St. Olaf Campus News
The cover of the most recent issue of the Journal of Chemical Education features a paper written by St. Olaf College Associate Professor of Biology John Giannini and continuing education student Chris Stewart.
The piece, titled “Inexpensive, Open Source Epifluorescence Microscopes,” explains how to modify or build microscopes for viewing fluorescent cells or other samples by using 3D printing technology or parts available at most hardware stores.
Although similar commercial microscopes typically cost thousands of dollars, a school or research lab could make the models that Stewart and Giannini describe for only a few hundred dollars.
As a result, their article has the potential to greatly expand the use of fluorescence microscopy — and the valuable insights that it can provide — in the classroom and teaching or research lab.
Ultimately, Giannini and Stewart hope that their article will be especially useful in places that have historically lacked the funds for more advanced scientific equipment, such as schools in inner cities, rural areas, or developing nations.
Stewart and Giannini have designed other low-cost scientific instruments and equipment for educational purposes as well, and they are currently working on a series of papers and a website to disseminate these ideas more widely.
St. Olaf College students Jasmin Aramburu ‘18, Emily Hynes ‘18, Marnicia Johnson ‘18 and Zoua Lor ‘18 have been awarded Graduate School Exploration Fellowships.
The four are part of the first cohort of students selected for the two-year fellowship, which will provide students with a robust set of mentoring, career development, and experiential research opportunities beginning in the fall of their junior year.
The goal of the Fellows Program is to encourage students from backgrounds underrepresented in the professoriate to pursue graduate degrees and careers in academics, particularly as faculty members at liberal arts colleges.
The Fellows Program is a collaboration of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) and the research universities in the Big Ten Academic Alliance, which is a consortium of the members of the Big Ten Conference, plus the University of Chicago.
The ACM and Big Ten Academic Alliance received an $8.1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the new program.
Each fellow will participate in a paid research internship next summer at a major research university. They will each be provided with a St. Olaf faculty mentor during their junior and senior years, and they will attend two development conferences alongside other fellows, graduate students, and faculty.
The Fellows Program is part of a wider seven-year initiative by the ACM that seeks to break down the barriers to faculty diversity, especially at liberal arts colleges. The Fellows Program grant will support five undergraduate cohorts totaling 280 GSEF fellows, with up to 20 students drawn from each ACM college.
“Most students must make the decision to become a physician before they know what it is like to actually be a physician,” St. Olaf College alumnus and medical doctor Peter Stiles ’05 says.
And that’s something that Stiles — along with his co-worker and fellow Ole physician Marc Tompkins ’99 — is aiming to change by giving St. Olaf students an up-close look at the day-to-day work of a practicing physician.
The two doctors recently started an academic internship for two St. Olaf pre-medical students at their place of employment, TRIA Orthopaedic Center. Eliza Thompson ’17 and Colten Yahn ’17 were the first students selected for the program at TRIA, an orthopaedic and sports medicine practice located in Bloomington, Minnesota.
“Our internship is geared to expand the students’ minds, knowledge, and insight, while also providing a realistic look at the daily life of a practicing doctor,” Stiles says.
The doctors started this internship partially as a way to “pay it forward.”
“I have always felt very fortunate for my St. Olaf education, including many opportunities provided by St. Olaf alumni, and I wanted a chance to both educate St. Olaf students and to give back,” Tompkins says.
The students were able to shadow the doctors in every aspect of the job, from forming meaningful relationships with patients to the more mundane tasks of filling out insurance paperwork. They also spent time discussing the practice of medicine, medical school, and the students’ goals and interests.
“Before this internship, I thought about a career as a physician as a sort of ‘dream’ and could really only imagine what it might look like,” Thompson says. “This internship helped me think through my interests and create a clearer vision for my future.”
“This was the most impactful experience I have had thus far in my academic career,” he says. “It felt like a full immersion into health care. As a result, I really feel like I have a more complete understanding of the health care system.”
The internship is rewarding for the mentors as well.
“The students ask wonderful questions that get me thinking about important issues that remind me of the idealism I had when I was an undergraduate student at St. Olaf,” Stiles says.
The two doctors plan to continue the program into the foreseeable future.
“They are incredible professionals and better people,” Yahn says. “If nothing else, I would recommend this internship solely to encourage other students to meet these doctors. Their insight and mentorship proved and will continue to be invaluable to me and my future career.”
St. Olaf College students Jauza Khaleel ’18 and Paul Sullivan ’17 have been named Smaby Peace Scholars.
The Peace Scholars Program is designed to expand students’ awareness of current issues relating to peace, justice, democracy, and human rights through a series of educational experiences in Norway. Two students from each of the six Norwegian-American Lutheran colleges — Augsburg, Augustana, Concordia, Luther, St. Olaf, and Pacific Lutheran University — are chosen to participate.
Students at St. Olaf receive funding to participate in the program through the Philip C. Smaby Peace Scholars Endowed Scholarship.
The 2016 program began with five days at the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue in Lillehammer, where the scholars participated in transformative dialogue sessions with students from the Balkans and Caucasus regions.
The scholars then moved to the University of Oslo International Summer School, where they will spend six weeks deepening their understanding of the history and theories regarding conflict, war, and peace. In addition to lectures and seminars, they will visit some of the leading peace organizations in Norway, including the Nobel Peace Center and the Peace Research Institute.
Scholars also have an opportunity to take an additional undergraduate course of their choice. Khaleel will take a course in Scandinavian government and politics, while Sullivan will study Norwegian history.
Khaleel, a native of the Maldives who attended the United World College in Swaziland before coming to St. Olaf, hopes the Peace Scholars Program will enable her to learn about different forms of conflict resolution and how peacebuilding processes occur.
“I have developed a strong interest in international development, and the importance of efficient dialogue in conflict resolution and peacebuilding,” she says. “I am interested in learning about the ways we can reduce human rights violations across the globe and the implementation of international law justly across all states.”
A political science and sociology/anthropology major at St. Olaf, Khaleel is involved with a wide range of campus organizations, including the Student Government Association, the Wellness Center, and the International Student Organization. She plans to integrate some of what she learns through the Peace Scholars Program into her work on campus.
Sullivan agrees, noting that he hopes to incorporate what he learns into his work with St. Olaf’s Interfaith Coalition for Peace and Justice — an organization he co-founded — as well as in his support of student social activism on race, gender, and LGBTQ rights.
A native of Decorah, Iowa, Sullivan is majoring in Asian studies with a concentration in China studies. He spent a semester studying at East China Normal University in Shanghai, and participated in a Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry project on campus last summer that examined the migration of Japanese Americans from the American internment camps of World War II to Minnesota.
Sullivan plans to go into foreign policy work after graduating, whether with the US government or with an international nongovernmental organization. He says his experience with the Peace Scholars Program should help inform his career plans.
“I’m incredibly excited for this opportunity and hope it will help shape my sense of vocation for after St. Olaf,” Sullivan says.
The Smaby Peace Scholars fund was established in honor of the late Philip Carlyle Smaby, a Minneapolis-St. Paul philanthropist who attended St. Olaf and three of whose children are alumni (Mark Smaby ’66, Gary Smaby ’71, and John Smaby ’76).
Recent St. Olaf College graduate Zequn (Charlie) Li ’16 says he was drawn to a career in consulting for a very simple reason: it’s all about problem-solving.
And Li, who landed a position with consulting powerhouse Deloitte before graduating, notes that the liberal arts education he received at St. Olaf provided the perfect training ground for a career centered on creative and analytical problem-solving.
“I learned how to formulate questions and hypotheses, how to apply different statistical methods to different scenarios, and how to think thoroughly in order to convince people with my evidence,” he says.
He’s not the only member of this year’s graduating class to find that these skills are highly sought after in the world of consulting.
Mariah DuBose landed a position at Accenture Consulting, Roger Ntawukulityayo at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Alec Paulson at Analysis Group, and Laura Schmiel at The Huron Consulting Group.
These 2016 graduates are the most recent class of students to have successfully landed careers in the consulting field. They join a stream of St. Olaf graduates who have also realized their ambitions in this most competitive of sectors, including Tim Tuscher ’15 and Shannon Cordes ’14 at The Boston Consulting Group, Zihao (Daniel) Pan ’15 at Deloitte, and Nick Evens ’14 at McKinsey & Company.
“The college and its faculty have introduced these students to a broad range of disciplines, have helped them develop and understand differing points of view, and have underscored the role that values and belief play in shaping human life and work,” says Leslie Moore ’77, director of the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career. “These students are well-prepared to listen to and respond to their clients, while keeping in mind the needs and interests of the broader community.”
Schmiel, who majored in mathematics and economics, notes that consulting places a high degree of importance on collaboration and teamwork.
“St. Olaf prepared me for this type of work because of the emphasis that many of my professors placed on group work,” she says. “Consulting is never done alone, and I know that I am well-equipped to handle any issues that may come my way.”
In addition to helping students sharpen their skills in the classroom, St. Olaf provides a wide range of resources and experiential learning opportunities that have helped many students make the transition from college to consulting.
The Piper Center’s Connections Program, for example, enables students to explore careers and network with alumni in cities across the country. Each city focuses on several career tracks and invites alumni in those fields to meet with current students.
Students who find consulting an intriguing career choice can go on the program that is offered in Chicago to meet alumni working in the Windy City.
DuBose, an economics and mathematics major with a concentration in management, was one of those who went on the Chicago program.
“It gave me the opportunity to connect with alumni at various consulting firms, one of which was Accenture,” she says. “Also, being able to get this exposure early helped me to discern my vocational interests in consulting and Accenture.”
St. Olaf students are also able to obtain experience in their chosen field before they step foot into the job market.
Paulson, an economics and mathematics major with a concentration in statistics, participated in research through both the Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) and the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (CIR) programs — developing skills that will be invaluable in his job.
CURI and CIR each offer St. Olaf students the opportunity to work closely with professors and other students to conduct research. Working with Assistant Professor of Economics Ashley Hodgson, as part of a CURI project, Paulson studied the rates at which hospitals adopted technology. The results were presented at the international Atlantic Economic Conference in Boston.
In a world where companies are expanding into new markets at a rapid rate, a global perspective is becoming more and more important. Ntawukulityayo, an economics and chemistry major, participated in study abroad programs in China, Peru, and Panama during his time at St. Olaf. He also completed several internships — most notably one in Kigali, Rwanda, with Global Communities as a monitoring and evaluation analyst.
Those experiences played an important role in preparing him for his new career.
“The Boston Consulting Group is known for valuing a global perspective in their consultants,” he says. “St. Olaf helped me become a well-rounded individual, which is something that all major consulting firms are looking for.”