Consortium Connections

Connecting campuses to promote excellence in science and mathematics

Founded by the Pew Charitable Trusts

July 22, 2011

Vol. 5 No.4

marsh marigolds in bloom

Summer is in full swing and is it hot! We just finished a fun weekend with 21 new faculty, postdocs and graduate students at our annual summer workshop for those in the early years of academic careers. See the details in the newsletter below as well as read more about our other recent and upcoming activities.

Strategies for Success

A Workshop for Early Career Faculty

Hope College

July 7-10, 2011

group picture 2011

eagle watching on the Mississippi

On Friday evening, the group headed to one of the area's many beaches on Lake Michigan for some relaxation, swimming, a picnic dinner and smores around a campfire.

Twenty-one faculty, graduate students and postdocs from 8 campuses gathered in Holland at Hope College for a 4-day weekend of conversation, presentations, reflection and planning. Karen Pearson facilitated the weekend with major contributions from 7 Hope faculty and staff. One of the goals of the weekend was for participants to develop an individualized Strategic Action Plan for the next 2-4 years. For some - this was centered around an upcoming job search and for others it was focuses around getting through the first few years of a tenure track position. Each participant presented a small portion of their full SAP to the group on Sunday morning.

In addition to time spent on the SAPs, there were sessions on how students learn and efective teaching strategies in the classroom and lab. Several Hope faculty presented on the nuts and bolts of getting research program with undergraduates off the ground. After that, two more Hope folks presented about securing external and internal funding for research. Workshop participants with experience in the use of clickers and Conceptests, minute papers, group problem solving, case studies and using primary literature shared their experiences with the group.

eagle pair sitting in a tree along the Mississippi

Josh, a post-doc from Wash U presents his Strategic Action Plan (SAP) to the full group on Sunday morning.

picnic panel - New faculty workshop

Three new faculty from Hope's chemistry, biology and math departments came to the picnic on Friday night and led a panel discussion about their experiences with job searches, the first year of teaching and starting their research groups.

Congratulations!!! 2011 Janet Andersen Lecture Award Winners

Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science

George Lisensky

Professor George Lisensky


Professor George Lisensky
Department of Chemistry
Beloit College, Beloit, WI

“George has been a member of the Chemistry Department at Beloit College since 1980. He is an active scholar with research interests and activities ranging from bio-inorganic chemistry to materials science to innovative introductory chemistry curriculum development to the cutting-edge of the interdisciplinary field of nanochemistry. He is recognized as an international leader in nanochemistry education. George has 69 publications to date, 15 of which have Beloit College student co-authors. He has given hundreds of workshop, conference, and invited presentations in 4 continents.

George routinely involves undergraduate students in his research, both during the academic semester and during the summer, thus he has advised about one student per semester and one student per summer for decades. This is a significant achievement given the unusually high teaching load that George carries. Since these research projects typically result in new experiments or projects that become incorporated in his courses (most notably courses in Nanochemistry, Solid State Chemistry, and Introductory Chemistry), George’s collaborative research directly informs his teaching."

- excerpts from the nomination letter from George's colleagues at Beloit


Biological Sciences and Psychology

William Hammer

Professor William Hammer


Professor William R. Hammer
Fryxell Chair and Director of the Geology Museum
Augustana College, Rock Island, IL

Bill Hammer has been a member of the faculty at Augustana College since 1981. In those 30 years he has been actively engaged in teaching geology and paleontology and research with undergraduates. For twenty-nine years Bill has lead a summer undergraduate field research course to White River Badlands of South Dakota and Nebraska. Bill’s “Dinosaur and Extinction” course is the most sought after laboratory science course for non-majors; many students cite it as one of their favorite undergraduate courses.

His research is focused on Mesozoic Vertebrates of the Beardmore Glacier Region in Antarctica and he returned for the eighth time with his largest expedition group in December 2010. During this recent expedition, they collected over 5,000 lbs of matrix with bones, including more remains of previous discovered animals plus two new dinosaurs, a large early sauropod and a small but intriguing four to five foot long primitive ornithiscian.  Bill also maintains diverse research collaborations with colleagues from the University of Alberta, the University of Washington, the Field Museum of Natural History and the Capetown Museum in South Africa.

In addition to teaching and research, Bill is Research Associate at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and directors of Augustana’s Center for Polar Studies and Fryxell Geology Museum, which has one of the most extensive collections in the Midwest. “

- excerpts from the nomination letter from Bill's colleagues at Augustana


2011 Undergraduate Research Symposia

Meeting details and online registration will be up by September 1st.

KNOX college logo

*** Your Opinions and Experiences Needed!***

Assistant Professor Jaime Spacco and his student are in need of liberal arts faculty participants in a short (10 minutes or less) survey about perceptions and understanding of Computer Science. Please click on the link below to take the survey before the end of August.

Thanks very much! Contact Jaime Spacco ( with questions or comments about his work.

meeting ideas

Executive Committee Meeting - April 16, 2011

The Consortium's Executive Committee met on Saturday April 16 at the O'Hare Marriott. For meeting minutes or a summary of the discussion, please see your campus representative.

We welcome several new campus representatives to the committee...

  • Heriberto Hernandez-Soto, a physical chemist from Grinnell will be taking over from biologist Clark Lindgren.
  • Todd Pedlar, a physicist from Luther is taking over from Associate Dean Terry Sparkes.
  • Tom Clayton, an inorganic chemist from Knox took over from biologist Stuart Allison.
  • Jayne Rose a psychologist from Augustana College is taking over from chemist Dell Jensen.
  • Vicki Prince an organismal biologist and Associate Dean from The University of Chicago is taking over from biochemist and former Associate Dean Nancy Schwartz.


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!

Recent Speaker Visits

  • Fri Apr 22nd 2011 - Sarah Boyer, Professor of Biology at Macalester College spoke at Grinnell College
    "From New Zealand to the globe: Historical biogeography of mite harvestman arachnids"

  • Fri Apr 8th 2011 - Bruce Carlson, Professor of Biology at Washington University spoke at Grinnell College
    "Sensory Coding and Evolution in Electric Fishes: It’s All in the Timing"

  • Thu Feb 24th 2011 - Tim Pennings and his corgi Elvis, Professor of Mathematics at Hope College spoke at Beloit College
    "Do Dogs Know Calculus?"

Recent Short Term Consultations

  • Dan Choffness from the Carthage College Biology department went to Lawrence's Chemistry department where Stefan Debbert and Juan Navea showed him how to use the Gas Chrmatography-Mass Spectometry instrumentation.

  • Elaine Marzluff and Mary Crawford requested funding to support a visit of Elaine Marzluff to Knox College to work on preparing an assessment plan for the physical chemistry laboratory.  This is part of an ongoing collaboration to develop new laboratory materials in physical chemistry, and will be incorporated into a  proposal in preparation for the NSF TUES (Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM) program.  This consultation took place May 13-14, 2011 and was successful. 

Short Term Consultation Success! Elaine Marzluff and Mary Crawford met at a workshop for midcareer faculty several years ago and struck up an immediate friendship and collabotration. Over the years they have used short term consultation fund to suppor their work to revamp some physical chemistry labs at both Grinnell and Knox Colleges. They have also written several proposals for external funding together. Along with co-author Helen Reynolds (Knox undergrad). their manuscript “Study of the Kinetics of an SN1 Reaction by Conductance Measurement” was recently accepted for publication in Journal of Chemical Education, May 27, 2011. 

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,

It was a delight to get to know so many bright, ambitious, talented and thoughtful new colleagues at this summer's New Faculty Workshop. The fact that the meeting was a full day longer than it has been the past few years meant we really got to know each other better and had more time to engage in thoughtful and meaningful conversations about many aspects of early academic careers. Please take time to welcome and get to know the new faculty and post docs among your colleagues this fall. They are gems and should be encouraged and supported as much as possible.

Enjoy the rest of the summer before the busy fall is upon us!

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