Home » Faculty


The Fantastic Chinese House

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)


Chinese language students and native speakers: looking for companionship, the excitement of campus life, the privacy of being off campus, and loads of fun and good food?

Check out Chinese House — it truly has it all.

On the edge of the college campus, Chinese House is between German House and the Office for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice. The house offers one single and one double room on the first floor, and two single and two double rooms on the second floor. At the moment, there are seven residents — six girls and one guy. Any students taking Chinese courses or native speakers who wish to live in a Chinese-speaking cultural environment can apply to live in Chinese House after their first year. As a resident for three semesters in Chinese House, I have always enjoyed the wonderful house dinners, events, and residents there.

With more than 30 native and heritage speakers on campus, the Chinese language learning experience is one of the best that colleges of Grinnell’s size can offer. The friendly and cultured atmosphere in the house attracts many students and faculty members to cook dinners, watch movies and play Dance Dance Revolution or Magic: The Gathering.

Although Chinese House residents always welcome visitors, the house itself is great for people who want privacy, quiet, and individual space. As with all the College-owned language and project houses, only the house residents have keycard access to the front door. Compared to residence halls, which all students can enter, living in Chinese House is a more private option that still retains the excitement of college life.

Living in Chinese House is fun and convenient. Although technically off campus, Chinese House has a great location, even compared to most of residence halls. It is right across the street from the Alumni Recitation Hall, where most of the social science departments hold their classes, and about 100 meters away from the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, which contains the dining hall and is the center of the campus activities.

Chinese House always has good meals, and we take advantage of our spacious kitchen and two big refrigerators. Once every fall semester, professors and students make dumplings and other delicacies for anyone who is Chinese or enjoys Chinese language and culture. On the weekends, the Chinese House kitchen is filled with people who come to enjoy the delicious food, tea, and pleasant company. Residents often bring ethnic ingredients from Chinese markets in their hometowns to cook on a regular basis. Some common dishes are: spicy tofu, vegetable stew, stir-fry, fried rice, noodles, and—the all-time favorite—bubble tea. One Friday in February, Stephanie Wang ’11, the master chef of Chinese House, organized a traditional celebration for Lunar New Year with mouth-watering food and lovely company. We cooked new-year cake, red bean soup and rice balls, and together we chatted for two hours about work, college and life in general.

The experience of living in Chinese House is similar to that of the residence halls, while still maintaining the advantages of flexible and private off-campus living.

Liting Cong '11 is a Sociology Major and Policy Studies Concentrator from Shanghai, China.

Intro to Grinnellian Dating

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)


On the opening day of New Student Orientation, all the first-year students gather in Darby Gym for the welcome ceremony. During speeches and words of wisdom, the new Grinnellians learn one especially noteworthy statistic: 60 percent of Grinnellians marry other Grinnellians.

Remember, they tell us, this does include alumni who met after their tenure at Grinnell. But the excited whisperings that go around the room pay no heed. The thought that their soul mate could be in that very same room at that very moment runs rampant through everyone’s head.

For most people, however, this statistic also forces consideration of that one unanswered question: what does this mean about the dating culture at Grinnell?

What strikes me most about dating at Grinnell is the incredible diversity you’ll find within relationships. For starters, crossdisciplinary dating is the norm. We have pairings of math and history, computer science and religious studies, and English and physics, to name a few. In fact, finding a couple dating within the same field is rare at Grinnell. Similarly, cross-cultural dating is not uncommon either. Grinnellians often gravitate toward those who aren’t just like them … which only makes the relationship more interesting. From holding hands to holding your ground in a debate about the merits and demerits of globalization, the Grinnell dating scene embodies the diversity of the student body.

As far as the practical aspects of dating go, there are plenty of places to meet interesting people who share your interests. Often people connect through a club — an a capella choir group, salsa dancing, GSPAN (Grinnell Student Peace Action Network), the Scarlet & Black (the College newspaper), the Stonewall Coalition (a student group of lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, gay, and allied students), and the like.

Consequently, the general trend I’ve found is that the let’s-go-get-a-cup-of-coffee culture is not quite as prevalent at Grinnell as it is elsewhere. Most relationships blossom out of good friendships, and many relationships end up being long-term. That’s not to say casual dating doesn’t exist, but if you are looking for a relationship, your best bet would be to start by building friendships.

While no one can guarantee you’ll find your soul mate at Grinnell, you will meet some of the most lovable people in your life here. You’ll make lifelong friends – and hey, you never know when a friend can turn into something more!

Sunanda Vaidheesh '12 is a Sociology Major and Global Development Studies Concentrator from Mumbai, India.

The Grinnell Coincidence

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)


Choosing a college is hard — no one is going to argue that. Which is why sometimes little things like a squirrel can help make those decisions a whole lot easier.

My parents and I named it Blondie. True to its name, it was tanner than the rest of the Wisconsin squirrels, but with a distinctly red hue. It moved into our backyard my senior year of high school around the time I was plagued with the horrible “which college?” decision.

My mom spotted it first. “It’s a Grinnell squirrel!” she cried. “It’s a Grinnell squirrel! Molly, it’s a sign.”

True, Grinnell squirrels are unique when compared to other gray squirrels in the Midwest. Whether due to inbreeding or some weird genetic drift, they are, in fact, tanner than normal with a distinctly red hue. In the fall, they can also gorge themselves on acorns until they’re the size of a cat, but that’s neither here nor there.

While I made my college decision based on a number of factors that did not involve squirrels, it’s the little coincidences that make me confident my decision was right.

Given the smaller size of the school, Grinnellians are plagued with a surprisingly large number of coincidences — alums running into current students, students running into other students. During summer break,Alex Cohn ’11 was flying between Washington, D.C., and San Francisco when he ran into one of his floormates in the Denver airport. The time I visited Dan Covino ’10 on the East Coast, we ran into two of our classmates in Philadelphia outside the Liberty Bell Center. Before I even made it to my house for Thanksgiving my senior year, I stopped at the store to get some granola bars and there was Grinnell alum Nicole Spear ’08, who had moved to my hometown after graduating.

When Liz Reischmann ’12 flew in from Florida to visit Grinnell her senior year of high school, she was plagued with flight delays that left her stranded for more than 12 hours in the Detroit airport. Frustrated beyond belief, she was on the verge of asking the airport to just send her home. Standing in line, she noticed that the girl standing ahead of her had a squirrel on her T-shirt. “Isn’t the squirrel the unofficial mascot of Grinnell?” she thought. “That’s funny.” The girl was on the phone and as they both stood there, Liz overheard her talking to her friends.“Sorry, I’m not going to make it to the concert,” she said. “It’s just taking a long time to get to Grinnell.”

Turns out that girl standing in line was Huiting Liu ’10. While they waited for their flight, the two talked and talked and talked, and when Liz finally arrived on campus, she was treated to a 3 a.m. tour of campus.

More than anything, Chris Hildebrand ’10 wanted to get out of Connecticut for college. Still, the beginning of his junior year when, acting in his role of student adviser, he helped move in the new class of first-years, he couldn’t believe his eyes when he picked up a box marked “West Hartford, Conn.” Fun fact: turned out back home he and Sarah Mayer ’12, the girl whose box he was carrying, lived just four miles from each other.

These are the kind of stories that don’t really mean anything significant in the long run, but that stay with you all the same. Even if you’re only at Grinnell for eight months a year for four years of your life, the school has this habit of staying with you until your dying day. Kinda like mono. … But without the getting sick part …

OK, you know what I mean.

Molly Rideout '10 is an English Major and Gender and Women's Studies concentrator from Madison, Wisconsin.

The Effect of Endocannabinoids at the Crayfish Neuromuscular Junction

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)


Endocannabinoids are a widely studied family of molecules that act as neurotransmitters and influence synaptic plasticity. Endocannabinoids have been extensively studied in the frog and lizard neuromuscular junction. However, this study assessed the effects of arachidonylcyclopropylamide (ACPA), an agonist to the CB1 cannabinoid receptor, in the crayfish neuromuscular juction. We found that the addition of ACPA decreased the excitatory post synaptic response. We cannot conclusively determine if an endocannabinoid analogue utilizes the CB1 receptor pathway in the crayfish neuromuscular junction.


Cannabinoids are a group of molecules that function as neurotransmitters and include ∆9-tetrahydro-cannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. These molecules have motor as well as psychoactive effects that occur upon their interaction with receptors on nerve cell membranes. There are two subtypes of cannabinoid receptor, CB1 and CB2, and activation of either receptor leads to activation of a G-protein, then decreases in levels of protein phosphorylation and intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP). The endogenous cannabinoids, or endocannabinoids, which activate these receptors are the fatty acids 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG) and anandamide (Sánchez-Pastor et al. 2007).

At the frog neuromuscular junction, anandamide has been shown to activate CB1 receptors and block the enzyme adenylate cyclase, which converts ATP into cAMP (Van der Kloot 1994). Administration of cannabinoids at the frog neuromuscular junction also decreases MEPP frequency through the activation of presynaptic CB1 receptors. These receptors interact with Gi/o proteins and activation seems to lead to the blockage of N-type Ca2+ channels (Sánchez-Pastor et al 2007).

Also in the frog neuromuscular junction, two CB1 receptor agonists, WIN and ACEA, have opposite effects on quantal acetylcholine (ACh) release. Introduction of WIN and the CB1 antagonist AM 251 nullified WIN’s depression of ACh release. Introduction of ACEA yielded an increase in ACh quantal release, and this increase was not negated when AM 251 was introduced. Silveira et al. (2010) discovered that ACEA targets the vanilloid receptor (TRPV2) and is blocked by capsazepine, the TRPV1 antagonist.

Cannabinoids have also been studied in the lizard neuromuscular junction. Newman et al. (2007) examined the presence and location of CB1receptors via fluorescence microscopy. They also questioned whether M3muscarinic ACh receptors inhibit neurotransmitter release via endocannabinoids. By utilizing multiple combinations of agonists and antagonists, the researchers also determined whether Ca2+ influx was actively being inhibited in the nitric oxide-dependent system. The researchers discovered that Anolis carolinensis do in fact have CB1receptors that are localized on the presynaptic nerve terminal. When muscarine and AM 281, a CB1 antagonist, were applied they determined that the depression of EPP was due to cannabinoid receptors. They also discovered that endocannabinoids cause a decrease in transient Ca2+that accounts the later depression of synaptic transmission. In conclusion, Newman et al. (2007) discovered that through the M3 muscarinic receptor mediated system, muscle cells synthesize endocannabinoids (2-AG) to bind to CB1 receptors on the nerve cell.

Our study hoped to fill the void bridging endocannabinoids in the crayfish NMJ, which have shown to play a part in synaptic plasticity. Ultimately we hope to draw comparisons with other previously studied model organisms. By drawing these comparisons, we can further test if the specific mechanisms published in the frog and lizard also are expressed in the crayfish. The goal(s) of this study are/were to test whether the crayfish NMJ is sensitive to activation of CB1 receptors, and to determine whether the response seen, due to cannabinoid addition, affects the CB1receptor pathway.

We hypothesized that, similar to the lizard and frog NMJ, the crayfish would show analogous effects when the CB1 agonist, ACPA, was introduced – a decrease in excitatory post synaptic potential (EPSP). We also hypothesized that any effect seen due to the addition to endocannabinoids would be caused by augmentation of the CB1 receptor.


Experimental preparation and solutions

Crayfish were first immersed in crushed ice for approximately 10 min. Next, we removed the tail and isolated the tail extensor muscle. This muscle and the attached exoskeleton were pinned down in a Sylgard®-coated dish. We covered the preparation in approximately 40 ml of fresh physiological saline solution (5.4 mM KCl, 196 mM NaCl, 13.5 mM CaCl2•H2O, 2.6 mM MgCl2•H2O, 10 mM HEPES).

Arachidonylcyclopropylamide (ACPA) was obtained in Tocrisolve®, a soy oil and water emulsion. It was diluted in physiological saline before being added to the crayfish preparation at an approximate final concentration of 10 µM. ACPA was purchased from Tocris Cookson (Ellisville, MO, USA).


End-plate potentials were evoked by stimulating the motor nerve axon at 1-10 V for 5 ms, at 0.2 Hz. We used a glass micropipette filled with 3 M KCl and with resistance between 5 and 15 MΩ to measure EPPs and recorded data using a MacLab data acquisition system (AD Instruments, Colorado Springs, CO, USA).

For our first experiment, we recorded from a number of separate, randomly chosen muscle cells both before and after treatment with ACPA. The average EPP amplitudes in each condition were compared using a student’s t-test (two-sample assuming equal variance).

For our second experiment, we recorded from several separate, randomly chosen muscle cells before the addition of ACPA. After drug treatment, EPPs were measured in one cell every 30 sec for 2 min and then every 1 min for 18 min. Mean EPP amplitudes before and after treatment were compared as above.

For our third experiment, we recorded from one muscle cell both before and after ACPA treatment. EPPs were averaged over 8 stimuli for recording. We recorded two averages before treatment, and several averages at a number of time intervals after treatment. In Figure 2, each bar after ACPA addition is the mean of four recordings. Mean values for consecutive pairs of averages were compared using a student’s t-test (two-sample assuming equal variance).


Bar and scatter graphs showing ACPA effect on ESPS amplitudes

In order to determine whether cannabinoids have an effect at the crayfish neuromuscular junction, we performed electrophysiology of the tail extensor muscle. We recorded EPSPs while stimulating the motor nerve at low frequency, both with and without the presence of the CB1 receptor agonist ACPA.

We first compared the average value of five EPSPs recorded from randomly selected muscle cells before and after ACPA treatment (Figure 1). This recording did not show a significant change in EPSPs due to the addition of ACPA.

Figure 1 (top panel). Mean EPSP amplitude. Each bar represents the mean of six EPSPs, and all data was recorded from one crayfish muscle preparation.

Second, we performed a time course experiment in which we recorded from one cell both before and after ACPA treatment (Figure 2). We found a significant difference between the mean EPSP before ACPA addition (35.60 mV) and the mean EPSP after addition (15.66 mV) (p = 0.024). ACPA decreased the EPSP.

Figure 2 (center panel). Time course of the effect of ACPA on the crayfish neuromuscular junction. ACPA was added at 1 min. Each point represents one recorded EPSP (n=1). After ACPA addition, EPSPs were recorded every 30 s for 2 min and then every 1 min for 18 min.

Third, we performed an experiment in which we recorded EPSPs averaged over eight nerve stimuli, also in one cell (Figure 3). We found a significant difference between the mean EPSPs recorded before treatment with ACPA and those recorded from 0 to 2.5 minutes, 3.5 to 6 minutes, and 7 to 10 minutes after treatment (p values = 0.002, 0.0003, and 2 × 10-5, respectively). In this experiment, as well, ACPA decreased the EPSP.

Figure 3 (bottom panel). Effect of ACPA on average EPSP amplitude (± SEM). Each bar after ACPA addition represents the mean of four average recordings, while the bar before ACPA represents the mean of two. * indicates p < 0.05 compared to EPSP before ACPA. (n=1)


Experiment 1 did not provide any statistically significant results (Figure 1). This lack of significance is primarily since there is a large variation in EPSP amplitude across different muscle cells. To counteract this difficulty, it might help to survey cells that were similar distances from the nerve that was being stimulated. We could have also used a larger sample size, which might have allowed us to find a statistically significant result. Additionally, we did not allow any time to pass for our first measurement after we added ACPA, which may have affected the results of our experiment. Due to these limitations, the results of this experiment neither validate nor disprove our hypothesis.

In the second trial, the addition of ACPA showed a statistically significant effect of decreasing the EPSP 43.9% (Figure 2). With the exception of a few points, the time course showed a consistent decrease as each successive measurement was taken. This was the first indication that the addition of a CB1 receptor agonist would decrease the EPSP in the crayfish NMJ. This result supports our hypothesis.

In our third experiment, we found a significant effect of ACPA (Figure 3). The agonist led to EPSP depression which increased over time. Although the methodology of this experiment was somewhat different from the previous one, they are similar enough that their results reinforce each other’s validity. Therefore, this experiment supports the conclusions we drew from our second experiment. Overall, we find that the CB1 receptor agonist ACPA leads to EPSP depression which increases over time. We hypothesize that this consistent enhancement in EPSP depression may be caused by continuing activation of some receptor which responds to ACPA. This may be the CB1 receptor or an analogue of the CB1 receptor.

One of the major limitations in our study was that all three trials employed different methodologies. This inherent lack of continuity calls into question the replication and significance of our results. The opportunity to replicate each of our experiments would have greatly increased the confidence with which our results may be interpreted. However, because our second two experiments are methodologically similar, they can be viewed as confirming each other’s results in the absence of exact replication.

Another major limitation is that we were not able to probe the question of whether an endocannabinoid analogue affects a CB1 receptor in the crayfish NMJ, utilizing both an agonist and an antagonist. If blocking any present CBreceptors with an antagonist eliminated the EPSP depression in response to agonist treatment, we would be able to conclude that depression is due to a CB1 receptor. Although we confirmed our hypothesis that adding a CB1 agonist does depress EPSP amplitude, we cannot definitively determine whether the effect of endocannabinoids influences the CB1 receptor specifically in the crayfish NMJ.

Future studies teasing apart the relationships of endocannabinoids in the crayfish NMJ would help to extend the results of this study. Further replication of our experiments is needed to strengthen our conclusions. Moreover, it would be helpful to determine the involvement of the CB1receptor using an antagonist. Additionally, further studies could use fluorescence microscopy to spatially locate CB1 receptors on the synapse, for example using fluorescently tagged CB1 antibodies, or add various combinations of agonists and antagonists to the NMJ. In conclusion, we determined that addition of an endocannabinoid analogue, ACPA, decreased the EPSP at the crayfish NMJ.


We would like to thank Clark Lindgren, our professor, for his direction in the classroom, providing necessary background knowledge, and in the lab with troubleshooting our study. Without Professor Lindgren's assistance this experiment would not have been possible. Additionally, we would like to thank the Grinnell College Biology Department for funding our study and therefore giving us the opportunity to pursue neurobiological inquiry.


Newman, Zachary; Malik, Priya; Wu, Tse-Yu; Ochoa, Christopher; Watsa, Nayantara; Lindgren, Clark A. (2007). Endocannabinoids mediate muscarine-induced synaptic depression at the vertebrate neuromuscular junction. European Journal of Neuroscience 25:1619-1630.

Sanchez-Pastor, E.; Trujillo, X.; Huerta, M; Andrade, F. (2007). Effects of cannabinoids on synaptic transmission in the frog neuromuscular junction. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics321:439-445.

Silveira, P.E.; Silveira, N.A.; Morini, V.C.; Kushmerick, C.; Naves, L.A. (2010). Opposing effects of cannabinoids and vanilloids on evoked quantal release at the frog neuromuscular junction. Neuroscience letters473:97-101.

Van der Kloot, W. (1994) Anandamide, a naturally-occurring agonist of the cannabinoid receptor, block adenylate cyclase at the frog neuromuscular junction. Brain Research 649:181-184.

The Importance of Dorm Decorations

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

After a full day of classes, there is nothing more comforting than ambling up a flight of stairs and relaxing in my surrogate home, that is to say, my dorm room. When I open the door to my three-room double, I am immediately transported into a world of color created through a collaborative effort by my roommate and me. Our common room, formally known as the “Boom Boom Room,” absolutely positively reflects our personalities. My roommate and I are both outgoing people who appreciate weird little oddities. Also, to be completely honest, we are both a little crazy — but crazy in a good way and our room personifies this.

Each section of our common room has its own theme, which combines to create a vibrant, almost pastiche feeling. One section of wall is dedicated to unwanted scarves, shirts, bandanas, and afghans that find a home in the Boom Boom Room. Another wall has art made from recycled materials, such as plastic silverware, cups, plates, and denim. The final wall is a drawing wall where our friends are free to doodle with chalk so that they too can leave their mark on the Boom Boom Room. My roommate and I consider our friends as part of a family, so having them contribute to our common room reminds us of the love and support that they continually give.

Because our friends visit often, the common room is laid out so that as many people as possible can sit and chat. We morphed the extra bed (the room was intended for three) into a couch, and the extra desk into a bench. Bringing the furniture together is a stately blue velvet and dark wood chair that we picked up at Goodwill. Watching over the Boom Boom Room, regal and wise as can be, is Alfredo the owl. As crazy and jumbled as the Boom Boom Room may appear to be, it actually comes together in a very soothing homey way, which accurately reflects our personalities.

One of my friends has a room that reflects not only her laid back and inviting personality, but also the way in which her experiences, both at and facilitated by Grinnell, have influenced her. Last semester, she was in New Delhi participating in an off-campus study program. She absolutely adored her time in India, and that adoration is clearly illustrated in her dorm room. The first thing you notice when you walk into her room is the serene and welcoming ambiance created by the layout. Her mattress is on the floor, and opposite it is an extremely comfortable couch. This set-up is perfect for relieving the stresses of the day, as it invites you to sprawl out and take a much-needed respite. While relaxing on the couch, you notice the heavy Indian influence of the room. An elaborate, colorful comforter made in India graces the couch, while the walls are adorned with miniature Indian paintings and dupattas, or scarves, worn by Indian women. Scattered around the room are little figurines of Hindu gods and antique bells, all of which serve as a reminder of a wonderful off-campus study experience.

Dorm rooms are truly a reflection of the people who live in them. The space is an area where you can express yourself and create a home away from home that can serve your every need.

Melanie Jucewicz '12 is a French Major from Chicago, IL

Friday Night Fun

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)


It took a church basement full of grade-school kids to show me how much more there is to Iowa than just cornfields.

How did this happen? One Friday afternoon in the spring of my second year, my good friend Dan Covino ’10 convinced me to hop on a campus bus with him and some other volunteers and head to Des Moines to play with underprivileged kids at the Trinity United Methodist Church after-school program.

Friday Fun Night, as this program is called, has been taking Grinnell students to Des Moines in this way for 20 years to engage with extremely energetic but wonderful kids on a weekly basis. Because Grinnell offers so many weekly on-campus events and activities, not to mention whatever impromptu shenanigans students come up with on their own, I had never before seen any reason to leave campus in order to have fun. I was admittedly very skeptical that non-Grinnell Iowa had much of anything to offer me. However, since that first evening, I’ve gone back every chance I get.

Friday Fun Night always seems to be just as much fun for the college students as it is for the grade-schoolers. The club was established by Grinnell students and the Methodist Church to provide children in the area with a safe and supportive environment in which to start off their weekends. Every Friday, Grinnellians coordinate and lead fitness activities for the children, which transition into crafts. We finish out the night by sharing a snack with the kids. Themes reflect major holidays, the seasons, and the choices of the kids themselves. When it gets warm enough, we travel to the playground across the street to play football and capture the flag — but mostly we play soccer. Often the neighborhood kids, usually recent immigrants from Africa and Latin America, join in the games.

Being from an ethnically diverse suburb right outside Chicago, I’m no stranger to cultural diversity. I had arrogantly assumed that outside of Grinnell, bucolic, white-bread Iowa would never be remotely comparable to the diversity found in a metropolitan area the size of Chicagoland. So imagine my surprise to find 40-plus Latino/a, white, and black grade-schoolers romping happily together in a church basement in Des Moines. I was thrilled to discover that I could have conversations in both Spanish and English with pint-sized third-graders. I didn’t realize how much I missed interacting with people outside my age group, especially those younger than me. Volunteering with the student group allowed me to step outside of my college-aged bubble.

Friday Fun Night taught me just how much the areas around Grinnell have to offer my peers and me. Grinnellians are great at coming up with homemade fun, so if you never want to step off campus to enjoy yourself, you don’t have to. But one of the biggest myths I’ve encountered here is that we stick to on-campus activities because we have no other choice. In reality, there is so much more than cornfields to experience offcampus. I believe that Grinnell students tend to forget that the rest of the world also has a multitude of experiences to offer them.

For me, those experiences lay just 45 minutes west down I-80.

Matt Clarke is a Spanish Major from Skokie, IL.


Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Pre-Health: Courses | Department

Students interested in preparing for medical school or another health profession may select any major offered at Grinnell College while completing the required pre-health courses. Grinnell College does not offer a specific pre-health or pre-med major.

Faculty assist in providing guidance to students interested in medical school (or one of the other health professions) through the Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC).

First-year students interested in attending a health professions graduate school immediately after graduating from Grinnell should take both Chemistry 129 and Biology 150 during their first year - take one of these two courses in the fall semester and the other in the spring semester.

A major in science is not required for admission to medical school. The minimum requirements to take the MCAT and apply to medical school are:

  • 1 year Biology (Biology 251, 252) (Note: BIO150 is a prerequisite for BIO 251)
  • 2 years Chemistry (Chemistry 129, 210, 221, 222)
  • 1 year English (Tutorial counts as one semester; second semester should stress literature)
  • 1 year Physics (Physics 131-132)
  • Calculus I (Calculus is not required for admission to most medical schools; however, Calculus I is required for physics at Grinnell, and Calculus II is recommended.)

There is currently an initiative of medical schools to change the pre-medical preparation of students to emphasize both quantitative literacy and understanding of behavioral and social science foundations.  What is known at this point is that a new MCAT will be used starting in 2015, and that some medical schools may change their course work preparation requirements.  Additional information is available at the HPAC Resources page.

When these courses are completed depends on the student's professional objectives. For admission to medical school in the Fall following college graduation, the medical college admissions test (MCAT) should be taken in the Spring of the junior year. All of the material covered in required courses is subject to examination on the MCAT. Therefore, all of the requirements listed above must be completed by the end of the junior year. It is important to note that for incoming students without any advanced placement, this averages two courses in the science division per semester.

Each year about half of the Grinnell applicants to medical school have graduated, and most of them took the MCAT exam as a senior. These students spread the required coursework over 8 semesters allowing them to take full advantage of Grinnell's many opportunities including internships, interdisciplinary concentrations, and off-campus study.

A meeting for students interested in pre-health occurs early in the fall semester. Please visit the HPAC website for more information.  

Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)



 (641) 269-4655

Mears Cottage,1213 Sixth Avenue, Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA 50112

Chair: Astrid Henry


Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies is an interdisciplinary field in which women, men, gender, and sexuality are examined by looking at various cultures and historical periods, and by employing diverse methods of inquiry. Students in the major will gain theoretical and methodological tools grounded in feminist and queer scholarship. Majors will study the history and development of feminist and queer thought, as well as the evolution of the field of women’s studies, with a strong emphasis on intersectional analyses (i.e., the ways in which race, class, gender, sexuality, age, and nationality interact). Students will become familiar with how theorists and researchers in gender, women’s and sexuality studies critically engage theoretical paradigms, such as liberalism, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, and post-colonialism. Majors will be introduced to research methods that unearth invisible or silenced knowledge and that revisit and revise previous readings of cultural products and practices. They will study methods of feminist and queer research in the social sciences and humanities, including oral history, case studies, archival research, visual and literary criticism, survey/ content analysis, and field work. Majors will learn to ask the basic questions underlying the production of new knowledge, including: Who does research? Does it matter who the researcher is? How does the social location (race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality) of the researcher shape the production of knowledge? What is the relationship between feminist and queer research and social change?  


"Thus, it is not color or sex which constructs the ground for these struggles. Rather it is the way we think about race, class and gender--the political links we choose to make among and between struggles."      

- Chandra Talpade Mohanty

Campus Wellness

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)



 (Unpublished) April 22, 2010

The 8 Colors of Fitness: Understanding and Embracing Your Fitness Personality
Friday, April 30th, 12-1pm, JRC 209
Open to all staff, faculty and partners.

Part of the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is figuring out what kinds of physical activity works for you– which we all know can take years of trial and error. If you would like to "cut to the chase" and discover your fitness personality, join us for a brown bag lunch presentation with Suzanne Brue, author of The 8 Colors of Fitness: Discover Your Color-Coded Fitness Personality and Create an Exercise Program You'll Never Quit!

Read about Suzanne's work and take the 8-minute quiz at http://www.the8colors.com, (based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI). Hey...you might discover that you've been pursuing activities of the wrong color!

Please RSVP to Jen Jacobsen, Wellness Coordinator - jacobsen[at]grinnell[dot]edu


Community Wellness Fair
Live Healthy Grinnell Finale + summer community wellness preview
Tuesday, April 27th 4-7pm in JRC 101

Come celebrate 100 days of healthier living plus find out about summer wellness opportunities offered by Grinnell College and the larger Grinnell community. All faculty/staff/partners encouraged to attend, (whether or not you participated in Live Healthy Grinnell.) We'll also help Imagine Grinnell kick off its spring bike and hike programs!

Sponsored by the Grinnell Wellness Collaborative. Light refreshments provided. No RSVP needed.


Interpreting Test Scores

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)


Interpreting Test Scores

To interpret an individual student's standardized achievement test scores, please refer to the following concordance table which compares scores of the two national achievement tests.

1440 and up 33 and up
1400 - 1430 32
1360 - 1390 31
1330 - 1350 30
1290 - 1320 29
1250 - 1280 28
1210 - 1240 27
1170 - 1200 26
1160 and below 25 and below

Grinnell College first-year students have an average (mean) composite score of 1325 for the SAT and 30.0 for the ACT. Nationally, the average SAT score is approximately 1011 and the ACT is 21.1.

Although the writing scores for both ACT and SAT are recorded in a student's official college record, the Admission Office currently does not use the writing portion of either test to determine admissibility.

International students also have scores for the TOEFL (the Test of English as a Foreign Language). It measures a person's proficiency in English; it is not meant to be an indicator of academic ability. In order to measure language competency, sub-tests are broken down into three areas: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, and grammar.

The test is offered in paper-based and most recently, internet-based formats. The scoring systems differ for each:

640-677 273-300 111-120
590-637 243-270 96-110
550-587 213-240 79-95
513-547 183-210 65-78
477-510 153-180 53-64
437-473 123-150 41-52
397-433 93-120 30-40
347-393 63-90 19-29
310-343 33-60 9-18
310 0-30 0-8

We do not have a minimum TOEFL requirement for admission to Grinnell College.  However, because of the high demands placed on our students in terms of reading and writing, we look to admit applicants who can demonstrate a very strong command of the English language.  For the class entering in August 2011, the mid-50% TOEFL (internet-based) score was 99-105.