Tess Killpack ’06

Tess represents one of several K-Plan roots to a recent fruition of egg-and-bird science. A research paper recently published in the Journal of Experimental Biology sheds new light on the stunning metamorphosis that occurs at or near hatching in many birds. The paper has a mighty title: “Development of endothermy and concomitant increases in cardiac and skeletal muscle mitochondrial respiration in the precocial Pekin duck,” and, it turns out, some very deep Kalamazoo College connections. “Most of the work was done in the lab of Ed Dzialowski ’93,” wrote Paul Sotherland, professor emeritus of biology (and, like Ed, a listed coauthor of the paper). He added, “The storyline all got started WAY back when Tess discovered, in her Senior Individualized Project, the dramatic (think: Grinch-like…hah!) cardiac growth in chickens, a discovery illustrated nicely in Figure 4 of the paper (and acknowledged with the highlighted citation on page one of the paper).” The title of Tess’s SIP was “A change of heart in birds: cardiac response to the onset of endothermy.” According to Paul, Tess’s was not the only SIP “root” that nourished the Experimental Biology paper. “A SIP done by Alan (Skip) Faber ’14 contributed as well,” said Paul,”which is acknowledged by his coauthorship of the paper.” Ed is an associate professor in the department of biological sciences at the University of North Texas. Tess is an instructor in the biological sciences laboratory at Wellesley College. Skip is beginning his second year of dental school at the University of Michigan.

John E. Sarno ’44, M.D.

John died on June 23, 2017. He matriculated to K from New York City and stayed for three years before leaving in 1943 to join the Army. He worked in field hospitals in Europe for the remainder of World War II. John received his medical degree from Columbia University in 1950 and spent nearly a decade in family practice in Fishkill, N.Y., where he founded the Mid-Hudson Medical Group. He returned to New York in 1960 for a residency in pediatric medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and then another residency at the Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at New York University (N.Y.U.). He joined N.Y.U.’s Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine in 1965 and practiced there until his retirement in 2012. John specialized in rehabilitative medicine and wrote many books on the psychological origins of chronic pain. His most widely known title was the best-selling Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection. His other books included The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain; The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders; and Mind Over Back Pain. John returned to K’s campus in 2000 to deliver the commencement address, “Stronger Than We Think.” During that visit he said: “In addition to academic studies, which were top flight [in my time] as they are now, Kalamazoo College was music, art, theatre, the social graces, and gentleness. It was a great introduction to the adult world I was about to enter.”

Paul Blowers ’95

Paul has been named chief information officer of Plante Moran, a public accounting and business advisory firm. In his new role, he will be responsible for the information technology that supports Plante Moran’s enterprise goals. Blowers has IT leadership experience in strategy, architecture, solution delivery and operations. Prior to joining Plante Moran, he worked for Kelly Services as chief architect and senior director of enterprise architecture and business solutions. At K, Blowers majored in psychology and was a stand-out member of the Hornet swim team, earning Division III All-American honors. Blowers is the co-author of the textbook, e-Commerce in Virtual Worlds.

Love Will Steer Me True: A Mother and Daughter’s Conversations on Life, Love, and God

Love Will Steer Me True: A Mother and Daughter’s Conversations on Life, Love, and God

by Jane (Hudson) Knuth ’80 and Ellen Knuth

Letting go of her daughter, Ellen, was a 6,000-mile proposition for alumna Jane Knuth. Ellen, a recent college graduate and eager to get a grip on the adventure of life, was on her way to a remote part of Japan to teach English.

It wasn’t so much that Jane was afraid of the long distance. She feared more that her daughter might hit a bump or two in her life path, perhaps even a crisis, and not have a Christian church nearby. Jane’s faith is important to her, and she had worked lifelong to share and cultivate that importance in her daughter. The nearest Christian church was two hours away from Ellen’s new residence. Ellen wasn’t worried. Her concerns centered more on her new job and life in another country than the one in which she had been raised.

Love Will Steer Me True: A Mother and Daughter’s Conversations on Life, Love, and God is a collaborative book by Jane and Ellen. It is Jane’s third book and Ellen’s first. (Thrift Stone Saints: Meeting Jesus 25 Cents at a Time and Thrift Store Graces: Finding God’s Gifts in the Midst of a Mess are collections of stories from Jane’s volunteer work in a Kalamazoo thrift store.) Chapters lean heavily to Ellen’s story, with Jane mostly writing in response to her daughter’s musings.

The two keep in touch often by calling each other over the Internet, using Skype. “I’ll call you in your morning,” becomes their mantra. They trade stories of teaching, because Jane finds herself teaching eighth-graders in Kalamazoo, an unexpected job. Ellen’s work with Japanese children teaches her cultural differences and common universalities among children.

When Ellen writes of religion, she explores the beliefs she finds in Japan. She discovers a statue near the school where she teaches, nearly obscured by trash and weeds. It is a jizo, a Japanese figure of divinity, offering protection in the Buddhist tradition. This one appears to be a protector of children, and during the months Ellen teaches at the school, she tends the jizo, cleaning the statue and filling its offering cup with water (rather than the traditional sake, since alcohol is not allowed on school grounds). While her faith remains important to her, she expresses it effortlessly through a variety of other faiths.

The shared story takes an unexpected turn in 2011, when a tsunami crashes against the shores of Japan, leaving a path of destruction. In the tsunami’s wake follows a nuclear disaster, and while Jane at home prays for her daughter’s protection, Ellen joins a group of volunteers and heads into the fray.

Love Will Steer Me True is less a conversation than a daughter’s story reflected on her mother’s heart. Both reach a higher level of respect for the other in the process. Both gain new facets to their individual journeys of faith. Both learn to let go, and in letting go, strengthen their bonds.

Guardian angels and jizos work side by side, it appears. During parental visits to Japan, mother and daughter meet as equals, and in Jane’s willingness to abide by local culture and faith traditions, the reader becomes witness to the blending of two worlds. Jane gives a string of a thousand folded cranes to the Japanese she meets, their symbol of hope.

After five years of teaching in Japan, Ellen has returned to the United States. She works as a manager for a company in Clinton Township, Michigan, that specializes in study abroad and international internships. Jane lives with her husband, alumnus Dean Knuth ’78, in Portage, Michigan, and continues to volunteer at the thrift store as well as write a monthly column for The Good News, the newspaper of the Diocese of Kalamazoo. (Reviewed by Zinta Aistars)

Amelia Katanski ’92, Associate Professor of English

Amelia  has published an article in the new book, The Routledge Companion to Native American Literature. The article is titled “Embodied Jurisgenesis: NAGPRA, Dialogue, and Repatriation in American Indian Literature.” It analyzes the role of literary texts by Native writers in creating legal meanings that shape the interpretation and application of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990.

Anjalee Deshpande Hutchinson ’95

Anjalee has published a book (Routledge) titled Acting Exercises for Non-Traditional Staging: Michael Chekhov Reimagined. The work offers a new set of exercises for coaching actors when working on productions that are non-traditionally staged in arenas, thrusts, or alleys. Anjalee is an Associate Professor of Theatre & Dance and the Department Chair at Bucknell University. She is a National Michael Chekhov Association Certified Teacher. At K Anjalee majored in theatre arts. In 2004 she returned to Kalamazoo College as guest director for Festival Playhouse’s production of Lanford Wilson’s “Balm in Gilead.”

Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production, the Manifesto of an Environmental Lawyer and Vegetarian Turned Cattle Rancher

Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production

by Nicolette Hahn Niman ’89

One doesn’t usually think of eating as a political act, let alone a revolutionary one, but for many, what lands on the dinner plate can provide not only nourishment, but has also become a means for saving the planet. What should and should not land on that plate and how it gets there is where the controversy, and the politics, begin.

Large-scale agricultural processes (or BigAg) have been linked to global warming, increases in obesity, and animal cruelty. Hahn Niman’s first book, Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms (William Morrow, 2009), in which she explored such controversial costs of BigAg, paved the path to her current work. Arguably, Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production, creates even more controversy.

For decades, the public has been told that eating meat, especially red meat, is bad for human and ecological health. It raises cholesterol and contributes to heart disease. Raising cattle turns lush land to desert, draining it of water and devastating plant life. Wildlife is adversely affected, soil becomes eroded, and pools of manure ruin air and land.

Citing meticulously researched international sources, Hahn Niman debunks these assertions and defends a return to more traditional farming practices.

A cattle rancher herself, Hahn Niman and husband Bill Niman offer an example of how livestock should be raised. At their ranch cattle are grass-fed; they receive no growth hormones, antibiotics, or corn feed; and the ranchers accompany the cattle right to the end of their lives at a local slaughterhouse, ensuring their last moments are as humane as possible.

Beef can be served to us in healthier form from healthier and happier animals, Hahn Niman contends. And, she adds, grass-fed cattle can contribute to solving the problem of global warming. Large ruminants, when allowed to graze naturally on pasture, enrich grasslands, prune back plants, encouraging new growth, and aid in sequestering carbon in soils.

Hahn Niman argues that overgrazing is less a matter of too many cattle and more a case of grazing mismanagement. She refers to the work of ecologist Allan Savory and his system for grazing herds of cattle in a manner closest to their natural behavior, allowing them to travel in dense herds, eating all in their path, then moving on to fresh pasture. The cattle press seeds into the soil as they pass through, and their manure serves as fertilizer for the field. Unusable land has thus been returned to productive grasslands.

Hahn Niman disagrees with the notion that beef is unhealthy in our diets. She cites statistics that American consumption of beef has fallen by approximately 22 percent while rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease continue to spike. And she argues that increased consumption of sugars and sweeteners in our diets as the real culprits.

Hahn Niman points out that approximately 1 billion of the poor worldwide rely on cattle for food and income, keeping livestock in places where cultivated food plants cannot take root.

Defending Beef is not an argument to eat more beef. Hahn Niman is, in fact, a vegetarian. To base the decision of being a vegetarian or vegan on concern for healthier ecosystems or personal health would, she states, be unwarranted. Rather, her mission appears to be to join all at the dinner table in a concern for farming practices that might heal the planet and help all who walk upon it, two- and four-legged.

Defending Beef urges readers to look beyond the shrink-wrapped package in supermarket aisles to the source. Whether dining on a plant-based diet or one that includes meat, the well-educated consumer knows her farmer and her rancher, knows what goes into the soil and into the animal before it goes onto the plate and into the human. (Reviewed by Zinta Aistars)

Aaron Coleman ’09

Aaron is currently a third-year Fellow in Poetry at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Aaron is a Fulbright scholar, winner of Tupelo Quarterly’s TQ5 Poetry Contest, and a semifinalist for the 92Y/Discovery Poetry Contest. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Boston Review, Meridian, Pinwheel, Southern Indiana Review, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. The Spectacle recently published The History Behind the Feeling,” Aaron’s conversation with poet Claudia Rankine.