Posts in: Kudos

Celebrating Physics and Professor Barbara Whitten at Physics Homecoming

By Alana Aamodt ’18

Faculty, students, and alumni of the Physics Department came together last block for a weekend of talks, reconnections, and celebration in honor of a Physics Homecoming and the retirement of longtime professor Barbara Whitten.

The festivities began with two talks by world-renowned physicist Kip Thorne, who spoke on his personal role in the discovery of gravitational waves in a more intimate physics talk and prior to his broader lecture to campus and community members. One of the most influential living physicists, Thorne also served as the graduate advisor to Patricia Purdue, associate professor of physics and department chair, who introduced each of his talks. The evening concluded with an opening reception and time for alumni, faculty, and students to socialize with one another and with Thorne.

The following day was full of various alumni speakers and current professors giving talks such as “The Secret Life of Stellar Interactions” by Natalie Gosnell ’08, a new tenure-track CC professor, and “Household Energy and Health in Developing Countries” by Michael Johnson ’99.  The day’s festivities concluded with a dinner in celebration of Whitten’s retirement, where friends, colleagues, and students spoke about her character and career.

Whitten received her B.A. from Carleton College in 1968 and went on to receive her Ph.D. in Computational Atomic Physics from University of Rochester. She was the first female faculty member in the Physics Department at Colorado College, where she explored her passion for diversifying physics and played a major role in shaping the department to become what it is today. Over the course of the last few decades, she has expanded beyond the realm of physics, exploring environmental science, feminist and gender studies, history, and sociology in conjunction with her love of physics. She’s played a pioneering role in encouraging inclusivity in the physics community, publishing papers covering topics like “What Works for Women in Undergraduate Physics? What We Can Learn from Women’s Colleges,” and she is part of a team to receive over $700,000 in grant money to develop a mentoring network for isolated female physicists.

After many years working as a professor, leaving CC is not easy for Whitten. When asked what she’ll miss the most about working at the college, she replied, the “sense I have of a community where we support each other. With all the things I’ve done here, I’ve had a sense that you were all behind me.” Even more so, she goes on to say she’ll miss “teaching and working with students. I love working with undergraduates, when you have something exciting you want to do, helping you figure out how best to do it. Helping you figure out the next step in your lives. And of course, helping you learn physics.”

Of her favorite part of the event, Whitten says “the most wonderful and memorable moment was when [the] women physics majors stood up together. [They] were behind me, so I turned around and saw them all standing there together—I still can’t talk about it without getting choked up.” She goes on to explain, “When I was an undergraduate many years ago, I was the only woman, not only in my class but in the five years around me,” accentuating the pride she has in her students.

In honor of Whitten and her contributions to CC, the college created the Barbara Whitten Prize for Women in the Natural Sciences this year; it will be given to “a woman student in the natural sciences who exemplifies Whitten’s model of achieving personal scientific excellence while helping others do the same. Personal scientific excellence is a combination of an excellent academic record in the natural sciences, and/or exceptional research in a scientific field. The recipient should also demonstrate a significant commitment to the advancement of women or underrepresented groups in the sciences through scholarly, community, pedagogical, or other work.”

This year’s recipient is Zoe Pierrat ’17, an environmental physics major and chemistry minor. A crowdfunding campaign is also underway to increase the dollar amount of the award.

Pierrat shares, “Barbara taught my first ‘real’ physics class, Modern Physics, and she didn’t hold back in terms of making the course difficult, but every step of the way she was encouraging and helpful with anything we needed as students. She has the ability to see people’s potential and always pushes them there.” After receiving the award at the Honors Convocation, Pierrat says, “I can’t even begin to say what it means to receive the Whitten Award, but overall I’m just incredibly grateful to have gotten so much support from fellow students and faculty.”

Whitten says after she retires, she’s planning plenty of travel, including trips to Iceland, Hawaii, and L’Anse aux Meadows (a Viking settlement in Newfoundland). She also has several in-progress research projects that she intends to complete in the next couple of years, and will spend more time with her children and take some time to relax.

Whitten also says that she’ll continue to study physics. “Even after 50 years as a physicist, there is so much I don’t know and would like to: Astrophysics, cosmology, and general relativity are at the top of my list.” While Whitten moves on from teaching at CC, her impact on the CC community will remain.

 

Student-Faculty Collaboration Helps CC Understand Nitrogen Footprint

Sustainability: The Journal of Record

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

When motivated students are paired with knowledgeable faculty, great projects and research often are produced. This is certainly the case for Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Rebecca Barnes and Colleen Orr ’17. The duo has published two articles this year in Sustainability: The Journal of Record as part of the publication’s “Campus Nitrogen Footprints” issue. As one of the articles explains, the release of reactive nitrogen into the environment has consequences beyond climate change – it also directly impairs water quality, air quality, and the health of the biosphere. Barnes co-authored “Calculating Institution Nitrogen Footprints Creates Connections across Campus;” Barnes and Orr co-authored “Leveraging the Nitrogen Footprint to Increase Campus Sustainability,” both of which appeared in Sustainability.

Barnes has been working with the Colorado College Office of Sustainability for the past two years on her own nitrogen research, and also works with students doing theses on similar topics. Barnes’ research began in 2015 during her first year at CC, when a colleague at Brown University suggested she and CC join a group of schools already researching their nitrogen footprints. The next year, 2016, Barnes taught a course called Human Impacts of Biogeochemical Cycles and had her students create a preliminary nitrogen footprint for the college.

Orr and Barnes first met during that course and discovered their research interests coincided. The class’s nitrogen footprint information came from food data from Bon Appetit, which provides food service on campus, and Orr was interested in continuing the work. She ended up working as Barnes’ research assistant, using the data in her thesis, and in their article titled “Leveraging the Nitrogen Footprint to Increase Campus Sustainability.”

This work on developing a nitrogen footprint for CC is part of a larger research project, called the Nitrogen Footprint Cohort. It’s a group of 18 schools that are working to incorporate nitrogen footprint data into their sustainability initiatives; CC currently is working on establishing initial information about the school’s nitrogen footprint. Although Orr says she doesn’t plan to continue nitrogen footprint research post-CC, working with Barnes taught her a lot. “Besides everything I’ve learned from her about nitrogen and using research tools like Excel, Becca has been an amazing professor, mentor, and friend to me for the past three years. I gained research and field work experience, as well as had incredible opportunities to attend conferences and publish an article because of her guidance and influence,” Orr explains.  About Orr, Barnes says her “knowledge of campus and the student body was extremely helpful in thinking through the various sustainability scenarios.”

Although Orr will be graduating, Barnes will continue her work on Colorado College’s nitrogen footprint. She hopes that her research will “illustrate to CC that many of the sustainability efforts already happening on campus decrease both our nitrogen and carbon footprints,” and “will help move us toward more complete accounting of our ecological impacts.”

Students Make Community Connections Through Art

CC Student Art Installation

By Montana Bass ’18

A special collaboration is on display in Block 8: CC student art work will be featured at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center. Jenny Welden ’17 and Jake Paron ’17 were chosen in a campus-wide call for student art installation proposals. Nelson Kies ’18 originally envisioned the project, which is indicative of a growing partnership between Colorado College and the FAC. In celebration of the new alliance, a committee composed of FAC staff and CC faculty selected the students’ proposals to create site-specific installations for the FAC courtyard.

Kies approached curator Jessica Hunter-Larsen last year with a wish for more space for students to display their artwork. Coincidentally, the development of the CC-FAC alliance provided an opportunity for Kies and Hunter-Larsen to focus on a venue for students, which presented an exciting new opportunity for student artists to showcase their work in a prestigious space. “Proposing installations in the FAC was initially intimidating because of the caliber of artwork that is featured in the museum,” Kies admits, “but I was completely overcome by all the support that was provided to this project.”

Hunter-Larsen says this installation encourages students to challenge themselves to connect their art to the community. “I think this kind of program offers wonderful opportunities for students to think through some of the issues surrounding art in public spaces, and affords our community an equally wonderful opportunity to experience our students’ creativity,” she says. Kies adds, “This art project provides an avenue for community members to engage with student thought. Additionally, the insular nature of the CC community can benefit from sharing with the community they belong to.”

Chosen for their attention to the specific site where their works will be displayed — the FAC courtyard — seniors Welden and Paron, both studio art majors, will be the first to creatively initiate this connection. Welden’s “Heart of the Mountain” installation represents the foundations of textile art through the use of non-fibrous materials. These materials create a network of interlocking fragments, demonstrating the dual contributions of the natural and the sacred in a textile image. “I hope that viewers may understand new connections between the forces of the sacred and of the natural in the art of textile through these non-fibrous forms,” Welden says of her piece.

Paron constructed his piece, “Alterne,” out of a non-native grass species that covers much of the landscape surrounding institutions in the Colorado Springs area. The piece explores how the lawn is used to represent nature. However, in an attempt to represent nature, the lawn substitutes the natural composition native to a specific site. “Making art is something I have always done instinctually,” Paron says, “But recently I have been fascinated with studying ideas and philosophies through form. Making art has become an important way for me to communicate ideas to myself and others.”

The installations will be on view in the FAC courtyard Friday, April 28-Tuesday, May 23. You’re invited to the CC Student Artist Exhibition Opening Friday, April 28, 4:30-6:30 p.m., to honor these student artists and further celebrate the FAC CC alliance.

 

Men’s Ultimate Team Soars Toward Nationals Bid

Men's Ultimate Team

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

The CC’s men’s ultimate Frisbee team is made up of a strong group of talented athletes, and this season they have big goals. The team is currently ranked in the top five teams nationally, and they hope to cement this status at the national tournament in May.

Last year, the team made it to the national competition and this season, they hope to place higher, making it to the national semi-final round. Grant Mitchell ’17 says they came into the season with “higher expectations than we have in a while.” This is principally due to the “large and talented” senior class, individuals who Mitchell describes as “important on the field and as emotional leaders for our team.” Despite these expectations and prior successes, Mitchell says the team reamains pleasantly surprised by how well they’ve been doing. He explains, “getting first place in a tournament and taking down our regional rival Air Force really showed us that we have a chance to make a run in the series this year.”

Even though the team is currently ranked third in Division III by the Ultiworld Ultimate Frisbee rankings, they have yet to qualify for the national tournament in Lexington, Kentucky, coming up May 20 and 21. Mitchell explains that “everything leading up to the series helps to earn bids for the region you are in.” Now the team has to play through sectionals, then regionals, and place top three in the region to move to nationals. Once there, the team is hoping for the accomplishment of making the semi-finals, and possibly going onto the finals.

Although this year’s senior class is strong, Mitchell expects the 2018 season to continue current successes. “We have a ton of super committed, motivated players who have begun to step into roles on the field that we hadn’t seen from them before,” Mitchell says. It won’t be a rebuilding year, and Mitchell sees no reason the team can’t compete on the national scale again.

They head to a competition in Tulsa, Oklahoma this weekend and then on to Kansas City the following weekend. Good luck!

 

 

A Win-Win for CC Faculty and Staff Basketball Team

By Montana Bass ’18

This season, the group of staff and faculty previously known for “noon ball” stepped up their game by joining a Colorado Springs adult basketball league. Not only did they up their game from a three-day-a-week, lunch-hour game to take on competitors from across the city; in its first year in the league, the CC team went on to win its division. Playing together regularly helped the team score a big win on and off the court, fostering camaraderie and community along with their basketball skills.

Team member Andy Kohel, assistant men’s soccer coach, says he felt confident about the team at the season’s start in November, but together they exceeded his expectations. “Everyone on our team has played basketball at the high school level or past it, so we all come from a very strong background,” he explains. That doesn’t mean the team didn’t have its challenges. “We had a bit of a size disadvantage,” Kohel admits. “We had one guy that is 6’6”, but the rest of our roster is comprised of 6’1” and under. That’s not the norm.”

It may have been that CC camaraderie that propelled them to victory. In fact, both Kohel and his teammate Kevin Rask, professor of economics and business, cite their team dynamic as their favorite part of competing this season. “Our roster is comprised of representatives from four different divisions: Faculty, alumni, residential life, and advancement. It’s fantastic to see everyone come together from their respective divisions and share a similar passion with each other,” says Kohel. Adds Rask, “There is nothing better than having the same good team to play with week in and week out.”

This season, the team has shown impressive determination and spirit. Rask spoke of an upset in which the team overcame an 18-point deficit to win the game as his favorite moment. Kohel adds, “Everyone was part of the win, it was cool to see.” Next year, he thinks, they’ll take that teamwork all the way to a championship victory. This year’s roster:

Andy Kohel, assistant CC men’s soccer coach

Jordan McCann, assistant CC women’s basketball coach

Mike Hart, assistant CC men’s basketball coach

Matt Kelly, annual gift officer

Kevin Rask, professor of economics

Matt Edwards, residential life coordinator

Isaac Salay ’16

 

 

 

Felicia Chavez Finds Writing and Teaching “Transformative” as CC Riley Scholar

Felicia Chavez

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Felicia Chavez, a Riley-Scholar-in-Residence at CC, is having a busy year. Throughout 2016, Chavez, visiting assistant professor of English and film and media studies, published five works in four months, and has two more pieces to be published in Fall 2017.

Chavez is part of CC’s Riley Scholars program, which started in 1988 with the goal of diversifying CC’s faculty. The program sponsors a selection of Ph.D. candidates and post-doctoral students each year to work and teach on campus. The program has produced many current tenure-track professors, including Mario Montano, associate professor of anthropology, and Claire Garcia, professor of English. Chavez is a post-doctoral student and has been teaching courses in the Departments of English and Film and Media Studies throughout this academic year. Before teaching, Chavez worked as a thesis writing specialist in CC’s Colket Center for Academic Excellence. She has also worked as Program Director to Young Chicago Authors and founded the literary webzine GirlSpeak.

Chavez’s recent publications address varying topics, such as life and death, violence against women, medically induced seizures, and the military. Chavez says she, “considers art a vehicle for community mobilization,” which is what led her to include themes of “power, agency, and activism” in her work. Chavez says her time at CC has been transformative. She explains, “teaching at Colorado College has inspired me to couple rigorous writing production with a holistic concern for the whole student.”

Chavez also says “writing is psychological, emotional, and physical,” and always makes a point to “incorporate well-being exercises into CC coursework to balance the effects of creative or thesis production.” These exercises include walks before writing responses to assigned readings, pleasure reading as homework, and time to write freely about the difficulties of writing.

The Riley Scholars program has allowed Chavez time to sharpen her teaching skills and advance her experience as a professorial candidate. Chavez says she is grateful for this opportunity, as teaching is her ultimate goal, and she is hoping to find somewhere to teach permanently. Listen to Chavez’s recent audio documentaries in “The Pinch Literary Journal” and “Noise Medium.” Her graphic essay “Warning U. S. Military” is also available. In the fall of 2017, she will have two more works published in Black Warrior Review and Pilgrimage Magazine.

Noelle Edwards ’19 Competes on Her Board While Studying on the Block

Edwards catching air

by Alana Aamodt ’18

The Block Plan provides flexibility for students to pursue and combine their interests, and in the case of Noelle Edwards ’19, this means balancing school and competitive snowboarding.

From the beginning of her college search, she knew she wanted to continue snowboarding competitively, but didn’t want to sacrifice the quality of her education, factors that led her to CC. Now a sophomore, she spent her first two years at CC traveling and training during Blocks 5 and 6, while simultaneously completing independent study blocks.

Edwards rides a 22-foot half pipe and is sponsored by GNU Snowboards and Woodward at Copper Mountain. This past season, she placed second at the Mammoth Mountain stop on the U.S. Revolution Tour, 15th in the Copper Mountain Grand Prix, and competed at the U.S. Open in Vail, Colorado, riding with some of the world’s best snowboarders. To end her season, she competed at the FIS World Snowboard Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain.

Edwards shares, “this year, I was able to work with CC’s very supportive staff to design two independent studies that would challenge me and advance my academic studies while also allowing me to train in Mammoth Lakes, California, during the winter months.”

One of those courses was Economic Discrimination in Sports Based on Gender, where Edwards conducted research and wrote a paper analyzing the wage gap between professional athletes based on gender. Her independent block was an English independent study based around travel writing, which studied well-known travel anthologies and helped hone her writing skills amid her travels.

Edwards is a film and media studies major as well as a news reporter for the Catalyst. She says she hopes to combine her interests in film and storytelling with her other passion, snowboarding. “I’ve wanted to work in the action sports industry for quite some time and coming to CC I wanted to be a film and media major from the very start,” reveals Edwards. “I think a combination of the classes I’ll take at CC and my snowboard experience will guide me to the ideal career path.”

Edwards is back at CC for Blocks 7 and 8.

Pictured is her second place performance at Mammoth Mountain (Edwards on the left).Edwards places second at Mammoth Mountain

“Just Curious Show” Explores Realities of Professional Ultra-Running with Anton Krupicka ’05

Anton Krupicka

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Ever wonder what it takes to turn a passion into a career? Anton Krupicka ’05, an ultra-runner, provides insight into his journey to success as a professional athlete as part of the “Just Curious Show.” He was one of the first people to make a career out of the curious sport of running more than 26.2 miles, usually much longer, in his case often 100-mile races, usually on trails in the middle of nowhere. If you’ve ever wondered about how and why different people follow and succeed in various career paths, the “Just Curious Show” podcast is a perfect place to turn. The program, launched by Daniel Bedell, explores a variety of careers through conversations with people working in those areas. The most recent episode, and so far the show’s most popular, features Krupicka, who graduated CC in 2005 with a BA in philosophy and physics, and earned a BA in geology in 2006.

Bedell was compelled to start the podcast because he says he wanted to provide a substantive way of educating students about what it really takes to enter specific careers. He says “the media often only features people at the top of their game and only features the good parts of their lives and jobs.” Bedell hopes his podcast will counteract this lack of information, and educate students on “the good, the bad, the real, and the fake, so they can make the best choices possible for their future.”

Bedell says he was excited to profile Krupicka, someone often considered “one of the godfathers of pro ultra-running.” Bedell is also a runner himself, and wondered what it would take to be a professional runner, especially since there often isn’t a lot of prize money. By featuring Krupicka, he was able to answer his own questions, as well as educate students on what it takes to be a professional athlete. While at CC, Krupicka ran cross-country, but didn’t consider himself a stand-out runner. That changed when, the summer after graduating from CC, he won the Leadville Trail 100 ultra-marathon. The Leadville 100 is a prestigious and difficult race, and winning so early in his ultra career was an impressive feat. Since then, he has gone on to win the Leadville 100 again, and gained many sponsorships to make ultra-running his career.

Beyond his success in running, Krupicka says he is “someone who really is just a nerd of the sport he loves and is happy to talk about it in an honest way.” Krupicka is quite grounded, Bedell says, and “realizes he serves as a marketer for his sponsor companies; and marketing pays his bills.” He isn’t above talking to people like Bedell about the nitty gritty aspects of his job, and is a perfect example of someone who is making a career out of what he loves. To hear about Krupicka’s experience at CC, and his life as a professional ultra-runner, listen to the “Professional Athlete” episode.

CC Nordic Skiers Hit Their Stride, Qualify for Nationals

Nordic Ski Team

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

This year, the Colorado College Nordic ski team grew immensely, and qualified the most skiers ever in school history for the Collegiate National Championships in Bend, Oregon in this month. Team captain Ines Siepmann ’18, along with Alice Oline ’18, Kelsi Anderson ’18, and Oliver Jones ’20, qualified for the National Championships by accruing points throughout the season and competing in a specific number of races.

Siepmann says the many new members of the team aided in making a great group dynamic across the team. Last year, the team had 6-10 skiers at each race, while this year a range of 13-21 CC athletes competed. Many had never skied before, meaning a lot of the team’s success was measured by progress and time spent on the snow. The most recent competition for the team was the Cowboy Chase and Laramie Loppet in Laramie, WY over the Block 5 block break. The team competed in four other races over the course of Block 5, performing well and racing hard. While it’s an exciting marker to qualify for the national competition, none of CC’s skiers will be able to attend the meet, which is taking place March 5-11. Siepmann says it is just too much school to miss on the Block Plan.

Sieppman says balancing schoolwork and skiing is generally manageable. The team trains mostly on dry land, since the closest Nordic area is in Monument and hasn’t received enough snow this year for good skiing. The next closest Nordic area is at Breckenridge, which is a two-hour drive from campus, so a lot of training happens at or near campus. According to Siepmann, the team places a lot of importance on inclusivity by providing all the necessary equipment, so “different athletes participate with the team in different ways.” Not every skier comes to all practices and meets, so students are able to tailor their participation to their school work load.

Looking ahead to next year, Siepmann says the team will get together to decide goals for the upcoming season. They have already decided to continue practicing throughout this spring, and have had a pancake breakfast for the team. Siepmann says she’s excited for the continued team bonding activities, and is also looking forward to discussing next year’s intentions and leadership.

 

Photo of Ines Siepmann ’18 (right) and Alice Oline ’18 by CJ Monson ’20.

Congratulations to the Honorees of the Student Art Show

Elsa Bonyhadi ’18

Saturday, March 4, more than 300 students, staff, faculty, and community members took part in the Student Art Show, hosted by President’s Council. Over two dozen artists were featured in the largest display of student art of the year. Three jurors – Dean of Students Mike Edmonds, Professor of Art and Fine Arts Center Director Rebecca Tucker, and Fine Arts Center Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Joy Armstrong – awarded twelve “Juror’s Choice” awards to student artists.

Photography

Hannah Seabright ’18, “Shadows in Tiananmen”

Amelia Eskenazi ’19, “Moonlight Rollaway”

Textiles

Suzanna McMurtry ’17, “Mona H.”

Jenny Welden ’18, “Nothing New Under the Sun”

Works on Paper

Amelia Atencio ’18, “Clothesline”

Abby Wigdale ’18, “Nasty Woman Pt. 1”

Painting

Liz Ellinger ’18, “Blue Noise”

Caitlin Taber ’17, “La Voyageur”

Sculpture/3D

Catherine Sinow ’17, “Nonfunctional Objects”

Brian Chen ’18, “Weathered Bronze Vase”

Special Category: Most Relevant

Elsa Bonyhadi ’18

Special Category: All-Around Awesomeness

Jenny Welden ’18

Congratulations to all CC student artists on their exceptional work, we can’t wait to see what’s next!