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Advocating for Men’s Health

While life events have helped Ryan Brown ’16 shape his aspirations, he has largely carved out his own path toward fulfilling them.

“My dad is a pediatrician, so I was raised thinking I was going to be a doctor one day,” Brown says. “I didn’t really know where I wanted to go with that until my mom got breast cancer and I realized I really wanted to do something about it.”

Originally recruited from the Chicago area to play baseball for Grinnell, Brown is a biological chemistry major who’s become intensely focused on oncological research. He has spent the past three summers interning at University of Chicago research labs that deal primarily with late-stage prostate cancers.

“More specifically, cancers that don’t respond to the normal androgen deprivation therapies,” Brown says. “Our lab works with different genetic manipulation approaches to establish models for various stages of prostate cancer progression.” 

Motivated by Coach

Thankfully, Brown’s mother is a success story. Brown’s inspiration to study men’s cancers came from another survivor — Grinnell pitching coach Casey O’Rourke (2008-2013). An all-conference phenom in his first year at the University of Iowa, O’Rourke was sidelined as a sophomore by testicular cancer.

“[O’Rourke] kind of refined my interests into men’s cancers and testicular cancer,” Brown says. “After working with him in my first year I had this motivation to work with male cancers. I just cast the net out to cancer labs that were close by me and the prostate lab was one of them.”

Early Lab Experience

Brown’s efforts to secure an internship were entirely self-directed. He sold himself as a candidate for an unpaid internship in his first summer, and he returned in a paid capacity after his second-year science classes provided the requisite knowledge.

“My first summer in the lab I really knew nothing about biology and it was pretty difficult to catch up on what everyone else knew,” Brown says. “After my second year I came back and everything made sense.”

Brown also successfully advocated for two other Grinnell students, Matt Godinsky ’16 and Shane Comiskey ’18, to work in the lab — one in each of two consecutive summers.

Creating Awareness

Last November, Brown organized a group of 20 Grinnell students and staff to join with the lab’s Moustaches in Movember team in raising funds for men’s health issues through the Movember Foundation. Grinnell’s contingent raised $1,751 of the lab’s total of $6,816.

“It’s an awareness-type thing,” Brown says. “You see a guy with a ridiculous moustache and people are likely to say, ‘Hey, what’s up with that?’ You say, ‘Sorry, I look like an idiot, but it’s for a good cause. I’m raising money for men’s health issues through Movember.’ It’s awesome. It opens conversations.”

A Better Understanding

After graduation, Brown will be working full time in the lab where he’s interned the past three summers, driving his own projects and working to publish them. He says he’ll concentrate on research for a couple of years before applying to medical school.

“I want to be a translational physician scientist,” Brown says. “A physician who’s able to translate work between the lab and exam room gains a much better understanding of what their patients experience, as well as issues that interfere with treatment.”

Ryan Brown ’16, from Chicago, Ill., is a biological chemistry major with a concentration in neuroscience.

Hands-on Liberal Arts

Providing students with hands-on experience in a way that impacts the local community may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of anthropology, but that’s exactly what Monty Roper’s Applied Anthropology course is all about. “Anthropology is applied across a huge range of different professions, in the business world, in the NGO world, in development and health,” says Roper, associate professor of anthropology and Donald Wilson Professor of Enterprise and Leadership.

Sarah Henderson ’16 and Liz Nelson ’17 decided to tackle the project proposed by the Grinnell Historical Museum — increasing attendance, which has been decreasing in recent years. Museum board members asked Henderson and Nelson to research why people weren’t using the museum and what could be done to get more people in the door.

Understanding the Community

Henderson and Nelson conducted interviews with community members who have extensive knowledge of museums. They also conducted random interviews with townspeople and Grinnell students on the street and in the local coffee shop to find out what could be done to attract more people to the museum.

“The experience taught me a lot of practical skills about how to approach people I didn’t know, which I was nervous about at first,” Nelson says. “I feel more confident approaching someone about my research, and we ended up having some really great conversations and learning a lot.”

Henderson, who has been interested in museums for much of her time at Grinnell, relished the opportunity to learn to apply what she’s learned in class to an organization in the community.  “Actually getting to work on a real project for real people has been incredible. I care about it a lot because it feels like something meaningful and real is going to be done based on our work,” says Henderson

Solving the Problem

After a semester of research, Henderson and Nelson wrote a final report with recommendations for the museum, which they presented to the board of directors. “The board was extremely receptive and is moving forward with several of our suggestions,” says Henderson.

One of those suggestions was incorporating a student intern at the museum during the school year to establish a better connection between the museum and the College. The museum has hired several to begin work this summer.

Putting New Skills to Good Use

But the museum wasn’t the only party to benefit from this research experience. In an interview for a graduate school program in museum administration, Henderson was able to talk about the project and what it taught her about the possibility of starting a museum consulting business. “The director was thrilled, and I actually got accepted into that program later that week,” says Henderson.

Nelson adds, “This practicing anthropology class has been my favorite anthropology course, because you always read about theories and ethnographies, but actually getting to do something with that knowledge is so much fun!”

 “It all comes back to the same set of skills that anthropologists employ,” Roper says. “Learning that by doing a project of your own in the community really shows students how to apply those abilities creatively.”

Sarah Henderson ’16 is an anthropology/art history double major from Wilton, Iowa.

Liz Nelson ’17 is an anthropology major from Grinnell, Iowa.

2016 Creative Writing Contest Winners

The winners of this year’s creative writing contests are:

Nick Adams Short Story

Nelson Ogbuagu ’16, winner — $1000 for “Playing It Safe”

Grace Lloyd ’16, honorable mention — for “Crush”

James Norman Hall '10 Aspiring Writer Award

Alejandra Rodriguez Wheelock ’17 — $2000 for “The Basic Principles of Long Distance Running”

Selden Whitcomb Prize

Clara Trippe ’18, winner — $500 for “The Year of Cicadas; Lechuguilla Cave; Atmosphere; and Yours: Flesh and Ground”

Maya Elliott ’18, 2nd prize — $100 for “Bruises, CHURCHGOING, A HYMNAL?; and The Physicality of Atheism”

Emma Soberano ’17, 2nd prize — $100 for “Mi papá me llama ‘chile’; Duloxetine, 30 mg; Bruises are like post-it notes; and Cielito Lindo”

Henry York Steiner Memorial Prize for Short Fiction

Emma Soberano ’17, winner — $500 for “Sex”

Josie Sloyan ’18, 2nd prize — $100 for “Long Way Out”

Emma Thomasch ’16, 2nd prize — $100 for “Hold Your Peace”

Lorabel Richardson Prize, Academy of American Poets

Maya Elliott ’18 — $100 for “Witchblood: A Fantasy”

Examining Grinnell’s Culture

Grinnell is a secular institution, but does that mean students have to leave their religion at the classroom door?

Olivia Queathem ’17 is part of an unusual group Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) in religious studies that may help answer that question. Queathem and five other student researchers are conducting focus groups this spring to gather data for the Grinnell Religious Diversity Project.

The grant-funded study is exploring issues of religion, religious culture, and religious diversity on campus. The project focuses, in part, on whether classrooms in an intentionally secular environment are affected by, or in some cases impinge upon, students’ closely held religious beliefs and experiences.

Strong Emotions

“There can be some pretty strong emotional attachments to what’s being talked about,” Queathem says, “and it’s a really difficult balance to find a classroom climate that feels open so that people can say what they’re feeling and ask honest questions.

“The professors are always looking for better ways to make sure that students feel safe in the classroom expressing their views through respectful dialogue,” Queathem adds.

Project directors Tim Dobe, associate professor of religious studies, and Caleb Elfenbein, assistant professor of religious studies and history, are helping students establish the parameters for the research. But it’s the students who are driving the process.

Honest Conversations

A key goal for the MAP participants, says Alexandra Odom ’16, is to “create a project that shows people what the realities of religion are on campus.” One of their first tasks was to formulate questions that would foster open and honest conversations in their respective focus groups.

“People are used to not talking about religion and keeping it part of their private lives,” says Odom. “We have to be very intentional about how we create a space where people feel comfortable talking about their religious beliefs and engaging with people who may or may not have similar beliefs.”

Odom says the first round of focus groups indicate that students who feel personally shaped by their religion are willing to share and wish more people on campus would ask questions about their faith.

Opportunity to Speak

“It seems like people have been waiting for this opportunity to speak,” Odom says. “Even people who don’t align themselves with a religion are willing to talk, especially if they grew up in a setting where religion was always present, even if they weren’t directly involved.”

Promoting honest dialogue will not only help define the range and depth of religious experience on campus, Odom says. It will ultimately help researchers understand religious diversity in the context of core Grinnell values like self-governance.

“Grinnell prides itself on students looking out for each other,” Odom says. “We can’t promote the health and wellness of the community if we have no idea what that community is. To identify religious populations that are present is the first step to serving those populations in a way that’s meaningful for them so they can have a great experience here, too.”

Identifying Campus Culture

Since February, the MAP students have been journaling personal impressions of their research experience on a blog. For Jaya Vallis ’16, having a place for personal introspection is helpful.

“We talked a lot about objectivity, self-reflexivity, and trying to remove our own biases when we were designing questions and talking to our interviewees,” Vallis says. “I recognized almost immediately even in just describing this project to people that I had to identify and separate out my own personality.”

Vallis says the research group also discussed techniques for talking to interviewees in order to identify what people think campus culture actually is and how religious diversity plays a part in it.

“‘Campus culture is a very vague term,” Vallis says. “Once we get an idea of what it is, we’ll be better able to identify ways to maybe implement policy changes or the creation of new spaces on campus.”

Valuable Experience

By semester’s end, the MAP students will produce a group paper that will help inform future phases of the three-year study. Among the skills gained in designing and implementing the focus group process is Institutional Review Board training necessary for ethical research involving human subjects.

“Religion touches a lot of aspects of our society, and it’s really interesting to see how it overlaps with other spheres of influence in terms of how people live their daily lives,” Queathem says.

“I know that I want to do something that helps people in a concrete way, whether that ends up being activism or nonprofit work,” Queathem says. “This is valuable experience in terms of giving me an actual research opportunity that I haven’t had before so I’ll get to see if I like it or not.” 

Olivia Queathem ’17 is a religious studies major from Grinnell. Alexandra Odom ’16 is a history major from Baltimore. Jaya Vallis ’16 is a psychology and religious studies double major from Washington, D.C.

New Golf Course Manager Named

Shane HartShane Hart, a longtime Grinnell resident and member of the Grinnell College Golf Course community, started his new position as general manager of the Grinnell College Golf Course on Friday, April 29.

Grinnell College purchased the Grinnell Golf and Country Club in March and opened the course for the season on April 1. Consistent with the College’s social values, the private course is now public, available for use by all — the College community, the broader Grinnell community and visitors to the area.

Hart, who has left his position as a real estate agent for Ramsey-Weeks Inc., has been involved with the former Grinnell Golf and Country Club for several years. He served as a board member since 2014 and was a past president. He stepped in as interim general manager during several vacancies dating to 2014.

As general manager, he coordinated, budgeted, and oversaw various golf events to ensure player enjoyment and profitability. He also gained knowledge of the course’s facilities, equipment, members, and events.

After a national search for golf course manager, Shane Hart emerged as our top choice for the position, says John Kalkbrenner, assistant vice president for auxiliary services and economic development at Grinnell College. Shane’s unique knowledge of the Grinnell community, Grinnell College, and the golf course, along with his tireless drive, compelled us to choose him.

He will bring immense experience and passion to the role of general manager, Kalkbrenner added, as someone who is both committed to the future of the College and the Grinnell College Golf Course.

I am excited to bring my experiences and energy together to help make the Grinnell College Golf Course a top-notch facility, Hart said. I look forward to welcoming back the past members, and reaching out to promote the facilities to the greater Poweshiek area. I couldn’t be more pleased or honored to have been chosen for this position.

Hart is an active member of the Grinnell community at-large, serving on the board of the Chamber of Commerce since 2015, as a volunteer coach for the youth golf and basketball programs since 2008. He has chaired the Iowa Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Open Golf Tournament since 2010. He also has directed many other tournaments and socials at the former country club.  

He enjoys various recreational activities, including racquetball, golf, basketball, football, and going on nature hikes.

Film Screening: Called to Walls

Dave Loewenstein ’88 is returning to campus — along with co-directors Nick Ward and Amber Hansen — for a panel discussion and film screening of Called to Walls. The free, public event will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, May 6, in ARH Auditorium, Room 302.

Called to Walls is "part road-movie, part inspirational small town drama, and part art documentary" that chronicles the making of giant murals in the city cores of places like Newton and Joplin, Mo.

For Loewenstein, there’s more to creating a mural than just painting the side of a building. He designs political activism prints and specializes in community-based collaborative public art projects. He’s worked on murals all over the United States, including Grinnell, as well as in Korea, Northern Ireland, and Brazil. In his experience, making a piece of public art has encouraged conversations (and offers of help) from passers-by, resulting in what he calls an “improvised gathering space.”

The events are sponsored by Alumni in the Classroom and Artists@Grinnell.

Dave Loewenstein ’88

Dave LoewensteinDave Loewenstein is a muralist, writer, and printmaker based in Lawrence, Kansas. In addition to his more than twenty public works in Kansas, examples of his dynamic and richly colored community-based murals can be found across the United States in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona, Arkansas, Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Iowa, Chicago, New Orleans, and New York City, and in Northern Ireland and South Korea.

Loewenstein’s prints, which focus on current social and political issues, are exhibited nationally and are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Yale University,  and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles. He is the co-author of Kansas Murals: A Traveler’s Guide, a 2007 Kansas Notable Book Award Winner, published by the University Press of Kansas; and the co-director of the documentary film Creating Counterparts which won Best Documentary at the 2003 Kansas Filmmakers Jubilee.

Loewenstein has been recognized widely for his work, including the 2001 Lighton Prize for Arts Educator of the Year from Kansas City Young Audiences, the 2004 Tom and Anne Moore Peace and Justice Award given by the Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice, a 2006 Phoenix Award from the Lawrence Arts Commission, a 2007 Kansas Press Association 1st Place Columnist Award for his column “Blank Canvas,” and in 2014 he was named one of the founding Cultural Agents for the new U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. His most recent studio project is Give Take Give, funded by the Rocket Grants program.

Woodland Wildflower Hike at CERA

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 - 4:45pm to 6:15pm

 

Join CERA Manager Elizabeth Hill on a 1.5 mile spring ephemeral wildflower hike at CERA. Wear sturdy walking shoes and long pants to explore the spring ephemeral wildflowers at CERA!

Van leaves from Rosenfield Center drop-off zone at 4:15 p.m. Hike starts 4:45 p.m. at CERA, meet at Environmental Education Center.

Email Elizabeth Hill to reserve transportation.

Critical Narratives & Creative Forms

“Critical Narratives & Creative Forms: Fresh Perspectives from the Francophone World” activities run May 1–6, and include readings, lectures, a performance and opportunities to meet with those featured:

  • Linda Brindeau, assistant professor of French, Dickinson College
  • Pascale Julio, Haitian stage actor
  • Ivanka Hahnenberger, translator
  • Taylor Watts ’16, Anthropology/French major

Professor Kristina Kosnick, Department of French and Arabic, remarks, "This week of events highlights artistic, scholarly, and activist work that addresses important issues in the contemporary French-speaking world – notably related to post-colonialism and the ways it intersects with gender, race, class, and environment. Featured presenters and performers engage with these issues through various creative forms including dance, theater, teaching, and literary translation and criticism. Events will expand on topics explored in courses at the College, and also offer opportunities for students, faculty, and members of the Grinnell community to make meaningful transdisciplinary and interpersonal connections with each other, and with our guests."

"We are very excited about our collaboration with the Translation Collective during this week of events since all of the participants will help us broaden the scope of the way in which we conceptualize translation – as cross-cultural, interdisciplinary and/or artistic in nature, for example. We hope that this week’s discussion will enrich our pedagogical or scholarly approaches to our work," adds Professor Gwenola Caradec, Department of French and Arabic.

Events for faculty, students, and staff include a French table lunch with some of the presenters, and a Karaoke night with the French Student Educational Policy Committee.

The events are sponsored by the Center for the Humanities; Center for International Studies; Department of French and Arabic; Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; and the Translation Collective.

Public Events

Sunday, May 1

7–8:30 p.m., Rosenfield Center, Room 209
Drop-in Dessert/Cheese Reception with Brindeau, Julio, and Hahnenberger

Monday, May 2

7:30 p.m., Rosenfield Center, Room 101
Brindeau presents “Re-Presenting Haiti: Why We Need Counter-Narratives”

Tuesday, May 3

7:30 p.m., Flanagan Theater, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts
Watts performs “A Choreographic exploration of le commerce triangulaire”

Wednesday, May 4

7:30 p.m., Faulconer Gallery
Hahnenberger reads “Options and Selections: The Trials of a Translator”

Thursday, May 5

4 p.m., Kallaus Lecture Hall, ARH, Room 102
Julio performs dramatic reading of La Couleur de l’aube, by Yanick Lahens

Friday, May 6

Noon, Rosenfield Center, Room 209
Hahnenberger leads round-table discussion: "The Discreet Waiter—The Business of Translating"

Dutch Global Horizons and Phi Beta Kappa

Larry SilverLarry Silver, Farquhar Professor of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania, will present a Scholars' Convocation, "Dutch Global Horizons," at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 28, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. The event is free and open to the public.

Silver's presentation is part of Grinnell's Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program. New members of Phi Beta Kappa will be announced at the beginning of the convocation.

Silver describes his presentation as an exploration of the imagery of the seaborne empire of the Netherlands during the Golden Age of the 17th century, when Dutch ships plied the oceans and established commercial and political links with bold Old World Asia and New World Latin America. He also notes that images of India and East Asia, as well as the short-lived Dutch colony in Brazil, permitted armchair travelers in Amsterdam to experience the globe as never before.

Silver, who received his bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and his master's and doctoral degrees from Harvard University, is a specialist in painting and graphics of Northern Europe. He focuses primarily on works produced in Germany and the Netherlands during the era of Renaissance and Reformation. He has served as president of the College Art Association and the Historians of Netherlandish Art. He recently was honored with the University of Pennsylvania’s Lindback Award for Teaching Excellence. 

His publications include Rubens, Velázquez, and the King of Spain, Rembrandt’s Faith, Peasant Scenes and Landscapes, Hieronymus Bosch and a general survey, Art in History. He has organized a number of print exhibitions, among them Grand Scale: Monumental Prints in the Age of Dürer and Titian and Graven Images, dealing with professional engravers of the 16th-century Netherlands.

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Room 101 in the Rosenfield Center is equipped with an induction hearing loop system, which enables individuals with hearing aids set to T-Coil to hear the program. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations and Events.