New Media and Society

Public Relations Review

Cinematic Production Essay

Cinematic Production

I’m trying to construct the major of “Cinematic Production” with the courses offered here at Plymouth State University. After coming to PSU, I was intrigued by the Literature and Film major offered under the English department. Unfortunately, after meeting with my advisor, the school no longer offered the major. Strangely enough, all of the courses that made up the major are still in the catalog and can be taken in future semesters. I’ve only ever been truly passionate about the pieces that put a movie and other dramatic productions together and how they can be improved upon. The major is built partially with the courses from the old Literature and Film major, some Theatre, and the rest are cinematically related courses offered by the Communications and Media Studies department. No other program offered by PSU sparked my interest for something I wanted to spend the next three years studying. Or influencing my career path for the rest of my working life. The program that I’ve created here is what I think is an improvement on the Literature and Film major with a focus in the production of cinema with the addition of Communication courses.

BY-SA 2.0 SparkCBC

Starting with the English courses, the first class that’s a part of the major is The Filmmaker’s Vision: An Introduction to Film Analysis which discusses what filmmakers are trying to make the audience feel with their film, much like painters with their art or poets with poetry. Next on my course list is Introduction to Film, which was an introductory course when Literature and Film was still a major and focuses on appreciating films, short and full-length. After that, there’s The Craft of Screenwriting: Reading and Writing Screenplays, which involves reading and writing screenplays and analyzing the film production of the screenplays read. Literature and Film is another course of analyzing film production, but rather the literature that’s turned into cinema instead of screenplays. And the final and newly added class from the English department, Practicum in Production will be a course that will take place at Pemi Baker Public Access Television for a hands on experience in video and television production.

Another chunk of classes is from the Communication and Media Studies department. Firstly, Introduction to Media and Cultural Studies is the introductory course to the Communication department and is required to be taken so that I understand the basics of the courses offered. It also describes how media has been used from the 20th century to the present. Analyzing Television connects what has influenced television over the past sixty years through history, political science, sociology, and more. It also explores the different ways to analyze television programming from black and white television to today. Analyzing Film explores how history over time has affected film and assesses theories to explain how cinema impacts society. Another analyzing course, it examines the narrative genre and its development over time. Analyzing the techniques that have been used before helps me in using techniques to create the same effect or influence through this form of art. Film and Video Production Techniques is a hands-on course that goes through the pre-production, production, and post production processes of cinema. This is also the predecessor course to two more courses, the first being Advanced Digital Video Production. In this course, I learn more advanced video production techniques and how to use them to tell a story. The second and final course from the department is Advanced Video Art Production. It’s another advanced course in video production that focuses more on the technical aspect that adds to the cinematography.

The last bit of classes fill the WRCO and QRCO requirements while still being relevant to the major, as Theatre is the live and pre-camera version of cinema. American Musical Theatre is from the Theatre department and discusses how american musical theatre has adapted from Europe and how it reflected the ever-changing nation. World Drama discusses how western drama was influenced by the Greeks and the literary versus theatrical forms. Finally, a math class to fulfill the QRCO, Precalculus focuses on trigonometry, algebra, and the use of the unit circle.

BY-SA 2.0 SparkCBC

This program is truly interdisciplinary since it’s about 36% English, 43% Communication and Media Studies, 14% Theatre, and 7% Math. It combines the history, production, analysis of cinema and drama which is exactly what I want to be involved in for my future. Whether it’s being a part of the cinematography of a small web series or piecing a film together to be aesthetically pleasing after everything is shot, I want to be a part of the production. And I want to be proud of my contributions.


I wrote this essay in my second semester here at Plymouth State University. Many things have changed over the course of the past few years, including the title. My major, now dubbed “Media Production,” has endured multiple contract changes due to the altering of the number of credits a course is worth, some courses no longer being offered, and taking some courses that weren’t originally part of my major but were so useful, I asked them to become a part of my contract after I took them.

The most important addition to my contract that I made was the English Internship at the Pemi-Baker TV station through Professor Paul Rogalus, who may be one of the coolest professors I’ve ever had. The internship taught me how to operate equipment, edit footage, and offered me the creative freedom to create. When creating my initial contract, the Practicum in Production (pretty much a pre-internship) was a part of it. I loved the practicum so much I took the English Internship and stayed at the station for another two semesters, in which I was able to do more on my own the longer I worked there.

Through my major, I’ve learned the process of how visual media is made; from conception and screen/scriptwriting to putting the finishing touches when editing a final product, I’ve learned that my favorite parts include creating the environment of which the characters interact and jazzing everything up in post. So basically, the beginning and the end. Pre- and Post- production if you will. It takes so many people in the actual production part of it all, it’s important to have delegated positions and it’s better to use people with experience rather than the first friend that doesn’t have anything to do on a Thursday night. This is key in the world of media production, as creative differences between friends can cause personal attacks, rather than compromises if one isn’t careful.

When I first came to Plymouth State University, I had absolutely no clue what I was going to do here. I had planned on being undeclared for at least two semesters, possibly three, and hoped that I would figure something out in that allotted time. After my first semester, my advisor told me that I had transferred over so many credits from college courses I had taken in high school, I had to declare a major in my second semester. Luckily, I knew of the discarded Literature and Film English division and was introduced to the video production side of the communications department when constructing said major. With a few theatre classes thrown in to create a well rounded Interdisciplinary focus of study, I was prepared to enter my built major with confidence that I was doing the right thing. Over the past few years, anyone I’ve told about Interdisciplinary had told me how great they think it is and how several wished they’d known about it before declaring a major. I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to pursue my awesomely constructed major.

Interviewing Dr. Turski

I had my First Year Seminar with Dr. Mark Turski, Critical Thinking and the Nature of Inquiry, which focused on how the media has affected the environment from when the Industrial Revolution began to the present. One of the first assignments that we had to do was watch the film Thank you for Smoking and write an 800 word review. I personally found the film a cinematic masterpiece and wrote a paper that I genuinely enjoyed writing and Dr. Turski apparently enjoyed reading. We began discussing the production of cinema and what makes a movie a good movie over the course of the semester. This helped my Undeclared self realize that I was actually passionate about something: Cinema.

After arriving in his office, the first things we discussed were the movies we had seen over the break. What took up most of the conversation was how I had watch all six Rocky movies, plus the spin-off, over break. The first movie reached acclaim and continued to produced movies, and we both thought that the first one wasn’t the cinematic masterpiece is was built up to be, showing the difference between a “favorite movie” versus a “best movie,” as discussed in his class. I was there to conduct an interview, so we figured I should probably start asking questions.

Dr. Mark Turski, courtesy of Dr. Turski

ME: “What are some of the classes that you teach here? And do you have a favorite course that you teach?”

TURSKI: “Over the years, I have taught Chemistry, Physical Science for non-science majors, Astronomy, Earth Science, Secondary Methods for Secondary Education Teachers, some graduate courses from professional development. My favorite courses to teach are the Integrated Earth Science courses … and I like Hazards the best because I like blowing up stuff. And then my Resources course is the second one, because it’s integrated and it’s got big equipment. We live in a world that’s based on extraction, and people living in the wrong places. So when I travel, it happens to be to places that I like to travel to, and it happens to be what I do work, so, it works out pretty well … If I knew you could get a phD in blowing stuff up I would’ve gone to that school instead.”


ME: “What did you study in grad school?”

TURSKI: “Astronomy education. My phD is in Astronomy Ed. Undergraduate degree is in Soil Science. My masters is in Environmental Education. Because there weren’t enough teachers to run the program in art science for a masters so I had to switch programs, and then I went to the University of Texas in Science Ed, with a focus in Planetary Astronomy Ed.”


ME: “Do you do any research in your field now? What do you do outside of teaching?”

TURSKI: “Travel mostly. Review research articles and most of my work that I’ve presented at national conferences on classroom applications … I read current research articles and I interpret it into stuff that’s available for people that aren’t science majors.”


ME: “How do you work with scholars outside of your field?”

TURSKI: “Most of the people I’ve worked with were outside my field are outdoorsy or music and art oriented. So, we usually look at the intersection of these things. But, for the most part if I run into somebody [of that nature], they’re out hiking or diving and we get into this ‘Can you explain to me about this volcano’ and it’s like ‘yes I can.’ And if I run into anyone in a art galleries and they’re like ‘What are you looking at there? Can you explain it to me?’ … And as I told one woman, once, ‘How the art is formed is just as important as appreciating the beauty that you see when you look at it.’”

That last quote really stood out to me considering the fact that it can greatly be applied to many different art forms, such as my passion, cinema. As my major is about the pieces that form a film and focusing on each of pieces individually, putting them all together creates something of beauty to appreciate.


ME: “Do you do any interdisciplinary work?”

TURSKI: “Everything is interdisciplinary in the environmental sciences. … And to get teachers to teach environmental science is integrated stuff. Because they need the chemistry, they need the math, and even a school like Princeton changed Earth Sciences to Geo Sciences because they figured out it was the hardest major on campus. Because basically you ended up with a minor in Physics, a degree in Math, plus all your geology courses and all your chemistry courses. So, you were taking all these upper division science courses in different fields than any other degree. And high schools … supposed to be where students learned to put it together in learning about how the earth interacts a sphere. But it is easier to do stuff vertically than it is horizontally.”


ME: “What courses should students who major in your department consider taking outside the department?”

TURSKI: “I would like to see a digital photography course offered as an intro course where you could use a digital camera … so you could label then and they could be research grade, and so when you get back from the field, you can see what stuff is. And that’s one thing you can’t do on your smartphone, that you can’t do on your camera. … And the Stage Craft class. They teach kids carpentry, and you’ve seen musicals they have to crank out sets fast. It also teaches students what’s going on behind the scenes of movies and shows like the Superbowl to understand how the media pulls stuff off better. … Also simple business and management courses. It doesn’t matter what you’re in, you need to have those skills.”


ME: “I’m trying to build a major surrounded by film and television and how they’re made and everything and I want to ask you if you think the major I’m trying to build is a good idea?”

TURSKI: “Yeah. I actually, when I talk about all the jobs and all these movies that we saw, that’s what the people in the background do. A Fierce Green Fire and black and white photos and color. You’ll notice the music ed major was the one that figured out how the director made the water sad using music. Yeah you look at the great directors and the great film cutters. They, and I’ll even use rap music. Those producers know all the types of music. So the tropes are there and make something and try and come up with it to work. … Yeah people have to understand that cinematography is a job you just don’t walk into. It takes a wide range of study of these type of thing and you get hired for that for anything now, and even my environmental majors are impressed with the people who make these promos for the BP oil spill.”


After completing the interview, we continued to discuss my major and all of the cool opportunities that will open up for me as he rolled a cart to his next class; with about fifteen kids waiting outside the door as witnesses. I certainly gained confidence from this interview about what I’m doing, and also a few good movie and book recommendations.

The web we need to give to the students so that they can reconstruct the unity of knowledge by giving them access to their own domains

Colleges Must Reconstruct the Unity of Knowledge” discussed how liberal arts needs to be reintroduced into the education of college students, which is something I wholeheartedly agree with. I first came to PSU with the intention of studying a liberal arts degree myself since I had no idea what I wanted to do right out of high school. I was shocked to discover that it’s no longer offered here since I know people that have graduated from PSU with a liberal arts degree. I wanted to go in that direction because I had a teacher in my high school that told me how valuable they are after college, and the article agrees. “higher-education reform must focus on a revival of the liberal arts,” it said. Now I’m going to try to build my own major that will provide me with the skills that I am interested in to be able to survive in the ever-changing job world.

CCBYNCND Raul Pacheco-Vega

The Web We Need to Give Students” discussed how the use of the domains that we are beginning to use and how they will affect our education process. The second article states, “Having one’s own domain means that students have much more say over what they present to the world, in terms of their public profiles, professional portfolios, and digital identities.” This is a very important statement to remember when posting stuff publicly on the internet, since at the click of the button, possible employers can see everything thats been on your twitter, so livetweeting about the illegal things you’re doing at a party may seem funny then, but not in three years when you’re trying to get a job. I’ve tried to stay off of social media entirely so nothing could be used against me, so I just have to be careful like everyone else should be.

Do I Own My Domain if You Grade It?” talked about how our writing for a grade would heavily influence how the domain’s content would be written since it counts either for or against you. “The web is a network for conversations, and if students still see their audience as a teacher with a red pen, then nothing changes.” There are pros and cons of this, but one thing that the article pointed out was that it trains people to be careful of what they put on the internet since it’s not an outlet such at facebook nor twitter. Which like I stated before, would be helpful towards students futures.