Tewksbury, Others Win U.S. Award for Teaching Website

Barbara TewksburyBarbara Tewksbury, the Upson Chair for Public Discourse and professor of geosciences, is part of a team honored with a national award for a Web site developed to improve undergraduate geoscience education.

The site, On the Cutting Edge: Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty was awarded the 2009 Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Science magazine. One of the most widely used resources on the Web site is the online course design tutorial that Tewksbury developed.

“We are absolutely thrilled to receive this award,” Tewksbury said. “Many of the resources on our Web site are broadly applicable to teaching in any field, and this award will make our resources more visible to those outside the geosciences.”

On the Cutting Edge has received more than $8 million in National Science Foundation funding over the past eight years to catalyze improvements in undergraduate geoscience education by offering face-to-face and virtual workshops for geoscience faculty and by developing an extensive Web collection. The project has offered more than 50 workshops reaching a remarkable cross-section of college and university geoscience faculty: More than 25 percent of all geoscience faculty members in the nation have attended a Cutting Edge workshop.

The project is the work of Tewksbury and three collaborators: Heather Macdonald (College of William and Mary), David Mogk (Montana State University) and Cathryn Manduca (Carleton College). They and several co-authors contributed an essay on the project to the Feb. 26 issue of Science magazine, observing: “Beyond the impacts on individual faculty, the On the Cutting Edge program has created a new culture; faculty learn from one another and share resources to improve teaching.”

NSF Grant for Campus Computing

Adam van WynsbergheA group of four Hamilton faculty members has been awarded a grant of $177,950 through the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program to fund a shared-use, state-of-the-art computing cluster.

The project, titled “MRI-R2: Acquisition of a High Performance Computing cluster with a fast interconnect to enable shared-use, college-wide computational investigations at Hamilton College” is led by Assistant Professor of Chemistry Adam Van Wynsberghe as principal investigator, with Assistant Professor of Biology Wei-Jen Chang, Assistant Professor of Physics Natalia Connolly and Assistant Professor of Anthropology Nathan Goodale contributing as co-principal investigators.

The cluster will primarily support the four professors’ research programs: Van Wynsberghe is investigating enzymatic catalysis in RNase A and drug-target interactions of influenza neuraminidase; Chang is probing the evolutionary biology of eukaryote supergroups; Connolly is studying the nature of ultra-luminous infra-red galaxies; and Goodale is examining social networks through an analysis of projectile points and gravestone raw materials. But the expanded resources will also allow greater access for other projects and be available to users from the Hamilton community.

Rare Produce from Hill’s 1812 Garden

1812 GardenAnyone who thinks the study of heirloom seeds has no practical application clearly hasn’t yet perused his or her copy of the Seed Savers Exchange catalogue. This spring’s edition happens to include two rare seed varietals cultivated in Hamilton’s own 1812 Garden.

Cups potatoes and Katie Wheeler calico flint corn are the two varietals that have been cultivated on campus. The cups potatoes are descended from pre-1770 tubers that survived in the Beamish Museum in Durham, England, and represent one of the oldest surviving European and North American potato varieties. Katie Wheeler is a grinding corn that was originally collected from Iroquois Nation seed savers.

Spawned by the course Food for Thought: The Science, Culture, and Politics of Food, currently taught by Associate Professor of Russian Frank Sciacca and Professor of Biology David Gapp, the 1812 Garden is a re-creation of an early 19th-century Central New York kitchen garden that offers historical and cultural perspectives on sustainability. Seed Savers Exchange describes itself as “a nonprofit, member-supported organization that saves and shares the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage, forming a living legacy that can be passed down through generations.”

The $400 million campaign marked the most ambitious fundraising initiative in the College's history.

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