K Honors 10 Faculty Members as Endowed Chairs

Kalamazoo College has appointed 10 faculty members as endowed chairs, recognizing their achievements as professors. Endowed chairs are positions funded through the annual earnings from an endowed gift or gifts to the College. The honor reflects the value donors attribute to the excellent teaching and mentorship that occurs at K and how much donors want to see that excellence continue.

The honorees are:

  • Francisco Villegas, the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership junior chair;
  • Leihua Weng, the most senior faculty member in Chinese;
  • Cyndy Garcia-Weyandt, an endowed chair in critical ethnic studies;
  • Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada, the Marlene Crandall Francis Endowed Chair in the Humanities;
  • Kathryn Sederberg, the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Endowed Chair;
  • Regina Stevens-Truss, the Dorothy H. Heyl Senior Endowed Chair in Chemistry;
  • Blakely Tresca, the Harriet G. Varney Endowed Chair in Natural Science;
  • Amy Elman, the William Weber Endowed Chair in Social Science;
  • Autumn Hostetter, the Kurt D. Kaufman Endowed Chair; and
  • Richard Koenig, the Genevieve U. Gilmore Endowed Chair in Art.
Francisco Villegas among endowed chairs

Francisco Villegas

Villegas, an assistant professor of sociology at K, was a sociology lecturer at the University of Toronto Scarborough from 2014 to 2016 before arriving in Kalamazoo.

Villegas specializes in the topics of immigration, race, citizenship, deportability and illegalization. He has a doctorate in sociology in education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, a master’s degree in Mexican American studies from San Jose University, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and social behavior from the University of California Irvine.

Kalamazoo County launched a community ID program in 2018, allowing residents to obtain it, including those otherwise unable to get a state ID, with Villegas serving as the ID advisory board chair. At this point over 3,000 residents have obtained one. Kalamazoo College students, through a partnership with the Center for Civic Engagement participate in a work-study program supporting the program and learning about policy implementation

Leihua Weng among endowed chairs

Leihua Weng

Weng, an assistant professor of Chinese language and literature, has taught at K beginning Chinese and advanced Chinese, as well as different content courses in English, such as women in China, urban China and Chinese films. 

Weng’s research interest includes (trans-)nationalism and globalization in literature and films, traditions and modernity, and postmodern literary theories. She received her Ph.D. in comparative literature at the University of South Carolina, a Master of Arts at Peking University, and a Bachelor of Arts at Zhejiang University. She taught at Sarah Lawrence College and Pacific Lutheran University before she came to K. 

Cyndy Garcia-Weyandt among endowed chairs

Cyndy Garcia-Weyandt

García-Weyandt, an assistant professor of critical ethnic studies, has taught courses at K in environmental studies such as Body, Land and Labor; and Plant Communication Kinship, as well as courses in critical ethnic studies such as Argument with the Given, a writing seminar exploring dreams, storytelling, poetry, art activism, memoir, and personal narratives as sources of knowledge and social change. She is coordinator and co-founder of Proyecto Taniuki (“Our Language Project”), a community-based project in Zitakua, Mexico.

In the Taniuki, she collaborates with urban indigenous communities in language revitalization efforts. Her research areas include indigenous knowledge systems, land pedagogy, urban indigenous peoples of Mexico, indigenous art and performances, and ontology.  García-Weyandt’s ancestral homeland is in San Juan Sayultepec Nochixtlán, Oaxaca, México. She is a poeta, an immigrant, a first-generation college student, and former community college transfer student. She has a Ph.D. and master’s degree in culture and performance, and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, all from the University of California, Los Angeles.


Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada

Maldonado-Estrada, an assistant professor of religion, is the author of Lifeblood of the Parish: Men and Catholic Devotion in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, an ethnography about masculinity and men’s devotional lives in a gentrified neighborhood in New York City. She teaches classes at K on religion and masculinity, urban religion, Catholics in the Americas and the religions of Latin America.

Outside K, Maldonado-Estrada is a co-chair of the Men and Masculinities Unit at the American Academy of Religion and is an editor of Material Religion: The Journal of Art, Objects, and Belief. She also was chosen for the 2020-2022 cohort of Young Scholars in American Religion at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis’ Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture.

Earlier this year, Sacred Writes—a network of religion scholars committed to helping a broad global audience understand the significance of their work—selected Maldonado-Estrada to be one of 24 scholars from around the world receiving a Public Scholarship on Religion for 2021. Maldonado-Estrada received her doctorate in religion from Princeton University and her bachelor’s degree in sociology and religion from Vassar College.

cMUMMA Academic Rigor GERMAN Sederberg (prof) 2018 lo 7186.JPG

Kathryn Sederberg

Sederberg, a co-chair in the Department of German Studies, will be honored in a virtual ceremony November 20 by the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) as one of five national recipients of the Goethe‐Institut/AATG Certificate of Merit. The honor recognizes her achievements in furthering the teaching of German in the U.S. through creative activities, innovative curriculum, successful course design and significant contributions to the profession.

Sederberg teaches beginning, intermediate and advanced German as well as Contemporary German Culture and the senior seminars on varying topics. She holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.


Regina Stevens-Truss

Stevens-Truss, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has taught at Kalamazoo College since 2000. She teaches Chemical Reactivity, Biochemistry, Medicinal Chemistry and Infection: Global Health and Social Justice.

Research in her lab focuses testing a variety of compounds (peptides and small molecules) for antimicrobial activity. She is also the current director of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence grant awarded to the College’s science division in 2018.

Stevens-Truss earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry from the University of Toledo. She held two fellowships at the University of Michigan between 1993 and 1999, one of which was a lectureship in medicinal chemistry.


Blakely Tresca

Tresca, an assistant professor of chemistry, has been at K since 2018. He’s a supermolecular chemist with additional research interests in organic chemistry. He co-leads the College’s annual Kalamazoo American Chemical Society networking event, allowing students to discuss chemistry careers with industry professionals.

Tresca holds a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University, and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Oregon. He was a postdoctoral researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in the Molecular Foundry.

Amy Elman


Elman, a professor of political science, has taught a variety of courses within the political science, women’s studies and Jewish studies departments. During her tenure at K, she has also been a visiting professor at Haifa University in Israel, Harvard University, SUNY Potsdam, Middlebury College, Uppsala University in Sweden and New York University.

Elman has received two Fulbright grants, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a grant from the Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at Hebrew University. She has written three books: The European Union, Antisemitism and the Politics of Denial (2014); Sexual Equality in an Integrated Europe (2007); and Sexual Subordination and State Intervention: Comparing Sweden and the United States (1996). She also edited Sexual Politics and the European Union: The New Feminist Challenge (1996). She has a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from New York University.


Autumn Hostetter

Hostetter, a professor of psychology, has expertise in cognitive psychology—specifically, the psychology of language and spatial cognition. She has taught classes at K including Cognition, Experimental Research Methods, the Psychology of Language and Mind, and the first year seminar Harry Potter Goes to College.

She maintains an active research lab on campus exploring how we use our bodies to help us think and communicate. She provides many opportunities for Kalamazoo College students to participate in research, both as participants and as research assistants. Some recent publications have appeared in journals such as the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, Psychological Research, the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, Teaching of Psychology, and the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. Many of her publications feature Kalamazoo College students and alumni as co-authors. Hostetter earned a bachelor’s degree from Berry College and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Richard Koenig among endowed chairs

Richard Koenig

Koenig began teaching art and photography courses such as Digital Photography, Analog Photography, Alternative Photographic Processes and several seminars at K in 1998.

His fine art work, Photographic Prevarications, was shown in six one-person exhibits in as many years (from 2007 to 2012). Koenig’s long-term documentary project Contemporary Views Along the First Transcontinental Railroad spawned four articles (between 2014 and 2019). In 2020, Koenig collaborated with four others on a multi-media exhibit, Hoosier Lifelines: Environmental and Social Change Along the Monon, 1847-2020, which was shown this year at the Grunwald Gallery of Art at Indiana University and the Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Indiana.

Koenig received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute and his Master of Fine Arts from Indiana University.

JAWS Shreds Stereotypes, Spotlights Diverse Chemists

Daniela Arias-Rotondo of JAWS Chemistry Seminars
Kalamazoo College Assistant Professor of Chemistry Daniela Arias-Rotondo is challenging the stereotypical image that comes to mind when we picture a scientist by inviting undergraduates and postdocs to present their science in JAWS, a series of chemistry webinars spotlighting scientists from underrepresented groups.

When you hear it’s time for JAWS, don’t fear a shark attack. Instead, get ready for a chemistry seminar featuring Kalamazoo College Assistant Professor of Chemistry Daniela Arias-Rotondo, who is challenging the stereotypical image that comes to mind when we picture a scientist.

JAWS, or Just Another (Chemistry) Webinar Series, gives scientists from underrepresented groups a chance to be heard, and undergrads and postdocs a chance to share their work through easy-going conversations and publicity in a production quickly gaining recognition.

The project was started by Arias-Rotondo along with post docs Craig Fraser of Northwestern University, Madison Fletcher of New York University and Monica Gill of Carleton University. Its name would’ve been Just Another Chemistry Series, but the acronym JACS is well known as the Journal of the American Chemical Society. As a result, and to show a little humor, Arias-Rotondo and her fellow organizers chose JAWS.

“One day we might get a cease-and-desist letter from Steven Spielberg or someone,” Arias-Rotondo said. “We’ll figure out what name we give it at that point. But for now, who doesn’t like sharks?”

The point of JAWS, though, is down to earth as it enables early career chemists to build foundational presentation skills.

“As scientists, we always emphasize that it’s important to be able to communicate your ideas,” Arias-Rotondo said. “And one thing that we’ve always seen is that it’s hard as a postdoc or a graduate student—and even worse as an undergrad—to get the opportunity to present your science.”

Professors commonly receive invitations to give talks and attend conferences. They might also be the people in line for a Nobel Prize. Students, however, gain experience working with faculty yet their work gets little exposure. That’s something Arias-Rotondo wants to change.

“Even with the pandemic, we’ve still been doing talks, and giving people who don’t have a name for themselves yet an opportunity,” Arias-Rotondo said. “We’re particularly looking at those who, even under normal circumstances, maybe wouldn’t be as likely to present. A scientist doesn’t have to be the old white guy with crazy hair. Being able to invite these other people who don’t necessarily fit a mold to come in and talk about their science is so important in terms of really showing a broad spectrum of people that you can be a scientist, too.”

The show has built buzz for itself through a loyal following on its Twitter feed. It’s also drawn presenters from every continent except Antarctica and viewers from all over the world, including JACS Editor-in-Chief Erick Carreira, an organic chemist and professor at ETH Zürich.

“We saw the name among our attendees and we began texting back and forth while watching,” Arias-Rotondo said. “We were wondering if that was really him or somebody impersonating him because it was huge for us. It was a sign of how far we’d made it.”

Recent JAWS guests have included post docs from University of California, Vanderbilt University and National University of Singapore who have presented on topics ranging from radiation to molecular aggregation. The time for JAWS varies to accommodate presenters from a variety of time zones, but generally it’s scheduled at 11 a.m. or 8 p.m. Eastern on Tuesdays. Presentations are posted online for about a week. Ultimately, Arias-Rotondo hopes to measure the success of the program not only by the number of viewers or its website traffic, but by successful variations of representation and its impact on students including those at K.

“I hope that my students see that they can attend the seminars, they can present at the seminars, and that there is a welcoming community that wants them to be chemists,” she said. “I also want them to see me as someone who is not just teaching or doing research with them but also working to make science more available and more accessible for people.”

New Biochemistry Major Formulates Student Options

Biochemistry Professor Regina Stevens-Truss
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Regina Stevens-Truss says the new biochemistry major at Kalamazoo College will provide an in-demand major for prospective students while better preparing current students for graduate programs.

Prospective students interested in science-based careers will have another reason to choose Kalamazoo College this fall. That’s when the Chemistry Department will offer both a chemistry and a biochemistry major. The new biochemistry major will expand the information addressed through the interdepartmental concentration currently offered at the College.

Biochemists commonly work in private industries, pharmaceutical and government labs, and higher education to increase the world’s understanding of the biological processes fundamental to life. At an undergraduate level, this field of study provides a foundation for graduate-level studies and careers in the health sciences such as medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, pharmacology and toxicology. This new major will open up these opportunities for our students as they prepare for careers beyond K.

Whatever the career path a science student follows, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Regina Stevens-Truss said, “It’s our job to help them figure out what’s next for them after K, and a biochemistry major will help in that effort.

“Some students come to us thinking they know exactly what they want to do, but then they get here and discover biochemistry is fascinating,” Stevens-Truss said. “Those are the students I’m excited for most because this new major will offer us an opportunity to open up biochemistry for them. I’m excited for our students and I’m excited for our program.”

This major will require the core courses in chemistry (general, organic, analytical and physical chemistry), as well as the chemistry senior seminar course, Professional Development for Chemists. In addition, biochemistry majors will take interdisciplinary courses in biology, mathematics and physics, and either Cell and Molecular Biology or Biophysics, depending on their long-term goals and plans. The biggest benefit will come from the program adding three new biochemistry major-required courses to the chemistry department’s curriculum: a 300-level foundations of biochemistry course, a 400-level applications of metabolism course and a comprehensive research-style lab practicum.

“Up until now, chemistry majors interested in this field had been at a disadvantage in this area,” Stevens-Truss stated. “The biochemistry course currently required for the concentration (Chem 352) is a survey of biochemistry topics—there is just not enough time to immerse oneself into the subject. Important topics such as photosynthesis, cellular signaling and genetics, and gene cloning aren’t currently addressed in that course. We hope that students are exposed to those topics by taking the required biology courses needed for the current concentration.”

However, in going from K to a graduate or post-baccalaureate program or to a job, “students need to be able to think critically about the application of these topics to real-world issues, which the new major is poised to help them do” Stevens-Truss said.

Prospective students and families are encouraged to discuss their interests in the biochemistry major and the benefits of it further when they talk to Admission representatives and chemistry and biochemistry department faculty to get additional information and for seeking more opportunities.

“Everybody has probably heard that ‘chemistry is everywhere’, but we don’t always see it,” Stevens-Truss said. “This biochemistry major will give students opportunities to see it in everyday life. That’s the excitement. This is giving us opportunities to offer students coming to K a chance to say, ‘This stuff is really cool,’ because life is cool.”

Two Faculty Members Earn Tenure

Santiago Salinas, the Roger F. and Harriet G. Varney Assistant Professor of Biology, has earned tenure at Kalamazoo College.

Kalamazoo College faculty members Santiago Salinas and Dwight Williams, from the biology and chemistry departments respectively, have been awarded tenure, recognizing their excellence in teaching, scholarship and service to the College.

The honor signifies the College’s confidence in the contributions the professors will make throughout their careers. Their titles have been approved by the Board of Trustees and include promotion to associate professor.

Salinas, the Roger F. and Harriet G. Varney Assistant Professor of Biology, teaches classes such as vertebrate biology and human physiology. His research interests include his work in the K Fish Lab, where he and his student collaborators study the ways fish populations cope with changes in the environment. He was born in Argentina before attending the Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific, earning his bachelor’s degree from College of the Atlantic, and receiving a Ph.D. from the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University.

Salinas then was a post-doc at the University of California-Santa Cruz and the Southwest Fisheries Science Center and was a visiting assistant professor at the University of the Pacific.

Dwight Williams Earns Tenure
Dwight Williams, the Roger F. and Harriet G. Varney Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has earned tenure at Kalamazoo College.

Williams, the Roger F. and Harriet G. Varney Assistant Professor of Chemistry, teaches classes such as organic chemistry at K. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Coastal Carolina University in 2001 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007 while researching immunosensor design.

Williams spent a year as a lecturer at Longwood University before becoming an assistant professor at Lynchburg College. At Lynchburg, he found a passion for the synthesis and structural characterization of natural products as potential neuroprotectants.

Williams learned more about those subjects after accepting a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral research fellowship at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College of Virginia Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. During that fellowship, he worked in medicinal chemistry and pharmacology, where his work was published in six peer-reviewed journals.

In 2019, Williams was awarded a Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching grant from The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and Course Hero.

Honors Convocation Lauds Students’ Achievements

Honors Day Convocation
Kalamazoo College recognized outstanding achievements by its students Friday with the annual Honors Day Convocation.

More than 250 students were recognized Friday during the annual Honors Day Convocation for excellence in academics and leadership. Students were recognized in six divisions: Fine Arts, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Social Sciences, and Physical Education. Recipients of prestigious scholarships were recognized, as were members of national honor societies and students who received special Kalamazoo College awards. Student athletes and teams who won Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association awards also were honored. The students receiving Honors Day awards or recognition are listed below. Watch the recorded event at our website.


Brian Gougeon Prize in Art

Awarded to a sophomore student who, during his or her first year, exhibited outstanding achievement and potential in art.

Elena Basso
Nicole Taylor
Camryn Zdziarski-West

Margaret Upton Prize in Music

Provided by the Women’s Council of Kalamazoo College and awarded each year to a student designated by the Music Department Faculty as having made significant achievement in music.

Katherine Miller-Purrenhage

Cooper Award

For a junior or senior showing excellence in a piece of creative work in a Theatre Arts class:  film, acting, design, stagecraft, puppetry or speech.

Jonathan Townley

Sherwood Prize

Given for the best oral presentation in a speech-oriented class.

Sedona Coleman
Cameo Green

Theatre Arts First-Year Student Award

Given to a sophomore for outstanding departmental efforts during the first year.

Milan Levy


LeGrand Copley Prize in French

Awarded to the sophomore who as a first-year student demonstrated the greatest achievement in French.

Tristan Fuller
Claire Kvande

Hardy Fuchs Award

Given for excellence in first-year German.

Ben Flotemersch
Elizabeth Wang

Margo Light Award

Given for excellence in second-or third-year German.

Ellie Lotterman
Noah Prentice

Romance Languages Department Prize in Spanish

Awarded for excellence in the first year in Spanish.

Emma Sidor
MiaFlora Tucci

Clara H. Buckley Prize for Excellence in Latin

Awarded to an outstanding student of the language of the ancient Romans.

Sydney Patton

Provost’s Prize in Classics

Awarded to that student who writes the best essay on a classical subject.

Jane Delmonico

Classics Department Prize in Greek

Awarded to the outstanding student of the language of classical Greece.

Nick Wilson


Allen Prize in English

Given for the best essay written by a member of the first-year class.

Shanon Brown

John B. Wickstrom Prize in History

Awarded for excellence in the first year’s work in history.

Helen Edwards
Sam Kendrick

Department of Philosophy Prize

Awarded for excellence in any year’s work in philosophy.

Julia Bienstock
Emma Fergusson
Luke Richert
Teague Tompkins

L.J. and Eva (“Gibbie”) Hemmes Memorial Prize in Philosophy

Awarded to a sophomore who in the first year shows the greatest promise for continuing studies in philosophy.

Garret Hanson
Clarice Ray
Mikayla Youngman


Department of Chemistry Prize

Awarded for excellence in the first year’s work in chemistry.

Abby Barnum
Marissa Dolorfino
Elizabeth Wang

First-Year Chemistry Award

Awarded to a sophomore student who, during  the first year, demonstrated great achievement in chemistry.

Thomas Buffin
Mallory Dolorfino
MiaFlora Tucci

Lemuel F. Smith Award

Given to a student majoring in chemistry pursuing the American Chemical Society approved curriculum and having at the end of the junior year the highest average standing in courses taken in chemistry, physics and mathematics.

Jennalise Ellis

Computer Science Prize

Awarded for excellence in the first year’s work in computer science.

Eleanor Carr
Vien Hang
Aleksandr Molchagin
Erin Murphy
William Shaw
Hanis Sommerville

First-Year Mathematics Award

Given annually to the sophomore student who, during the first year, demonstrated the greatest achievement in mathematics.

Tolkien Bagchi

Thomas O. Walton Prize in Mathematics

Awarded to a member of the junior class for excellence in the work of the first two years in mathematics.

Joseph Jung
Tommy Saxton
Carter Wade

Cooper Prize in Physics

Given for excellence in the first year’s work in physics.

Oliver Tye
Blue Truong


Departmental Prize in Anthropology and Sociology

Awarded for excellence during the first and/or second year’s work.

Milan Levy
Milagros Robelo
Aija Turner

Wallace Lawrence Prize in Economics

Awarded annually to a student who has done outstanding work in the Department of Economics and Business during the sophomore year.

Kayla Carlson
Mihail Naskovski
Emily Tenniswood

William G. Howard Memorial Prize

Awarded for excellence in any year’s work in economics.

Nicklas Klepser
Nathan Micallef
Sage Ringsmuth
Andrew Sheckell

Wallace Lawrence Prize in Business

Awarded annually to a student who has done outstanding work in the Department of Economics and Business during the sophomore year.

Lucas Kastran
Cade Thune
Alex Wallace

Irene and S. Kyle Morris Prize

Awarded for excellence in the first year’s courses in the Department of Economics and Business.

Zoe Gurney

William G. Howard Memorial Prize in Political Science

Awarded for excellence in any year’s work in political science.

Elisabeth Kuras

Department of Psychology First-Year Student Prize

Awarded for excellence in the first-year student’s work in psychology.

Violet Crampton
Sarah Densham


Division of Physical Education Prize

Awarded to those students who as first-year students best combined leadership and scholarship in promoting athletics, physical education and recreation.

Sam Ankley
Alexis Petty

Maggie Wardle Prize

Awarded to that sophomore woman whose activities at the College reflect the values that Maggie Wardle demonstrated in her own life. The recipient will show a breadth of involvement in the College through her commitment to athletics and to the social sciences and/or community service.

Camille Misra


Henry and Inez Brown Prize

Denise Jackson
Heather Muir
James Totten
Vanessa Vigier

Heyl Scholars (Class of 2024)

Lukas Bolton
Madeleine Coffman
Emily Haigh
Bijou Hoehle
Xavier Silva
Jordyn Wilson

Posse Scholars (Class of 2024)

Nicholas Davis
Nathan Garcia
Zy’ere Hollis
Tytiana Jones
Aaron Martinez
Udochi Okorie
Joshua Pamintuan
Anthony Peraza
Samantha Rodriguez
Rina Talaba

National Merit Scholars (Class of 2024)

Carter Wade

Voynovich Scholars
Awarded annually to a student who, in the judgment of the faculty, submits the most creative essay on the year’s topic.

Marina Bayma-Meyer
Yung Seo Lee

Alpha Lamda Delta

Alpha Lambda Delta is a national honor society that recognizes excellence in academic achievement during the first college year. To be eligible for membership, students must earn a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 and be in the top 20 percent of their class during the first year. The Kalamazoo College chapter was installed on March 5, 1942.

Jez Abella
Hashim Akhtar
Cameron Arens
Tolkien Bagchi
Elena Basso
Cassandra Bergen
Thomas Buffin
Natalie Call
John Carlson
Mary Margaret Cashman
Cassidy Chapman
Nicholas Cohee
Violet T. Crampton
Lauren Crossman
Sarah Densham
Charles Pasquale DiMagno
Mallory Dolorfino
Marissa Dolorfino
Katia Duoibes
Hannah Durant
Carter Eisenbach
Benjamin Flotemersch
Caelan Frazier
Nathaniel Harris Fuller
Tristan Fuller
Grace Garver
Zoe Gurney
Yoichi Haga
Vien Hang
Garrett Hanson
Lucy Hart
Katherine Haywood
Marshall Holley
Audrey Huizenga
Ian Becks Hurley
Jonathan Jiang
Emily Robin Kaneko Dudd
Benjamin Tyler Keith
Isabella Grace Kirchgessner
Sofia Rose Klein
Lena Thompson Klemm
Rhys Koellmann
Elisabeth Kuras
Caroline Lamb
Am Phuong Le
Dillon Lee
Ginamarie Lester
Milan Levy
Thomas Lichtenberg
Cassandra Linnertz
Alvaro J. Lopez Gutierrez
Kanase J. Matsuzaki
Camille Misra
Aleksandr V. Molchagin
Samantha Moss
Arein D. Motan
Matthew Mueller
Erin Murphy
Maya Nathwani
William Naviaux
Sudhanva Neti
Stefan Louis Nielsen
Keigo Nomura
Rohan Nuthalapati
Jenna Clare Paterob
Sheyla Yasmin Pichal
Harrison Poeszat
Noah Prentice
Isabelle G. Ragan
Abby L. Rawlings
Katherine Rock
Skyler Rogers
Gi Salvatierra
Hannia Queren Sanchez-Alvarado
Madeline Gehl Schroeder
William Shaw
Hanis Sommerville
Alex M Stolberg
Kaleb Sydloski
Clara Margaret Szakas
Claire Tallio
Nicole Taylor
Abhishek Thakur
Kaia Thomas
Blue Truong
Oliver Tye
Duurenbayar Ulziiduuren
Chilotam Christopher Urama
Elizabeth G. Wang
Margaret L. Wedge
Ryley Kay White
Katelyn Williams
Skai Williams
Leah Wolfgang
Camryn Zdziarski-West
Sophie Zhuang
Nathaniel Zona

Enlightened Leadership Awards

Robert Barnard
Irie Browne
Rebecca Chan
Nolan Devine
Daniel Fahle
Grace Hancock
Julia Leet
Lia Schroeder
Matthew Swarthout
Jonathan Townley
Ethan Tuck
Ian Yi

MIAA Award

These teams earned the 2019-2020 MIAA Team GPA Award for achieving a 3.3 or better grade-point average for the entire academic year:

Men’s Baseball
Women’s Basketball
Men’s Cross Country
Women’s Cross Country
Men’s Golf
Women’s Golf
Men’s Lacrosse
Women’s Lacrosse
Women’s Soccer
Women’s Softball
Women’s Swimming and Diving
Women’s Volleyball

MIAA Academic Honor Roll
Student Athletes 2019-2020

The Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association each year honors students at MIAA member colleges who achieve in the classroom and in athletic competition. Students need to be a letter winner in a varsity sport and maintain at least a 3.5 grade point average for the entire academic year.

Max Ambs
Georgie Andrews
Grant Anger
Hunter Angileri
Samuel Ankley
Julia Bachmann
Travis Barclay
Elena Basso
Lillian Baumann
Alex Bowden
Austin Bresnahan
Jack Brockhaus
Pierce Burke
Annika Canavero
Raekwon Castelow
Claire Cebelak
Walker Chung
Nicholas Cohee
Thomas Cook
Noah Coplan
Rachel Cornell
Chase Coselman
John Crane
Cameron Crothers
Gwendolyn Davis
Riley Davis
Emmelyn DeConinck
Robert Dennerll
Sarah Densham
Eva DeYoung
Mallory Dolorfino
Marissa Dolorfino
Amanda Dow
Austin Duff
Alex Dupree
Hannah Durant
Thomas Fales
Dugan Fife
Gwendolyn Flatland
Payton Fleming
Matthew Ford
Clifton Foster
Luke Fountain
Sierra Fraser
Rachael Gallap
Brendan Gausselin
Katie Gierlach
Anthony Giovanni
Madison Goodman
Mya Gough
Matthew Gu
Rebekah Halley
Grace Hancock
Laura Hanselman
Lucy Hart
Katherine Haywood
Zachary Heimbuch
Alyssa Heitkamp
Daniel Henry
McKenna Hepler
Sam Hoag
Mathew Holmes-Hackerd
Matthew Howrey
Tre Humes
Aidan Hurley
Amiee Hutton
Benjamin Hyndman
Samantha Jacobsen
Jonathan Jiang
Jaylin Jones
Jackson Jones
Amani Karim
Lucas Kastran
Maria Katrantzi
Greg Kearns
Ben Keith
Will Keller
Jackson Kelly
David Kent
Hannah Kerns
Meghan Killmaster
Dahwi Kim
Alaina Kirschman
Lena Klemm
Allison Klinger
Ella Knight
Nicholas Kraeuter
Brandon Kramer
Matthew Krinock
John Kunec
Nicholas Lang
Juanita Ledesma
Jack Leisenring
Kathryn LeVasseur
Marissa Lewinski
Rosella LoChirco
Rachel Madar
MacKenzy Maddock
Deven Mahanti
Lauren Marshall
Samuel Matthews
Courtney McGinnis
Dylan McGorsik
Keelin McManus
Benjamin Meschke
Tytus Metzler
Nathan Micallef
Camille Misra
DeShawn Moore
Dominic Moore
Maxo Moran
Samantha Moss
Elizabeth Munoz
Alexis Nesbitt
Nikoli Nickson
Madeline Odom
Abigail O’Keefe
Marianna Olson
Michael Orwin
Ella Palacios
Cayla Patterson
Hellen Pelak
Calder Pellerin
Scott Peters
Eve Petrie
Nicole Pierece
Noah Piercy
Jared Pittman
Harrison Poeszat
Zachary Prystash
Erin Radermacher
Harrison Ramsey
Zachary Ray
Jordan Reichenbach
Benjamin Reiter
Ashley Rill
Molly Roberts
Katherine Rock
Lily Rogowski
Isabelle Russo
Justin Schodowski
Michael Schwartz
Darby Scott
Andrew Sheckell
Josephine Sibley
Elizabeth Silber
Nathan Silverman
Jack Smith
Katherine Stewart
Abby Stewart
Grant Stille
Alexander Stockewell
Alex Stolberg
Hayden Strobel
Thomas Sylvester
Jacob Sypniewski
Clara Szakas
Nina Szalkiewicz
Jack Tagget
Leah Tardiff
Emily Tenniswood
Cade Thune
Kaytlyn Tidey
Mary Trimble
Matt Turton
Oliver Tye
Damian Valdes
Madison Vallan
Naomi Verne
Alex Wallace
Maija Weaver
Margaret Wedge
Tanner White
Megan Williams
Madalyn Winarski
Hannah Wolfe
Brandon Wright
Tony Yazbeck
Julie Zabik
Christian Zeitvogel
Sophie Zhuang

K Alumnus Pioneered Technology Behind COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 Testing Pioneer Lincoln McBride and Family
Lincoln McBride with his partner, Claire, and sons Max and Leo.

Kalamazoo College chemistry graduate Lincoln McBride ’80 has a pioneering connection to the fight against COVID-19: Working at Applied Biosystems Inc. (ABI) in the 1990s, he founded and led the technology program that commercialized real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a system to detect and quantify small amounts of genetic material with unparalleled speed sensitivity and accuracy. The latest generation of this technology is the worldwide workhorse and gold standard for COVID-19 testing at this critical moment of the pandemic. Dr. McBride talked with K about his time at the College and his work on this important technology.

Can you tell us about your K-Plan and your experience at K? 
Candidly, my only application went to K on a strong hunch I’d prefer a small school, not too far from home, and with a solid academic reputation. During freshman year, math was my intended major. Sophomore fall, I had the great fortune of taking organic chemistry with Professor Kurt Kaufman. He eventually hired me for two years to synthesize psoralen analogs to treat psoriasis. The key ingredient of my first synthesis was an abundance of cyanide dissolved in dimethyl sulfoxide! Apparently, Kurt didn’t believe in training wheels.

COVID-19 Testing Team
Lincoln McBride (far right in pink shirt) and his product team, surrounding the crate holding the first 7700 Sequence Detector prototype about to be shipped to Genentech-Roche in 1995.

Although math and science came easily to me, reading and writing were unnatural work. So, at Rochester (Michigan) High School I chose Spanish. My sophomore spring at K was spent in Madrid, and if allowed one “do over,” I’d choose two quarters abroad to lock in the language.

My senior individualized project (SIP) was in the analytical chemistry department of the Upjohn Company in downtown Kalamazoo under the supervision of Margaret (Peggy) Merritt. She and her staff were helpful and patient as I stumbled along trying to develop densitometry assays of phospholipids separated by thin layer chromatography. I considered my SIP a failure; however, in hindsight, it gave me a passion for analytical chemistry which aligned better with my affinity for math. This hands-on exposure led and enabled me to develop and commercialize revolutionary bio-analytical systems.

COVID-19 Testing Pioneer Lincoln McBride
Lincoln McBride in the lab at ABI.

Were there K faculty who were a major influence on your path to graduate school and your career path?

Although not totally unique, K’s intimate and informal culture between student and professor was my most immediately impactful ingredient. It began with the late T.J. Smith’s one-on-ones in his office after his linear algebra class. It remains my favorite class and subject of all time.

I’m overwhelmed with bittersweet emotion as I type about my relationship with the late Professor Kaufman. If someone tells you a teacher can totally change your life, know that it’s true. I marveled at his charismatic command of the largest and many would say K’s most notorious class in that era, organic chemistry. His every sentence expressed his zest for life. At the top of my midterm exam, he wrote, “I believe you have the soul of an organic chemist.” I was hooked.

After synthesis work in his lab, we’d play tennis, occasionally with dinner or drinks afterwards at the Kaufmans’. In my senior year, he indicated unexpectedly that he would award me with K’s Heyl Scholarship for a full ride at Yale, but before he did, he wanted to make sure I’d accept. Without much thought, I told him I was hesitant to live on the East Coast and wanted to go to California. He didn’t bat an eye. Shortly thereafter during the last conversation I ever had with him, he gave me two pieces of prophetic advice: The future and your future is in biochemistry and you must take at least one biochemistry class. Then, he apologized for having run out of time to teach chapter 36 of Morrison and Boyd, “Amino Acids and Proteins.” He flipped through its pages and singled out an exciting new synthetic technique of synthesizing polypeptides on a solid support.

Within weeks of Kaufman’s prophetic advice, he suffered a debilitating stroke, a tragedy that shocked and saddened me beyond words. Without his letter of recommendation, I’d eventually be rejected by both Berkeley and Caltech, yet I would land on the biochemistry floor at University of Colorado (CU). Almost miraculously, I chose Professor Marvin Caruthers as my thesis advisor; his group had just invented solid-supported DNA synthesis by the phosphoramidite approach, which would emerge as the most revolutionary enabling technology of the early 1980s for biotech research.

After you earned your doctorate in chemistry at University of Colorado, you eventually joined Applied Biosystems (ABI) in R&D. Tell us how you came to work on the technology now being used for COVID-19 testing?

Thanks to my foreign study experience, I had just enough courage to leave ABI’s R&D lab to be their international traveling scientific spokesman. During my short stint working for ABI’s vice president of marketing, I presented at the 1991 IBEX Conference in San Francisco, right before Russ Higuchi, the inventor of real-time PCR. After he revealed his invention, I introduced myself and stated that it would be a perfect instrument system for my company to commercialize. Russ was receptive, and I pitched this product line in front of the whole of ABI’s R&D and senior management at our annual “New Ideas Day.” ABI hadn’t commercialized a successful new product line in years and sorely needed one. The next week I was given the green light to investigate the technical and commercial feasibility of real-time PCR. The main obstacle was freedom to operate. So, in 1992, ABI merged with Perkin Elmer (PE) as their junior partner to acquire the key patent rights. I led the commercialization program of the 7700 Sequence Detector through its full release in 1997. This wildly successful product line thankfully thrives to this day, even outlasting PE-Applied Biosystems, which was acquired several times. Thermo Fisher Scientific currently owns the ABI brand.

How would you describe the technology and its lasting impact?

For readers seeking a technical description of how real-time PCR works, I recommend checking out the interview I did recently with University of Colorado. If you have further technology questions, I invite you to email me at Lincolnclaire2018@gmail.com.

As I noted in the interview with CU, 25 years after shipping our first prototype, my team and ABI as a whole can still be proud of the work we did. For a virus as a detection target, fluorescence, probe-based real-time PCR has proved to be the most sensitive and rapid way to measure its genetic material in a myriad of sample types.

Based on your own experience, what would you say makes a K education special? 

There are a few key dimensions to highlight that best answer this most important question. Let’s start with the powerful combination of diving hands-on deeply into a specialized discipline, alongside K’s broad liberal arts exposure to our world. I worry my sons’ engineering educations were too focused and insufficiently enriching for gracefully living in our too rapidly changing world. Even for engineers and scientists, my experience is that key innovations often emerge at the interfaces between disciplines.

K’s graduation requirement of rigorous proficiency in a second language certainly was unique in the United States in the 1970s, and profoundly shaped my life. My quarter in Madrid helped me peel back layers of that difficult onion called French. In 1990, I met my French partner Claire Pairaud, mother of my sons, Max, 25, and Leo, 21. French became vital during dinner time to know what my toddlers and Claire might be saying about me!

K’s broad curriculum with its international focus gave me the confidence, wisdom and nimbleness to navigate our rapidly changing world.

Where do you live now?

I’ve lived in Belmont, California, since 1985. My son Leo, an industrial engineering major at Cal Poly, returned home to live with us now that his university has converted to remote learning. Leo landed a summer job manufacturing Real-Time PCR COVID testing kits at Cepheid. He commutes to Sunnyvale at 5 a.m. every morning. It’s no surprise that he’s been instructed to work weekends to keep up with overwhelming demand. He can be proud of his contribution to helping end this horrible world war against the virus.

How do you stay connected to K?

I belong to the Kalamazoo College Class of 1980 Facebook page. Until recently, I’d been actively reading and posting there. I’ve also taken summertime pilgrimages to Michigan to spend time with some of my dearest college friends, including Al Biland ’80, Jerome Kuhnlein ’80, Britt Lewis ’81 Dave Lewis ’82, Dave Op’t Holt ’80, and Barry Owens ’84. My 2021 goal is to drag Paul Lugthart ’80 and Jon Starr ’82 along.

Pandemic Strikes with Students Far from Home

Pandemic in China
Daniel Mota-Villegas ’21 (in the hooded sweatshirt) visited the Forbidden City during his study abroad experience in China. Mota-Villegas returned to Kalamazoo earlier than he expected to amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Others in the picture include Nick Gorman, Max Caplan, Ryanna Chouman, K student Denise Jackson, Ronnie Rodriquez, K student Sage Ringsmuth and K student Kaylee Henderson.

When Kalamazoo College students began their international immersion experiences this academic year, the Center for International Programs (CIP) didn’t expect a global pandemic to change anyone’s plans. Regardless, a once-in-a-century historical challenge emerged.

“This is my first worldwide phenomenon,” said CIP Executive Director Margaret Wiedenhoeft in discussing COVID-19, an illness that has infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. “Most of what we’ve worked with in the past has been country or region specific. This is the first time we had multiple programs shut down at once.”

As the seriousness of the pandemic took shape, K was lucky. No students were sickened abroad and no immersion itineraries were cut unreasonably short as they were halted. On K’s campus, international students affected by travel bans were provided residence hall rooms, even as the College took steps to empty campus and implement social-distancing guidelines.

Still, students who visited countries such as China, Germany and Spain, and international students who remained in Kalamazoo, have stories to tell. And if you’ve wondered how the pandemic has affected them in their travels, keep reading.

Maya Hernandez in China
Maya Hernandez ’21 was among four Kalamazoo College students in Beijing when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Days of Uncertainty in Beijing

Maya Hernandez ’21 and Daniel Mota-Villegas ’21 were among four K students studying at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China, this winter. Before coronavirus emerged, “Honestly it was amazing,” said Hernandez, an East Asian studies major. “Everything was super affordable. It was fun to go out and explore the capital.”

In late January, their sixth month of a planned nine-month immersion, that began to change as word developed of coronavirus, and its presence in Wuhan.

“I figured it was like the flu,” Hernandez said. “But within the span of a week and a half, concern increased.”

Although Wuhan is more than 700 miles from Beijing, professors in the capital were warning students not to visit enclosed and crowded public spaces, traffic was dying down, and fewer children were playing outside. Masks were commonly seen from the start because of pollution in the city, yet they were becoming more prevalent. Hotels and beaches even began to close, forcing Mota-Villegas and Hernandez to cancel plans to visit another city.

“After that there were check points around the school,” said Mota-Villegas, a political science major studying U.S.-China relations and how they affect Taiwan. “They closed the school’s gates and there were security guards around. We couldn’t leave campus without direct permission.”

Fear emerged without reliable, consistent communication through tools such as the Internet, which is problematic in China, and with a 12-hour time difference from Kalamazoo hindering communication with the College. Should they go home and risk not returning? Should they make logistical preparations such as closing their bank accounts? Should they stay and risk not being able to leave with travel restrictions developing around the world?

Meanwhile, in Kalamazoo, the CIP was monitoring the U.S. Department of State guidelines, which had yet to focus on Bejing. Partner organizations in China—which had not yet cancelled programs in other parts of the country—sent updates, and CIP was gathering additional information from other U.S. institutions that had students in China. The situation was fast-moving and fluid. Finally, Capital Normal cancelled its global programs for the next term on Jan. 31, leading to a phone call to students from the CIP. It was a call telling the K students that CIP was bringing them home.

“Once we heard we were going home, that was the best feeling in the world,” Mota-Villegas said. “We needed that phone call. It made me realize again that K would take care of us. We felt supported again and we celebrated.”

Downtown Erlangen Germany During Pandemic
Jennalise Ellis ’21 was studying abroad in Erlangen, Germany, when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Similar Tales of Two Cities in Europe

Although news was spreading of the coronavirus in Europe, two K students who were there until March said they initially weren’t worried about it, and they were surprised to come home.

In Badajoz, Spain, Nick Stein ’21 was studying at the Extremadura University in January. Several of his K peers were leaving after attending their program for its scheduled six months. Stein, though, was planning to stay an additional term.

“I first heard about coronavirus as everyone else was leaving,” he said. “Life was pretty normal until maybe March 10.”

Stein had been attending classes and teaching English when he made a trip to an art festival in Madrid. It was about that time when people started cancelling trips and there was talk of Extremadura University calling off its term.

Then, the president of Spain said the country would close borders and restrict travel.

“The CIP was good about saying, ‘You can stay or you can come home,’” Stein said. “They were always good about letting me make the decision. But when the president said there would be action, I knew that was my time to leave. In three hours, I had found a flight. I got on a train to Madrid and slept at the airport on my way home.”

Coming back so suddenly was the only thing he would change about his experience.

“It was surreal in a certain sense,” Stein said. “It’s difficult to come back when you’re speaking a different language for a while. It felt like living in a dream for two months. I was teaching English to families and making relationships when I suddenly had to return. It was a surprise.”

A similar story developed in Erlangen, Germany, for Jennalise Ellis ’21.

Ellis is a chemistry and German double major at K. When she attended Friedrich-Alexander University in Germany, she took mostly German-language courses, but blended her majors by taking a didactic chemistry course and working as an assistant in an organic chemistry lab. She was planning on staying three more months when President Trump planned a travel ban from Europe into the U.S., and countries neighboring Germany began closing their borders.

“I was shocked when I found out that I was actually going to have to move back to the U.S., because I was hopeful that the severity of the pandemic would subside by the start of the summer semester in mid-April,” she said. “I was also sad that I had to say goodbye to people and the city I got to know so well. The hardest part was that I didn’t have time to mentally prepare to leave Erlangen.”

It was an experience that has left her longing to go back some day.

“I definitely want to return,” Ellis said. “I am considering going to graduate school in Germany.”

An International Student Stays

When K students received the notification about distance learning this term, Xiu Cai ’20, an international student from China, was concerned. In addition to feeling frustrated with missing the spring events of her senior year, she worried that the travel restrictions, combined with the residence halls closing, would leave her homeless. Fortunately, the CIP was there to help.

“We received some emails that said people from China and certain places in Europe would not have to leave because of the travel bans,” Cai said. “When I talked with CIP, they emphasized those emails guaranteed me a place. They were supportive and helpful. I’ve appreciated everything they do.”

Since, Cai has attended distance learning courses from her residence hall, eaten meals at the Hicks Student Center, appreciated Mail Center services and exercised by walking through campus. She also is grateful for her professors who gave support, Dining Services who provided her with meals, and the Student Health Center, which provided masks when she need them.

“I feel like being here now is a special experience, for me at least,” she said. “Not everyone would have a chance to experience the same thing in their lives. I’m grateful to the school for allowing me to stay here.”

Still at hand, however, is the issue of getting home after graduation. Cai has tried five times to schedule flights home for June after the Conferral of Degrees ceremony, and all five flights have been cancelled. As of now, she’s uncertain when she will go home and see her family.

“I video chat with family almost every day,” Cai said. When coronavirus emerged, “I was spending all my time worrying about my family. Now, they’re worried about me.”

Regardless, Cai said this experience, if anything, is only encouraging her to travel more.

“The coronavirus, to me, is random,” she said. “You never know what will happen in the next second in life. If you have the chance, go wherever you want.”

Moving forward

Moving forward, students who want to study abroad may need to consider what the “new normal” may be as the pandemic runs its course.

“I would think about what my expectations for travel might be and how we meet our new reality,” Wiedenhoeft said. “I know many of our students who go to Europe, for example, love to travel. What would it mean if you’re in Spain and can’t go to France? That means you can still get to know different regions of Spain very well. You can go to art museums. You can find something that is interesting to you, and be flexible enough to achieve it.”

Wiedenhoeft also is encouraging optimism that student immersion opportunities will stay an important part of the K-Plan.

“There are certain regions of the world that will recover first,” she said. “We need to do what we can to maximize opportunities in those regions. The relationships we have with our partners will be very important in those plans. I think our relationships will be stronger because we’ve been in frequent contact.”

In addition, “We want to encourage folks not to be disheartened,” she said. “We genuinely believe we will engage with the world again and that they will engage with us. It will take time, but it will not be like this forever.”

Day of Light Helps Spotlight Laser Lab, K Professor

With Kalamazoo College’s motto being Lux Esto, or Be Light, it makes sense that the International Day of Light, celebrated each year on May 16, is significant for some in the K community.

Day of Light Laser Lab
The International Day of Light, every May 16, helps Kalamazoo College spotlight Kurt D. Kaufman Professor of Chemistry Jeff Bartz and the College’s laser lab, which has supported dozens of students in their Senior Individualized Projects.

The date marks the anniversary of the first successful operation of a laser in 1960 by physicist and engineer Theodore Maiman, and calls on the general population to support scientific partnerships and their potential to foster peace and sustainable development.

Organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Day of Light recognizes the role light plays in science, culture, art, education and sustainable development, within professional fields as diverse as medicine, communications and energy. The broad theme allows many sectors of society to participate in activities that show how technology and culture can help achieve education, equality and peace.

On such a day, it feels natural for K to spotlight Kurt D. Kaufman Professor of Chemistry Jeff Bartz, a physical chemist, who guides the research performed by students at K’s laser lab, an uncommon research tool at liberal arts colleges and institutions of K’s size. Lasers play common roles in everyday life such as in supermarket barcode scanners, laser surgeries, and industrial cutting and fabrication. But Bartz and his students test theories in photodissociation, the branch of chemistry concerned with the chemical effects of light. Such research is fundamental in examining how molecules hold together or fall apart in Earth’s atmosphere.

Founded at K in 2001 with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the laser lab has supported dozens of students in their Senior Individualized Projects. Recently, students in the laser lab have researched the photochemistry of nitrous acid, an important source of hydroxyl radicals in the atmosphere. The presence of hydroxyl radicals affects the concentrations and distribution of greenhouse gases and pollutants in the atmosphere. When light dissociates nitrous acid, the products are the hydroxyl radical, symbolized with OH, and nitric oxide, symbolized with NO.

“Usually, people performing research will pick one to study [OH or NO] and try to infer what the other product is doing,” Bartz said. “But our lab now has the technology to have one student studying one product [OH or NO] and one student studying the other. We plan to have a full picture by studying both products directly. So this is a nice opportunity for our students. We always try to do something no one else has been doing, but we’re jumping out a little farther with this research.”

When asked what the greatest thing to come out of the laser lab has been, Bartz didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“That’s the students,” he said. “They’ve gone on to do some amazing things. Because of their work, the College is able to receive money from organizations like the NSF. These grants mean students can present their research at regional and national meetings, and I’ve been invited to give talks around the country. That’s a result of their hard work.”

Faculty, Staff Prepare for Distance Learning

Distance Learning
Math Professor Rick Barth is preparing for a spring term of distance learning through his home work station.

A social media meme circulating of the late children’s TV star Mr. Rogers is reminding people to “look for the helpers” in a crisis. When that crisis is COVID-19, which has forced Kalamazoo College to switch from in-person to distance learning this spring, those helpers for students are K faculty and staff.

Distance learning, defined as cooperative educational experiences between people physically separated, is uncharted territory at most liberal arts institutions. That includes K, which prides itself on face-to-face interactions between students and faculty, and personalized experiences. Yet while students adjust, optimistic and dedicated faculty are ensuring that learning opportunities will proceed smoothly when the term starts in April.

Regardless of a student’s need—whether it’s technology access, academic requirements, concern over tutoring and office hours, or something unexpected—faculty want students to know their professors are eager to provide support and direction, and ensure a breadth of educational experiences true to the liberal arts.

Jeff Bartz, K’s Kurt D. Kaufman Professor of Chemistry, said he and his colleagues are communicating regularly with tools such as Slack, an instant messaging app, while reaching out to students through email and social media. One recent tweet that included a picture of chemistry faculty dressed as Alice in Wonderland characters for a costume contest said: “Hey, Kalamazoo College chemists. This group may be a bunch of characters, but we’ll help you get through this.”

Bartz is designing a physical chemistry course in two-week modules that will address topics such as climate change, the hole in the ozone layer, and energy and fuel efficiency.

“The hard part for a chemist is that laboratory work is a big part of what we do,” Bartz said. “We’ve considered doing laboratories here and pushing out the data to students. We might set up students for experiments where they already have the material at home, or send them the material they need through the mail. I think my colleagues are doing a really good job figuring out those things.

Assistant Professor Kathryn Sederberg said the creativity ongoing in the Chemistry Department is also common in the German Department. She regularly teaches courses from first-year seminars and beginning German to intermediate German and contemporary German culture.

“We’re thinking, for example, that students might pair up and have video chats in German using the apps they already use to communicate with distant family and friends,” Sederberg said. “We will also rely on the platforms we have been using for years as a complement to classroom work, like discussion boards.”

Sederberg also is drawing inspiration from faculty at other colleges and universities.

“We are reading and sharing articles about best practices for quickly transforming courses into online formats,” Sederberg said. “Distance learning won’t replace the face-to-face instruction we do so well at K, and part of what makes our program so strong is the work students do with each other on campus. However, this pandemic is an unprecedented global crisis, and we will get through it together. And we will really celebrate when we’re back together on campus in Kalamazoo!”

The move to distance learning in many courses will benefit from pedagogical innovations a number of K instructors have been moving toward in recent years, such as those of Math Professor Rick Barth.

“My spring course is a statistics course that has, over the last decade, been redeveloped with lots of digital content and remote learning, sometimes referred to as a flipped classroom,” Barth said.

However, as the Assistant Provost for Teaching, Learning and Assessment, Barth is aware students are concerned about whether they will receive the same peer tutoring that they would in person. But Math Department Student Advisor Maddie Ward and Math-Physics Center (MPC) Peer Instructor Ben Behrens will continue serving other students.

“All the consultants know how many people depend on the MPC for help in their classes, and we will do whatever we can to help everyone with online learning,” Behrens said.

“Our big task is to imagine how we’ll each pivot to bring our accumulated experience to help students learn without face-to-face classes for a time,” Barth said. “In my view, this may well be the singular defining challenge of our careers as teachers. During this time, I’m glad to be at K with wonderful and supportive faculty colleagues. It brings me great optimism to imagine this special group of scholars and teachers bringing our best to this challenging new task.”

Students and faculty will also be supported by Information Services staff such as Education Technology Specialist Josh Moon. Moon helps faculty integrate tools such as Microsoft Teams, a virtual space for chats, audio calls and video calls, and Moodle, an online classroom environment, into learning plans.

“I have a strong hunch that weeks three through five [of the term] will be much easier for everyone than maybe the first two” in the term, Moon said. “However, students will probably find that this helps them develop communication skills that will benefit them in their careers.”

All three professors said the key for students will be maintaining individual communication through tools such as email, and being patient with each other and faculty and staff this term.

“This is a spring of gracious living,” Bartz said. “But it could be an opportunity for us as faculty to connect with students even better than when they’re so busy with all the things they’re normally doing on campus. It’s going to require more time on my end than normal, but it’s because I care a lot about the education of my students.”

K Students Inspire Girls to Explore STEM Through Sisters in Science

Sisters in Science
Through Sisters in Science, Kalamazoo College students use hands-on lessons, experiments and field trips, such as this field trip to the Lillian Anderson Arboretum, to encourage Northglade Montessori fourth- and fifth-graders to learn about science.

When the world celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Feb. 11, a Kalamazoo College student organization will be doing what it can to inspire local fourth- and fifth-graders.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, K’s Sisters in Science (SIS) visits Northglade Montessori Magnet School to encourage girls to seek an education and career in the sciences. The visits, coordinated through Kalamazoo Communities in Schools, involve hands-on lessons, experiments and field trips that nurture interest in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). This allows SIS members to serve as role models, and local youths to grow their dreams of future achievements.

“We want to provide these girls with an influential woman in their lives,” said Marjorie Wolfe ’20, a SIS member and chemistry major from Kalamazoo. “A lot of them don’t come from backgrounds where a career in science seems accessible. We’re showing these girls they can go to college, do research and become doctors, engineers and more. We serve as sisters, mentors and examples of what they can become.”

According to the United Nations, less than 30 percent of scientific researchers in the world are women and only about 30 percent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. Female representation is especially low professionally in information and communication technology at 3 percent; natural science, mathematics and statistics at 5 percent; and engineering at 8 percent.

To reverse these trends, the U.N. General Assembly established the International Day of Women and Girls in Science to celebrate women scientists and build equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. About 40 SIS members, including Karina Aguilar ’22, a biology and Spanish double major from Albuquerque, New Mexico, are doing their part to bolster that effort.

“Last year, in between two labs, I would go to Sisters in Science and do a nice, fun thing before I had to do something serious for four hours,” Aguilar said. “When you’re a student, it’s easy to be wrapped up in what’s happening on campus — we call it the K bubble. This helps us break that bubble, serve the community and be a mentor. It gives us a portal to the community.”

Aguilar hopes SIS experiments this year will include a lesson in making ice cream, although her favorite experiment to date involved a bridge-building contest that her little sister won. Such experiments, Wolfe said, help the fourth- and fifth-graders understand the scientific process and get them excited to be in school. Aguilar and Wolfe agreed the age group is critical in recruiting girls in science because they’re starting to learn what interests them most in school and they have yet to decide what classes to pursue for themselves.

“Initially, the first few times we’re at the school, we’re just trying to show we’re friendly and gain their respect,” Wolfe said. “That can go a long way for these girls. Eventually, we help them fill out worksheets that teach them what a hypothesis is. Before you know it, we’re working on an experiment and they say, ‘Oh! I know what the hypothesis will be!’”

When asked what she would do if she one day saw that one of her little sisters achieved a scientific breakthrough, Wolfe said, “The cool part would be knowing they stuck with science and believed in themselves; that they didn’t listen to someone who told them they couldn’t do it.”

Aguilar said, “I’d probably cry. Maybe it wasn’t from me specifically, but I’d love knowing that they developed that drive to be scientists. It would be amazing to see these girls who aren’t necessarily pushed to go to college make a career for themselves in science.”

“SIS was created for exactly what Aguilar and Wolfe have stated – to give young girls the knowledge that they can do science” stated Stevens-Truss, who envisioned the group in 2001.