Home » Alumni

Alumni

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."

Coach Hurley Wins National Award

Erin Hurley has led the Pioneers to plenty of success as the Grinnell College swimming and diving coach.

Her performance has not gone unnoticed on the national scene, as Hurley received one of six major awards from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) at its annual banquet May 5 in Washington, D.C. More impressive is the fact awards at the banquet are rarely presented to coaches at the NCAA Division III level.

Hurley received the Richard E. Steadman Award, which is presented to a coach who, in the opinion of the CSCAA, has done the most to spread happiness in Coach Steadman’s sport. Steadman’s accomplishments include coaching several national swimming and diving champions and serving on the U.S. Olympic Diving Committee for 16 years.

“I am extremely grateful to be receiving this award,” says Hurley. “I want to thank the CSCAA and its members who work tirelessly to help promote the sport of swimming in an inclusive and student experience-enhancing way. Working at Grinnell College, where the athletic experience is closely tied to the philosophy of the liberal arts, creates a coaching and teaching environment that encourages the growth and development of our student-athletes and the joy of their athletic involvement. It’s wonderful to have the CSCAA recognize the work we are doing at Grinnell to foster these ideals.”

Hurley just completed her 21st season as Grinnell’s coach. Also a faculty member, she teaches swimming and triathlon plus is the senior woman administrator for the College’s athletic department.

Her programs have won 29 Midwest Conference titles over the years. She has won 14 league Coach of the Year honors and produced multiple All-Americans, including a national record-holder.

“We are extremely excited for Erin to be honored by her peers with this award,” says Greg Wallace, director of Athletics and Recreation. “Recognition by fellow coaches is one of the highest honors a coach can receive in any sport. Coach Hurley has been tremendously successful with both the women’s and men’s programs at Grinnell College for 21 years. I offer my congratulations.”

Praise From Student-Athletes

Hurley’s efforts are also lauded by the student-athletes in her program.

“Erin has an amazing ability to push you past your limits and make you excel,” says Joshua Tibatemwa ’19. “She’ll then pretend she had nothing to do with your success, although that’s anything but the case.”

“Coach Erin has had an incredibly positive and meaningful influence on my development as a young adult at Grinnell College,” adds Maddy Pesch ’16. She has enhanced my performance as a swimmer over the past four years with her expert knowledge of the sport’s technique and training. As a coach, she creates an inclusive, welcoming and diverse environment that makes each athlete feel valued as a part of the team.

“Coach Erin has also made a lasting impact on my life for the ways she has been a role model to me outside of the pool,” Pesch continues. “At a rigorous academic institution like Grinnell, she shows academic support for her student-athletes, going above and beyond to help each swimmer/diver not only succeed in his or her classes, but also pursue summer job and post-grad opportunities. She takes the time to get to know each athlete as an individual, making an effort to help each student achieve personal goals in the pool, in the classroom and in other extra-curricular activities. I aspire to use these compassionate leadership skills that Erin models as I, too, move forward in my own career path.”

All Hands on Deck

The exhibition “All Hands on Deck,” opening Friday, May  13, 2016, will feature recent acquisitions to the Faulconer Gallery, Grinnell College Art Collection.

The exhibition takes its name from a series of seven powerful prints created by St. Louis-based artist Damon Davis in response to events in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere.

The prints depict the raised hands of all kinds of individuals — old and young, black, white, and brown — inspiring others to rise up.

““It is crucial to comprehend that Damon Davis’s work is not merely inspired by the Ferguson uprising, but a part of it, and of its effect on the arc toward justice,” says Dan Strong, associate director of Faulconer Gallery.

“The hands in ‘All Hands on Deck,’ hard-edged against a stark background, appear from the perspective not of the oppressor, but of the demonstrator,” Strong added. “Photographed by Davis, scanned and commercially printed at Wildwood Press in St. Louis, these hands first proliferated as street art on the boarded-up storefronts of West Florissant in November 2014, to show solidarity with the people of Ferguson.”

The Faulconer Gallery acquired the prints for its permanent collection in honor of the late Vernon E. Faulconer ’61 graduate and life trustee of the College who was best known as founder of the Faulconer Gallery, along with his wife, Amy Hamamoto Faulconer ’59.

The “All Hands on Deck” exhibition also highlights other recent additions to the Grinnell College Art Collection:   

  • Seven large drawings made from the carbon of candle smoke by South African artist Diane Victor, who created the drawings while in residence at Grinnell in 2011
  • Prints from the “Chinese Library” series by Chinese artist Xie Xiaoze, who holds a named chair at Stanford University
  • The Lenny Seidenman Collection of late 19th-century French prints and posters, including 10 works by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

The exhibition will run through Saturday, June 19, in Faulconer Gallery at the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St., Grinnell.

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, and admission is free. The Gallery will be closed on Memorial Day.

 Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Bucksbaum Center for the Arts has accessible parking in the lot behind the building north of Sixth Avenue. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations and Events.

The Scoop on Shovel Knight

Although millions of people around the world enjoy playing video games, not many people have the talent or motivation to make a game of their own. For David D’Angelo ’08, however, the spark, the drive, and the talent were all there.

D’Angelo was heavily involved in music while at Grinnell, participating in the orchestra and serving as president of the acapella ensemble G-Tones. He was also an avid gamer and had always been interested in the process of making video games. After a short postgraduation stint writing commercial jingles, the dual music and computer science major moved to Los Angeles and began to pursue a career in video game design.  

He got a job as a video game programmer at WayForward, a work-for-hire video game company that produces games at the request of companies like Warner Brothers, despite the fact that the economy was crashing for many other industries. “Video games are kind of recession-proof for some reason,” he says.

After working on retro-style 2-D games like “Double Dragon Neon” and “Contra 4,” an idea began to bud in D’Angelo and a few of his coworkers. In 2013, they broke off from WayForward and began their own video game company, Yacht Club Games.

“We wanted to create a retro game that was the first in a new franchise rather than a continuation of an old series,” D’Angelo says. “We were looking at ‘Zelda II: The Adventure of Link’ and observing the underused down-thrust attack of Link, and we just thought ‘How cool would it be to base an entire game around that simple mechanic?’”

After much debate over what kind of weapon would work best for flipping enemies over and attacking their underbellies, the team decided on a shovel. “Then we thought that ‘knight’ is the funniest word you could put next to ‘shovel’, so we wound up with a game called ‘Shovel Knight,’” D’Angelo says.

D’Angelo and his team started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the game, in which they had 30 days to reach their monetary goal through online donations. To get the word out, they went to conventions to show off the game, released live-streamed video updates on the project daily, and communicated heavily with their fans.

“We streamed ourselves making the game, we streamed ourselves talking to our fans, we responded to every single email and comment we received,” D’Angelo says. “We wanted people to see how passionate we were about this game.”

The Kickstarter campaign was launched in the middle of March 2013 with a goal of $75,000; they reached that goal in just a few short weeks. By the end of the campaign in mid-April, the team had collected a total of $311,502 for the development of the game. The game was released in June 2014, and has since sold more than a million copies. It can be now purchased for Wii U, 3DS, PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One, Windows, Amazon Fire TV, Mac, and Linux.

When it came to the designing and marketing of “Shovel Knight,” D’Angelo says his Grinnell experience has been a valuable asset to his work. “I didn’t learn how to make games at Grinnell, but I did acquire the knowledge and tools needed to face any programming problem, and my music background helped me create and implement sound in our games,” he says. “Even the course I took in Japanese literature has come in handy as I draw on Japanese art and customs when engaging with our partners there in preparation for the game’s release.

“You get a taste of a little bit of everything at Grinnell, and that has been so important in what I do. I think the best thing you can do is to explore all your options while you’re there, because you just never know what skills you’ll end up using later on!”