Mercyhurst names research fellows

Dyan Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics, and Robert H. von Thaden, Jr., Ph.D., associate professor of religious studies, have been named research fellows at Mercyhurst University for 2013, according to an announcement today by the Office of Academic Affairs.

This marks the fourth year Mercyhurst has chosen research fellows, so honored for consistently producing a body of scholarship at the highest level within their disciplines.

“At Mercyhurst University, student and faculty engage in scholarly endeavors designed to move academic disciplines forward and designed to take academic disciplines deeper,” said Phillip Belfiore, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs, in making the announcement. “Here we embrace scholarship because it allows us to confront the unknown simply for the sake of the confrontation.”

Dyan Jones, Ph.D.


Jones earned a Master of Science in Physics from Miami University studying theoretical cavity quantum optics and then went on to complete her doctoral studies in the field of physics education research at Kansas State University. As an assistant professor, Jones has begun creating upper-division physics courses and created a minor program in physics as well.

She is an active member of the American Association of Physics Teachers where she serves on a number of committees. During her time at Mercyhurst, Jones has mentored undergraduate and graduate research students and applied for funding from the National Science Foundation as well as winning several small in-house grants. As an expert in physics education research (PER), Jones is an external evaluator and advisory board member for federally funded projects and is also a reviewer for major scholarly physics journals.

Jones has presented dozens of papers at national conferences and invited talks at various institutions, and has published both in peer-reviewed proceedings and journals such as The Physical Review ST-PER and The American Journal of Physics.


Robert H. von Thaden, Jr., Ph.D.

von Thaden is an associate professor of religious studies who specializes in biblical and other sacred texts. His current research and writing involve the cognitive science of religion, especially embodied theories of culture. Using these tools, he explores early Christian rhetorical constructions of the body as sacred space and how this imagistic language was able to persuade audiences to modify their behavior (sexual, dietary, etc.).

He is an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), an international academic organization devoted to the critical investigation of biblical and cognate texts, serving as the chair of the Cognitive Linguistics in Biblical Studies section and a steering committee member of the Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity group. In 2008, he received a Society of Biblical Literature Regional Scholar award.

He is the author of one book,Sex, Christ, and Embodied Cognition: Paul's Wisdom for Corinth (2012), and a number of articles/essays. He has also presented more than a dozen academic papers at international, national and regional conferences and given a series of invited talks in his area of specialization. He is currently the associate editor of the Emory Studies in Early Christianity book series and has served as a peer reviewer for the forthcoming Anselm Academic Study Bible.

Jones and von Thaden will be recognized with other Mercyhurst faculty members on March 15 at the annual Mercyhurst Gathering of Scholars Reception. The event, slated for 4 p.m. in Mercy Heritage Room, is intended to celebrate the scholarly and professional achievements of faculty from across campus, specifically those who have published books, book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles; presented papers; and premiered and performed works of art.
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