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Neil Weintraub'86 honored for work in National Forest

Neil Weintraub field school recordingNeil Weintraub '86, a Kaibab National Forest archaeologist, was named the 2015 “Professional Archaeologist” of the year by the Arizona Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission for his significant contributions to the protection and preservation of, and education about, Arizona’s non-renewable archaeological resources.

“Neil’s commitment to public archaeology and education goes way beyond what is required of a federal archaeologist,” said Ann Howard, who nominated Weintraub. “His dedication, commitment and enjoyment of sharing the stewardship message and ethic with the public make him stand out.”

Weintraub has been an archaeologist with Kaibab National Forest for 25 years. As part of his duties, he surveys National Forest lands for cultural resources, identifies and documents the sites that are discovered, and then ensures they are monitored and protected.

Weintraub provides dozens of outreach and interpretive programs annually. He also oversees many of Kaibab National Forest’s volunteer partners including Grinnell College interns, Arizona Site Stewards, rock art researchers, Passport in Time participants, and individual volunteers, who contribute thousands of hours each year toward the management, protection, documentation, and interpretation of heritage resources across the forest.

“Given our challenging multiple use mission, protecting and preserving these sites would be nearly impossible if it were not for the relationships and mutual trust that have been built with our partners over many years,” Weintraub said. “We have countless examples in which permittees, seasonal employees, volunteers, local residents, or others have told us about previously undiscovered sites. We investigate their discoveries by walking the landscape with them and having them help us with archaeological documentation. Forging these relationships has always brought mutual benefits, as I have often learned more from them than they do from me. Most importantly we have all those extra eyes helping us protect and preserve these ancient, fragile places.”

Weintraub’s contributions go beyond even cultural resource preservation, though, to a broader commitment to community, Howard pointed out. Specifically, she included Weintraub’s long-term work as a volunteer with the northern Arizona’s Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. She described how he always finds ways to get the youth who are involved in the program interested in Arizona’s precious past.

“Neil has a never-ceasing enthusiasm for raising the awareness of the citizens of Arizona, especially the children,” Howard said. “Making children sensitive to the fragility of our state’s non-renewable heritage resources is absolutely critical to the future protection and preservation of Arizona’s cultural resources.”

Broadening the Mind

Off-campus study (OCS) is a major part of the Grinnell experience, in part because so many students — nearly 60 percent — spend at least one semester away from campus. That was one of the reasons Florian Perret ’15 chose Grinnell. “I have this wanderlust,” he says. “I wanted to get out of the U.S. to expand my horizons and get out there.”

Exploring the World

“I wanted to go to Japan since I was a kid,” says Perret. He participated in an intensive Japanese language program at Nanzan University in Nagoya where he also took courses in culture and art, Japanese religion, calligraphy, and traditional woodblock printing. "That last one was my favorite class when I was there,” he says. “You get a block of wood and carve out the image; doing those for a semester was cathartic.”

He spent his time outside of class exploring the city and the surrounding area, playing Frisbee, and once climbing Mount Fuji and watching the dawn break from the summit. “My study abroad experience was life-changing,” he says. That’s one of the reasons he’s going back through the Japan Exchange & Teaching Program. He also wants to engage more with the culture. “I’m doing an independent study on the perception and understanding of nature in Japan,” he says. “I want to go back to both see the implications of and further the research I’ve done here.”

Changing Her Perceptions

Emily Stuchiner ’15’s perception of off-campus study changed drastically between her first year and when she participated in the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) program in South Africa. “When I thought of off-campus study, I thought of getting drunk in Europe. I didn’t anticipate how rigorous it would be.” Stuchiner wouldn’t trade her OCS experience for anything. “It was so intense,” she says, “and incredibly rewarding. This is one of the most hardcore ecology programs out there and gave me the opportunity to do so much field research.” The program took her all over South Africa, including the famed Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa. “You’re essentially surrounded by the iconic African megafauna there,” she says.

Finding Her Passion

Before her semester abroad, Stuchiner considered pursuing medical school. But after a summer internship doing cancer research made her “a horrible hypochondriac,” she was thrilled to immerse herself, that fall, in the world of biological field research. Her education extended far beyond mere academics. “That semester [in South Africa] taught me a lot about patience and going with it,” she says. “Because there are times that you’re in the field and it’s hot and things aren’t going right and you just want to stick your head in a termite mound.”

The same lesson applied to the living situation during her semester abroad. “It’s communal living,” she says. “You’re always going to be around the same people and you have to work out your issues.” She says her study abroad experience enhanced her ability to communicate effectively, cohabitate civilly, and not fly off the handle. She ended up as a member of a well-bonded crew that shared a unique OCS experience.

After graduation, Stuchiner will be a naturalist intern at the Walking Mountain Science Center in Vail, Colo. Long-term, she will be applying to graduate school to study plant ecology.

Without their off-campus study experiences, Perret and Stuchiner might not have realized the depths of their passions or attempted to pursue them. “If I had known five years ago where I would be headed this summer,” says Perret, “I’d be ecstatic.”

Florian Perret ’15 is an anthropology major from Katonah, N.Y. and Emily Stuchiner ’15 is a biology major with a concentration in environmental studies from New York, N.Y.

Maria Tapias Selected for Leadership Academy

Maria TapiasMaria Tapias, associate dean of Grinnell College, is one of 28 mid-level administrators in higher education nationwide selected by the Council of Independent Colleges to participate in a year-long Senior Leadership Academy.

The program, which is for administrators in higher education who are nominated by their institutions, is designed to prepare prospective leaders to assume positions as the chief officers in higher education. As a program participant, Tapias will hone her campus leadership skills by developing a professional experience plan and attending two seminars held in the Washington, D.C., area.

Tapias, who holds degrees in cultural anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, serves in several capacities at Grinnell. In the office of the dean, she serves as associate dean of the College and the president’s senior adviser for diversity.  She is also associate professor of anthropology, having taught in the anthropology department since 2001.

During her time at Grinnell, Tapias has served in numerous roles, including interim chair of the department of Spanish, chair of the department of anthropology, and chair of the Latin American studies concentration. She was a visiting scholar at the Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies at the University of California-San Diego in 2004. Her research interests include women’s and infants’ health, the anthropology of emotions, transnationalism, and Latin American studies.

Tapias was selected to participate in the program from a diverse pool of applicants. “Competition for the available places in the program was intense,” says Richard Ekman, president of the Council for Independent Colleges, “and the review committee and I believe that Ms. Tapias has the potential for highly effective leadership in a position of senior responsibility on campus.”

Andelson, Chen at Iowa Humanities Festival

Two faculty members from Grinnell College will deliver presentations at the Iowa Humanities Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, April 10-11.

Iowa Humanities Festival LogoThe Iowa Humanities Festival welcomes Iowans to explore significant themes through the lens of the academic and public humanities. This year’s theme, "The Elusive Prairie," will be explored from the perspectives of the arts, biology, history, literature, performance, and religion. Presenters from across the state will be featured in the two-day festival.

Presenters from Grinnell are:

Jeremy Chen, assistant professor of art
9:45 a.m. Saturday, April 11, at the Des Moines Art Center, 4700 Grand Ave.
In "Taking Sculpture for a Walk: Prairie as Site," Chen will explain how a prairie site has infused his artwork with new meanings, and will share further thoughts on his creative process.
Jonathan Andelson, professor of anthropology
3:15 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at Salisbury House, 4025 Tonawanda Drive
Andelson will present "Metaphor and Meaning in Early French Descriptions of 'La Prairie.' " Andelson, founder of Grinnell's Center for Prairie Studies, has conducted research on the earliest French explorers and missionaries in Iowa and the Upper Mississippi Valley and their views of the prairie landscapes they encountered there. His analysis of the first impressions of these settlers offers an interpretation of what has been lost and gained by the conversion of prairie into farmland.

The Iowa Humanities Festival is a ticketed event. Registration is $10. Information on parking and accessibility at each venue can be found at the venues’ websites. 


BAX Student Exhibition

The Bachelor of Arts Exhibition (BAX), which features works in the creative arts by students at Grinnell College, will open with a reception at 4:15 p.m. Friday, April 10, at the Faulconer Gallery, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

BAX is an exhibition of works by advanced art students. This year, the exhibition will feature works by 26 students. Though many of this year's artists major in studio art, some are pursuing an additional major such as anthropology or computer science. Other majors represented include English, theatre, and biological chemistry. Works on view include painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, mixed media, and installations.

Students on the art and art history department's student educational policy committee organize the exhibition. This year's organizers are Becky Garner ’15, Eden Marek ’15, Maria Shevelkina ’15, David Cambronero-Sanchez ’16, Hannah Condon ’16, Eliza Harrison ’16, Glenys Hunt ’16, Hazel Batrezchavez ’17, Xena Fitzgerald ’17, and Lauren Roush ’17. The organizers designed a catalog to accompany the exhibition.

The exhibition is designed by Faulconer Gallery director of exhibition design Milton Severe and coordinated by director Lesley Wright. The exhibition is adjudicated by artist in residence Laleh Khorramian, a visual artist from New York with extensive experience in painting, drawing, animation and digital media. Khorramian will select most of the yearly prizes in studio art, which will be announced at the opening reception.

The exhibition will be on view through May 3. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, and admission is free.

John Whittaker Book Release

Cover: Exploring and Explaining Diversity in Agricultural Technology, edited by Annelou van Gijn, John Whittaker, and Patricia C. AndersonJoin Professor of Anthropology John Whittaker for a celebration of the release of his new book Exploring and Explaining Diversity in Agricultural Technology, at 4:15 p.m., Monday, February 9 in ARH Room 102. Light refreshments will be served and all are welcome to attend!

The book is the second volume in the EARTH monograph series. It provides interdisciplinary overviews of the skills and social context of non-industrial agriculture.

Subjects covered include

  • an introduction to the dimension of tools, skills, and processes,
  • land clearance and preparation,
  • sowing and tending crops,
  • harvesting techniques,
  • threshing processes and tools,
  • food storage and preservation, and
  • cereal processing and cooking.

The book also covers the social context of agricultural technology, including agrarian knowledge transmission, symbolism, and legal aspects, as well as change and stability in agricultural practices.

The event is provided with generous support from the Dean’s office.

Choose Your Own

Are you ready to shape your own learning? The individually advised curriculum at Grinnell College puts you in charge.

There’s only one required course outside of your major, the First-Year Tutorial. So each semester you’ll have 16­–18 credits for exploring the academic world.

Regardless of the courses you choose, you’ll learn how to think critically, to communicate well orally and in writing, and to work collaboratively with a diverse group of people.

You’ll have a guide for your academic explorations. Your First-Year Tutorial professor will also serve as your academic adviser until you declare a major.

Finding Unexpected Interests

One of the main reasons Emma Lingle ’18 chose Grinnell was because of its open curriculum. “It gives you time to figure out what you want to do,” she says. During her first semester, fall 2014, she took courses in anthropology, environmental systems science, French, and her tutorial, A History of Food in the United States.

Anthropology was a new subject for Lingle and she thoroughly enjoyed it. “I love the idea of learning about different cultures,” she says, “and because I love to travel so much I like the idea of knowing the origins of so many people’s ways of life.”

So when it came time to register for spring classes, another anthro class was at the top of her list. Lingle’s adviser, Assistant Professor of History Al Lacson, says, “I am thrilled when students identify an unexpected intellectual interest.”

He likes to ask students why they find a particular academic discipline interesting. “It’s important for their growth to think about the kind of questions and issues that matter most to them,” he says.

Lingle also appreciates Grinnell’s reputation in the sciences. To flesh out her technical side this spring, after going light on it last fall, she’s taking chemistry and intro to statistics. “College isn’t the time where you close off your possibilities for the future. College is something that should open you up to all the possibilities,” she says.

Lingle says, “A lot of my friends knew what they wanted to do already, at the end of our first semester.” That can be intimidating for students like Lingle, who is still exploring. But she found reassurance from Lacson.  

“There’s a reason students don’t need to formally choose a major until their second year,” he says. “The point of college is to help students figure out their interests — not just service interests that were developed as high school students. College years provide students with an opportunity to determine the kind of public and private self that they want to fashion for themselves.”

Designing Your Own Major

Students who don’t identify a major quickly may also find reassurance in the story of Amul Gyawali ’15. An international student from Katmandu, Nepal, Gyawali chose Grinnell because he wanted the option of taking classes in any department he might find interesting. He says, “You have the opportunity of developing a side interest. Academically that helps you. You end up getting a well-rounded education.”

One class that especially shaped Gyawali’s direction was History of the Modern Middle East with Caleb Elfenbein, assistant professor of history and of religious studies. “The class opened my eyes,” Gyawali says. “It made me realize how important the colonial legacies still are in the region and how interested I was in the subject.”

Gyawali was so interested that he developed an independent major in colonial and post-colonial studies with Elfenbein and Shuchi Kapila, professor of English, as his advisers. “Grinnell’s open curriculum helps you take ownership of your education,” Gyawali says. “At the same time, you’re working very closely with your advisers. The adviser-student relationship is what makes it all work.”

Gyawali adds that the professors have the highest degrees in their field — they know their stuff. “They also work hard to get to know you — your personal interests and your academic interests,” he says. “So when they give you personal, well-crafted advice for your sake, it makes it a little bit more comforting.”

Whether you pursue an established major or craft your own, the individually advised curriculum puts you and your intellectual needs and desires at the center.

Emma Lingle ’18 is from Webster Groves, Mo. Amul Gyawali ’15 is from Katmandu, Nepal.

Alumna Shares Career Insights, Offers Advice

Jocelyn Wyatt ’99 understands the power of good advice. Fourteen years ago, the anthropology major wanted to travel internationally and change the world. She took a professor’s advice and now leads an international nonprofit organization.

These days when she speaks with students, she’s the one giving the advice.

Her advice for Grinnellians

“It’s not about the quantity of the people in your network or the connections that you have on LinkedIn or the number of the people that you’ve emailed once,” she says. “It’s really about maintaining or developing real relationships — in-depth relationships with people who can help you and mentor you in your career search while you’re at Grinnell and beyond.”

Wyatt is the co-lead and executive director of IDEO.org, a nonprofit that fights global poverty through design.

“The combination of anthropology and a liberal arts education — combined with an MBA — is really what has allowed me to both have broad-based perspectives and an orientation toward learning that Grinnell provided, with some of the more specific skill sets around management and running an organization that I was able to get through business school.”

Doug Caulkins, professor emeritus of anthropology, has taught “alumni enriched” courses for more than 10 years. On average, 30 alumni participate in these courses annually. Wyatt spoke in two of Caulkins’ classes.

He teaches:

  • Solutions: Managing Entrepreneurship & Innovation, in which alumni innovators, like Wyatt, talk about their social and business enterprises.
  • Creative Careers: Learning from the Alumni, in which Grinnellians return to participate in the Friday afternoon class to advise the 50 to 80 students who take this class each spring semester.

“Alumni are, in an important sense, pioneers who have gone out into the world of work and career and are coming back to Grinnell to report to current students on the world that they are about to enter,” Caulkins says.

Tackling inequality and injustice

Jocelyn Wyatt ’99 standing in front of work board covered in post-it notesIDEO.org is headquartered in San Francisco, Calif. and manages 15-20 design projects worldwide each year. The organization has grown from two co-founders in 2011 to 32 employees. It is the nonprofit arm of the design and innovation firm, IDEO.

Wyatt, who also serves on the Grinnell Prize selection committee, is committed to sharing her expertise with Grinnellians.

“There’s so much positive change that’s happening in the world that it’s hard not to be optimistic that it’s going to continue,” she says.