Professor Emerita of English Gail Griffin is a fan of Kate, a chemistry major who, Gail writes, “took on an English major very late in her career.” Kate’s putting both majors to work as a science writer, and Gail spotted one of Kate’s stories in a recent Atlantic Magazine online. “How Ancient Coral Revealed the changing Length of a Year” describes how coral layers (a byproduct of the organism’s daily living that marks a year’s growing seasons and days in a process somewhat akin to tree rings) show that the number of days that composed an earth year was much higher eons ago–420 days rather than today’s 365-6. She accounts for the difference in the dynamics of gravity, oceans and the moon’s distance from the earth, a gap growing incrementally and infinitesimally. Turns out Shakespeare’s Juliet had it right in more ways than she might have guessed when she implored Romeo to “swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon, / That monthly changes in her circled orb.” The circled orb grows imperceptibly more distant, a centimeter or so a year. (Eventually–in several million years–the moon will be too distant to cause a solar eclipse.) With her two majors, Kate is more likely to know the science in the literary reference. Kate’s K experience also included study abroad in Scotland.
Nancy is the Scientist in Residency Fellow for the month of September at the Sitka Sound Science Center. Nancy is a professor in the biology department and the director of the ecology center at Utah State University (Logan). She also chairs the committee that administers Science Unwrapped, the USU College of Science public engagement program. She earned her B.A. in biology at K and her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona. Since 2004 she has studied the human ecology of the northern Gulf of Alaska region. Her interests in Alaska are particularly in landscape legacies, food webs, and sustainable resource use.
Jacob recently completed his Ph.D. at Colorado State University. He has been conducting research on new approaches to control disease-carrying mosquitoes. His research was described in a paper–“Mosquitocidal properties of IgG targeting the glutamate-gated chloride channel in three mosquito disease vectors (Diptera: Culicidae)”–that was published in the May issue of Journal for Experimental Biology. And his paper was highlighted as the “Editor’s Choice” for that issue of the journal. Despite the fact that malaria mortality rates have fallen steadily since 2000, the disease threatens half the human population and kills one child every minute. Moreover, resistance in mosquitoes to the primary pesticide used to control them is increasing. A new mosquitocidal candidate has arisen in an old drug, ivermectin, which has been successfully used against parasitic worms that cause diseases such as onchocerciasis (River Blindness). However, little was known about the process by which ivermectin worked against mosquitoes. Jacob’s research elucidated the site (called the glutamate-gated chloride channel, part of the insect’s nervous system) and the mechanism of action at that site which were responsible for ivermectin’s effectiveness. Based on what was learned from that discovery, Jacob tested a new strategy, essentially substituting for ivermectin an antibody to the glutamate gated chloride channel. His preliminary tests confirmed the antibody insecticide’s effectiveness against the mosquito that transmits malaria. In two other disease-carrying mosquitoes (yellow fever and West Nile virus) the antibody did not pass across the gut, which prevented any insecticidal effect. The next step is to immunize cattle with the antibody. Cattle are a major source of blood meals for mosquitoes. It is hoped that malaria-bearing mosquitoes that consume cattle blood carrying the toxic antibodies during the malaria parasite’s incubation period would die, disrupting transmission of the disease. A new antibody insecticide may offer hope for a malaria-free future.
Jacob is married to classmate Alyssa Brayshaw ’08. This year Alyssa was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to support her doctoral work. She will begin work in the fall on her Ph.D. at Texas A&M University. She plans to focus her research in the field of wildlife disease ecology, concentrating on Chagus Disease, which threatens to cross the Texas-Mexico border. Jacob was offered and accepted a post-doctoral position at Texas A&M in the lab of a population geneticist studying mosquito populations on Bioko Island and other field sites in West Africa. Jacob majored in chemistry at K. Alyssa majored in biology and studied abroad in Nairobi, Kenya.
Ed is the author of the recently released book A Historical Perspective on Evidence-Based Immunology. The book highlights the evidence supporting immunology concepts commonly taken for granted, including results of hypothesis-driven controlled scientific experiments. Ed is professor and chair of basic medical sciences at the A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine (Mesa, Ariz.). His book was released on December 18, “the same day that ’Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ opened in theaters,” he wrote. “It is only coincidence that the figure on the cover looks like the Death Star.”
Dennis was named chief executive officer of enCore Energy Corporation. Dennis has more than 40 years of experience and leadership in the uranium industry. Until his retirement in 2011, he served as executive vice president of Americas for Uranium One, Inc. He earned his B.A. in chemistry at K and studied abroad in Muenster, Germany. He earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan. An author of numerous papers regarding in-situ uranium recovery, Dennis has co-authored three International Atomic Energy Agency guidebooks and manuals related to both acidic and alkaline uranium in-situ leach (ISL) technology. He is the author of six United States patents concerning various aspect of in-situ recovery of uranium and reservoir restoration.
Douglas has been named to lead a new office at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. In this new position, which Douglas began on June 1, he will identify and create strategic partnering opportunities between PNNL, research universities, and other scientific research institutions. For the last 10 years Douglas has overseen PNNL’s fundamental science research portfolio. PNNL is a national laboratory in the U.S. Department of Energy. Douglas majored in physics at K.
Stephen has been elected to the board of directors of Luminex Corporation, a global biotechnology company headquartered in Austin, Texas. Since 2011, Stephen has served as vice president, oncology medical sciences, Astellas Pharma Global Development, a global pharmaceutical company with U.S headquarters in Northbrook, Ill. Prior to joining Astellas, he was vice president, translation medicine & pharmacogenomics at Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company. In addition to his B.S. degree in chemistry from Kalamazoo College, Stephen holds a Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Harvard University and an M.D. degree from the University of Mississippi.
Gary died on June 27, 2015. He came to Kalamazoo College already fascinated by technology and physics. In fact, he helped pay his way through K by building vacuum-tube volt meters during summer vacations. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics and took a job with the Naval Air Weapons Research Station in China Lake, California. His primary career focus was on computers. After Gary retired from China Lake in 1984, he lived briefly in Fairfield, Iowa, where he studied transcendental meditation. Returning to California after a couple of years, he worked for several contractors as a computer troubleshooter and photographer. Gary loved chamber music, reading, taking wildflower photographs and learning new things. His favorite occupation in recent years was playing with his beloved grandchildren, Svetlana and Dalton.
Peter is a fire ecologist specializing in plant evolution and diversity. He serves as a conservation analyst at Save the Redwoods League in San Francisco. He received a Ph.D. from the department of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2010. He received a M.S. in biological sciences from Stanford University and a B.A. in biology (magna cum laude) from K. At K he studied abroad in Kenya.
Jeff has been named president of the Grand Rapids (Mich.)-based company, Iserv, an integrated connectivity and managed services provider. He is responsible for leading new business initiatives, with a focus on new technologies, customer service, and customer value. Jeff previously directed GR Current, a Grand Rapids-based incubator for tech companies in West Michigan. Jeff earned his B.A. in physics at K. He studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. He holds advanced degrees in engineering (Lawrence Technology University) and business administration (Georgia State University).