Jozsef Devenyi, recent alum of PLAYA residency program for artists and scientists, is a professor of chemistry at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He spent his nine-day stay updating an organic chemistry lab manual — adding, revising, and reconducting experiments — as well as enjoying the bounty of PLAYA’s pond. Jozsef is an enthusiastic fisherman. He balanced work and play at PLAYA in large part around when the pond fish were biting. He is also a longtime instructor whose manual has been in use in classrooms for decades. The manual needs updating, he says, from time to time. Sometimes an update is a response to a laboratory upgrade or to evolving methods. Whatever the reason, Jozsef keeps his popular manual up to date.

He learned about PLAYA through his best friend, Attila Jurescka, a PLAYA board member and part-time resident of Summer Lake. He applied through the blind juried process and was accepted, then arranged his travel schedule around his busy academic calendar.

Because he arrived a week later than the rest of the group, Jozsef’s timeline to complete and submit the final draft of the manuscript to the publisher was tight–nine days to be exact.

Jozsef, what were some highlights of your residency?

For me, PLAYA infused her therapeutic remedy into my efficiency, my ability to focus, and surprisingly, my creative vein, which I had thought barely trickled if it flowed at all. However, the quiet surroundings and the uninterrupted flow of time presented the ideal environment. I was much more productive and efficient than I expected was possible.

Overall, I managed to complete, in nine days, the revision of the entire manuscript, which usually takes me about three to four weeks. Usually I’ve had to work on revisions of the new edition in my office at the university.

Thanks to PLAYA, the entire staff — Becca, Chelsea, Shawna, Mark, Trina, and Ashley — I produced a miracle in nine days!

How do you think the land and waterscapes here affected your work?

PLAYA is the ninth wonder of the world. Its captivatingly calm aura and its majestic surroundings alleviated the tight time frame I had to work with. Curiously enough, the few roadblocks I ran into during my writing and editing essentially melted into unexpected assets for the manual experiments. I admit that was quite a surprise and a nice bonus as well.

[Editor’s note: We queried Jozsef as to whether he meant that PLAYA is the “eighth” wonder of the world. He confirmed, however, that his wording was intentional and that, after the scores of unofficial eighth wonders of the world, PLAYA is the official ninth.]


Edge effects in ecological science are the “influences of border communities upon each other” (Brittanica.com). PLAYA alumni, friends, guests, and neighbors are invited to submit blog posts that explore the diverse influences experienced here or because of time spent with us—whether the effects are among disciplines, environments, relationships, or communities. Email PLAYA’s Executive Director to join this conversation.