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.”

K Professor Wants More Diversity in Victorian Studies

Ryan Fong Victorian Studies
Associate Professor of English Ryan Fong is one of four scholars from around the country who founded Undisciplining the Victorian Classroom, a digital humanities project that reimagines how to teach Victorian studies with a positive, race-conscious lens.

A Kalamazoo College English faculty member has helped develop a project that ensures his field will be inclusive and engaging with scholars from underrepresented groups.

Associate Professor of English Ryan Fong is one of four scholars from around the country who founded Undisciplining the Victorian Classroom, a digital humanities project that reimagines how to teach Victorian studies with a positive, race-conscious lens. The title was inspired by a recent essay by Ronjaunee Chatterjee, Alicia Mireles Christoff and Amy R. Wong in the Los Angeles Review of Books, titled “Undisciplining Victorian Studies,” which itself borrowed from York University Professor of English literature and Black studies Christina Sharpe’s call for scholars to “become undisciplined” as a way to undo racist theories and the limited, predominantly white scopes that scholars have inherited.

“The three other founders and I wanted to create a set of resources for how to bring this work into the classroom to infuse our teaching,” Fong said. “The website developed as a result of those conversations, and we collaborated with one another to build the site and involved other scholars from around the world to create our first batch of teaching materials.”

In addition to Fong, the founding developers are Pearl Chaozon Bauer, an associate professor of English at Notre Dame de Namur University; Sophia Hsu, an assistant professor of English at Lehman College, CUNY; and Adrian S. Wisnicki, an associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The K community can take pride in the team’s project because many of the lesson plans featured on the website draw on those that Fong first developed in his classroom through his own pedagogy. Take, for example, the lessons regarding the work of Mary Seacole, a British-Jamaican nurse, healer and businesswoman who set up the “British Hotel” during the Crimean War. Seacole hoped to assist with nursing the war’s wounded but was turned away when she applied to be in the nursing contingent. Instead, she traveled independently and set up her own “hotel” for tending to the wounded, making her popular with service personnel, who raised money for her as she faced extreme poverty after the war.

“A lot of what we’ve been doing in the project is creating resources to help instructors teach materials like Mary Seacole’s,” Fong said. “She wrote an important travelogue and memoir about her experiences, and the teaching materials on the site will help teachers contextualize this work and teach it alongside people that we already know and love like Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte. We’re hoping that we’re giving scholars tools to incorporate new materials into their classes or perhaps even conceive and remake whole new classes.”

In addition to lesson plans and syllabi that involve writers such as Seacole, the Undisciplining the Victorian Classroom website provides Zoom-based broadcasts with recorded conversations, featuring professors to further promote a diverse base of historical writers.

“We’re recording conversations with colleagues about what we do in our classrooms,” Fong said. “It gives us a chance to share how we teach and how we can expand the materials and approaches that we have typically used. Hosting these has given me a lot of opportunities to share what I’ve developed at K. Bringing the expertise that I’ve been able to gain into these conversations with teacher scholars around the country and around the world has been really exciting.”

In the short term, Fong said the site’s success will be evaluated through the number of people visiting the website. Yet ultimately, the hope is to get experts and scholars throughout higher education excited to collaborate with the project while empowering everyone who does the work of teaching literature in colleges and universities—from graduate students to adjunct faculty and tenured professors.

“Around the world, we’re all really working toward these goals of social justice, anti-racism, and diversity, inclusion and equity,” Fong said. “If we’re working in alignment with those principles and we’re doing it thoughtfully as scholars, then I feel like that we have the potential to make an impact not just in higher ed, but all over.”

Conductors Fight Social Injustice with ‘Awake, Arise!’

Awake, Arise production fights injustice
A team of composers including Kalamazoo College Assistant Professor of Music Chris Ludwa are targeting social injustice and racial inequities with “Awake, Arise!”

Based on a tune originally written during the plague, “Awake, Arise!” revitalizes a 500-year-old melody with the words of Black authors, activists and artists who breathe new life into the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. The result is a dramatic musical composition calling on audiences to acknowledge injustice and work together to change the world.

Bach’s cantata “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme” is a work that would be performed during Advent in preparation for the arrival of Christmas and the birth of Jesus. It premiered in 1731 in Leipzig, and is based on a hymn written by Philipp Nicolai in the wake of the plague in the 16th century. The original text encourages the preparation for Jesus’ arrival, encouraging us to “Wake up, as the voice calls to us.”

Like many ancient texts, the words of the original cantata refer to prophesies and promises of what is to come: a better life, salvation or freedom. As the world suffers massive death and despair from a pandemic in 2020 and 2021, stark inequities and injustice between people of different races which have always been present are so evident that they cannot nor should not be ignored, and must now be addressed by everyone.

“Just as Bach was known to reset his own music and that of others, it is time to breathe new life into this seminal work, giving it a voice that resounds the call to equity of 2000 years ago and of 60 years ago,” said Kalamazoo College Assistant Professor Chris Ludwa, one of the composers behind “Awake, Arise!”  “In reflecting on the countless Christmas hymns and songs that sing of a new day to come, our brothers and sisters of color have waited long enough.”

Ludwa collaborated with Everett McCorvey, a fellow voice professor from the University of Kentucky; and Rhea Olivaccé, a soprano soloist with an international career and a professor of voice at Western Michigan University; to use the words of Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, WEB DuBois, Martin Luther King Jr., Amanda Gorman, Valyn Turner and others in providing a response to these hymns and songs in a dialogue about the Black experience, in contrast to what it is perceived to be.

The result is a new arrangement of Bach’s immortal cantata, performed in English, implementing the language of hope from great authors and activists of color. This new work is presented with spoken word artists interspersed between movements, underscoring the urgency of texts we may have failed to read with clear eyes. The world premiere in March 2021 featured a 17-piece orchestra comprised of musicians of color from the United States and the United Kingdom, a diverse body of 20 singers and three internationally acclaimed soloists against the backdrop of the Lincoln Memorial and a multimedia display of visual artists of color.

The premiere of the filmed performance united Olivaccé, tenor Lawrence Brownlee and bass soloist Kyle Ketelsen, along with Concert Master Ilmar Gavilan, spoken-word artists, and a chorus and orchestra of diverse musicians that is now available on YouTube.

The goal is to make this new version of the cantata available to choirs of all kinds that they might become better allies against injustice, a particularly important aspiration given how dominant white culture is in the performing arts world.

“How often have people of color sung these spirituals praying for a fair shot, only to be answered with a gun shot,” Ludwa said. “How often have those of us who are white sung the lyrics of these familiar tunes, only to follow it by ignoring the message to ‘Wake up, and arise?’”

Watch the April 11 performance on YouTube, and contact Ludwa for more information about the musical composition at cludwa@kzoo.edu or 231-225-8877.

Current Events, Student Interest Prompt Growth in Community and Global Health

Community and Global Health Adjunct Britta Seifert
Britta Seifert ’12 is teaching the maternal, child and adolescent health course within the community and global health concentration as an adjunct faculty member this term. She has invited K alumni working in the field to speak to students interested in the concentration’s many career pathways.

Combine students who are enthusiastic about social justice, growing global and domestic disparities in health exacerbated by a pandemic, and alumni who care about making a difference, and the result is a notable uptick in interest this year in Kalamazoo College’s community and global health concentration.

Interest has grown from about 24 students in an average year to about 50 accepted to or requesting admittance, says Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement Director Alison Geist, M.P.H., who also directs the community and global health program. The concentration, which emphasizes health equity, prepares students to identify, investigate and articulate global and community health issues to think critically, and collaborate with others to address some of today’s most pressing challenges.

“In the last nine years or so we’ve gone through this tumultuous time in our country where there’s much broader awareness about issues such as racial disparities, police violence and climate change and they’re being recognized as threats,” said Britta Seifert ’12, who is teaching the maternal, child and adolescent health course within the concentration as an adjunct faculty member this term. “Social justice issues have been really visible and part of our national discussion. It’s a way that students can say, ‘I see these inequities in society, and I want to devote my career to addressing injustice.’ Public health is a tangible and important way that people can do that.”

Seifert was an anthropology and sociology major at K with a women’s studies concentration before community and global health was available as a full concentration to students. However, in her sophomore year, she took a public health class taught by Geist. That class studied infant mortality rates and health disparities in Kalamazoo through a service-learning project. Seifert then conducted a senior individualized project on infant-mortality rates in Calhoun County, Michigan.

“That class was an entry point for a lot of K people to public health,” Seifert said, while complimenting Geist’s influence on both alumni and current students. “It’s exciting for me to see that there’s now this whole concentration at K, and students get to explore it more deeply. It’s such a multi-disciplinary field that it’s a really great fit for a liberal arts college. There are a lot of different angles you can take toward a career in public health.”

After graduating from K, Seifert joined the Peace Corps, where she taught health education to high school students in Kyrgyzstan. In 2019, Seifert obtained a master’s degree in public health from Boston University and began working for Mathematica, an organization that analyzes data to develop pathways to progress for public- and private-sector influencers.

Seifert’s experience is benefiting students in her course, which addresses the social determinants of health, health equity and racial justice, while exploring topics in maternal, child and adolescent health. Seifert said the general field of maternal, child and adolescent health focuses on diverse health and social issues that affect parents, expectant parents, people of reproductive age and children. Such issues range from traditional topics such as breastfeeding and contraception to complex social issues such as violence, housing and immigration, and how they’re affected by racism and inequality.

As the instructor, Seifert has called on several K alumni to serve as guest speakers in her class this term including Hannah Reischl ’12, a senior business process consultant in strategy design and implementation for Kaiser Permanente; Mark Ebell ’83, a professor at the University of Georgia; Allyson Howe ’12, a youth programs senior specialist at the University of Colorado; Amy Houtrow ’96, a professor and endowed chair for pediatric rehabilitation medicine in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and Ramya Dronamraju ’16, a public health expert at Vital Voices Global Partnership.

“One of my goals with the class is to show students the different careers in public health and I’m trying to bring in people who do very different types of work in the field, both in terms of the issues that they work on, and the type of work they do so,” Seifert said. “I have some clinicians, researchers, community organizers, program implementers, people who work in the government and people who work for nonprofits.”

Most of the students in Seifert’s class are juniors and seniors. She said a few of them would like to become physicians. One is a pre-law student. Others have been accepted to public health master’s programs to start next year or say they would like to apply to such programs in the future. Some have yet to figure out what path they would like to pursue after college. Regardless, there is room for all of them to find careers they love in the field, making the concentration’s growth even more satisfying.

“We need data science people in public health,” Seifert said. “We need clinicians, social workers, lawyers, researchers, epidemiologists and biologists. It’s such a diverse field in terms of career paths, and all the different types of people who work together on public health. It’s a growing field with a lot of opportunity, and I think it’s a great career path.”

Founders Day Honors Three, Marks College’s 188th Year

Founders Day Lux Esto Recipient Kiran Cunningham
Kalamazoo College announced Friday during Founders Day events that Professor of Anthropology Kiran Cunningham is this year’s recipient of the Lux Esto Award of Excellence.

Professor of Anthropology Kiran Cunningham ’83 is this year’s recipient of the Lux Esto Award of Excellence. The award, announced Friday to celebrate Founders Day, marking the College’s 188th year, recognizes an employee who has served the institution for at least 26 years and has a record of stewardship and innovation.

The recipient—chosen by a committee with student, faculty and staff representatives—is an employee who exemplifies the spirit of Kalamazoo College through excellent leadership, selfless dedication and goodwill.

Cunningham has been a professor at K since 1992. She served as the chair of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology from 2008 to 2014 and was a faculty fellow at the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership from 2010 to 2012.

Outside of K, Cunningham was a Teagle Pedagogy Fellow for the Great Lakes Colleges Association in 2012 and a research associate in 2014 for the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment in 2014.

Cunningham “has encouraged numerous students to study abroad, has traveled internationally with students, and recently, with staff and two other faculty colleagues, developed programming for a brand new study abroad program,” Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez said in video remarks. “Her leadership has helped interdisciplinary curriculum within her department and played a pivotal role in building it into one of the most diverse academic departments on campus.”

In accordance with Founders Day traditions, two other employees also received individual awards. Professor of Mathematics Eric Nordmoe was given the Outstanding Advisor Award, and Director of Outdoor Programs Jory Horner was named the Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award honoree.

Nordmoe, the math department chair, began working at K in 1996 as an assistant professor. He was named an associate professor in 2004 before earning his current position in 2016. He teaches courses in statistics and mathematics, supervises senior individualized projects, engages in scholarly research, serves on faculty committee and provides statistical consultation to students and faculty.

As an advisor, Nordmoe “has reached out to alumni to inquire about potential job opportunities for his advisees and connected advisors with professional colleagues outside K to begin mentoring relationships for students,” Gonzalez said. “He’s quick to respond, and truly gets to know advisees.”

Horner leads the College’s LandSea program, an 18-day outdoor experience at Adirondack State Park in New York State, where first-year students make some of their first contacts with their incoming class. Before coming to K, he taught rock climbing, mountaineering and outdoor education for various organizations in Oregon and California. He also has certifications and trainings in wilderness EMT, physical and mental health first aid, and leave-no-trace best practices.

“Students are always the number one focus of his work, and his devotion helps him provide an excellent first-year experience for so many of them,” Gonzalez said. “With LandSea, he helps students develop the grit, resilience and confidence that they use to thrive during their first-year and beyond at K. He has served as an academic advisor for many first-year students, and he has advised the Kalamazoo Outing Club. He’s well-deserving of this award.”

Professor Joins Other Religion Scholars to Extol Research

Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada religion scholars Sacred Writes
Sacred Writes, a network of religion scholars committed to helping a broad global audience understand the significance of their work, has selected Kalamazoo College Assistant Professor of Religion Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada to be one of 24 scholars from around the world receiving a Public Scholarship on Religion for 2021.

When religion scholars share information about their research outside their academies, they help the general public understand matters of the sacred and the importance of religion and religious diversity in contemporary life.

Enter Kalamazoo College Assistant Professor Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada. Sacred Writes, a network of religion scholars committed to helping a broad global audience understand the significance of their work, has selected Maldonado-Estrada to be one of 24 scholars from around the world receiving a Public Scholarship on Religion for 2021.

With the scholarship, Maldonado-Estrada will receive a $1,000 stipend to participate in real-time collaborative sessions and multimedia training with other scholars from May 1 to August 31. Since 2018, similar cooperative work has helped 41 scholars of religion place 140 print, audio and video pieces with 52 media outlets including the Washington Post, PRI’s The World and CBS Religion since 2018.

“I am deeply committed to making my scholarship accessible and interesting to a broad array of readers,” Maldonado-Estrada said. “From writing about religion and tattoos to gender and gentrification, it excites me to tell stories about the ways religion is embedded in the everyday lives of individuals, communities, and cities. I am excited to be a part of a vibrant group of scholars, where we can hype each other up, learn new genres of writing, and craft and celebrate good work about religion.”

Sacred Writes also has chosen Maldonado-Estrada to write articles about architecture and sacred space, subjects important in her classes at K. The articles will appear in DigBoston, an alternative weekly newspaper.

“At K, I teach a class called Urban Religion where we learn how to be ethnographers and observers of space and social life,” she said. “Together we explore how religious communities shape the urban environment and how the city shapes the feel, look and experience of religion right back. I am so excited to write about architecture, development, and sacred space in this collaboration with DigBoston. These are the topics that really brought me to the study of religion back when I was an undergrad at a liberal arts college.”

In addition to Urban Religion, Maldonado-Estrada teaches classes at K on religion and masculinity, Catholics in the Americas and the religions of Latin America. She is an ethnographer, and her research focuses on material culture, contemporary Catholicism, and gender and embodiment.

Elsewhere, 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 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. She received her doctorate in religion from Princeton University and her bachelor’s degree in sociology and religion from Vassar College.

“I look forward to finding exciting ways to meld my teaching and research and to bringing what I learn from this partnership back to the classroom at K,” she said.

K Professor’s Book Earns High Rankings Abroad

K President Jorge G. Gonzalez applauds Professor Peter Erdi at Rankings Presentation
Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez applauded Henry R. Luce Professor of Complex Systems Studies Peter Erdi when Erdi presented his Lucasse Lecture in 2019, while giving a preview of his book, Ranking: The Hidden Rules of the Social Game We All Play.

If we compiled a list that ranks the coolest things Kalamazoo College faculty members have achieved as authors, Péter Érdi’s latest accomplishment would be on it.

Érdi, the Henry R. Luce Professor of Complex Systems Studies, wrote the 2019 book Ranking: The Hidden Rules of the Social Game We All Play. The book examines how and why humans rank certain aspects of our lives and how those rankings are viewed.

“We like to see who is stronger, richer, better and more clever,” Érdi said. “Since we humans love lists, are competitive and are jealous of other people, we like ranking. The book applies scientific theories to everyday experience by raising and answering such questions as ‘Are college ranking lists objective?’ ‘How do we rank and rate countries based on their fragility, level of corruption or even happiness?’ ‘How do we find the most relevant web pages?’ and ‘How are employees ranked?’”

The book has already been published in German and Chinese, both with simple and complex characters. Korean and Hungarian translations are in the pipeline. In Japan, however, Érdi’s book is creating the most buzz. Japanese officials have requested additional printings of the book and are negotiating the rights for an e-book.

Adding to that success is that Toyo Keizai, which is a weekly magazine about the Asian economy, and three large daily Japanese newspapers — Asahi, Nikkei and Youmiuri — have published reviews. Kalamazoo College Associate Professor of Japanese Noriko Sugimori notes that newspapers in Japan are extremely important to their society and it’s rare for all three papers to review the same book at the same time.

Youmiuri has a circulation just under 8 million, the largest in the world.

“Nowadays, accountability and transparency are emphasized, and society and companies tilt towards measurement and evaluation based on quantified index, including the use of ranking and pursuit of objectivity,” the Youmiuri review says, according to Sugimori’s translation. “This book touches on challenges of being objective consistently, but it does not deny the effectiveness of quantified index. The author advocates the rule of ‘trust, but carefully,’ and this is exactly the behavior pattern that is required in digital society.”

“Although it may contain something stupid, rankings are convenient in their own ways,” the Asahi review says. “Probably, we will cope with numerical estimations even more. Therefore, the author recommends that one should change the attitude of ‘not caring about evaluations.’ Whether you like it or not, evaluations are something one needs to self-manage. This book delineates such times and people who sustain the times.”

The Nikkei review states: “True rankings need to satisfy the following three requirements: Completeness, asymmetry and transitivity. Aside from a case such as the largest lake in the world, many actual rankings do not satisfy these requirements. Subjective standards intervene. There is a room to manipulate something to get the higher rankings. It is discernment that matters in handling with abundant rankings around them. Therefore, this book focuses on the rules of social games that are called rankings. This book showcases not only theories that are based on the rankings mentioned above, but also findings and discussions from human behaviors, cognition, social psychology, politics and computational neuroscience.”

Érdi has been a prolific researcher with more than 40 publications and two books published since joining Kalamazoo College. In that time, he has given more than 60 invited lectures across the world, and he received the 2018 Florence J. Lucasse Fellowship for Excellence in Scholarship, honoring his contributions in creative work, research and publication. He also has been the editor-in-chief of Cognitive Systems Research and served as a vice president of the International Neural Network Society.

“You can like it or not, but ranking is with us,” he said. “It is not a magic bullet that produces order out of chaos, but it is not the product of some random procedure. We are navigating between objectivity and subjectivity. It’s our very human nature to compare ourselves to others. The question is how to cope with the results of these comparisons. The reader will enjoy the intellectual adventure to understand our difficulties to navigate between objective and subjective and gets help to identify and modify her place in real and virtual communities by combining human and computational intelligence.”

Ranking: The Hidden Rules of the Social Game We All Play is available online through Oxford University Press.

Gift Will Create New Endowed Professorship in Computer Science

Judith and William Bollinger Endowed Professorship in Computer Science
Judith Bollinger ’77, a Kalamazoo College trustee, and her husband, William, are creating the Judith and William Bollinger Endowed Professorship in Computer Science with a generous gift to K.

A generous gift from a Kalamazoo College alumna and her spouse will support the institution’s students and its strategic plan, Advancing Kalamazoo College: A Strategic Vision for 2023, by funding the Judith and William Bollinger Endowed Professorship in Computer Science.

“We are deeply honored and grateful to the Bollingers for this wonderful gift,” Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez said. “This endowment will strengthen our Computer Science Department and invest in its faculty while empowering students to attain more of the skills that employers demand. It will benefit students and their achievements beyond their years at K.”

The computer science program at K has experienced a greater than tenfold increase in the number of majors in the past 10 years, and the department’s offerings are also in great demand from nonmajors. The increased interest from students makes the addition of an applied computer science faculty member a valuable and vital investment to ensure students access to the classes they want.

“In computer science, we put a really high priority on issues of access and equity, and we have for a long time,” Computer Science Chair Alyce Brady said. “That means one of the aspects that we’re really interested in—thanks to this endowment—is expanding our reach to address students beyond just the computer science majors. With an additional faculty member, we would hope to provide for more students and continue our focus on developing a curriculum that allows everyone to thrive.”

Provost Danette Ifert Johnson noted that the gift “represents the value of what we do at K and the fact that there are folks outside the institution who believe in what we do. That speaks not just to the kinds of experiences that our students have, but the real impact that our students make in the world as graduates.”

One of those graduates is Judith Bollinger ’77, a Kalamazoo College trustee. After graduating from K with a B.A. in English, she earned her MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania before working at Goldman Sachs for more than 13 years. In 1999, she joined ABG Securities as a research director and executed the company’s merger with Sundal Collier as its CEO in 2001. Bollinger was the board chair of ABG Sundal Collier, before serving as the chair of its foundation for Women in Finance beginning in 2019.

Her husband, William Bollinger, co-founded Egerton Capital Limited, a London-based asset-management firm in 1994 and remains a limited partner. He attended the University of Texas, earning a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in business administration.

In designating the gift, the Bollingers noted that the knowledge and skills gained by a computer science education are applicable and necessary in nearly every discipline, and that all students can benefit from the attainment of such skills, regardless of their area of study. Says the couple, “Most disciplines today—from medicine to finance—require robust computer science skills.  We hope that our gift equips many generations of K students with the computer skills they need to flourish in their chosen fields.”

Barclay Endowed Scholarship Honors Retired Professor

David Barclay Endowed Scholarship in History
Professor Emeritus David Barclay, who served Kalamazoo College for 43 years, devoted his professional life to teaching, researching, and writing on European history. Alumni, current and retired faculty and staff, and friends of the College are honoring Barclay and his time at the College by establishing the David E. Barclay Endowed Scholarship in History.

Alumni, current and retired faculty and staff, and friends of the College have established the David E. Barclay Endowed Scholarship in History to honor Professor Barclay and his 43 years at the College. Professors Emeriti David Strauss and John Wickstrom were the driving forces behind the fundraising initiative to create this scholarship.

“News of the new scholarship has humbled me more than I can possibly express,” said Barclay, who retired from K as the Margaret and Roger Scholten Professor of International Studies. “I owe an incalculable debt of gratitude to so many of you who have contributed to it, and especially to my dear friends and colleagues, David Strauss and John Wickstrom. “They — along with the late Edward Moritz — played central roles in developing K’s history curriculum, and were a daily inspiration to me as teachers, scholars, and human beings.”

Strauss and Wickstrom described the purpose of the scholarship as supporting K students who demonstrate exemplary capacity for and commitment to scholarly work in the history department. Their motivation for creating the Barclay Endowed Scholarship was to both signal K’s tradition of excellence in history by undergraduates—past, present and future—and also honor Barclay’s extraordinary career in an appropriate fashion.

Barclay devoted his professional life to teaching, researching, and writing on European history. As a scholar, he achieved national and international distinction for his work in modern German history. He shared his achievements in those fields with several generations of students while working tirelessly to expand the influence of the discipline of History at K.

Collaborating with colleagues at the College, Barclay wrote a successful proposal for the Center for Western European Studies, a Title VI Undergraduate Resource Center funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The award establishing the program was the only one made to a liberal arts college and was competitively renewed every three years for 15 years. Barclay also joined students on study abroad and served as a mentor, adviser and friend to countless alumni.

Barclay received the Weimer K. Hicks Award in 2018, which honors a current or retired K employee who has provided long-term support to College programs or activities beyond the call of duty.

To celebrate the establishment of this endowed scholarship in his name, Professor Barclay will be giving a virtual K-Talk on Tuesday, April 20, at 5 p.m. The K-Talk, “Germany’s American Outpost,” will explore the relationship between Berlin and the United States during the Cold War.

If you would like to support K history students and give in honor of Professor Barclay, please make a gift online to the David E. Barclay Endowed Scholarship in History or contact Andy Miller, Executive Director of Development, at 269.337.7327 or Andy.Miller@kzoo.edu.

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.”