Undergrads focus on science research during summer

It’s relatively rare for undergraduates majoring in the sciences to have the opportunity to do meaningful research. It’s rarer still for them to be able to get paid to do it.

A new program this year at Drury is allowing five undergraduates to do just that. It’s called the Research Experience in the Natural Sciences, or RENS. The program provides a stipend for students conducting self-directed research under the guidance of science faculty.

Summer is the perfect time for students to be able to focus intensely on in-depth research because they don’t have to devote time to classes, says Dr. Beth Harville, Assistant Professor of Biology at Drury. The stipend allows students to consider skipping a summer job in favor of conducting research that will help them in their future careers – especially those seeking to enter medical schools or Ph.D. programs.

Deborah Peana, senior chemistry and physics major, is using computer software to model and research protein interactions this summer. A stipend has helped her focus solely on this work.

Deborah Peana, senior chemistry and physics major, is using computer software to model and research protein interactions this summer. A stipend has helped her focus solely on this work.

Two of the students conducting RENS projects this summer are Breanna Tuhlei and Deborah Peana. Both are using high-powered computers to simulate the interactions between certain types of molecules and model the potential outcomes. Their research, conducted under the guidance of assistant professor of physics Dr. Christos Deligkaris, combines concepts from biology, chemistry and physics.

“It’s teaching me a lot about how to discipline myself; how to solve problems by myself independently,” says Tuhlei, who is studying how a molecule commonly found in fruits and vegetables could be used to prevent DNA damage caused by a carcinogen found in tobacco smoke. “And the stipend is definitely great because it’s helping with tuition expenses.”

Locating, reading and extrapolating relevant information from journal articles is one aspect that separates these projects from class work. There are no textbook assignments here.

“It forces me to take information I’ve learned in my classes, use it on my own and actually apply it, which is really rewarding – and fun,” says Peana, who is studying glycosaminoglycan-protein interactions. “It requires a lot of mental discipline to stay focused and work out problems on your own, but I think it’s definitely worth it.”

Both students feel that conducting this research as undergraduates will go a long way toward helping prepare them for graduate programs and medical schools, not to mention make them better candidates for acceptance to their programs of choice. Tuhlei is a sophomore double majoring in biology and chemistry, who hopes to be accepted into an MD-PhD program in order to become a neurosurgeon and conduct medical research. Peana is a senior double majoring in chemistry and physics, and is currently applying to MD-PhD programs.

But neither of these students has to wait until the next phase of the education to make a difference. The RENS stipend and always-accessible faculty at Drury have helped Peana truly dive into her research, which in turn has made her feel as though she’s already contributing to her field before ever leaving campus.

“I’m just starting out, but this kind of research makes me feel like a scientist and I feel like we really are practicing good research techniques,” she says.

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

New Drury students move in and dive into service

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Aug. 12, 2014 — Drury University will welcome the newest members of the Drury family to campus later this week as freshmen move into residence halls and begin to learn what it means to be a Panther.

President David Manuel, along with faculty, staff and upperclassmen will help the new students move their belongings into the residence halls on Friday morning. Parents and students will say their goodbyes on the Kellogg Green that afternoon, and a weekend of orientation will follow.

Orientation ends on Monday with two events that have become a Drury tradition – the community-wide Service Plunge and an on-campus celebration capped off by a fireworks show.

Media are invited to cover any and all events throughout the weekend. Contact Media Relations Director Mike Brothers for more information about the schedule.

Friday, Aug. 15

  • 8 a.m. to noon – New students move into residence halls. The best time for photos, video and interviews is typically between 9 and 10:30 a.m.
  • 3:45 to 5 p.m. – Parent Orientation & Core 101 Classes. All freshmen are required to take this course, which helps them develop the abilities needed for success in college and in life. A student’s CORE 101 professor is not only the instructor for the course, but is also the student’s academic advisor.
  • 7 p.m. – Hard CORE challenge. Each CORE class competes in fun competitive activities, with the winning team earning gift cards. This is a great time for student interviews and shots of the incoming class in action.

Saturday, Aug. 16

• Students will explore Springfield at the following times and locations:

o   4 to 5:30 p.m. – Ice Skating and Broomball at Mediacom Ice Park

o   9 to 11 p.m. – Bowling and pizza at Enterprise Lanes

Sunday, Aug. 17

  • 1 to 2 p.m. – Student Activities Fair at O’Reilly Family Event Center
  • 2 to 5 p.m. – Springfield Cardinals baseball game at Hammons Field
  • 6 to 8 p.m. – Dinner and dessert at various faculty members’ homes in the nearby Midtown neighborhood. Faculty and freshman available for interviews.

Monday, Aug. 18

  • 9:15 a.m. to noon – More than 20 Community Service Plunge projects at various locations across Springfield, including:

o   Maintenance projects at Rare Breed Outreach Center

o   Creating motivational signs at Boys & Girls Club

o   Warehouse work at Convoy of Hope

o   Sorting food donations at Ozarks Food Harvest

o   Gardening work for the DIRT Project at the corner of Benton and Division

  • 6:30 to 9 p.m. – Finale celebration at the fountains in front of Findlay Student Center. Fireworks begin at 9 p.m. at adjacent Sunderland Field.

Classes begin on Monday, Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. for evening and graduate classes. Students in the traditional Day School start classes on Tuesday, Aug. 19.

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Drury & OTC collaborate to develop A.A. in Behavioral Sciences

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Aug. 6, 2014 — Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) and Drury University have partnered to develop an Associate of Arts in Behavioral Sciences degree program at OTC. The A.A. in Behavioral Sciences seamlessly transfers to Drury’s Behavioral Sciences program and launches in the fall of 2014.

The A.A. in Behavioral Sciences includes coursework in psychology, criminology and sociology. It was designed to meet Drury’s requirements for students majoring in behavioral science disciplines. Although the program incorporated courses OTC currently offered, it also required OTC to develop new courses to meet Drury’s curricular expectations. New courses offered by OTC for the A.A. in Behavioral Sciences include Psychology 210 – Research Methods, Psychology 220 – Statistics for Behavioral Sciences, and Sociology 215 – Deconstructing Social Problems.

Linda Caldwell, OTC department chair of psychology and criminology, and Vickie Luttrell, Drury department chair of behavioral sciences, led the collaborative efforts between OTC and Drury.

“OTC’s new degree meets the needs of students who have a strong interest in working with people, but don’t feel called to work in medical or educational fields,” said Caldwell. “The new A. A. in Behavioral Sciences creates a pathway for students to seamlessly transfer to psychology, criminology and sociology majors for their bachelor’s degree while being qualified to find entry-level employment once they graduate with the A.A. in Behavioral Sciences.”

“Drury is excited to collaborate with OTC and help students achieve a bachelor’s degree in the behavioral sciences,” said Luttrell. “We already have outstanding transfer students in our department, and many are from OTC. This collaboration will open up even more opportunities for them.”

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SIVA & ideaXfactory partner to host Italian art group’s workshop

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Aug. 5, 2014 — Drury’s Summer Institute for Visual Arts (SIVA) is partnering with ideaXfactory to bring an Italian arts group to Springfield for a free public workshop this weekend.

The group is called Radical Intention, and it will hold a workshop titled “Learning With Each Other” at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the ideaXfactory, 351 N. Boonville Ave.

Radical Intention uses research-driven approaches and actively involves attendees in its workshops in order to foster a group learning experience. “Learning with Each Other” intends to raise such questions as: Can the simple act of gathering be the basis for discovering and articulating new possibilities? What makes a group work? What determines consensus?

This workshop is co-presented by ideaXfactory and the Summer Institute for Visual Arts at Drury University, with support by GAI – Associazione per il Circuito dei Giovani Artisti Italiani and ArtPlace America.

More information about Radical Intention can be found at http://radicalintention.wordpress.com.  Information about SIVA can be found at www.drury.edu/siva. For more about ideaXfactory, go to http://ideaxfactory.com.

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SIVA showcases work by students set to earn Master of Arts degrees

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 28, 2014 — The public can see a diverse array of artwork from Drury University’s Summer Institute for Visual Arts (SIVA) this weekend during a thesis exhibition by graduating students and an open studios event.

Since 2007, SIVA has offered students an opportunity to earn a Master of Arts degree by working alongside visiting artists in a critically driven environment. Participants study under the guidance of visiting artist fellows, faculty and staff, who provide first-hand understanding of contemporary art issues. The program – a unique model in the Midwest – allows students to earn a Master of Arts in Studio Art and Theory over the course of three two-month summer sessions.

MART Thesis Exhibition

A thesis exhibition of artwork created this summer by students graduating from the MA in Studio Art and Theory (MART) program will be held from 7 to 10 p.m., Friday, Aug. 1 at the Drury on C-Street Gallery, 233. E. Commercial St., with additional hours from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2.

The MART Thesis Exhibition is the culminating event of the three-summer program in which students explore and develop a self-directed, intensive studio practice. Work presented in the Thesis Exhibition is wide-ranging in form, material and theme, and reflects a curriculum that supports multidisciplinary and individualized approaches. It is a wonderful opportunity to see the work of an imaginative and innovative group of emerging artists in the region.

This year’s MART Thesis Exhibition features work by: Suzanne Axon, Matej Baran, Carlynn Forst, Jan Gill, Thomas Primm, Jennifer Rice, Dina Shisler, Bill Shultz, Kelli Stricklin and Lee VonAllmen.

SIVA Open Studios

SIVA Open Studios will be held from 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 2 at the Pool Art Center, 940 N. Clay St. Open Studios is a new annual event that opens up the Summer Institute for Visual Arts to the public and features work from all participants. It is an exciting opportunity to meet the program’s vibrant and diverse community of artists, witness their process, and see what work has been created during the summer.

More information about SIVA can be found at www.drury.edu/siva. Photos showing the wide array of creativity at work during SIVA are being uploaded regularly at www.flickr.com/photos/siva-mart.

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Student chooses Drury thanks to summer camps

Aaron Sawyer begins his college career at Drury University this fall. But unlike most incoming freshmen who’ve spent perhaps a day or two on campus prior to move-in day, Sawyer has spent the last six summers here making memories with truly like-minded friends.

The Sikeston native is one of hundreds who have attended Drury’s summer camps for academically gifted students since 1981. The camps give kids like Sawyer a chance to be around others who are equally as bright, curious and engaged.

Aaron Sawyer

“It can be difficult” to be a gifted kid in school, he says. “You almost feel like you don’t want to talk for fear of being different.”

The camps are for students from pre-K to 12th grade and are divided by age groups. The camp for middle school students (called Summerscape) and the camp for high schoolers (Drury Leadership Academy) are wrapping up this week. Programs for younger students took place in June.

Sawyer began coming to the camps in middle school. He’s taken classes on digital photography, philosophy, speech and debate, the human body, Rube Goldberg machines and more. He’s made great friends, too.

“You’ll make friends here and come back next year and continue a conversation you left off last summer like no time has passed,” he says. “It’s a unique experience I feel like you don’t get many other places.”

Sawyer says being away from home in a college-like environment has helped him come out of his shell.

“If I hadn’t been (coming to the camps) for this long, I probably wouldn’t be able to give this interview,” says the soft-spoken Sawyer. “I would have been way too nervous.”

Sawyer plans to double major in history and education and hopes to become a college professor. He chose Drury before his sophomore year in high school.

“I feel like (Drury) has invested a lot of time in me and I’ve invested a lot of time here,” he says. “It almost felt like there wasn’t a question that I wouldn’t go here.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

 

 

Greece trip combines science and business studies

Citizenship, business sense and science came together for a few weeks this summer as 10 Drury students traveled to Greece to study geography and the environment.

The group traveled to Aigina, Greece – a town on an island of the same name where the university has a satellite campus called the Drury Center. They spent three weeks working in two teams. One team focused on the physical geography of the Aigina coastline by conducting water quality tests and studying marine debris. The other team addressed cultural geography by studying how recycling and composting can help local agriculture.  Both projects were connected to real life on Aigina with the active participation and expertise of local farmers and civic leaders.

“The Drury Center was amazing,” said professor of the class, Dr. Sean Terry. “They set up meetings with local experts and even translated from Greek to English in live interviews.  This local knowledge inspired our students about local sustainability efforts.

The students conducted academic research in advance so they could more easily focus on actual fieldwork once they arrived, Terry says, adding that they were able to “see how science can be applied in real-world situations to make a positive difference in a community.”

DU students in Aigina

Despite the science focus of this class, most of the students weren’t science majors – nine of the 10 were business majors. A study abroad experience is required of all students in Drury’s Breech School of Business. The trip and its impact on the students illustrate Drury’s interdisciplinary approach to education and engaged learning.

“This was my first trip abroad and it was the most enlightening trip on which I’ve ever been,” said student Jesse Allard. “It was a completely new experience seeing another culture and really trying to immerse myself within it.”

Results from each project highlighted the need to increase local participation in environmental initiatives. Water quality tests at several beach locations came up clean, but plastic trash on shore was an issue. The beach team cleaned up approximately 600 pounds of plastic waste in two days, and the Drury Center itself is committed to a plan that will see Drury students “adopt” Colona Beach permanently. It is hoped that this could lay the groundwork for local schools to “adopt a beach” and maintain the momentum in the future. The students met with local environmental leaders and a middle-school principal in order to learn how the adoption efforts might move forward.

“The projects were a great way to connect with the local community members and make a difference that will be visible to all people who visit the island of Aigina,” says Mallory Long, a junior majoring in accounting and finance.

Ryan Fitzgerald, a senior biology major, said the trip has already changed the way he lives at home.

“The influence that the project has had on my daily actions at home is incredible,” he says. “I have begun to recycle more and look for any chance to help make a cleaner world.”

The second team learned about the relationships between agriculture, solid waste and the Aigina economy. The island currently ships in much of the fertilizer used by local farmers and ships away its trash because of lack of landfill space. All of that costs money, and there’s currently an effort on Aigina to increase composting of food waste to reduce these shipping and hauling costs. Food waste typically makes up 30 to 40 percent of the trash we throw away, Terry says.

“Our study was to calculate the potential benefit of taking that food and separating it from the trash and composting it on the island. Would there be a local use for it and a local market for it?” Terry says.

The head of the local composting association and the president of the farmers’ association both agreed that composting is not only a benefit, it is becoming an economic necessity. A project in Kalamata, Greece, indicated that local farmers and the community can both benefit from the use of fertilizer made from local food waste. A composting demonstration hosted by the Kalamata group drove home how science, the community, and government must all be involved in order to solve this type of problem.

“In a short period of time, this group of students was able to apply concepts they were learning in the classroom to the local context through meaningful engagement with community leaders,” says Eleni Dellagrammaticas, director of the Drury Center in Aigina.

The community nature of the projects made an impact on Jesse Allard, a senior accounting major.

“It was so much fun to see the community members so interested and excited about the work we were setting up,” Allard says. “They genuinely appreciated what we were doing and wanted to be involved.  I think studying abroad is essential. As the world becomes ‘smaller,’ I think it is more important than ever to understand and appreciate other cultures so we can all work together and maximize the potential of the human experience.”

Terry hopes the groundwork laid during this experience can be used by future Drury students to help explain the global nature of sustainability issues.

“I was so impressed by the progressive ideas of the Aigina community,” he said. “The beauty of the island, and the passion of the local people to improve it make it a perfect learning laboratory for our students.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Gifted summer camps culminate in projects, demos this week

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 21, 2014 — Academically gifted students from across the Midwest are once again on the Drury University campus for the summer’s second round of camps aimed specifically at this high-achieving group.

This time around it’s middle- and high-school age students who are in camps organized by Drury’s Center for Gifted Education. Activities for pre-K and elementary school students took place in June.

The camps – called Summerscape for middle schoolers and Drury Leadership Academy (DLA) for high schoolers – allow students to take two weeks of in-depth classes and go hands-on in areas that interest them such as robotics, photography and videography, improv comedy, bio-ethics, world culture and much more. They are considered “pre-college” camps in that students live on campus and participate in activities ranging from games to lectures in the evenings. DLA students can potentially earn college credit for completion.

“The camps not only give this particular group of students the kind of enrichment they crave, but they also provide them with a sense of community and give them a taste of what life is like on a college campus,” says Mary Potthoff, Director of the Center for Gifted Education at Drury.

Summerscape and DLA are now in their second week. Media are invited to cover the camps this week as several performances and demonstrations take place. These include:

Tuesday, July 22

DLA students will compete in an “Iron Chef” style cooking competition as part of class on learning healthy lifestyle habits for college. The contest will take place at 11 a.m. at 1214 N. Summit Ave. Instructor: John Post.

Summerscape students taking a class in aerodynamics will be building model airplane fuselages at 10 a.m. in Lay Hall room 211, and then demonstrate high-pressure water rockets at 11 a.m., at Sunderland Field (green space south of Sunderland Hall). Instructor: Asikaa Cosgrove.

A large service project involving all DLA campers will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Boyd Elementary, 1409 N. Washington Ave., just north of the Drury campus. DLA participants will work on major projects such as installing a track, helping with the remodel of the school library and more. The service project is organized by a group of longtime DLA students returning for a final year of camp following high school graduation.

Wednesday, July 23

DLA students studying slam poetry will hold a poetry slam for the public at 1:30 p.m. at the Park Central Branch Library, 128 Park Central Square downtown. Instructor: Gretchen Teague.

Summerscape students studying Rube Goldberg machines will put together and demonstrate a large device in the zany Goldberg style from 9 a.m. to noon in the lobby of Findlay Student Center. Instructor: Darline Taylor.

Drury has been a national leader in providing education and enrichment programs for academically gifted students more than 30 years. The Drury Center for Gifted Education is the most complete center for gifted education in the state of Missouri and is one of less than 20 complete gifted education centers in the United States. Visit Drury Gifted Education for more information.

Opportunities for coverage are available each day of the camps. For more information on these and other opportunities this week and next week, contact Mary Potthoff at (417) 885-8089 or (417) 873-7386.

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Summer Institute for Visual Arts offers free public lectures, workshops

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 15, 2014 — Now in its seventh year, the Summer Institute for Visual Arts is in full swing across the Drury University campus. Several upcoming events are free and open to the public, including lectures, open studio demonstrations and displays.

Established in 2007, the Summer Institute for Visual Arts (SIVA) at Drury University provides an intensive two-month period each summer that allows students to focus on artistic development in a critically driven environment. Participants study under the guidance of visiting artist fellows, faculty and staff, who provide first-hand understanding of contemporary art issues. The program – a unique model in the Midwest – allows students to earn a Master of Arts in Studio Art and Theory over the course of three two-month summer sessions.

SIVA is under new leadership this year, as Sarrita Hunn takes the reigns from founder and longtime professor of art and art history Tom Parker. Hunn earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Drury in 2001, majoring in Studio Art, Art History and Philosophy. She earned a Master of Fine Arts from California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2004. She is also currently the residency program director for the Luminary in St. Louis, and co-founder and managing editor of art criticism website Temporary Art Review.

“I am very excited to join such an innovative graduate art program,” Hunn said. “With our new visiting artist fellows structure, we are bringing in artists teaching at the best graduate programs across the country and Europe to work with our students.”

Opportunities for the public

The public can hear from visiting artist fellows Andrea Polli and James Gobel this week at two open lectures presenting their work, and go “hands-on” with Polli at an upcoming workshop called “Art & Biology: High Tea.” Biographical information about Polli and Gobel can be found online.

Andrea Polli will give a presentation about her work at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, July 16 in the Olin Room (lower level) at the Olin Library. Polli is an artist working at the intersection of art, science and technology whose practice includes media installation, public interventions, curating and directing art and community projects and writing. She holds the Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

James Gobel will give a presentation about his work at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, July 23 in the Olin Room (lower level) at the Olin Library.  Gobel creates paintings made of felt, yarn and other fabrics that refer to a range of artistic movements. He is currently an Associate Professor of MFA Fine Arts and Assistant Chair of the Painting/Drawing Program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

“Art & Biology: High Tea,” a hands-on workshop and social gathering exploring the beauty of art and biology, will be held from 1 to 5 p.m., Thursday, July 17 in the Trustee Science Center, Botany Laboratory Room 142. Modeled after a traditional British “high tea,” participants will enjoy relaxing conversation, snacks and refreshing tea. Participants will also learn about groundbreaking and sometimes shocking biology and bio-art projects from all over the world, view a range of microscopic life, extract caffeine from tea using state-of-the-art science laboratory equipment, and more. No prior science experience is necessary. For your safety please wear closed-toe shoes and cover your legs (long pants) and arms. Space is limited to 20 people. RSVP at andrea@andreapolli.com.

More information about SIVA can be found at www.drury.edu/siva. Photos showing the wide array of creativity at work during SIVA are being uploaded regularly at www.flickr.com/photos/siva-mart.

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Drury grad heads to Oxford for three-year research fellowship

From Nixa to Drury to Oxford, Ashley Maher is an example of how a liberal arts education can open unexpected doors.

The Nixa native graduated from Drury in 2008 with a degree in English and creative writing. But she began as architecture major. She was then able to combine her interests in architecture and literature while earning a Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis. Her dissertation looks at the influence of modern architecture on 20th century British authors, many of which worked as contributors or editors for architectural journals. This fall she will begin a three-year Junior Research Fellowship at Oxford University.

Maher was interested in studying architecture from the time she was in the third grade, and Drury’s architecture program was one of the major reasons Maher decided to attend Drury.

AshleyMaher

“I liked math, art history, and the fine arts and my father manages a lumber and hardware store, so I had some early exposure to the building industry,” she says. “I also took a couple of drafting classes in high school. I found the architecture classes I took at Drury interesting, but I felt that a change of major might be in order when I realized my favorite part about the classes was writing the analysis papers.”

Maher appreciated how her instructors at Drury made themselves available to continue discussing topics raised in class during their office hours. Several faculty members were great sources of advice as she began her own academic career. She also had the opportunity to study abroad in the U.K. where she conducted research at the archives of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

“Studying abroad in London gave me a better understanding of British politics and culture, which fanned my interest in 20th century British literature,” Maher says. “I’m looking forward to digging into the literary archives at the British Library and other locations around the U.K. when I move to Oxford in September.”

The Oxford fellowship is extremely competitive and is typically awarded to those approaching the end of their doctoral research. Maher will use the fellowship primarily to expand her Ph.D. dissertation into a book and to start her next research project. She will teach classes as well as participate in seminars and other programs across the university.

Maher and her husband David Ruvolo, are excited to start their journey in London as newlyweds.

“As for the charm of Oxford, the university has wonderful archives and academic resources,” Maher said. “I look forward to interacting with and learning from the scholars working there who are further along in their careers than I am.”

After Maher completes her three-year Junior Research Fellowship, she hopes to find a position as an assistant professor either in the United States or London.

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Story by Colombe Iyeza, Drury marketing & communication office intern. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.