Eugenia Cheng, Ph.D., the Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will address “Inclusion and Exclusion in Math” at 4:10 p.m. in Room 207 at Olds Upton Science Hall. This lecture, designed for math majors and faculty, will encourage less divisive conversations to explore why women are underrepresented in math.
“The Art of Logic,” part of the Jennifer Mills Lecture Series, will attempt to find the truth buried beneath sound bites, spin, memes, divisive arguments and “fake news” by teaching attendees to think like a mathematician to decipher what people are really saying. The lecture begins at 7 p.m. in Room 103 at Dewing Hall; it is free and open to the public.
Cheng’s work encompasses research in category theory, undergraduate teaching, authoring mathematics books for a general audience, public speaking, professional development for teachers, mathematical art and music. Cheng was an early pioneer of math on YouTube and her videos have been viewed around 15 million times to date. Her books, which will be available for purchase after the evening lecture, include:
Cheng earned tenure in pure mathematics at the University of Sheffield in England, where she now is an honorary fellow. She also has taught at Cambridge University, the University of Chicago and the University of Nice. She holds a Ph.D. in pure mathematics from Cambridge. Learn more about her at her website.
Jennifer Mills ’82 earned a degree in math and physics from K. After graduating, she worked a few years as a teacher in the physics laboratory at the General Motors Institute, now Kettering University, before beginning graduate work in physics at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. Shortly before her death in 1990, Mills created a fund at K to support public lectures in science and math by women or minority speakers. The lecture series each year brings experts in the natural sciences, math, computer science, history, philosophy or sociology to the College.
Kalamazoo College Family Weekend served as the backdrop for the Honors Day 2018 convocation. More than 250 students were recognized Friday, Nov. 2, for excellence in academics and leadership in six divisions: Fine Arts, Foreign Languages, 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.
FINE ARTS DIVISION
The Brian Gougeon Prize in Art
The Margaret Upton Prize in Music
Theatre Arts First-Year Student Award
FOREIGN LANGUAGES DIVISION
LeGrand Copley Prize in French
Hardy Fuchs Award
Margo Light Award
Romance Languages Department Prize in Spanish
Clara H. Buckley Prize for Excellence in Latin
Zhi Nee Wee
Provost’s Prize in Classics
O.M. Allen Prize in English Avani Ashtekar
John B. Wickstrom Prize in History
Department of Philosophy Prize
L.J. and Eva (“Gibbie”) Hemmes Memorial Prize in Philosophy
NATURAL SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS DIVISION
Winifred Peake Jones Prize in Biology Alexa Dulmage
Department of Chemistry Prize
First-Year Chemistry Award
Lemuel F. Smith Award
Computer Science Prize
First-Year Mathematics Award Samuel Ratliff
Thomas O. Walton Prize in Mathematics
Cooper Prize in Physics
SOCIAL SCIENCES DIVISION
Departmental Prize in Anthropology and Sociology
Marcos Ferguson Morales
Wallace Lawrence Prize in Economics
William G. Howard Memorial Prize
Wallace Lawrence Prize in Business
Irene and S. Kyle Morris Prize
William G. Howard Memorial Prize in Political Science
Department of Psychology First-Year Student Prize
PHYSICAL EDUCATION DIVISION
Division of Physical Education Prize
Maggie Wardle Prize
Gordon Beaumont Memorial Award
Henry and Inez Brown Prize
Virginia Hinkelman Memorial Award
Heyl Scholars – Class of 2022
Posse Scholars – Class of 2022
National Merit Scholar – Class of 2022
Alpha Lambda Delta – Class of 2019
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.
ENLIGHTENED LEADERSHIP AWARDS
Performing Arts: Music
MICHIGAN INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION (MIAA) AWARDS
The following Hornet teams earned the 2017-2018 MIAA Team GPA Award. Team members achieved a 3.3 or better grade point average for the entire academic year.
The MIAA each year honors students at member colleges who achieve distinction in the classroom and in athletic competition. Students need to be a letter winner in a varsity sport and maintain at minimum a 3.5 grade-point average for the entire school year.
Guillermo Dominguez Garcia
The research will examine the evolutionary origins of two interacting protein molecules, the beta-secretase enzyme (BACE1) and the amyloid beta (A-beta) sequence within the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP). The findings will further the general understanding of key Alzheimer’s proteins, specifically how and when they evolved their pathogenic interaction.
Langeland said such work will have no direct therapeutic application and won’t offer a specific cure for the degenerative brain disease. It could, however, lead to future research toward such outcomes. The immediate impact of the grant is the recruitment of underrepresented minorities and first-generation college students to work on the project.
Bright and motivated K students generally are recruited by word of mouth for such projects, which can inspire their senior individualized projects (SIPs). Such a setup provides students with hands-on experience and independent scholarship, which are two of the four key tenets to the K-Plan, Kalamazoo College’s distinctive approach to an education in the liberal arts and sciences.
The grant, worth a total of $444,941, also represents a rare opportunity for students to participate in research with, and benefit from, two professors with varied expertise. Langeland works with molecular genetics, developmental biology and evolution, and Moore is a neurobiologist who examines neurodegeneration and cell death in particular diseases.
Moore said, “This grant is unique in its interdisciplinary approach to a neurodegenerative disorder. Most scientists in the Alzheimer’s field are focused on molecular mechanisms, not evolutionary context. It’s only at a liberal arts college that you can you find professors with such disparate backgrounds working together with students on a project like this. It’s a perfect confluence of skillsets.”
Both professors said the grant represents the culmination of about 10 years of partnering to secure such funds and opportunities for students, providing a satisfaction unsurpassed in their careers. The fact that the two are friends as well as colleagues makes this research particularly satisfying. It also continues a notable year for K’s Biology Department, which has been involved with:
Megan Hoinville ’18 being the first K undergraduate since 1997 to receive an NSF fellowship;
the Sherman Fairchild Foundation providing a $247,500 grant to fund stipends of $4,000 apiece for students in biology, chemistry and physics to conduct summer research;
K receiving a $1 million, five-year grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to find ways to better serve math and science students from underrepresented demographic groups.
NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science and advance national health, prosperity and welfare, making such research and developing future scientists a priority. For more information on NSF, visit its website.
Kalamazoo College has been awarded a $1 million, five-year grant to participate in a nationwide quest to find ways to better serve students from demographic groups that are underrepresented in science and mathematics. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced that K will be one of 33 colleges chosen for the Inclusive Excellence initiative. Efforts under the initiative will focus on closing what biology professor Jim Langeland ’86, who will lead the program, calls the “persistence gap.”
K is attracting talented students from a variety of backgrounds who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education, including students of color, first-generation college students and students from low-income families. Those students enroll in roughly proportionate numbers in introductory science and math courses. In the long run, however, they are more likely than students from more privileged circumstances not to continue in those fields, said Langeland, Upjohn Professor of Life Sciences.
“We would like our senior major classes in the science field to look like our incoming classes in terms of demographics,” he said.
Associate Provost Laura Lowe Furge, Roger F. and Harriet G. Varney Professor of Chemistry, said K will use the HHMI grant to take a three-fold approach:
Developing culturally competent faculty and staff who are better able to connect with the varied backgrounds and value systems of students.
Revising introductory science and math curriculum to integrate career guidance, emphasize shared concepts among disciplines and enhance academic support centers.
Revising hiring, tenure and promotion policies to reward cultural competency and inclusive practices.
Langeland said the first approach of the initiative will be addressed by expanding the College’s existing training in recognizing systemic and often unconscious racism and bias.
“We’ve been diversifying our student body and the idea is that there are institutional barriers to access and we’re trying to eliminate those,” he said.
The second part of the initiative will seek to provide students taking entry-level science and math courses with clearer entry points to those disciplines and guidance to potential careers, he said.
“One of the things we have identified is that we think there are a lot of aspects of our curriculum that are hidden—things that we assume students know and can navigate without being explicit about them,” he said.
Some students come to K steeped in that knowledge, gained from family members or teachers at high-achieving schools, Langeland said; others need a “roadmap” to follow because the route is unfamiliar.
Bringing accomplished alumni into classrooms is another way to help students understand the possibilities for careers in science and math, he said.
In the third approach, the Kalamazoo College Provost’s Office will work with faculty on ways to reward professors for developing skills that help ensure diversity and student success, Langeland said.
Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez said the HHMI grant recognizes K’s existing commitment to inclusiveness and will build momentum for efforts to achieve that goal.
“Talent comes in many forms, and our mission is to recognize and nurture it in the most effective ways,” he said. “We are proud to have the most diverse student body ever at Kalamazoo College, and we firmly believe that with the help of our dedicated faculty and staff, we can ensure that our liberal arts curriculum and our historic strength in sciences and mathematics will provide access to those professions for all students.”
Two Kalamazoo College events coming soon will give students new experiences and learning opportunities in the sciences.
First, Brendan Bohannan – a professor of environmental studies and biology at the University of Oregon – will present a keynote address titled “Host-Microbe Systems: a Rediscovered Frontier in the Life Sciences” in the annual Diebold Symposium from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday at 226 Dow Science Center.
The Diebold Symposium offers senior biology majors a chance to present their Senior Individualized Projects (SIP), regardless of their SIP discipline. The event is dedicated to the memory of Frances “Dieb” Diebold, who was a member of the Kalamazoo College Biology Department for 44 years.
Bohannon focuses on understanding the causes and consequences of microbial biodiversity. He began his research career studying microbes in non-host environments such as soil, water, air and built environments. However, over the past 12 years, his group has focused more on the microbiomes of humans and other animals including fish, birds and primates.
Then, the Kalamazoo College Physics Department will welcome J.A. Scott Kelso, of the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences at Florida Atlantic University and the Intelligent Systems Research Centre at Ulster University in Northern Ireland, for the Tourtellotte Lecture at 5:30 p.m. May 7 in 103 Dewing Hall.
The lecture will explain some fundamental governing laws behind the behavior of complex physical, biological and social systems.
For most of his scientific career, Kelso has studied human beings and human brains, individually and together, and how they coordinate their behavior from cells to cognition to social settings.
Since the late 1970s, his approach has been grounded in the concepts, methods and tools of self-organizing dynamical systems tailored to living things, a theoretical and empirical framework called Coordination Dynamics.
From 1978 to 1985 Kelso was the senior research scientist at Yale University’s Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, Connecticut. Since then, he has held the Glenwood and Martha Creech Eminent Scholar Chair in Science at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Boca Raton, Florida, where he founded The Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences.
Kelso has held visiting appointments in Moscow, Stuttgart, Lyons and Marseille, and is an emeritus professor of computational neuroscience at Ulster University in Northern Ireland.
It’s a high achievement to receive a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. Just 16 percent of those who submitted proposals this year were chosen for the prestigious program.
Megan Hoinville ’18 is part of an even more exclusive group. Though Kalamazoo College alumni are regular recipients of the fellowship, she is the first K student to receive one as an undergraduate since 1997.
Her proposal focused on how the conformational flexibility of proteins can be used in drug-discovery efforts for proteins that are implicated in cancer.
The fellowship provides a three-year stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 allowance for tuition and fees. The NSF says the fellowship, awarded for almost 60 years, is the oldest of its kind and that its reputation “follows recipients and often helps them become lifelong leaders” who “contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching.” Among past recipients: former U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and “Freakonomics” co-author Steven Levitt.
After her graduation in June, Hoinville will enter the biophysical sciences Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago. She says she plans on using biophysical techniques to study topics in immunology, and wants to help pioneer more effective treatments for autoimmune diseases.
In the long term, she hopes to become a research scientist.
“I have had wonderful physics and biology professors who were incredibly supportive and fostered my love of science,” she says.
She says she would not have gotten such extensive research experiences at many other colleges, and that played a large part in her decision to attend K.
“The size of Kalamazoo College lets you have this kind of opportunity,” she says. “You get to really know your professors, and have a relationship with them.”
Another K advantage was that she could double-major in biology and physics, a combination that isn’t allowed at many schools because of the intense demands both place on a student. Physics Professor Tom Askew pushed her to apply for the fellowship and write the required proposal.
Both Askew and Wollenberg say Hoinville’s interdisciplinary background was likely irresistible for the NSF. Apparently, it had big appeal for graduate schools, as well. The University of Chicago, Cornell University and University of Michigan “were fighting over her,” Askew says.
Wollenberg says she has high expectations for Hoinville in graduate school, and is sure they will be fulfilled.
“She’s going to contribute great things to whatever field she chooses to pursue,” she says.
The emphasis that Kalamazoo College places on individual scholarship and scientific research has not only been instrumental in Hoinville’s academic career, but also in that of her uncle, Jay Hoinville ’86, who received a postdoctoral National Science Foundation fellowship to pursue studies in magnetic recording. He now is an entrepreneur and works at Western Michigan University.
An organization of professional astronomers is honoring Kalamazoo College senior Hayley Beltz for her Senior Individualized Project and summer research, which Beltz presented to the group’s members.
The Astronomy Achievement Student Awards, which were bestowed in January through the American Astronomical Society (AAS), recognize exemplary student presentations offered at its organizational meetings. Beltz’s research involved quasar spectroscopy, meaning she analyzed light that is billions of years old to find and measure the large concentrations of hydrogen that develop as stars form.
The highest AAS honorees, including Beltz – a double major in physics and math from St. Joseph, Michigan – are given a Chambliss medal. Beltz was one of five undergraduate medal winners, who included students from the University of Colorado, the University of Louisville, California State Polytechnic University and Rollins College.
Beltz said she is very excited about the award and it feels validating to win it considering she wants to attend graduate school in astronomy after graduating from K.
The AAS, established in 1899 and based in Washington, D.C., has about 7,000 members including physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers and other researchers from the broad spectrum of astronomy-related fields. Its mission is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe.
Kalamazoo College’s efforts to get science majors experience in student research, one of the most important factors in providing them an exceptional start in their post-college careers, just got a big boost.
The Sherman Fairchild Foundation will provide $247,500 to fund stipends of $4,000 apiece for students in biology, chemistry and physics to conduct research in summer. The three-year grant will also provide up to $1,500 apiece for students to attend scientific conferences to present their findings and to offset the cost of supplies, said Associate Professor of Physics Arthur Cole, who will serve as director of the project.
The student research beneficiaries, 15 each summer, will include both rising seniors working on their Senior Individualized Projects (SIPs) and younger students, allowing them to get early exposure to life in the lab before deciding whether to pursue science as a career, Cole said. He worked with Assistant Professor of Biology Santiago Salinas, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dwight Williams and Anne Dueweke, director of grants, fellowships and research, to conceptualize and develop the grant proposal.
“It gives students an earlier chance to seek out research experiences,” Cole said. “A lot of times you think you want to go into the sciences and you don’t know what research is like until you get to try it.”
He said the grant also will make it possible for those who support themselves while attending the College to concentrate on student research, rather than having to seek summer jobs, and could open doors for members of groups who are underrepresented in the sciences.
Salinas said summer research as an undergraduate played a major role in his own decision to become a scientist and professor.
“It’s more than what’s in the textbook,” he said. “They start to see the bigger picture. And they get to try things. It’s how they learn. And it’s fun.”
For those who do decide to pursue scientific careers, Williams said, the opportunity to get early research experience can give them a “leg up” on getting further grants and research opportunities.
“It’s a great way for us to get more students involved in research, particularly with an emphasis on first- and second-year students, instead of waiting until they’re seniors working on their SIPs” he said.
Though most of the research that the grant funds will involve students working with professors on the College’s campus, it will also provide support for up to three K students a year to participate in research at other institutions, Cole said.
Crain’s Detroit Business last week honored its 40 Under 40 honorees, and they include two Kalamazoo College alumni. They are:
Ed Mamou ’00, 39, who is the owner of the Root and Mabel Gray restaurants, vice president of GFL Environmental Recycling Services Inc., and vice president of Royal Oak Recycling. Mamou earned a degree in mathematics at K and later earned a master’s degree in applied math at the University of California-San Diego; and
Sean Mann ’03, 37, who is a former lobbyist and policy adviser in Michigan politics. Mann quit his job with Michigan Legislative Consultants in Lansing on Sept. 5 to become the full-time CEO of Detroit City FC, a semi-pro soccer club that could soon turn professional. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and history from K and holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Bristol.
Crain’s Detroit Business says all of its 40 Under 40 honorees are professionals who have made “big decisions and bold moves.” They’ve also reinvented themselves and their companies across a variety of sectors and challenges involving fields or attributes such as autonomous vehicles, educational attainment, regional transit, home mortgages and health care.
The honorees were selected by the Crain’s Detroit Business editorial team through nominations selected based on their impact and achievements in business. Read more about the honorees and hear in their own words what they think the next 40 years will hold for Michigan.
Jan Tobochnik, the Dow Distinguished Professor in Natural Sciences, has been named as the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Hans Christian Oersted Medal, presented by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). The Oersted Medal recognizes outstanding, widespread, and lasting impact on the teaching of physics. In connection with the award, Tobochnik will deliver a talk on “The Changing Face of Physics and the Students Who Take Physics” at the 2017 AAPT winter meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Past winners include Carl E. Sagan, Edward Purcell and Richard Feynman, among others.
Jan’s research interest fall in the area of statistical physics, the development of computer models that predict behaviors, not only of physical phenomena (like earthquakes and nucleation) but also social situations, such as wealth distribution patterns and traffic jams. Because Jan incorporates his research into his teaching, students get a better sense of what science is all about. “Without my research,” he says, “my examples would be stodgy.” In fact, the award specifically cites Jan’s “lasting impact on the teaching of physics through his contributions to the use of computer simulations to motivate active learning.”
Jan is well known for his series of texts (six) written with Harvey Gould. They cover computer simulation methods at the introductory level and statistical and thermal physics at the intermediate level. In the early 1990’s he was a practitioner of active learning methods, long before it became fashionable, and was busy developing software to assist student learning. Jan’s fluency in computational methods especially in the service of advanced thermal and statistical physics research has informed dozens of publications in refereed journals. He served as the editor for the American Journal of Physics from 2001 to 2011.
Jan was born and reared in Philadelphia, and he remains an only occasionally wavering Phillies fan. He graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College in 1975 with a major in physics. He then went to Cornell University and earned a Ph.D. in physics (1980).
Jan came to K in 1985. In addition to teaching in the physics department he has served as acting provost and interim provost. And every year, in the spirit of the liberal arts advocate that he is, Jan leads discussions on the year’s Summer Common Reading selection, none of which, as yet, have been about physics.