On a campus bristling with high-speed digital technology, the combination of a big board and a piece of dusty chalk or a felt-tipped pen retains its purpose, promoting collegial conversation with a backdrop of questions and ideas writ large. Senior photographer Lee Pellegrini sought out the black, green, and white boards that salt the Chestnut Hill Campus’s hallways, conference spaces, lounges, 160-plus classrooms, and more than 70 laboratories, as the fall semester neared its conclusion and as the spring semester began.

Associate professor of physics Jan Engelbrecht and Tong Yang

In a blackboard-lined alcove on the third floor of Higgins Hall, associate professor of physics Jan Engelbrecht (who studies synchrony—in an audience clapping hands or in the orbits of pairs of electrons in a superconductor) talks with doctoral candidate Tong Yang about the advantages of a particular class of oscillators in building machine learning neural networks.

Cubicles assigned to graduate students in the economics department

Cubicles assigned to graduate students in the economics department on the third floor of Maloney Hall come with individual whiteboards. The one in the foreground is used by Joseph Cooprider, a Ph.D. candidate who applies machine learning to the study of heterogeneity in consumer demand.

Associate biology professor Timothy Van Opijnen's office

On a wall in the fourth-floor Higgins Hall office of associate biology professor Timothy Van Opijnen, a birthday greeting for a student researcher claims space amid notes from Opijnen’s discussions with colleagues regarding analytic techniques and potential experiment outcomes. Opijnen studies microbial systems.

Blackboards in Robsham Theater

Double doors in the Robsham Theater scene shop were converted to blackboards in 2017 by students using chalkboard paint. Courtney Licata, the theater department’s scenic charge artist, records equipment needs on them.

Ralf Gawlick's classroom

During his music theory course “Counterpoint,” Ralf Gawlick, associate professor of music, explores fifth species three-part counterpoint with his students, including Conor Ancharski ’20 (foreground), in a fourth-floor Lyons Hall classroom. Gawlick says he likes the “real-time” quality of a board and chalk.

Professor Ziqiang Wang's office

Professor Ziqiang Wang, who studies condensed matter physics, prefers not to erase his office blackboard in Higgins Hall. He writes around and over earlier work and, when necessary, turns to boards in the department’s common spaces.

John Baldwin’s office

On associate professor John Baldwin’s whiteboard are pentagrams representing a collection of 4-dimensional spaces. Baldwin’s specialty in mathematics is topology—the study of shape and space—and the board, he says, helps with “the visualization of complicated objects.” His office is in Maloney Hall.

Connell School of Nursing’s simulation hospital ward

Notes herald a session of “Adult Health Nursing I: Clinical Laboratory” in the Connell School of Nursing’s simulation hospital ward, on the second floor of Maloney Hall. Taught by Eileen Sullivan, assistant director of the school’s learning laboratories, and clinical assistant professor Luanne Nugent, the course introduces second-year students, who are embarking on their first hospital clinicals, to procedures and issues they will encounter.

Fuxin Zhai and Yoshibumi Makabe in economics classroom

Fuxin Zhai (right) and Yoshibumi Makabe, both Ph.D. candidates, in the economics department’s Maloney Hall computer room, with notations made by fellow students on the boards beyond. “When working on mathematically complex models,” says department chair Christopher Baum, whose field is econometrics, “computers do some of the work for you, but there is no substitute for writing it out and working through the math on a board.”

Ikram Easton's classroom

In a second-floor Lyons Hall classroom, Ikram Easton (red jacket), professor of the practice in the Slavic and Eastern languages and literatures department, instructs Katherine Farrell ’21 and Georges AbouKasm ’21 as they work their way, right to left, through an Arabic writing exercise in the course “Elementary Arabic.”

Hockey coach Jerry York instructs players

During a men’s hockey practice in Conte Forum, head coach Jerry York instructs his players from the whiteboard, including forwards Marc McLaughlin (25), a freshman, and Aapeli Rasanen (22), a sophomore.

Students in psychology lab

In associate professor of psychology Liane Young’s Morality Lab on the third floor of Higgins Hall, lab manager Joshua Hirschfeld-Kroen (left) and Ryan McManus, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology, discuss a technique for analyzing brain imaging data.

Kathryn Lindsey and Robert Meyerhoff

In a common area on the fifth floor of Maloney Hall, assistant professor of mathematics Kathryn Lindsey and professor Robert Meyerhoff discuss mathematical foundations of neural networks as part of a research project led by their department colleague professor Elisenda Grigsby.

Backstage at the Bonn Studio Theater

These scrawled lines from "Romeo and Juliet" and "Hamlet" survive backstage at the Bonn Studio Theater following a Shakespeare performance workshop led by the actor Maurice Parent, this year’s J. Donald Monan, SJ, Professor in Theater Arts. Slashes indicate stressed syllables in the Bard’s iambic pentameter cadence.