A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
November 10, 2005 Volume 36 / Number 3


‘Does science tell us how the world really is?’ and other thoughts from new faculty

A focus on the philosophy of physics

Zanja [ZAHN-jah] Yudell received his PhD in philosophy from Columbia University in 2005. His area of specialization is philosophy of science, with a focus on philosophy of physics. Yudell earned undergraduate degrees in both philosophy and physics from Stanford University. He continued his post-graduate studies in philosophy at Columbia. He was born and raised in Venice, California.

What is philosophy of science?
Philosophy of science is concerned with understanding and questioning the methodology of science, and with figuring out the implications of the content of science. Traditionally, some of the questions of philosophy of science have included What is science? Is there a distinct scientific method? What are the goals of science? Does science tell us how the world really is?

What is philosophy of physics?
Many people come to philosophy having started by studying physics. I suppose that both disciplines offer the promise of helping one figure things out at some fundamental level. There are philosophical issues that come up in relation to physics that are not always well received in physics departments, and so a person is often better off studying those issues in a philosophy department. A philosopher of physics is concerned with being precise about what theories of physics really say about the world, making sense of the difficulties that beset these theories.

Tell us about your research on the conflict between quantum mechanics and relativity, and the nature of fundamental theories.
My dissertation was about inconsistency in scientific theories in general, and I’m trying to apply those results to the case of quantum mechanics and relativity. The paper on fundamental theories is something I’m working on with a colleague from Columbia. It’s about what sense (if any) can be made of the idea that all science reduces to physics, and about a particular argument for that claim.

A commitment to community health

Kristine Warner received a PhD in nursing in 2000 from University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. She did her graduate work at University of South Florida, Tampa, and earned her bachelor’s in nursing from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Prior to coming to CSU, Chico, she was an assistant professor at CSU, Sacramento. She grew up in Livermore, California.

What types of jobs have you had in nursing?
I spent three years on active duty in the Navy, serving at Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Virginia as a staff nurse in adult medicine and pediatrics, and assistant charge nurse of the pediatric ER and clinics. I continued in the Navy Reserves until I retired as a captain in 2002. My most significant position was my deployment to Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm in 1991 with a Navy Fleet Hospital. I have worked as a home care nurse in rural Wisconsin, as a health department nurse in Florida, and for 12 years, a nursing teacher.

What are your research interests?
Community health issues and issues impacting nursing education in this area. I will be working with the Sierra Cascade Nutrition and Activity Consortium.

What are your impressions of CSU, Chico’s nursing program?
First, I am very impressed with the students—they are eager to learn both in the classroom and in the clinical setting. Second, this is one of the best faculty groups I have ever worked with—they work together as a team, they respect each other’s expertise, and they are extremely knowledgeable in their fields. They have also made me feel very welcomed.

Strengthening the link between mental health and learning

Leesa Huang received a PhD in school psychology in 2004 and an educational specialist degree in 1998 from University of Northern Colorado. She earned her bachelor’s in biology and biochemistry at University of Colorado, Boulder. Prior to coming to CSU, Chico, she was a school psychologist in Colorado.

What issues do school psychologists face with children today?
The field of school psychology is undergoing a major paradigm shift from primarily assessing students for special education to a more dynamic, collaborative, and inclusive process. The delivery of school psychological services is complex due to an increasingly diverse student population. Creating safe and supportive learning environments for every student is a tremendous challenge given the critical issues that children face—poverty, violence, substance abuse, bullying, and harassment. With the intense focus on academic achievement, school psychologists must strengthen the link between mental health, learning and behavior so that children have a network of support.

What drew you to the field of school psychology?
I was excited to be able to positively impact children’s learning and success and to collaborate with teachers, parents, and other educational and mental health professionals.

Where are you from originally? How do you like Chico?
I grew up in Colorado and love living in Chico. Its natural beauty, historical roots, and incredibly friendly people make it a wonderful city!

—Lisa Kirk