Posts by lweddell
It goes throughout the region via the Southern Colorado Aids Project. It goes to towns in Tanzania and Kenya. It goes to K-12 schools in Colorado. Any student interested in science outreach can participate in the biosciences club, which goes to a local elementary school and teaches scientific methodology. High school students and teachers learn about RNA research in her laboratory.
Grover, chair of the chemistry and biochemistry department, wants to make science fun and accessible. She uses real-life problems in teaching biochemistry, an approach called problem-based service learning. Students learn nucleic acid biochemistry by reading current literature on AIDS-causing HIV virus and present the science of virus multiplication and drug action to the local community. “These students have enough knowledge to make a difference,” Grover says. “They may not be experts, but they have learned enough to be useful to society. One does not need a Ph.D. to make a difference in the world.”
She also wants her students to know that science is a puzzle and never a finished project; that there are always new directions to pursue. And she practices what she preaches: Eight to 10 students each year conduct RNA-related research in her lab. The students get a lot of one-on-one mentoring in her lab, but they also learn independently, with every student getting his or her own research project. “That way, each student gets ownership of the work,” Grover says.
Although each student has a project, they all deal in some way with how local structures form in RNA. They examine the affect of ions on RNA stability. “We want to determine the rules for forming RNA structures. We study small regions of RNA that are functionally important. We want to improve the accuracy with which we get RNA-based information from genomic databases,” Grover says. The research results are impressive, and every year Grover takes four or five students to national conferences where they present their work. Students also get a chance to publish their work in nationally renowned journals.
When she was in her early 20s, Grover, the daughter of an Indian Air Force officer and a teacher, came to the United States, where she earned a master’s degree in biophysical chemistry from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. in bioinorganic/biochemistry from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. While there she worked with Dr. Holden Thorp to study drugs that cut DNA for such uses as in chemotherapy.
During her postdoctoral work in the laboratory of renowned RNA researcher Dr. Olke Uhlenbeck at the University of Colorado, Boulder, she began delving into catalytic RNA, one of the hottest fields in biochemistry. “RNA controls everything in the cell. You have ribosomes acting as enzymes, and RNA cutting itself out of a larger RNA, perhaps telling us that RNA is the original molecule of life,” Grover says. Boulder was the center of the “RNA world” during the 1990s. While at Boulder, Grover taught an organic chemistry and biochemistry course to CU nursing students. She found she enjoyed it, and that students responded well to her teaching. She realized then that she wanted to improve science education for all students.
Grover joined the Colorado College faculty in 1999. She teaches organic chemistry and biochemistry, as well as gender and science, and ecofeminism. “I’m not here to open their brains and dump information in,” she says. When she tells her students that what they are learning now may be obsolete in 10 years, they groan and ask, “So why are we learning this?”
“Ah,” she replies, “you should be thinking of the principles, and not memorizing.”
“The liberal arts philosophy fits me,” she says. “I want students to see science from multiple angles; to see science broadly. I want them to think for themselves, think logically and build a foundation.”
Grover is married to Gerald Miller, a professional cellist who plays with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic and with symphonies in Calfornia. They travel to India every few years to visit her two siblings, mother and their nephews and nieces.
Collin Knauss ’13 of Chevy Chase, Maryland, has been awarded the 2011 Charlie Blumenstein Water and Wildlife Conservation Internship. Knauss, a biology major, will serve as an intern at The Nature Conservancy Silver Creek Preserve in Picabo, Idaho. He is responsible for assisting stewardship staff with protection and enhancement of wildlife habitat and natural resources on The Nature Conservancy’s preserves in Idaho.
The internship is named after Charlie Blumenstein ’96, who was passionate about the environment and conservation of water resources. He credited his informal, out-of-classroom, extra-curricular, field experiences with his decision to become a hydrogeologist and to devote his professional life to the improvement of water resources.
Four Colorado College students recently presented posters at the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s highly competitive undergraduate poster competition, with one student receiving an award for her work. The poster competition was part of the organization’s national conference, held in Washington, D.C., last month.
Presenting posters at the conference were Allison O’Connell ’11, Shane Strom ’11, Arian Frost ’12, and Justin Garoutte ’12. All four students are biochemistry majors and work with Associate Professor Neena Grover of the chemistry and biochemistry department.
O’Connell, a biochemistry major from Sea Cliff, N.Y., won an award for her poster titled “Thermodynamic Examination of the Internal Stem-Loop in U6 RNA.” She investigated the stability of the small RNA that is responsible for spliceosome assembly and catalysis. Understanding this can help explain the role of RNA and help in developing better RNA-based drugs in the near future.
Two Colorado College philosophy majors recently presented their work at Pacific University’s Undergraduate Philosophy Conference.
Madeline Mindich ’11 presented “The Human Condition and the Ethics of Remembering It: An Essay Inspired by the ‘Concluding Unscientific Postscript’.” Joel Bock ’11 presented “Dwelling as Being at Home in the World: The Heideggerian Plight of Dwelling in Wolfe’s ‘You Can’t Go Home Again’.”
The Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference is an annual, two-day conference held each spring, attracting students from across the country and internationally. The purpose of the conference is to provide a forum for the presentation of philosophical work of undergraduates to their peers. Since 1997, almost 1,000 students from more than 240 schools have participated.
All of the participants are undergraduate students, with the exception of the annual keynote address by a renowned philosopher. Past keynote speakers have included Paul Churchland, Hilary Putnam, John Searle, Keith Lehrer, Catherine Elgin, John Perry, Hubert Dreyfus, Jerry Fodor, and Alvin Plantinga.
“Soundtrack for a Revolution,” the documentary produced by Dylan Nelson, Colorado College’s artist-in-residence for film studies, will air on Monday, May 9 on PBS’s “American Experience.”
The 82-minute documentary is the story of the American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, told through the freedom songs protesters sang on picket lines, in meetings and in jails. As current singers perform songs from the era, interviews and archival footage evoke the movement’s emotional history.
A companion to the PBS history series, “American Experience” includes features on a range of people and events in American history. Praised as the finest documentary series on television, “American Experience” brings to life the compelling stories from the past that inform our understanding of the world today.
In addition to the documentary’s debut on “American Experience,” Nelson, along with the directors, will present the film at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wednesday, May 11, at its contemporary documentaries series. The program is a showcase for feature-length and short documentaries drawn from the Academy Award nominations, including the winners, as well as other important and innovative films considered by the Academy that year.
Nelson, along with her husband, Clay Haskell, teach a variety of filmmaking classes, as well as the popular off-campus class, “On Location: Hollywood.”
Members of CC’s Korean American Student Union (KASA) recently held a day-long Korean Culture Camp for Korean children in Colorado Springs adopted by American families.
The camp, held during the Block 6 break in Loomis Lounge, was attended by 15-20 children ages 3-10.
In the past, KASA has held a Korean culture night with dancing, food, and music, but this year the group wanted to tackle something different. “We wanted to do something that would last,” said YaeEun Grace Hahm ’11, a biochemistry and music major.
The event was organized by Hahm, who co-chairs KASA with Mina Chung ’13, and Alexandria Song ’12, secretary of the group. Six additional KASA members helped with the camp.
The day featured games, songs, food, story-telling, and crafts. The adopted children’s American families also attended, so they, too, could learn about Korean culture. “It was a good community outreach project,” said Hahm, who is from Korea originally but moved to Boulder with her family when she was 9.
The goal was to teach the adoptees about their Korean heritage because many of their American parents were not equipped with that knowledge. KASA members taught parents about Korean cuisine and how to prepare simple dishes, and gave parents recipes and samples. The children were taught simple Korean phrases, songs, and games.
“We wanted the Korean adoptees to know that we do care, and that they have a lot of support from everyone,” Hahm said. Although she is a senior, Hahm said she is hopeful that the camp will continue. “We got a lot of ideas for other things we want to do next time,” she said. “The first time is the most difficult.”
The ensemble, CC’s internationally recognized experimental music group, will perform in New Zealand and Australia during their two-week tour. Concerts will be held at the University of Auckland and the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington, followed by concerts in Australia at the prestigious Canberra International Music Festival, Campbelltown Arts Centre in Sydney, and Queensland Conservatorium in Brisbane.
A preview concert will be held at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 11 in Packard Hall, on the Colorado College campus.
The ensemble, which performs using fish line, ribbon, mallets, and brushes on the interior components of a grand piano, was founded by Scott in 1977. Hansen, principal voice instructor at Colorado College, often performs with the group.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the ensemble’s second Australia tour; their first trip there, in 1987, centered on a live national radio broadcast from the Sydney Opera House. The ensemble has released five recordings, appeared numerous times on network and cable television in the U.S., Europe, and Australia, and are frequently heard on live and recorded national radio broadcasts.
On the first and fifth anniversaries of the September 11 attacks, the group was featured on National Public Radio’s “Sonic Memorial Project” commemorating the people and neighborhoods of the World Trade Center, where they had performed shortly before the attacks.
A current student and two recent Colorado College graduates have received National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships.
Lauren Shoemaker ’11, a double major in mathematics and biology, will embark on a Ph.D. program in ecology at the University of Colorado in the fall. Shoemaker carried out her senior thesis research on the sustainable management of reef fish at the National Marine Fisheries Service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Sarah Wolff ’10, a soccer player who graduated magna cum laude with a mathematics degree, is a first-year graduate student in math at Dartmouth College. At her senior thesis presentation, her teammates showed up with a big banner that read: “Prove That Theorem!” It now hangs proudly in the math department student lounge.
Jess Coyle ’08, who graduated magna cum laude with degrees in biology and mathematics, is a first-year graduate student in ecology at the University of North Carolina. She spent a year before graduate school teaching at a school for HIV orphans in Malawi.
“These NSF fellowships are very prestigious, so for three students from a small college to get them in one year is a really amazing accomplishment,” said David Brown, associate math professor. “It is a real testament to the talent of our students and to the educational opportunities available at Colorado College. It is a privilege to work with bright young scientists like these, and we couldn’t be prouder of them.
The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based masters’ and doctoral degrees. Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Google founder Sergey Brin and “Freakonomics” co-author Steven Levitt.
The Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center was designed to be interdisciplinary, but we’re not sure that edible was part of the plan.
But, if you want to have your building and eat it too, head to Nosh, 121 S. Tejon St., where pastry chef Alicia Prescott has created the Cornerstone Almond S’more, a graham cracker, marshmallow, and almond cake rendition of Colorado College’s state-of-the-art interdisciplinary arts center.
The six-inch, multi-layered dessert is available Thursday through Saturday evenings in April, designated as Colorado Architecture Month. Prescott teamed up with architect Christy Riggs for Delicious Designs, a program that celebrates architecture through dessert. The Colorado component of the American Institute of Architects pairs up several Colorado architects and chefs to create a limited-time offering of desserts inspired by architecture throughout the state.
The foundation of the dessert is a flourless almond cake cut into building block shapes and coated with milk chocolate. The glass is depicted with marshmallow, and the iconic prow and copper side walls are rendered with chocolate-covered graham crackers. Once the building is assembled, the marshmallow is torched for a glazed appearance. Caramel sauce and orange segments complete the presentation.
The Cornerstone Almond S’more feeds two to three and costs $12. The wait staff presents the dessert with an artist’s rendition of the building, to help orient diners.
Prescott says it takes several days to prepare the dessert for assembly, as her staff needs to make the almond cake and graham crackers, coat them with chocolate, and cut them into the proper sized pieces. However, once the ingredients are ready, assembling CC’s iconic building can be done in three to four minutes.
“It’s fun and challenging,” Prescott says. Last year she and Riggs also participated in the program with two entries: a dessert rendition of the Fine Arts Center served at Nosh, and the then-new Goodwill building served at The Blue Star.
Other architecture being represented via desserts throughout the state this month include the Brown Palace Hotel, Pepsi Center, Marble Garden at Aspen Meadows, and Denver’s Millennium Bridge.
Competitive snowboarder Chloe Banning ’14 recently completed an impressive season, securing a spot on the World Cup tour for the 2011-12 season. Banning, who finished 20th overall in World Cup boardercross standings, also was named the Nor-Am championship for the second consecutive year. The Nor-Am Cup is a snowboard series one level below World Cup competition.
Banning, who competes in boardercross competitions, placed fourth in this season’s Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix. She finished behind world champion Lindsey Jacobellis, 2010 boardercross Olympic Silver medalist Deborah Anthonioz of France, and Olympian Faye Gulini.
Banning also had a third-place finish this season at the Junior World Championships (age 20 and under), held in Valmalenco, Italy. This season she competed in Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Utah, Oregon, California, and Colorado – with a CC Tiger sticker on her snowboard!
Banning, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., started snowboarding when she was 7 and began competing a year later. She plans to pursue a career in medicine, with a major in either biology or math.
Boardercross is a snowboard competition in which a group of snowboarders, usually four, start simultaneously atop an inclined course of various features, then race to reach the finish line first. Snowboard cross became an Olympic sport in 2006, and has been part of the Winter X Games since the annual event began in 1997.