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Journalists Talk About the Iowa Caucuses

Three national political journalists will discuss the role of the news media covering the 2016 Iowa caucuses at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

The panel discussion, which is free and open to the public, will conclude the fall series of public events leading up to the Iowa caucuses sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights. The series has brought to campus political activists, authors, professors and, now, journalists, to share their perspectives of the Iowa caucuses. 

The journalists serving on the media panel will be:

  • David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette;
  • Jennifer Jacobs, chief political reporter at the Des Moines Register; and
  • Kathie Obradovich, political columnist at the Des Moines Register.

An acclaimed journalist, Shribman became the executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2003. Before joining the Post-Gazette, he covered politics for several other distinguished newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. His column, "My Point" is nationally syndicated. He received the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for his coverage of Washington in 1995.

Jacobs has been the chief political reporter at the Des Moines Register since 2011. She covers presidential, congressional, and state politics in Iowa, as well as Iowa's first-in-the-nation role in the caucus. A respected voice for Iowa politics, she has been featured on Iowa Press, CNN, CSPAN, MSNBC, and NPR.

A 25-year veteran of covering Iowa politics, Obradovich has been at the Des Moines Register since 2003. Her columns, focusing on presidential, congressional, and local politics, are published weekly. For 10 years, Obradovich served as the Des Moines bureau chief at the Iowa Statehouse for several Iowa papers, including the Quad-City Times, and Mason City Globe-Gazette

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.

Sharing Neuroscience Research with the World

Grinnell students, faculty, and alumni joined more than 30,000 colleagues from more than 80 countries at 2015 Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Annual Meeting.

Faculty joined the students as they presented their Mentored Advanced Projects (MAP) research at the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience poster session, and met with alumni at an event sponsored by the College.

The Society for Neuroscience is the world’s largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system, and the annual meeting is billed as the premier venue for neuroscientists to present emerging science, learn from experts, forge collaborations with peers, explore new tools and technologies, and advance careers.

Students and professor in front of poster titled Effect of High-fat Diet-induced Obesity on Spatial and Declarative MemoryGrinnellians at the conference included professors Mark Levandoski (chemistry, biological chemistry, and neuroscience), Clark Lindgren (biology and neuroscience), Nancy Rempel-Clower (psychology and neuroscience), and Andrea Tracy ’99 (psychology and neuroscience).

Their MAP students included Tom Earnest '16, Mike Fitzpatrick '16, Anthony Mack '16, Takahiro Omura '17, Marissa Yetter '16, and Jacob Ziontz ’16.

At least 14 alumni also attended, ranging from the classes of ’00 to ’15.

The SfN meeting is one of many professional events where Grinnell students have had the opportunity to share their research and meet others with similar interests.

Photos courtesy of Takahiro Omura '17.

ACM Student Film Conference and Festival

The inaugural Associated Colleges of the Midwest Student Film Conference and Festival will be held April 1-3 at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisc.

The event showcases work from student filmmakers, screenwriters, and scholars from ACM affiliated campuses, including Grinnell College.

Theresa Geller, associate professor of English who specializes in film theory and history, is one of three faculty from across the country who secured a grant for lodging and meals for student participants.

Grinnell students are encouraged to submit materials no later than Jan. 1, 2016, and participate in the conference.

  • Film, video, and new media works of all lengths, modes, and genres, including documentary, narrative, animation, experimental, music video, PSA, and new media
  • Screenplays in every genre and of any length
  • Scholarly papers on topics from a variety of theoretical, cultural, and historical approaches to film studies and visual culture.

There is no entry fee, and multiple works are accepted.

Prisca Kim Awarded Dennis Perri Junior Award

Former Grinnell students Philip Guarco ’82 and Kathryn Jackson ’83 generously established an endowment that permits the Spanish department to recognize the achievement of a Spanish major through a yearly monetary award. The department selects a junior Spanish major taking into account the following criteria:

  • At least a 3.25 GPA in the Spanish major
  • Successful completion of at least three semesters of Spanish beyond Spanish 217
  • Conscientious and dedicated junior in all of his or her Spanish courses
  • Evidence of a commitment to intellectual life of the Spanish department in and outside of class (including attendance to speakers' presentations, Spanish table, Spanish House activities, participation in newsletter, and Spanish Laboratory)

Past Recipients:

  • Nora Shields (2006-2007)
  • Chao Wei Hung (2007-2008)
  • Frida Rodriguez (2008-2009)
  • Vicky Diedrichs (2009-2010)
  • Katherine Chung (2010-2011)
  • Debbie Cifuentes Ramírez (2011-2012)
  • Anam Aslam (2012-2013)
  • Nick Hunter (2013-2014)

Timbuktu at The Strand

Timbuktu, winner of seven Cesar Awards including Best Picture, will be shown at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at The Strand Theatre, 921 Main St., Grinnell. The screening is free and open to the public.

The film centers on proud cattle herder Kidane, who lives peacefully in the dunes with his wife, Satima, his daughter, Toya, and Issan, their 12-year-old shepherd. Their home is near the ancient Malian city of Timbuktu in the West African nation of Mali.

Jihadists determined to control the faith of Timbuktu residents have imposed a grinding interpretation of Sharia law. Music, laughter, cigarettes and even soccer have been banned. Kidane and his family have avoided the chaos that reigns in Timbuktu — but their destiny changes suddenly after a tragic accident.

A nominee for the 2015 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, Timbuktu also garnered seven of France's Cesar Awards. In addition to Best Picture, the film won Best Director for Abderrahmane Sissako, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Music, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound.

Timbuktu is rated PG-13 (for violence and thematic elements). Sponsors of the screening are the French and Arabic department, Center for the Humanities, Center for International Studies, Intercultural Affairs, and the Cultural Film Committee.

Big Island Summer

Rebecca Rasmussen ’16 and Edward Hsieh ’16 helped find what turned out to be the largest super colony of ants ever recorded in North America. By large, we mean all the way from Iowa to the Appalachian Mountains.

Students sitting on ground with research tools around them.Those Mentored Advanced Projects (MAPs) in summer 2014 earned them both an invitation from Grinnell biology professor Jackie Brown to do a second MAP last summer. This one meant spending two months on Big Island, Hawaii.

Both students agreed enthusiastically. By mid-May, Rasmussen and Hsieh were planning preliminary field studies to help Brown and Idelle Cooper ’01 of James Madison University find out why some female damselflies are red and some are green.

Ecological or sexual selection

“I was looking at a behavioral biology aspect because we wanted to see if the females were evolving this color dimorphism because of sexual selection,” Rasmussen says. For two months, she and other researchers stalked damselflies at various sites near Na’alehu, the southernmost town in the United States.

“Our main hypothesis was ecological selection, so I was testing the alternative,” Rasmussen says. Her findings indicated that sexual selection was minimal. “What we saw goes along with what Professor Brown and Professor Cooper have been positing, which is promising for their research,” she says.

Hsieh tested for chemical properties related to the color morphs. “In the ant project I looked at their particular hydrocarbons, and in this one I looked at antioxidant chemicals to see what potentially helped protect damselflies against UV radiation depending on the elevation.”

Finding the unexpected

Damselfly sitting on a notes that track flies sex and behavior for June 18, 2015, 10:12 a.m.Hsieh’s early findings contradicted expectations that red pigment signals protection from UV stress. He found that the redder the damselfly, the lower its antioxidant capability. “We have a couple of theories as to why that might be so,” Hsieh says. “It’s still pretty open ended and we’re actually continuing to work on it right now.”

Brown, who along with Cooper received National Science Foundation funding for the damselfly project, says, “Working with Edward and Rebecca on two different projects has highlighted for me both their talents and the value of our research-based curriculum in preparing students for meaningful participation in research.

“Each has built on their particular experience with the ant project, but in a completely new setting,” Brown says. “We’ll be working hard together during their senior year to submit these results for publication.” 

Serious contributions

Rasmussen says the collaborative research processes have made her feel “more prepared for going to graduate school in biology, if that’s the route I decide to take. Going through the planning stage, executing it, and then summarizing it is, I think, applicable to any career field.”

Rasmussen says it is satisfying as an undergraduate to do research that adds knowledge to a field. “It is pretty exciting to find things that could seriously contribute or that turn out to be an unusual finding that is worth reporting,” she says.

“I was originally interested in doing biological field research,” Hsieh says of his MAP experience, “and these opportunities gave me a lot of experience in what I would expect to do if I were to continue in that vein. It’s very likely that I’ll continue on to graduate school, possibly in entomological research.”

Coolest experience

Damselfly research is highly weather dependent, so on a few rainy days the research team found diversions that included Hawaii’s vast mix of Asian cuisine, volcanoes, and black sand beaches.

“One morning it was pretty rainy so we went to a beautiful beach for snorkeling,” Hsieh says. “We swam with sea turtles, and then farther out we found a giant pod of 30-plus dolphins.

“We were swimming with dolphins,” Hsieh says. “It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. And it was on my 21st birthday. It was awesome.”

Rebecca Rasmussen ’16 is a biology major from Des Moines, Iowa. Edward Hsieh ’16 is a biology major from Champaign, Ill.

Social Justice Activated

When Sydney Banach ’18 browsed college websites as a prospective student, Grinnell College’s Liberal Arts in Prison Program quickly grabbed her attention.

“I remember reading about it on the website and the program contributed to my decision to apply to Grinnell early decision,” says Banach, who jumped at the chance to work in the justice system as an undergraduate.

At Grinnell, social justice is paired with an abundance of enriching and unique opportunities that allow students to explore issues of social justice up close. In the College’s innovative Liberal Arts in Prison program, student volunteers work as coordinators and tutor incarcerated students.

“This experience has definitely cemented my decision to work with juveniles in the future — whether as a lawyer, psychologist, or in another way,” Banach says.

The second-year student spends four hours a week tutoring youth and another five hours a week coordinating the volunteer program at a juvenile justice facility. Tutoring has broadened student volunteers’ definition of scholarship — incarcerated students are eager students whose lives, like their own, can be transformed by the liberal arts experience.

New Relationships

More than 20 student volunteers travel weekly to the juvenile detention facility to tutor incarcerated students in math and reading. The volunteers build rewarding relationships with students.

“The experience made me understand why people go into education,” says Cody Combs ’15, a volunteer coordinator and math tutor for three years. “To see someone go on to take a GED test and succeed is very gratifying.”

 “It expanded my definition of what a student is,” says Emma Morrissey ’15, a coordinator and writing tutor for the program for three years, who took a course in criminology because of her experiences in the program.

Rewarding Experiences

“I love interacting with the juveniles,” Banach says. “They have a refreshing perspective on life and are always enthusiastic to learn.”

Being able to participate in the program early on in her academic career is allowing Banach to learn about the juvenile justice system from the inside and make a difference in the lives of incarcerated students while still a student herself.  

“It’s extremely rewarding when a tutee gets a problem right or figures out a concept he did not think he could calculate,” she says. “They often surprise themselves which is inspiring.”

Grinnell’s Liberal Arts in Prison program also offers other volunteer programs, like serving as tutors and teaching not-for-credit classes at an adult prison facility. Approximately 50 students per semester volunteer through the program.

Sydney Banach ’18, undeclared, is from Mechanicsburg, Pa. Cody Combs ’15, a Chinese major, is from Bozeman, Mont. Emma Morrissey ’15, an English major, is from Chatham, N.J.

Asking for Help

Joyce Stern ’91“One of the most important things for Grinnell students is to get past the idea that adults are completely independent,” says Joyce Stern ’91, dean for student success and academic advising. “Adults are constantly consulting each other when they run into a challenge.”

While this advice might seem counterintuitive, it might be the first step in making more out of your time in college. When you arrive at Grinnell, a whole new world of independence is opened up to you. Suddenly, you have almost complete freedom in your social life, extracurriculars, and even your academics. You get to choose what clubs to join, which classes to take, when to study, and who you want to go to dinner with each night.

For many students, seeking help during high school means you’re doing badly or falling behind. But at Grinnell, using all the resources at your fingertips is part of what it takes to succeed! By choosing to come to Grinnell, you choose to ramp up your game. You could go someplace easy. You could shoot for the easy A, but instead you choose to challenge yourself. You’re smart, hard-working, motivated, and you’re very successful.

As a smart, successful student, you’re looking to make the most out of your investments. That includes making use of all the resources designed to support you when you take risks, save you time and energy, or get you back on track quickly when, inevitably, real life comes up and kicks you in the pants, which you know it will do at some point in your college years!

“We expect that all Grinnell students can handle this place,” Stern says. “You’re admitted with great credentials, but there are still things that get in students’ way.” Things such as difficulty adapting to professors’ standards, social anxiety, the death of a loved one, or struggles with time management can all have a big effect on your college experience.

The Academic Advising office can connect you with resources all around campus, from tutoring and counseling services to project planning worksheets and appointments at the Reading, Writing, or Math Labs. The staff at Academic Advising is there for you, to make sure that you get whatever you need to advance in your academics and build the life you want for yourself.

So when should you seek support? According Stern, there’s no such thing as “too early,” and there’s also no “too late.”

“We love to work with students who are simply trying to find a better approach to their studies. Students can and should approach us before the first sign of difficulty,” says Stern.

But even if you wait until you’re already having trouble, Academic Advising can still help.

“We know that people are only able to use good information when they are ready to do so, and even if we can’t help a student salvage a class or the semester, our work together could make the next semester go much better,” Stern says.

Seeking help isn’t a sign that you’re “not making it,” it’s a sign that you’re willing to challenge yourself and give yourself the best possible chance to succeed. So if you’re curious about finding new ways to study, if you’re struggling with a class, or if you’re simply curious about what’s available to you, Academic Advising is here for you!

For more information or to schedule an appointment, check out the Academic Advising website.

Balanced Performance

Ever wonder about handling the rigors of both academics and athletics at Grinnell?

Fully one third of Grinnell’s student body participates in varsity athletics. And while many Grinnell students achieve big things in sports (search Jack Taylor 138), all Grinnell student athletes find their own way to combine passion for athletics with academic priorities.

Anushka Joshi ’18 holds tennis racket with book, balls balanced on topAnushka Joshi ’18 came to campus two weeks before classes to prepare for the fall tennis season. “Coach (Andy Hamilton ’85) sends us a workout schedule for summer, so he expects us to be in top form with our tennis as well as our fitness,” Joshi says. “The first two weeks we played five hours a day.”  

Joshi is among six to eight players on the squad of 20 who traveled most weekends and played every Saturday until fall break in October. This year, having built a 9-1 record in a tie for second place after fall conference play, the team will also have a short spring season before going to the 2016 NCAA automatic qualifier tournament.  

Joshi says sports at The British School in her native Nepal were not nearly as intense as they are at Grinnell. She handled her first year here fairly easily. But with 200-level courses this year, she questioned if she could pull it off all season.

“The first weekend, six of us played for six hours straight,” Joshi says. “I was thinking ‘can I do this every week?’ I had so much studying to do on Sunday. But, I mean, I couldn’t quit. We have seniors on our team doing biochem and they’re managing, so I thought to myself ‘I can do this, too.’”

Joshi says getting a head start on her reading and doing homework as soon as it is assigned are strategies for a workable balance.

“It’s a handful, but it’s fun,” Joshi says, “Definitely you have to focus on academics, because it is academics first at Grinnell.”

Joel Baumann ’18 says athletics and academics fit together well at Grinnell because “coaches here respect academics. They’re very clear on emphasizing that you are always a student first.”

Baumann runs cross country and specializes in the 800 meters during indoor and outdoor track seasons. Training is “pretty much continuous” with a two or three week break between each season. “For all intents and purposes, it’s year-long running,” he says.

This fall Baumann is combining a rigorous cross country regimen with macro economics, a 200-level poli sci course, French, and environmental studies. “We have an open curriculum and a wide variety of courses to choose from, so I’m able to schedule my day in a way that makes sense for me,” Baumann says.

On a typical day Baumann goes to class the entire morning, then works afternoons in the Admission office as overnight host coordinator for prospective male students. He takes an hour to relax or study before a two-hour practice that starts at 4:15 p.m. Following dinner with the team, his evenings are dedicated to homework for the next day.

Baumann says daily discipline “allows your body and your mind to adjust to doing certain things at certain times throughout the day.

“I enjoy being in athletics because it forces you to plan your day and develop good time management skills,” Baumann says. “You have to be really strict with your regimen.”

Anushka Joshi ’18 is from Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Nepal. She is considering computer science and economics as possible majors, and hopes to study abroad next year. Joel Baumann ’18, a native of Grinnell, intends to pursue a double major in political science and economics.

An Evening with Myron Rolle

Myron Rolle will present a free, public talk at 7 p.m. Saturday, October 3, in the Alumni Recitation Hall Auditorium (Room 302).

Rolle is a neurosurgeon, football all-American, Rhodes scholar, NFL draftee, and humanitarian.

Sponsored by: Diversity and Inclusion, Donald L. Wilson Program, Pioneer Diversity Council, Intercultural Affairs, and Student Athletes Leading Social Change.

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