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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. 

Grinnell Welcomes Alumni to 2016 Reunion

More than 1,100 Grinnell College alumni, friends, and family will return to campus for the College’s 137th Alumni Reunion Weekend.

Four reunion attendees pose for a seflie photoAlumni from from 48 states, the District of Columbia, and 11 foreign countries including South Africa, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Hong Kong, India, and Costa Rica will return to Grinnell from June 3 to June 5.  

Reunion is one of the College’s biggest social events with parties, dances, dinners, and family activities.

Other weekend highlights include:

  • an all-Reunion picnic,
  • a special Honor G reception highlighting Grinnell athletics,
  • a 5K fun run,
  • class dinners,
  • bike and walking tours of the campus and community,
  • and a "Music in the Park" community concert by "The Loggia Patrol," composed of alumni from the class of 1976.

Silver, gold, and copper colored tag, focus on the gold which say 50th ReunionThe 50th reunion class of 1966 has organized a series of “Grinnell Talks” with themes that range from flying upside down in aerial aerobatic competitions to coping with mid-life career changes.

Ten alumni will receive awards for service to their professions, the College, and community.

A number of special presentations are planned for the weekend including a College President’s Panel, which will discuss the opportunities and challenges Grinnell College faces in the changing world of higher education. The panel will feature:

  • Former Drake University President David Maxwell ’66 (moderator),
  • President Raynard Kington,
  • Michael Latham, V.P. of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College,
  • Dan Davis ’16, SGA President, 2015-16,
  • Joe Bagnoli, V.P. for Enrollment, Dean of Admission & Financial Aid,
  • Mark Peltz,  Daniel and Patricia Jipp Finkelman Dean for Careers, Life, and Service, and
  • Lakesia Johnson, Associate Dean and Chief Diversity Officer

The Alumni College will hold courses on the theme of "Food for Thought" starting June 1. This year, participants will have the option of choosing an excursion to either the Meskwaki reservation or the Kolona Amish settlement to learn more about the food and food systems of the region. The annual alumni lecture will be presented by David Ten Eyck ’76 on “My Grinnell Experience: From Classrooms in the Cornfields to Courtrooms on the Frozen Tundra.”

 

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program Loan Repayment

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows who have entered a Ph.D. program in a Mellon designated field within 39 months of graduation from Grinnell are eligible for up to $10,000 in loan repayment benefits. For each year of full-time graduate study, one-eighth of your undergraduate debt (up to $1,250) can be paid by the Mellon Foundation through Grinnell College. Students who complete their doctorate are eligible for an additional $5,000 in loan repayment.

Lopatto to be Honored for Excellence in Science Education

David Lopatto headshotDavid Lopatto, the Samuel R. and Marie-Louise Rosenthal professor of natural science and mathematics, professor of psychology, and inaugural director of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, will receive the 2016 Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education.

The American Society for Cell Biology selected Lopatto for the award for his leadership in assessing the benefits of undergraduate research experiences. The award is named after former ASCB president Bruce Alberts.

“It is significant that professional scientific organizations are recognizing work in science education,” Lopatto says. “Understanding the student experience and the best practices for science learning are essential for inspiring the next generation of scientists and science teachers.”

Central to Lopatto’s research and national impact have been several survey instruments that capture student self-reported feedback and enable analysis of the impact of experiences on student self-perceived gains in knowledge, skills, and confidence in research.

The Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE) was developed by Lopatto in 2004 and was the first instrument available to faculty and program directors for assessing the impact of research programs. It was quickly adopted by faculty for use in diverse applications.

Since the introduction of the SURE (now in its third iteration), Lopatto has directed the development of related instruments, including measures of perceived student impacts of classroom-based Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) research; interdisciplinary STEM curricula; and research in non-STEM areas. These assessment tools are now used by over 150 institutions with more than 10,000 students annually.

Possibly the most significant impact of Lopatto’s work has been in establishing standardized faculty practice for assessment, which has laid the groundwork for development of new approaches and tools for student outcomes assessment.

Progress in the past decade has advanced assessment practice in STEM communities, and the conversation has expanded to include education researchers, cognitive scientists, and evaluation scholars, all of whom now inform practical understanding of student learning in STEM. These interactions not only advance assessment practice but also have led to new scholarship including discipline-based education research.

As noted by one of Lopatto’s nominators, Cynthia Bauerle at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “These developments continue to motivate improvements in faculty practice initiated originally by the efforts of early researchers like Dr. Lopatto, who recognized the importance of assessment practice as a driver for improved teaching, for achieving a more ‘scientific teaching.’“

Lopatto will accept the award on Dec. 4 at the ASCB annual meeting in San Francisco.

Slavic Coffeehouse and Maslenitsa

Two students joke around while serving the long line of patrons at the Slavic coffee houseA longstanding tradition in the Russian department, our annual Slavic Coffeehouse and Maslenitsa this year was a tremendous success, thanks to the leadership of Russian House and our Russian majors, as well as all of our Slavic and Russian-speaking international students.

A huge crowd of students, faculty, staff, and community members enjoyed Russian favorites like bliny, borscht, and pirozhki, as well as Czech, Polish, Serb, and Uzbek dishes, all prepared by students.

Maslenitsa, a traditional Orthodox holiday, is Russia’s version of Mardi Gras, during which we customarily burn a chuchelo (scarecrow) of winter. This year’s fire was spectacular, with flames leaping high against a dark blue sky. Charlie Eddy ’16 treated us to a rendition of Russian bard Vladimir Vysotsky’s “Он не вернулся из боя” [“He didn't return from battle”].

Woman licks finger while holding plateful of foodThe Slavic Coffeehouse and Maslenitsa were held in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts this year, where guests enjoyed the wonderful exhibit in Falconer Gallery, “Siberia: In the Eyes of Russian Photographers.”

This event was part of our exciting extracurricular programming in the department, which also included a visit by Eric Greene ‘85, director of the Office of Russian Affairs in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and former Russian ambassador John Byerle, as well as a book talk by Anya Von Bremzen, author of Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, a Memoir of Food and Longing

All photos courtesy of Michaela (Misha) Gelnarova ’18.

Former Grinnell College Librarian Christopher McKee to Receive Knox Medal

Christopher McKee, Samuel R. and Marie Rosenthal professor emeritus and former librarian of Grinnell College, has received the prestigious Commodore Dudley W. Knox Medal for Continuing Lifetime Achievement in the field of naval history.

The award, established in 2013 by the Naval Historical Foundation, honors an individual for a lifetime body of work in the field of U.S. naval history.

McKee is the 11th individual to receive this honor. The medal will be formally presented at the conclusion of the North American Society for Oceanic History conference to be held May 11-14 in Portland, Maine. Nominations for the 2017 Knox Medal may be submitted through the foundation’s website.  

Born in Brooklyn, New York, McKee graduated from the University of St. Thomas in Houston and completed his master's degree in library science at the University of Michigan. He joined the Grinnell College faculty in 1972, serving as a librarian, historian and educator.

Currently a scholar-in-residence at the Newberry Library in Chicago, McKee also held the Secretary of the Navy Research Chair at the Naval Historical Center from 1990 to 1991 and was a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Newberry Library from 1978 to 1979.  

McKee has made major contributions to naval history with his three books. His first publication, "Edward Preble: A Naval Biography, 1761-1807," published first in 1972, was republished in 1996 by the Naval Institute Press as part of its "Classics of Naval Literature" series.

His second work, "A Gentlemanly and Honorable Profession: The Creation of the U.S. Naval Officer Corps, 1794-1815," was published in 1991. It received numerous honors, including the prestigious John Lyman Book Award from the North American Society for Oceanic History, and the Samuel Eliot Morison Award from the USS Constitution Museum. 

McKee then moved into the study of enlisted sailors, which led to his 2002 book, titled "Sober Men and True: Sailor Lives in the Royal Navy, 1900-1945."

He is working on a manuscript with the tentative title of "Ungentle Goodnights: Life in a Home for Elderly Naval Sailors and Marines, 1831-1895," a social history based on the lives of the first 541 enlisted beneficiaries admitted to the United States Naval Home in Philadelphia.

 

Webster Earns Goldwater Honorable Mention

Lillian Webster ’17Lillian Webster ’17 has received an honorable mention from the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. Majoring in mathematics and statistics, Webster is one of 256 honorable mentions, chosen from 1,150 applicants nationwide.

For her application, Webster, a resident of University City, Missouri, submitted a paper titled "Subword Complexes in Coexeter Groups." Last summer, she completed a Research Experience for Undergraduates focusing on algebraic combinatorics at the University of Minnesota, and her research resulted in a talk at the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics in January 2016.

"Lillian has amazing creative insight, and is equally adept at working with both abstract concepts and detailed technical arguments," said Joseph Mileti, associate professor of mathematics at Grinnell. "She also communicates her ideas with a clarity and elegance rivaling most graduate students."

An active member of the Grinnell community, Webster is also a student in the Grinnell Careers in Education Professions Program. She has stage managed several productions for Dance Ensemble/ACTivate, including "Snow White Retracted" and "Once Upon a Time Splintered." In addition, she is a mentor for advanced mathematics courses. Webster spent the fall 2015 semester in Hungary as a participant in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program.

After graduating from Grinnell in May 2017, Webster plans to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics, focusing on either algebra or combinatorics, and go on to teach at a college or university.

Congress established the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Program to encourage excellence in science and mathematics for American undergraduate students with excellent academic records and outstanding potential. Winners receive up to $7,500 toward tuition and other expenses for the academic year. Grinnell College students are frequent recipients of Goldwater honors, with six students being named Goldwater Scholars and six students receiving honorable mentions since 2010.

Chemistry Alumnus in the Classroom

Nathaniel Rosi '99 lectured in the Department of Chemistry thanks to the Alumni in the Classroom program. Rosi's visit included two days with Professor of chemistry Martin Minelli's CHM-423 Advanced Inorganic Chemistry course, lunch with the CHM-423 students, dinner with chemistry faculty, a presentation during the weekly chemistry seminar, and a side trip to Pella and the Neil Smith Wildlife Preserve. During class, Rosi showed a crystal structure of one of his large clusters, which was best viewed with 3D glasses.

Nathaniel Rosi '99 in front of a large sundial and yellow tulips in Pella, IA.

Rosi is professor of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, where his research focuses on developing methods for controlling the structure and function of nanoscale materials. His seminar talk was titled "Building Structural and Functional Heterogeneity into Mesoporous Metal-Organic Frameworks."