Graduate student Ramsa Chaves Ulloa and undergraduate Ellen Irwin discuss lab work, fieldwork, mosquitos, and, most importantly, friendship, mentoring, and mutual development.
Posted on 07 May 2013.
Graduate student Ramsa Chaves Ulloa and undergraduate Ellen Irwin discuss lab work, fieldwork, mosquitos, and, most importantly, friendship, mentoring, and mutual development.
Posted on 01 May 2013.
The Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL) held a celebratory lunch on Wednesday, April 10th to congratulate ten graduate students nominated as Outstanding Graduate Student Teachers. The nominees were selected by undergraduate students who felt that their TAs/instructors had gone above and beyond their responsibilities. The nominations and lunch were part of the annual Graduate Appreciation Week.
Working as a teaching assistant is one of the most rewarding, and oftentimes challenging, aspects of graduate school. Being a TA offers the opportunity to learn pedagogical techniques, such as lesson planning and testing strategies, from professors. TAs are in a unique position in that they act as a bridge between students and professors. TAs are therefore able to learn from undergraduates which pedagogical techniques work well.
“I think TAing is an excellent opportunity to ‘grow’ as a person. It makes me more responsible, as I am the person students refer to if they have any problems. TAing makes me see the same issue from different perspectives and appreciate that a problem may be faced and solved in different ways,” said Stefano Poggio from the Department of Chemistry, who was nominated by students from his Chemistry 6 class.
Despite the challenges, these TAs clearly excelled in their role. “He is an excellent teacher, going far beyond any other TA or professor that I have had in terms of his availability outside of class, willingness to discuss and explain the material individually to students, and quality of lectures,” said one undergrad of their TA. “[She] is one of the kindest, more enthusiastic people I know,” said another. Enthusiasm, passion for science, and patience were commonly cited as qualities of the outstanding TAs.
Dr. Cindy Tobery from DCAL hosted the lunch, at which graduate students and undergraduates were able to share classroom experiences and teaching techniques. Because the graduate students came from very different academic backgrounds, they were able to share diverse opinions on teaching and life as a graduate student. Dr. Tobery noted, “I am always impressed that undergrads take the time to nominate a grad student for this award. Sometimes many students from a class work together to nominate their TA. I think this is a nice way to include undergraduates in Grad Student Appreciation Week.”
“Receiving this award was such unexpected news! I was so touched and honored! Mentoring students is always such a great experience for me, and it is very rewarding to know that the students think that I do a good job!” said Ramsa Chaves-Ulloa from the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program.
The 2013 nominees for Outstanding Graduate Student Teachers from an undergraduate perspective were Julia Bradley-Cook, Ramsa Chaves-Ulloa and Zak Gezon from the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program, Zeb Engberg and Zachary Evans from the Mathematics Department, Deqing Li from the Thayer School of Engineering, Stefano Poggio from the Department of Chemistry, Anna Prescott and Alex Schlegel from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, and Damian Sowinski from the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Congratulations and keep up the good work, TAs!
by Zak Gezon
photo courtesy of Alex Schlegel
Posted on 11 April 2013.
This year’s recipients of the Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award are Professor Kathryn Cottingham and Professor Robert Hawley. Each year the Graduate Student Council (GSC) gives out two Graduate Faculty Mentoring Awards to recognize the exceptional mentoring activities of faculty advisors at Dartmouth. Award recipients are honored for their commitment to fostering the academic and professional pursuits of graduate students and receive $500 to support further mentoring activities. This year the selection committee consisted of Julia Bradley-Cook, the president of GSC, Rich Lopez, the academic chair, and Daniel Durcan, the activities coordinator. President Carol Folt announced this year’s recipients on Wednesday, April 10, at the Graduate Poster Session.
Professor Kathryn Cottingham
Professor Kathryn Cottingham is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) program. She joined Dartmouth faculty in 1998 and currently mentors two graduate students. Her research focuses on aquatic ecology, in particular the reasons for and results of cyanobacterial blooms in lakes and factors affecting the accumulation of mercury by fish and invertebrates in streams. Her lab has also been involved in examining dietary exposure to arsenic in pregnant women and infants.
In nominating her for this award, graduate students observed that Cottingham plays an important role as a mentor in her department as a whole. A member of the Cottingham lab observed that when she interviewed at Dartmouth “the most common response I received from other graduate students about the Cottingham Lab, was that Kathy may be the ‘official advisor’ to her own graduate students, but she ‘unofficially’ advises all the graduate students.”
Another aspect of Cottingham’s mentoring style that her graduate students appreciated was her ability to balance letting her students work independently, while also providing enough support and guidance to facilitate success in their research. One of Cottingham’s current students observed that her mentoring style “strikes a nice balance between letting me work independently to the extent that I want to” while always being available “to help troubleshoot, design experiments, and address any problems that arise.” Discussing the importance of building research skills in graduate school, several students expressed their appreciation of Cottingham’s guidance in data analysis and in improving their writing skills. One student explained, “I especially appreciate how her mentoring with me has changed through time as I have developed as a scientist, and has focused on everything from scientific writing, how to work in groups, [and] data analysis.”
Professor Robert Hawley
Professor Robert Hawley is an assistant professor of Earth Sciences. He came to Dartmouth in 2008. Hawley leads the Glaciology Research Group at Dartmouth, mentoring five graduate students and a postdoctoral researcher. The group studies the formation and make-up of polar ice sheets to explore issues related to sea level rise and climate change. Hawley developed a new technique for studying polar firn, called Borehole Optical Stratigraphy, which involves lowering a video camera into a borehole in the ice. The camera records patterns of light and dark in the walls of the borehole, which reflect differences in ice grain size and density and facilitate the studying of annual layers.
In their nominations, Professor Hawley’s students expressed an appreciation for his enthusiasm and patience. They observed that his excitement and creativity in his research were inspiring, and these were balanced with his calm and practical approach to problem solving and project management. One of Hawley’s students explained that Hawley’s “ability to bring both perspective and calm is incredible. I cannot recall a challenging ‘moment’ or issue that I could not bring to [his] attention.”
As well as developing his mentees’ skills in academic and proposal writing and teaching techniques, Hawley also encouraged students to engage in service. A member of the Glaciology Research Group wrote, “With regard to citizen-science, [Hawley’s] work with outreach (e.g., Science Pubs at Salt hill) has been an example that I hope to emulate in my own work.” In addition, Hawley encouraged his students to pursue outside learning opportunities, such as participation in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide Ice Core Project. Finally, Hawley’s students also appreciated his willingness to prioritize their ideas and goals. A student described him as “an undeniable exemplification of a masterful mentor-extraordinaire.”
Reflecting on the process of choosing this year’s recipients, Bradley-Cook observed, “We had an impressive collection of nominees—faculty who go above and beyond to challenge, support, and motivate graduate students. Professors Cottingham and Hawley are inspiring role models with mentoring styles that genuinely support graduate students. We are grateful for the opportunity to acknowledge their extraordinary mentorship.”
The Graduate Studies Office congratulates Professors Cottingham and Hawley on their receipt of this award and thanks them for their dedication to supporting graduate students at Dartmouth.
Posted on 05 April 2013.
Congratulations to Julia Bradley-Cook for being awarded an honorable mention for the 2013 American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award!
Each year, AIBS recognizes graduate students in the biological sciences who have demonstrated an interest in and ability to contribute to science and public policy. This year competition for the award was especially fierce; AIBS awarded two students the top prize, in addition to recognizing three students, including Bradley-Cook, with honorable mentions.
Bradley-Cook is a fourth-year PhD student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology working with Dr. Ross Virginia on carbon dynamics in Greenland soils. Bradley-Cook has been interested in the intersection of science and policy ever since an undergraduate course got her thinking about the role of science in resource management. Two years working for sustainable development NGOs in Namibia after college confirmed her interest and exposed her to the challenges of bringing science and policy together.
Since coming to Dartmouth, Bradley-Cook has continued her commitment to policy while working to complete her biology degree. Her research addresses the critical issue of how much carbon currently locked in arctic permafrost will be released as the climate warms. As Dr. Virginia says, “Julia’s work connects basic science to the information needs of the policy world. No small task, and essential work.”
As president of the Graduate Student Council, Bradley-Cook works closely with the Dartmouth administration to advocate for graduate student rights. As a fellow in Dartmouth’s Polar Environmental Change Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT), she has been able to pair her scientific research of Greenland’s soils with a study of Greenlandic policy, meeting with Greenlandic national leaders during her field seasons and on Dartmouth’s campus. Bradley-Cook says that her “understanding of the social and political context has enriched [her] connection to Greenland, and has made [her] research all the more worthwhile.”
Bradley-Cook is honored to be recognized by AIBS and says that it will encourage her to pursue science-policy positions in the future. With such pressing issues as global warming and water shortages, we need leaders like Bradley-Cook to bring science and policy together.
by Ruth Heindel
Posted on 26 March 2013.
With spring fast approaching, the snow stomp has begun to give way to the mud shake. Several weeks ago, however, a group of twenty intrepid and snow-loving graduate students made the trip to Smugglers’ Notch Resort for the first annual Graduate Student Winter Weekend. The group contained students from nearly every graduate program on campus, and so the diversity of conversations and interests made the weekend all the more promising.
The event, marvelously coordinated by James Peck, a student in the program in Psychological and Brain Sciences, and Marcus Welker, a student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program, took place from March 1-3. The participants, energized by anticipated snowfall for the weekend, carpooled from Hanover to “Smuggs” on the Friday evening—welcomed by three cozy and comfortable condominiums. As among the first to arrive, my group unloaded the groceries and got started on a delicious dinner that set the tone for the rest of the weekend!
Not simply a skiers’ or snowboarders’ trip, Smugglers’ Notch also offered access to tubing, snowshoeing, ice-skating, and cross-country skiing. Located in Cambridge, Vermont, Smuggs made good on its promise of snow from the first night. Light dustings turned into heavy flakes overnight, and by the time everyone had arrived and settled in on the first night, it was clear a good snowfall was underway.
Everyone was up early on Saturday morning, buzzing with excitement at the fresh powder that clung to the mountainsides. Despite the cloudy conditions on the hill, the terrain was well-groomed and provided hours of fun for the first of many “sessions.” Some were on the mountain all day, some finished at lunch, but everyone took advantage of the new snow.
Later that evening, there was a pizza party and birthday celebration held at one of the lodges in the Smugglers’ Resort Village. Welker’s birthday was celebrated with a combination chocolate and vanilla cake. All the while, the snow kept falling.
On Sunday, everyone was, once again, on the mountain early. With the low-lying clouds of Saturday long gone, conditions were perfect. Cautious estimates claim that around eight inches of snow fell during the duration of the trip.
People made their own way back to Hanover throughout the course of Sunday, but most tried to stay as long as they could to enjoy the snow and the activities. The first Dartmouth Graduate Winter Weekend can be qualified as a fantastic success. Here’s to many more in the future!
by Laurie Laker
photos by Lisa Jackson
Posted on 21 January 2013.
The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) program continues to thrive with the addition of two new graduate students, Elizabeth Reinke and Christine Urbanowicz. Both Elizabeth and Christine were awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships, extremely prestigious and coveted fellowships.
During the past year, current students received an impressive number of fellowships and grant awards. Sam Fey and Marcus Welker both received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Research Fellowships. In addition, Tom Kraft also received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, joining Vivek Venkataraman and Carissa Aoki, who have received this highly respected fellowship in prior years. Marcus Welker was awarded an NSF East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute Fellowship, Zak Gezon and Christine Urbanowicz were awarded NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Fellowships, Elizabeth Reinke was named a Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) fellow, and Laurel Symes was named an NSF Graduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in K-12 Education (GK-12) fellow.
Graduate students applied for and were awarded a significant number of research grants. Some highlights include a grant from the Garden Club of America awarded to Carissa Aoki, a grant from the Explorers Club awarded to Julia Bradley-Cook, and a grant from the Orthopterists Society awarded to Laurel Symes. These honors, as well as other grants, resulted in research that was presented at national and international meetings. Highlights include Mike Logan’s nomination for the Best Student Presentation Award by the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology at the 2013 meeting and Julia Bradley-Cook’s nomination for the Judges’ Choice Award for the 2012 IGERT Poster and Video Competition at the IGERT Principal Investigators Meeting. Research from current graduate students in the program has resulted in at least ten lead- or co-authored publications in the last year as well as a number of manuscripts in review.
For more details on any of these items and up-to-date information, please see our home page.
by Rebecca Irwin
Posted on 31 December 2012.
Graduate students collaborate on the research…
Co-authors Vivek Venkataraman and Thomas Kraft collaborated with Dominy on field studies in the Philippines and Africa that inform their PNAS paper. Venkataraman and Kraft are Dartmouth graduate students in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology PhD program in the Department of Biological Sciences, and are supported by National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships.
Did Lucy Walk on the Ground or Stay in the Trees?
Much has been made of our ancestors “coming down out of the trees,” and many researchers view terrestrial bipedalism as the hallmark of “humanness.” After all, most of our living primate relatives—the great apes, specifically—still spend their time in the trees. Humans are the only member of the family devoted to the ground, living terrestrial rather than arboreal lives, but that wasn’t always the case.
To read the full article go to Dartmouth Now.
Posted on 27 April 2012.
In a recent editorial, the journal Nature stated that, when it comes to climate change research,“Scientists must acknowledge that they are in a street fight.” Is this true? Has public discourse about climate change become so heated that even a respected scientific journal calls it “a street fight”? As graduate students in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program here at Dartmouth, we have been fascinated by the disregard for science in shaping public policy in our federal government. We have often asked ourselves why this is the case, and quickly realized the complexities of this question. A few months ago we decided to formally address this question by organizing a multi-day series centered on the theme of how politics and rhetoric subvert science in shaping public policy, with climate change being the major case study.
The Communication Street Fight: Scientists, the Media, and Politicians in the Climate Change Debate
-Talk: Shawn Otto, April 30, 4 pm, Oopik Auditorium, Life Sciences Center
Free and open to the public
Otto is an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and filmmaker who advocates for “smarter politics” in our national discourse on scientific topics. Along with other advocates, he helped organize an online discussion on scientific questions between candidates Obama and McCain in the 2008 election. He has also written a book Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America about how the American discourse on science has changed, and the impact that has on policymaking.
-Talk: Dr. Peter Frumhoff, May 10, 4 pm, Oopik Auditorium, Life Sciences Center
Free and open to the public
Dr. Frumhoff is the Director of Science and Policy, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). This spring, the UCS will launch a national project on “Science and Democracy,” placing them in an ideal position to address this topic. Dr. Frumhoff is a global change ecologist, who has served diverse roles in the scientific and policy arenas. He was also a lead author in the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment.
-Film Screening: “Bidder 70”, May 14, time and location tbd
Free and open to the public
This event addresses the role of activism in the public discourse on climate change. Acclaimed author Terry Tempest Williams will lead a discussion following the film. On December 19, 2008, Tim DeChristopher, as Bidder #70, derailed a federal oil and gas lease auction, by bidding on and winning 22,000 acres of land with no intention to pay or drill, effectively safeguarding thousands of acres of federal land. DeChristopher’s disruption of the auction enabled the Obama Administration and Interior Secretary Salazar to invalidate the auction, citing inadequate analysis of the environmental effects on surrounding areas and failure to assess contributions to global climate change. For his disruption of the auction, DeChristopher was indicted and convicted on two federal charges.
Co-sponsored by Environmental Studies, the Department of Biological Sciences, and the Graduate Student Council
Contacts: Carissa Aoki — Carissa.F.Aoki.GR@dartmouth.edu, Jeff Lombardo –Jeffrey.A.Lombardo.GR@dartmouth.edu, Chelsea Vario -Chelsea.L.Vario.GR@dartmouth.edu
Posted on 05 December 2011.
The Graduate Forum will be publishing department highlights from 2011 on an ongoing basis. Check back regularly to find out what graduate students, alumni, and faculty are doing in the graduate community and beyond!
The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program (EEB) continues to thrive and grow—we have 26 students enrolled this fall, topping last year’s record size.
During the past year, Tom Kraft and Mike Logan were named GAANN fellows, Chelsea Vario and Jessica Trout-Haney were awarded IGERT fellowships, and Zak Gezon was named a NSF GK-12 fellow. Sam Fey won the 2010 David Cushing Prize from the Journal of Plankton Research, and Ramsa Chaves won the Albert Cass Traveling Fellowship. In addition, to support their research, Fey was awarded an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, Laurel Symes received the Huck Preserve Research Grant and Orthopterists’ Society Grant, and Robert Schaeffer received the Langenheim Endowed Graduate Fellowship from the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab. Dartmouth presented awards to Gezon (Filene Teaching Award), Simone Whitecloud (top 4 poster at Graduate Student Appreciation week), Ramsa Chaves and Max Overstrom-Coleman (Graduate Alumni Research Awards). Research from current graduate students has resulted in eight lead or co-authored publications in the last year as well as a number of manuscripts in review.
In alumni news, Paul Pickhardt (2002) was recognized for excellence in teaching at Lakeland College and Rich Hofstetter (2004) was promoted to Associate Professor at Northern Arizona University. Laura Burkle (2008) joined the faculty at Montana State University, and Bryan Brown (2004) moved to Virginia Tech.
For more details and more up-to-date information, please see the EEB home page.
by Kathryn Cottingham and Rebecca Irwin, EEB grad co-chairs
Posted on 02 May 2011.
In honor of Graduate Appreciation Week, the Graduate News Forum will be highlighting the recipients of the 2010 Graduate Alumni Research Awards throughout the week. Applications for the 2011 Graduate Alumni Research Awards are due on May 5th.
Song Evolution and Speciation in Tree Crickets
Despite our understanding of the evolutionary process, many questions remain regarding the genetic and behavioral processes that generate new species. The Alumni Research Award has allowed me to research the processes that lead to divergence and speciation by studying how the calls of tree-cricket species differ in sixteen sites across the eastern United States. These comparisons suggest that the constellation of species present in a site affects the calls of the other species present. In 2011, I will continue to study female-mating preferences in these sites to investigate the role of female-mate choice in isolation and species formation.
Learn more about the Graduate Alumni Research Awards here.
By Laurel Symes