ACUMEN Spring 2022

COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES 3 ubiquitin moieties or by binding and releasing scaffolding proteins to close the channels and allow them to interact with the endocytic machinery. Cells use the endocytic adaptor protein AP-2 in conjunction with clathrin and other mechanisms to create pathways to internalize gap junctions. Falk and his colleagues, including former Ph.D. student Caitlin Hyland ’21, study how the loss of a specific C-terminal region known to regulate gap junction turnover, affects gap junction function. They found that the C-terminal deletion causes defective gap junction endocytosis, resulting in increased gap junction intercellular communication. Increased Cx43 protein content in zebrafish, specifically in the cardiac tissue, larger gap junction plaques and longer Cx43 protein half-life, coincides with severely impaired development. In the lab, Cx43 zebrafish show severe defects of the cardiovascular system, including malformed, elongated hearts, decreased heart rate, malformed, unorganized vasculature and impaired blood flow, indicating that undisturbed gap junction endocytosis is crucial for normal organ development. The team has demonstrated for the first time that Cx43 gap junction endocytosis is an essential aspect of gap junction function and, when impaired, gives rise to significant pathologies, including cardiovascular defects. ENGLISH GLORIA NAYLOR ARCHIVES Gloria Naylor was one of America’s most highly acclaimed contemporary authors whose work addressed social issues including poverty, racism, sexism and homophobia. She left an extensive archive of her personal papers to Sacred Heart University, and a team of Lehigh researchers are leading a collaborative effort to make her collected papers more available to scholars and the general public. Funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Gloria Naylor Archive is making the papers associated with her life and works widely accessible. It is both a physical space, where visitors can view Naylor’s papers in person, and an online resource with select archival materials. The initial part of the project assessed 47 linear feet of material. “These papers really document a writer at work,” says project co-director Suzanne Edwards, associate professor of English. “Naylor kept extensive correspondence with contemporary writers, scholars and activists, drafts of her novels and nonfiction essays, research materials, information about her film production company and unpublished works.” “The archives are a treasure trove of literary history, especially Black women’s literary history in the late 20th century and into the 21st century,” adds co-director Mary Foltz, associate professor of English. “Sacred Heart University had done a fantastic job preserving the material and yet could really use collaborative support to make the archive accessible through digitization, through the creation of a finding aid, which Suzanne developed in the first year. “In addition, our team has worked on digitization of key materials related to her first four novels and creating a webpage to highlight these materials. In this way, we hope to attract greater scholarly research in the archives and support public access to Naylor’s papers,” Foltz says. To date, approximately onethird of the documents have been digitized. The NEH support allows the team to expand its efforts, focusing on academic and public-facing writing. Archives of Black women writers have historically been less accessible and sequestered for a variety of reasons, Edwards notes. “Long term, we hope that the project offers a collaborative, multi-institution model for accessoriented work with other Black women writers’ papers,” she says. With the NEH funding, Edwards and Foltz will work with Professor Maxine Lavon Montgomery of Florida State University to produce an edited volume of essays engaged with the archive. “To my knowledge, this is the first time that a group of scholars will be deeply engaging with the archives in an edited collection,” Foltz says. TRACY DEER-MIREK / SACRED HEART UNIVERSITY Gloria Naylor