Celebrating Lawrence’s communities at the Watkins Museum of History

The College Blog - 13 hours 44 min ago

The Watkins Museum of History, located on Massachusetts Street in Downtown Lawrence, Kansas, has captured and portrayed Douglas County stories, with an emphasis on Lawrence, since 1975. Its three floors of exhibits tell of heroism, activism, tragedy, and survival among the diverse residents of the Douglas County community, using unique artifacts, photographs, computer programs, and compelling narration. Visitors to the Watkins gain an appreciation for the exciting history and community spirit that makes the Douglas County and Lawrence area unique. Not only does the Watkins boast impressive exhibits and public programs — it’s also where you can find several Jayhawk alumni from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at work as staff members. There, they continually find ways to apply their passion for history and storytelling in ways that engage and better the community. We spoke with five of these College alumni about the Watkins, their time at KU, and how they’re applying their liberal arts & sciences degrees on a daily basis.

I received an MA in History in 2013 and a PhD in History in 2017. My three concentrations were the American Civil War, 19th-century U.S. history, and public history.

I’ve been fascinated by history since age seven. At first, I enrolled in grad school planning to become a professor, but soon decided to work in the public history field. For my first Museum Studies class at KU, I was lucky enough to be part of a group that designed an exhibit for the Watkins. This was how I became familiar with the museum and its staff. It was this class that inspired my choice to pursue a career in public history.

Every day at the Watkins, we’re reminded of our great support network in town. Lawrence folks seem to value their history more than any other community I’ve seen! It’s vital for a community to know and document its own history, for studying history shows us where we’ve been and provides inspiration for a path forward.

My advice for current KU students is to engage with your professors, TAs, and fellow students in and out of the classroom: speak up, volunteer, and ask questions. Even if you don’t find the subject of a class interesting, the more you participate, the quicker and easier it will go, and the more likely you’ll be to find it fun and rewarding.

I graduated from KU with my Masters in Museum Studies in 2012. I plan to graduate with my PhD in History in 2019. I have always loved history and I thought pursuing a degree in Museum Studies would be a really unique and interesting way to apply my love of history.

One of the most memorable classes I took during my Masters was the Exhibits class. My group got to design and install an exhibit on The Day After at the Watkins, which is how I got to know the museum and the director, Steve Nowak. That experience taught me a new way of interacting with the public and it gave me the opportunity to learn how the Watkins engages the community with interesting exhibits.

Local history makes history seem more real and personal because the people, events, and places happened in your town. I really enjoy hearing people’s stories and connections to Lawrence, especially those families who have lived here for several generations. I think we are lucky to live in a town that places such a great value on its local history.

I recommend that KU students take advantage of all the great opportunities going on in our community. Lawrence has a lot of really awesome places to visit and things to do. Including the Watkins!

I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree in 2008, majoring in History. I graduated with my MA in Museum Studies in 2010.
I knew I wanted to do something with history from a young age. I love history and studying it has always helped me make sense of the world around me. I initially thought I would study history in an academic setting but the more I talked to people about history, the more I realized that what I enjoyed was sharing what I had learned or had researched with other people. Museums appealed to me because it combined working hands-on with historical objects with relaying information about the past to an audience unfamiliar with history.

My time at KU shaped not only the work I wanted to do but introduced me to hobbies and reinforced things I already loved. I took a film class taught by the great Kevin Wilmott that was so much fun I nearly changed my major to Film Studies, took women’s studies classes from Kathy Tuttle and Katheryn Rose Mockery that shaped my perspective of the world, and loved all of the history classes I took in undergrad.

This is especially true when we find events that have been forgotten such as the Citizen Diplomacy efforts the people of Lawrence made during the last years of the Cold War.

There are always exciting events going on at the Watkins! Families will want to take part in our Tails and Traditions event on December 1. Planned to coordinate with Lawrence Old Fashioned Christmas Parade, the Watkins buzzes with activities: hobby horse building for the kids, family portraits in the museum’s antique surrey, and a great view of the parade as it makes its way down Massachusetts Street!

My advice for students at KU is to find an activity or club that interests you. Something you love and want to do more, or something you’ve never done and have always wanted to try – either way, use the opportunities a diverse campus can bring. Take part in activities wherever you can. The schoolwork won’t go away, but it’s always more fun when you know someone in your classes and when you have a chance to get out in your free time.

I graduated from Coe College, where I majored in American Studies and minored in History & Writing. Then, I did my MA in Museum Studies at KU, graduating in 2008. After college, I was unsure about what type of career to pursue. I was working an office job and learned about the Museum Studies program. I had an interest in teaching, but not in classrooms, and a strong interest in public history. I didn’t even know that such a program existed, but I quickly realized that it was the place for me.

I appreciated the opportunities to explore different fields of museum work while still focusing on education. I had several internships at museums during my time in the program, and one had nothing to do with either education or public history. I was happy to work at the KUNHM/Biodiversity Center in the herpetology lab tagging and cataloguing frogs, snakes, skinks, geckos, toads and their relatives, knowing that I was building a skill to enhance my understanding of how museums work…and that I could hold a collections job if this education thing didn’t pan out! I learned a ton about museums from John Simmons, who was my advisor, teacher and supervisor at KUNHM.

Working at the Watkins, I love getting to know people and figuring out ways to share local history with them. Classroom teachers have been a terrific and welcoming audience and I really enjoy coming up with ways to help them teach local history.

I would tell current students: Do multiple internships at a variety of museums! Work hard! Talk to your instructors! They know a lot–and they know people at other museums who might have internships or jobs available.

I graduated from KU in 2014 with a BA in History and a minor in Communication Studies.

I decided to study history because it was a subject I always enjoyed. Studying history at KU only enhanced my love of history. As soon as I was immersed in my studies, there was no doubt that I made the right decision on what I should be studying. I found the classes to be highly interesting and enjoyable and the coursework to be stimulating.

My time at KU helped my interest in history blossom. My degree helped me point into a direction that led to my career path. The classes that I still look back on today were all taught by the same professor. The Great Depression, Contemporary America, HIST: 616 Theses. All three taught and advised by Jonathan Hagel.

The best part of working in a local history museum is everything that I get to do to make other people love and have fun with history. Whether it’s his work with exhibits or social media, my job is to create an experience that is unforgettable! Make it so you will want to come back for more!

My words of advice to current KU students:

  1. It’s okay to feel like camping for KU basketball is your major.
  2. Study something you love, or you know that you will enjoy, is something you shouldn’t be afraid to explore. A Liberal Arts degree may not seem like it offers the brightest future, but what I have discovered is that it has led me to opportunities that I never would have considered for a career path. I have found. If you work hard and have a positive outlook on your future, there is no limit to success.

Be like these KU College alumni. Find ways to connect with your community and bring your skill set to work that excites you. For more information and the latest Watkins news, visit the Watkins Museum of History, as well as their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter social media accounts. Also see the Museum Studies Program, the Department of History, and the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas.

I am the Heart of KU: Chemists with Chemistry

The College Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 10:51

What is the formula that catalyzes bright sparks to win fountains of scholarships and discoveries that make our world a better place to live? Hard work, for sure. But the fundamental element is people. It’s all about having a supportive friendship group to help you laugh and to collaborate with when confronting challenging questions. Also, it’s about professors, those people who go above and beyond to give you opportunities to do hands-on research. How do we know this? Because we’ve met Emily Boyd, Joseph Loomis, Cara Davis, and Zachary Wood, four KU chemistry majors who scooped up countless prestigious awards last year.

Meet these Chemists with Chemistry and discover how they’re research projects will help efforts to develop cleaner more sustainable fuel, to create energy efficient wires for use in solar energy and beyond, to understand protein structures and dynamics, and to explore the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, particularly for patients who’ve been through chemotherapy.

The Chemists with Chemistry and their scholarship awards:

Be like Zachary, Emily, Joseph and Cara, here’s information on studying Chemistry at KU.

Here’s another video featuring Joseph Loomis’ work on chemo brain.

Ben Clark goes to bat for the Kansas City T-Bones as a Social Media and PR intern

The College Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 08:56

Hometown: Tonganoxie, Kansas

Major(s) / Minor(s): Communication Studies / Sport Management

Internship title and organization: 

Social Media and PR intern for the Kansas City T-Bones

What were your responsibilities during the internship?

I was responsible for running the team Snapchat account, and I helped out with the other social media accounts. I was also responsible for helping out with promotions and really just assisting my boss in any way she needed.

What was your favorite part(s) of the internship?

How had the classes you’d taken at KU prepared you for the internship?

Intro to Sport Management actually prepared me very well for this internship. I knew how to reach out to people about the team and how to be professional and make good connections. Journalism 300 with Dr. Holstead really prepared for it as well. I did a little work on Adobe InDesign and Illustrator for the team, and everything I know about those programs I learned from my J300 class!

What did you gain from the experience that will be valuable to you in the future?

The connections that I made are going to be very helpful for me. The T Bones is an organization that is focused on being fun and entertaining for everyone, whether that is families, big groups, or any group of people.

Why did you choose your majors/minors? 

I definitely had a eureka moment, it didn’t come until April of my junior year though. When I first started at KU in the fall of 2015, I was a pre-journalism student wanting to go into broadcast journalism. I enjoyed certain aspects of that major but in the end it just wasn’t for me. It took me longer than most students to finally decide on what I wanted to do. After journalism I changed my major to Secondary Education for a year, and then Sport Management for the first semester and most of the second semester of my junior year. I really wanted to go into sports marketing and work for a professional football or baseball team. I had an advising appointment to figure out my schedule for the fall of 2018, and my advisor talked to me about changing my major one more time to Communication Studies and minoring in Sport Management. It wasn’t until then that I realized that I could do all of the same stuff and even more with marketing and advertising if I was a Comm Studies major. Plus, I would graduate a lot sooner so that was a nice added bonus!

What do you plan to do after graduation?

I would love to go into creative marketing and advertising when I am done here at KU. My dream job is to work for either the Chiefs or Royals here in Kansas City!

What motivates you?

Being better than I was yesterday motivates me. What motivates me when it comes to a marketing and advertising sense though, is when you can connect with someone and make them remember why they love a sports team or an organization. When you can really attract someone to your product.

Be like Ben, and seek out an internship that will prepare you for that dream job! For more information, visit the Department of Communication Studies and the Department of Health, Sport, and Exercise Sciences at the University of Kansas. And for more about the Kansas City T-Bones, click here.

Habitat: Explore KU’s world-class herpetology collection

The College Blog - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 14:47
Dive into the depths of Dyche Hall to meet the snakes, frogs and 6,985 species from around the world housed in KU’s world-class herpetology collection, a resource that lets students and scholars get hands-on experience with these rare and slippery creatures.

 As the #HeartofKU, the College inhabits spaces across our campus. See where we learn, create and change the world. Explore our habitat.  

Hawks to Watch: Jenny Peck and Geoff Knight, non-profit directors

The College Blog - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 13:23
Why Jenny and Geoff are Hawks to Watch:

When Jenny Peck was placed in rural Tanzania as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2006, the plan was to stay for a couple of years. Plans change.

Jenny’s partner Geoff Knight had followed shortly after Jenny arrived, and the couple felt so at home in Mufindi that two years became twelve. During this time, these KU College grad dedicated their energy and skills to directing Mufindi Orphans, a grassroots organization in rural Tanzania working with a community impacted by a very high prevalence of HIV to ensure care for all of its most vulnerable children and their families. Geoff and Jenny’s work has largely focused on developing long-term sustainable projects with the community. And they’ve also helped build bridges between Lawrence, Kansas and Mufindi, hosting KU researchers and students who want to learn more about the project, including a visit from scholars involved in KU’s ColLAB project in the summer of 2018. Now back in the States, Jenny is working for a non-profit called Global Health Corps in New York, and Geoff is working with the projects in Tanzania, as well as jobs as in education research, and as a Swahili Interpreter. 10 years from now they aim to continue working hard on projects that simultaneously bring them joy, but also help others.

Tell us in a sentence or two what you do for a living:

Now we are in New York where Jenny works for a non-profit called Global Health Corps, and Geoff still works with the projects in Tanzania, as well as jobs as in education research, and as a Swahili Interpreter.

How did you end up doing what you do? 

In 2006, Jenny was placed in rural Tanzania as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and a few months later Geoff (always the romantic, and wanting to do something ‘different than Kansas’) followed Jenny half way across the world and took a job teaching English and music in the closest town. Neither of us thought we would be in Tanzania for more than two years, but the community was so warm and welcoming in Mufindi that we both just felt so at home. What we didn’t know, was that the community was going through a crisis. A combination of factors had created a very high HIV prevalence in the area, and the social fabric was ripping apart. When we were given an opportunity to stay on and work with the community on ways to repair this damage, we decided to do so, and over a decade later, we had four kids together, and we witnessed a community come out of a crisis period and on to the road to recovery.

What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far?

When we started work with a grassroots NGO in Tanzania, there was a lot of work to do, and it was difficult to even know where to start. The HIV pandemic had wiped out a generation of people and a community with a tremendous amount of agricultural/economic potential was buried under the burden of caring for sick family, or children orphaned by the virus. We knew that any initiative that was going to start to make a difference for this community needed a committed buy-in from motivated people. We were motivated to work with this amazing community and we decided to have two mantras: One, that we would stay at least until our oldest child was 5 (we didn’t have any kids at the time!); and two, that if we were doing our jobs right, we were working our way out of the job.

Often times wherever there is a crisis it can be tempting to dive in and do all we can, and longer-term impacts become lower priorities, but we knew that for any long-term sustainable project to work, Tanzanians would be the best advocates for their own people once given a voice.

In 2006 there were likely less than a dozen people getting treatment for HIV due to the fact that transport to the closest facility for treatment was too expensive, and too far away. Today, and after harnessing the good will of the community, and stakeholders from around the world, a Care and Treatment Clinic has been built in the community, life-saving equipment supplied, and over 5,000 patients have received treatment in their own community. HIV/AIDS is no longer a death-trap for this community, and more kids are in school than ever before; more farmers are creating food and income for their families; and more shops and services are open for business. The senior staff of the organization in Mufindi is now comprised of former students of Jenny’s from Peace Corps, and community members from Mufindi. When we look back this year on what has been achieved over the past 12 years, we believe we achieved success through staying true to our two mantras.

What’s your lowest career moment and how did you pick yourself up and move on?

In 2010 our projects had really started to make a difference as the community was getting back on its feet and real developments were happening for families. But then we had a devastating blow where four infants in our project area passed away inside of a three weeks. The problem was malnutrition as their Mothers had either passed away or could not produce breastmilk due to complications of living with HIV. Still, everyone pulled together and shared ideas on what to do based on what was needed and a new program was formed which helped new mothers with milk powder formula. All of us had to be sure this was done appropriately as research showed this type of project had failed in other communities in the past. So everyone in the organization contributed to producing a program that saved lives and kept babies healthy. To date, hundreds of kids have had a healthy start to their life from this program.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

Ten years from now we would still like to be a part of something that makes a difference for the good of people. We are aiming to work hard on things that bring us joy, but also help others. It would be fantastic if we were in a position in career and life to be living part-time in the US/Canada and part time elsewhere in the world, working with a community again, building-out models and strategies to address individual community needs.

What do you know now that you wish you could tell your 18-year-old self?

Jenny: There’s going to be people who might try to squash your dreams along the way- stay true to yourself and don’t listen to anything that doesn’t serve you!

What’s your best career pro-tip?

Also, when working with people, give them the benefit of the doubt. When working with someone, always enter with the assumption that they mean to do good, and let them prove you wrong before you shift to the attack.

Dream Big! A lot of people will tell you something is impossible, but the bigger you dream the more will become possible!

Finally, one of the best pieces of advice we’ve ever had from mentors of ours is “if it were easy, it would have already been done.”

How did your KU degree prepare you for your current job?

Jenny: I started out in chemical engineering with a pre-med emphasis, but after I met an amazing math Professor, I realized that someone’s passion for a subject can really influence my direction. In Tanzania my math students brought me to their homes and I met families struggling with their health, and the passion those kids had for their community, I believe, helped led me towards public health.

Geoff: I will be the first to admit that I made lots of mistakes as I was learning, and I like to think that Anthropology helped me to be aware of those mistakes, and to make amends in the best way possible. From a professional standpoint, being active in activities while at KU helped enormously as well. Being a leader in the KU Hockey club program, there was no way any one person could manage and run the whole organizing of that program. We all took pride in doing our part to make the whole experience better for everyone. I think I learned a lot about my leadership-style from that, and strangely enough, the same skills that I gleaned from being part of the team that set out the logistics of getting 20 or so knuckleheads to a set of road games in Pekin, Illinois, (where we all had a great time and stayed safe) actually also helped me being part of the team that got health care treatment for a community that was grossly underserved due to muddy roads and under-resourced medical systems.

What do you do after you’ve clocked out?

Jenny: I discovered yoga after the birth of our twins, and I really fell in love with everything about it. I even got yoga teacher certified at Om Tree in Lawrence, Kansas that was truly life-changing.

Geoff: I was born and spent most of my childhood in Canada, and therefore keep a stereotypical birthright to playing and loving hockey. There is not (yet) a big hockey scene in Tanzania, so my love of playing music as a way to unwind really increased there.

What is a fun fact about you that surprises people?

In fact, in recent years, to find a way to have another focus other than the sometimes overwhelming nature of our work in Tanzania, we started a band! We are called the Mufindi Misfits and we have played a few shows, and we plan to one day embark on a world tour! You can tell by now that our music mantra is “our heads are bigger than our talent!”

Be like Geoff and Jenny. Here’s more information on studying anthropology and mathematics at the University of Kansas.

Hawks to Watch are disrupters. They’re poised for greatness, inspiring their colleagues and excelling in their professions. Basically, they’re killing it. Having recently graduated, they are just starting to leave their mark and we can’t wait to see how their story unfolds. These Jayhawks span all industries including business, non-profits, tech, healthcare, media, law and the arts. 

Under the microscope: Haifa Alhadyian examines life from a molecular level

The College Blog - Wed, 10/31/2018 - 08:51

Program of study and year:​ Ph.D. candidate – Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology – 3​rd​ year

Hometown:​ Dammam City, Saudi Arabia

What are your research interests and why did you choose them? Was there a moment when you decided this is what you wanted to study? What was that journey like?

My research interests are centered around developmental biology and genetics. While in high school, biology was the subject that I enjoyed the most, so I got my Bachelor’s degree in Zoology. A year later, I was awarded the King Abdullah Scholarship, which allowed me to come to the United States to pursue a degree in biology.

Tell us what your Ph.D. thesis is in under 200 characters:

I am using a combination of genetics and cell biology to investigate how cells and tissue change shape during development using the fruit fly as a model system.

What is one thing you think everyone should know about your research project or research interests? This might be a commonly held belief that your research questions or complicates.

Basic science, including the use of model organisms such as flies and worms, is vital in advancing the scientific knowledge of how living organisms develop and survive. In fact, ​many human diseases​, including neurodegenerative disorders and developmental abnormalities, have been studied in model organisms. Thus, the impact of answering fundamental biological questions is extremely crucial in advancing our knowledge about both diseases and normal cellular processes that occur in our bodies everyday.

Where are you conducting your research?
I am conducting my research in the lab of Dr. Robert Ward in the Department of Molecular Biosciences.

What advice would you give new grad students as they develop their professional networks?

Give a shout-out to a professor, mentor, advisor, or someone at KU who has helped you.
My shout-out goes to everyone who has helped me along the way from fellow graduate students to professors, especially my Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Robert Ward, for supporting my research and encouraging me to explore outreach opportunities outside of the lab. I also would like to give a shout-out to Dr. Sonia Hall, a former Ph.D. student in our lab, for her support early in my graduate career.

What is the most valuable experience you have had while studying at KU?

Besides developing my career as a scientist, the most valuable experience for me is co-creating programs such as ​SEARCH Symposium​ and ​Jayhawks Breaking Barriers​. These programs allowed me to serve in various leadership roles early in my career. Also, participating in outreach activities such as Kansas DNA Day​ and ​Girl Scouts STEM Expo​ helped me practice science communication in a more interactive environment.

Why did you get involved in Jayhawks Breaking Barriers and the Early Career Scientist-Communication and Outreach Subcommittee for the Genetics Society of America?

I wanted to get involved with​ ​Jayhawks Breaking Barriers ​program to help undergraduate women see their potential and develop their leadership skills early in their scientific career. I served as a Co-Chair of the Curriculum Committee and helped design the workshop series part of the program. Currently, I am a member of the Steering, Mentorship, and Research Committees of the new implemented course BIOL420: STEM Professional Development, which is more tailored for diversity in science.

Genetics Society of America (GSA) has a well-developed program for early career scientists to explore leadership roles and enrich their skills while building their professional network.

As a result of my appointment with GSA, I published my first blog post on Science Trends website and the second blog post will be published soon.

What do you plan to do after you graduate from KU?
My primary goal is to stay in academia and run my laboratory using model organisms to answer questions related to developmental biology. Thus, after graduating from KU, I will conduct postdoctoral research in related fields to gain more experience in scientific research and grant writing. Then, I will apply for faculty positions. ​What motivates you? Knowing that my work adds new knowledge to science, mentoring undergraduate students and helping them succeed, creating opportunities for others, and engaging with the public by participating in outreach activities.

Be like Haifa. Search for answers to the most important questions in your field, and stay on the lookout for leadership opportunities! For more information, visit the Department of Molecular Biosciences at the University of Kansas, as well as SEARCH Symposium, ​Jayhawks Breaking Barriers, Kansas DNA Day​ and ​Girl Scouts STEM Expo​.

Unwinding with Paul Stock: Mr Rogers optimist and environmental sociologist

The College Blog - Tue, 10/30/2018 - 08:44

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.” – Mr Rogers

Paul Stock, an environmental sociologist at KU, is a helper. He’s driven by that same Mr Rogers optimism as he seeks to understand and consider solutions to some of the great challenges facing the world – inequality, food insecurity and environmental degradation. For Paul, the solutions lie in the creative capacities of us all to rethink how we do things and to make choices that, no matter how small, make the world better. In his research, Paul points to the examples of experimental uses of land for entrepreneurial food growing, like the Common Ground project here in Lawrence, Kansas, and to the potential of small farmers around the world to model new ways of doing things that address global issues. Small-scale projects can have big impacts, especially when they are the result of collaboration between students, community leaders and people across the world.

Oh, and there’s also a beautiful poem and a story involving beer, hot-dogs and baseball.

It’s Unwinding with Paul Stock:

Unwinding is a podcast that tells the human stories driving the minds and talents of the University of Kansas. In each episode we sit down with KU researchers in a favorite or familiar setting to chat about what they’re working on, why they’re passionate about it, why it matters, and what makes them tick as humans. You may find us on campus, running the trails, on a farm, at a coffee shop or down at the pub. Wherever the location, the conversation explores the fascinations and motivations that produce new discoveries.

Unwinding is a collaboration between The Commons at KU and KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The Commons is a catalyst for unconventional thinking, interdisciplinary inquiry, and unexpected discoveries across the sciences, arts, and humanities. The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is the heart of KU. It’s home to more than 50 departments, programs and centers, offering more than 100 majors, minors and certificates. A collaborative and creative community, the College is committed to making the world better through inquiry and research.

Music: Lee Rosevere‘s “Let’s Start at the Beginning

Zsófia Oszlánczi makes connections through communications internship

The College Blog - Sat, 10/20/2018 - 19:52

Hometown: Komarom, Hungary

Major(s) / Minor(s): Major is Communication Studies, minors are French and Business.

Why did you choose your majors/minors? Did you always know what you wanted to study? Or was there a eureka moment?

I used to be very talkative when I was little, and I always participated in poetry recitation contests during elementary and high school. Although the talkativeness didn’t disappear, I became more interested in observing how people communicate with each other interpersonally and interculturally. In May, I was elected to be the President of the International Student Association (ISA) at KU, and our goal is to help international students with adjusting to their new environment and to make sure that they get the fullest KU experience while being here.

Internship title and organization: Communications Intern at Bayer Crop Science in Kansas City, MO.

What were your responsibilities during the internship? 

I also helped out with event coordination, and interviewed company employees to collect data for the company’s history book.

What was your favorite part(s) of the internship?

My supervisors and I taught 4 class periods about public speaking at Cristo Rey High School in Kansas City. Helping those students face their fear of speaking in public made me realize what a relevant role communication has in our lives from early ages on.

What did you gain from the experience that will be valuable to you in the future?

I wrote 3 articles for the company’s intranet, which helped me develop my writing skills, and it also gave me an insight into web page editing.

How had the classes you’d taken at KU prepared you for the internship?

My previous job experiences helped me a lot, but I also remembered facts from my communications classes. For example, the knowledge I gained from those became very handy when I had to teach kids different techniques to calm themselves down while giving a speech.

What do you plan to do after graduation?

I am planning to do a Master’s in Journalism at KU.

Give a shout-out to someone to a prof, advisor or someone else who has been influential during your time at KU:

Jonathan Perkins and Gloria Funcheon. Dr. Perkins is my supervisor at the Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center, and he taught me to always look for opportunities. Ms. Funcheon was my supervisor for a year and a half. She is one of the most inspiring women I know, who taught me to never underestimate myself.

What do you like best about studying in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the Heart of KU?

What motivates you?

Achievements, and of course, my family (especially my brother and my parents, they are amazing) and my friends. Their support and encouragement motivate me every day.

Be like Zsófia. Find ways to broaden your skill sets and apply your knowledge. For more information, visit the Department of Communication Studies, the Department of French, Francophone & Italian Studies, and the School of Business at the University of Kansas.

In the field: Geologist and photographer Aaron Goldstein explores layers of Earth and humanity

The College Blog - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 15:47

Major: B.S. in Geology (2018)

Where are you from? And why did you decide to come to KU?

I am originally from Anderson, MO – a small town in southwestern Missouri which is located approximately 30 miles southwest from Joplin, MO. I decided to come to KU based mainly on two factors, the first of which was that KU’s geology program is very well established and prepares students to solve problems faced as a professional geologist. The other main factor that led me to KU was that there is a large Jewish community at the university. The people who participated in Jewish life at KU became my main social group that I interacted with regularly.

Describe your areas of study and tell us why these subjects are important to you:

My main area of study was in geology, in which concepts such as plate tectonics, geophysics, and field geology were discussed in detail. From a young age, I had always been interested in rocks. I would gather a rock collection anytime I was on vacation or even in the backyard at our house. My passion for rock collecting would solidify more when I visited the Smithsonian Natural History museum. It was there where my parents would take me to the crystal exhibits, and I was so fascinated that my parents had bought me a pocket book containing information on hundreds of rocks and minerals. It was from then on that I was interested in geology.

My main interest is in the discipline of geophysics, where several geophysical techniques can be used for ore and mineral exploration. I am most interested in using geophysical techniques such as seismic refraction to collect and analyze data to create 3D or 4D models of the subsurface. This topic is important to me because it can be utilized for hydrocarbon exploration.

What do you think is most valuable about your experiences in these programs?

I think that the most exciting part of the geology program at KU is the countless trips we make all over the U.S. and the world for field work. Almost every course you take as a geology student has a field component, so you may find yourself in states such as Colorado and Wyoming. Research goes even further, and you may find yourself traveling to another country to conduct a field study.

How did you get into photography? What do you enjoy most about that and what do you wish to accomplish through your work? Are there any particular themes or subjects you like to explore?

Photography has been an interest of mine from a young age. When I had my first point-and-shoot camera, I would often take pictures when I went on vacation, and my parents thought that I had a good eye. After many years, I was given my first DSLR camera as a Hanukkah present sophomore year of high school.


Currently, I am working on a project in which I interview homeless people and capture their portrait so that I can share their inner struggle and turmoil that most people fail to see.

Give a shout-out to someone who has been influential during your time at KU:

Hands down a shout-out to Dr. Noah McLean, who helped me find what I was most passionate about in geology. He is also an amazing lecturer, who is dedicated to making sure everyone understands the material he teaches.

What was your favorite class at KU? And why?

I think my favorite course at KU would have to be a course entitled Mythology, Folklore, and Culture of Eastern Asia taught by Dr. Keith McMahon. I found the topic in general, very interesting and fulfilling to learn about a culture completely different from our own.

Have you done any internships, study abroad programs, or any other learning experiences you’d like to share? If so, what was that like?

I studied abroad at the University of Leeds in Leeds, England the fall semester of 2018. No words can express how amazing my experience was in the UK. Being in a foreign country, albeit the native language is English, takes some adjusting to.

At the university, I found that the material presented in lectures are in a completely different format and requires a different set of studying to prepare for. Even still, studying abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Christkindelmarkt (German Christmas Market) in Leeds, England.

What is the benefit of being in the KU College alongside students studying sciences, arts and humanities?

I think the real benefit of being a student in the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is that it allows a large proportion of individuals with different backgrounds to work together to learn and understand concepts and see ideas from different perspectives. Additionally, it provides a foundation for the appreciation of more subjects and ideas than just your main area of study.

What are you doing now, and what are your future plans?

Having graduated May 2018, I currently am employed as an entry-level geophysicist/geoscientist in Charlotte, NC by Intertek-PSI, a London based company. The bulk of my position consists of utilizing geophysical techniques and geological concepts to create 3D models of the subsurface for various companies such as Marathon and Shell, to name a few. In the future, I would like to return to graduate school so that I can pursue my dream of becoming an exploration geophysicist.

A portrait of a homeless man in Charlotte, North Carolina. Aaron’s notes about this photo: “He was trying to find enough money to go to the homeless shelter and find food but hardly anyone was listening. He saw me and asked if I would take a picture. I agreed and proceeded to take this image of him. He asked if he could see the picture and I showed him this image and he replied ‘I matter.’ Pretty powerful message: treat everyone with a little bit of humanity.”

What would you tell your freshman self?

Everyone goes to college for different reasons. Some individuals go to college to have the “college experience”, some go to make memories, and some go because they were told that there was no other option. Whatever your initial reason was, realize that for the next x amount of years, academics is your reason to be in school. Treat school like it is a job. Wake up at a decent time in the morning and study material until 5 P.M. In the end, your hard work will pay off, and will allow you to have better job opportunities, life choices, etc.

What motivates you?

I think what motivates me the most is setting goals each week and then looking back at all the progress that I have made towards those goals. It always helps to see where you were and how far you have come to realizing your full potential and goals.

Be like Aaron. Seize the day, push yourself, and explore multiple areas of interest. For more information, visit the Department of Geology at the University of Kansas.

Turn your Spring Upside Down with these 11 classes

The College Blog - Wed, 10/10/2018 - 14:02

Netflix’s Stranger Things may be taking the year off, but we’ve got you covered in the meantime. Check out our list of College classes (plus one from our friends in the School of Music!) you can enroll in, and find something to peak your interest, whatever your style is – whether you’re a Steve, a Nancy, a Dustin, or more of a Barb. (We’re still crossing our fingers for a Barb comeback!)

Q: How many classes are we including on our list?


 ENGL 506 English – Science Fiction

The Stranger Things crew found their quiet lives in Hawkins, Indiana disrupted by supernatural forces and dangers out of a vivid nightmare – paranormal experiments, Demodogs running loose across town, awkward school dances. If you’re a lover of all things spooky, supernatural, and paranormal in fiction, take a closer look at sci-fi as a literary genre in ENGL 506!

The development of science fiction as a literary genre, and as a literature of ideas for a future-oriented society. Satisfies: Goal 6 Outcome 1 (AE61) ,  H Humanities (H)

FREN 150 French – Aliens & Monsters in French

Speaking of sci-fi nightmares, if the wait for Season 3 of Stranger Things has left you hungry for a dose of mutants, monsters, and general mayhem, consider taking Aliens & Monsters in French and experience close encounters with the supernatural, the undead, and the all-around strange. Se méfier!

A comprehensive, interdisciplinary survey of the treatment of the Other in French culture in different ages that may include vampires, zombies, fairy tales, villains and anti-heroes, the macabre, alien encounters, dystopias and utopias, and deviancy, with particular attention to literature, film and TV, and thought. Taught in English. Does not fulfill any requirement in the French major or minor. Satisfies: Goal 1 Outcome 1 (GE11)

ABSC 160 Applied Behavioral Science – Intro to Child Behavior & Development

Ah, childhood –an interesting time in life for sure, full of life lessons and challenges. It’s all the more interesting when those challenges include: scheming to stop Shadow Monsters, running from the authorities with your psychic posse, and getting to the bottom of top-secret government experiments. Luckily, most of us experience no more than one of those problems growing up (two at most). If you want an overview of childhood development and behavior from birth to adolescence, look no further: Intro to Child Behavior and Development is for you.

An introduction to child behavior and development with an emphasis on the normal developmental range of growth, intelligence, cognition, emotion, language, and social skills from birth to adolescence. (Formerly HDFL 160.) Satisfies: Goal 3 Social Sciences (GE3S) ,  S Social Science (S) ,  SI Individual Behavior PC (SI)

 DANC 440 Dance – Intro to Classical East Asian Dance

Dance can move you in all directions – to the left, to the right, backwards, even… Upside Down (Get it?). Get moving with KU Dance Department in Intro the Classical East Indian Dance, and sharpen your dance knowledge and abilities! (We promise it won’t be like an awkward school dance.)

Classical East Indian dance has an extensive movement vocabulary that emphasizes the coordination of rhythmic foot patterns with intricate hand gestures. Students will learn the mudras (hand gestures) and their significance and integration within each dance. Readings will include excerpts from the Natya Sastra and other treatises of East Indian dance and culture. Satisfies: Goal 4 Outcome 2 (AE42) ,  NW Non-Western Culture (NW)

ANTH/LING 320 Anthropology/Linguistics – Language in Culture and Society

After her escape from the laboratory, Eleven had to develop communication skills and learn the everyday language necessary to connect with others in a society that was new to her. Explore the ways that language connects cultures in Language in Culture and Society.

Language is an integral part of culture and an essential means by which people carry out their social interactions with the members of their society. The course explores the role of language in everyday life of peoples in various parts of the world and the nature of the relationship between language and culture. Topics include world-view as reflected in language, formal vs. informal language, word taboo, and ethnography of speaking. Satisfies: Goal 4 Outcome 1 (AE41) ,  Goal 6 Outcome 1 (AE61) ,  S Social Science (S) ,  SC Culture & Society PC (SC)

PHIL 676 Philosophy – Medical Ethics: Life & Death Issues

It should be obvious that the techniques employed by Martin Brenner (a.k.a. “Papa”) and his team at the military base, which include bizarre bodily and psychological experiments, fall short of what medical experts deem to be ethical practice. But in some cases, the line might not always be so clear, especially in matters of life and death. Develop a better understanding of philosophical arguments on all sides of hot-button medical issues, as well as their implications, in Medical Ethics: Life & Death Issues.

After a brief survey of techniques of moral argument and analysis especially as they pertain to the moral impermissibility of murder, particular moral and conceptual issues relating to death and dying in medical contexts will be addressed. Topics such as abortion, infanticide, suicide, euthanasia, the definition of death, and the right to refuse life-saving medical therapy will be included. Prerequisite: Two courses in biology or consent of instructor. Satisfies: Goal 5 Outcome 1 (AE51) ,  H Humanities (H)

AMS/SOC 324 American Studies/Sociology- Being Deviant in America

You don’t have to have psychokinetic or telepathic abilities to be considered an outcast from society. Deviancy applies to a wide range of traits, actions, and behaviors that are generally frowned upon and violate social norms. In Being Deviant in America, you’ll explore what exactly it means to be deviant in the United States and society’s ongoing quest to “deal with” deviancy.

In this course students will study traits, conditions, actions, and behaviors that violate social norms and elicit negative societal reactions. This includes the social, cultural, and individual factors that explain deviance; motivations behind deviant behavior; and efforts by society to control deviants. In short, you will undertake a sociological examination of those on the margins of society and societal efforts to “deal with” them. Satisfies: Goal 4 Outcome 1 (AE41) ,  S Social Science (S)

MUSC 309 Musicology – History of Rock and Roll

“Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by The Clash. “Africa” by Toto. “Elegia” by New Order. “Runaway” by Bon Jovi. The Stranger Things soundtrack is an eclectic mix of greatest hits from the ‘80s, including many notable rock and roll classics. Jam out with KU Musicology and discover the rich, and undeniably cool, history of rock and roll music, man. It’ll put the Rock in “Rock Chalk!”

Alexa, play the Stranger Things soundtrack.

Survey of the history of rock and roll, starting with its origins in rhythm and blues and continuing to the present day. Open to both majors and non-majors. Satisfies: Goal 3 Arts and Humanities (GE3H) ,  H Humanities (H)

FMS 380 Film and Media Studies – American Popular Culture of _______ :

Stranger Things is jam-packed with ‘80s nostalgia and pop culture references to big-screen blockbusters of the era, from the Goonies, to E.T., Ghost Busters, and Indiana Jones. Grab a big bucket of popcorn and get a front-row seat to the landscape of American pop-culture through cinema with Film and Media Studies. And please, no spoilers.

An interdisciplinary examination of popular cultural forms and their relationships with the social, political and economic dynamics of America, with emphasis on film, media, music, literature (including magazines and newspapers) and the graphic arts. The decade or other specific topic to be studied changes as needs and resources develop. May be repeated for credit for different decades or topics. Satisfies: Goal 3 Arts and Humanities (GE3H) ,  H Humanities (H) ,  HL Literature & the Arts PC (HL)

REL 171 Religious Studies / AMS 290 American Studies – Religion in American Society

Did you know that the founder of Kellogg’s cereal, which produces Eleven’s favorite food of choice – Eggos, was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Learn all about the Seventh-day Adventists and other religious movements in the United State in Religion in American Society.

A broad introduction to religion in American culture. This class emphasizes the well-established religions with large followings (viz. Judaism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism). Some attention is also given to other religions active in America. Other topics covered include the relationship of church and state, religion in ethnic and racial minority groups, and women and religion. Not open to students who have taken REL 172. Satisfies: Goal 4 Outcome 1 (AE41) ,  Goal 3 Arts and Humanities (GE3H) ,  H Humanities (H) ,  HR Philosophy & Religion PC (HR)

BIO 152 Biology – Principles of Organismal Biology

OK, how did Dustin’s pet Dart transform from a tiny slug to a giant cat-eating Demadogorgon so rapidly? While it may not address that example specifically, Principles of Organismal Biology will introduce you to the basics of organismal diversity, population biology, and principles of evolution!

An integrated lecture and laboratory course for biology majors and students who plan to take additional courses in biology. This course covers basic elements of plant and animal morphology and physiology, principles of evolution, organismal diversity and phylogeny, population biology, population genetics, ecology, and behavior. Three hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory per week. An honors section (BIOL 153) is offered for students with superior academic records. Prerequisite: BIOL 150 or BIOL 151 with a grade of C- or higher; or consent of instructor. Satisfies: Goal 3 Natural Sciences (GE3N) ,  Lab and Field Experiences (LFE) ,  N Natural Science (N) ,  NB Biological Sciences PC (NB)


Note: These classes are offered across all semesters. Check out the schedule of classes to see what’s available in upcoming semesters.

Experience the College Online

The College Blog - Wed, 10/10/2018 - 10:07

The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Online degree completion program offers challenge, support, and community. You’ll earn a liberal arts and sciences degree, giving you the flexibility to take your career in endless directions. You’ll have support throughout your online coursework from dedicated professors and staff. And you’ll join the community of Jayhawk graduates who are making a difference around the world. Meet some recent graduates and see how a degree from the College Online made a difference for them!

Brenton Del Chiaro

My name is Brenton Del Chiaro and I am a former student athlete (baseball) at KU. 18 years ago, I left KU to pursue my dreams of playing Major League Baseball.  I was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels as a Senior and left school without completing my degree. On draft day, I promised my family that I would finish my college degree at some point. What seemed like a simple agreement became a distant memory and more of an empty promise as the years went by.

A change in career brought about an incredible opportunity to return to KU and finish my degree.  The College Online provided me the chance to enroll in classes while living in Phoenix, AZ and start working towards my degree completion.The decision to return to school was an easy one but the personal commitment it required was not so easy.  It takes time and effort,  along with raising a family and having a full time job, it was a lot to juggle.  However, the support and advice that I received from my Academic Advisor, Denise Farmer, was invaluable to me during the process. Denise and the rest of the staff made me feel confident that my experience and transition back to being a student would be a smooth one. The enrollment process was simple, my professors were great communicators, and my experience was incredible. When I entered The College Online, I needed to complete 8 classes to earn my degree. I am thrilled to report that I have finished my degree in a year’s time and I attended graduation in May.

Janee Osborn

All I can really say is this: It was worth every second of hard work. It definitely wasn’t easy being a full time student, full time mom, and having a full time job. BUT I had the support I needed from my friends and family to push through. I also had support from my advisor, she was absolutely amazing in answering all of the questions I had and checked in on me often. Overall, I had a great experience going as an online student. It was a good fit for me considering my situation. My advice would be this: Don’t give up, ever. Always push through, and if you need help, ASK. There will always be someone there to help you. Rock Chalk!

Dakota Driscoll

I really enjoyed my experience in the Online program. I work full time so coming to campus every day was not an option for me. KU Online gave me the chance to complete my degree which I would not have been able to do otherwise. I was very happy with the large selection of available online courses for Core requirements as well as senior electives, and I am so happy to see that more degree programs have been added.

Being a completely online student, when it came time for letters of recommendation for graduate school, I felt a little nervous because I didn’t have the face to face experience with professors that I did with on-campus classes. Professors will appreciate the extra effort you make to connect. A big misconception about online classes is that they are easier than in-person. I actually think they are more challenging because you have to schedule out your own time to not only learn the material, but also to complete the assignments. You must have exceptional time management skills to be successful online. Also, take advantage of the Online school advisors! I feel very lucky that I came back to KU to be a part of the Online program. It is an amazing opportunity for incoming freshman, non-traditional, and return students to complete their degree on their own schedule.

General info about me: I came to KU in 2011 straight out of high school, left KU to go to cosmetology school and become a hair stylist, and came back to KU in 2017 to complete a Bachelor of General Studies. I am continuing onto a Master of Public Health at KU Med in the Fall.

Jeremy Pafford

Advisers were attentive and readily available to guide me along the way, and the Blackboard online learning system does an outstanding job of keeping students on track with lessons and assignments. Online classes require discipline and self-motivation — they are not necessarily easier than in-person classes! But with that discipline and drive you can be a success and discover abilities and interests you did not know you had.

John Gamble

After taking the MCAT, I left my undergraduate studies at the University of Kansas early to attend medical school in 1988. After completing my medical school studies and radiology residency at Johns Hopkins I began a military commission and practiced as an Air Force (AF) radiologist at the AF Academy, Colorado Springs.  I am currently the Radiology department chairman at a Springfield, Missouri area hospital and have been practicing medicine for over 20 years.  I always told myself that one day I would return to complete my KU undergrad degree. That dream came true when KU began its online program.  Next year I will have three daughters in college. One at MIT studying mechanical engineering and robotics, another a second-year nursing student at KU and my baby will be a KU computer science incoming freshman.

Why KU and not a local online program? Because I am a Jayhawk for life. Also, the KU program allowed me to login from anywhere and study anytime with no commute. This means I could do my coursework around my work schedule and family life.  KU offers a plethora of accredited programs at a lower cost. This means that attending KU online will allow you to apply for federal and state financial aid, transfer credits more easily, and will provide better employment opportunities upon graduation. Furthermore, KU offers more intensive minimesters (complete entire 3-hour course in 8 weeks) for faster degree completion.

The University of Kansas has been instrumental in changing my life and the lives of my family members for the better.  Let it change yours…​

Be like these College Online grads, and find the right fit on your road to success. For more information, visit The College Online at the University of Kansas.

Distinguished Alumni: Rob Riggle, Marine Vet and Comedian

The College Blog - Tue, 10/09/2018 - 08:24

Rob Riggle, one of the most recognizable Jayhawk alumni, will be honored this year with the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Kansas. He will visit Lawrence in November to accept the award.

Riggle has forged two distinct and notable careers since graduating from KU in 1992 with a B.A. in theatre and film. Following a career with the United States Marine Corps during which he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Riggle has become well-known in comedic films and television. Riggle is familiar to filmgoers and TV fans alike for comedic roles in films such as “The Hangover” and “Step Brothers,” as well as his stints on “Saturday Night Live” and as a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” His most recent film appearance is in “Night School” with Kevin Hart, which was released this fall. On the small screen, Riggle created and stars in “Rob Riggle’s Ski Master Academy,” available on Sony Crackle. For his voice-over talents, he earned a 2012 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for Disney’s “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice.” Riggle is also known for his philanthropic efforts and as an enthusiastic fan of KU.

“Rob Riggle’s accomplished and varied career exemplifies the many paths open to graduates with a well-rounded education in the liberal arts and sciences,” said Clarence Lang, interim dean of the College. “We are pleased to recognize him and welcome him back to campus.”

The College will host “An Evening with Rob Riggle” on Friday, Nov. 2, at the Burge Union. Tickets are required and available at the Kansas Union. More details on tickets and the event are available here.

Q & A with Rob Riggle Your post-KU career has included time in both the military and entertainment. What did your options look like when you were graduating?  

When you graduate from anywhere with a theater & film degree you’re most likely going to be waiting tables when you start out. It’s just the way it goes if you want the flexibility to make auditions and be in productions. I however, had my pilot’s license when I was in undergrad and took a test called the AQTFAR and scored well enough to attain a guaranteed flight contract with the Marine Corps. So for me, when I graduated it was either wait tables or Top Gun. Now, with regard to my degree, I wouldn’t change a thing.

One of the benefits of a liberal arts and sciences degree we emphasize with students most often is flexibility. As someone who has pursued many pathways and has a multi-faceted career, how have you observed this flexibility play out in your own career? 

Unless you’re going to specialize in a certain field, like medicine or accounting, I think you should seek an education that is well rounded. You should seek social and emotional intelligence as well as academic intelligence. It’s great to be accurate when “crunching the numbers” but if you can’t communicate effectively or inspire others, you’ll probably never be a leader in your chosen field.

What are you most proud of, personally and professionally?

Personally: My children. They are smart, wonderful, kind, inquisitive and fun. That’s something that my wife and I helped with … I’m pretty sure.


I’m also grateful to have the opportunity to pursue my dreams. I’m grateful that I get to write, act and perform comedy for a living.

What do you know now that you wish you could tell your 18-year-old self?

Trust yourself more. Relax. Enjoy.

Why do you think comedy is important for the world?  LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 21: Rob Riggle visits ‘The IMDb Show’ on August 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb) What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?

I’ve had more than one career. So, in the Marines, it was serving overseas and leading Marines in a variety of combat zones. In show business, it’s getting knocked down all the time and getting back up. If you choose a life in the arts, you’re going to be judged and rejected in a very cruel and subjective way. It can hurt. You’ve got to be really clear on why you’re doing something so when you get knocked down, you can get back up. Time after time … after time.

What KU experience has been most influential in your life? 

I mean, how wrong would it be to say, 1988 and 2008 Championships? Also, the 2008 Jayhawks football season … I mean, come on!!! Oh, and when we beat Missouri the last time in Allen Fieldhouse! Sooo good!

What is the last thing you read for fun?

It was a book by Michael Rapaport called “This Book Has Balls.” I ran into Michael in New York City recently and we were both on press tours for different projects. He was promoting his new book and I was promoting my new show. He was kind enough to give me a copy and so I read it. It’s hilarious. It’s a series of short stories and sports rants, told as only Michael can tell.

As the largest academic unit with the most alumni, students and faculty, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is the heart of KU. The College has recognized more than 50 liberal arts and sciences graduates with its Distinguished Alumni Award since 1996. Alumni have been honored for accomplishments across a span of career paths, including public and military service, business, arts, medicine, entertainment and publishing, and research. The full list can be viewed at http://college.ku.edu/distinguished-alumni.

Unwinding with Alison Olcott: Dinosaur Hunter and Mars Explorer

The College Blog - Fri, 10/05/2018 - 08:13

Do aliens exist on Mars? Possibly. But how do humans actually go about answering that question? One option is to examine  rocks to understand the types of  life-forms, like squishy things, that roamed the earth billions of years ago.

That’s what Alison Olcott does in her role as associate professor of pealeobiogeochemistry in the Department of Geology at the University of Kansas. And while playing on Google Maps one day, Alison found that the rocks she needed to study are found not far from KU, in the Gypsum Hills of Kansas. Who knew Kansas and Mars were so similar!

In this episode of Unwinding we chat to Alison Olcott about science communication and squishy things, undergraduate research and Jurassic Park, barbies and why chemistry is not as hard to understand as you think!

It’s Unwinding with Alison Olcott, Dinosaur Hunter and Mars Explorer:

Unwinding is a podcast that tells the human stories driving the minds and talents of the University of Kansas. In each episode we sit down with KU researchers in a favorite or familiar setting to chat about what they’re working on, why they’re passionate about it, why it matters, and what makes them tick as humans. You may find us on campus, running the trails, on a farm, at a coffee shop or down the pub. Wherever the location, the conversation explores the fascinations and motivations that produce new discoveries.

Unwinding is a collaboration between The Commons at KU and KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The Commons is a catalyst for unconventional thinking, interdisciplinary inquiry, and unexpected discoveries across the sciences, arts, and humanities. The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is the heart of KU. It’s home to more than 50 departments, programs and centers, offering more than 100 majors, minors and certificates. A collaborative and creative community, the College is committed to making the world better through inquiry and research.

Music: Lee Rosevere‘s “Let’s Start at the Beginning” and “Alien’s – Deep Dark by Deep Dark.

Habitat: Explore Film and Music Making at KU

The College Blog - Thu, 10/04/2018 - 12:31

Check out the state-of-the-art spaces where film and media studies at KU puts you on set and in the studio.

 As the #HeartofKU, the College inhabits spaces across our campus. See where we learn, create and change the world. Explore our habitat.  

Chancellor Doctoral Fellow Alyssa Cole dives into research at KU to explore military service and citizenship

The College Blog - Thu, 10/04/2018 - 11:39

Program of study and year: 3rd year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History

Hometown:  Garden City, KS

What are your research interests and why did you choose them? 

For the past few years, I have studied both African American and US Military history. I have been researching the roles of African American men and women in the military during the twentieth century.  I am particularly interested in how many African Americans connected military service and service to their country during periods of war with full citizenship rights.

I have always been interested in history, and after taking history courses as an undergraduate here at KU, I decided that these interests were something I wanted to continue to learn about.  I was a McNair Scholar at KU and also worked with the Center for Undergraduate Research, both of which gave me the opportunity to conduct more detailed research on the topics I loved.  Both of those programs helped me realize that studying these topics was what I wanted to do during my graduate career.

What is one thing you think everyone should know about your research project or research interests? 

So my answer doesn’t solely apply to African American history, but I would want people to know that there are so many things that many people are unaware of, and it is mind-boggling when you do the research, mainly because these past events have informed the way we live our lives today.

Where are you conducting your research? In archives? Interviews? What are your sources?

Currently, I am using both online sources through the KU libraries as well as conducting research at the Spencer Research Library.  Some of my sources include NAACP documents and files, newspaper articles, magazines, including the Crisis, and student newspapers.

What advice would you give students applying for research funding opportunities?

We are often asked why our research should matter to other people, and while that is important, I think it is equally if not more important to show how passionate you are about your research and how committed you are to producing great work.

Give a shout-out to a professor, mentor, advisor, or someone at KU who has helped you?

So many people have helped me at KU that it is impossible to name just one person, so I am going to name as many as I can get away with. Lisa Brown, Mulu Lemma, Dr. Lang, Dr. Alexander, Dr. Lewis, Nikki Perry, Nancy Espinosa, and Laurie Ramirez.  Each of these people has played an integral role in my success at KU, and I would absolutely not have been able to continue with my graduate career without their assistance.

What extracurricular programs or groups have you been a part of KU that are foundational to your experience here? 

If McNair counts as extracurricular then the McNair Scholars Program, other than that, I haven’t really been able to do much in the way of extracurricular activities, unfortunately.

What has your experience as a Chancellor’s Doctoral Fellow like?

What I like about being a Chancellor’s Doctoral Fellow is the ability to focus on research. Research is my favorite part of graduate school by far, so I appreciate that the fellowship gives us the opportunity to make our research our sole focus during the first and fifth years of study.

What is the most valuable experience you have had while studying at KU?

Meeting all of the fantastic scholars the African and African-American Studies Department, the Langston Hughes Center, the Hall Center and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences bring in for lectures and brown bag lunches.

What do you plan to do after you graduate from KU?

I would like to move to a much bigger city outside of Kansas. I am currently eyeing Washington DC, and would ideally like to work at a historic site or museum. Alternatively, should that not work out, I’d like to have/live on a farm on the outskirts of a big city.

What motivates you?

I love to learn and going to graduate school was a way for me to continue learning as much as I can about topics I care about.  The ability to take care of my family motivates me as well.  I am a first-generation college student and knowing that I am the first in my family to go to graduate school is motivating, as well as knowing that I will have the ability to help my children through the process should they choose to go to graduate school.

Be like Alyssa, and follow your interests. For more information, check out the Department of History, the McNair Scholars Program, the Department of African and African-American Studies, the Hall Center for the Humanities, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Aldyn Wildey finds her calling in KU’s Biotechnology laboratories and lands Bioengineering internship

The College Blog - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 15:20


Abilene, KS

Major(s) / Minor(s):

Major: Biotechnology / Minor: Business

Internship title and organization:

Undergraduate Research Assistant
Bioengineering Research Center

Dr. Candan Tamerler

What were your responsibilities during the internship?

My responsibilities during the internship were to help my mentors with various projects, collect data, and present the data and scientific techniques during group lab meetings.

What was your favorite part(s) of the internship?

My favorite part of the internship was just gaining experience in the Engineering field as a whole. I was able to contribute a lot when it came to the experimental side of things, but I also was able to learn about many different techniques and the science behind them from an Engineering point of view.

What did you gain from the experience that will be valuable to you in the future?

I received training on multiple instruments that some people don’t get exposed to as an undergraduate, so that can really set me apart from others when it comes to working in the Biotechnology industry.

How had the classes you’d taken at KU prepared you for the internship?

The classes I have taken at KU helped me an immense amount in my internship. My classes have taught me how to solve problems in the lab setting without having a clear direction, which essentially is what research is all about. My classes also taught me to not be afraid to fail and how to be mentally capable to keep going because a lot of scientific research is failure and only a small percentage of it is success.   

Why did you choose your majors/minors? Did you always know what you wanted to study? Or was there a eureka moment?

I always knew I wanted to help people using science in some way. However, the path I took to get here was not always the clearest. I initially started my college career majoring in Biomedical Engineering but couldn’t quite get through Calculus 2. Then I changed my major to Biology, but I was surrounded by students who wanted to go the Pre-Med and Pre-Pharmacy routes which wasn’t for me. I knew being in the lab and doing research was my true calling because I had always thrived in that setting, so when I heard about the Biotechnology program at KU Edwards Campus I immediately inquired about it. After meeting with the advisor and one of the program directors/professors I was enrolled to start the following fall. Pursuing a major in Biotechnology has been the best decision I have made and solidifies that I am meant to be in the lab.

What do you plan to do after graduation?

I plan to pursue my PhD in Neurobiology.  

What motivates you?

My motivation comes from a friend of mine named Carly Gassman. Carly passed away from brain cancer in March of 2014. When she was diagnosed I knew immediately that I wanted to pursue a career in science so that I could help people like her. Going through an experience like that is never easy, so I chose to keep her memory alive by going into this field and eventually receiving my PhD in neurobiology.

Be like Aldyn, and pursue your passions, wherever they may lead you. For more information, visit Biotechnology, Bioengineering Research Center, and KU Edwards Campus at the University of Kansas.

Hawks to Watch: Victoria Gunderson, brewer

The College Blog - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 14:46
Why Victoria’s a Hawk to Watch

When combined correctly, grain, hops, yeast and water make a huge variety of delicious beers. But what four ingredients are needed to brew an exciting, successful and fulfilling career? College alum and brewer Victoria Gunderson’s story is unique to her, but also serves as a great recipe for all KU students:

  1. Find your passion – Victoria fermented an interest in craft beer while at KU and during a study abroad trip to Brazil.
  2. Explore, be open and persevere  – When Victoria graduated she applied to all sorts of jobs, struggled, and got frustrated. But that perseverance eventually led her to brewing at 23rd Street Brewery.
  3. A KU degree – A KU Chemistry degree gave Victoria the science needed to succeed in brewing, but also invaluable problem-solving skills for working in a brewery.
  4. Have fun – Finding a job you love is great, but Victoria keeps up other activities, like skateboarding, beer-tasting and napping – if Victoria hadn’t pursued her interest in beer while a college student, she would never have landed her current role.

Becoming a brewer was a journey for Victoria, but with the right mix of these four ingredients, and some serendipity, she is doing a job that she loves, even if it involves a lot of cleaning!

Tell us in a sentence or two what you do for a living:

I am an assistant brewer at 23rd Street Brewery. Brewing is a lot of cleaning (like a lot) and a smaller percentage of actual brewing, but it’s great, and I love seeing and tasting the final product.

What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far?

I had no experience with brewing before getting this job, so I’ve had to learn a lot. I can’t wait to do more and keep growing.

What’s your lowest career moment and how did you pick yourself up and move on?

When I first graduated and was looking for jobs, I felt like I was unqualified for a lot of the jobs that would let me use my chemistry degree. There were jobs that I was qualified for but that offered unappealing shifts, or I simply didn’t like the position. And when I was trying to just get a few part-time jobs, I got turned down for being overqualified because of my degree and I wouldn’t even get call backs on a lot of my applications. When I had my interview at a coffee shop, the manager said, “aren’t you going to be getting a big-kid job?” So I just got so frustrated and unhappy during that time. In the back of my mind was brewing, because my brother-in-law had mentioned it to me all the way back in my freshman year, but I had just brushed it off. By the time I graduated, I had grown an appreciation for craft beer, and had been looking into it and I loved the idea. I believe things happen for a reason, and I ended up finding a passion I didn’t know I had yet. I just had to keep grinding, sift past the crap, and search for something that excited me and would fulfill me. It’s out there for everyone, so don’t settle.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

I want to own my own brewery that would also be a coffee shop and small music venue, somewhere in New England, because that’s where I’m from.

What do you know now that you wish you could tell your 18-year-old self?

You don’t have to have everything figured out. In fact, you may think you do have your future planned, but most likely it’ll change, and you should be open to that possibility. I also think it’s important for college kids to know that it’s okay to enjoy college. Yes, you should grind hard and get the grades, but don’t let that be it. Study abroad, go on road trips with friends, stay up late, take a day and do nothing. Time passes fast, enjoy it. Also, a career doesn’t just have to be a way to make money. You can enjoy it. There’s a saying that if you do what you love, then you’ll never work a day. This is kind of true. I’m working hard day to day; lots of days I leave sweaty and dirty. Some days suck, because things don’t go exactly right or you have to put in long days, and I go home just exhausted. But in the end I wouldn’t trade it, because I love the industry and what I do.

What’s your best career pro-tip?

Work hard, and never stop learning, because the moment you do, that means you’re falling behind. Be open to new ways of doing things, and wise words from people more experienced. But remember to make time to play hard too. Don’t forget about yourself, and your wellbeing. I have a tendency to overwork myself; I’ve got bills and loans to pay, but money should never come before your own wellbeing.

How did your KU degree prepare you for your current job?

My background in chemistry helps me with the science side of brewing. I am hoping to establish a more involved quality assurance program at the brewery before I’m done here. And my background helps a lot with problem solving around the brewery, which is very important.

What’s your best KU memory?

Also a random excursion with the group was to the first Latin American beer school, and I kind of took it as a sign that maybe I should think more about the beer industry.

What do you do after you’ve clocked out?

Sometimes I may go skateboarding, grab a beer, hang out with my roommates or sometimes I just go home and take a nap, haha.

What is a fun fact about you that surprises people?

I am a first generation American-born citizen.

Be like Victoria. Here’s more information on studying chemistry at the University of Kansas.

Hawks to Watch are disrupters. They’re poised for greatness, inspiring their colleagues and excelling in their professions. Basically, they’re killing it. Having recently graduated, they are just starting to leave their mark and we can’t wait to see how their story unfolds. These Jayhawks span all industries including business, non-profits, tech, healthcare, media, law and the arts. 

Aaron Carrillo finds his passion in the Heart of KU and explores Asia through two internships

The College Blog - Wed, 09/19/2018 - 08:51

Preferred Name: Everyone calls me A-A-Ron, but Aaron works too!

Major(s) & Minor(s): I’m not going to lie, I’ve been jumping around in the Biology field quite a bit, but I’m currently majoring in microbiology pre-medicine.

Where are you from? And why did you choose to come to KU?

I’m from El Paso, Texas originally, but as a child we moved quite a bit and settled in Newton, Kansas. My mother wanted me to stay in state and study Engineering. KU had all of those and the distance from home made it the best fit.

Tell us about the internships you did in Vietnam using the Gilman Scholarship. What organization(s) did you work for? What were your responsibilities? What was your favorite part(s) of the internship? And what did you gain from that experience that will be valuable to you in the future?

My internship abroad started in September of my freshman year. I was looking for opportunities to go to Asia, and really wanted to go to Vietnam, where I have family on my mother’s side. I have to say, if you want to study abroad anywhere and you have the drive to do it alone, Student Initiated Programs are for you. It didn’t exactly come with the freedom that I was looking for but it allowed me to see the world from an outside perspective and truly see what it means to be not only Hispanic, but also Vietnamese-American.

I also wanted to have a lot of first experiences. I went from never being a passenger in a plane, to flying San Francisco, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, San Francisco, and finally back. I saw the Ocean for the first time in person in Vũng Tàu, Vietnam and, though at first I was nauseous from watching the waves, my first words getting into the warm water was “Wow, it really is salty.”

It was also the first time I worked with two non-profit organizations. Smile Group is basically Big Brother, Big Sisters, but focused on providing a space for students, aged between 3 and 18, to hang-out, cook, eat, and nap away the hot day. I taught a simple programming class with the use of a LEGO Mindstorm kit.

The second internship I took on was with Friends for Street Children. This really changed my worldview of what poor really is. Undocumented children do not have the ability to use the free education, healthcare, and are not recognized as citizens in Vietnam – they do not have the resources to buy their birth certificate, they often have no education, and they are limited in terms of movement around the country. My internship involved finding funding to run a school for undocumented children in Ho Chi Minh. It was 40 hours a week, with classes during the week, and I was still able to really experience Ho Chi Minh.

Why did you choose your major(s)? Was there a moment when you decided this is what you wanted to study? What was that journey like?

This journey of finding my major was riddled with worries of losing scholarships (I did lose and gain thousands), disappointing those who helped me in getting to college, and really finding what I wanted to do. The turning point for me in deciding I wanted to be a physician started with an obsession with taking things apart and putting them back together. I combined that with my love for helping people. I considered pursuing a BS in Mechanical Engineering and also going down the pre-med path, but I realized I really had to choose between the two. It hit me that I wanted more interaction with people, and to understand how the body worked, so studying biology and taking the pre-medicine path was a great option for me.

Give a shout-out to a professor, academic advisor or some else at KU who has been influential for you:

Patty Fugett has to be at the top of this list. She has supported me during the highs and lows of my rollercoaster ride. She hugged me when I received one of the most competitive scholarships and has helped me learn from lessons when I overloaded my plate. Amea Chandler also deserves a shout out. As my advisor for liberal arts and sciences, Amea has been a light, always there to encourage me and tell me that my GPA will get better, I will get into medical school, and that any limitations or fears are in my head.

What has been your favorite class at KU? And why?

I am a huge believer that any course can be the best if it fits two criteria. First, you have to have an interest in the material. Second, it’s taught by a teacher that knows how to relate to students and is passionate about their material.

That being said, KU has a fair share of such professors, which leads to my favorite course and professor: Human Dissection – the course was not like any other I had taken before. Jackie Garcia, the GTA, was able to motivate the group three times a week for two hour classes at 8am. While Dr. Gonzalez’s material and jokes managed to actually keep me in the lab. I now am a teaching assistant for both human dissection and human anatomy observatory lab.

What motivates you?

Tell us a bit about your work with RESULTS. How did you get involved? What do you do for RESULTS?

RESULTS is a nonpartisan international organization that aims to end poverty by engaging in political dialogue with state and federal representatives. A chapter was already started at Kansas State University and my partner, co-leader Cameron Smith, brought the idea to my attention and a group began to form.

What do you want to do when you graduate?

I want to further my education, and at this point that is going through medical school. For me, this encompasses also looking at opportunities for using advocacy for those who, like myself, did not have the means to have access to a primary physician or an ambulance in cases of emergency.

Be like Aaron. Find your passion and seek out opportunities to make a difference, near and far. For more info, check out Pre-Medicine at the University of Kansas, Friends for Street Children, Smile Group, and RESULTS.

People and places at the heart of Karen Campbell’s KU experience

The College Blog - Tue, 09/18/2018 - 14:45

An encounter with Mary Klayder in 2009 inspired then high schooler Karen Campbell to come to the University of Kansas – it’s a decision that sparked journeys across the world with study abroad and connections that last a lifetime.

Each trip has roused different passions for Karen, an English major with a minor in sociology. In Costa Rica, Karen discovered a passion for travel writing, which is now the focus of her senior honors thesis. Exploring literature in the UK and completing language requirements in Italy have been some of the most valuable personal and educational experiences of Karen’s life. And now Karen is studying the impact of climate change on food, water, and energy in marginalized communities in Vietnam, Morocco and Bolivia with the International Honors Program.

While travel has been pivotal to Karen, it’s the people she’s met across the world and here on The Hill that have been the heart of her KU College experience. And at the center of that is the person who started it all – Mary Klayder.

The world is your canvas: Van Go intern gives back through community art

The College Blog - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 13:35


Hometown: Fairway, Ks

Majors and minor: Psychology and Strategic Communications, Spanish (minor)

Internship title and organization: volunteer, Van Go

What were your responsibilities during the internship?

My job was to help out the staff of Van Go by helping the apprentice artists wherever I could and helping the more senior staff with maintenance things like cleaning or making sure everyone had the supplies they need for work that day.

What was your favorite part(s) of the internship?

I really liked watching how the group all grew together over the semester. The kids were a bit quiet at first, but everyone found their niche in some way over the course of the program. By the end, Van Go had become a place where they could relax a bit and enjoy themselves with friends after school, while giving them a bit of drive at the same time.

What did you gain from the experience that will be valuable to you in the future?

Why did you choose your majors/minors? Did you always know what you wanted to study? Or was there a eureka moment?

I ended up stumbling upon Psychology after a really difficult sophomore year. I was in a major that was crushing me, so to help, I started turning towards some mindfulness practices. That started sparking my interest in psychology, but then going to the KU Career Center really helped steer me the rest of the way there. I just became really interested with how the human mind functions and works. The Strat Com double major is mainly to help learn to communicate successfully to groups. 

How had the classes you’d taken at KU prepared you for the internship?

I think they give you a bit of a sense of hope and drive for putting yourself into these kind of situations. I took this opportunity because I was interested in using psychology in a way that could help people. That drive was inspired by the classes I had started to take and it pushed me to take this opportunity.

What motivates you?


What do you plan to do after graduation?

I’d like to go to grad school and get a master’s in clinical social work, then work in the southwest helping get psychological services to non-English speakers.

Be like Mike, and explore internship opportunities to improve communities. Also, check out the Department of Psychology, the Department of Spanish & Portuguese, and Strategic Communication at the University of Kansas.


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