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ELIOT CIRCULAR
reed magazine logoDecember 2010

Eliot Circular Continued

Our Brilliant Students

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The American Society for Microbiology has selected Rosie Lawrence-Pine '11 as a recipient of the ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship, aimed at highly competitive students who wish to pursue graduate careers in microbiology. Fellows have the opportunity to conduct full-time summer research at their institution with an ASM mentor and present their research results at the 111th ASM General Meeting. Each fellow receives up to a $4,000 stipend, a two-year ASM student membership, and reimbursement for travel expenses. "I'm really happy to have won this award," Rosie says.

Rosie's mentor is biology professor Jay Mellies; she is investigating the role of a particular gene in virulent E. coli. The rather imposing title of her project is: "YqeF, a putative acetyl-CoA transferase upregulated by the virulence regulator PerC in enteropathogenic Escherichia coli."

LOCHER SCHOLARS
The five recipients of the 2010 Kaspar T. Locher Summer Creative Scholarships presented their projects in the Studio Art building gallery.

  • Camille Charlier '11, "Vindication of Subjectivity" (music composition and performance)
  • Art Johnstone '11, "Single Sitting Gestures: butt shots of 15 friends" (paintings)
  • Jeremy Nelson '11, "Cities Evergreen beneath a Steel Sky" (short-short fiction)
  • Christina de Villier '11, "GOLDEN: POEMS" (English/French poetry)
  • Maya West '11, "Home" (family narratives)

The scholarships honor legendary professor Kaspar T. Locher [German, 1950–88].

Invasion of the Clickers

Monday morning. Chemistry 101. Students gulp coffee and scribble notes as professor Julie Fry gives an animated lecture on the ionization energy of hydrogen. After drawing a small galaxy of diagrams on the board, she asks the class if it all makes sense.

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Photo by Matt D'Annunzio

In earlier days, she'd judge the answer on the basis of vague nods and timidly raised hands, but instead she says "Let's find out!" She displays a diagram of energy levels on the projector and asks students to select one of four possible solutions. Nothing seems to happen. No hands shoot up, no voices call out the correct answer. Yet, within seconds, a graph of responses appears on the screen, allowing Julie to see exactly how many people are with her. Telepathy? Magic? Actually, it's technology. Welcome to the world of clickers.

Clickers, formally known as "Classroom Response Systems," are the latest technological teaching aid to appear at Reed. The credit card-sized devices allow students to answer multiple-choice questions via radio signal, giving professors instant feedback on how well their material is being absorbed.

"Students learn and retain information better when they are actively engaged in the lecture instead of listening to a professor 'broadcast,'" says chemistry professor Maggie Geselbracht. "With the clickers, we hope to provide that student-centered learning experience for everyone."

Some 160 students are using the devices in Chemistry 101 and 201 this semester, with several more spotted in language and economics classes. While they have yet to infiltrate humanities courses, chemistry professor Alan Shusterman is confident that clickers will be applicable across disciplines. "Students come to Reed because they want to connect with other interesting people—people who do things differently," he says. "Clickers work to stimulate thinking and discussion. If someone's committed to an answer and then asked to discuss it with their neighbor, a learning exchange takes place. Processes are uncovered, connections are made. The clicker is, first and foremost, a tool for communication."

The response from students and faculty so far has been immensely positive—even after initial skepticism. "When I first got my hands on it, I wasn't thrilled," admits junior Mathilde Mouw '12, "I couldn't see how I would make use of it. But now I love it! It's proved really useful in lecture." Of course, the technology has a way to go before it dominates campus. After all, we did have to ask her the old fashioned way.

— Lucy Bellwood '12

More Proof Of Genius

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Photo Courtesy the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundationn

As if any further proof were needed, another Reedie has nabbed a "genius" fellowship. Archaeologist and anthropologist Shannon Lee Dawdy '88, assistant professor at the University of Chicago, won a $500,000 fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Shannon was hailed for her "insightful studies of New Orleans from its establishment as a French colony to the present day." In particular, the foundation cited her book, In Building the Devil's Empire: French Colonial New Orleans (2008), in which she integrates the intellectual life of the community with the story of the adventurers, entrepreneurs, and smugglers who resisted governance.

For a video of Shannon discussing her work, see bit.ly/dmh5gf.

reed magazine logoDecember 2010