No, this isn’t a strange YouTube fascination. Bui teamed up with biology professor Elinor Sullivan this semester to research how the obesity of non-human primates affects their offspring.
“I never thought that it would be so mind blowing,” Bui said. “We can draw conclusions from what we find in the research and help people who are experiencing similar characteristics or maybe even developing healthier lifestyles. It’s so profound to think that you are able to conduct something, and transfer that knowledge to the bigger population to help people become healthier.”
Sullivan and Bui were among the recipients of the Spring 2015 Provost’s Initiative on Undergraduate Research awards. The provost selects faculty members to mentor and collaborate with an underclassman on a co-designed research project.
Bui spends three to four hours a week in the Romanaggi Hall computer lab, working her way through a series of 32 videos. The videos, 45 to 47 minutes each in length, focus on the offspring of an obese non-human primate.
The primate is alone in a cage for the first 10 minutes of the video. Then a researcher, normally Sullivan, walks into the room and sits without interacting with the primate. Eventually, Sullivan will get up close and personal with the primate, attempting to make eye contact.
Bui observes the primates’ behavior and takes detailed notes. Bui says that she has taken note of several social similarities between humans and the non-human primates.
“We found that monkeys who are more obese or have obese parents are less likely to make eye contact because they are afraid or more drawn back,” Bui said. “And you can think about that in our society as well. There hasn’t been a specific study done, but if someone is less confident about the way they look, they are not as likely to go out and interact or make eye contact.”
Sullivan and other researchers also experimented with trying to frighten the animal. Bui said the videos sometimes show Sullivan wearing a vampire mask or a cone head to see how the primate will react.
“One behavior I found in the primate when someone is wearing a vampire mask or a cone head was lip smacking,” Bui said. “It kind of correlates with anxiety, like grinding your teeth when you get nervous about something.”
The world of undergraduate research is new to Bui. She says she is grateful to Sullivan, who was her physiology professor last semester, for helping her gain experience.
“She cares that I’m interested in this, and she’s appreciative of my time and the effort that I’m putting in,” Bui said. “It’s just so nice to have her as a mentor.”
Sullivan has been working on this project with a team of researchers since 2008. She hopes to translate her results to human problems with obesity.
“We knew that obese mothers were more likely to have children that would grow up to be obese.” Sullivan said. “But we didn’t know if that was just genetic, or a result of a shared environment, or if something else is happening during development. That’s why we started investigating.”
The ultimate goal of Sullivan and Bui’s research is to help pregnant women who struggle with obesity find the best way to take proper care of their pregnancy and their child’s health.
Through her experiments, Sullivan has discovered that cutting out unhealthy food from the primate’s diet just during it’s pregnancy can seriously impact the physical and psychological state of the offspring.
She hopes this evidence will help obese pregnant women make healthy choices during their pregnancy.
“They may not be able to give up McDonald’s and eating ice cream forever,” Sullivan said. “But perhaps, just like you give up alcohol and smoking during pregnancy, they’d be willing to give up unhealthy food as well.”
Bui is working towards a career in dentistry and she hopes that this research will further her work.
“The choices you make correlate to your lifestyle and overall that’s something I want to do as a career,” Bui said. “I’m interested in oral health. I think this research will not only make me a better science student but it will make me a more knowledgeable dentist in the future.”
–Story from the Beacon
They called her their soccer “mom” and loved her laugh. She was admired for her strong leadership and her big heart. Her passion for adventure was rivaled only by her commitment to helping others. Among the many campus groups she participated in – the biology and Spanish communities, the club soccer team and Relay for Life – Katie Chale, a ’14 alum, was a vibrant presence.
Chale, 22, who died Sept. 17 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident on Vashon Island near Seattle, was honored at an informal memorial Mass. She is survived by her parents and her brother.
“She was fearless but responsible, mature but always knew when to have fun, and incredibly intelligent,” said Katy Danforth, a friend of Chale’s who played soccer with her.
Fr. Art Wheeler, who was the presider and homilist at the memorial Mass, said he saw those traits in Chale during her time working in the Study Abroad office.
“She was very earnest about making a difference in terms of helping other people,” Wheeler said. “She was very oriented towards others.”
Chale worked as a student coordinator for the Granada study abroad program for more than two years after studying there her sophomore year. She took most of her Spanish courses with professor Kate Regan, who died unexpectedly on July 23.
Regan and Chale were good friends, and the background of Chale’s phone was a photo of the two at the 2014 graduation ceremony in May.
The energy Chale poured into her Spanish classes was purposeful. She saw the language as a tool to help her help others, according to Wheeler.
Chale’s first experience in humanitarian work abroad was her 2009 two-week immersion in Paraguay. She was troubled by the lack of medical services for people there, especially as some suffered from easily fixed ailments.
Her mission in coming to UP was in part to prepare herself for working in a medical-aid capacity in Latin America.
Yet Chale also spread her energy into other campus areas. She made time to enjoy athletic activities like hiking, and she loved exploring the Pacific Northwest coast.
Senior Jessie Robinson, who played club soccer with her for two years, remembers Chale fondly.
“We called her the team mom,” Robinson said. “She was always the one with the Band-Aids and the Ibuprofen. She looked after us and cared for us. We were so grateful to have her.”
The team also gave the nickname “team dad” to Chale’s boyfriend Chris Roberts, who attended games to support them and always brought a camera.
Robinson said Chale’s leadership style, which balanced determination with laughter, was inspiring.
“There was just something about her that made you want to prove that you were good enough to be on the team with her,” Robinson said. “She knew how to put you in a good mood even when you were freezing”.
“We’re going to miss her so much.”
Though some students may take an adventure to downtown Portland or grab a cup of coffee at Cathedral Coffee to step outside the UP bubble, it’s not often that UP students are able to share their ideas or showcase their work in the greater Pacific Northwest community. For the past 11 years, however, the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature (NUCL) has broke this bubble right on campus by inviting all undergraduates in the Pacific Northwest to share and discuss their writing.
On Saturday, April 5, UP hosted the eleventh annual Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature (NUCL) in Franz Hall. NUCL gives students an opportunity to present their own papers or creative works to a panel of their peers for discussion.
Sophomore Hope Dorman, an English major, worked as a respondent last year to help moderate discussion on scholarly papers or creative works submitted to NUCL. This year, Dorman submitted her own essay to NUCL and was selected to present her paper at the conference.
“While it’s great to share within your own English department, nothing’s greater than discussing your work with a stranger that is also educated in the same field as you,” Dorman said.
Dorman’s essay discussed women’s oppression in the context of the book “Season of Migration to the North” by Tayeb Salih. This work takes place in Sudan in the 1960s and touches upon different elements of oppression within Islamic culture.
“I’m a super-feminist and this issue was very apparent in the novel, so it was cool to analyze and pick out all the pieces of something that’s really important to me,” Dorman said.
Senior Jonathan Cruz, an education and English major, chose to submit a short story about his home back in Hawaii.
Cruz’s essay discussed his personal experiences about what home really means to him and the economic limits of Hawaii that people outside of the island don’t often realize.
“I wanted to be published and I think that NUCL is a great way for undergraduates to be published. It’s difficult as an undergrad to be recognized for work, and NUCL is a great way to realize that our works are greater than ourselves and that our works actually matter to other people,” Cruz said.
Aside from presenting papers and listening to papers written by their peers, students are invited to attend NUCL’s keynote speakers who are distinguished in the field of literature. NUCL was sponsored by the English department, the Provost’s Office, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Dean of Admissions, and the University of Portland as a whole. Submissions for NUCL ran between Dec. 1, 2013 to Jan. 20, 2014 and English professors Sarah Weiger and Genevieve Brassard were co-chairs for this conference.
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Chosen over hundreds of scholars applying for a handful of highly competitive placements, English professors and married couple Lars Larson and Molly Hiro have been awarded Fulbright U.S. Scholar Teaching Grants to India.
They’ll be embarking to the southeast Asian country in August with their two daughters to teach comparative American literature courses and enjoy the international experience as a family.
It’s unusual for couples to be selected for Fulbright awards to the same country in the same year, and Hiro and Larson are honored and excited to spend five months of their sabbatical teaching together in India.
“We wanted the challenge,” Larson said. “We wanted to figure out what questions we were not asking in life. To step outside of the American bubble, and see what it means to be human outside of that definition.”
Only recently alerted of their successful applications, Hiro and Larson are making practical preparations as they await details on their placements. They hope to be assigned the same university in New Delhi, teaching courses in their respective areas of interest and allowing India to revitalize their intellectual and personal perspectives.
“One of the downsides of working in American literature is that you don’t have global interests,” Hiro said. “As a professor, I’m very excited to allow this to change my scholarship.”
It was Hiro’s wanderlust that inspired the couple to apply for Fulbrights. Neither she nor Larson studied abroad as undergraduates, so after attending a Fulbright workshop in summer 2012, Hiro saw a second chance for travel.
The couple chose India as their destination not because of research interests, but in hopes that the vast number of grants offered in that country would increase their chances of both being selected. And pragmatic considerations aside, they expect their experience in India to be a mix of work and vacation.
Last summer Hiro and Larson researched India through books, films and histories in order to craft intelligent application proposals, but they recognize there’s a limit to what they can prepare for.
They are swift to note the diverse challenges they’ll face: language barriers, infrastructure troubles, bureaucratic red tape, sickness from exposure to unfamiliar foods and microbes, the relentless heat, cultural misunderstandings and possibly adjusting their teaching styles.
Also their two children – soon to be 7 and 10 – have never left the country and may be five months without formal education. Since American and international schools in India have long waitlists, Hiro and Larson might prefer their daughters to learn by exploring the cultural and historical aspects day-to-day of India.
“We fully expect, from how different life in India is – how hot it is, how crowded, how conspicuous they’ll be – they won’t think it’s fun on a daily basis,” Hiro said. “But we hope and believe that they’ll look back with a kind of fondness and feel like they’ve learned a lot.”
Senior English major Cerice Keller, who worked as Hiro’s research assistant, said Larson and Hiro’s humility and self-awareness will help them adapt to life in India.
“They are so deserving of this,” Keller said. “I can’t wait to hear about their experiences when they get back.”
Hiro said the English department has been very supportive, despite how unusual it is to lose two professors to sabbatical at once. English professor Geneviève Brassard will replace Hiro as department chair July 1, and a one-year replacement with a doctorate will be hired as an adjunct to teach American and introductory literature courses. An additional adjunct will be brought on if necessary next fall.
Hiro and Larson plan to return to the States in early January, and spend the second half of their sabbatical researching and writing. They’re excited to discover how taking American literature abroad will reshape their viewpoints, and how a semester in a foreign country will bring them closer together as a family.
It’s that challenge of defamiliarization, according to Larson, that’s central to this Fulbright teaching experience.
“Portland, as everybody knows, is a comfortable town, it’s smug and self-conscious,” Larson said. “We want to get outside of this pristine zone and maybe bring back some things Portland may have forgotten.”
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Students in diverse fields, from political science to environmental studies to education, had a chance to meet with former Reps. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minnesota) and Martin Lancaster (D-North Carolina). On Feb. 24 in the Bauccio Commons, the UP community gathered for a Q-and-A session, focusing mainly on the current state of Congress, how it has changed and the role it plays in American life.
Gutknecht compared his time in the House of Representatives to his time in the Minnesota state legislature, and spoke of the differences in debate between the two. According to him, there is a lack of debate in Congress.
“Essentially, what happens in Congress is members just get up and read speeches, unfortunately very often written by their staffs, and there isn’t the give and take,” Gutknecht said. “Members are seldom persuaded by the debate on the floor of the House. In fact, members rarely even listen to the debate that’s going on in the floor of the House.”
Both former congressmen spoke with dismay over the loss of collegiality and bipartisanship they see in today’s politics, and blamed the lack of opportunities for representatives across the aisle to get to know each other.
“There’s very little opportunity for members of Congress to get to know each other on a personal level,” Lancaster said. “There’s less fact-finding trips when members of both parties can get to know each other. There’s just a different atmosphere now.”
Senior Leah Becker asked the congressmen to speak about the lack of women, and how it can be improved.
“Find stronger women. We win with the people who show up, we need to find good candidates who will set up and run,” Gutknecht responded. “There are some good backbenchers on both sides of the political aisle today … There are some pretty strong women in politics today that you will see coming and I think will be stepping up in a few years.”
After the event, Becker was still mulling over Gutknecht’s response before she and the German Culture Club met with both congressmen.
“I was frustrated that their answer was to find strong women when we clearly have strong women continually running who aren’t being voted in and are harshly being depicted in the media, and I was a little frustrated that that wasn’t addressed or maybe even not known by (former congressman) Gutknecht,” Becker said.
Junior Josh Cleary questioned Gutknecht and Lancaster about the importance of civics education, and whether it should be emphasized in the education system from elementary school through grade school.
Lancaster said he views civics education as very important, and mentioned the law in North Carolina requiring one year of civics education for students.
Gutknecht mentioned his own experience of having good social studies teachers. He also highlighted the importance of morality education. He spoke of his dismay at Catholic schools not teaching his own children what he believed should be taught in terms of morality.
“If I were to say anything, now I paid a lot of money in tuition to various schools for my kids. I can say I’m embarrassed to say how little they learned that I thought they needed to learn about morality,” said Gutknecht. “For example, and I asked some classes earlier today (at UP). Even in parochial schools, they don’t teach the Seven Deadly Sins anymore. They don’t teach a lot of the things that we were taught growing up. They’re Seven Deadly Sins because they are deadly. They’re not seven kind of mistakes. I think kids need to understand that.”
Political science professor Gary Malecha closed the event by asking a question he’s always wondered about, concerning the controversial relationship between the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“How do the folks in the in the House of Representatives feel about the Senate?” Malecha said, meeting some laughter from the audience.
“There’s always been, in my belief, (the feeling) that the enemy was not the other party, but the other body,” Lancaster said. “It’s just a natural fact of political life that the House and Senate just don’t get along. It’s been true back through my legislative career, so for the last 20-plus years, there’s been incredible tension between the House and the Senate.”
Some students were glad to have the chance to discuss political issues with people who have served in political positions.
“It’s so rare that university students get to talk to people who have been in government,” Cleary said. “It’s a great opportunity.”
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Upon walking into the classroom on the first day of the semester, students in Brian Simmons’ communication studies classes are invited to kick back, relax and settle into the living room, but come the end of the semester, this living room will close. Simmons, a well-loved professor, will be leaving UP at the end of the school year to join the communication studies department at his alma mater, Oklahoma Christian University.
Simmons has been a part of UP’s community for the past five years, following the closure of Cascade College where he taught for 15 years. Students and colleagues say he will be well missed, but well wished.
“I remember getting there the first day of class and I knew I had picked the right major because he was so enthusiastic about what he was doing,” freshman Danny McGarry said.
After taking three of Simmons’ classes, McGarry looks at professors at UP in a new light.
“Him wanting to teach us so much had a huge impact on my view of professors in general,” McGarry said.
Simmons’ passion for what he teaches shines through his lectures, which cover everything from how to discern what flirting is to the value of understanding other cultures’ ways of interacting.
“As a teacher, Brian is very competent, very engaging, very passionate and truly believes that what we are learning has value for our lives,” sophomore Nathan Seppi said. “He’s just a fun guy to learn from.”
Communication studies Department Chair Jeff Kerssen-Griep has enjoyed working with Simmons during his time at UP.
“We’ve really benefitted from him being here,” Kerssen-Griep said. “Both as a person and a teacher he’s really admirable (and) someone to look up to.”
Simmons is known best for creating a “living room environment” where students are invited to relax, freely share their thoughts, ask questions and address Simmons as a peer instead of an authoritative figure. Simmons has enjoyed bonding with all of his students.
“Three years ago I was telling my class how much I love Taco Bell,” Simmons said. “I walked into class one day with about 50 chalupas and fed all of my students.”
The choice to leave UP has been a difficult one for Simmons, who along with teaching intro to communication, interpersonal communication, communication law and public speaking courses, is an adviser to the speech and debate team. Under his coaching, the team is ranked seventh in its division.
“I love it here,” Simmons said. “I love the classes I teach. I love the college students I work with. Honestly I feel guilty, like I’m abandoning my students, like I’m letting them down.”
Simmons’ decision to take a teaching job in Oklahoma came down to the job security it would provide for him and his family.
“They approached me about teaching for them,” Simmons said. “They have actually approached me essentially every year since I’ve been working here, and I kept telling them no. But they made an offer that I couldn’t refuse that gives me more job security in the long term than I have at University of Portland.”
Simmons will begin instructing at Oklahoma in the fall as a professor, teaching lower and upper division communication classes at the university, as well as working with their honors students.
Looking back at his time spent at UP, Simmons will miss the sense of community and place the most.
“My students and the people I work with have accepted me, liked me, and shared their lives with me,” Simmons said. “I have to start all over again from scratch. I know how things work and where things stand. When I came here I didn’t know anyone on this campus. So for five years I’ve created a sense of place. And (when I leave), it’ll evaporate.”
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By W.C. Lawson | From The Beacon
If students who find themselves standing restless behind the long line at the Commons coffee bar take a moment to look back to the end of the line, they might get the opportunity to see Michael Taylor solving a Sudoku puzzle or reading some philosophy.
Father of biology professor David Taylor, Michael comes to campus with David a few days per week. In the mornings, he reads the newspaper and solves mathematical proofs. In the afternoons, he will join with David for some lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon drinking coffee and befriending students and faculty members.
“I really enjoy learning. It’s a way to expand your world,” Michael said. “The larger your world is, the more you’ll take from it.”
Michael enjoys a frappuccino most days. When it’s cold, he will order a chai tea latte.
“He’s very environmentally conscious, he always uses his own mug,” junior Commons barista Rebecca Mion said. “He’ll even wait in the back when lines at the coffee bar are crowded until we aren’t busy to order his coffee.”
David and Michael moved here together in 2010 from their home in Hartford, Conn., after David’s mother and Michael’s wife passed away from cancer in 2009. They live together in a rented home here in Portland during the school year, and travel back to their home in Connecticut in the summers.
“After I got the opportunity to teach here at University of Portland, we made the choice to move out here,” David said. “And Dad is a firecracker, full of spunk, so he really was eager to get out and explore.”
A man of many hats, Michael has worked as a mathematics and general science high school teacher, a high school gymnastics coach, a volunteer scuba diver (before you could even buy a suit), a technician at an NBC affiliate television station and on an air force missile tracking ship in Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In high school, Michael was on the swimming and diving team as well as a pole vaulter on the track team. He could even lift 110 pounds with one arm in a standing arm press, despite only weighing 150 pounds at the time.
“Dad has always taken care of the family,” David said. “At one point he worked four different jobs. He is a really hardworking and dedicated man.”
As Michael waits for his son to finish working, he enjoys his time on campus.
“It’s like a family here,” Michael said. “I am very impressed with the student body at this university. Here I see wonderful, sincere people, and am very fortunate to run into nice young adults.”
In between the days of coming to campus with his son, Michael receives dialysis treatments and does physical therapy. He currently is on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. Despite this, he continues to remain active, leading meditation yoga sessions back home in Connecticut during the summer.
“We are a traveling team,” David said. “We are often referred to as the Taylor boys.” (both laugh).
By Cassie Sheridan | From The Beacon
There is something inexplicable about the magic of a marathon. Maybe it’s 10,000 sets of Nikes hitting the pavement in unison. Maybe it’s imagining the amount of miles logged by those bodies in months and years of training. Regardless, on Sunday, Willamette Blvd. was part of that magic. For some students, the Portland Marathon meant a frustrating detour and roadblocks. For others, it was a day that had been circled for months on their calendar.
The true spirit of the marathon doesn’t occur on race day, it happens in the months before. That’s when the stories and events that brought all those individuals together for the ultimate test of mental and physical endurance occur. These stories are the reason people run.
On Sunday, UP students, whether they were runners, pacers or volunteers contributed a little bit of their own magic to the Portland Marathon.
For senior Colin Root, the Portland Marathon represented the opportunity to set a goal and beat it.
“Last year, I decided my goal was to get under 3 hours,” Root said. “I love to test myself and my body. There is something special about going out there and doing something you don’t think you are capable of.”
Root certainly was able to accomplish something most individuals are not capable of.
“I kept a really solid 6:30 mile pace,” Root said. “When I crossed the finish, I was disoriented but knew I had gotten under 3 hours. It’s awesome to know I will always be able to say ‘In college I ran a 3-hour marathon’ even if I never run one again.”
Root said his ROTC training was essential to his preparation and ROTC provided a great support team.
Root had senior Vince Dato-on meet him at mile 20 and help him keep pace for what is traditionally perceived as the hardest three to five miles of the marathon.
“I hit runner’s wall at mile 20 and Vince met me there and ran with me,” Root said. “I was hurting and wanting to slow down but he helped me keep pace, which was essential.”
A 3-hour marathon placed Root within the top handful of finishers.
Root said he was just happy to find a good outlet for all the ROTC training.
For junior Katie Kerr, this year’s marathon was far tougher than her last.
“Last year when I ran the marathon, I trained so much,” Kerr said. “This year was a lot harder run. Luckily, I had two great friends run with me to help me stay motivated.”
Kerr loves to run the Portland Marathon because it is such a positive environment.
“All my housemates came out and cheered for me,” Kerr said. “I had junior Josh Cleary run ten miles with me and keep me motivated and Vince came back from running with Colin to help me too. The support made it so wonderful, despite the tough run.”
Kerr believes anyone can run a marathon, if they set a goal and just work towards it.
“The awesome thing about running is accessibility,” Kerr said. “Anyone can get out there and just run. I want everybody to run a marathon. It is such a positive experience.”
Ten years ago, junior Maria Etheridge lost her grandma. Coincidentally, 10 years later, Etheridge was considering running her first half marathon.
“I never thought I could run that much,” Etheridge said. “Then I just had a rough spring and really needed something to work towards. I told my dad about my goal and he told me he would run it with me. We then found out the race was the same date as my grandma’s death and it just felt like something incredible that my dad and I could do together in honor of her.”
Etheridge said the overwhelming support from her friends and family helped her achieve her goal.
“It was so special for every reason. My whole family came down from Washington to watch and cheer for us,” Etheridge said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
Senior Vincent Dato-on ran alongside not just one marathoner, but two. Dato-on met Root at the St. Johns Bridge and ran around four miles with him before looping back around and meeting Kerr to run another three miles.
“I ran the marathon last year,” said Dato-on. “However, this year I really wanted to just help motivate people to accomplish their goals. I knew Colin really wanted to get that 3-hour finish and so it was awesome to be able to help motivate him to finish strong.”
Junior Josh Cleary has never ran an official marathon, but thinks with the amount of miles he has logged pacing people he may as well have.
“I don’t have an official finisher shirt,” Cleary said. “I feel like I should though. I have almost run the whole thing a couple of times. It’s so much easier to have someone there running with you than trying to keep that pace all by yourself.”
For most college students, waking up at 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning is the last thing on their to-do list. However, bright and early on Willamette Blvd., about 20 UP students crowded around Richard Gritta, a business professor who has ran the marathon many times in the past, to volunteer.
Despite the chilly morning dew and the late supply delivery truck, volunteers persevered and handed out water until noon.
“It was really special to see so many other students come out at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning,” said junior volunteer Megan Tienken. “Everyone worked together and collaborated to make our water station successful.”