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MAY 19, 2017 | ISSUE 10

This is our last issue of Synapse for the 2016-2017 academic year. Have a wonderful and relaxing summer and enjoy your time with your family and friends! Thanks so much to everyone who submits information about their research, publications, awards, and adventures. Keep the news coming over the summer – email updates to Christine at nicolacs@plu.edu.

Outstanding Student Leaders

The Natural Sciences was well-represented at this year’s student leadership awards.

  • Rainey Aberle (Physics/Geosciences) and Ashley Connors (Chemistry/Biology) both received the Leadership in Sustainability Award.
  • Devon Johnson (Mathematics/Computer Science) and Jenn Wong (Chemistry) both received the Leadership Through Mentoring Award.
  • Jacynda Woodman-Ross (Biology) received the Leadership in Social Justice Award.
  • Taylor Bozich (Biology) received the Leadership in Living the PLU Mission Award.
  • Kelly Marie White (Physics/Computer Science) received the Leadership Through Collaboration Award.

Engineering Student Awarded Fellowship

Michele Anderson, current dual-degree engineering student, won the Harold P. Brown Engineering Fellowship and will enroll in Washington University in St. Louis this fall! Read the full article here.

Michele was one of two outstanding students chosen for the Brown Fellowship out of a pool of 173 applicants.” The fellowship is merit-based and requires an essay, faculty recommendations, grades, extracurricular activities, and demonstrated potential for professional achievement in engineering.

The 173 who applied for the Brown Fellowship are from the 92 institutions nationwide that send their dual-degree engineering students to WUSTL. Not only that, but this marks the second time in 8 years that a PLU student has won a full-tuition Brown Fellowship (generally only one is awarded nationwide).

Congratulations to Michele on this awesome achievement!

A Sampling of Summer Research

Elliott Peterson (Chemistry) is headed to Minneapolis for the summer to work with Dr. Douglas Lee at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Masonic Cancer Center. Dr. Lee’s lab focuses on treating breast cancer by targeting the tumor cell pathways that regulate breast cancer cell survival and reproduction. Here’s Elliott presenting his poster at the ACS Spring Meeting in San Francisco.


Rebecca Crust (Biology) was accepted into Cornell’s Summer Scholars Program and will spend her summer at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York. Working with her mentor, Dr. Chris Smart, Rebecca’s project will be on Melampsora spp. willow rust, a fungal pathogen that infects Willow trees. The picture is from 2016 when the PLU NSSURP team attended the WSU Mt. Vernon extension center field day (Rebecca is in the center).


Chloe Skidmore (Chemistry/Biology) will be spending the summer at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, WA. Working with Mike Schweiger, who is a part of the Radiological Materials and Detection group in the Energy and Environment Directorate, she’ll be involved in developing different compositions of glass and ceramic materials, which will hopefully be used to immobilize radioactive waste for safe transport. This project is specifically focusing on clean up of the Hanford Site. This picture shows Chloe during her previous internship with PNNL. She was using a cavity ring down spectrometer to analyze GHG fluxes from a wetland ecosystem.


Marisol Navarro (Chemistry) will participate in the USC REU program for 10 weeks at University of Southern California with Dr. Matthew Pratt’s Lab.


Kimberly Belmes (Physics) will take part in the Solar Physics REU program with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Here, she adjusts the telescope on Saturn in the Keck observatory at PLU.


Justin DeMattos will intern for NASA this summer, programming for the Solar Probe Plus Mission – the first mission to enter the sun’s atmosphere. Justin is featured in the May 12th issue of The Mast.

Carly Stauffer plans to spend her summer as an intern at Lockheed Martin, the global aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies company. (Carly is pictured left, wearing the PLU sweatshirt in the photo. And that’s Kimberly on the right. Both are featured in The Mast article.)

PLU Summer Research

Natural Sciences has a great group of students participating in research as part of our own Summer Undergraduate Research Program. Good luck to all our student researchers and faculty mentors – have a fun and productive summer!

Student & Alumni News

Taylor Bozich received the Leadership in Living the PLU Mission Award. Taylor’s on-campus involvments include: Vice President, ASPLU; Advocacy Lead, Partners in Health Engage Club; 2015 Peace Scholar, PLU’s Peach Scholars Program.

Ashley Connors received the Leadership in Sustainability Award. Ashely’s involvements at PLU include: Sustainability Director of RHA, ASPLU Senator, Science Alliance Peer Mentor for the Division of Natural Sciences, and Academic Assistance Center Tutor.

Rebecca Crust has a summer research position in Cornell’s Department of Plant Pathology.

Ashley Farre was initiated into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Chloe Skidmore will intern at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, WA over the summer. She will be working with Mike Schweiger of the Radiological Materials and Detection group in the Energy and Environment Directorate.

Jacynda Woodman-Ross received the Leadership in Social Justice Award. Jacynda’s PLU involvements include: Club President, Sexuality Awareness and Personal Empowerment Team; Peer Education Coordinator, Center for Gender Equity; Advocacy Intern, Center for Gender Equity; and Science Alliance Peer Mentor with the Division of Natural Sciences.

Jenise Cavness, McKenna Chandler, Olivia Egejuru, Cole Fisher, Kirk Huse, Luna Kim, Barbara Millward, Amanda Moore, Bennett Rivera, Anna Tran, Connor Whyte, and Dru Wickenkamp attended the 2017 American Chemical Society Puget Sound Section Undergraduate Research Symposium held at UW Bothell on Saturday, April 29th. They presented posters with the results of semester-long research projects in CHEM 336 Organic Special Projects Lab. Professors Neal Yakelis and Justin Lytle accompanied the group.

Gabrielle Kamm also attended the American Chemical Society Puget Sound Section Undergraduate Research Symposium and presented the results of student-faculty research she has completed over the past year under the mentorship of Professor Justin Lytle.

Ashley Connors received the Leadership in Sustainability Award. Ashely’s involvements at PLU include: Sustainability Director of RHA, ASPLU Senator, Science Alliance Peer Mentor for the Division of Natural Sciences, and Academic Assistance Center Tutor.

Curt Malloy (JD, MPH, and PLU ’88), of Cancer Research and Biostatistics gave the Chemistry Capstone Symposium keynote address – “Perspectives from a Career in Global Health Product Development.” Twenty-three chemistry seniors gave presentations over five afternoons May 1-5 and the symposium concluded with a liquid nitrogen ice cream social and a department photo.

Chemistry group photo on stairs in Morken


Chloe Skidmore
will intern at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, WA over the summer. She will be working with Mike Schweiger of the Radiological Materials and Detection group in the Energy and Environment Directorate.

Jitkanya (Jenn) Wong received the Leadership Through Mentoring Award. Jenn’s involvements at PLU include: International Student Services, International Peer Advisor; Department of Chemistry, Teaching Assistant; Chem Club, Vice President; and Residential Assistant with Residential Life.

Matthew Conover was initiated into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Devon Johnson received a Leadership through Mentoring Award. Devon’s on-campus involvements include: Assessment Intern, Student Involvement and Leadership; President, Math Club; Lead Teacher, English Language Learners Program (CCES); Science Alliance Peer Mentor for the Natural Sciences; Teaching Assistant, Department of Computer Science.

Kelly Marie White received the Leadership Through Collaboration Award. Kelly’s on-campus involvements include: Two-Year Captain, PLU Women’s Soccer; Vice President, Student Athletic Advisory Committee; Teacher’s Assistant and Grader, Department of Computer Science; Northwest Conference Rep, 2016 NCAA Leadership Development Conference.

Rainey Aberle received the Leadership in Sustainability Award. Rainey’s on-campus involvements include: ASPLU Sustainability Director, DJS FUNd Team, Hong International Hall PR Director, Sustainability Fellow.

Devon Johnson received a Leadership through Mentoring Award. Devon’s on-campus involvements include: Assessment Intern, Student Involvement and Leadership; President, Math Club; Lead Teacher, English Language Learners Program (CCES); Science Alliance Peer Mentor for the Natural Sciences; Teaching Assistant, Department of Computer Science.

Rainey Aberle received the Leadership in Sustainability Award. Rainey’s on-campus involvements include: ASPLU Sustainability Director, DJS FUNd Team, Hong International Hall PR Director, Sustainability Fellow.

Bryson Baligad has a summer internship with Kodani & Associates Engineers.

Kimberly Belmes received a summer internship with the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Justin DeMattos has a summer internship position with NASA. He’ll be programming for the Solar Probe Plus Mission – the first mission to enter the sun’s atmosphere, set to launch in August 2018.

Cecelia McRoberts Legg will study neutrino oscillations as part of her REU at Vanderbilt University.

Carl Sanderson was initiated into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Eldon Sorenson will spend the summer at the Iowa Summer Institute in Biostatistics.

Kelly Marie White received the Leadership Through Collaboration Award. Kelly’s on-campus involvements include: Two-Year Captain, PLU Women’s Soccer; Vice President, Student Athletic Advisory Committee; Teacher’s Assistant and Grader, Department of Computer Science; Northwest Conference Rep, 2016 NCAA Leadership Development Conference.

Under the Microscope!

Six Questions with Michelle Moore

 

1.What attracted you to PLU when you were applying for jobs? How long have you been here?
As a former student (2015), I appreciated the time and energy the professors put into making sure I was successful and the personal connections that were made from spending time with them. I wanted to be a part of that culture as an employee when the opportunity arose to become the Biology lab manager. I have been the lab manager for one year.

2.What are you most excited to be working on right now?
Right now, I am working with Dr. Seidel who is teaching me new skills for preparing tissue cultures, bacteriophage, and plasmids which I have never done.

3.What makes you feel accomplished?
When professors tell me how great their lab session went and lab experiments are successful for the students.

4.What was the last book you read? Movie you watched?
If I don’t count the numerous children’s books I read daily, the last adult book I read was The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead. The last movie I watched was Sleeping Beauty with my daughter.

5.What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
So many choices…I would love to be a professional ballet dancer for a dance company.

6.What do you like to do in your free time?
I love being outdoors doing things like camping, hiking, chasing waterfalls, snowshoeing, playing on the beach, and introducing my children to nature.

David T. Alger Service Award

Professor Ksenija Simic-Muller with daughter Oona. Photo by President Tom Krise.

Ksenija Simic-Muller was presented with the 2017 David T. Alger Service Award in recognition of her extraordinary commitment to service,  sustained engagement, and empowering others to become involved with our community. Way to go, Ksenija!

Hooray for Heather!

Heather Fullerton (Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology) recently accepted an Assistant Professor position in the Department of Biology at the College of Charleston. She’ll be teaching microbiology and starting up her own research lab studying marine iron-oxidizing bacteria. Congratulations, Heather!

NSF Award Renewed for 3 Years

Dean Waldow hiking in the mountains

Dean Waldow just received a renewal award for his current National Science Foundation grant – a Research in Undergraduate Institutions Award. The award, $188,000 over three years, will allow further work on his research group’s project – “Dicarboximide-functionalized Oxanorbornyl Homopolymers and Diblock Copolymers for Use as Solid Polymer Electrolytes” – which synthesis and characterization of new solid polymer electrolytes for lithium-ion and related batteries. Over the next three years, this award will fund nine student summer researchers, one small instrument, some equipment, and supplies. Congratulations, Dean!

Just because it's almost camping season...a picture taken By Tarka Wilcox on his on Moab, Utah trip.

Faculty & Staff News

Jon and Haruka Freeman welcomed a new bundle of joy last summer – introducing Nina Keiko Freeman! Born August 20, 2016, 3kg 388g and 50 cm. Her hobbies include: eating mum-mums, knocking over blocks, and staring at new people. (Also, being adorable!!!)

Justin Lytle and Neal Yakelis accompanied 13 Lutes to the 2017 American Chemical Society Puget Sound Section Undergraduate Research Symposium held at UW Bothell on Saturday, April 29th.

Dean Waldow recently learned his NSF grant was renewed for the next 3 years, bringing in $188,000 for student researchers and equipment.

Neal Yakelis was initiated into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Khalfalla Awedat just attended a conference EIT2017 (14-17 May) in Lincoln, NE to present two papers -“Compressive Sensing of Jointly Sparse Signals as a Method for Dimensionality reduction of Mass Spectrometry Data” and “Sparse Representation Classification Based Linear Integration of L1-norm and L2-norm for Robust Face Recognition.”

Ksenija Simic-Muller received the 2017 David T. Alger Service Award.

Ksenija also brought 11 Mathletes students to campus on May 4th. The students visited Tom Edgar, Daniel Heath, and Shannon Seidel’s classes; had lunch at OMM; and visited the dCenter and The Cave. They talked with PLU students in all three classes, and even did some math!

Matt Smith represented Natural Sciences at the Pierce College STEM Expo on May 18th. He met with prospective students, Pierce College advisors, and several PLU alums.

Need to Deep Clean Your Office?

Let Elizabeth and Christine know! They can order large recycling bins, schedule painting or carpet cleaning, provide boxes for storage, or help find homes for books, posters, or office supplies you no longer need. And on the topic of recycling: if you need to get rid of lots of papers, magazines, notebooks, etc., ask us to order a bin. The recycling bags get heavy fast and the bins are much easier for the student workers to transport.

Division Calendar

May 20: Biology Capstones – 9AM-1PM, Morken 125, 131, 132

May 22-26: Finals Week

May 25: Division Potluck in Morken 103, noon-1PM

May 25: Commencement

May 26: Spring Semester Ends

May 29: Memorial Day Holiday – PLU campus closed

June 2: Final Grades Due

June 5: Summer Session Term I begins

MAY 5, 2017 | ISSUE 9

Representing at the March for Science

Our faculty, staff, students, and alums marched for science on Earth Day, April 22nd. PLU was represented in Tacoma, Seattle, Olympia, Oregon, and Washington D.C. Thanks to Lace Smith for taking photos in Tacoma and Craig Fryhle in Seattle. Go Science!

Computer Science at the TEALS CS Fair

On April 21st, Professor David Wolff and Assistant Professor Renzhi Cao attended the TEALS Computer Science Fair at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond, WA. This event brings high school computer science students together to meet with colleges, companies, and extracurricular programs involved in computer science. There are hands-on activities, workshops, speakers, and lots of exhibitor boots to explore. David spoke on a panel – “Learn About College CS Programs” – with faculty from other Washington colleges, while Renzhi spoke with prospective students. Both spent time at the PLU table with Admission and Computer Science student representatives.

Farewell Celebration

It’s hard to say goodbye to friends and colleagues, but having an excellent celebration makes it a little easier. Join us at the annual Farewell Celebration to recognize those leaving or retiring from PLU. The celebration will be held Thursday, May 11 from 11:00AM – 12:00PM in the Scandinavian Cultural Center. Comments will be offered at 11:15 a.m. followed by a social time. Here are the Natural Sciences faculty members who will be honored at the event:

Anne Cook, Mathematics

Bryan Dorner, Mathematics

Michele Dijkstra, Mathematics/Computer Science

Steve Starkovich, Physics

Faculty & Staff News

Jacob Egge’s research on pectoral stingers of madtom catfish was cited in a recent article in ScienceNews“Venomous fish have evolved many ways to inflict pain.”

Shannon Seidel coauthored a meeting report for CBE – Life Sciences Education“Broadening Participation in Biology Education Research: Engaging Community College Students and Faculty.”

Dean Waldow just published an article in Polymer“Decoupling of ion conductivity from segmental dynamics in oligomeric ethylene oxide functionalized oxanorbornene dicarboximide homopolymers.” His coauthors include three PLU Chemistry students: Marisa Adams, Victoria Richmond, and Douglas Smith!

Student & Alumni News

Marisa Adams, Victoria Richmond, and Douglas Smith contributed to an article in Polymer“Decoupling of ion conductivity from segmental dynamics in oligomeric ethylene oxide functionalized oxanorbornene dicarboximide homopolymers.” Their main coauthor is Dean Waldow.

John Fordice just accepted an offer to work for Tesla in San Francisco.

Lee Palosh (Olesya Mykulyn) just completed her Physician Assistant degree in Knoxville, TN.

Matthew Dennie and his team just took 1st place in the School of Business Bizplan Competition for HouseMe, a way for students and landlords to search for and post student-friendly places to live. HouseMe is also Matthew’s capstone project. The win comes with $8,000!

May is Bike Month

Celebrate Bike Month from May 1-31st.

Bicyclists who log five or more days will be eligible to win exciting prizes during Bike Month.Register for the first time or login to log your trips on the Pierce Trips Trip Calendar to be entered to win! Trips must be logged by June 8, 2017. Click here for the full details.

2017 Prize List
(1) $100 Old Town Bicycle
(1) $100 Bike Tech
(1) $100 REI
(1) $100 Defiance Bicycles
(2) $50 Safeway

Under the Microscope!

Six Questions with Sean O’Neill

 

1.What scientific discovery would you have loved to be part of/present for?
The demonstration by Isaac Newton that gravity was the single force responsible for objects falling toward Earth and the orbit of the Moon. In my opinion, this is the birth of astrophysics proper. Prior to Newton’s work, an intelligent person could have claimed that objects in space obeyed a completely different set of physical laws from anything on Earth. After Newton’s discovery, that becomes a much tougher claim to defend. I’m not sure it would have been fun to hang out with Newton himself (and I have serious doubts about the apple story), but he deserves a lot of credit for this great idea.

2.What is the most interesting thing in your field right now?
One of the most exciting recent developments in astronomy is the discovery and categorization of planets around stars other than our Sun. This is one of the lectures that I have to update every time I teach our introductory astronomy course. To provide some perspective, 1500 new extrasolar planets were confirmed since this time last year, bringing the total to about 3500. When I started college, only a handful of such planets were known. When I was born, none had yet been discovered. By astronomy standards, this is a fast-growing field.

3.What is something you’d like the general public to know about your field?
Black holes have an undeserved reputation as voracious eaters. In fact, it is very difficult to get material to fall into a black hole. Most objects falling in the vicinity of a black hole miss hitting it and either orbit around it or just have their motion deflected. If too much material is eaten by a black hole, the radiation produced outside of its event horizon can repel future meals. If the Sun were replaced with a black hole of equal mass, the Earth would happily continue in its current orbit (although humans would not be happy about the sudden disappearance of sunlight).

4.What was the last book you read? Movie you watched?
The last book I read was an intriguing science fiction novel called Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that the author also has a Ph.D in astronomy, so perhaps I need to diversify my reading habits. The last movie I watched was Blow Out, directed by Brian De Palma (not an astronomer!). Blow Out was pretty entertaining, but only the third-best movie I can think of in which the protagonist is uncertain about whether or not they recorded a crime being committed.

5.If you could travel back in time or into the future, which would you choose? Why?
I would travel back in time. I don’t actually think it can be done, but I like a good challenge. On the other hand, traveling into Earth’s future would be relatively easy to accomplish with a really fast spaceship. Failing that, you can just wait around—the future will eventually get here!

6.What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to watch movies. Although I have a professional obligation to see movies related to space exploration and astronomy, I secretly prefer film noir, classic suspense movies, and French crime films. I also spend a lot of time with our dog, who enjoys contributing stray background noises to my physics pre-lecture videos.

Field Trip: Wild Horse Wind Farm

Romey Haberle, Jacob Egge, and a group of biology students field-tripped to eastern Washington last week on a hunt to find and identify wildflowers! In addition to wildflowers (and rain, of course) they also found a Pygmy Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma douglasii)!
Facts about the Pygmy Short-horned (because you need to know):

  1. It’s only found east of the Cascades and is the only horned lizard native to WA!
  2. They only get to about 2.5 inches (6 cm), so you are looking at a full-sized adult.
  3. Some of its close relatives are known to squirt blood from their eyes to avoid predators, although that has not been observed in this species.

See more photos of their trip on the Biology Facebook page.

Division Calendar

May 5: Chemistry Capstone – Final Day – 1:40PM-5:30PM  Keynote Speaker: Curt Malloy ’88

May 5: Computer Science Capstones – 1:45-4:15PM, Morken 203

May 6: Computer Science Capstones – 9:00AM-2:10pm, Morken 203

May 6: South Sound Undergraduate Geosciences Conference – 10AM-12PM, Morken 216 and 2nd floor hallway

May 9: Environmental Studies Capstones – 1:45-6PM in Morken 103

May 10: Math Capstones – 3:30-6PM, Morken 214 and 216

May 10: Chemistry Banquet – 6-9PM in the Regency Room

May 12: Academic Festival – 1:45-3:45PM in Rieke lobbys and hallways

May 13: Math Capstones – 9:30AM-12PM, Morken 214-216

May 17: Physics Capstones – 1:45-4:45PM, Morken 103

May 20: Biology Capstones – 9AM-1PM, Morken 125, 131, 132

May 22-26: Finals Week

May 26: Spring Semester Ends

May 27: Commencement

May 29: Memorial Day

June 2: Final Grades Due

APRIL 21, 2017 | ISSUE 8

Amanda McCarty Returns to PLU

Amanda McCarty (Biology & Environmental Studies ’04) returned to PLU to deliver the annual Earth Day Lecture and meet with students to speak about the issue of climate change and her path to discovering her vocation. The lecture was well-attended – around 150 students/faculty/and staff – and many stayed to ask questions and speak with Amanda. We’re so proud to have this amazing Lute embodying a life of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care!

Hello from Namibia!

Computer Science at the NWrWiC

Laurie Murphy and a group of Computer Science Majors attended the Northwest Regional Women in Computing conference in Portland, Oregon on April 8th. Kelsey Brook, Jayme Greer, Kathleen Jacobson, Devon Johnson, Casey Kaku, Samantha Lynn, Micaela Pierce, Emma Poffenberger, Caroline Powell, Emily Shane, and Natalie Stephenson all attended.

Faculty & Staff News

Justin Lytle and Brian Naasz staffed the Q&A mics at the Earth Day Lecture, and they made a pretty good team. Request them for all your events!

David Wolff and Renzhi Cao are attending the 2017 Puget Sound TEALS Computer Science Fair to represent our CS Dept. The fair, held at the Microsoft Conference Center, brings CS students from across the state to learn more about the varied and exciting career and college paths in the field.

Jeff Stuart is headed to Pullman this weekend to speak at the American Mathematical Society’s Spring Western Sectional Meeting at WSU. He’s presenting Saturday morning on “Sign and Ray Patterns that Allow K-potence.”

Under the Microscope!

Six Questions with Heidi Schutz

Professor Heidi Schutz

1.What is something you’d like the general public to know about your field?
Anatomy is NOT a static discipline and anatomists study a far greater variety of organisms beyond humans. In fact, the comparative elements of my discipline are what draws me to vertebrate anatomy. I find it absolutely fascinating that a common toolkit has evolved into diverse array of forms and associated functions. For example, human teeth develop from the same embryonic tissues and in essentially the same manner as the scales on sharks and the cells that allow fish to perceive water movement along the sides of their bodies are the exact same cells that allow us to perceive sound waves and the rotation of our heads.

2.What are you most excited to be working on right now?
Two things. First, in my teaching, I am really excited that my comparative anatomy students are editing Wikipedia and are contributing to a resource used by millions of people. So far, they have filled numerous content gaps, corrected errors and have integrated a lot of content that was previously found in numerous unconnected locations. Their collective work has made a significant contribution to anatomical knowledge available to the general public and I am tremendously proud of their efforts.

Second, I have begun to explore a new direction in my research investigating the factors that influence how males and females differ in their skeletal forms using three spine stickleback fish. It has been wonderful to return to fieldwork (even if it has been rather wet and cold lately).

3.With what other disciplines does your scholarship interact?
Paleontology, Anthropology, Medicine, Forensic Science, Biomedical Engineering, Developmental Biology, Evolution, Physics, Chemistry, Statistics.

4.Are you involved in any community organizations? Please tell us about it.
Yes, I am pretty active with the Tacoma branch of the Mountaineers, a non-profit organization geared towards outdoor recreation instruction and conservation. I have snowshoed and rock climbed with the group but mostly I participate heavily with the sea kayaking group doing trips and teaching essential skills.

5.What do you like to do in your free time?
Sea kayak, rock climb, trail run and just spend as much time outside as I can.

6.What was the last book you read? Movie you watched?
I just re-read El Amor En Los Tiempos Del Cólera by Gabriel García Márquez not that long ago. He is a wonderful author. It helps keep my Spanish sharp, but I am also very excited to read Grunt by Mary Roach. I have read most of her books (Stiff, Gulp, Bonk, Packing for Mars), and her incredible sense of humor and enthusiasm for biological topics (no matter how unsavory) is something I enjoy very much. As a matter of fact, I am seriously thinking about teaching a capstone course using one of her books as the cornerstone.

Invite John Along!

John Froschauer, our University Photographer, is always on the lookout for a good photo op. If your class is going outside, or mixing it up in the lab (literally), or taking a field trip, please let Christine and/or Elizabeth know in advance. They’ll notify John. He’ll take amazing pictures. And you’ll be a PLU Science Star!

Student & Alumni News

Jacob Eaton, Ben Haffly, and Carl Sanderson – the 2017 PLU Math Modeling Team – earned “Meritorious” in this year’s MCM (Mathematical Contest in Modeling).

Ben Haffly was accepted in a Ph.D. program in mathematics at the University of Connecticut.

Division Calendar

April 21: Biology Career Panel with PLU alums – 2pm in Leraas Lecture Hall.

April 22: March for Science at a satellite march in Tacoma, Seattle, or Olympia.

April 23: Poetry in the Park with the Tacoma Audubon Society, 1:30-3:30pm at the Tacoma Nature Center at Snake Lake

April 25: National DNA Day

April 27: Coffee Hour on LGBTQ+ in STEM from 3-4PM in Hong LRC

April 28: Mary Roach visits PLU from 3-4PM in Xavier 201

April 28: Mary Roach speaks at Clover Park Technical College from 7-9PM

April 28: Last Day for Benefits Open Enrollment

April 29: Habitat Restoration Project from 2-4PM – meet on the steps outside the Cave

May 12: Academic Festival

APRIL 7, 2017 | ISSUE 7

sun coming up behind earth from space

Tuesday, April 18th @ 7:30PM | Scandinavian Cultural Center

This year’s distinguished speaker is Amanda McCarty (PLU Biology ’04 and Environmental Studies Minor), an environmental scientist and policy maker with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

During her tenure at NOAA, Amanda has contributed to efforts to coordinate and advance the development and delivery of climate services, advanced President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and provided leadership to international climate adaptation programs. The highlight was representing the United States for 7 years as a negotiator to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which allowed her to contribute to the historic Paris Agreement to address global climate change. Amanda is currently serving as both the Assistant Director for Partnerships and the Acting Deputy Director for NOAA’s National Sea Grant College Program, which produces and delivers science that serves America’s coastal communities, economies, and ecosystems.

Join us for an evening of inspiration and information, as we gather to discuss vocational journeys and the intersection of science and policy. Please encourage your students to attend. A reception will follow the lecture.

For details on other events happening during Earth Week, click here. 

Hooray for Heather!

Heather Fullerton had an article published last week in the ISME Journal “Hidden diversity revealed by genome-resolved metagenomics of iron-oxidizing microbial mats from Lō’ihi Seamount, Hawai’i.” This work examined the metabolic capacity and genomic diversity of key microbes, the Zetaproteobacteria, that are found world-wide but are found in especially high abundance in environments with high concentrations of reduced iron and carbon dioxide and low concentrations of oxygen. The hydrothermal venting conditions at Lō’ihi Seamount make an excellent habitat for the Zetaproteobacteria. Heather was able to separate out specific species of bacteria from other closely related organisms. This allowed for detailed analysis of the genomic diversity found across the 34 Zetaproteobacteria genomes. These genomes predominately represented the ecologically important and cosmopolitan strains of Zetaproteobacteria. Further studies will focus on the unique genomic signatures that allow these ecologically important strains to be detected world-wide and to thrive at the extreme environment of hydrothermal vents.

Heather also attended the 77th Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in Santa Fe NM over spring break. She coauthored a paper presented at the meeting entitled “The Gatekeeper Project: Crowdsourced Examination of the Gender Composition of Anthropology Journals.” The Gatekeeper Project is an attempt to crowdsource data collection on the composition of the editorial boards. This cross-discipline and multi-university project seeks to understand how and why board composition varies within and across disciplines and use these data to help scholars, academic societies, editors, and publishers in their efforts to make the editorial boards of journals more inclusive and diverse. Heather was instrumental in the data analysis and determining relationships between editorial role and gender. She will be following up this and submit a grant application for the National Science Foundation this summer.

PLU Chemistry at ACS San Francisco

PLU Chemistry students (14 of them!) and faculty represented the university and department at the 2017 Spring ACS (American Chemical Society) meeting in San Francisco. Craig Fryhle, Justin Lytle, Andrea Munro, and Dean Waldow all attended and presented at the meeting, and several Chemistry alums were also in attendance. For more pictures from Chemistry’s excellent ACS adventure, check out the Chemistry Facebook. And thanks to Craig and Dean for being such great photographers!

Geosciences

New to the NatSci Facebook family: a Geosciences page!

Click Here
Environmental Studies

New to the NatSci Facebook Family: an ENVT Studies page!

Click Here

Faculty & Staff News

Craig Fryhle, Justin Lytle, Andrea Munro, and Dean Waldow will all attend the 253rd ACS National Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco. From April 1st – 5th, these intrepid chemists will mingle with their colleagues, attend workshops and presentations, and keep our dear chemistry students out of trouble.

Andrea Munro and Bret Underwood will be panelists in the 5th annual Philosophers and Scientists in Dialogue event on Monday, April 10 @ 6:30PM in AUC 203.

Laurie Murphy will take a group of 11 Computer Science majors to the Northwest Regional Women in Computing conference this Saturday, April 8th. They’ll be driving down to Oregon tonight – wish them light traffic on I-5 South!

Tom Edgar and Chris Meyer (Professor Emeritus) just had a paper published in the March issue of The College Mathematics Journal“A Visual Validation of Viète’s Verification.”

Jeff Stuart’s GARP certificate arrived, and he kindly posed for a picture.  He’s now officially able to manage financial risks!

Bret Underwood and Andrea Munro will be panelists in the 5th annual Philosophers and Scientists in Dialogue event on Monday, April 10 @ 6:30PM in AUC 203.

Under the Microscope!

Six Questions with Michele Dijkstra

1.What are you most excited to be working on right now?
Over the past several years, I’ve been focusing my energies on creating curriculum and learning experiences for students who don’t feel they have a strong aptitude for math or computer science. Creating bridges between their interests, their math self-efficacy and the conceptual ideas we are covering in class keeps me challenged. My happiest days are when a struggling student gets excited about solving a problem and realizes they know how to do it!

2.What scientific discovery would you have loved to be part of/present for?
I would have loved to been present during the early to mid 1800s when Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace discussed their ideas for building an analytical engine (one of the first general purpose computers) and developing “algorithms” to push it beyond number crunching. What Jules Verne moments those talks must have been!

3.If students left your class with only one concept, what would you want them to take away?
I tell my students there are multiple ways of understanding and solving problems. Some of us need to draw pictures, some of us need to build physical models, some of us need to talk out loud and brainstorm ideas with another person. The only “right way” to solve a problem is to use a method that makes sense to you and allows you to explain your reasoning to others.

4.Where were you born?/Where did you grow up?
I was born near Modesto, California on my grandparents almond ranch. We lived close to relatives who immigrated from Friesland after WWII. I remember as a child hearing thick dutch accents at family get-togethers and stories of my grandfather and his brothers skating down frozen canals to visit friends in Amsterdam.

In the first grade, my family moved to a small town in Northern California called Hyampom. The town is nestled in a valley surrounded by national forests and mountains. We had the redwoods of Eureka to the west, Mt. Shasta to the east and the Oregon state border to the north. It was there, surrounded by trees and wilderness, that my love for science and math took root.

In the sixth grade, my family moved to Baytown, Texas for a few years and then finally moved to Joyce, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula. I still think my high school is located in one of the most beautiful places in the world – with the Straits on one side, the Olympic mountains on the other and native dogwoods everywhere. When I was 17, I came to PLU as a freshmen and have lived in the Parkland/Puyallup area ever since.

5.What was the last book you read? Movie you watched?
I am a sci-fi enthusiast and gobble up books, TV-series, and movies of that genre. Lately, I’ve been reading books by Neil Stephenson. Thus far, my favorite book is Anathem. I am currently watching two excellent series called The Expanse (based on novels by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) and Legion. I love just about everything created by Joss Whedon. Some of my favorite sci-fi movies include Contact, Serenity, Blade Runner, Terminator, The Matrix and Independence Day (the first one).

6.What do you like to do in your free time?
I love sewing, quilting, crocheting and needle work. I got hooked on hardanger (Norwegian embroidery) soon after I graduated from PLU and have learned a little filet (Dutch embroidery). I love singing and playing guitar; listening to bluegrass and Americana music; going on hikes and long walks; reading sci-fi and being with my family.

Yuri's Night - Bring Your Family!

APRIL 10, 2017 | 7:30-9:30PM | Rieke 103 (Leraas Lecture Hall)

This year PLU will participate in its first ever Yuri’s Night Celebration! Yuri’s Night is a global celebration of humanity’s past, present, and future in space. Events are held around the world every April to commemorate Yuri Gagarin’s 1961 historic trip into space as the world’s first astronaut. Yuri’s Night events combine space-themed parties with education and outreach.

Our Yuri’s Night features:

  • tours of the Keck Observatory and a chance to use the telescope (weather permitting)
  • a presentation on Yuri Gagarin’s life and the challenges of space travel by Dr. Sean O’Neil
  • a space-themed photo booth with space props and a space-themed game with prizes
  • a screening of the documentary Women in Space by MAKERS
  • and an opportunity to donate to the Pierce County Humane Society in honor of all the animal astronauts who made human spaceflight possible

Student & Alumni News

Elliott Peterson will spend the summer at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Masonic Cancer Center in Minneapolis. Eillot will be working with Dr. Douglas Yee whose lab focuses on treating breast cancer by targeting the tumor cell pathways that regulate breast cancer cell survival and reproduction. The official program title is called LSSURP (Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Programs).

Marisol Navarro will be participating in the University of Southern California REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program for 10 weeks in Dr. Matthew Pratt’s lab.

 

 

 

 

Katie Cameron, Katie Caspary, Olivia Egejuru, Ciara Flanery, Alice Henderson, Quoc Bao Huynh, Gabrielle Kamm, Megan Longstaff, James Okubo, Elliott Peterson, Miles Radford, Maddie Smith, Jenn Wong, and Rodion Zhuravlev all attended the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) 253rd National Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco.

Kelsey Brook, Jayme Greer, Kathleen Jacobson, Devon Johnson, Casey Kaku, Samantha Lynn, Micaela Pierce, Emma Poffenberger, Caroline Powell, Emily Shane, and Natalie Stephenson will all attend the Northwest Regional Women in Computing conference on Saturday April 8th.

Kimberly Belmes secured a summer REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at the Harvard CfA (Center for Astrophysics).

Cecelia McRoberts Legg is heading to a summer REU at Vanderbilt University where she will be working in neutrino physics.

Division Calendar

April 8: Undergraduate Research Symposium, 8:30am-3:00pm in the University Center

April 10: Philosophers and Scientists in Dialogue panel (featuring Bret & Andrea) – 6:30PM in AUC 203

April 10: Yuri’s Night Celebration in Rieke 103 (Leraas Lecture Hall) – 7:30-9:30pm

April 18: Earth Day Lecture with Amanda McCarty (Biology ’04), environmental scientist and policy maker with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Program Office.

April 22: March for Science at a satellite march in Seattle or Olympia.

April 25: National DNA Day

May 12: Academic Festival

MARCH 24, 2017 | ISSUE 6

Women With Vision

Kara Lanning with several biology students who were honored. From left to right: Michaela Myers, Stephanie Compton, Kayla Dice, and Sarah Ameny.

 

Natural Sciences was well-represented at this year’s Celebration of Inspirational Women (hosted by the Center for Gender Equity (CGE). Several NatSci faculty members and students were among the honorees, and Professor Kesenjia Simic-Muller is a member of the advisory board.

The CGE sent out a call for nominees in February, and staff, faculty, and students completed a form telling why they found their professors, colleagues, or friends inspirational. Here’s what they had to say:

Katrina Hay
Dr. Hay inspires women to pursue careers in physics and other sciences. She is an awesome professor and very supportive. In her classes she emphasizes the practical application of physics to the real world and her teaching style makes physics available for everyone, not just geniuses.

As a scholarly woman in a male-dominated field, Dr. Hay has been a supportive advocate for all the females in the physics department. I’ve personally expressed my lack of confidence regarding being a physics major in such an intimidating field brimming with intelligent minds, and Dr. Hay would consistently reassure me that I have the capability to succeed in such a field. She’s spoken as a panelist at a Women in STEM panel that was held at PLU during the Spring of 2015 (if I’m not mistaken, it may have been Fall 2014), and after hearing her empowering responses, she motivated me to be fearless and ambitious-to pursue a degree in physics without backing down out of fear of inferiority to male counterparts. Dr. Hay has been a constant reminder that gender does not affect how successful or capable someone can be, and she has inspired me to go forth and pursue a Ph.D. in physics after graduating from PLU.

Kara Lanning
Dr. Lanning adds such vibrancy and energy to the Biology Department that is much needed and so welcomed. Her door is always open, and she never hesitates to say hello, offer a cup of coffee, and ask how you are doing. I have had several bad days that have been made new again just because I’ve walked into Rieke and ran into Dr. Lanning. Thank you for supporting us as students, for believing in our potential to succeed, for sharing your wisdom on a daily basis, and for contributing to a vision of unconditional support in the PLU Biology Department! You are so valued.

Christine Nicolai
Christine is not only incredibly competent and wonderfully creative (which our division sorely needed), but she is also wickedly funny and clearly motivated to fight for what’s right. She has made our division a more humane place.

Claire Todd
Thank you, Claire, for helping the Division of Natural Sciences think more deeply about the issues of race and equity.

Sheri Tonn
She promotes women in the sciences by encouraging and helping women apply for science internships and science-related jobs. Very helpful in the classroom and creates an environment that fosters women in the sciences being able to move forward. Speaks out against gender bias in the natural sciences and government.

Student honorees include: Rainey Aberle, Sarah Ameny, Stephanie Compton, Kayla Dice, Michaela Myers, Saiyare Refaei, and Jacynda Woodman-Ross.

Geosciences Alumnus with a Dream Job

Photo: John Froschauer/PLU

Scott Foss, a ’91 Geosciences alumnus, now serves as a senior paleontologist at the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management in Washington, D.C. Read all about it here.

Faculty & Staff News

Kara Lanning recently assisted the Forensic Services Unit of the Lakewood Police Department with an investigation. Her expert opinion as a plant pathologist/botanist was needed to determine the significance of a plant injury to the reconstruction of a bullet path. Chief of Police Michael Zaro and Forensic Services Manager/Detective/PLU Alum ’92 Bryan Johnson had this to say of Kara: “Professor Lanning enthusiastically offered her expertise to provide us with an assessment of the leaf injury using the photos and data we provided. The Professor’s analysis was an essential element to the overall analysis of the crime scene and the investigation as a whole.”

Craig Fryhle, Justin Lytle, Andrea Munro, and Dean Waldow will all attend the 253rd ACS National Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco. From April 1st – 5th, these intrepid chemists will mingle with their colleagues, attend workshops and presentations, and keep our dear chemistry students out of trouble.

Andrea Munro and Bret Underwood will be panelists in the 5th annual Philosophers and Scientists in Dialogue event on Monday, April 10 @ 6:30PM in AUC 203.

Tom Edgar has an article in the April issue of Mathematics Magazine: “Proof Without Words: A Recursion for Triangular Numbers and More.”

Daniel Heath and Alum R. Robert Rydberg have a paper in the April issue of Mathematics Magazine: “On Polyominoes and Digital Cameras.”

Elizabeth Alemán has posted women in science posters around Rieke for Women’s history month. If there’s a woman you’d like Elizabeth to feature next year, please email her your suggestions.

Bret Underwood and Andrea Munro will be panelists in the 5th annual Philosophers and Scientists in Dialogue event on Monday, April 10 @ 6:30PM in AUC 203.

Student & Alumni News

Baylee Arnold (Dec ’16) was just accepted to the Loma Linda School of Medicine in California.

Katie Cameron, Katie Caspary, Olivia Egejuru, Ciara Flanery, Alice Henderson, Quoc Bao Huynh, Gabrielle Kamm, Megan Longstaff, James Okubo, Elliott Peterson, Miles Radford, Maddie Smith, Jenn Wong, and Rodion Zhuravlev will all attend the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) 253rd National Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco. Most of the students will be at the meeting from April 1st – 4th and many are presenting posters.

Gregory Peters

will attend Harvard University as part of their Undergraduate Summer Internship in Systems Biology. The program is a collaboration between Harvard’s FAS Center for Systems Biology and the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. Gregory will work with Dr. Jeremy Gunawardena. His lab’s main focus is studying cellular information processing using experimental, mathematical, and computational techniques. While Gregory had a brief chance to speak with Dr. Gunawardena regarding the project, it is a new direction the lab is taking and they don’t have all the details in place yet. Gregory will be using mathematical and computational modeling to study protein allostery in cellular information processing. Here’s a link to the program website: http://sysbio.harvard.edu/summer-internship.html

Logan Rand, magna cum laude in chemistry ’13, just received word that he was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar award to conduct research in France. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in biogeochemistry at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO. During his time at PLU, Logan studied away three times: Martinique J-Term, Geosciences/Physics energy train tour of West Coast, and a semester at the University of Aberdeen. Click here to read the publicity blurb on the subject of Logan’s Fulbright-sponsored studies.

Talk to your students about STEM House!

STEM House will debut Fall 2017, but the application process is happening now. If you have students who might be interested in on-campus housing, encourage them to apply.

Under the Microscope!

Six Questions with Alex Lechler

Alex Lechler and Geosciences student Isabellah von Trapp

 

1.What scientific discovery would you have loved to be part of/present for?
Since it is what hooked me into the Geosciences in the first place, I will have to say the development of Plate Tectonics theory in the 1960s. It would have been beyond exciting to have been a part of that ‘aha’ moment when we started to more accurately and comprehensively explain how our Earth works!

2.With what other disciplines does your scholarship interact?
So many! The earth sciences are fundamentally multidisciplinary. My research alone integrates principles of geology, chemistry, thermodynamics, atmospheric physics, plant physiology, and more. Studying the natural world means trying to understand all parts of it and the players in it – truly, an earth scientist could form a collaboration with members of every department across campus to answer questions of interest and importance!

3.What is something you’d like the general public to know about your field?
Climate change is real and we know how to study it, the age of the Earth is known with incredible precision, and if you are a resident of the Pacific Northwest, earthquakes happen here, and Mt. Rainier is NOT a dormant volcano. More broadly, our decisions as voters and community members matter and establishing open and respectful dialogue is essential and important.

4.If you could travel back in time or into the future, which would you choose? Why?
Without going down a philosophical rabbit hole, I will pick the future in order to focus on being forward looking. More specifically, I am quite interested to know what the world will look like in 2020….

5.If you could have immediate and total mastery of a new skill, what would it be?
My dad built houses for a living while I was a kid and continues to work on really impressive home improvement projects in his retirement – he passed on none of those skills to me.

6.What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
If I could make a job of it, I would be a world traveler, hands down. In more practical terms but related, being an airplane pilot intrigues me.

 

Catching up with Duncan

Duncan Foley at Lower Falls, photo by Manuel Canales

Although Duncan Foley (Geosciences Professor, retired) is no longer spending his time in Rieke classrooms and labs, he certainly hasn’t stopped working. Duncan recently co-authored “Using ground penetrating radar, scanning electron microscopy and thermal infrared imagery to document near-surface hydrological changes in the Old Faithful Geyser area, Yellowstone National Park, U.S.A.” which will appear in the journal Geothermics. The study, which was funded in part by the Expeditions Council of the National Geographic Society, was done in conjunction with colleagues from Wyoming and New Zealand. Two related papers were presented last fall as part of the New Zealand Geothermal Workshop. Another paper related to this project has been submitted for review to another journal.

Duncan also presented a talk on the geology of Yellowstone to the Learning is ForEver group at PLU. In addition, he gave a presentation on earthquake preparation for a local church group. Upcoming plans include three presentations about geology and photography at a workshop in May, which will be in West Yellowstone. He also is working on a project for the park service (Yellowstone again), and is slated to be a co-leader for an international tour group from the Geothermal Resources Council this fall. And click here for another cool National Geographic collaboration to which Duncan contributed – “Inside Yellowstone’s Supervolcano.”

Physics and Chemistry go head-to-head with Philosophy in a civil discussion on science!

Yuri's Night Celebration @ PLU

APRIL 10, 2017 | 7:30-9:30PM | Rieke 103 (Leraas Lecture Hall)

This year PLU will participate in its first ever Yuri’s Night Celebration! Yuri’s Night is a global celebration of humanity’s past, present, and future in space. Events are held around the world every April to commemorate Yuri Gagarin’s 1961 historic trip into space as the world’s first astronaut. Yuri’s Night events combine space-themed parties with education and outreach.

Our Yuri’s Night features:

  • tours of the Keck Observatory and a chance to use the telescope (weather permitting)
  • a presentation on Yuri Gagarin’s life and the challenges of space travel by Dr. Sean O’Neil
  • a space-themed photo booth with space props and a space-themed game with prizes
  • a screening of the documentary Women in Space by MAKERS
  • and an opportunity to donate to the Pierce County Humane Society in honor of all the animal astronauts who made human spaceflight possible

Division Calendar

March 27 – 31: SPRING BREAK!!!! Morken and Rieke will still operate as usual with regular NatSci staff.

March 28: MESA Day – click here to volunteer

April 10: Philosophers and Scientists in Dialogue panel (featuring Bret & Andrea) – 6:30PM in AUC 203

April 10: Yuri’s Night Celebration in Rieke 103 (Leraas Lecture Hall) – 7:30-9:30pm

April 18: Earth Day Lecture with Amanda McCarty (Biology ’04), environmental scientist and policy maker with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Program Office.

April 22: March for Science at a satellite march in Seattle or Olympia.

April 25: National DNA Day

May 12: Academic Festival

MARCH 10, 2017 | ISSUE 5

Just Released Reads from PLU Professors Committed to Improving Student Learning

Shannon Seidel, Biology

How do you know when your students are engaged?

Biology faculty Shannon Seidel

 

For Shannon Seidel the quest to increase student engagement and improve educators’ abilities to measure active learning is labor of love, enthusiasm, collaboration, and science. Active learning focuses on student involvement in the learning process and encourages student-led discussions and problem solving over the traditional lecture format. Shannon’s quest has taken a huge step towards measuring active learning in the classroom with the 2017 publication of “Classroom sound can be used to classify teaching practices in college science courses” in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Part of an interdisciplinary team drawn from PLU and more than two dozen San Francisco Bay Area colleges and universities, including postdoctoral scholars and undergraduates, Shannon and co-researchers created a software tool – the Decibel Analysis for Research in Teaching or DART – to measure and analyze the sounds of a classroom in order to report how much time is spent in active learning mode. A single voice delivering a lecture (nonactive),  multiple voices in discussion (active), or no voices as students write silently (active) all register a different profile and enable the reviewer to pinpoint with 90% accuracy when active learning happens.

While we’re on the subject of engaged students, two PLU 2016 NSSURP-funded Summer Research students worked on this project – analyzed over 60 hours of audio, qualitatively code it, and created a supplemental table that was published in the paper. For their work, Joseph Perez, Biology and Travis Bejines, Physics, are both coauthors on this publication.

You can also read about Shannon and her team’s achievement in Inside Higher Ed.

Know Any Students Interested in Nursing?

Do you have students interested in exploring nursing as a rewarding profession? Career Connections and Delta Iota Chi, a professional service club linked to School of Nursing, welcome healthcare providers at the Nursing Career Fair on Monday, March 20, 3:30 – 5:30pm,in the Anderson University Center.

Environmental Studies just published their winter newsletter. Click here to read the full digital version.

Faculty & Staff News

Shannon Seidel is a co-author on a publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:  “Classroom Sound Can Be Used To Classify Teaching Practices in College Science Courses.” The publication is a collaborative effort by an interdisciplinary team drawn from PLU (including two NSSURP student-researchers: Travis Bejines, Physics and Joseph Perez, Biology!) and more than two dozen San Francisco Bay Area colleges and universities.

Andrea Munro and Bret Underwood will be panelists in the 5th annual Philosophers and Scientists in Dialogue event on Monday, April 10 @ 6:30PM in AUC 203.

Jon Freeman, Craig Fryhle, Justin Lytle, and Neal Yakelis wowed with the power of chemistry last night during Desserts & Demos. A crowd composed of PLU students, community members, and Lute OverKnight attendees snacked on the Periodic Table of Brownies and handmade Dippin’ Dots before going upstairs to the lab to participate in hands-on experiments with the Chem Club and feats of science as demonstrated by the chemistry faculty.

Laurie Murphy is currently attending the SIGCSE conference in Seattle. SIGCSE (which stands for Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education) provides a forum for educators to discuss issues related to the development, implementation, and/or evaluation of computing programs, curricula, and courses, as well as syllabi, laboratories, and other elements of teaching and pedagogy.

Ksenija Simic-Muller is a coauthor on a new book for mathematics teacher educators – Reflecting the World: A Guide to Incorporating Equity in Mathematics Teacher Education. Coauthors include: Matthew D. Felton-Koestler and José María Menéndez.

Ksenija is also part of a fundraising campaign with PLU’s Center for Gender Equity. She is a member of the Center’s Advisory Board. The campaign, PLU Center for Gender Equity 2017: Cultivating the Next Generation of Leaders, has reached their initial goal of $10,000 after only two days! The campaign ends on March 31st and the minimum to donate is only $5.00. If you’d like to donate, please click here.

Elizabeth Alemán created the lovely Black History Month posters displayed in Rieke during February. She chose to highlight 5 individuals who have made great contributions to science and society. This month, she’ll continue the poster display in honor of Women’s History Month – recognizing female scientists for their work.

Matthew Hacker fixed an electric stapler and what Christine calls an “analog stapler” today in addition to his normal duties. Shout-out to Matthew for  being willing to help with anything!

Bret Underwood and Andrea Munro will be panelists in the 5th annual Philosophers and Scientists in Dialogue event on Monday, April 10 @ 6:30PM in AUC 203.

Student & Alumni News

Ashley Connors & Amber Hailey volunteered as greeters for the first annual Rachel Carson Science, Technology and Society Lecture on March 8th.

Joseph Perez, an NSSURP student-researcher who worked with Shannon Seidel in the summer of 2016,  is a coauthor on the publication “Classroom Sound Can Be Used To Classify Teaching Practices in College Science Courses.” Joseph and Travis Bejines (Physics) analyzed over 60 hours of audio, qualitatively coded it, and created a supplemental table that will be published in the paper.

Dr. George Long (Chemistry/Biology ’66) and his wife Helen generously established an endowment which includes the annual Rachel Carson Science, Technology and Society Lecture and the annually-awarded Long Science, Technology and Society Endowed Internship Fund. Together the lecture series and internship fund make up the George L. and Helen B Long Science, Technology and Society Endowment for the Natural Sciences Division at PLU. This incredible gift increases paid internship opportunities for PLU students and supports the division in bringing highly-respected scientists to educate our campus and community.

Maddie Smith placed first in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Erik Anderson Memorial Icebreaker in McMinnville, Oregon on March 5th. This was the Lutes’ first meet of the outdoor season. Maddie’s winning time was 12:32:56.

Travis Bejines, an NSSURP student-researcher who worked with Shannon Seidel in the summer of 2016  is a coauthor on the publication “Classroom Sound Can Be Used To Classify Teaching Practices in College Science Courses.” Travis and Joseph Perez (Biology) analyzed over 60 hours of audio, qualitatively coded it, and created a supplemental table that will be published in the paper.

Volunteer to Read MESA Prosthetic Arm Papers

If you can't make it to MESA Day on 28 March but would still like to pitch in, you can read and score MESA students' technical papers.

Knowledge of robotics is not required! You'll be given a list of things for which students are assigned points - like the name of their school, the use of graphs or pictures, or details on the steps they took to complete their project. You'll have a week to read and score the papers - from March 17th to the 24th. If you'd like to help out, please email June Ellis - ellisjr@plu.edu

Click here for MESA Day information

Ksenija Simic-Muller, Mathematics

How do you make mathematics relevant to everyone?

Math Faculty Ksenija Simic-Muller

 

“When will I ever use this?” A question students ask when they’re anxious about mathematics, or bored, or convinced that the subject belongs to a scholarly realm. Educators attempt to answer this question in a meaningful way – teaching mathematics isn’t just about giving students the tools to calculate a tip or figure compound interest, but also imparting a method for solving a problem and an understanding of the great impact of mathematics on all facets of their lives – but the situation is complicated if educators are themselves anxious or disconnected from mathematics.

In Reflecting the World: A Guide to Incorporating Equity in Mathematics Teacher Education – by Matthew D. Felton-Koestler, Ksenija Simic-Muller (Wooooooo!), and  José María Menéndez – Ksenija and her coauthors seek to bring mathematics to the real world for both students and teacher educators. New teachers in elementary and middle school who may be teaching mathematics as well as several other subjects, often face the same issues as many of their students; they may be uncomfortable with mathematics, uncertain about their ability to teach it, and unsure of how it connects to the real world.

For Ksenija, equity, diversity, and social justice are tightly interwoven with teacher education, and Reflecting the World will assist educators in designing and teaching mathematics content and methods in ways that allow future teachers and students to find the relevance of mathematics to our world, as well as to connect mathematics to the lives, interests, and political realities of an increasingly diverse student body.

-adapted from the the Reflecting the World press release

Under the Microscope!

Six Questions with Tom Edgar


1.What’s something you’d like people to know about your field?

That mathematics is not a dead science. There are many active areas of mathematical research today and it is a discipline that requires a lot of creativity and experimentation (two things not usually associated with mathematics by the general public).

2.What makes you feel accomplished?
Watching my students, either in class or in research experiences, grow into self-motivated learners and explorers. I feel especially accomplished when I can help a student see that the grade is not the important part of mathematics or education, but the learning, the finding of a solution, or even the struggle resulting in epic failure are the key aspects to learning and what we should all strive for.

3.With what other disciplines does your scholarship interact?
Mathematics is a foundational science for nearly every other science. I have spent some time with Justin Lytle, Andrea Munro, Katrina Hay, and Bret Underwood discussing the relevance of mathematics (especially some of the mathematics from my research) to Chemistry and Physics. There are numerous applications to biology that are just beginning to be understood, and of course, computer science grew out of mathematics. Mathematical models are far-reaching and becoming more relevant than ever with the onset of understanding large amounts of data, the relevance of machine learning, and economic forecasting.

4.What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to play hockey (though I have not for some time). I enjoy hiking, walking and playing frisbee with my dog, and watching my 2-year old son explore the world.

5.What was the last book you read? Movie you watched?
I have been (slowly) working through the Sherlock Holmes stories – the last novel I read was A Study in Scarlet.

6. If you could travel back in time or into the future, which would you choose? Why?
I would travel back in time, find myself and then tell myself to choose to travel into the future when this decision was presented – I would do this to see if I instantly disappeared or became a paradox; either way it would be quite interesting.

Thank you for sharing, Tom, but seriously, watch those paradoxes. We don’t want you to disappear. 

The Long Science, Technology and Society Endowed Internship Fund

The Long Endowed Internship Fund will support students who participate in an unpaid internship in a field related to science and/or technology. Three students will be selected each year to receive $2,000, allowing students to take part in internship opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach. The award is open to all PLU students, but a preference is given to equally-qualified Natural Sciences majors. The deadline for application packets is 5PM on April 14th.

Please encourage your students to apply for this incredible opportunity and remind them that Career Connections is an excellent resource for finding internships.

This internship fund is part of a generous endowment by PLU alumnus Dr. George (’66) and Mrs. Helen Long.

On March 14th, from 11:30-12:30 in the Rieke 1st floor open lab, we will eat pie. And think about Pi too, if you want, that’s fine. But also eat pie.

Division Calendar

March 10 (That’s today!): “The Physics and Engineering of Aircraft Tire Pressure Systems” lecture by Dr. Jeff Tonn in Morken 131 @ 4pm.

March 14: PI DAY! We will eat pie. Oh yes, we will eat pie. Rieke 1st floor open lab from 11:30-12:30.

March 15: “Epic Math Battles: Counting vs. Matching” lecture by Dr. Jennifer Quinn from UW Tacoma. Morken 132 @ 3:40

March 15: Deadline is 5PM for NSSURP Applications – remind your students!

March 20: Nursing Career Fair from 3:30-5:30PM in the AUC – remind your students to attend!

March 28: MESA Day – click here to volunteer

April 10: Philosophers and Scientists in Dialogue panel (featuring Bret & Andrea) – 6:30PM in AUC 203

April 18: Earth Day Lecture with Amanda McCarty (Biology ’04), environmental scientist and policy maker with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Program Office.

April 22: March for Science at a satellite march in Seattle or Olympia.

May 12: Academic Festival

FEBRUARY 24, 2017 | ISSUE 4

7th Annual HS Programming Contest @ PLU

Winners of the HSPC 1st place in advanced category

Team 8 bit pineapple strikes a victory pose.

 

On Saturday the 11th, 75 students from 21 high schools descended on Morken to test their programming mettle against their peers. The advanced student teams worked through a series of programming problems with their mind on the 1st place prize: a perpetual trophy engraved with their names and high school and bragging rights for the entire year. Not too shabby. This year, the honors went to team 8 bit pineapple, who surged ahead of leaders Polar Vortex at the end of the competition. Polar Vortex took second place and received an engraved medal. Medals were also awarded to the 3rd place winners in the advanced category and all the winners in the novice bracket.

But medals, trophies, and bragging rights aren’t the only things that bring students to the High School Programming Contest (HSPC). Many students return year after year, moving from novice to advanced, because they love the challenge of solving a tough problem.

The HSPC also provides an excellent opportunity for high school students to get a taste of PLU’s Computer Science Department. Professor Ken Blaha has organized the contest since its inception, recruiting current CS majors, alumni, and faculty members as volunteers and judges. The HSPC receives incredible support from several sponsors – Hewlett Packard, TEALS – Microsoft Corporation, McNeel & Associates, and many generous alumni – which allows Ken and the CS Dept to provide pizza and t-shirts for the entire group, as well as awesome prizes. For more information on the HSPC, click here.

Environmental Studies Dinner 2017

Environmental Studies held their Spring 2017 dinner this week – an event that brings together current students, faculty, alumnus, and donors for a meal, student research presentations, and good conversation at every table. Jill Whitman, current Chair of Environmental Studies and Professor of Geosciences, organized the evening and was pleased with the turnout and the lively interactions between the guests.

Student presentations were given by Hilary Vo (mentor Wendy Call, English), Rainey Aberle (mentor Claire Todd, Geosciences), and Clay Snell (mentor Adela Ramos, English).

The Environmental Studies program educates to engage actively and critically the complex relationships between people and the environment, drawing upon integrated and interdisciplinary perspectives.

Student News

Daniel Beal, Matthew Conover, Joshua Moran, and Emily Shane all came out to volunteer for the High School Programming Contest on February 11th. Volunteers staffed the registration table, helped orient students, and answered questions.

Rainey Aberle (Geosciences/Physics double major) presented at the 2017 Environmental Studies Dinner on February 22nd. She spoke about her research experience in geosciences, as well as her time working with her mentor Claire Todd.

Shayne Smith ’10, BS in mathematics, minor in chemistry, was recently accepted to the Indiana University School of Dentistry.

Under the Microscope!

Six Questions with Katie Hay

Physics demo with Katrina Hay

1.What are you most excited to be working on right now?
Over the summer, I was privileged to be able to conduct astronomy research at the PLU observatory as part of the undergraduate research program. This was the first time during my time at PLU that we have used that facility for research. Beginning at eight years old, when anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “Astronomer!” So one could say that last summer fulfilled a lifelong dream!

2.What scientific discovery would you have loved to be part of/present for?
I am enjoying the many cosmology and astronomy achievements that have been announced in the last year or so. Ice on Pluto, recent water flow evidence on Mars, possible frozen liquid on asteroid Ceres and LIGO’s announcement of waves in the fabric of spacetime (gravity waves, a new kind of wave! Finally detected 100 years after they were predicted by Einstein!). What an exciting time in this field.

3.If students left your class with only one concept, what would you want them to take away?
I write this at the end of my syllabus each semester and, once, I was surprised that a student recited it back to me when she visited as an alumni, claiming that this lesson carried her through the rest of her classes at PLU and beyond. It made me feel good about my vocation choice.

“The most important thing I think you will take from this class is the ability to look at a problem that you have never seen before, break it up into its fundamental concepts and not give up until you have solved it. That is the proud reputation of a physicist.”

4.Where were you born?/Where did you grow up?
I was born in Delaware, Ohio, but I grew up mostly in national parks of the western United States. I did most of my formal education in Oregon. My father was a retired national park ranger and I grew up in the wild places that our nation has set aside to preserve, such as Death Valley and Crater Lake. My love of astronomy grew out of my view of big velvet-black night skies in these wilderness areas. Even now, when I have the rare opportunity to look at a truly dark night sky and Milky Way, I am still surprised at its breath-taking beauty. And I still ask, “What’s up there?”

5.Are you involved in any community organizations? Please tell us about it.
My family and I are involved at Agnus Dei Lutheran Church in Gig Harbor, Washington. It is a thoughtful and progressive community that challenges me in a good way. In addition, I applied to teach several sessions at Holden Village (a community in the remote wilderness of the Cascade Mountains) this summer and my proposal was accepted. I look forward to experiencing something new and offering some sessions on energy physics there in mid-June.

6.What do you like to do in your free time?
Free time?? My husband Zach and I have twin daughters who are almost four years old, so our time is spent sharing the imaginative world of children these days. As our daughters grow, I am slowly reconnecting with my favorite hobbies, like painting, photography, dance (mostly ballroom), singing (jazz and folk music) and introducing those hobbies to our girls.

Summer of Science

Natural Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program

Applications are now open! Please remind your students to visit https://www.plu.edu/nsci/undergraduate-research-program/ to view all the research opportunities and apply for the program. Students from all departments are encouraged to apply, so spread the word! Applications will be collected through March 15, 2017.

Faculty News

Ken Blaha held the 7th annual High School Programming Contest on February 11th. The event was well-attended by high school participants, current CS majors, CS alums, and CS faculty – Khalfalla Awedat, Renzhi Cao, Laurie Murphy, and David Wolff all came to take part in the fun.

Renzhi Cao coauthored a paper for the November 2016 issue of Bioinformatics“QAcon: single model quality assessment using protein structural and contact information with machine learning techniques.” His coauthors include Badri Adhikari, Debswapna Bhattacharya,  Miao Sun,  Jie Hou, and Jianlin Cheng.

Renzhi also coauthored a paper for the August 2016 issue of BMC Bioinformatics“DeepQA: improving the estimation of single protein model quality with deep belief networks.” His coauthors include Debswapna Bhattacharya, Jie Hou, and Jianlin Cheng.

Jessica Sklar recently had a poem accepted by the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics. We’ll let you know when her poem – “Disciple” – is scheduled to appear.

Jeff Stuart earned his certification as a Financial Risk Manager from GARP – the Global Association of Risk Professionals – in January of 2017. The certification process, which typically takes two years, is pursued by those who work in (or teach) financial risk management.  Jeff joins 30,000 FRM’s worldwide. FRM’s typically work for large banks, investment firms and insurers. GARP achievement unlocked! 

Division Calendar

February 24: “Running leaves its mark: morphological effects and trade-offs in response to selection for high locomotor activity in mice” – Biology seminar with Dr. Heidi Schutz, TODAY! @ 2pm in Rieke 103

February 24: “High Power Fiber Lasers” – Physics seminar with Dr. Mark S. Bowers (Lockheed-Martin Fellow), TODAY! @ 4pm in Morken 125

March 3: American Experience: Rachel Carson – free screening (with snacks) in Leraas Lecture Hall, Rieke 103, @ 7pm

March 7: Calculus: The Musical! by the UW Tacoma Math Club @ William Phillips Hall, Milgard Assembly Room on the UWT campus, 6:30-7:30. Free!

March 8: “The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change.” The first annual Rachel Carson Lecture with guest speaker Dr. Jim Anderson of Harvard.

March 14: PI DAY! We will eat pie. Oh yes, we will eat pie. 

March 28: MESA Day – click here to volunteer

FEBRUARY 10, 2017 | ISSUE 3

Under the Microscope!

Six Questions with Jeremy Reimers

1.What are you most excited to be working on right now?
I am most excited to have the opportunity to teach here at PLU and develop my own course. I was inspired to teach by my undergraduate Neuroscience professor at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI. PLU and Carthage are very similar environments and both put teaching first. Everyone I have met so far at PLU reminds me of my undergraduate experience. The faculty and staff have been welcoming and very helpful. This opportunity is really a dream come true.

2.What makes you feel accomplished?
Seeing my students succeed. There is no better feeling than when a former student pops their head in or sends me a message telling me how well they are doing. Teaching is so fulfilling to me because I am able to be a positive influence on my students’ lives.

3.If students left your class with only one concept, what would you want them to take away?
My primary goal for my students (especially those in intro or non-majors courses) is for them to be able to think and analyze problems like a scientist. Scientific reasoning and the scientific method can be applied to every problem in life. They will be better equipped to meet the demands of the real world with this ability.

4.Where were you born?/Where did you grow up?
I was born in Libertyville, IL and grew up in Waukegan, IL during my elementary and middle school years and in Kenosha, WI for high school and college. The two cities are only about 30 minutes from each other and have Lake Michigan as their eastern border. I lived in that area through graduate school.

5.What do you like to do in your free time?
I love exploring the beautiful outdoors of the Pacific Northwest with my wife and 4 year old daughter. When I am not doing that I enjoy grilling and smoking anything from meat to fish and vegetables. I like to make everything from scratch including BBQ sauce and rubs.

6.If you could have immediate and total mastery of a new skill, what would it be?
It is a toss up between woodworking and metalworking. I would love to be able to build and create furniture and structures utilizing both wood and metal. It is also a life goal of mine to construct my own grill and smoker.

Geosciences on Display

Peter Davis selected a number of impressive specimens from the Geosciences collection to showcase in one of our Rieke display cases. Featuring calcite, gypsum, pyrite, mica, fluorite, and several varieties of quartz, there’s a wide range of geologic beauty represented. Stop by to check out the amazing formations and vibrant colors!

The Rachel Carson Lecture

Join us Wednesday, March 8th @ 7:30PM in the Scandinavian Cultural Center for “The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change” with Dr. James G. Anderson, Philip S. Weld Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at Harvard University.

Supported by a generous endowment from PLU alumnus, Dr. George Long ’66 and Mrs. Helen Long, the Rachel Carson Science, Technology & Society Annual Lecture was designed to bring leading experts in the fields of science and technology to campus to address PLU students, faculty and our surrounding community.

This lecture is free and open to the public. Please encourage your students to attend. More information on the lecture is available here.

Faculty News

Andrea Garfinkel and Jeremy Reimers join the biology department for spring semester. Andrea Garfinkel will teach BIOL 116 – Introductory Ecology. Jeremy will teach BIOL 111 – Biology & the Modern World and is featured in this edition’s “Under the Microscope!” They’re sharing an office in Rieke 143 – feel free to stop by and introduce yourself!

Shannon Seidel’s 2013 article “’What if Students Revolt?’ Considering Student Resistance: Origins, Options, and Opportunities for Investigation” was cited by Linda C. Hodges, Faculty Development Center University of Maryland, in her September 2016 National Teaching and Learning Forum article “Three Common Demands from Students in Large Classes and What to do about Them.” Shannon’s coauthor on the 2013 article was Kimberly D. Tanner.

Khalfalla Awedat coauthored an article for the January 2017 issue of Biomedical Signal Processing and Control: “Prostate cancer recognition based on mass spectrometry sensing data and data fingerprint recovery.” His coauthors include: Ikhlas Abdel-Qader and James. R. Springstead.

 Renzhi Cao and his wife Wen Wang welcomed a new baby in October – meet Allen! (You can click on the pictures to enlarge Allen’s cuteness.)

Kat Huybers and her husband Matt welcomed their son Theo Huybersmith to the world on September 4, 2016.  He is now five months old and perfecting the art of rolling over.

 

Cheney Shreve joins the geosciences department this semester to teach GEOS 104 – Conservation of Natural Resources – and its two labs. Cheney’s office is Morken 240 – feel free to stop by and say hello!

Tom Edgar recently published two expository papers – one in the December 2016 issue of Mathematics Magazine: “Proof Without Words: Factorial Sums” and the other in the November 2016 issue of The Mathematical Gazette: “Proof Without Words: The Average of Square Pyramidal and Triangular is Tetrahedral.”

Tom also co-authored a paper with two PLU students – Hailey Olafson and James Van Alstine – which appeared in the August 2016 issue of Integers: “Approximating the Fibonacci Sequence.”

Ksenija Simic-Muller published an article in the November 2016 issue of About Campus: “Finding the Common Denominator: Using Math to Read Injustice in the World.”

Ksenija has also been conducting professional development with teachers in the Steilacoom, Eatonville, and Rochester school districts, as part of a grant titled “SER^2: Soaring toward Educational Rigor.” Her role on the grant has been to help increase middle and high school teachers’ content knowledge.

Student News

Ashley Farre applied for a Barry Goldwater Scholarship – the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering in America.

Marisol Navarro applied for a Barry Goldwater Scholarship – the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering in America.

Miguel Amezola, Caleb Chandler, and Devon Johnson are working with Renzhi Cao on a capstone project – “Protein function prediction using machine learning techniques.” Renzhi and his students attended the Critical Assessment of Functional Annotation (CAFA) competition (finished on Feb. 2nd), which was an experiment designed to provide a large-scale assessment of computational methods dedicated to predicting protein function. This year, there were more than 70 teams from around the world attending CAFA for a function prediction of more than 100,000 protein sequences.  All three students are working hard day and night, and even spent time during winter break for the competition – Renzhi is really proud of them!

Desiree Domini and Devon Johnson just presented at the 19th annual Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics, February 3-5, 2017. The abstract for their presentation – “Divisibility by Powers of 2 in Pascal’s Triangle” – can be read here (at the top of page 6). Both Devon and Desi received funding to attend the conference, which only selects 48 presentations from the entire country.

Kimberly Belmes applied for a Barry Goldwater Scholarship – the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering in America.

Look at these amazing Anatomy & Physiology buttons! Thanks to Scott Beilke in Marcom for his expert design! And to Michelle Behrens for being such a patient model!

Division Calendar

February 11: High School Programming Contest with Ken Blaha

February 13: “DNA Circuits for Diagnostics” – lecture by Dr. Peter Allen, University of Idaho Department of Chemistry – Morken 103, 12:30-1:35pm

February 21-22: Personal and Professional Development Days

February 22-23: TIAA Appointments – register @ www.tiaa.org/plu

March 7: Calculus: The Musical! by the UW Tacoma Math Club @ William Phillips Hall, Milgard Assembly Room on the UWT campus, 6:30-7:30. Free!

March 8: “The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change.” The first annual Rachel Carson Lecture with guest speaker Dr. Jim Anderson of Harvard.

March 14: PI DAY! We will eat pie. Oh yes, we will eat pie. 

March 28: MESA Day – click here to volunteer

JANUARY 27, 2017 | ISSUE 2

In the Works: Science-themed Residential Learning Community

Matt Smith has been working with Tom Huelsbeck and Jes Takla from Residential Life to establish a new science-themed residential learning community (RLC). The goal of this undertaking is to develop a cohort of Natural Sciences first-year students with similar academic interests and goals, who will participate in mentorship and extracurricular activities to enhance their first year at PLU. Living in a themed RLC is an excellent way for students to connect with peers and faculty; build community; and enhance their learning experiences.

Benefits of a Science-themed RLC

  • Experiencing a smoother academic transition to college
  • Connecting with peers that share similar academic interests and career pursuits
  • Ability to learn about programs of study, internships, research and career opportunities
  • Formation of study groups with other peers interested in the sciences
  • Programming designed to enhance academic success (e.g., time management, study skills)
  • Opportunities for civic engagement and community outreach
  • Tutoring sessions administered by academic peers
  • Mentoring on how to navigate college life
  • Field trips and tours of off-campus research facilities (e.g. Fred Hutch and Boeing)

Although the team is still exploring logistics, students in the RLC might be enrolled in the same sections of their respective introductory science courses. For example, those students intending to major in chemistry and participating in the RLC would be enrolled in the same section of CHEM 115 (General Chemistry I). There’s also the possibility of placing RLC students in the same writing and/or inquiry seminar courses.

A strong relationship between Student Life and the Division will help make the RLC program a success, and Matt will serve as the faculty liaison next year. If you have suggestions on how to make this an outstanding experience for our first cohort, or would like to get involved in the RLC, please contact Matt – smithmf@plu.edu.

Pre-Health Sciences Advising Website

Last year Christine Nicolai and Matt Smith undertook a significant revamp of the pre-health sciences advising website. We hope it now better serves as a one-stop shop for current and perspective students and academic advisors. Check it out here.

MESA DAY 2017 Approaches!

WHO WE ARE: Tacoma South/Puget Sound MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement)

OUR MISSION: To prepare underrepresented K-12 students for higher education and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math.

WHAT WE DO: We work in schools providing real-world, hands-on activities that students work on throughout the school year. Students then compete at our annual MESA Day competition at PLU in March.

WHAT WE NEED:
MESA Day cannot be done without the help of our wonderful volunteers! Every year 100 volunteers are needed to facilitate various competitions and make MESA Day a success. If you or someone you know are interested, or if you’d like more information about MESA, please click the button below.

We look forward to seeing you @ MESA Day on March 28, 2017!

Under the Microscope!

Six Questions with Elizabeth Alemán

1.What attracted you to PLU when you were applying for jobs? How long have you been here?
I have been a part of the PLU community since September 2016. I was initially attracted to PLU when seeking a change in employment to pursue my dedication to work life balance.  Coming from medicine I wanted to continue to be in a learning environment but I also missed the feel of being part of a higher ed campus setting.  PLU, and the Division of Natural Sciences in particular, has exceeded my expectations.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and look forward to further opportunities for exploration and contribution this year.

2. What makes you feel accomplished?
I feel most accomplished when I am able to contribute in ways, both large and small, in the support of an individual or team, assisting others to set and meet overall objectives and goals all the while doing so with a positive disposition. That being said, I enjoy getting work done while making others laugh. That is a true accomplishment when so many distressing things are happening in the world. I’m sure that I mostly entertain myself but do have to admit, stories are on the funnier side when shared with others and seeing their reaction.

3. What is the most interesting thing in your field right now?
As an administrative assistant I have seen outstanding growth in the field of support over the years. From typing correspondence, filing and answering calls to setting and attaining metrics, managing contact databases and other data crucial to business outcomes, project management as well as the management of social media and other communication strategies central to organizational effectiveness. The continual increased expectation of how an admin can and does contribute to overall success is an outstanding development in recent years that lends itself to increased appreciation of our role and contribution to team efforts. Exciting times indeed.

4. Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born in Tacoma, Washington just a few blocks from St. Joes where my parents still reside.  I relocated to Texas after marriage and did not return for 12 years to Washington.  While I miss the delicious cuisine, it encourages me to make charro beans from time to time, and although I could do with the warmth of the Texas sun at times, it makes me ever more eager to welcome it on the days it makes an appearance, even if only momentarily.  For the past 6 years I have been happy to be back, to hear the sound, the smell of its approach and the feeling of the cool drops when I decide to go without an umbrella for a quick dance in the rain.  I’m excited to share the joys of my youth in the ever beautiful PNW with my husband and two children – with adventures outdoors and breathtaking views of Mount Rainier – and to spend precious time making memories with my extended family members.

5. Are you involved in any community organizations? Please tell us about it.
I am very active in volunteer work as a bible teacher, helping others to find its practical value in their daily living. I also continually seek out ways that my family and I can contribute to the community. One of my all time favorite volunteer efforts would have to be field cultivation at Mother Earth Farm.

6. What was the last book you read? Movie you watched?
The last movie I watched was actually last night for family movie night, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. It was entertaining and I actually laughed out loud a few times.  Shocking, I know…

Thanks for making our days brighter, Elizabeth!

Established in spring 2016, the Science Alliance Peer Mentoring Program  went into effect this past fall semester. Matt Smith wanted “to provide a supportive community by pairing a junior or senior mentor with a first-year or transfer student interested in STEM fields.” The inaugural mentor group, composed of 35 students from all departments in the division, were each assigned one to two mentees. Initially, the mentors met their mentees over lunch and then moved to a schedule of weekly check-ins, augmented by group get-togethers, like the Science Alliance Pizza Party. The mentor and mentee are responsible for setting the tone of their relationship and may, for example, share study; time management; and organizational strategies specific to STEM majors. Although there were a few bumps, the overall response has been positive.

Next year, Matt hopes to integrate the Science Alliance into the RLC, as well as expand the availability of mentors in order to serve the transfer and commuter students communities.

Faculty News

Ann Auman is currently in Windhoek, Namibia through spring term 2017.

Michael and Michelle Behrens are finishing up in the Bahamas. Check the Biology Facebook page for pictures from their adventures!

Matt Smith recently joined the board of directors at the Foss Waterway Seaport.

Justin Lytle will present a talk with Erica Fickeisen, PLU Baker Extraordinaire, on energy drinks. “Where’s the ‘energy’ in my energy drink?” is scheduled for Wednesday, February 8th @ 7PM in Rieke 103 (Leraas).

Yajun An presented at University of Washington Tacoma on January 17th. Her lecture – “A Brief Introduction to Finite Difference Methods”- was delivered to the graduating seniors.

Jeffrey Stuart co-authored an in memoriam honoring the recently deceased Czech mathematician Miroslav Fiedler. The article appeared in the Czechoslovak Mathematical Journal in October. His coauthors include: Frank J. Hall, Thomas L. Markham, and Miroslav Rozloznik.

Also appearing in the same Czechoslovak Mathematical Journal issue was Jeff’s interview with Professor Fiedler – “Try to be Really Good in Two Fields

Student News

Amanda McCarty (’04) will return to PLU this April as our Earth Day speaker. Amanda is currently the Assistant Director for Partnerships at the National Sea Grant Office for NOAA, where she works with the Sea Grant network to build national level partnerships, implement new Sea Grant initiatives, and increase awareness of Sea Grant’s capabilities.

Jenn Wong (’17) just received word that she was awarded the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry Undergraduate Travel Award to support her upcoming research poster presentation at the ACS Spring National Meeting in San Francisco, April 2-6, 2017. Typically only 5-6 students nationally receive this award each year based on scientific merit, application materials, and interest in pursuing graduate research involving organic chemistry. The title of Jenn’s poster is “Probing the effects of 1,3-cyclohexadiene substitution on the rates of retro-nitroso-Diels-Alder reactions”. In this student-faculty research project mentored by Prof. Neal Yakelis and supported by a grant from M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Jenn has investigated new models for controlling the rate of slow, sustained release of therapeutic drugs in the body by a formulation strategy called drug-polymer conjugation.

Ben Haffly, Carl Sanderson, and Jacob Eaton just participated in the 32nd annual COMAP Mathematical Contest in Modeling – January 19th – 23rd. Math modeling for 96 hours straight!

Brian Ruggles (’16) is currently teaching high school physics and chemistry in Houston, Texas as part of the Teach For America program.

Division Calendar

February 2: Lecture by Statistics faculty candidate in Morken 216 @ 4PM

February 8: “Where’s the ‘Energy’ in my energy drink?” – lecture by Dr. Justin Lytle & Erica Fickeisen in Rieke 103 @ 7PM

February 9: Division Meeting in Morken 103 @ noon

February 11: High School Programming Contest with Ken Blaha

February 13: “DNA Circuits for Diagnostics” – lecture by Dr. Peter Allen, University of Idaho Department of Chemistry – Morken 103, 12:30-1:35pm

February 22-23: TIAA Appointments – register @ www.tiaa.org/plu

March 8: “The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change.” The first annual Rachel Carson Lecture with guest speaker Dr. Jim Anderson of Harvard.

March 14: PI DAY!

March 28: MESA Day – click here to volunteer

JANUARY 13, 2017 | ISSUE 1

Welcome to Synapse - Your Digital Division Newsletter

Hi all,

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Synapse – our new division newsletter. The word synapse has Greek origins and means to bind together or be connected with. It is my hope that this newsletter serves as an avenue by which we all can become better connected with one another. We plan to publish every two weeks, providing you with information on upcoming division and department events, personal and professional news from your colleagues, and a faculty/staff spotlight. If you’d like to contribute an item for the newsletter, please click here.

Warm regards,
Matt Smith

Faculty News

Ann Auman is currently in Windhoek, Namibia through spring term 2017.

Ann is also a contributing author to the OpenStax textbook Microbiology, published in Fall 2016.

Michael Behrens is currently teaching Marine Biology in the Bahamas for J-Term.

Michelle Behrens is also in the Bahamas assisting with the J-Term trip. Check the Biology Facebook page for pictures from their adventures!

Romey Haberle co-authored an article in the February 2016 issue of American Journal of Botany: “A Global Perspective on Campanulaceae: Biogeographic, Genomic, and Floral Evolution” Co-authors include: Andrew A. Crowl, Nicholas W. Miles, Clayton J. Visger, Kimberly Hansen, Tina Ayers, and Nico Cellinese.

Romey also co-authored an article in the June 2016 issue of PLOS ONE: “Multiple Events of Allopolyploidy in the Evolution of the Racemose Lineages in Prunus (Rosaceae) Based on Integrated Evidence from Nuclear and Plastid Data” Co-authors include: Liang Zhao, Xi-Wang Jiang, Yun-juan Zuo, Xiao-Lin Liu, Siew-Wai Chin, Daniel Potter, Zhao-Yang Chang, and Jun Wen.

Amy Siegesmund published a February 2016 article in Course Source:  “Teaching Epidemiology and Principles of Infectious Disease using Popular Media and the case of Typhoid Mary”

Amy also published an article in the May 2016 issue of the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education: “Increasing Student Metacognition and Learning through Classroom-Based Learning Communities and Self-Assessment”

Eric Finney co-authored an article for the March 2016 issue of Forensic Science International: “Forensic Analysis of Biodiesel” Co-authors include: Michael R. Goodman and Elizabeth A. Kaley.

Craig Fryhle, T.W. Graham Solomons, and Scott A. Synder released the 12th Edition of their Organic Chemistry textbook with Wiley in January 2016.

Justin Lytle is currently in Athens, Greece as an assistant to a religion professor for J-Term.

Andrea Munro and four PLU students published a paper with the Journal of Physical Chemistry C: “Phenyldithiocarbamate Ligands Decompose During Nanocrystal Ligand Exchange” PLU students include: Caleb Chandler, Matthew Garling, Darick Chai, and Victoria Popovich.

 Neal Yakelis co-authored a paper in the April 2016 issue of Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry: “Investigation of the dynamic nature of 1,2-oxazines derived from peralkylcyclopentadiene and nitrosocarbonyl species” Co-authors include: Victoria K. Kensy, Gregory I. Peterson, Derek C. Church, and Andrew J. Boydston.

Laurie Murphy has had a paper accepted to the ACM’s Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE).  The paper, titled “Exposed! CS Faculty Caught Lecturing in Public – A Survey of Instructional Practices,” was co-authored with research partners Scott Grissom, Sue Fitzgerald and Renee McCauley and will be presented at the SIGCSE annual symposium in Seattle in March.

Laurie also presented a paper at the 47th ACM Technical Symposium on Computing Science Education in February 2016 with the same research partners. “Paper vs. Computer-based Exams: A Study of Errors in Recursive Binary Tree Algorithms”

Claire Todd received a Carol Sheffels Quigg Award for Excellence and Innovation in order to launch a new Glacier Research Center at PLU (GRAPL).  Ten years of student-faculty research about glaciers in Mount Rainier National Park has established PLU as a significant contributor to understanding Rainier glaciers. The research center will elevate PLU as a leader in the regional scientific community, and will expand this leadership and service to the broader, non-scientific community.

Claire also co-authored an article in the February 2016 issue of the Journal of Geoscience Education: “Teaching Anthropogenic Climate Change Through Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Helping Students Think Critically About Science and Ethics in Dialogue” Her co-author is Kevin J. O’Brien.

Michael Dollinger co-authored an article in the January 2016 issue of Statistics in Medicine: “Commentary on ‘Misunderstandings about Q and “Cochran’s Q test” in meta analysis’” Michael’s co-author is Elena Kulinskaya.

Tom Edgar and Jessica Sklar published an article in the February 2016 issue of Mathematics Magazine:
“A Confused Electrician Uses Smith Normal Form”

Tom Edgar published an article in the May 2016 issue of The College Mathematics Journal: “Proof Without Words: Matchstick Triangles”

Tom also published an article with Michael Spivey of UPS in the Journal of Integer Sequences: “Multiplicative Functions, Generalized Binomial Coefficients, and Generalized Catalan Numbers”

Daniel Heath has spoken several times this year on the mathematics of paper engineering. He has recently uploaded an open source geometry textbook – Origametry.

Ksenija Simic-Muller has a chapter titled “Not called to action: Can social justice contexts have a lasting impact on preservice teachers?” in a book that was just published  – Cases for Teacher Educators: Facilitating Conversations about Inequities in Mathematics Classrooms.

Ksenija also has poems appearing in Cat Painters: An Anthology of Contemporary Serbian Poetry, published October 2016.

Bret Underwood published a paper in the Journal of High Energy Physics: “Dimensional Reduction for D3 Moduli”in December 2016. Co-authors include: Brad Cownden, Andrew R. Frey, and M. C. David Marsh.

Bret gave a talk “SageMathCloud in the Physics Classroom” at the Washington Section Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers on Oct 29th.

He also published an article in the May 2016 edition of The Physics Teacher journal: “Moving Phones Tick Slower: Creating an Android App to Demonstrate Time Dilation” You can check out the App here.

Student News

Amanda McCarty (’04) will return to PLU this April as our Earth Day speaker. Amanda is currently the Assistant Director for Partnerships at the National Sea Grant Office for NOAA, where she works with the Sea Grant network to build national level partnerships, implement new Sea Grant initiatives, and increase awareness of Sea Grant’s capabilities.

Alice Henderson (’16) and Maddie Smith (’17) represented the American Chemical Society (ACS) at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Morocco in November. Follow their blog as they document their travels, October to April – to Washington D.C. and Morocco. The program ends when they travel to the annual ACS convention in the spring and present on a climate-related topic.

Megan Longstaff and Rodion Zhuravlev accompanied Dean Waldow on a research trip to Argonne National Laboratory in October. They were at the Advanced Photon Source doing small angle x-ray scattering on some of the solid diblock copolymer electrolytes they synthesized. View photos here.

 Taylor Lunde (CS/Math double major) and Kelly White (CS/Physics double major) are part of PLU’s winning team for the 2016 NWC Women’s Soccer Championship.

Rainey Aberle and Victoria Benson attended the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Denver, CO, September 24th – 28th. They each presented their research on glacial processes in Mount Rainier National Park.

Jessica Anderson (Elementary Education ’07 and Geosciences minor) was named the Montana Teacher of the Year and received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching.

Michael Briden is attending graduate school at Iowa State University in Ames, IA.

Desiree Domini was nominated by the Math Department for the Alice T. Schafer Prize for Excellence in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Woman.

Ben Haffly, Carl Sanderson, and Jacob Eaton are participating in the 32nd annual COMAP Mathematical Contest in Modeling – January 19th – 23rd.

Meghan Gould, a mathematics education major, has been accepted to the Budapest Semester in Mathematics Education. She will be starting the program in January.

Hailey Olafson finished her Master’s at the University of Oregon and is currently a Bioinformatics intern at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL.

Rita Than passed her Master’s defense and graduated from UC Denver with a Master’s Degree in Mathematics in December.

PLU students are coaching students at Keithley Middle School as part of the Mathlete Coaching Project. Coaching started in early October, and PLU coaches meet with students twice a week to play math games and engage in mathematical problem solving.

Students in MATH 124, Modern Elementary Math II are working with 2-5 grade students at McCarver Elementary School in Tacoma. The school has started an after-school enrichment math program at the beginning of October that the PLU students are running.

Matthew Hubbard (’13) returned to the Physics Department this fall to teach a section of Physics 135/163 Introductory Physics Lab. He’ll be back again in the spring to teach another lab.

Qingxiang Jia (’15) entered graduate school for Computer Science at the University of San Diego this fall.

Under the Microscope!

Six Questions with Justin Lytle

 

1.What attracted you to PLU when you were applying for jobs? How long have you been here?
I was attracted to PLU in 2008 by the overwhelming sense that PLU deeply values excellent teaching. I wanted to be at university that allowed me to spend the majority of my time teaching. When people ask me what PLU is known for, I tell them I’m proud that our university has so many excellent teachers that I wish I could take classes from.

2. What are you most excited to be working on right now?
I sat in on several courses during my sabbatical last year, and I’ve been applying some of the most effective teaching strategies that I saw. For example, I took a cue from Bret Underwood and developed a Sakai site for each day of lecture in my General Chemistry classes. It’s exciting to me how well this has gotten students to read and understand before coming to class.

3. What makes you feel accomplished?
I still get goosebumps when past or present students drop me a note that something that I did or said had a positive impact on them.

4. Where were you born?/Where did you grow up?
I was born in Erie, PA and grew up in Conneaut, OH. Conneaut is a small town at the very northeast corner of the state of Ohio, and borders Pennsylvania and Lake Erie.

5. Are you involved in any community organizations? Please tell us about it.
When I have free time, I like to volunteer at the Grand Cinema. It’s fun making popcorn and talking about movies with people that are passionate about great film.

6. What was the last book you read? Movie you watched?
The last film that I watched was La La Land and I can’t get the soundtrack out of my head. My wife and I have been listening to it for days, and find ourselves both humming along to it without the other person knowing. It was definitely one of our favorite movies that we saw in 2016.

Thanks for sharing, Justin!

Division Calendar

January 16: Martin Luther King Day – Campus closed

January 19-23: Math Modeling Contest With Yajun An

January 24-25: TIAA Appointments – register @ www.tiaa.org/plu

February 9: Division Meeting in Morken 103 @ noon

February 11: High School Programming Contest with Ken Blaha

February 22-23: TIAA Appointments – register @ www.tiaa.org/plu

March 8: “The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change.” The first annual Rachel Carson Lecture with guest speaker Dr. Jim Anderson of Harvard.

March 14: PI DAY!

March 28: MESA Day – click here to volunteer