Consortium Connections

Connecting campuses to promote excellence in science and mathematics

Founded by the Pew Charitable Trusts

December 8, 2009

Vol. 4 No.2

The holidays are just around the corner and you're probably eager to celebrate once the finals have been graded and the grades submitted! The Consortium has enjoyed a very busy fall and we are looking forward to a busy 2010 too. Please read through the brief reports and announcements below and take advantage of the programs that interest you and encourage your colleagues to do the same! Happy Holidays and Welcome 2010!

A Brief Review of Fall 2009

Women and the Academy: Defining our Roles and Shaping our Communities

Co-sponsored by the Midstates Consortium (MCMS) and the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM)

Nearly 40 women and one brave man from 12 campuses attended this meeting at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA September 25-27. The ACM and MCMS co-hosted the weekend that allowed women faculty of all ranks to share experiences, frustrations, solutions, wisdom and opportunities about all aspects of their careers in academics. We kicked off the weekend with a presentation by Dr. Joey Sprague, Bauer Professor of Sociology at the University of Kansas whose seminar entitled “Gendered Assumptions in Students’ Evaluations of Teaching” created much interest and conversation that continued throughout the weekend. Saturday was spent largely in break-out discussion groups lead by members of the ACM's Committee on the Status of Women (CSW). We are hoping that the conversations we started at this meeting will continue as women (and men) work to support each other on all of our campuses.

talking with Joey
Meeting participants speak with keynoter Dr. Joey Sprague before and during dinner on Friday evening.
dinner on friday evening

Moving Campus Sustainability Forward through Collaborative Student-Faculty-Staff Projects

More than 50 faculty, staff and students from 12 campuses participated in a weekend meeting about campus sustainability hosted in the beautiful new LEED-certified Regents Hall science building at St. Olaf College on Oct 2-4. Below are some pictures from the weekend. The workshop began with a dinner and a plenary session during which Professor Jim Farrell (St. Olaf), Professor Jeff Clark (Lawrence) and Kristen Roys (recent St. Olaf grad) shared their perspectives on the efforts related to sustainability on their campuses. We all had dessert while strolling through posters from nearly every campus.

Saturday morning began with two parallel sessions one on integrating sustainability into the curriculum and the other on green building design and construction. After a break, we heard three lively presentations from students and faculty about campus garden and farm projects at Lawrence, Augustana and St. Olaf. It was encouraging to hear how various food service providers including Bon Appetit are open to purchasing and using the produce grown in these gardens. Early on Saturday afternoon, we heard from Vince Eckert (Grinnell), Brock Spencer (Beloit) and Kathy Shea (St. Olaf) about three unique uses of campus lands to promote sustainability within and beyond the curriculum. Late on Satuday afternoon, the raindrops let up long enough for participants to take tours of St. Olaf's wind turbine, composting facility, natural lands and the STOGROW farm. Participants warmed up with some delicious food and drinks at St. Olaf President David Anderson's home before eating at a local Indian restaurant.

Sunday morning was spent hearing from a group of Wash U students about their work with student activity organizers to help make campus parties, concerts, and other celebrations more sustainable. After that, groups from each campus spent time making action plans and goals about 'next steps' on their campuses. Groups shared these action plans with the full group and asked for feedback from other participants. The meeting ended with lunches to go in re-useable cloth lunch bags.

Thanks to Paul Jackson, Anne Walter, Matt Richey, Dave Van Wylen, Wes Pearson, Kathy Shea, Charles Umbanhowar, Jim Farrell and Tori Borovsky for their work organizing and hosting the meeting.

STO green roof

Students from Augustana describe their student-organized garden and farm projects.

STO classrooms

Participants explore St. Olaf's green roof which is a fully accessible top floor patio covered by large, flat containers of grasses, groundcovers and other native plants.

STO atrium

As part of the group tours on Saturday, one of the St. Olaf 'farmers' (gray shirt, middle) shows participants around the STOGROW farm.

2009 Undergraduate Research Symposia

Oct 30-Nov 1: Biological Sciences and Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis
A total of 92 students and faculty members from 13 of the 14 Consortium member campuses participated in the meeting hosted at Washington University. The meeting included two large poster sessions and 6 oral sessions. All of the poster and oral presentations in these sessions were by undergraduate students. 

On Saturday morning, Professor of Biology Kathryn Miller, who is also the Chair of the Biology Department at Washington University presented a lecture entitled "Actin cytoskeletal organization and function:  the long, strange trip from chemistry major to cell biologist and department chair." On Sunday morning, Professor and chair of the Biology Department at Beloit College, Dr. Ken Yasukawa presented the second Annual Janet Andersen Award Lecture. Prof. Yasukawa's title was "30 years of research with undergraduates; highs, lows and lessons learned."

Thanks to John Russell, Erik Herzog, Jenny Lawler-Brown and Andrew Richards for their superb organization and hosting of the meeting.

STO green roof

Participants conduct vision experiments as part of Friday evening's presentation from several students in the Neuroscience program.

STO classrooms

St. Olaf student Allison Johnson discusses her research on cliff swallows with other meeting participants.

STO atrium

2009 Janet Andersen Lecture Award winner Dr. Ken Yasukawa from Beloit College presented on many of the projects he's carried out with undergraduates related to his research on red-winged blackbirds.

Nov 6 - 8: Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science, The University of Chicago

The URS in the Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science was held the weekend of November 6-8 at The University of Chicago. A total of 91 students and faculty members from all 14 Consortium member campuses participated in the meeting. The meeting included two poster sessions with more than 40 research posters and four oral sessions with 22 total oral presentations by undergraduates. 

On Friday evening, the second Annual Janet Andersen Award Lecture was given by Dr. Robert Jacobel from St. Olaf's Physics Department. The title of his lecture was "Climate Change in the Polar Regions."  Dr. Pamela Martin of the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, presented a lecture about her research on Sunday AM.

On Saturday afternoon students and faculty had several hours to explore one of the many attractions on Chicago's waterfront including the Museum of Science and Industry, the Shedd Aquarium, or the Field Museum of Natural History.

Thanks to John Frederick, Sheila Naughten and Kurt Hendrickson for helping organize and host this meeting.

STO green roof

Students and faculty discuss poster presentations on Saturday evening.

STO classrooms

Meareg Amare from Lawrence presents on her synthetic project in biochemistry.

STO atrium

Breakfast at the Kersten Physics Teaching Center at The University of Chicago.

Upcoming Opportunity in 2010

C-SURE Program at Washington University

Please encourage students to apply for summer research fellowships in Cognitive, Computational and Systems Neuroscience (CCSN).

Undergraduate students from Consortium campuses are invited to apply for summer research fellowships in the CCSN program. A total of 9 students were funded during the pilot summer (2009) and we are aiming to fund a total of 10 students this coming summer, 5 from Wash U and 5 from the other Consortium campuses. If selected students will conduct research with an undergraduate from Wash U under the mentorship of a faculty member affiliated with the Cognitive, Computational and Systems Neuroscience (CCSN) pathway.

Stipends, housing arrangements and travel allowances are all included in this unique summer research opportunity. Watch for coming flyers and postings for much more information and application details. The deadline for applications will be in early March, 2010, and fellows will be announced in early April. Questions about the program or about applying can be addressed to Professor Dennis Barbour (

2010 Janet Andersen Lecture Award Nominations

Janet AndersenWe are eager to receive nominations for the 2010 Janet Andersen Lecture Award. We invite faculty, students, staff and administrators to nominate faculty members in the Consortium for this award. We encourage nominations for faculty members of any rank who have vigorous research programs involving undergraduates, who are exceptional mentors for undergraduate research students, who are engaged and skilled teachers, or who create interdisciplinary research opportunities for undergraduate students.

The Consortium will accept nominations for the 2010 award until the end of April, 2010. The award recipients will be selected at this spring's Executive Committee Meeting.

Please send a letter of nomination with relevant details about the faculty member and a recent CV of the nominee to Karen Nordell Pearson, Midstates Consortium Director  at

Call (616-395-7217) or email Karen with any questions.

To see more information on our 2008 and 2009 Janet Andersen Lecture Award Winners please visit our web site

As you plan for your seminar and colloquium series, take advantage of funding to support speaker visits and short-term consultations.

You can apply for these funds to support visits anytime during the academic year or in the summer!

If you have a seminar that you would like to give, please add your name to our database.



Comments from the Director

Friends and Colleagues,

We had a super fall with four large and productive meetings. It was wonderful to co-host a meeting with the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) another active and productive Midwest Consortium of colleges. I look forward to working with them again as we share so many of the same values and goals. Thanks to the fantastic team at St. Olaf for hosting the sustainability meeting. St. Olaf has clearly been a leader in campus sustainability long before it was such a captivating topic on most of our campuses.

Thanks to the many students and faculty that attended the two Undergraduate Research Symposia. They were both excellent meetings with high-quality presentations from our keynoters and especially from the students.

I'm always eager to hear your ideas and to find ways to support what you'd like to accomplish, learn and explore. Please send an email to I hope you enjoy a relaxing and joy-filled holiday break and a happy new year!

Karen Nordell Pearson


Augustana College Beloit College Carthage College Colorado College Grinnell College Gustavus Adolphus Hope College Knox College  
 Lawrence University Luther College Macalester College St. Olaf College University of Chicago Washington University