Around the Block
Improved treatments for cancer, better window coatings, and effective sunscreens are among the many outcomes of nanotechnology, the study of structures so small they are measured in the same way that one measures light. The field is growing rapidly, and a wide variety of nanomaterials are flowing into consumer goods and waste streams.
But we don’t know much about the long-term effects of these new materials, according to associate professor of chemistry Murphy Brasuel and student Kelsey Wise ’12, whose peer-reviewed article on the subject was published last month in the journal “Nanotechnogy, Science and Applications.”
Their article, “The current state of engineered nanomaterials in consumer goods and waste streams: the need to develop nanoproperty-quantifiable sensors for monitoring engineered nanomaterials,” is a review of current applications of certain nanoparticles, methods used to characterize and quantify them, their presence in the environment, and what research has been done into their toxicity.
Brasuel, whose graduate work was on the development of nanoparticle sensors to monitor communication between cells, notes that nanoparticles have different properties than the same substance in larger form – one reason that so little is known about the effects of nanomaterials . A nanoparticle of titanium oxide, for example, a key ingredient in some mineral-based sunscreens, is different than a “bulk” version of the same material.
The nano version of titanium oxide is valued for its ability to be spread transparently over the skin as it absorbs UV light. It’s used as a pigment in toothpaste and some foods, has potential in solar and fuel cells and hydrogen production, and it’s used in self-cleaning windows because it’s good at creating reactive species that break down organic materials.
Besides titanium oxide, the article discussed four other nanomaterials that are in demand or will be soon be available to consumers. These are carbon nanotubes (used in cosmetics, paints, filters, and reinforced plastics), semiconductor quantum dots (poised to be used in targeted drug delivery, cancer detection, and image-guided surgery), and gold and silver (used widely in consumer products). The article notes that the properties that make these nanomaterials so useful could also make them toxic.
“But we don’t know,” said Brasuel, who called for more work on possible effects.
“Nanotechnology is growing very rapidly on the development side but not so much on the regulation of exposure side,” Brasuel said. “How do we monitor these materials in the environment?”
Brasuel and Wise discovered that relatively little has been done to study possible effects of exposure. “It’s hard to talk about this without fearmongering,” said Brasuel, who notes that some consumer groups fear the worse and are against nanotechnology, while industry groups tend to emphasize their view that nanoparticles are absolutely safe.
“The truth is probably in between,” Brasuel said. “It’s not going to be completely benign, but not so harmful, either.”
Brasuel, who is incoming chair of the chemistry department, and Wise, who is also a captain of the college’s women’s soccer team, worked most of the summer of 2010 and the spring semester of 2011 on the article.
“I learned something completely new and fascinating,” said Wise of her work on the article. She spent this summer in a pre-med program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, where she worked with a psychologist doing research on tumors in children.
Her work on nanotechnology contributed to her thinking about technology and society and long-term effects as she studied this summer, she said, noting that nanoparticles are used in some cancer treatment, though not in the work she did at Baylor.
“It’s so new. There’s a lot to be done,” Wise said. She returns to Colorado College in August for soccer practice – she plays center midfield – and for her senior year as a chemistry major. She plans to apply to medical school. She’s from Fairview, Texas, and went to high school nearby in Allen, Texas.
The Dean’s Advisory Committee and the Colorado College Venture Grant Fund supported Brasuel and Wise’s research.
When mathematics professor Marlow Anderson turned his love of scuba diving into a course, “The Mathematics of Scuba Diving,” in 2001, the possible textbooks were either too technical or too simple. “They were loathe to have even a single equation,” Anderson said of the too-simple books. So he began to provide his own notes for the mathematical explorations course.
Those notes turned into a 197-page book, “The Physics of Scuba Diving,” just released by Nottingham University Press. Designed for readers who aren’t necessarily interested in “hard-core” calculus, the book explains the science and math involved in avoiding decompression sickness, the painful and sometimes fatal consequence of ascending too fast from a deep dive.
Decompression sickness — the bends — results when the extra nitrogen a diver’s body has absorbed while the diver breathes compressed air at depth leaves the body too quickly as the diver ascends. The process is described mathematically using the idea of exponential decay, which takes into account changes in pressure at various depths during a dive.
Anderson describes the history, math, and science behind the rows and columns of numbers that make up dive tables, which are designed to help divers plan safe dives. From his first scuba training more than 15 years ago, dive tables provoked his curiosity. “As a mathematician and educator, I naturally wondered: where do these numbers come from? They were obviously based on physics and mathematics somehow,” he writes. “My personal quest to understand those dive tables has resulted in this book.”
Anderson, a PADI-certified assistant instructor of diving, has dived all over the world. He recently returned from Tobago, where he encountered manta rays swimming playfully overhead during a couple of dives.
KRCC, Colorado College’s NPR-member station, took first place in the Public Radio News Directors, Inc., competition with an episode produced on the news show “Western Skies.” The episode, titled “Agriculture,” won in the Best News/Public Affairs Program category in the “small newsroom” division. The show, produced by news director Andrea Chalfin and Noel Black, originally aired on Sept. 5, 2010.
KRCC’s “Western Skies” also received a second-place award from the Colorado Associated Press in the Documentary category for the same episode. The Associated Press competition was among large market stations and not limited to public stations. The “Agriculture” episode, which sought to connect listeners with the people who produce food, interviewed people ranging from those who advocate community-supported agriculture to traditional ranchers. The full episode can be heard at: http://radiocoloradocollege.org/2010/09/western-skies-september-5-2010-agriculture/
As a first step in becoming part of the Colorado College community, President Jill Tiefenthaler is working with a small group representing trustees, faculty, staff, students, and alumni to help her transition into her new role. The Temporary Transition Advisory Committee will serve through the summer. Tiefenthaler’s presidency began on July 1.
“My most important goal in the first year is to understand the college and really listen to a lot of different people,” Tiefenthaler said.
The committee will provide initial input on key stakeholders, individuals, and groups that the new president should meet, and events she should attend in her first year at Colorado College to ensure that she connects with the college and its community broadly and in meaningful ways.
“Every culture is so different,” Tiefenthaler said. “A year of listening is critical, to understand our greatest strengths, our blemishes, and our opportunities for the future.”
The transition committee members are:
Jonathan Lee, Faculty Executive Committee chair
Esther Redmount, former Faculty Executive Committee chair
Jane Murphy, assistant professor of history
Brian Linkhart, associate professor of biology
Ken Ralph, director of athletics
Randy Nehls, Staff Council co-chair
Isabel Werner ’08, young alumni trustee
Heather Carroll ’89 Alumni Association Board
Emily Fukunaga ’12, student
Logan Dahl ’12, student, CC Student Government Association
Suzanne Woolsey (ex officio), Board of Trustees chair
Working Group: Beth Brooks, director of the president’s office; Jermyn Davis, chief of staff, president’s office; Steve Elder, vice president for advancement; and Jane Turnis, director of communications
The Board of Trustees voted on May 20, 2011, in favor of amending the college bylaws, effective as of July 1, 2011, to add “gender identity, gender expression” as an additional category for protection in Article IX “Equal Opportunity Statement” of the bylaws and in the college’s anti-discrimination policy. The bylaws state that any such vote is not effective until expiration of a 30-day advance notice requirement of the resolution amending the bylaws. The draft resolution for the Gender Identity Bylaws Amendment was provided to the trustees at the May 21, 2011 plenary session. The 30-day advance notice requirement for the Gender Identity Bylaws Amendment has now passed. The Bylaws Amendment will now be effective on July 1, 2011.
Researchers have developed a new way of determining the body temperatures of dinosaurs, providing new insights into whether dinosaurs were cold-or warm-blooded.
A paper co-written by Associate Geology Professor Henry Fricke discusses the techniques used to determine the body temperature of animals that have been extinct for 150 million years.
By analyzing the teeth of sauropods — long-tailed, long-necked dinosaurs that were the biggest land animals ever to have lived — the scientists found that these dinosaurs were nearly as warm as most modern mammals. The paper can be viewed at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2011/06/22/science.1206196
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation’s division of earth sciences
Anne Hyde, professor of history and Southwest studies, recently published “Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800-1860,” part of a five-volume series that reassesses the entire field of Western history.
The book, published by the University of Nebraska Press, makes clear that the Louisiana Purchase did not involve virgin wilderness discovered by virtuous Anglo entrepreneurs. Rather, the United States was a newcomer in a place already complicated by vying empires.
The period covered in Hyde’s book, 1800-1860, spans the fur trade, Mexican War, gold rushes, and the Overland Trail, usually very male-dominated fields of study. Hyde took a different approach, and, using letters and business records, documented the broad family associations that crossed national and ethnic boundaries. “These folks turned out to be almost entirely people of great wealth and status who loved and married across racial and cultural lines. It turns out that the West of that period is really a mixed race world that made perfect cultural and economic sense until national ideas made that cultural choice impossible in the 1850s,” Hyde said.
“Empires, Nations, and Families” reveals how, in the 1850s, immigrants to the newest region of the United States violently wrested control from Native and other powers, and how conquest and competing demands for land and resources brought about a volatile frontier culture—not at all the peace and prosperity that the new power had promised.
The Worner Campus Center, the nucleus of all campus activity, is undergoing a major renovation that will result in a more welcoming and energy-efficient building.
Most of the Worner Center improvements are focused on the main level, with the goal of transforming the dated and congested Rastall Hall into a dining area that is bright, sustainable, and easily navigated. A portion of the north side of Rastall will be opened to the Perkins Lounge area with full light doors (see artist’s rendition), resulting in a flexible layout that can accommodate a variety of functions. Most notable of the changes will be the servery area which will be open to the dining area and will provide a variety of new food choices.
Colorado Coffee is moving inside the entrance to Benji’s, and Benji’s will be upgraded with an improved layout, which includes a new grill area, Taqueria, Sushi, Grab n’ Go coolers, flooring, furniture, and new paint. Benji’s, along with Colorado Coffee, also will be used as an additional study area in the evenings, giving students more study area options.
Energy efficiency is a major goal of the renovation, and the project is aiming for LEED certification, said Will Wise, building trades manager for facilities and project manager for this project. Approximately 144 solar panels producing 35KW are being installed on the Worner Center roof to help offset the electrical usage in the building. An interactive flatscreen on the main floor will be devoted to monitoring energy consumption in Worner Center, he said.
The shared kitchen between Rastall and Benji’s will have the most energy-efficient dishwasher available, one which drastically reduces water use. The new kitchen appliances are Energy Star-rated, lighting throughout the building will be upgraded to low-energy usage lights, plumbing will be low-flow and all 25 toilets in Worner will be dual-flush.
The building’s seven air handlers, most of which date from the original 1959 building, will be reduced to five vastly more efficient ones. The air handlers take care of the building’s ventilation, heating, and air conditioning needs.
“Our goal is to reduce energy consumption by a minimum of 30 percent,” Wise said. A 30 percent reduction would result in an anticipated savings of $108,000 a year, he said. Total cost of the project is $9 million, which includes $7.7 million for construction, as well as architect, engineer, permits, and testing fees, and funds for new paint and carpeting, and other aesthetic issues, Wise said.
The project has a tight timeline of 81 days, and in order to complete the work by the August 19 deadline, two crews are working two shifts, six days a week . Bon Appetit will then have a week to get the kitchen ready before new students arrive on campus. In the meantime, the kitchen in Bemis Hall, which was remodeled last summer in preparation for the Worner Center renovation, is handing all the campus’s summer dining needs.
The project is the first major renovation of Rastall Hall since 1988, when the building took on a major transformation, and follows recommendations made in a 2009 study involving faculty, staff, students, and trustees.
Colorado College introduces its new tenure-track faculty. They are:
Helen Daly, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Daly received a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Arizona in 2011, and holds a B.A. in philosophy and English from the University of Akron. She specializes in metaphysics and the philosophy of language. In her dissertation, “Vagueness and Borderline Cases,” Daly clarifies the various explanations of people or things which are stuck in a state of “in-between.” She has published in “The Oxford Handbook of Causation” and “A Companion to Metaphysics.”
Darrell Killian, Assistant Professor of Biology
Killian received his B.A. in molecular biology and biochemistry from Wesleyan University, and in 2004 earned his Ph.D. in biology and developmental genetics from New York University. He was a visiting professor at Colorado College and recently held an assistant professor position at the College of New Jersey. Much of his graduate and postdoctoral research deals with the regulation of sex-specific programmed cell death in C. Elegans. He has been recognized by numerous grants and awards, including a Society for Developmental Biology Teaching Faculty Travel Grant and the Gladys Mateyko Award for Excellence in Biology.
Scott Krzych, Assistant Professor of New Media
Krzych holds a B.A. in English from California State University-Northridge, an M.A. in English from the State University of New York-Buffalo, and recently earned his Ph.D. in screen studies and English from Oklahoma State University. Krzych will be the first tenure-track professor of New Media at Colorado College. His various papers and publications address a range of subjects from digital cinema to video game studies to analysis of Glenn Beck’s television show. His dissertation examines evangelical representations of the apocalypse, including such films as “A Thief in the Night,” “Left Behind,” and “The Omega Code” and such prophecy-based cable programming as “The Hal Lindsey Report” and “Jack Van Impe Presents.”
Christina Leza, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Leza earned her M.A. in linguistic anthropology from the University of California, Davis and obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 2009, where she wrote a dissertation on indigenous activism in response to United States and Mexico border enforcement policies. She works with the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders and has won numerous grants and awards for her work. Her interests include legal and political anthropology, indigenous cultures and social movements in the Americas, and grassroots political organizing.
Corina McKendry, Assistant Professor of Political Science
McKendry received her Ph.D. in politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz in June 2011. Her dissertation, “Smokestacks to Green Roofs: City Environmentalism, Green Urban Entrepreneurialism, and the Regulation of the Postindustrial City,” examines the relationship between city environmentalism and the changing role of cities in the globalized economy. She is particularly interested in how city leaders are using environmentalism to promote economic growth and the implications that this has for social equity in the green city.
Jim Parco, Associate Professor of Economics
Parco received a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, where he studied under Amnon Rapoport and Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith. After completing his doctorate, he returned to the faculty of the Air Force Academy, his undergraduate alma mater, and taught courses in management, leadership, decision-making, and investments. In addition to teaching at the Academy from 1996-1999 and 2003-2007, Parco served on the National Security Council at the White House during the Clinton Administration and in a diplomatic capacity overseas with the American Embassy in Tel Aviv. In 2007, he received the Thomas Jefferson National Award from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) for his forthright actions in advocating for cadets at the Air Force Academy. In 2009, he was awarded the Military Officers Association of America’s (MOAA) Outstanding Faculty Award for his work at Air Command and Staff College, and in 2010, was named educator of the year.
Andrea Righi, Assistant Professor of Italian
In 2004 Righi received his M.A. in North American Literatures from the University of California, San Diego. Since then he received a degree in comparative literature at the University of Bologna and a Ph.D. in Italian studies from Cornell University. His book, “Gramsci Fell Asleep: Life, Biopolitics and Social Change in Italy,” will be published by Palgrave Macmillan. He also has published several articles in journals and books in both English and Italian. Righi has been the recipient of several awards and fellowships, including a Fulbright Scholarship in 2004.
Habiba Vaghoo, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Vaghoo received a B.A. in chemistry from Concordia College, where she graduated magna cum laude. She went on to pursue a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Southern California. Her dissertation explores the synthesis of organofluorine compounds. She recently served as a visiting assistant professor at The College of Wooster in Ohio. She has earned several awards and scholarships, including the Stauffer Post Doctoral Fellowship and the Harold and Lillian Moulton Graduate Fellowship for excellence in research.
Dana Wittmer, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Wittmer earned her Ph.D. in political science at The Ohio State University in 2011, where she also earned her master’s degree. She studies American politics, with specific interests in public opinion, gender and politics, public policy, and Congress. Her dissertation, “A Theory of Institutional Representation: The Link Between Political Engagement and Gendered Institutions,” focuses on public opinion about Congress as a gendered institution, paying particular attention to how these perceptions affect political engagement. Her other research interests include human trafficking within the U.S., the impact of gendered leadership on public policy, and gender and legislative effectiveness within Congress.
Shawn Womack, Associate Professor of Drama and Dance
Shawn comes to Colorado College from Grinnell College’s department of theatre and dance, where she was an associate professor. In addition to her experience as performer, choreographer, and teacher, she also was founder and executive director of Dance Projects, Inc., a non-profit organization that produced contemporary dance and interdisciplinary projects. Shawn holds a B.F.A. of fine arts, ballet, from the University of Cincinnati College – Conservatory of Music, where she graduated magna cum laude, and an M.F.A. in dance from the University of California, Riverside. Shawn will serve as chair of the drama and dance department at Colorado College.
Naomi Wood, Assistant Professor of Spanish
Wood earned her M.A. from the University of Minnesota in Hispanic literature, where she specialized in Spanish-American literatures and cultures and Latin-American history. She completed her Ph.D. in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian literatures and cultures, with a minor in feminist studies in May 2011. Her dissertation, “Ciphering Nations: Performing Identity in Brazil and the Caribbean,” explores concepts of both cultural repression and freedom through performance arts in Latin and South American Countries. She has published her work in The Global South and Literatura e Autoritarismo.