Mike Taber Wins SPORE Science Award With Teammates

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.

CC Students, Faculty to Present Research at Geology Conference

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.”

Get to Know: Inger Bull

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.”

Donated Butterfly Sculpture Alights at CC Children’s Center

There’s a new symbol of caring and creativity at the Colorado College Children’s Center: a brightly painted butterfly.

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

New Arbor Raises Bench’s Profile on Campus

A bench located between Cutler and Ticknor halls has gained greater visibility on campus, thanks to the addition of a striking vine-covered arbor.

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.

Get to know: Jermyn Davis

There is no “normal day” for Jermyn Davis, chief of staff for new Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler.

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.”

Economics Professor Larry Stimpert Publishes New Book on Strategic Thinking

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.

Faculty-Student Collaboration Produces Paper on Nanotechnology Effects

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.

CC Faculty and Staff Up for Arts Awards

Five members of the Colorado College faculty and staff — four of whom are also CC alumni — have been nominated for 2011 Pikes Peak Arts Council awards. They are:
Dance: Patrizia Herminjard ’96, dance instructor, for ”The 12 Steps of Physical Intimacy”
Poetry, Literary Excellence: David Mason ’78, professor of English (and Colorado Poet Laureate)
Theater, Outstanding Performance by an Actress: Amy Brooks ’82, Tutt Library special collections coordinator
Artist of the Year: Scott Johnson, assistant professor of art
Excellence in Curatorship: Jessica Hunter Larsen ’90, I.D.E.A. Space curator
The date of the awards ceremony has not been announced yet. See story in The Gazette for a complete listing of nominees.


 

Marlow Anderson Combines Love of Math and Scuba Diving in a New Book

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.