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Two One-Year Physics Positions (Start Fall 2016)

The Department of Physics invites applications for two one-year appointments beginning fall 2016.

Assistant professor (Ph.D.) preferred; instructor (ABD) or associate professor possible.

The physics department has six faculty members with active research programs.  The department graduates on average 15 physics majors each year, nearly one-half of whom are women or under-represented minorities.  The successful candidate is expected to teach at all levels of a rigorous undergraduate physics curriculum. 

Job Listing (starts fall 2016) 

Antibiotic Resistance and Microbial Diversity

Shannon Hinsa-LeasureShannon Hinsa-Leasure, associate professor of biology, along with her students and collaborators, are researching ways to develop novel technology to study the diversity of antibiotic-resistance genes and how the genes can be transferred between bacteria.

The research is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant of $999,346 awarded to a team of researchers including Hinsa-Leasure, along with her collaborators at Iowa State University and the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

In addition, Hinsa-Leasure has received a one-year $20,262 grant from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture to expand on the USDA grant by investigating bacterial community structure in soils fertilized with animal manure. Both grants will support undergraduate research at Grinnell College.

The grants will enable researchers to monitor hundreds of genes related to antibiotic resistance, the spread of resistance, and microbial diversity in environmental samples at one time, providing a more in-depth characterization of environments than current technologies. The technologies can be used for many types of environments including, hospitals, farms and water systems, and will allow researchers to study if and how antibiotic resistance genes move in particular environments.

“I am delighted that Shannon has received these grants that will create new opportunities for our students to conduct collaborative, cutting-edge research,” says Michael Latham, dean of Grinnell College. “This research reinforces Grinnell’s commitment to active scholarship and inquiry-led learning opportunities that reach beyond our campus.”

Adina Howe, assistant professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State, leads the three-year USDA grant. This grant will support technology development, field sampling, laboratory experiments and workshops to disseminate the open-access bioinformatics pipelines to the broader research community.

“I feel very fortunate to be collaborating with a tremendous team of scientists, who are all sharing their expertise to address an important environmental issue — how do we detect and monitor movement of antibiotic-resistance genes in the environment,” Hinsa-Leasure says.

Hinsa-Leasure, an environmental microbiologist, first began investigating antibiotic-resistance genes in the environment near Grinnell in 2014. This project was instigated by one of her former students, Evan Griffith ’15, who was interested and concerned about the local environment.

“Evan and I began this work with a directed reading course to learn what was happening in the field,” recalls Hinsa-Leasure. “That course led us to the USDA in Ames and the development of a partnership that continues to flourish today.”

“I am excited that this project is continuing and that I made a small contribution,” says Griffith, who received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Grinnell. He recently returned from Australia, where he worked as a research intern on a project between Arid Recovery and the University of New South Wales. He hopes to pursue a master’s degree in conservation medicine at Tufts University.

Griffith is one of eight Grinnell undergraduates who already have participated in the project he and Hinsa-Leasure initiated.

“I am thrilled,” Hinsa-Leasure says, “that through this funding additional Grinnell students will have access to cutting-edge technologies and bioinformatics, which will allow us to advance the field.”

College to Buy Grinnell Golf and Country Club

Grinnell Golf and Country Club membership voted in a special meeting Tuesday, Feb. 9, in favor of the College's purchase of the Club. The vote was 107-1. The Club's Board also unanimously approved the sale.

Club representatives approached the College about a possible sale late last summer. Under the terms of the College's 2001 investment in the Club, it has first right of refusal on any proposed sale. After meeting with the Club representatives, the College began exploring its options and conducting preliminary due diligence. A purchase agreement was completed in January, and agreement on terms was reached shortly thereafter.

The purchase includes the grounds, buildings, and equipment. The College intends to operate the Club as a public golf course. The swimming pool is also planned as a public facility, pending assessment of its condition and necessary repairs. All existing contracts for use of the facilities will be honored. The College will pay taxes on the property to the City of Grinnell.

As transition plans take shape, the College will update Club membership accordingly.

According to Kate Walker, vice president for finance and treasurer for the College, the purchase of 56 acres directly adjacent to campus is a win-win for the College and the community.

“It preserves a treasured community resource whose history is deeply tied to the College's,” Walker says. “Founded by College faculty in 1899, the Club's sale in some ways brings things full circle. The College sees this sale as an opportunity to continue to operate the Club as a value-add for the community. Furthermore, acquiring the Club protects the College and the community against the risk of purchase and loss of this prime property to another party.”

The goal, Walker adds, is to complete the transaction in time to open the course for the 2016 season.

Ignite Institute for Middle/High School

Middle and high school students can learn salsa dancing, international cooking, storytelling, political campaigning, spear throwing and more at the first Ignite Institute on Saturday, March 5, at Grinnell College.

The College will launch the Ignite Institute with a day of free, fun and fascinating academic mini-courses taught on campus by Grinnell College student teachers.

Ashley Schaefer“These engaging mini-courses will be fun and accessible to students, plus they will introduce them to the physical environment of a college campus, helping to develop college readiness,” said Ashley Schaefer, director of the Careers in Education Professions program.

“The Grinnell College students who teach the courses gain experience developing a course from start to finish, build their organization and planning skills, and get a taste of the complexities of teaching,” Schaefer added. “Most teachers sign up because of their desire to contribute to the Grinnell community and because they love the topics they plan to teach.”

With this new crop of 44 teachers conducting mini-courses for middle and high school students, more than 180 students at Grinnell College will have taught an Ignite course within two years.

Ignite is open to all Iowa students in grades 7-12 who wish to attend. All participants will receive a free T-shirt, lunch, and snack. Students are welcome to take either a morning or afternoon mini-course, or both. Registration is open and continues through Friday, Feb. 26.

The Ignite Institute is inspired by the successful Ignite Program, which offers free courses to students from pre-kindergarten through the sixth grade. The program began last year, and by last November, 256 students had registered for the Ignite Program's 21 mini-courses.

The 21 mini-courses offered on March 5 are designed for specific age groups. For example, seventh and eighth-graders will choose from seven courses, including How to Take Over the World Using Algorithms and Robots as well as Tour de France: Food Edition!

Ninth and tenth-graders also will have seven courses to select from, including GMZ: Grinnell's Celebrity Hot Seat and Amazing Atlatls: Spear-Throwing Fun. Among the seven courses for 11th and 12th graders are The Nature versus Nurture Debate and Lay Down the Law.

Morning check-in will begin at 10:15 a.m. for students who haven’t already picked up their information folders and T-shirts from Schaefer the week of Ignite. Check-in will take place in the lobby of Alumni Recitation Hall, 1226 Park St., Grinnell.

Students who already have their information will head directly to their classrooms and classes will start promptly at 10:30 a.m. Students in middle school must be signed in by an adult. There will be a lunch break for all students at 12:30 p.m., at which time parents of middle school students who have not signed up for an afternoon course may pick up their students.

The afternoon session will start at 1 p.m. and students will be dismissed at 3 p.m. Parents should pick up their middle school students. High school students do not need a parent to drop them off or pick them up.

Making the Ignite programs possible are Grinnell College Careers in Education Professions and Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement, as well as a generous gift from Helen Redmond and Pete Brownell.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations through Conference Operations and Events.

Scholars' Convocation: Hilary Mason ’00

Hilary Mason '00The Scholars' Convocation at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, will feature Hilary Mason ’00. Mason is founder and CEO of Fast Forward Labs, a data science and machine learning firm, and the data scientist in residence at Accel Partners .

Mason's lecture, which is free and open to the public, is titled "Data, Machines, and People: Data Science, Products, and Society," and will take place in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

Mason received her bachelor's degree in computer science from Grinnell and went on to study computer science at the graduate level at Brown University. When asked to describe herself, she says, "I make beautiful things with data."

Fast Forward Labs is a new kind of research company that helps recognize and develop new product and business opportunities through emerging technologies helps organizations accelerate their data science and machine intelligence capabilities. Every quarter the company profiles a different near future technology, producing a report on its development and a prototype demonstrating its application.

At Accel Partners, Mason advises Accel's portfolio companies and assists with evaluating new technologies and investment opportunities.

Mason, who previously served as chief scientist at bitly, also co-hosts DataGotham, a conference for New York's data community. In addition, she co-founded HackNY, a nonprofit that helps engineering students find opportunities in New York's creative technical economy. She is a member of Brooklyn hacker collective NYC Resistor and the Anita Borg Institute Board of Directors. She also advises numerous companies, including Sparkfun Electronics and Collective.

Grinnell College welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Coming of Age in Chore Boots

Janet SchlapkohlJanet Schlapkohl, author and performer of “Coming of Age in Chore Boots,” will read from her play and discuss the experiences of women during the 1980s farm crisis when she visits Grinnell College on Thursday, Feb. 18.

“Chore Boots – Women Experienced the Farm Crisis of 1980” will start at 7:30 p.m. in the main lounge of Mears Cottage, 1213 Sixth Ave., Grinnell. The event, sponsored by the Grinnell College Center for Prairie Studies, is free and open to the public.

“Most conventional Midwest farmers might be men, but the farm crisis of the 1980s did not affect them alone, it had ramifications in their families and beyond,” said Jon Andelson ’70, professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Prairie Studies at Grinnell College.

“Janet experienced the farm crisis as a young woman,” Andelson added. ”She was there. She’s told her story in her one-woman biographical play ‘Chore Boots,’ which she will read from and discuss. She also will talk about the role of women in that crisis, and of how people find their way out of crises.” A question-and-answer session will follow.

Schlapkohl holds master's degrees in playwriting and education from the University of Iowa and a bachelor's degree in biology from Iowa State University. She is the founder of Combined Efforts Theatre, director of Country Camp, LLC, and the recipient of the Isabelle Turner Human Rights Award, the Richard Maibaum Award, and the Finkbine Award for Human Rights. She also was selected as a 2014 Visionary Playwright by Theater Masters.

Her plays have been produced in New York City, Los Angeles, Colorado, and across Iowa. She has performed her monologues and one-woman shows at Riverside Theatre in Iowa City, the Looby Theatre in Nashville, Stage Left Studio in New York City, and in Grinnell at The Loft Theatre in the Grinnell Arts Center. She lives on an acreage in Iowa with her husband, a veterinarian who works with large animals.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Beyond the Shiny New Toy—Next Frontier for Digital Humanities

Joining Database Sites to Better Understand Early Modern Book History

Last summer, a group of three scholars commandeered the Obermann Center attic for a month with the goal of pushing their digital humanities (DH) project into a new phase. The team of Blaine Greteman (English, University of Iowa), James Lee (English, Grinnell College), and David Eichmann (School of Library and Information Science, University of Iowa) worked to link two separate database web sites. One captures the full texts of 25,000 early modern books; the other includes metadata about the makers and sellers of nearly 500,000 books from a 300-year period.

The group was the first recipient of an Iowa Digital Bridges Collaborative Grant, part of the Digital Bridges for Humanistic Inquiry. This multi-year experiment supports a variety of collaborative practices in the humanities and is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The initiative offers faculty members at Grinnell College and the University of Iowa opportunities to work together from 2015 through 2018. 

Lofty Goals

At the heart of their project, “Linked Reading: A New Scalable Model for the Digital Humanities,” was a desire to see how the two datasets could be combined to answer a host of questions about the history of published literary texts, including the impact of those who printed, sold, and circulated these materials. As both Greteman and Lee are Shakespeare scholars, they chose Othello as a test case. Could they garner a new understanding of the play by unifying their datasets, and what technical bumps would they hit along the way?

The loftier goal of the project was the advancement of a field that is arguably still in a very early phase. The three scholars believe that having multiple datasets that can talk to one another and be simultaneously cross-referenced will open new doors for scholars studying literatures of the past as well as for digital humanists. 

“For a long time, DH has been viewed as a shiny new toy,” says Lee. “Just saying ‘isn’t it cool’ isn’t sufficient. We want to move beyond that.”

[Editor's note: The original article states the grant ends in 2019. It ends in 2018.]

Continue reading "Beyond the shiny new toy - next frontier for Digital Humanities."

Volunteer Opportunity at CERA

Savanna Restoration and Greenhouse Work Day​

Join Grinnellians and other volunteers on Saturday, February 20, 2016, for a volunteer work day at  Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA). 

The group will be working on two projects:

  • savanna restoration mop-up (making piles and salvaging firewood), and
  • transplanting prairie and savanna seedlings in the greenhouse.

Work gloves and light refreshments will be provided; please bring your own water bottle.

Wear clothes and boots appropriate for work outside in the snow unless you’d like to stay in the greenhouse. 


If you plan to drive out to CERA, please park by the Environmental Education Center and meet the group at the Maintenance Shed at 10 a.m.

Need a ride? Please contact Nick Koster to reserve one. Riders will meet at the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center drop-off area at 9:30 a.m. 

Antonio Sanchez, Anat Cohen with The Gabriel Espinosa Latin Jazz Sextet

Grammy-winning drummer Antonio Sanchez — who composed the score for the 2014 film Birdman — and renowned clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen will join  The Gabriel Espinosa Latin Jazz Sextet for a free, public concert with at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, in Sebring-Lewis Hall, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

Tickets, which are free, are required for admission. They will be available beginning Tuesday, Feb. 16, at the Bucksbaum Center Box Office.

A bassist from Merida, Mexico, Espinosa has been performing since he was 14. He received his bachelor's degree in music from Central College in Pella, Iowa, and went on to earn a diploma in arranging from Berklee College of Music in Boston and a master's degree in music from the University of North Texas. In his last year at Berklee, Espinosa formed the group Ashanti with his friend and classmate George Robert.

Espinosa returned to Central College to become director of jazz studies but continued to perform with Ashanti, recording three albums with the group.

He also recorded three more albums after Ashanti: From Yucatan to Rio as a solo artist, and Celebrando and Samba Little Samba with virtuoso jazz harmonica player Hendrik Meurkens of Germany.

Cohen and Sanchez played a few tracks as guest artists on all three of these albums. The concert at Grinnell primarily will feature music from the three albums.

In 2014 the Greater Des Moines Community Jazz Center honored Espinosa with the Iowa Jazz Hall of Fame award for his years of leadership in jazz music. 

Cohen has been honored as Clarinetist of the Year eight years in a row by the Jazz Journalists Association. She also received the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publisher's Wall of Fame prize for composition and musicianship in 2009. She has toured worldwide with her quartet, headlining at jazz festivals and performing at top jazz clubs.

Sanchez, a five-time Grammy-winning drummer born in Mexico City, has been playing the drums since age 5. After moving to New York City, he became famous on the international jazz scene, playing drums on more than 100 albums and performing with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Chick Corea, Toots Thielemans and the late Michael Brecker. Sanchez  won the Sound Stars Award for Best Film Score at the 2014 Venice Film Festival for his work on Birdman.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations and Events.

Bound: Film Screening and Discussion

The College will present Bound: African versus African Americans (AVAA) — a hard-hitting documentary that addresses the tension that exists between Africans and African-Americans — at noon Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. The film screening will be followed by a highly interactive discussion opportunity; refreshments provided.

AVAA uses personal testimonials to expose the rift between Africans and African-Americans, then it takes us on a journey through the corridors of their historical experiences as it illuminates the moments that divide and bind them.

The event is sponsored by the Cultural Films Committee, Department of American Studies, and Office of Student Affairs.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.