Home » Future Students

Future Students

Enriching the Lives of Zoo Animals

It was straight out of Wild Kingdom.

Misha, an Amur tiger at Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, approached the horned zebra, batted it with her front paws, then knocked down the prey, which clattered onto a pile of rocks. Resuming her attack, Misha tore off pieces with her powerful teeth, before slashing off the gold unicorn horn and then the entire head.

students constructing zebra-unicorn for tigerBut no live animals were harmed in the making of this production. The zebra, which indeed sported a gold unicorn horn, was constructed by Grinnell College students from animal-safe papier-mâché, paint, and cardboard.

The activity stemmed from Grinnell's Community Service Work-Study program and the Grinnell Science Project, a pre-orientation program for first-year students designed to increase representation from groups underrepresented in the sciences.

Group carries the painted zebra through the zoo“Creation and destruction — together that's our purpose with this project,” says Sunny Zhao ’18, a biology major from Naperville, Ill. “It would have been sad if the tiger hadn’t played with the zebra and destroyed it.”

“It was really satisfying to see the tiger tear the zebra apart,” adds Mackenzie “Max” Semba ’19, an undeclared major from Portland, Maine.

It helped that the zebra’s hollow stomach received a helping of meat before a zookeeper placed it inside the tiger exhibit.

Grinnell students have collaborated with the zoo for four years to make new and exciting enrichment items: giant bowling pins for rhinos and puzzles made from twine, milk cartons, raw pasta noodles, and origami cardboard for monkeys and birds.

Spectators watch though a window as Misha, the tiger, demolishes the zebra-unicornThose items help keep zoo animals active, says Megan Wright Walker, area supervisor for animal health at the zoo. “Here in the zoo we provide food for the animals,” she says. “They don’t have to hunt for a mate. They don’t have to hunt for somewhere to sleep. Enrichment items help to mentally stimulate the animals by giving them a challenge.” 

Sunny Zhao ’18 is a biology major from Naperville, Ill. Mackenzie “Max” Semba ’19 is an undeclared major from Portland, Maine.

Experience

"Students have a lot of influence on this campus," says Pooj Padmaraj '13."They're not just going to class." He talks about how his work as a campus concerts coordinator and his religious studies major are two parts of a holistic Grinnell experience in which academics and cocurriculars often complement and reinforce one another.

Meet Grinnell in a minute and a half, then go deeper with our latest videos (below) about the diverse facets of the Grinnell experience:

Research

"When you get something right in lab, it's like making a birdie or getting a one-putt," says Stephanie Spahr '14. She joins her mentor, chemistry professor Stephen Sieck, to share stories about "failed" experiments, organic chemistry, and finding success in the top programs in the country.

Meet Grinnell in a minute and a half, then go deeper with our latest videos (below) about the diverse facets of the Grinnell experience:

Global Grinnell

"Grinnell put us together. This is the meeting place," says Serbian Kristina Duric '13. She and Californian Cynthia Amezcua '14 talk about international friendships, the global Grinnell family, and living abroad.

Meet Grinnell in a minute and a half, then go deeper with our latest videos (below) about the diverse facets of the Grinnell experience:

 

A scientist's journey to a career in technology

Nicole Lee Snoeberger '09 addressed summer research students in the sciences thanks to the Alumni in the Classroom program. During her lecture on May 31, "Leveraging Research in Chemistry into a Career in Technology Transfer," Snoeberger spoke about the process of technology transfer and how her research led to her career.

After graduating from Grinnell College, Snoeberger stayed on campus as a Mellon Post Bac in the lab of Professor of Chemistry Elaine Marzluff, then she entered graduate school at Yale University and earned a doctorate in chemistry. Snoeberger is currently working as a technology licensing associate in the MIT Technology Licensing Office.

During her visit, Snoeberger also met informally with students after her talk and had meetings with Marzluff's current research students (pictured) and several chemistry faculty. 

Get on Your Bikes and Study!

Try the Libraries’ newest feature — two bike desks located inside Burling’s south end, overlooking Sixth Avenue.  These desks may be just what you need to combine academics and exercise.  

The bikes are completely silent and use little electricity, making them library- and eco-friendly.  You’ll be able to set goals and easily track your progress as the desk console is integrated directly in the armrest showing readouts for workout time, pedal revolutions, distance, calories, and speed. 

Download the Active Trac app from the app store and track your progress. Simply hover your smartphone over the bike desk console to upload your data. That’s it. The data syncs effortlessly. Plus, this feature is free for everyone.

A few other bike desk details:

  • Electric height adjustment from 40” to 53”
  • 2 desktop options — 38” or 48” wide
  •  Integrated padded armrest
  • Apple Health and Google Fit enabled
  • Social media integration via Facebook and Twitter

Enjoy — and happy studying and peddling!

Artistic Collaborations Online

Sasha Middeldorp ’18 and Arch Williams ’18, both members of Grinnell Singers, are helping launch a new project called the Grinnell Virtual Choir. In the project's most recent video, 25 singers used the technology to perform a movement from Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil.

In a virtual choir, each participant records one or more individual singing parts of a particular song, and the videos are then synchronized and combined into a group performance.

In the current video, Middeldorp and Williams are among the singers testing virtual choir technology and demonstrating how it works. It’s the first step in introducing both a testing tool for better choir singing and a new opportunity for musical interaction among alumni and current students.

User Friendly

Middledorp says she found her initial singing experience to be “simple and straightforward” from a technological standpoint. “I only had to practice once or twice to figure out some of the logistics,” Middeldorp says. “I was in a practice room, and I just recorded it on whatever video recorder is built in on the computer and watched John [Rommereim] conduct on the same device.”

Williams did the same “after finding a quiet spot in my house where I could sing,” he says. “I did a couple of takes before submitting my video. I adjusted based on the recordings of my own voice and as I got a better handle on the music.”

Taking Ownership

One of the goals of the virtual choir project is to develop innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Using videos to record individual parts may provide a better way to test and evaluate the contribution of singers and improve their accountability in the chorus.

“Often in choir you think you know your lines but you’re just relying on the person next to you,” Middeldorp says. “When it’s just you singing alone you really take ownership over the music. One of the great benefits of this is that you know if you’re truly solid on your part independently.”

The Grinnell Singers have already begun putting virtual choir technology to the test as a rehearsal tool. They are using it to practice Duruflé’s Requiem for a combined concert with the Grinnell Oratorio Society later this spring.

“I think that using virtual choir capabilities will be an exciting experience and will help us learn the music in a new, cool, and different way then we normally do in class,” Williams says.

Learning the Technology

Austin Morris ’15, a mathematics major and Grinnell Singers alumnus, is the talent behind the scenes. He says learning to synchronize audio and video files from various devices has been challenging but worthwhile. Innovation Fund support for the project helped secure dedicated equipment for his work.

“Once we get the videos from all the people that we contact, it’s my job to put them all together in the final project,” Morris says. “My goal is to make it look as good and complete as possible.”

Fun and Inspiring

“The main goal of the Grinnell Virtual Choir is to create an online platform that facilitates choral performances that are connected virtually,” says John Rommereim, Blanche Johnson Professor of Music. “It’s a way to engage alumni in an artistic way so they can collaborate with current students and with each other.”

Current singers and alumni are invited to contribute additional vocal parts on All-Night Vigil and other works via the website. In addition to instructions for accessing the score and conducting video, the site offers musical and technical tips for getting a workable recording.

Essentially, singers can make it as simple as putting on earbuds and singing into their phones or laptops.

“We want it to be fun and a little inspiring,” Rommereim says. “We’re hoping it will blossom into a significant artistic endeavor.” 

Sasha Middeldorp ’18 is an anthropology major from Northfield, Minn. Arch Williams ’18 is a chemistry and political science double major from Minneapolis.

Experiential Learning in Burling Library this Summer



Experiential learning is alive and well at Grinnell College in the summer. Current summer MAP students from every discipline and a few  summer interns on campus are having a complimentary lunch with  Maria Tapias at MAP luncheon 2016prospective students and their families every Monday and Friday in Burling Library. These lunches, sponsored by the Office of Admission, provide prospective students an opportunity to meet current students and find out about the cool things they are doing over the summer in Grinnell.

2016 Research Award Winners

Grinnell College librarians Julia Bauder, Kevin Engel, and Phil Jones are recipients of the 2016 Research Award from the Iowa Chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries. Their article, Mixed or Complementary Messages: Making the Most of Unexpected Assessment Results,” was published this March in College & Research Libraries, 77(2), 197-211. Read their remarks upon accepting the award during the ILA/ACRL 2016 Spring Conference.  

Summer Research in Chemistry is Underway

Chemistry summer research has begun! Thirty-five students are working with ten faculty mentors in the chemistry department on a variety of projects, such as conductivity of lithium electrolytes, dynamics and synthesis of biological molecules, biogeochemistry in aquatic systems, and the use of metal oxides as photocatalysts.

Safety training is a priority before lab work commences. One session involved all participating students practicing to use a fire extinguisher. 

Besides literature searches and bench work, chemistry's summer program also involves presentations from research groups and a culminating poster session. The department will host two social picnics throughout the summer as well. 

Research projects are funded by various sources, including Grinnell College's MAP program and Erickson fund, and grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation's Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation.