Around the Block
When the Nobel Prize in physics was announced Tuesday, Shane Burns, Colorado College physics professor, shared the special elation of knowing a great deal about the work that went into the award.
Burns is one of a small group of people, including Nobel winner Saul Perlmutter, who began the work that resulted in the 1998 discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe. Burns has continued to work with the group, now known as the Supernova Cosmology Project, since its inception in 1989.
Burns and Perlmutter searched for supernovae, which are massive exploding stars, when they were graduate students in the 1980s at the University of California at Berkeley. Burns fell in love with teaching and eventually came to Colorado College, while Perlmutter remained at Berkeley, where he is a professor of physics.
With Perlmutter the “undisputed leader” of the group that became the Supernova Cosmology Project, Burns worked with as many as 30 other scientists to observe supernovae. He is a co-author of the team’s most recent paper, published in June 2010 in the Astrophysical Journal. They were in intense competition with another supernova research team, whose two leaders shared the Nobel with Perlmutter.
Using time on the Hubble space telescope, Burns worked on the project by studying the infrared brightness of supernovae during the summers and blocks off from Colorado College. Some of his calculations were done on a high-powered Mac workstation on his office desk in Barnes Science Center, in contrast to his work two decades earlier on the largest computer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the PDP1144, a behemoth the size of a washer-dryer combination with a fraction of the capacity of his current desktop computer.
One summer in Berkeley, Burns brought in a Colorado College physics student, Katy-Robin Garton ‘01, who did measurements for the project. Garton and Burns are co-authors, with several others in the Supernova Cosmology Project, of a 2003 paper published in the Astrophysical Journal. Garton lives in Missoula, Montana, and is a documentary filmmaker.
“It was beautiful science,” said Garton, who remembers the project for its elegance and accessibility.
Brian P. Schmidt and Adam G. Riess, leader of a competing supernova research team, shared the Nobel Prize with Perlmutter.
The Colorado House of Representatives recently awarded Burns a commendation for his part in the Nobel Prize.
Burns lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Stormy, an office coordinator in the music department. They have two children.
Colorado College’s Community Kitchen, one of the oldest student-run community kitchens in the nation, will have additional volunteers when it serves its weekly meal on Sunday, Oct. 9. Joining the regular volunteers will be CC alumni living in Colorado Springs and members of the Student Alumni Association.
The Community Kitchen, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in April, provides a hot meal to the city’s hungry and homeless every Sunday afternoon at Shove Memorial Chapel. It averages about 200 guests each Sunday, said Colin McCarey ’12, one of the three kitchen managers. The kitchen also will host an Open House from 3-4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15 during Homecoming and Parents Weekend to show off its many renovations.
This year the kitchen was selected by The Independent newspaper as a recipient of its Indy GIVE! campaign, which guarantees the kitchen at least $2,500. The goal of the campaign is teach organizations how to become self-sufficient fundraisers and how to best deliver their message to the public. There are several requirements involved with being a recipient, and it is suggested that the organization host an event that engages the community. To that end, those involved with the Community Kitchen plan to construct a “tent city” on campus on Nov. 13 to raise awareness surrounding the issues of hunger and homelessness. In keeping with the situation, the construction material will be cardboard, which participants will assemble into shelters.
McCarey, an anthropology major from Oak Park, Ill., said there has been a consistent rise in the number of guests since he started working at the Community Kitchen, where he became a kitchen manager his sophomore year. “Since 2008, there have definitely been more families and more children coming in for meals,” McCarey said.
The Community Kitchen began on Easter Sunday in 1992, when a group of concerned students began serving a free weekly meal to the hungry and homeless of Colorado Springs. The students recognized a need for a hot meal on Sunday afternoons, when the Marian House was closed. The community greeted the new meal with enthusiasm, and what began as a small operation dependent upon donations from the college’s cafeteria excesses grew into a community-supported organization that this summer served an all-time high of 300 meals.
The kitchen runs on donations: Bon Appétit, the food-management company at Colorado College, Whole Foods, La Baguette and, in the summer, Miller Farms, are the primary food donors. Once a week, volunteers pick up donations from several locations around the city with which to create a meal on Sunday. Because donations fluctuate week to week, the kitchen does purchase some staples from Care and Share. Meat, rice, beans, butter, cleaning supplies, spices, and maintenance fees make for an annual operating cost of approximately $8,000. The Colorado College Student Government Association gives the kitchen an annual allotment (this year, $3,000), and last year the Empty Bowls benefit raised $3,500. Private donations help, but student managers and their staff supervisor are responsible for raising the balance every year.
Last year’s renovations to the Community Kitchen were a huge improvement, McCarey said, highlighting how apparently minor changes can make a major difference. Just ask him about the new potato slicer: “That is the coolest thing for me. What used to take us two hours, we can now do in 20 minutes.” And a mop: “That was an astronomical leap forward from using rags on the floor.” And don’t get him started on the new steel pots, which replaced some of the aluminum ones: “We can cook things three to four times as fast. Before, we could boil potatoes from 10 a.m. to 2, and they still wouldn’t be done. They were rock hard, and it was a struggle to mash them.”
Another major improvement was establishing a back storage room for the Community Kitchen to use.”This allows for a much higher level of organization,” McCarey said. “We can have long-term organization and be much more efficient.”
Since its beginning, the CC Community Kitchen has fostered a welcoming atmosphere for its guests. The kitchen managers, all students, have emphasized a unique element at the CC Community Kitchen: They insist those served are treated as guests, not clients. The kitchen strives to eliminate boundaries and stigmas that commonly alienate the homeless. Although the meal is served at 1:30 p.m., all guests are welcome for coffee and pastries beginning at 9 a.m. Many of the volunteers eat with the guests, and many of the guests volunteer with food preparation, serving, and clean-up.
The staff currently searching for a consistent source of meat donations. The kitchen always is in need of candles, matches, socks, shoes, boots, toiletry and sanitary items, clothing (especially warm coats), sleeping bags and other items to distribute to homeless guests. Also needed are donations of canned and dry goods, paper products, desserts and salad greens, plastic ware, and containers to fill with food and send home with guests. Also needed are other non-food donations that support operations such as aprons, cleaning cloths, and cutting boards. The kitchen could benefit from more storage space, an additional oven, and a new warming oven.
On Saturday, Oct. 8 a group of Colorado College students laden with free CFL light bulbs and information about weatherization services, rebates and tax credits, will participate in an energy education outreach effort called “Take Charge.”
Callie Puntenney ’14, Mallory LeeWong ’12, and Hannah Wear ’13, co-chairs of EnAct, CC’s environmental action organization, are spearheading the effort on campus. The community outreach is a collaborative effort between several groups, including Colorado Springs Utilities, Groundwork Colorado, Meadows Park Community Center, and Colorado College.
The CC volunteers will team up with area high school students and fan out across the Stratmoor area, meeting residents, offering to switch out incandescent porch bulbs with CFLs for free, connecting income-qualifying households with free weatherization services, and providing information to all residents about energy-reducing programs, rebates, and practices. Each two- to three-person team is assigned a route, and there are about 40 houses per route.
EnAct’s goal is to educate the campus about sustainability issues and opportunities for improvement, Puntenney said, and the organizers are hoping to get as many students as possible involved in Saturday’s outreach event. “EnAct is excited about interacting with the local community through this collaboration effort. It’s important for CC students to give back to the community and get to know CC’s neighbors,” she said.
“As soon as school started we began reaching out to student groups and other members of the CC community. We teamed with the Center for Service and Learning to maximize our outreach efforts. We hope that this will be a successful event and that students will be inspired to continue to give back,” Puntenney said.
The “Take Charge” program has several goals. The college students can mentor those in high school, serving as role models and answering questions about the path to college and college life. The program also helps educate students about energy efficiency and renewable energy, and introduces them to “green” job resources. “There is a new energy economy, and the labor industry is changing,” says Stephanie Fry, program manager with Groundwork Colorado. “This can help excite students about green jobs and educate them about the industry. It helps them realize there are costs, benefits, and consequences of exploration, development, and consumption of renewable and nonrenewable resources,” she said.
Usually Groundwork Colorado organizes the volunteer day, however, Fry said that the EnAct organizers have taken a “strong leadership position” and this is the first time that students have run the event. “It’s great to see,” she said.
Mike Taber, Colorado College associate professor of science education and chair of the education department, is a member of the team that won the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education, presented by the journal Science. The team won for the development of the Earth Exploration Toolbook an educational website that allows students to use real data to see a connection between science and the world. Each chapter of the toolbook focuses on a different earth science topic, with Taber publishing chapters on “Climate History from Deep Sea Sediments,” “Protecting Wetlands from Exurban Development,” and “Tsunami Run-up Prediction for Seaside Oregon using MyWorld GIS.”
Additionally, Taber coauthored an essay in the September 30 issue of Science journal titled “Making Earth Science Data Accessible and Usable in Education” that discusses the objectives of EET. The online resource came about when science educators realized that, in general, a large gap existed between the scientific and educational communities, and that little productive communication occurred between the two.
The Earth Exploration Toolbook seeks to ensure the development of the next generation of scientists by helping students develop the skills that enable them to explore scientific questions, assess the results of scientific research, and draw and communicate conclusions to others. One way to help students develop these skills is to involve them in exploring scientific questions using the same data and data analysis tools that scientists use. Like a key to the kingdom, the toolbook provides students with all they need to enter the world of real scientific data. (See more at http://serc.carleton.edu/eet/index.html)
The Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) award reflects seven years of National Science Foundation effort. The journal Science developed the award to promote the best online materials in science education. The acronym SPORE suggests a reproductive element adapted to develop, often in less-than-ideal conditions, into something new. In a similar way, the winning project can be seen as the seed of progress in science education, despite considerable challenges to educational innovation. Science is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society.
Six members of Colorado College’s geology department will present their research at the2011 annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, to be held Oct. 9-12 in Minneapolis. Those presenting are Ashley Contreras ’12, Eleanor Emery ‘12, and Benjamin Mackall ‘11, as well as Associate Geology Professor Henry Fricke, Geology Professor Christine Siddoway, and Geology Technical Director Stephen Weaver.
Contreras, who worked with Siddoway, will present a paper titled “New Insights on the Timing and Extent of Cretaceous Exhumation in the West Antarctic Rift System, from U-PB and (U-TH)/HE Zircon Analysis. Emery, who also collaborated with Siddoway, will present a paper titled “Use of Stereoscopic Satellite Imagery for 3D Mapping of Bedrock Structure in West Antarctica: Example from the Ford Ranges and Neogene Volcanoes of Marie Byrd Land.” Mackall, who collaborated with Geology Professor Eric Leonard, will present a paper titled “Estimates of Last Glacial Maximum Climate of the Snowy Range, Southern Wyoming, using Numerically Modeled Paleoglacier Reconstructions.”
Fricke’s research is titled “Stable and Clumped Isotope Study of Authigenic Carbonates from the Kootznahoo Formation, Alaska, and Implications for Study of Paleogene Climate and Hydrology.” Siddoway will present research titled “Potential Sources of Crustal Anisotropy in the Wyoming Province: Insights from Basement Structures of the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming.” Weaver, who shoots the cover photos for Colorado College’s annual State of the Rockies Report and subsequent poster, will present “Beyond the Snapshot: Making the Excellent Geo-Photograph in the Field.”
Inger Bull was in her senior year of college before she figured out what she wanted to do, and, unfortunately, it had nothing to do with her major. She had nearly completed her major in math and actuarial science at Kearney State College in Nebraska before discovering her passions lay in literature and foreign travel.
“But in those days, no one asked you what your passion was,” said Bull, CC’s new director of international programs. “I was good in math and statistics, and they were pushing females to go into those fields. That was where the demand, job security, and salary were. People were trying to help, but really, it was a disservice.”
After graduation, she took off for the University of Plymouth in England, where she studied – and traveled, and met people, and experienced new food and new languages and new cultures. “It was my year of self-discovery,” she said, especially for someone born and raised in Gretna, Neb. “It was the best liberal arts education I could have received – very interdisciplinary.”
While traveling, she visited Heidelberg, Germany, and wandered through the famous university. “I loved the atmosphere there. I would walk by classrooms and students talking with professors, and I felt completely at home, even though I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. I felt so comfortable there. That’s when I knew I wanted to work at a college or university.”
She returned to Nebraska and earned an MBA at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, then went on to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln get a Ph.D. in higher education administration with a specialty in international education. Along the way, she spent a year at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. The time in Australia helped shape her thesis, titled “Faculty Exchanges and the Internationalization of the Undergraduate Curriculum in Australia and the United States.”
Bull wanted other students to have the same transformative experiences abroad as she had, so she went into international higher education administration. She worked about 18 months at the University of Nebraska’s international affairs office before becoming the director of international education at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln.
“I can’t imagine being liberally educated without traveling, even if it is within the United States. It is vital to the understanding of differences, and not being threatened by those differences,” she said. “Experiential learning is a key player in critical thinking.
“I love to watch students and see the gradual transformation in them. And it is gradual; it doesn’t happen all in one year. Sometimes the process is ongoing for years and years afterward.”
At Nebraska Wesleyan, Bull developed and co-taught two adjunct courses, one titled “Preparing for Education Abroad” and the other, “Processing the Experience Abroad.” The first one dealt with pre-departure preparations and cross-cultural communication; the second was Bull’s favorite, a writing-intensive class in which students dissected their experience abroad. “The course went way beyond asking the students to evaluate the program,” Bull said. “We asked students what their experiences meant given their host culture in comparison to their home culture. A lot of them had to relearn how to be back on campus and in our own culture. Over and over again, we saw convictions that the students had held since childhood dissolve when faced with other cultures.”
Traveling, she says, gives one a better understanding of reality. She would use one of her favorite quotes from Aldous Huxley’s “Jesting Pilate” to begin the Processing class:
So the journey is over and I am back again where I started, richer by much experience and poorer by many exploded convictions, many perished certainties. For convictions and certainties are too often the concomitants of ignorance…When one is traveling, convictions are mislaid as easily as spectacles; but unlike spectacles, they are not easily replaced.
Bull sees a major difference between the students at Nebraska Wesleyan and CC. At the former, 92 percent of the students were from Nebraska, few had been abroad before, and parents often needed to be convinced that study abroad was safe and beneficial. “At Nebraska Wesleyan, we were working on building that ethos in, cultivating an expectation that students go abroad. At CC, that’s a given expectation,” she said. “Most of the students here have been abroad before, and fully expect study abroad to be part of their college experience.”
Bull started at CC in May, but spent June in Scandinavia with her husband, Anthony, an exercise physiologist at Creighton University, who leads a class there every other year. This year they went to Finland, Denmark, and Sweden, with Sweden being one of Bull’s favorite places: her mother was born and raised there before moving as an adult to Nebraska. In 2009 they spent the fall semester in Stockholm, where her husband was on sabbatical.
Bull’s husband is still at Creighton, and so far it’s been mostly a one-way commute: He comes to Colorado. “I love the climate here,” she said. Colorado is conducive to so much that Bull enjoys doing. A certified Pilates instructor, former college volleyball player, and lifelong fitness advocate, she especially enjoys jogging and biking (in fact, she and her husband own a tandem). Her other passion is reading; Bull just finished “Ludlow” because she felt she was part of the incoming class also. “I can’t finish a book without having the next one lined up,” she said. One of her favorite genres is historical fiction – especially when set in foreign countries.
In a moment of serendipity, Bull read Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy” while living in Stockholm on the island of Södermalm, where the main characters live and much of the action takes place. At the end of the semester she took the Stockholm City Museum’s “Millennium Tour” and traced the geographic locations of the books’ setting. “I was in book geek heaven.”
The 8-foot-tall metal butterfly sculpture, donated by Laurel McLeod ’69 and her husband, Jim Allen, is an appropriate image for the center.
McLeod, the former vice president for student life and later special assistant to the president, purchased the butterfly last fall at an auction sponsored by the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs. The “Butterfly & Friends” event is a community-service initiative created by the Rotary Club to raise awareness and funds to serve children and promote the arts in local schools. Participating artists contribute by transforming large-scale metal butterfly “templates” into works of art. Each transformed butterfly sculpture is then auctioned off, with more $100,000 being raised in the first three years of the program.
McLeod’s butterfly sculpture, titled “Doing Yoga with the Rotary,” was painted by local artist Kat Tudor, ‘77; her husband, Bob Tudor, created the whimsical design, in which the drawing on each side of the butterfly’s wing is a mirror image of the other.
McLeod wasn’t sure where to put her newly purchased sculpture when Debby Fowler, CC’s development officer for stewardship, suggested the Children’s Center. McLeod immediately knew that was the perfect location for it, as the Children’s Center is a place she deeply values. The sculpture was installed in early summer, once the ground was prepared for the base, and is located outside the fence on the north side of the center, where it overlooks playground equipment and a painted cow.
McLeod was a member of the first committee that sought to establish an on-campus children’s care center; as a single mother and the first CC woman administrator to have a baby and continue working, she felt such a center was vital to recruiting and retaining quality staff and faculty. (A second incarnation of the committee did succeed in getting an on-site children’s center established in 1987.)
McLeod took her younger daughter to the Children’s Center for several years. “The quality of care was amazing, and education was part of the curriculum,” she said. She recalls linguistics classes, developmental psychology classes, and drama classes working with the staff of Children’s Center. “It’s just a great place for creative development,” McLeod said.
It’s the creative development aspect that makes the site so perfect for the butterfly sculpture: The Children’s Center provides a safe, nurturing cocoon for the children, and encourages a creative metamorphosis for each child.
The next butterfly auction will be held Sept. 17 at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort; for more information go to: http://www.artsandfriends.org/Register.htm
The bench was given to CC by W. Robert Brossman’s children in his memory following his death in 1997, and is inscribed “W. R. Brossman, Vice President of Colorado College 1956—1981, Pioneer and Champion of College Development.”
The stone bench was designed by Carl Reed, CC professor emeritus of art, and installed in 2001.
The Brossman children established the original fund, which paid for the design, construction, and placement of the bench. However, there was a small amount left over in the fund.
Recently, the Brossman siblings sought to lessen the starkness of the bench and give it a softer, more welcoming feel. CC’s facilities services came up with the idea of the wood arbor encased in a canopy of vines, and, using the remaining funds, they completed the additional work this summer.
Davis, who started when Tiefenthaler took the helm on July 1, previously worked in the president’s office at Wake Forest University, so he knows how hectic the job can be. “I lived three minutes from campus, and in those three minutes, my life could drastically change,” he said.
It’s a good thing he’s used to having his day turn on a dime. Davis oversees the daily functions of the office of the president, a job that entails a wide variety of responsibilities. Among them: helping the president develop and implement strategic initiatives, coordinating senior staff meetings, serving as a liaison between senior administrators and other campus and external constituents, overseeing the presidential staff and budget, working with the board of trustees, coordinating special projects, and representing the president on various college committees. In between, he commutes back and forth from Denver. (The commuting will end in early September, when the apartment he has rented in Colorado Springs becomes available.)
“Some people may see the chief of staff as the person behind the throne, but that is not the case,” Davis said. “I love working with Jill because that is what you do – work with her. She’s that way with everyone, very collaborative. Of course, I know she is in charge, but it is great to be able to see her as more of a partner, colleague, and mentor.”
One of the things he most likes about his job is that it allows him to help people solve problems. “If there’s a problem, my reaction is ‘let’s deal with it; let’s fix it.’ I know I can’t solve everything on my own, but we can get a lot done through collaboration and teamwork,” he said.
Davis worked with Tiefenthaler on a variety of projects at Wake Forest, including an effort to start a childcare center on campus, initiatives to increase faculty-student engagement, an assessment of student life policies, and the creation of new spaces on campus.
He’s looking forward to having students back on campus and having the academic year begin. “What we do is for the students. If you lose that part of the vision, you’re not doing your job,” he said. “Right now I have the opportunity to be in a place to help Jill and CC succeed.
“I want people to see me as someone they can go to for answers, and not get the runaround,” he said. “I want people to know they can say anything; they don’t have to filter it when talking with me. I will be accessible, and I believe in an open-door policy.”
Born and raised in Atlanta, Davis graduated from Wake Forest with a double major in Chinese and political science. He didn’t intend to major in Chinese, but since he had studied the language at the International Baccalaureate high school he attended, he decided to take Chinese to fulfill his language requirement. “I fell in love with it,” he said. “I had amazing professors, and I also had the opportunity to spend a summer in Beijing.”
As for political science, Davis said he always loved politics. “I like the data collection and the numerical aspect of it. I like studying what makes people do what they do; what gives them power and how they manipulate that power. It’s interesting to look at different events, such as the recent uprisings in Libya and Egypt and ask ‘Why there, and not somewhere else?’ ” Another area of interest is public policy and its influence on various aspects of life. He recently traveled to Liberia, a country with minimal infrastructure and devastated by decades of civil war, as part of a five-person team from Wake Forest. The group was there to assess the possibility of a partnership between Wake Forest and the University of Liberia. “I know it is cliché, but it is interesting to see how much we take for granted: the ability to have constant electricity, running water, opening and closing windows, “ he said. “We saw that we have the capacity to do a lot for their institution by doing, relatively, so little.
Although Davis is enthusiastic about Chinese and political science, he almost didn’t major in either subject. He spent his first year of college at the Juilliard School, where he planned to study the bass. He left after a year, realizing it wasn’t for him. “I wanted a more well-rounded education; I didn’t want to be tied to one discipline. I wanted to study something that could relate to other areas, and not be one dimensional. I wanted to lead a life in which I could think critically; I wanted to get to know my professors.” He paused, then added, “I sound so CC. But it’s just what CC does so well.”
He recently attended the Aspen Music Festival and heard Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor, “Resurrection.” After the concert, he thought to himself, “Why did I give this up? That could be me.” But on the drive back, he realized he would not have the same appreciation for the concert if he were a professional bass player. “I realized I love my life now,” he said.
It wasn’t a difficult decision to move to Colorado, said Davis, a movie buff who also enjoys the arts and theater. He said there is a young feeling to Colorado Springs, and a warm and friendly feeling at the college. “The college has so many strengths,” he said. “The faculty members are so engaged. You can tell they love teaching and care for the students. The CC staff is extremely supportive, and the students are amazingly creative and talented. And then, of course, there’s Pikes Peak.”
On his initial trip to the campus, he visited Garden of the Gods. “It was beautiful. I took a photo and texted it to Jill, saying ‘Now I know why you and Kevin decided to come here.’ “
One thing Davis is very much looking forward to is skiing. “I am dying to ski,” he said. “I can’t wait to learn how.”
Colorado College Professor of Economics and Business Larry Stimpert has published a new book, “Strategic Thinking: Today’s Business Imperative.” The book provides a realistic picture of the dynamic and complex process of strategic management in organizations. Written from the perspective of a manager, the book builds on theories of managerial and organizational knowledge that have had a powerful influence on many business fields over the last two decades. However, “Strategic Thinking” also focuses on how managers understand their business environments, assess and marshal their firms’ resources, and strive for advantage in the competitive marketplace by examining economic, structural, and managerial explanations for firm performance.
Stimpert has taught at the Korean University Business School and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Prior to entering the academic field, he worked in the railroad industry and in a variety of marketing, forecasting, and economic analysis positions.
The book, published by Routledge, is co-authored by Julie Chesley, formerly of the CC economics department and now assistant professor of organization theory and applied behavioral science at the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University, and Irene Duhaime, senior associate dean and professor at Georgia State University.