William and Mary Digest for March 6

Lemon Project symposium tied to 1619 anniversary

The theme of this year’s Lemon Project symposium refers to the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans on the Virginia Peninsula. Kidnapped from their homes, they were enslaved and brought to what is now Hampton, Virginia, in 1619 to be sold. Multiple events are planned throughout 2019 to mark the anniversary, including the 10th Biennial Conference of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora, which will be hosted by the college Nov. 5-10.

“The symposium is continuing to grow — with more paper and panel proposals and registrants than ever before. We are looking forward to engaging discussions from beginning to end,” said Jody Allen, assistant professor of history and director of the Lemon Project.

“As we recognize the 400 years since Africans were brought to Point Comfort against their will, we also acknowledge their vast contributions to Virginia and the country,” she said. “We must never forget that they, along with Native Americans and Europeans, established the foundation of what is now the United States.”

The Lemon Project symposium is free and open to the public, but people interested in attending the symposium are asked to register in advance online. Breakfast and lunch on Saturday will be provided.

Neurophysiology discovery has implications for obstructive sleep apnea

We don’t have to think about breathing, but that doesn’t mean respiration is a no-brainer.

Automatic respiration is controlled by a surprisingly small area in the brain stem known as the pre-Bötzinger complex. An interdisciplinary team of researchers based at William and Mary has been drilling down on the workings of the pre-Bötzinger complex for more than a decade.

Christopher Del Negro explains that the team’s goal was to get a fuller understanding of the neurophysiology that generates respiratory rhythm. But in pursuit of rhythm, the team documented an understanding of the neural workings of motor pattern, another aspect of breathing.

They’ve published their findings in the open-access, online journal PLoS Biology in the paper “Trpm4 ion channels in pre-Bötzinger complex interneurons are essential for breathing motor pattern but not rhythm.”

The work is an important milepost in neuroscience, and Del Negro points out that it may have clinical implications for a number of respiratory ailments, notably obstructive sleep apnea.

Aura CuriAtlas to debut tarot card-themed performance

This weekend Aura CuriAtlas will present the world premiere of “The Fool and The World,” inspired by Tarot card imagery with music by Sophia Serghi. The Tarot is a deck of playing cards dating back to the 15th century, used both for games and fortune-telling.

Joan Gavaler, William and Mary professor of dance and co-artistic director of Aura CuriAtlas, has co-choreographed and will perform the piece with fellow principal performers Dan Plehal and Mickey Lonsdale. In 2011, Gavaler did one-person choreography to put movement with a segment featuring nine of the cards.

“You can think of these as branches on a tree,” Gavaler said of ongoing tarot card-themed projects.

Most recently, William and Mary English Professor Nancy Schoenberger suggested a larger collaboration with the dancers featuring the 22 cards of the major arcana deck. Ruminating over the cards and improvising bits at a time, she had worked on the music over the past seven years as it slowly evolved and was shaped by her life’s events.

“Each card has this beautiful symbolism that is completely relevant to stages of our lives,” Serghi said.

“The Fool and the World,” will be performed 7 p.m. March 9 and 2 p.m. March 10 at the Kimball Theatre, 428 W Duke of Gloucester St. General admission tickets are $20 and $12 for students. Tickets can be purchased at wm.edu.

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