link magazine, fall 2012

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College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University


  • History major has NCAAs in sightMelvin Ejim traveled to Italy with the Cyclone mens basketball team. The trip resulted in an academic major for the hoops standout.

    20 years of political opportunitiesOne of only a dozen similar U.S. programs, the Catt Center for Women and Politics provides educational and leadership opportunities for Iowans.

    Structured for biological success3

    Bringing out the poet in usMary Swander, Iowas Poet Laureate and an ISU Distinguished Professor, promotes poetry in her native state from young ones to the elders.

    Love campaign and a hairy creatureWith an eye for talent and the ability to change, English alumnus Doug Spong directs two successful creative agencies.





    Iowa State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, ethnicity, religion, national origin, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, sex, marital status, disability, or status as a U.S. veteran. Inquiries

    can be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance, 3280 Beardshear Hall, (515) 294-7612.

    Link is published in the fall and spring each year by the College of Liberal Arts and

    Sciences at Iowa State University for alumni and friends of the college.

    More than one way to stay connected.


    DeanBeate Schmittmann

    Associate DeanArne Hallam

    Associate DeanDavid Oliver

    Interim Associate Dean (Half-time) Amy Slagell

    Interim Associate DeanMartin Spalding

    Associate Dean (Half-time)Zora Zimmerman

    LinkCollege of Liberal Arts & Sciences

    202 Catt HallIowa State University

    Ames, IA 50011515-294-0461


    EditorSteve Jones

    WritersSteve Jones Laura Wille

    Graphic DesignerHieu Nguyen

    Cover PhotoBob Elbert


    Senior Director of DevelopmentMichael Gens

    Development CoordinatorKylie Behm-Newhard

    About ISUs College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

    The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a world-class learning and research

    community. Iowa States most academically diverse college, LAS educates

    students to become global citizens, providing rigorous academic programs in the

    sciences, humanities and social sciences within a supportive personalized learning

    environment. College faculty design new materials, unravel biological structures,

    care for the environment, and explore social and behavioral issues. From

    fundamental research to technology transfer and artistic expression, the college

    supports people in Iowa and around the world.



    research and educational programs anchor our leadership in these areas.

    On a personal note, LAS has changed my life. I have gone from being a researcher and teacher at Virginia Tech, with time for inward reflection, to an outward-directed dean at Iowa State, who seeks every opportunity to advance the excellence of our college. My days have become amazingly rich, thanks to the pleasure of meeting successful friends of the college, developing and supporting a superb faculty and staff, and being part of life-changing learning opportunities for our students.

    This has to be one of the most exciting and meaningful jobs in the world.

    Please accept my warmest thanks for your generous support of our college and university. Your investments, in the past and in the future, support the success of our students and faculty. We could not do it without you.

    Beate Schmittmann Dean

    Emerging priorities in Liberal Arts and Sciences

    Dear Friends of LAS,Fall has been picture perfect at Iowa State University, with

    crisp mornings, warm afternoons, and colorful leaves glowing in the sun. The campus buzzes with the energy and excitement of over 31,000 students.

    We just experienced the fourth year of record-breaking enrollments. In late August, we welcomed 5,366 new freshmen the largest incoming class ever. Again, more Iowans choose Iowa State than any other university. At the same time, our students are more diverse than ever more than one in five is either a minority or an international student.

    Its worth noting that every one of these students will take classes in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Our college provides all Iowa State students with life skills critical for their future success: excellent communication skills, mathematical and scientific literacy, and the ability to thrive in a diverse, globally connected world.

    My first six months as dean of LAS brought countless conversations, extensive travel, and much careful study of college data. Two key priorities emerged thus far:

    We offer an excellent education at a very affordable cost. Many of Iowa States top-ranked programs, especially in

    the sciences, are in LAS. This is a tremendous opportunity to attract additional outstanding students to the college. Thus, we have launched a comprehensive student recruitment initiative that will build more personal contacts with prospective Iowa Staters and their parents and make campus visits even more welcoming and informative. You can help by continuing to share your Iowa State experience with prospective students.

    Iowa State University is a major national research university that continues to embrace its land-grant mission.

    Today, this translates into solving major global and regional challenges by merging advances in science and technology with a deep understanding of human behavior, historical context, and local culture. To best accomplish this, we are defining five signature themes for LAS, built on our strengths, to give our research efforts a strategic focus and a clear identity. While discussions in the college are still shaping the specifics, here are the working titles of our themes:

    Biological structures and systems (see article on page 10) Complex materials Data-rich environments Environmental, social, and economic sustainability Global citizens, science, and society.

    In future issues of Link, we will introduce you to our vision for each theme and to the outstanding faculty whose

  • News


    Lynn Sandeman, left, retired last summer after a long career as an academic adviser in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. A former member of the ISU womens golf team and still an avid golfer, she and her colleagues including LAS adviser Kathleen Timmons, right donned golf visors for her retirement reception.


    When U.S. Department of State officials needed learning materials to teach English to youth around the globe, they turned to the applied linguistics program in the Iowa State Department of English. Applied linguistics personnel developed print and electronic resources for the project Engaging M@terials for Global English.

    Two dozen international education professionals spent three weeks at ISU last summer testing the materials and contributing their recommendations. The State Department, which awarded a $1.2 million grant to applied linguistics, will distribute the materials globally, and the international educators will share the new resources with other educators in their home nations.

    A lot of students around the world will end up using educational materials developed at Iowa State, said Volker Hegelheimer, associate professor of English, shown above, right.


    Former Cyclone wrestler and Liberal Arts and Sciences alumnus Jake Varner is an Olympic gold

    medalist. He won the gold in mens freestyle wrestling at 211.5 pounds in London on Aug. 12 with a win over

    Ukraines Valerii Andiitsev. Varner is the sixth Iowa State wrestler to earn an Olympic gold medal. A native of

    Bakersfield, Calif., he graduated in 2009 with an interdisciplinary studies major in criminal justice. Also in

    London, LAS biology alumna and former ISU runner Lisa (Koll) Uhl finished 13th in the womens 10,000-meter run.

    WERE NO. 1 AGAIN For the second time in three years and third time in

    seven years, Iowa States American Meteorological Society student chapter has been named national chapter of the year.

    The 75-member group combines social events with community involvement and learning opportunities These events drive the underclassmen to get involved, which sustains our clubs success into the future, said chapter president Josh Alland. Other social events, such as tours of the National Weather Service and news stations, are not only fun but also inform our members of the career opportunities in meteorology.

    U.S. State Department turns to applied linguistics expertise


    Sanchez wins presidential early career award Mayly Sanchez, a physics assistant professor, won a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. It is the highest honor awarded by the U.S. government for researchers in the early stages of their careers. Sanchez studies neutrinos (subatomic particles). She is currently affiliated with the proposed Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment, which would send the worlds most intense beam of neutrinos from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., to the Homestake Mine in Lead, S.D. She also is working with several other major physics experiments. President Obama honored Sanchez and the other award recipients in July at the White House.


    An Iowa State biochemistry student who someday wants to earn a Ph.D. and conduct research is a 2012 Goldwa