Posts in: General News

Accolades for Mary Margaret Alvarado’s “On Memory With No Devices”

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

While CC’s Thesis Specialist Mia (as she is known) Alvarado has published much of her writing, including poetry and nonfiction, in magazines and journals including The Boston Review, The Kenyon Review, VQR, and Outside, her recent essay is particularly exciting: It has been named a finalist for “Best of the Net” honors and selected to be published in an upcoming print anthology, Omnibus!. The essay, titled “On Memory With No Devices,” was selected by president and publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux Jonathan Galassi to be part of this anthology.

Alvarado says the idea for this essay is “part of a long-time obsession with what is a machine, and who are we among them?” It is also part of a series of lyrical essays Alvarado has written about the digital revolution that comprise a book-length manuscript, “They Say This Thing Works.” She adds, “I also wrote it to console myself; as I often write; and to revisit that girl that I once was, and offer her some mercy.” The themes of memory and technology have been interesting to Alvarado since before “On Memory With No Devices,” as she says, “I am interested by the degree to which we are outsourcing the very act of thinking, and the many arts and practices of memory.” Additionally, she says “I am interested by how we remember, and what; how a self-mutates in time; how nations and peoples create or erase memories; and by how domestic technologies, like, say, a letter, can form a whole life.”

The inclusion of this essay in Omnibus!is exciting and humbling for Alvarado, as she loves and admires the work of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. “It is an honor for Galassi to have read and then to recommend this writing,” she explains.

Alvarado’s essay can be found on the Cagibi website:

The Well Campaign is Here for You

The Well Campaign is a new initiative from the CC Wellness Resource Center that seeks to promote awareness that wellness and well-being mean something different to everyone. As CC strives to become a more equitable and inclusive campus and continues to implement the Equity in Mental Health Framework as part of the JED Campus Project, it is important to continue broadening understandings of what wellness means.

The Well Campaignpromotes holistic well-being as a process that is different foreveryone and invites members of the campus community to participate. The campaign builds on the holistic model of wellness to highlight five practices that help facilitate well-being: engage, relate, care, reflect, and rest.

WRC Paraprof Celia Palmer ’16printed posters in the Press at CC corresponding to the five terms; start looking out for those around campus.  In addition to the posters, the WRC will be sharing photos in which CC community members hold one of the posters and comment on what the given term means to them. The posters also direct viewers to the WRC webpagefor mental health resources and tips for reflecting on your own well-being. The more people who participate, the more diverse and meaningful the campaign will be, so reach out to Celia ( if you’re interested!

By engaging students, faculty, and staff from across the CC community and asking them to share the ways they practice and promote well-being in their own lives. Some of the terms (rest, reflect) are more personal and others are more social (engage, relate), but each involves vulnerability, self-awareness, communication, and an emphasis on growth.

CC Shows Support for Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Still In Banner

By: Miriam Brown ’21

The United States may intend to pull out of the Paris Agreement in 2020, but Colorado College is saying, “We Are Still In.”

In 2015, 195 countries, including the U.S., came together in Paris and agreed to make strides to limit the effects of global warming, such as by reducing carbon emissions to 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. In June 2017, President Donald Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the climate deal in 2020, so American political and business leaders formed the “We Are Still In” coalition that same month to show that they would still stand by the agreement.

As part of the Economics of International Climate Policy course in Block 4, Lily Weissgold ’20, vice president of outreach for the CC Student Government Association, attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Katowice, Poland. When she returned to campus, she wrote a resolution asking CC to sign onto We Are Still In. The faculty approved the resolution unanimously during the Block 5 faculty meeting, and now CC is one of 348 colleges and universities to sign on.

“Signing onto We Are Still In is sort of taking a stand and saying that as an institution, we believe climate change is real; we believe it’s going to affect our future students and our current students in their futures; we care, and we’re going to do everything in our institutional power to make the world a better place,” Weissgold says.

As an institution, CC has already beat the timeline of the Paris Agreement. CC made a commitment in 2008 to become carbon-neutral by 2020, so since then, CC has reduced direct emissions on campus by over 50 percent, and overall emissions — including air travel and commuting — by 33 percent.

According to Director of the Office of Sustainability Ian Johnson, the school community can support these efforts by continuing to reduce their emissions, particularly in the areas of electrical use, heating/cooling and domestic hot water, business travel, solid waste and wastewater, and commuting.

“We know that this is a monumental challenge, which means every thing we do as individuals and everything we do as a college that reduces emissions helps move the world closer to that goal,” Johnson says.

Innovator-in-Residence Program Fosters Culture of Creativity

Innovator in Residence

By Miriam Brown ’21

Sound artist, performer, and composer Reiko Yamada has built her career around pushing past disciplinary boundaries. In Block 4, Yamada will bring her expertise to Colorado College as the latest innovator-in-residence.

Innovation at CC launched its Innovator-in-Residence Program two years ago to give students the opportunities to collaborate and connect with people who are particularly groundbreaking in their work. While innovators are on campus — which can range from a week to a block — they give lectures, participate in panels, collaborate with students on class projects, and provide guidance through more casual conversations.

Even though Yamada is not yet present on campus, she is already pushing students and faculty to collaborate and problem-solve in different ways. Jane Hilberry, professor of English, is teaching a class next block on contemporary poetry. Iddo Aharony, professor of music, is teaching a class on songwriting. Hilberry and Aharony have never collaborated before, but Yamada’s presence was the impetus for them to join forces in a combined class project where students will create a musical piece with lyrics. Yamada will use her experience as a sound artist and performer to help the students think critically about their sounds and how they convey meaning.

But Yamada’s presence will not just be limited to music. She will also be working with Professor Sara Hanson’s molecular biology genomics lab, where she will help students to transform genetic code into music and sound.

“I think there’s something really valuable in completely reframing the way that you look at something,” says Jessica Hunter-Larsen, associate director of Innovation at CC. “Huge creative leaps have happened because people have been able to go totally outside of a discipline or set of protocols or practices and get information from other places.”

Yamada will present her own work, specifically her latest project on fruit flies called “Small, Small Things” on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 5:15 p.m. in Cornerstone Arts Center. Immediately following her presentation, artists Virgil Ortiz and Eiko Otake will join her for a panel about their creative processes, moderated by Hunter-Larsen and Hilberry.

Hunter-Larsen says that this is still the beginning for the Innovator-in-Residence Program, and they hope to use it in even bigger ways in the future.

“Sometimes when you’re able to bring somebody from another area … it can be a catalyst and a place to focus so that we are all pushed to find new ways of doing things or to collaborate differently,” she says.

Justice Watch: CC Students Look for Bias at Local Courthouse

By Miriam Brown ’21

Judges in the El Paso County Courthouse are supposed to be fair and impartial, but if they aren’t, Anna Grigsby ’19 and other Colorado College students are there to document it.

Grigsby is one of the leaders of Justice Watch, a student organization whose mission is to hold attorneys and judges accountable for fair treatment by observing trials and collecting data.

Associate Professor of Sociology Gail Murphy-Geiss introduced Grigsby and co-leader Key Duckworth ’19 to the organization through her sociology course Law and Society, in which students collect data at the courthouse. Justice Watch used to be a community-based group, but after it dissolved, Murphy-Geiss stepped in to revive it on CC’s campus.

“One of our goals is to normalize going to the courthouse because it’s public, and a lot of people don’t really understand that,” Grigsby says. “While we’re going to class, people’s futures are at risk.”

On the second and third Monday of every block, students ride with Grigsby and Duckworth to the courthouse, where they pair off to separate courtrooms. The pairs follow the trials with a pre-made worksheet, which asks questions like, “Do you think the judge treated both sides fairly?” If enough data is collected, they can present a report to the chief justice, which in the past has resulted in the removal of judges for inappropriate behavior.

Duckworth explains that with newspapers losing funding, reporters who were responsible for reporting on court events are often cut. Because of this, she says that organizations like Justice Watch are more important now than ever.

“This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done at CC,” says Duckworth. “I hope people can feel empowered to get more politically active and just realize that they can actually change things if they go out and try.”

Day of Service Morphs Into Week of Action

By Miriam Brown ’21

 What do creek clean-ups, blood drives, and anti-racism workshops have in common?

 They are all ways for Colorado College students, faculty, and staff to engage with the local community during CC’s recent Week of Action.

 Historically, the events focused on cleaning up local creeks during CC’s annual Day of Service. The annual Creek Week Clean-Up is a community-wide effort of the Pikes Peak region to clean creek and watershed fronts across the area. In the past, CCstudents and members of the campus community have done their part by trekking to Monument Creek to pick up trash along the bank. Duringthe 2016 event, theypicked up 3,140 pounds of trash intwo miles.

 This year, Niki Sosa, community partnership development coordinator for the Collaborative for Community Engagement, wanted to provide more opportunities to join in on the fun. Because of the fast-paced nature of the Block Plan, the CCE settled on a full week of action.

 “We thought with the week, we would have multiple afternoons where we could have diverse opportunities and showcase different ways that our CC community can be engaging in the greater Colorado Springs community,” Sosa says.

 The Week of Action, which took place from Sept. 29, to Oct. 6, featured nine intercampus groups and 11 community partners.On Monday, 18community organizations set up tables in Worner Campus Center for an engagement fair to show students the myriad ways they could participate.

 “Big change happens on the local level, and we are helping to create pathways so that students can get connected to that,” says Sosa.

 The week included events like an anti-racist agenda workshop, a discussion with city council members Jill Gaebler and Don Knight, a Bonfil Blood Drive, and a day exploring Colorado Springs with Leadership Pikes Peak.

 “It’s just hopefully the beginning,” says Anthony Siracusa, the CCE’s engaged learning specialist. 

First Person: Gathering Plant Data and Research Experience on my Venture Grant to Bolivia


By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Although many students choose to pursue Keller Venture Grants that are not directly related to their majors, my Venture Grant in Bolivia provided the first set of data for my senior thesis with the Department of Organismal Biology and Ecology.

The idea first came from Assistant Professor Rachel Jabaily when she heard I would be travelling in Bolivia before my semester abroad program in Chile. There is a species of plant in Bolivia that is endangered, but not well studied, she explained. The species, Puya raimondii, lives at high elevations (11,000 to 14,000 feet) in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Bolivia. She suggested that I could gain unique and valuable field research experience by collecting basic data from these plants.

After a little background research and a few emails to Jabaily’s Bolivian colleagues, I decided I would spend a few days of my independent travel time collecting size and reproductive category data on P. raimondii. One day of data collection would be with my dad, who was travelling with me for two weeks, and the other four days I would be accompanied by Bolivian botanist Carolina García Linowho studied P. raimondiifor her undergraduate thesis.

My dad and I travelled around southern Peru and Bolivia for almost two weeks before starting on the data collection, which ended up providing valuable acclimatization time. Hiking off-trail across rocky hills at 13,000 feet was not easy, even after those two weeks. The first data day took place a few hours outside of La Paz, where we easily found the P. raimondiiwith the help of Bolivian graduate students. Fueled by llama chicharrones (fried llama meat) and cookies, I was able to collect data from 40 individual plants.

A week after the first data day, my dad returned home, and I travelled to Cochabamba to convene with García Linoand her husband and new baby. We met in a hotel to plan our data collection and decided to rent a car and stay overnight in the little towns in the area known to have P. raimondii. Although I had a list of GPS coordinates of Puya locations, we spent the first day driving, searching for plants, and not finding any. The area was very rural with patchy cell phone coverage, and locals were suspicious of outsiders. After a day and a half of driving and not seeing a single Puya, we finally found ourselves in the Municipalidad de Vacas, where Bolivia’s largest Puya population lives. Data collection went smoothly from there, despite the rainy weather. After a day and a half of measuring Puya, I had enough data to head back to Cochabamba. Working in Bolivia was quite successful, but there is always room for improvement with methods, and a potential to have more data. In October, I will travel to Colombia, this time with Jabaily, to collect the same types of data in different species of Puya, with the goal of comparing reproductive data for the different species.

Lostroh and Udis-Kessler Release Third Album

Rejoice: Songs and Hymns

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Although Associate Professor of Molecular Biology Phoebe Lostroh and Director of Assessment and Program Review Amanda Udis-Kessler have been a couple since 1997, they were making music together long before.

They recently released their third album, “Rejoice: Songs and Hymns” under the band name EverySoul. The album contains 15 original songs and liberal religious hymns written by Udis-Kessler. The idea for the album started when Udis-Kessler was preparing for liver cancer treatment and wanted to compose at least one more album.

About the music, Lostroh says, “I want to help make the world a better place by encouraging people who value social justice,” and, “to make music that will help sustain activists in times of trouble and make us feel less alone.” The duo hopes to have the album included in the Unitarian Universalist Church’s music, which Lostroh says is quite remarkable.

“There are almost no other out queer women writers in U.S. church hymnals — Amanda is one of the very few, with a song in the Unitarian Universalist hymnal,” she explains. Since the release of the album, Udis-Kessler has already submitted a hymn for inclusion in a Methodist hymnal, and written a few new songs, which Lostroh says she is always happy to sing.

“Rejoice: Songs and Hymns”  is available on Spotify, and anyone who wants a free copy of the CD can contact Amanda Udis-Kessler via email:


Matt Rosen ’21 Connects with the Human Condition in First Book

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Matt Rosen ’21 has an exciting spring coming up: His book “Speculative Annihilationism: The Intersection of Archaeology and Extinction”will be published by Zero Books in June. The book is about philosophy, a topic Rosen has been interested in for a long time. His curiosity stems from watching a cartoon version of “The Hobbit” at the age of four, which he says was “the first time that I realized that I too must die, that in being born I had been given no choice in the matter.”

With his book, Rosenuses his passion for philosophy to argue that archaeology can be granted a new basis, a new avenue of inquiry at its intersection with extinction.He uses a variety of philosophical approaches to make his case.

Inspiration for the book, Rosen says, was frustration. He explains that the field of philosophy has a long history of only focusing on humans, and ignoring the reality that does not include humans. Because of this, “we need a vision of the sciences and of philosophy itself which can help us to better understand our place in this very inhuman world.” Rosen had a clear idea of what he wanted to say with his book, and was able to finish in only a block and a half. The process, he says, helped him gain respect for other writers who are juggling multiple projects and tight deadlines. The short writing time also “further legitimates the wonders of the Block Plan.”

Only in his second year at CC, Rosen, who hails from Ridgewood, New Jersey,has not yet declared a major but plans to study philosophy. He also hopes to continue his study of philosophy into a doctorate program, and eventually teach. Even with these academic goals, Rosen says that philosophy does not start or end with the academy. “Philosophizing is what each of us does every day, it’s how we cope (or don’t cope) with our situation, with the condition of being in the world and being in a world precisely like this one,” he explains.

Outside of academics, Rosen will continue to philosophize and write, as he began to do as he watched “The Hobbit.” Rosen’s book can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

Exploring the Watershed

Where Does Your Water Come From?

By Annabelle O’Neill ’19 and Rosa Mallorson ’20

“Where does your water come from?” asked Environmental Studies Program visiting faculty member Rory Cowie ’04 on the first day of class. Like the places we had yet to visit, our responses stretched far, from groundwater wells in Hawaii to water tanks above Philadelphia to snowmelt in the Rockies to pipes in New York City to “I don’t know where…”

Thus began EV 311, Water: Stream Ecology and Hydrology, a Block 8 course that took students to the San Juan Mountains where we studied water chemistry and the impacts of mining. The upper-level environmental science course, which allowed us to engage in meaningful field-based learning that included environmental science subject areas such as geology, chemistry, hydrology, ecology, climate, and human/ecosystem interactions through the analysis of rivers and water, included 14 students from several majors. This course is worth documenting because it embodies the boundless opportunity CC provides for its students to investigate the world’s workings. Cowie was a biology major at CC, so he knew how to balance lecture with field trips nearly every day. Here, we share some of what we learned in the class, while illustrating the beauty of students doing science in the San Juan Mountains.

Why We Care
CC teaches us to examine and tend to our sense of place, which includes the communities, lands, rivers, challenges, and cultures that exist in the Rockies. While many of our studies center in the Front Range, the San Juan Mountains are just six hours southwest of CC and provide much of the Front Range’s water resources.

Since Cowie is an EPA-contracted hydrologist who leads a water sampling project at Bonita Peak Mining District, the Superfund Site where the Gold King Mine, near Silverton, Colorado, spilled in 2015, our coursework focused on mining hydrology. The legacy of heavy metal mining, which boomed from 1870-1990, left nearly 23,000 abandoned mines in the San Juans.

When the surface area of rock containing trace minerals such as pyrite increases due to mine tunnel construction and contacts air and rising groundwater, pyrite’s ions oxidize and form acids in water. This water then flows out of mine tunnels and nearby springs into streams, which soon flow into major rivers that are comprised of watersheds shared by seven states, 12 Native American tribes, millions of people, and vital aquatic life.

The Challenge: Five Watersheds in Five Days
We embarked on a weeklong field trip in the San Juans, studying five watersheds in five days. The trip followed two weeks of theory and practice in hydrology, mine water chemistry, stream ecology, agriculture, development, and snow science. We examined four Legacy and EPA Superfund mines with mandated clean-up, one active mine, and two major active water treatment facilities.

The trip also provided us with diverse data sets that we compiled for our final projects. Our task was to collect stream flow measurements, water quality parameters, and habitat assessments coupled with USGS historic data and lessons from experts we met along the way. This data provided evidence to compare watershed health across the San Juans and extrapolate to the entire Southwestern water regime, which eventually converges with the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Trip Log:
Day 1: Uncompahgre Watershed
Discharge and water quality parameters collected in Ridgeway, Colorado
Underground mine tour of Ouray Silver Mines and biomass filtration system
Evening soak at Ouray Hot Springs

Day 2: San Miguel Watershed
Observations of diverse, underlying geology that influences ion-availability in the rivers at the Idarado Mine passive water treatment facility
Appreciation of beavers’ tenacity and ecosystem health value
Habitat assessment of Telluride Valley Floor with Scott Johnson of the Mountain Studies Institute and Laurel Sebastian ’16

Day 3: Animas Watershed
Tour of Gladstone Temporary Wastewater Treatment Plant and Bonita Peak Superfund Site above Silverton, Colorado. Active mine water treatment requires lime, a polymer, large conical holding chambers, and the storage of heavy metal “sludge” to purify acidic and metal-loaded water
Examination of outpouring of American Tunnel and flumes at lower elevations measuring discharge
Water quality and discharge sampling of heavily impacted streams (pH ~4) during a blizzard!

Day 4: San Juan Watershed
Forest ecology lesson in Durango, Colorado
Wolf Creek Ski Resort forest health assessment
Lots of driving
Evening soak at Pagosa Hot Springs

Day 5: Rio Grande Watershed
Mining conference in Creede, Colorado
Visit to Bachelor Mountain, the Nelson Tunnel, and multiple mine portals at a Legacy mine on the Amethyst Fault in the Bachelor Caldera
Examination of discharge and water quality parameters at Willow Creek, which includes untreated water from the Nelson Tunnel
Tour of Summitville Mine Superfund site including the active water treatment facility of the open-pit mine using a high-density sludge process, ultimately purifying the water of a large quantity of metals
Analysis of San Luis Valley agricultural impacts
Data analysis and creation of final watershed report cards


  • A historic, large rock drill is difficult and heavy to hold! Rock-drill competitions still occur in Creede, Colorado, to showcase miners’ talent.
  • Beavers can plug up and flood wetlands by building dams of sticks. However, they can be deceived with large wire nets over drains called “beaver deceivers.”
  • Fire suppression has had detrimental effects on forest health and allowed the pine beetle to infiltrate Colorado’s forests.

Our class expresses gratitude to Cowie, Technical Director Darren Ceckanowicz, and Paraprofessional Hanna Ewell ’17 for teaching us how to do science, have fun, and be a team.

Annabelle O’Neill ’19 and Rosa Mallorson ’20 are biochemistry majors at Colorado College.