Summer at DePauw A Bucket List

Busy summer?

Here are a few of the boxes our students checked off.

☑ Fly a balloon.

Kobby Van Dyck '20 and Zach Wilkerson '20 help astronomy and physics professor Howard Brooks fill a balloon with helium.

Since 2006, Professor Howard Brooks and his students have spent summers launching high-altitude weather balloons 100,00 feet into the Earth's stratosphere. Up there, instruments attached to the balloons have a better vantage point to observe phenomenon such as cosmic rays – particles from the far reaches of the Universe.

But the higher one of these latex balloons goes, the lower the surrounding air pressure becomes. The balloon swells in size, and then... it pops. What goes up, must come down.

The chase begins.

Brooks and his students begin their pursuit of the balloon as soon as they release it into the air. Using GPS and radio transmitters, they track it along highways and country roads until it falls to Earth and the team can retrieve their equipment. Their balloon chases have ended in the tops of trees, in backyards, and once, behind the fence of a jail. But being near so many soy and corn fields has its perks.

Got it.

☑ Start a garden.

Mayra Leon '20 shares freshly cut mint sprigs.

Campus Farm interns Mayra Leon '20 and Rafael Robert '19 spent their summer days tending to fruit and vegetables that will ultimately end up on DePauw's plates this fall.

Founded in 2013 and recruiting more than 300 student volunteers each season, the farm produces approximately 6,000 pounds of USDA-organic tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, watermelons, lettuces, and more every year. While the bulk of the produce they grow is used in campus dining, 10-percent is donated to a local emergency food pantry.

Rafael Robert '19 leads high school students on a farm tour.

In addition to healthy, organic food, the farm provides opportunities for developing leadership skills and relationships that transcend the boundaries of DePauw. Leon and Robert led workshops at the farm for local children and community members, who are often surprised by their depth of knowledge and interest.

"We're both young," Leon says, "so seeing us engaged in this kind of activity opens up the minds of children and adults."

The recently announced Ullem Family Campus Farm and Center for Sustainability will replace the current farm in spring 2018.

Photos: Natalia Costard ’20

☑ Make new friends.

As important as basketball can be in Indiana, the sport had a bigger role to play in Northern Ireland this summer.

Northern Ireland's Troubles, a decades-long violent struggle between the country's Catholic separatists and Protestant unionists, came to an end in 1998, but nearly all the country's children still grow up segregated by religion. According to PeacePlayers International, a nonprofit that uses basketball to promote peace in regions of conflict, less than 7-percent of Northern Ireland’s pupils attend integrated schools.

Men's basketball coach Bill Fenlon led 18 DePauw students on a May Term trip to Belfast, where they helped PeacePlayers run a city-wide youth basketball tournament. During the trip, students mentored Catholic and Protestant children playing together on mixed teams, building on the organization's premise that "children who play together can learn to live together."

☑ Invite company over.

Pyi Thiem Kyaw "PTK" '19 leads guests down the stairs of DePauw's admission building. Walking backwards is a crucial skill for tour guides.

If you visited DePauw this summer, you may have come through the Office of Admission and been welcomed by a team of student interns. Pyi Thiem Kyaw ("PTK") '19, Clare Lansden '20, and Quinci Miller '19 worked as tour guides, researchers and event planners as part of their summer internships with DePauw. The three interns also had the opportunity to be the e-welcoming crew of the incoming Class of 2021 through Facebook events, posts, videos and social media.

The experience of hosting tours was been an eye opening one because tour guides, or ‘Tiger Hosts,’ need to be as knowledgeable about DePauw as possible, which means visiting spaces they may not usually see.

"As a pre-engineering major, I was excited to see the science research labs I've never taken classes in," PTK says. "Learning about all of DePauw’s various spaces makes me a more knowledgeable student."

The students also worked on a training pamphlet and forum for incoming tour guides, which requires research about the history of DePauw and a Q&A for how to answer questions about the campus and campus life.

Clare Lansden '20 takes visitors past Holton Memorial Quadrangle, home of Roy O. West Library and Harrison and Asbury academic halls.

"The work we did his summer has really helped my organizational skills and helped me with public speaking as well as taught me how to promote the University in an effective way for our audiences," Miller says.

☑ Discover your voice.

For Kendall Brewer '18, a studio art and art history double major, summer research is open to interpretation.

Kendall Brewer '18 sits among her explorations on canvas.

She and professor John Berry began the summer by traveling to New York for the opening of Indiana painter Peter Shear's work and visiting a number of museums and artist studios – a summer research experience that Berry equates to self-discovery. “Through painting, Kendall is uncovering her interests: in cultural intersections between East and West, intuition, understanding adoption, ink painting from China, feminism and abstract expressionism,” Berry says.

Brewer worked on three large paintings in the Peeler Art Center studios, feeling her way through various mediums and her use of color and space. This summer gave her the time to find out what feels true to her as an artist and learn her particular strengths.

"If I were at home or at another type of internship or job, I would have to manage both art and work," Brewer says. "It has been nice to be able to simply focus on my artistic skills through this research."

Brewer hopes to build on that momentum during the upcoming year as she prepares her senior seminar art project for display on campus.

☑ Remember sunscreen.

Maddie Hoover '19 and biology professor Dana Dudle examine their Bouncing Bet blossoms outside the Manning Environmental Field Station in the DePauw Nature Park.

Biology professor Dana Dudle and her student research assistants look at how plants physically and chemically change in response to environmental stress. Using two flowering plants that grow nearby – Bouncing Bet (Saponaria officinalis) and St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) – their research is focused on the production of two pigments: anthocyanin, which makes flowers like Bouncing Bet pink, and hypericin, a pigment in St. John's Wort that may have medicinal properties.

These pigments may also protect the plants against excess light, herbivores or other environmental stressors. By using extractions of the pigments from plants growing in different conditions, Dudle and her students are able to test how the plants defend themselves using these chemicals.

Dudle says summer student-faculty research at DePauw gives students a chance to feel how research really works on a full-time basis – from the creative parts involved in project design (Hey, can we study this? How?), to the utterly tedious parts (Whose idea was it to grind up 650 flower parts into little tubes?).

“Although the students often find out that science is not always glamorous," Dudle says, "by summer's end, they feel a sense of ownership over their projects and learn to communicate about their work to other scientists and to the public."

☑ Go for a run.

For people with a typical walking gait, the heel is the first part of the foot to contact the ground. But the pattern of initial foot contact is much more varied when running.

As they do when walking, some runners strike the ground heel-first. We call these runners "rearfoot" strikers. In forefoot strikers, the ball of the foot strikes first, and an intermediate group of midfoot strikers strike the ground with their heel and ball at the same time. Can you figure out what kind of foot strike this student has?

Unless you're a serious runner, you've probably not given much thought to how your foot strike changes as you speed up, but there's debate about how it impacts performance and risk of injury. This summer, Megan Montgomery ’18 worked on a research project with kinesiology professor Pat Babington related to the ongoing foot-strike debate. They're trying to determine whether a runner's foot-strike pattern changes in relation to their maximum velocity. For instance, as a slower runner goes from walking to running, do they shift toward a forefoot strike at a lower velocity than a faster runner would?

Pay attention the next time you go for a run. Just don't let it trip you up.

☑ Go fishing.

When a human heart is damaged by a heart attack or another trauma, the organ is permanently weakened. But the tiny zebrafish has a huge advantage over humans: it can regenerate heart tissue.

The Lafontant lab's "fish room" is, well, a room with lots of fish.

Research using heart-regenerating species such as the zebrafish continues year-round in biology professor Pascal Lafontant's cardiac research lab, home to hundreds of fish and 8 student researchers during summer 2017.

Because visualization of the heart's cells and structure is one of the best ways to understand how regeneration occurs, Lafontant's students have a few different ways to get a closer look. One method uses a machine called a cryostat microtome (basically a high-tech deli slicer) to slice off razor-thin portions of tissue that can be mounted on slides.

Gabby Coffing '19 uses the lab's cryostat microtome.

Students in the lab are currently working to genetically modify a fish's heart so that it glows, making cellular visualization even easier – even in the dark.

☑ Escape civilization.

During May Term, students led by Professor of Communication and Theatre Steve Timm participated in an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Isle Royale on Lake Superior. A designated wilderness area, Isle Royale is located in the northwest section of Lake Superior and comprises nearly 900 square miles of forests and inland lakes.

Backpackers make a trail along Lake Ritchie.

Their preparation included learning fundamentals of backpacking and expedition planning, viewing filmmaker George Desort’s Fortunate Wilderness and Fifty Lakes One Island, and discussions and reports on readings. Then it was off to the island to backpack 20 miles from Rock Harbor to Windigo on the Greenstone Ridge, with a return hike on the more ambitious and less forgiving Minong Ridge.

"I hoped that being disconnected from the stresses of everyday life and being completely immersed in nature would lead to a lot of self-growth and discovery," Julia Waggoner '17 says. "It turned out that was true in ways I could never have imagined."

☑ Read an old book.

When you think of student research, there's a preconception that it must involve beakers and goggles. But that's not the case for Hyeree Ellis ’18 and English professor Amity Reading. The two have worked together to translate a 13th-century manuscript called the Lambeth Homilies.

Old English is nearly unrecognizable to modern English speakers.

Their work began with transcribing copies of the text, then diving into detailed research to interpret it. Because this particular manuscript is from a period between Old English and Middle English writing, borrowing words and grammar from both, the research itself involves quite a bit of analysis. Eventually, Ellis and Reading will be able to produce an explanation of the text, and provide context for some of the clues left behind in the writing.

☑ Join a team.

Shirley Tandy '18 and Cristina Vasquez '18 have logged many hours in the Julian Science & Math Center. Working alongside chemistry and biochemistry professor Rich Martoglio, they hope to assist the University of Notre Dame's Distributed Pharmaceutical Analysis Laboratory (DPAL) in analyzing suspected counterfeit pharmaceuticals from Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, India and Nepal.

To participate in DPAL's partners program, Martoglio, Tandy and Vasquez have been developing a way to detect fake medicines that meets the lab's standards: a methodology that is both accurate and efficient.

“I’m a history major and chemistry minor, so I don't get to be in the lab very often, but I love it,” says Tandy, who plans to go on to medical school with a focus in surgery.

This wouldn't be the first time Martolgio and his students have developed a low cost, high-impact test. His lab also helped to create a rapid diagnostic for leishmaniasis, a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) that affects millions globally.

☑ Tell a story.

The DePauw Theatre production of August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone won’t open to the public until February 2018, but a creative design team led by communication and theatre professor Tim Good spent their summer building a world from the script.

Set in 1911 in a boardinghouse in an African American neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone is the story of a man traveling the United States with his young daughter, looking for the wife he lost many years ago. It’s one of ten plays in Wilson’s “Century Cycle,” which delves into African American experiences during each decade of the 20th century.

Swatches and sketches build a character before his lines are read. (Sarah Greene '20)

The three students on the design team – Sarah Greene ’20, Noelle Johnson ’20 and Margaret Terry ’19 – conducted hundreds of hours of historical research to portray Wilson’s 1911 Pittsburgh. They’ve considered everything from costumes to ambient street sounds – details that communicate to an audience without speaking a word. Johnson, the set designer, says the experience has taught her how to thoroughly research a topic and then implement the research in a creative way.

“When I finished building the first model of the set, I could fully see my ideas come to life,” Johnson says.

☑ Make something with your hands.

Nate Greenberg ‘19 and Alex Randall ‘19 worked with kinesiology professor Brian Wright to explore the influence of lacrosse stick string patterns on shot performance. The configuration of the string pattern is topic of constant discussion among lacrosse players and coaches. Though players follow a set of general rules, they are free to string their own pocket configuration.

“As collegiate lacrosse athletes, we have an appreciation for the sport and the influence of technology on our equipment,” Greenberg says.

Surprisingly, very little empirical research has examined the influence these string patterns have on exit velocity of the lacrosse ball during an overhead lacrosse shot. Provided the number of participants – US Lacrosse documented nearly a million players at the youth, high school and college levels – Greenberg and Randall decided there was a need for further investigation.

The two students retrofitted an old football placekicking machine to hold a lacrosse stick, ensuring shots were made as uniformly as possible. After some trial and error they arrived at its current configuration, which generates approximately 600 pounds of force per shot.

☑ Find your Zen.

Ashlyn Cox ’19 participated in a summer research fellowship at the Peeler Art Center on campus. Her project is centered on DePauw's Tibetan art collection, donated by donor Bruce Walker. Much like a museum researcher, Ashlyn spends 40 hours a week cataloging and researching the art in preparation for an upcoming exhibit.

Ashlyn displays a piece from the Tibetan art collection.

The history and anthropology major has had an opportunity this summer that many undergraduate students don’t get to experience, which will serve her well when she applies to graduate schools.

“Summer research fellowships students have found other opportunities and internships through this experience,” Hadley says. “When this work is done, there is a tangible object that Ashlyn can put in her portfolio.”

Who We Are

DePauw University is a nationally-recognized, leading liberal arts college in Greencastle, Indiana, with 2,300 students from across the country and around the globe. For more than 175 years, DePauw has created an atmosphere of intellectual challenge and social engagement that prepares students for lifelong success.

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