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Kari Plog '11

50th anniversary of the row down crew, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. The crew members rowed and 8-man boat from Seattle to Tacoma after the University of Washington asked for the return of famous "Husky Clipper".
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Attaway Lutes

PLU rowers reminisce about their daring journey in Puget Sound 50 years ago

Some of the rowers told their moms about the crazy idea. Others opted to beg for forgiveness, especially once the news hit the papers.

In hindsight, the Pacific Lutheran University crew team was happy Rich Holmes ’69 told his.

“She prepared a pot roast,” Holmes recalled of the pitstop at Saltwater State Park, more than halfway through a treacherous winter adventure in Puget Sound waters 50 years ago.

That December day in 1967, the fearless cadre of PLU crew members rowed an eight-oared shell from Seattle’s Lake Union to Tacoma. They started the “conquest of epic proportions,” as the local newspaper described it, around 5 a.m. and completed the 40-mile journey at Tacoma’s Point Defiance roughly 12 hours later.

“I wouldn’t want to row out there now,” Holmes said, gesturing toward Alki Point on a warm summer day from the comfort of a private yacht where the former crew members gathered to commemorate the half-century anniversary and retrace their route. “I don’t remember the beautiful sights.”

The lack of memories might have something to do with the ice-cold water that threatened hypothermia and the crushing waves that forced four rowers to trade oars for buckets as they furiously bailed water from the Loyal Shoudy.

“I didn’t think we would take on as much water as we did,” recalled Curt Pearson ’69, who was handed a bucket by the coxswain soon after entering Elliott Bay. “The boat was hardly moving. We had to do what we had to do.”

Making the trek wasn’t the smartest decision, and the rowdown participants are first to admit it. But crew was life in those days, and they needed a boat.

In the 1960s, the University of Washington lent shells to colleges to promote the Husky Clipper, the famous boat rowed by the 1936 Olympic gold-medalist UW team immortalized in the novel, The Boys in the Boat.

After PLU rowed the Clipper to victory in the boat’s final race against the University of Puget Sound and Seattle Pacific on American Lake, UW wanted its piece of history back. It was returned home to hang from the rafters of UW’s shellhouse at its Seattle campus.

In exchange, PLU was offered another UW boat, the Loyal Shoudy, with one stipulation: the Lutes had to transport it.

Slide for a before and after

At the time, men’s crew was coordinating all of their competitions and sleeping in churches and people’s homes on the road. They didn’t have extra money lying around to move a 60-foot shell.

So, like typical young adults who feel invincible, they said “let’s row.”

“When you’re 18 or 19 years old, you don’t realize potential consequences. We didn’t realize the hazard of it,” Jim Bartlett said. “I never let my parents know that I was participating in this.”

Bartlett, a junior-varsity coxswain called up for the rowdown, made it to Saltwater State Park where the group urged him to call it quits out of an abundance of caution.

“I dried off and was ready to go,” he said, acknowledging in hindsight that he likely was facing hypothermia. “They said I’d had enough.”

Eric Schneider ’70 said he respected his mother’s wishes and stayed home that day.

“My mom was adamant against it,” he said. “She had a premonition that I’d drown.”

Still, Schneider joined the reunion in June — an event organized by Jim Ojala ’69 that welcomed rowers who were in the Loyal Shoudy that day, as well as rowers who came before and after — and enjoyed reminiscing with his fellow oarsmen.

“I learned to row in the (Husky) Clipper,” he said. “We do everything together, this group.”

Schneider credits PLU with changing his life in many ways. Rowing was a big part of that meaningful change. “Crew gave me that stamina in life,” he said. “You just don’t quit.”

The camaraderie aboard the Rowdown Reunion boat this summer was palpable. “Last night, we got together and it was like no time had passed at all,” Norm Purvis ’70 said, looking around at the aged, yet familiar, faces.

The ceremonial cruise was the culmination of a full itinerary of events, including a tour of the Husky shellhouse and the historic one it replaced.

The yacht’s dark wood trimmings and plush cushions were a lot more comfortable than the conditions the rowdown crew faced 50 years prior along the same route. The men swapped war stories, political ideologies and reminisced about their rich lives — an encyclopedia of the good ol’ days.

The stories grew in scope as the wine and beer supply dwindled: “And they’re all true,” one of them quipped.

Rowdown Crew 50th Anniversary

Lauralee Hagen, senior advancement officer at PLU, said the hoopla experienced on board that day wasn’t unusual for the rowers. Former crew members maintain one of the strongest bonds she’s seen among alumni groups. “This is one of our most dedicated affinity groups,” she said.

Doug Nelson ’90, a former rower and PLU coach who serves as president of the Lute Crew Alumni Association, said the connection rowers have in the boat during competition carries into life.

“You have to be doing exactly what all your boatmates are doing at the exact same time,” he said of competitions. “Some of my best friends to this day are people I rowed with.”

Many of the rowdown crew members vividly remember the exhaustion that followed their incredible experience 50 years ago.

The next day, Holmes — with blisters on his hands and backside — managed to roll out of bed for chapel (direct orders from his girlfriend at the time). “I fell asleep,” he said, laughing.

Pearson has pored over stories and photos with his grandchildren many times over. Despite the clear dangers they thwarted and the criticism they faced ahead of time, he makes no apologies.

“Call us young, foolish, stubborn, irresponsible,” he said, “but when you get out there and you do it, you won’t let your teammates down.”

Prof. Gina Hames and Sandra Estrada work in the library at PLU
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Rigorous Project Inspires First-Year’s Path

“She helped me a lot by encouraging me and believing I could do it,” Sandra Estrada ’20 said of her mentor, Gina Hames, associate professor of history. Estrada says making that connection with a faculty member opens doors to create other connections.

Sandra Estrada ’20 didn’t intend to sign up for “Global Human Rights” as her required first-year experience course. She decided to stick with it anyway.

That happy accident resulted in a vocational about-face, accelerated academic growth and a valuable relationship with a beloved professor.

“She’s helping me figure out what I want out of my education,” Estrada said of Gina Hames, associate professor of history. “It makes college less intimidating.”

The latter is an understatement, if Estrada’s first year at Pacific Lutheran University is any indication. She joined the ranks of student researchers — many who were older classmates well into their college careers — presenting at PLU’s inaugural Undergraduate Research Symposium in April.

Estrada’s project on child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa rapidly evolved. What started as her first major college assignment turned into a professional presentation on public health issues.

“As a first-year, I think it’s important to dive in and take a challenge,” she said. “So you can meet more people and make connections.”

Hames said the assignment was aimed at preparing first-year students for the rigorous academic journey ahead of them.

“I have them do a full-blown research project,” she said of her writing 101 students. “The 10-page paper prepares them for the next several years of college-level work.”

Students in her class read each other’s work and offer feedback throughout the semester. They also learn about library literacy and research methods from Amy Stewart-Mailhiot, an associate professor and teaching librarian at PLU, as well as attend mandatory meetings with Hames to make sure their projects are on track. “They learn to be critical readers,” Hames said. “It’s a lot for them to do.”

Estrada’s work ethic immediately shined through, Hames said. She didn’t just do the work, she did it with a positive attitude and a perpetual smile on her face.

“She is a super hard worker,” Hames said. “I’m super impressed with her.”

And it’s easy to see why.

Estrada researched and analyzed information about the treatment and prevention of tuberculosis and HIV in children. Co-infection is a primary contributor of child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. She outlined best practices for, and challenges of, diagnosing children facing the life-threatening, preventable conditions. Additionally, she addressed access to care sites and the resources needed to improve the public health outlook of children 5 years old and younger.

“We can see that money specifically directed to helping the sites is tied to overall progress,” Estrada wrote in her analysis. “Reducing the mortality rate will only be achieved if certain issues are addressed as soon as possible. Those issues include correct diagnosis, treatments that are timed and ordered correctly, and more funds being distributed to communities that are lacking.”

Estrada pulled from her personal interests when deciding on this topic.

“I’ve always been passionate about kids,” she said. “Sometimes, we’re blind to problems that go on outside the U.S. Children are dying from preventable diseases.”

The research has helped Estrada reinvent her vocational path, too. The 253 PLU Bound Scholar and commuter student initially came to the university to study engineering. After quickly realizing it wasn’t a good fit, she struggled to find a landing spot. She quickly learned that her next choice, chemistry, wasn’t in the cards either.

Then, with the help of Hames’ class, she discovered the depth and breadth of global studies. Public health quickly rose to the top of her interests within the field. She plans to continue exploring that topic on a global scale through study away. She’s considering enrolling in the semester Gateway program in Oaxaca, Mexico.

“This definitely catapulted my interest into doing something international,” Estrada said.

Hames, who encouraged Estrada to submit her paper for consideration in the springtime academic conference, says the close collaborative work between students and faculty members elevates the value of a PLU degree.

“They aren’t doing it for a grade. It’s for themselves,” she said of students who work on research as undergraduates. “They can do more with their degree if they’ve had this focused, out-of-class research with a faculty member.”

Hames added that research outside the classroom helps with retention and overall classroom performance. “Students become invested in their education,” she said. “They gain a ton of confidence.”

'You Are What You Drink'

The titles on the tall stack of books on Gina Hames’ desk are a blur, but the topics may make some salivate: whiskey, rum, cocktails. The list goes on, but they all have one thing in common — alcohol.

“If you were to ask someone to describe a beer drinker and a wine drinker, the descriptions would likely be very different,” Hames said. “You would have different assumptions about them based on what they drink.”

Hames, associate professor of history, is conducting research on alcohol and the creation of identity in a cultural context.

She initially completed a dissertation on women in Bolivia who own neighborhood taverns. That was followed by a textbook on the world history of alcohol. A popular press in London reached out to her and urged her to write a popular version. So, she is spending her sabbatical this year working on the book tentatively titled “You Are What You Drink.” It’s due out by early 2019.

“I find it fascinating,” she said of the research.

As for Hames’ drink of choice? It depends on the season. In the summer, she’ll take white wine or gin and tonic. Winter calls for red wine or warm Grand Marnier — an orange-flavored liqueur.

Estrada was pleasantly surprised when her paper was selected for the symposium. She said prepping for the presentation would have been intimidating without Hames’ steadfast guidance.

“We’re going to practice until it’s perfect,” Hames recalled saying, during multiple meetings before the conference.

Despite her unrelenting coaching, Estrada never uttered a complaint. “She was super excited to do it,” Hames said.

Hames says the mentorship she provides to Estrada, as well as other students, is the foundation of a lifelong bond. She looks forward to watching the continued growth from the passenger seat.

“She’s fearless,” Hames said. “She’s really coming into her own.”

That accelerated growth is what makes the job worth it, Hames added.

“It’s the icing,” she said, smiling. “This is why I do this.”

Anna Jessen poses in downtown Seattle tunnel with the Link light rail and busses
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Economics Students Expand Possibilities

“The research I’ve done has given me real-life experiences that I can draw from on a day-to-day basis and continue to implement,” Desiree Domini ’17 said. “Never before had I been learning so fast. I was hungry to keep learning.”

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A 45-minute bus ride separated Anna Jessen ’17 from her internship at PitchBook Data, assuming swift stops and zero traffic snafus along the way.

It was the best option available to the Kirkland resident who needed a convenient way to get to downtown Seattle during rush hour.

“I was disappointed in the lack of public transportation,” Jessen recalled of her daily commute in summer 2016.

The many trips back and forth on the state Route 520 bridge gave Jessen a lot of time to reflect on the transportation options for commuters in the Puget Sound region and beyond. It sparked her inspiration for the culminating capstone project that was due months later, and eventually landed her at a national conference in Memphis, Tennessee.

Jessen was one of four economics students from Pacific Lutheran University to present at the 2017 National Conference on Undergraduate Research, hosted at the University of Memphis in April.

The students, who graduated a month later, were chosen from a nationwide pool of 4,000 applicants, said Karen Travis, associate professor of economics.

Anna Jessen standing on a bus holding the railing
Anna Jessen '17

“What is more remarkable is that all four are women,” she said. “Economics remains a heavily male-dominated field, even at the undergraduate level.” (In 2016, Travis said, only 37 percent of undergraduate economics majors nationwide were women.)

In addition to her own personal connection as a regular commuter, Jessen said her topic easily resonated with voters at the time she pursued it.

She said Sound Transit 3, a ballot measure in the November 2016 election that proposed the expansion of the regional public transit system, was a hot-button issue that added even more intrigue to her already relevant research.

“I was very interested to find out that public transit is highly subsidized,”Jessen said. “I was interested in looking at the subsidy rate and how that affects the rider rate.”

Subsidy Rates*

King County Metro

70.4%

Fares only covered 29.6% of operating costs

Sound Transit

74.8%

Fares only covered 25.2% of operating costs

Pierce Transit

80%

Fares only covered 20% of operating costs

*Data on rates from 2014

Jessen used statistical analysis to examine the relationship between public transportation subsidies and ridership. She acknowledges that she didn’t find a definite conclusion, and would benefit from more time and more advanced methods.

But the student-faculty research process gave her the confidence to take those next steps if she chooses to continue the research in the future. She learned how to pull data from national databases and learned how to troubleshoot errors while crunching numbers. She says Travis and Matt Davis, visiting assistant professor of economics, were key players in her growth as an academic.

“I definitely couldn’t have done it without them,” Jessen said. “It took a lot of hours just to get the data cleaned up and organized. We worked together to build this data set.”

Travis says she also learns a thing or two from her students through that mentorship model.

“The fun part is, when I go to teach capstone,” she said, “I don’t know what I’m going to learn.”

Still, Travis said, students gain two important skills through close collaboration with experienced faculty members: self direction and practical application.

“Nobody tells you the answers,” Travis said of self-guided research projects. She noted that the work helps students apply what they learn in the classroom to tangible, real-world opportunities. “A lot of students get jobs because of their economics capstones.”

The projects also help students learn more about what they hope to do post graduation.

“Research can rule out or expand possibilities,” Travis said.

// Sara Christensen '17

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Sara Christensen ’17 expanded her possibilities by diving deeper into the world of higher education funding.

“I have a lot of exposure to financial aid and how it all works,” said Christensen, a financial aid peer counselor at PLU. “I wanted to better understand what’s happening in the market.”

Christensen was curious why borrowers choose to default on their student loans. Nationally, she said, 28 percent of those borrowers default — meaning they haven’t made payments for at least 270 days — within the first five years of repayment.

To her surprise, Christensen’s research showed that there are some instances when defaulting may be the best option. She also found that there is some back and forth about whether people who default on their loans are punished too harshly.

Beyond her findings, Christensen learned a lot about independent study while pursuing her topic. Travis helped her fine-tune the research question and encouraged Christensen to pursue the national conference presentation.

“I applied the day before the deadline,” she said. After learning several months later that she was accepted to present in Memphis, she joked that she “kind of forgot about it.”

Christensen had completed smaller research projects for other classes, but this was the first time she authored a paper that was accepted for a large-scale presentation.

She said Travis’ guidance was key to the intimidating process, providing “a fresh set of eyes” and a meaningful support system. “It gives me a foundation for how to do research,” she said, “and how to do research effectively.”

As she enters a University of Washington graduate program for higher education administration, Christensen offers advice to undergraduate students who are considering conducting similar research: “Don’t be intimidated. When you break it down, you’re taking skills you already have and applying them to something tangible.”

// Desirae Haselwood '17

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Desirae Haselwood ’17 drew from her experience as a student athlete.

“I looked at what skills are important to do well in professional golf,” said Haselwood, who competed on the women’s golf team.

More specifically, Haselwood created a data set for the top 125 players on the PGA tour.

“Originally, I wanted to see what it took to get a win on tour,” she said. “One-hundred-fifty guys tee up each week and not the same person wins. I wondered what it would take.”

Unsurprisingly, she found, it takes reducing the average number of putts per round.

She anticipated that result; as a top golfer in the Northwest Conference, she’s spent a lot of time on the course. “It was cool to see what I thought actually happened,” she said.

Travis and Chair of Economics Norris Peterson both helped Haselwood along the way, primarily with econometrics — a fancy word used to describe the application of statistical techniques on economic data. Haselwood said the independent instruction she received from both faculty members was crucial.

“I feel like it’s something you wouldn’t get at bigger universities,” she said. “It really builds a valuable relationship you can take with you after college.”

// Desiree Domini '17

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Desiree Domini ’17 also values that bond. She studied the effect of health status on economic growth, and struggled with some of the public responses she received amid her presentation in Memphis.

“People weren’t afraid to be critical,” she said. “That was not something I had experience with. It was difficult at first.”

Domini confided in Travis for emotional support before, during and after the experience. “She helped me realize that just because people are curious and have questions, doesn’t meant that what I’m doing is invalid,” she said. “It was really good to know that I had a support system.”

In her research, Domini used health indicators — statistical measures used to describe the health of a population, such as life expectancy — as the basis for her research. She examined an indicator not typically found in existing research. The disability-adjusted life year (DALY) is a measure of overall disease burden that allows country-to-country comparison.

“I wanted to see how this one indicator varies across countries and how it impacts the economy,” Domini said.

Among her findings, Domini discovered that some countries with higher gross domestic product are less affected by health status, if the most prevalent health issues in that country are ones that have less impact on keeping people out of work or at lower paying jobs. For example, a worker in the United States can still be a productive employee while dealing with arthritis.

Despite the intimidation she felt at times, Domini appreciates the opportunity to share her research with others and the confidence she built with Travis’ help.

“She has worked with me and now she believes in my ability to work on my own,” Domini said. “It’s like I can do accelerated learning with her that I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.”

Jessen agreed. Not only did the experience expand her opportunities, as Travis stressed, but it expanded her academic borders.

“It makes you realize that there are really talented people from all kinds of disciplines all over the country,” Jessen said. “It exposes you to the bigger world outside of PLU.”

Landon Packard '17, poses with the lights and a Puyallup PD car behind
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Emotional Labor

“Those two are the reason I was able to get this thing done,” Landon Packard ’17 said of his faculty mentors, Joanna Gregson and Anna Leon-Guerrero. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it if they weren’t as forthcoming and helpful as they were.”

Amid the unthinkable on Feb. 5, 2012, the firefighter did his job.

Hours earlier, a man tangled up in a missing-person investigation and a child-custody battle blew up his home with his children inside. The homicide-suicide committed by Josh Powell remains one of the area’s most horrific crimes, forcing sleepy Graham, Washington, into the national spotlight.

Despite the emotional turmoil surrounding the devastation, that firefighter — himself a father of two sons — rose to the call of duty. He was tasked with removing the bodies of the two young boys, similar in age to his own, from the charred remains of the home.

“As we have all grown up in today’s society, we have all learned and been socialized to think that first responders are the ones who are supposed to rescue us when circumstances arise,” Landon Packard ’17 wrote in his research paper about the emotional labor experienced by first responders. “Yet, we haven’t been socialized to understand the guilt and heartbreak that comes with the job.”

That firefighter and 13 other interview subjects opened up to Packard about experiences that are often difficult for them to discuss, even with their loved ones. The collection of testimonials comprised the sociology capstone project that Packard says is personal.

“I have grown up around police officers and firefighters my whole life,” he said. “I wanted to relay stories, but mainly I wanted to relay them so people could grasp what these people go through every day because they don’t know how to show it.”

Packard examined each individual’s emotional labor — the process of managing emotions to satisfy the requirements of a job — by asking questions from four categories: background and demographics, becoming a first responder, emotions at work and emotion management.

“As we have all grown up in today’s society, we have all learned and been socialized to think that first responders are the ones who are supposed to rescue us when circumstances arise. Yet, we haven’t been socialized to understand the guilt and heartbreak that comes with the job.”
– Landon Packard ’17

“The interviews took place in a variety of places, from quiet living rooms to different coffee shops,” he wrote in his analysis. The interviews were between 35 and 60 minutes, depending on the comfort level of each participant. “Some participants were very upfront and willing to talk, whereas other participants were more reserved.”

Three themes were consistent across all interviews, Packard found. All of the subjects used gallows humor as a way of coping, all of them experienced deep sympathy when tragedy struck children and their families, and all of them experienced a culture of “learning as you go” to cope with emotional strain.

“First responders have other lives outside of work. I think people sometimes forget that,” Packard said. “When these people are home, they have other struggles they are dealing with. They have to carry their problems with them to work and take on others’ emotional struggles.”

The recent graduate said it was tough managing his own emotions through the process. Still, he said it helped him learn how to be a better interviewer, especially in the context of sociology research.

“When a person is in a vulnerable state, you learn how to just let them talk,” he said. “That was what I had to learn.”

First responders speak

Following much vocational reflection, Packard decided a career in first response or law enforcement would be an ideal post-graduate plan. He enrolled in a course about deviance in fall 2016, taught by Professor of Sociology Joanna Gregson. That student-faculty relationship developed into valuable mentorship for the budding sociologist.

Gregson said Packard’s capstone research elevated his aptitude for conducting interviews.

“Landon blossomed as a qualitative interviewer,” Gregson said. “As much as he hated the process of transcribing, he had a knack for drawing out his participants, making them feel comfortable, and eliciting heartfelt and sometimes painful stories.”

Gregson stressed that Packard’s growth is indicative of the learning-by-doing model that’s key in student-faculty research opportunities at PLU.

“I could tell stories all day long about challenges I’ve encountered while collecting data or the thrill of developing an analytical hunch, but until students experience it themselves, it is just that: stories,” she said. “When they immerse themselves in the project — from conception of the project to collection and analysis of data, and presentation of findings — they take ownership of their learning.”

As for Packard’s research itself, Gregson said it’s meaningful work that addresses a scarcely studied angle of emotional management for first responders.

“I have grown up around police officers and firefighters my whole life. I wanted to relay stories, but mainly I wanted to relay them so people could grasp what these people go through every day because they don’t know how to show it.”
– Landon Packard ’17

“While psychological research has examined how employees process and experience that stress, we knew little about how the culture of a workplace can shape those experiences,” she said. “While Landon’s research looked specifically at first responders, his findings have implications for other work environments where people confront emotionally challenging situations.”

It exemplifies what universities hope to see in student research, she added: “that it be personally meaningful, scientifically rigorous and with applications to the real world.”

Anna Leon-Guerrero, chair of sociology and another mentor for Packard, said she watched her student’s confidence grow throughout the research process.

She stressed that all students who conduct scholarly research face similar challenges that she and her colleagues have faced in academia.

“Faculty (members) support student learning and success by sharing our own passion for sociology,” Leon-Guerrero said. “Their capstone highs and lows are no different than what we’ve experienced in our own scholarship.”

Leon-Guerrero noted that one theme within Packard’s findings surprised her. “His subjects reported that they were never formally trained on how to manage their emotional labor,” she said. “Landon was critical about the lack of preparation and training for emotion management and questioned the long-term effects on first responders.”

Despite the difficult conversations he had with his interview subjects, Packard intends to pursue a career in emergency response. “It hasn’t turned me away from it at all,” he said. “If anything, it’s made me more interested.”

He said his calling has expanded as a result of his research — to not only help the people he’ll save in the future, but to help fellow first responders.

“It is now time for us to rescue the rescuers,” he said.

Sachsenhausen Concentration camp in Sachsenhausen, Germany near Berlin
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Protectors Turned Perpetrators

“She offered personal support and also has helped my writing style,” Sophia Mahr ’18 said of Beth Kraig, professor of history, who worked very closely with Mahr on her research of unethical medical studies. “Beth is one of the most accessible professors I’ve ever had.”

Sophia Mahr '18 knew the devastating numbers. She knew stories of survival and stories of deep suffering. But seeing the concentration camps, and the faces who carry on a survivor’s story, offered Mahr new eyes through which to examine the tragedy experienced during the Holocaust.

“Being with the Mayer family gave me the personal connection,” she recalled of her January 2015 study away experience. “That really moved me.”

Mahr, then a wide-eyed first-year student, participated in a study away course in Germany alongside the family of Kurt Mayer, the late Holocaust survivor and educator whose name informs one of Pacific Lutheran University’s most distinguished programs, Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

Though she didn’t know it at the time, that emotional glimpse into the past helped inspire later research and her overarching vocational path.

“It made me realize that I could combine global studies and Holocaust and genocide studies and really have an impact,” said Mahr, who is majoring in the former and minoring in the latter. “I really got into that mindset for the rest of my time at PLU.”

That mindset resulted in a research project that helped her grow as a student, an academic and a human being. Her conclusions urge society to confront uncomfortable truths about 20th-century medical studies conducted at the expense of marginalized populations, and the subsequent findings of those studies that are, in some cases, used and cited in contemporary research.

Mahr analyzed how and why medical providers repeatedly and deliberately harmed people in the name of medical science by conducting non-consensual experiments on their subjects. Those ambitious professionals, she says, argued that the ends justified the means — that the harms were necessary to foster a greater good.

Within her research, Mahr examined three case studies of unethical human experiments: torture of Jews in Nazi concentration camps, the Tuskegee study of untreated syphilis in rural black men, and the coerced research and medical discrimination of LGBTQ individuals.

Mahr argues that the systems in place, which have evolved over time to protect patients, continue to be violated in a dangerous trend.

“This is not an isolated reality,” she said during a campus presentation of her findings at the inaugural Undergraduate Research Symposium in April. “We use a lot of this research today.”

Mahr said one key factor, among many she discusses in the paper summarizing her work, is the lack of enforcement mechanisms. From the Hippocratic Oath taken by medical professionals to the Nuremberg Code that underscores full and informed consent in medical studies, Mahr says all rely on the honor system and the goodwill of authority figures. Failures and loopholes in protections are evident, she stressed, and actively aware citizens are the key to preventing future violations.

“Trusting blindly that this system will prevent medical abuse keeps us from looking actively at the harm that’s done,” Mahr said in her presentation. “My research led me to believe that we need to be more actively aware. We always need to be on the lookout for violations of consent. It’s about testing these systems of power.”

Beth Kraig, professor of history, mentored Mahr through the emotionally taxing process of tackling this appalling reality.

Kraig said Mahr’s work challenges society to put more pressure on institutional systems to implement checks and balances. It also challenges people to face the possibility that they could become complicit in harmful behavior.

“She’s wanting people to take this on board as something they are prone to do themselves,” she said.

In all the case studies Mahr examined, Kraig said, the people aiding in the corrupt treatment believed they were doing the right thing. “If it’s doing real harm it might come in a package that says ‘I’m doing real good,’” Kraig said.

For example, one of the most cited medical studies Mahr examined was the Dachau Hypothermia Experiments, which took place at the first Nazi concentration camp opened in Germany. The victims were submerged in vats of icy water, naked and outdoors in freezing temperatures, only to be rapidly reheated with scalding water, among other horrifying trials. Many prisoners were killed in the attempt to learn how best to prevent and treat hypothermia in German soldiers.

Kraig said the torture resulted in the discovery that it’s better to warm hypothermia patients as fast as possible, rather than heating them up gradually as medical professionals previously thought.

“That became, and still is, the best method for preventing death,” Kraig said. She added that Mahr’s research forces people to confront the uncomfortable truth that better treatment for hypothermia patients today is the result of great harm, and even death, to many who came before them. “That’s the complexity Sophia wants people to engage.”

Kraig said she offered much needed emotional support for Mahr, someone she describes as kind and empathetic. “We had lots of difficult, deep conversations,” Kraig said. “It was tough for her to come to grips with how untrustworthy many institutions are.”

The struggle Mahr had is one many students should come to terms with, Kraig said — learning to live with discomfort.

“Expertise, emotions and ethics all have to be considered in this work,” she said. “You can’t just honor the expertise. You have to develop habits of skepticism.”

Kraig said the extensive research process taught Mahr to be independent in her quest for sustained inquiry: visiting archives on her own, reading sources she discovered on her own and doing so outside the classroom without the motivation of a grade.

“It opens the door to how much more there is to know,” Kraig said. “It’s a point of pride and a little bit daunting.”

Kurt Mayer Student Research Fellowship

Sophia Mahr’s research on unethical human medical experimentation was made possible by the Kurt Mayer Student Research Fellowship, offered through the Holocaust Studies Program at Pacific Lutheran University. Mahr received the fellowship in summer 2016. Recipients produce original research and present their findings at the annual Powell-Heller Conference for Holocaust Education.

“I was so honored to be a Mayer scholar,” Mahr said, adding that her research is deeply rooted in Kurt Mayer’s legacy.

While Kraig helped Mahr academically and emotionally, the professor admits she learned from the process, too. The pair shared reading materials with one another, resulting in new discoveries traveling both ways.

“We had a very common foundation of knowledge to share. It’s 100 percent co-learning,” Kraig said. “These projects start with the student.”

Now, with about a year left at the university, Mahr feels better prepared for her next steps. She recently completed a Minneapolis-based internship with a refugee resettlement and immigration program and is figuring out how she can continue to aid refugees amid ever-growing crises around the world.

“I know in my heart that I want to help with refugee migration,” she said. “This research is not my finale, it’s a building block.”

In the meantime, she will continue to urge her peers to think critically about the topic she’s grown so passionate about, no matter how uncomfortable.

“This is not just something to think about for history,” she said. “This is something to think about for the future.”

Synagogue & Church
Brad Tilden '83
600 600 Kari Plog '11

Brad Tilden ’83

Since Brad Tilden took the reins as CEO at Seattle’s hometown airline in 2012, Alaska Airlines has grown to become the nation’s fifth largest airline, serving 119 destinations throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba. The airline has won numerous awards, including “Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Carriers in North America” 10 years in a row.

Tilden is quick to give credit to the airline’s employees, who at 20,000 strong are fulfilling Alaska’s mission of creating an airline people love. This focus on people proves that Tilden’s achievements are not just due to his financial acumen, but also to his deep-seated human values and pure persistence — qualities he honed at PLU while earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting.

While Alaska Airlines has grown in leaps and bounds — and Tilden’s responsibilities with it — he’s never too busy to devote time to his alma mater, recently completing eight years of service on the Board of Regents.

Brad Tilden '83
Carol Farver '76
600 600 Kari Plog '11

Carol Farver ’76

Dr. Carol Farver is a lung pathologist who serves as the director of pulmonary pathology in the Department of Pathology at the Cleveland Clinic. Additionally, she is professor of pathology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Dr. Farver is the past president of the Cleveland Clinic medical staff and served on the Cleveland Clinic Board of Governors.

She received her M.D. degree from Yale University School of Medicine. Subsequently, Dr. Farver completed her residency and fellowship/research training in pulmonary pathology at Brigham Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

She joined the Cleveland Clinic in 1995, has authored more than 115 scientific publications, and is co-editor of two major textbooks in the field of pulmonary pathology.

Dr. Farver received the first annual Distinguished Achievement Award in Graduate Medical Education from the National Association of Pathology Chairs, the Scholarship in Teaching Award from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, the Cleveland Clinic’s Leadership Development Award and has been included in the “Best Doctors in America” list since 2009.

Carol Farver '76
Jessica Anderson '07
600 600 Kari Plog '11

Jessica Anderson ’07

Jessica Anderson is passionate about education, geosciences and technology, and has combined all three to become an award-winning educator. In 2016, Anderson was named the Montana Teacher of the Year and received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching.

Each year, the Montana Teacher of the Year program recognizes a teacher who exemplifies the best in the teaching profession. It is the highest honor a Montana teacher can receive.

Prior to taking a position as a virtual instructional coach, Anderson taught earth science, chemistry and physics at Powell County High School in Deer Lodge, and oceanography online through the Montana Digital Academy.

In the classroom, Anderson used a teaching technique called “blended learning” – using technology in innovative ways that allow students to “choose their own path, their own pace, sometimes even their own location,” she says. “No matter how learners do it, the goal is to demonstrate mastery of content that is meaningful to them.” As an instructional coach, she now supports teachers in implementing blended and personalized learning in their classrooms.

Jessica Anderson '07

Anderson also pushed her students to learn outside the classroom. Her students worked with the Clark Fork Coalition to analyze stream quality of the Clark Fork River, plant vegetation along the banks of tributaries and help discover new bacteriophages. Her students didn’t just learn science, they became scientists, and learned the importance of community advocacy in their own backyard.

She is a co-founder and moderator of #MTedchat on Twitter, helping Montana educators connect, share and challenge each other’s teaching. She also continues to support teachers as president of the Montana Science Teachers Association, and communications officer of the Montana State Teachers of the Year chapter. In June, she participated in the NEA Global Fellowship program, for which she traveled to China to learn about Chinese culture and education. In September, she will support native teachers in Dubai with STEM education.

Michael Graven '81
600 600 Kari Plog '11

Michael Graven ’81

Dr. Michael Graven is an internationally recognized health care informatics expert. Dr. Graven assisted health care systems in 44 countries to decrease mortality and improve health care outcomes. He completed nine official missions for the World Health Organization. World Health Organization Health Metrics staff estimated his impact as having contributed to saving more than 700,000 lives worldwide through 2014. He was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health in Great Britain for work in Commonwealth nations. Dr. Graven also has served as senior advisor for health affairs to the governments of Belize and St Lucia. In these roles, he supported initiatives presented at eight international health summits (official gatherings of Ministers of Health), including CARICOM, PAHO and African Union. He has served as an expert advisor to many Canadian provincial and U.S. state regulatory agencies, Health Canada, Canadian Public Health Agency, U.S. Center for Disease Control, the U.S. Veterans Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human services.

He has 17 years experience as a licensed practicing neonatologist in Canada and the U.S. Dr. Graven has been faculty at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, jointly appointed to the faculty of Medicine and Medical Informatics at Dalhousie University in Halifax Nova Scotia, and served as faculty of biostatistics at the University of South Florida College of Public Health. He retired from Dalhousie University in 2015.

Michael Graven '81

In the 1990s Dr. Graven served as Chief Information Officer and Chief Medical Officer of a physician network management corporation, serving ~5,000 providers and ~10 million covered lives throughout the US. In the late 1980s Michael was responsible for research and management associated Tampa General Hospital’s payer and business development. In the mid 1980s Michael was the lead analyst for the Decision Support unit of the Information Services Department at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida Health Science Center. In the early 1980s Dr. Graven was a member of a Rutgers University program focused on population genetic methods used to control several serious tropical infectious diseases, including field work throughout Egypt and Sudan.

Dr. Graven served as the chief architect of patient-centered country-wide health information systems (HIS) in five countries. The HIS in Belize was recognized as the best of its kind, world-wide, by the Health Metrics Network (HMN) of the World Health Organization in 2008. This system has eight embedded disease management protocols with high adherence to evidence based treatment guidelines which led to a decrease in crude mortality of 1/1000 and a decrease in maternal mortality to zero.

In 2005 Graven was appointed to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia National Advisory Committee which oversaw its country-wide Medan Acts PMTCT program (prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV). He provided informatics support for this national program. The Medan Acts PMTCT program has been credited with supporting maternal and infant healthcare programs for over 65,000 HIV positive women and their babies, preventing HIV infection in an estimated 22,000 Ethiopian babies between 2004 and 2007.

Dr. Graven also has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in 22 countries on subjects including tropical medicine, biostatistics, health informatics, and health policy development.

Shiori Oki '17
600 600 Kari Plog '11

Shiori Oki ’17

Shiori studied classical languages and literature, as well as English literature, at PLU. She was deeply involved in the PLU community during her four years as a student. A handful of her numerous leadership roles on campus included: Student Activities Board director, Rieke Scholar, student philanthropy intern, student orientation coordinator and community student advocate.

“Shiori, along with the guidance of the Student Involvement and Leadership staff, has created a legacy of peer programming at PLU from the ground up,” said Shelby Winters, interim assistant director of Student Involvement and Leadership. Through her role as Student Activities Board director, Shiori showed an incredible amount of commitment, organization and vision to produce weekly programming for students. She also organized larger programs such as LollaPLUza and the Homecoming dance.

Winters said “I strongly believe that Shiori’s investment in the Student Activities Board and her many mentee/mentor relationships on campus will allow her to find her way back to PLU; either through philanthropic work or alumni involvement.”

Shiori Oki '17