Category: Academics

Lawrence places high in value, teaching, first-year experience in U.S. News rankings

Four days of New Student Orientation led into today’s opening of the Fall Term at Lawrence University. U.S. News and World Report lists Lawrence among the best schools in the nation for first-year experiences. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is once again ranked among the best colleges in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

In addition to being included in the 2022 Best Colleges report, placing No. 62 among the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges, Lawrence placed high on four other lists that are part of the annual rankings:

No. 36: Best Value

No. 44: Best Undergraduate Teaching

No. 54: Best First-Year Experiences

No. 167: Top Performers on Social Mobility

Released today, the rankings come as Lawrence opens its 2021-22 academic year amid the excitement of having all of its students back on campus.

Class of 2025 welcomed as new academic year begins

“We are, of course, happy to be recognized once again among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications. “That US News bestowed upon Lawrence a bouquet of additional rankings about the quality of our educational environment makes this year’s ranking season that much sweeter.”

Lawrence moved up one spot in the ranking of liberal arts colleges and maintained its No. 36 ranking for Best Value among liberal arts colleges. The latter speaks to Lawrence’s push to make more need-based aid available in the form of grants and scholarships, bolstered by a Full Speed to Full Need (FSFN) campaign that has now raised more than $91 million.

To be considered for U.S. News’ Best Value Schools listing, a school first had to be ranked among the Best Colleges in the nation. Those qualifying schools were then examined on the basis of net cost of attendance and available need-based financial aid.

Placement on the other lists, meanwhile, is particularly gratifying because they each reflect ongoing efforts to make Lawrence more inclusive and to provide a broad, holistic student experience.

Being on the list for Best Undergraduate Teaching is heartening because it speaks to the relationship-building that comes with Lawrence’s 8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and the expansion of key academic programs.

“Lawrence’s faculty are not only terrific scientists, artists, and scholars—they are also first-rate teachers,” said Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of faculty. “It’s extremely gratifying to see them receive this much-deserved national recognition for the extraordinary work they do with their students.”

Lawrence has added or strengthened academic programs in, among other areas, music, data science, computer science, creative writing, neuroscience, psychology, environmental science, and global studies. In some cases, majors or minors were launched. In other instances, endowed professorships were added as part of the recently concluded Be the Light! Campaign.

The First-Year Experiences ranking is new for Lawrence this year. It follows efforts across campus to enhance the student life experience in a holistic way, including more coordinated health and wellness outreach, the launch and growth of the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life, the expansion of the Center for Academic Success, and the more intentional focus of the Career Center in connecting with students in their first year on campus. That has all played into first-year students having positive experiences as they transition to college life.

“You join a community of scholars who are ready to engage you, befriend you, teach you, and learn from you,” Christopher Card, vice president for student life, said last week as Lawrence welcomed the Class of 2025 to campus. “We are a community that’s interested in the whole person, not just the academics. … Fundamentally, all of us are here to learn—with each other and from each other.”

The Top Performers on Social Mobility list speaks to the success of a college advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating economically disadvantaged students who are awarded Pell Grants. The majority of those federal grants are awarded to students whose adjusted gross family incomes are below $50,000.

The U.S. News announcement marks the second significant national college ranking that Lawrence has landed on in the past two weeks. On Aug. 31, The Princeton Review listed Lawrence as one of the best colleges in the nation, including the university in its annual Best 387 Colleges for 2022 guide. Lawrence was included on several separate lists within the Princeton Review ranking—Best Value Colleges, Best Green Colleges, and Best Midwestern Colleges.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Lawrence lands on The Princeton Review’s 2022 list of best colleges in nation

Main Hall on the Lawrence University campus. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is again listed as one of the best colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. It’s also included in several separate lists within the ranking—Best Value Colleges, Best Green Colleges, and Best Midwestern Colleges.

The Best 387 Colleges for 2022 highlights the top colleges based on data and feedback the education services company annually collects on everything from academic offerings to financial aid to student experiences. The book was released Aug. 31.

“At a time when students are searching for institutional strength and quality, we appreciate that The Princeton Review has once again recognized Lawrence University as one of the best colleges in the country,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications.

Only about 14% of the nearly 2,800 eligible four-year colleges make the Best book each year. Published each August and focused on undergraduate education, it has been an annual resource for prospective students since its debut in 1992. The book does not rank the schools within the list of 387.

See more on Lawrence admissions here.

Information on Lawrence application process here.

The Green College ranking speaks to the work Lawrence has done on sustainability and reducing the school’s carbon footprint.

The Best Value designation, meanwhile, is based on stellar academics, affordable cost with financial aid factored in, and strong career prospects for graduates, according to Princeton Review editors.

Showing up on the Best Value list is particularly heartening, Anselment said. It not only speaks to the academic offerings that make Lawrence such a draw, but it also highlights two huge, ongoing investments—the launch of the Full Speed to Full Need (FSFN) campaign to make the school more accessible and the retooling of the Career Center as part of a Life After Lawrence initiative.

While average student loan debt has continued to rise across the country, Lawrence’s numbers have been going down, fueled by the $91 million that has been raised in the FSFN campaign. Those funds have augmented other available financial aid and scholarships. The average student debt for Lawrence graduates has dropped to $29,118, its lowest mark in 10 years. It hit a high mark of $34,573 in 2015–16 and has dropped steadily each year since. The percentage of Lawrence’s students graduating with debt has dropped to 56%, well below the 75% a decade ago.

“While being considered one of the best is great, we’re even more excited that The Princeton Review continues to acknowledge the important work we do every day on behalf of our students, which is providing top-notch preparation for a meaningful life after college, and doing so in a way that families can afford,” Anselment said.

The Princeton Review report lauded Lawrence for its “stunning 8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, which means students have access to their professors at all times.” It also praised Lawrence for its robust international student population, its impressive First-Year Studies program, and its “holistic approach to the admissions game.”

The Princeton Review’s school profiles and ranking lists in The Best 387 Colleges are posted at www.princetonreview.com/best387 where they can be searched for free with site registration.

The Best 387 Colleges is the 30th annual edition of The Princeton Review’s best colleges book.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Lawrence launches new Health and Society minor, with focus on health disparities

The Health and Society minor will dig deep into issues and complexities that shape individual and public health, from food sourcing to social inequities.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University has introduced a new Health and Society minor that will explore the intersection of human health and global social inequities.

The program, drawing on faculty expertise from social, cultural, biological, and environmental fields across campus, will be available to students beginning in Fall Term. It can be paired with any major and will provide important preparation for students eyeing health- or social justice-related careers or graduate school programs, said Beth De Stasio, the Raymond H. Herzog Professor of Science and professor of biology.

The minor isn’t only about health care; rather, it’s focused on all of the complex issues that shape individual and population health.

“It brings together courses from across the humanities, social and natural sciences to give students a more holistic understanding of the origins of health, illness, and disability, including origins of the disparities in health and health outcomes we see in this country and across the globe,” De Stasio said.

More on the Health and Society minor can be found here

Students pursuing the Health and Society minor will take classes across fields such as anthropology, ethnic studies, and philosophy. They will examine their own experiences working with vulnerable populations and explore career paths that empower them to make a difference in people’s lives.

The minor will include one course that places health in a global or community setting; two courses covering cultural and psychosocial aspects of health and illness or disability; two courses focused on the biological, biochemical, or environmental aspect of human health; one course that facilitates career exploration and self-reflection; and an option for 100 hours of engaged learning.

It will allow students the space to learn about the complexities and complications tied to health and the varied factors at play—from privilege and discrimination to food systems and infrastructure.

The new minor represents a liberal arts approach to a complicated, important area of study, said Mark Jenike, associate professor of anthropology.

“They often seek out and demand rich, complicated understandings of outcomes using tools from across the curriculum,” he said of Lawrence students. “The Health and Society minor gives them an opportunity to do so specifically in the realm of health. We hope that the broader and deeper understanding of why health disparities exist, both locally and globally, that they gain from the minor will help to make them more empathetic, critical, and ultimately more effective health care providers in their chosen field.”

One newly developed course brings it all together with a focus on career exploration tied to health. Alumni who are working in related fields will be integrated into the teaching of the course to share their wisdom and experiences with students, De Stasio said.

“It will allow students the time and intention to undertake exploration of the wide variety of career paths within the field of health care, as well as provide a facilitated discernment process in which their values and skills can be matched against various types of career paths,” she said.

In addition to the classroom work, faculty will work with students in pursuit of internships, paid employment, or volunteer work related to health care delivery, health care policy, or related work with vulnerable populations.

“I think health-interested students will be drawn to the minor because it is distinctive,” Jenike said. “And that’s the point of coming to Lawrence in the first place, right?”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

10 new tenure-track faculty join Lawrence University for 2021-22 academic year

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University has announced the hiring of 10 new tenure-track faculty, all beginning at the start of the 2021-22 academic year.

Three of the new faculty will fill positions in the Psychology department, including two newly created endowed professorships, one in cognitive neuroscience and one in collaboration and organizational psychology.

The influx of new faculty brings talent and experience across the college and the Conservatory, including in environmental studies, ethnic studies, history, philosophy, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and vocal coaching.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be welcoming such a talented, dedicated group of scholars to the Lawrence faculty,” said Catherine Kodat, provost and dean of faculty. “Our new colleagues will fortify strengths in existing academic programs and help us develop new areas of focus.”

The new hires include:

Alperin

Brittany Alperin, assistant professor of psychology. She will be the inaugural holder of the Singleton Professorship in Cognitive Neuroscience. She comes from the University of Richmond, where she’s been a visiting assistant professor since 2019. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and neuroscience from Hampshire College and a Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience from Oregon Health and Science University.

Colon

Sigma Colón, assistant professor of environmental and ethnic studies. She has been teaching at Lawrence since 2017, first in postdoctoral NEH fellowships in geography and history, then as a visiting assistant professor of environmental and ethnic studies. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in history from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University.

Culhane

Kelly Culhane, assistant professor of chemistry. She has been working as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota since 2019. She joins the Chemistry department after earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University.

Dixon

Scott Dixon, assistant professor of philosophy. He has been on the faculty at Ashoka University in Haryana, India since 2015. He studied philosophy and German at the University of Montana and earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California, Davis.

Draheim

Amanda Draheim, assistant professor of psychology. She joins the Psychology department at Lawrence after recently completing her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Georgia State University. She previously earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Trinity University.

Heaton

Alex Heaton, assistant professor of mathematics. Beginning in 2019, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences and the Math+ Berlin Mathematics Research Center, both in Germany. He then joined the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences in Toronto as a postdoctoral fellow. He earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Koker

Margaret Koker, assistant professor of physics. She has been teaching in the Physics department at Lawrence as a visiting assistant professor since 2018. She previously worked as a postdoctoral research fellow, a research assistant, and an engineering lecturer at Cornell University and as a Beamline scientist at the University of Chicago. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University, a master’s from the University of Illinois, and her doctor rerum naturalium from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany.

Ng

Linnea Ng, assistant professor of psychology. She will be the inaugural holder of the Hurvis Professorship in Collaboration and Organizational Psychology at Lawrence. She is completing a Ph.D. in industrial organizational psychology at Rice University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Davidson College.

Roach

Kristin Roach, assistant professor of music (vocal coaching). Her recent accomplishments include work as a vocal coach at the Chautauqua Opera Theatre, conductor with the Pacific Opera Project, musical director and conductor with Spotlight on Opera, and conductor with Vocal Academy of Orvieto. She earned a bachelor’s degree in applied piano and a master of music in piano performance/literature and accompanying/chamber music, both from Eastman School of Music.

Schlabach

Elizabeth Schlabach, associate professor of history. She comes to Lawrence following eight years as a member of the faculty at Earlham College. She previously worked as a visiting professor for five years at The College of William & Mary. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history and theology from Valparaiso University, a master’s in American Studies from Lehigh University, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from St. Louis University. 

Endowed professorships

The hiring of Alperin as Lawrence’s first Singleton Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience and Ng as the first Hurvis Professor in Collaboration and Organizational Psychology marks a significant milestone in the Psychology department.

The two endowed positions came out of the hugely successful Be the Light! campaign that over the course of seven years raised $232.6 million and added five endowed professorships.

The Singleton professorship elevates Lawrence’s work in the area of cognitive neuroscience and the Hurvis professorship allows for the exploration of the psychology of collaboration, a growing field that has relevance across the curriculum as students prepare for life after Lawrence. 

Kodat called the filling of the two endowed positions “especially gratifying,” a tangible result of the generosity and vision seen in the Be the Light! Campaign.

“These positions—in organizational psychology and cognitive neuroscience—will help advance the curricular innovation that was one of the centerpieces of the campaign,” she said.

The 10 new faculty begin their first academic year when Fall Term opens Sept. 13.

“I look forward to a long and happy collaboration,” Kodat said.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Work with economics faculty leads 2021 grad to EPA-funded research program

Doan Thu Thuy Nguyen ’21 at her June commencement at Lawrence University.

By Karina Herrera ’22

It was in an environmental economics class at Lawrence University that Doan Thu Thuy Nguyen ’21 realized her interest in economics and her passion for the environment could co-exist.

The experience in that class, taught by David Gerard, the John R. Kimberly Distinguished Professor in the American Economic System and an associate professor of economics, led Nguyen to two summers at Lawrence spent on environment-related research tied to her home country of Vietnam. And that work has now led the economics and mathematics double major to her next academic adventure—acceptance into Carnegie Mellon University in the doctorate program in Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) as a graduate research assistant. She will join a group of Carnegie Mellon researchers this fall.

Reflecting on her undergraduate experience, Nguyen said her time at Lawrence could not have had a more positive or fruitful impact on her academic interests, pointing to her collaborations with Gerard and other economics faculty as key to getting into the Carnegie Mellon research program.

Find more on Lawrence’s economics program here

Get to know economics professor David Gerard here

The Carnegie Mellon team, led by Nicholas Z. Muller, the Lester and Judith Lave Professor of Economics, Engineering and Public Policy, secured an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant to fund the research, which will explore environmental impacts of certain manufacturing processes. Among other things, the funding provides for financial assistantships for graduate students. For Nguyen, this means that she will be given full tuition and a stipend for the initial academic year.

Although a little nervous, Nguyen said she is ready to begin. She’s excited to work with Muller and his team in part because she’s read academic papers of his and admires his work. She’ll also be working with people from different STEM fields and expects to be challenged.

“I expect it to be very intense but I also like that environment,” Nguyen said.

However, making the decision to apply to the Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. program in EPP was not an easy one, Nguyen said. She had offers from numerous economic Ph.D. programs and was hesitant at first to consider Carnegie Mellon because it was the only program that she applied to that was not solely focused in economics. She explained that what drew her in at the end was that the EPP program is exceptionally strong in areas regarding energy and environment, which are her main interests surrounding economics.

“It was clear that it was such a great place to be and I’ll be working with a lot of people who are really pioneering areas in research,” Nguyen said.

When asked how she found her passion for environmental economics and energy, she explained that it was initially through taking the environmental economics class with Gerard. Nguyen has since worked closely with Gerard and associate professor of economics Jonathan Lhost. They and other faculty have helped facilitate and augment her academic interests, she said.

She spent two summers at Lawrence conducting research—one summer focusing on the cost of decarbonizing Vietnam and the other on the air quality and public health in Vietnam. Both professors recommended that she apply to present her research at professional academic conferences and helped her to prepare and practice for her presentation.

“This is just one example of how professors at Lawrence go above and beyond for their students,” Nguyen said. “My professors really didn’t have to do any of those things, but they did because they care.”

Gerard also encouraged her to consider the EPP program at Carnegie Mellon and wrote her a letter of recommendation. He saw Carnegie Mellon as a great fit for her in part because of his own experiences there; he was on the faculty for eight years prior to coming to Lawrence in 2009, serving as executive director of the Center for the Study & Improvement of Regulation. He continues to serve as an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy.

Although he knows it was a tough decision for Nguyen, he doesn’t doubt she’ll exceed expectations.

“She was certainly an extraordinary student,” Gerard said.

Karina Herrera ’22 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.

Building community: A study guide to Lawrence’s 2021-22 First-Year Studies

Stranger in the Shogun’s City and The Harm in Hate Speech are new additions to this year’s First-Year Studies reading list. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Communications

Our annual guide—updated—to Lawrence University’s First-Year Studies reading list has arrived.

Martyn Smith, associate professor of religious studies, has taken the baton as this year’s director of First-Year Studies (previously known as Freshman Studies).

Smith generously agreed to update the guide and offer new insights as we approach the launch of the 2021-22 academic year. Two new works have been added to the list, one for Fall Term, one for Winter Term.

First-Year Studies, as all Lawrentians know, is an important piece of the Lawrence experience. Since its establishment in 1945, the First-Year Studies syllabus has been continuously revised to introduce a changing student body to the intellectual challenges of a liberal arts education, and to the resulting benefits of the interdisciplinary thinking it embraces.

While adjustments will be made as needed, Smith said he remains hopeful all First-Year Studies courses will be in person this year.

“I would like to suggest that our experience of the pandemic has thrown a new light on the works chosen for First-Year Studies,” he said. “They continue to serve as an ambitious introduction to the liberal arts, but we can now see a strong sub-theme of community that runs throughout these works.”

Fall Term

Natasha Trethewey, Native Guard.  We are again starting off the year with poetry. This collection of poems asks students to see a relationship between private experience and the larger narratives of history. This work sets the tone for thinking about racism in America, demonstrating to students that one part of a liberal arts education is learning to talk about the pressing issues of our time. Reading these poems, we begin to see the threat to community when stories are suppressed or erased. At the same time, we see through these poems the importance of memory and memorials in establishing a flourishing community. (Adopted Fall 2015)

Thomas Seeley, Honeybee Democracy. From Trethewey’s poetry, we move to a biologist’s study of the most fascinating of social insects: the honeybee. Seeley demonstrates that we now know a surprising amount about collective decision-making in the hive. It turns out that something like an argument can take place in the hive as they consider where they should move, and that there are mechanisms for resolving that difference. But while the honeybees are a fascinating look at another form of community, we also come to see how scholars have built on each other’s work and collaborated as a unit to learn about honeybees. (Adopted Winter 2019)

Plato, The Republic. There’s a reason why this book has been on the syllabus, almost continuously, for 75 years. It raises big questions that can be worked through in class discussions. Since the work itself is in the form of a dialogue, it serves as a model for these discussions that are at the core of First-Year Studies. It’s hard to think of a major issue that doesn’t turn up somewhere in this work, but at its core is a question about the ideal city. No students or instructors will today wholly agree with the prescriptions for community given by Plato (through his character Socrates), but his wide-ranging questions prompt us to think about what an ideal community would look like.

Berenice Abbott, Tri-Boro Barber School, 264 Bowery, Manhattan. Taken in 1935 as part of the WPA’s Federal Art Project, this photograph rewards close inspection. The barber-stripe column, the contrasting façade tiles, and the patterns of light and shadow evoke modernist art styles like cubism and abstraction. As we continue to examine the photo, economic issues begin to stand out: questions about advertising and who is inside and who is outside of the “world’s up-to-date system.” (Adopted Fall 2020)

Amy Stanley, Stranger in the Shogun’s City. This work of history is one of the new works for First Year Studies. It is a biography of a woman named Tsuneno who lived in the first half of the 19th century in Edo, Japan (which would become Tokyo). On the strength of its storytelling this work has been awarded the 2021 PEN and National Book Critics Circle awards for biography. The book takes a sympathetic look at the life of a woman who made her way from a village to the big city. After having read about Plato’s ideal vision for a city in The Republic, this work of history will sketch for us the reality of life in a growing modern city, and give us a look at the demands such a city makes on individuals. (Adopted Fall 2021)

Winter Term

The Harm in Hate Speech, Jeremy Waldron. We begin the term with the second new work for First-Year Studies. This is a book that provides a philosophical and legal framework for understanding the contemporary question of hate speech. One of the goals of a liberal arts education is to gain facility entering into close written argumentation about contemporary issues, and this work is a model of argument building. It also marks a turn in our approach to thinking about community. In this book, we examine a direct threat to any ideal community, and consider how words sometimes act more like bricks than as reasoned statements. (Adopted Winter 2022)

Tony Kushner, Angels in America. Set in the 1980s, this Pulitzer Prize-winning play offers a searching exploration of the political and ethical conflicts of the AIDS epidemic. We find ourselves in the midst of a community whose sense of meaning is threatened by a deadly virus. As its title suggests, the play works to awaken a larger sense of possibility and wonder. Kushner’s script explores the complex motives of a politically, spiritually, and racially diverse cast as they struggle to find meaning in the midst of a tragedy. (Adopted Winter 2020)

The periodic table of elements. Many students will have used the table in high school, but few will have had the chance to explore it as a created object. Students will be asked to think about the table not as a passive container for information, but as an innovative visual representation of scientific knowledge. This approach will remind us that our shared ideas about the world are built by finding ways to share and disseminate them. There are lots of questions to ask about this iconic image: Who was responsible for designing it? What other possibilities were there for presenting this information? What is the argument made by the table about the nature of the universe? (Adopted Winter 2021)

Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, Poor Economics. Two distinguished economists offer a scientific approach to the battle with global poverty. Their conclusions are sometimes counterintuitive. Banerjee and Duflo advocate putting aside big ideas, like increasing aid or freeing markets, in favor of careful research addressed to small, specific questions. Reading the book helps students to see how answering these small questions can also give voice to the experience of those living on $1 a day. This book also brings students into contact with a way of thinking about global problem-solving that is highly influential in our time. (Adopted Winter 2017)

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. Lawrence’s Conservatory of Music is a fundamental part of our university community. This most famous of jazz albums invites students to explore the complex relationship between planned structure and improvised action at the heart of musical performance. If many of the works in First-Year Studies have taken us to questions about community, this final work reminds us of the place of human creativity. This deeply influential LP challenges students to think about the process of memory and the creation of meaning. (Adopted Winter 2016)

Note to incoming students:

Looking for First-Year Studies books? The first book, Native Guard, will be sent to domestic students in the U.S. mail or they will receive a copy in their mailbox. Copies of the Abbott photograph will be made available to students later. The other works are now available from our online bookstore, www.lawrence.edu/academics/bookstore. Wherever you get your books, you should make sure to get the editions we’ve chosen for you. Information about editions, including ISBN numbers, can be found at https://www.lawrence.edu/academics/study/freshman_studies/current_works.

As student-athletes, embrace balance between academics, sports, self care

Karina Herrera ’22 is a captain on Lawrence’s 2020-21 women’s basketball team.

Story by Karina Herrera ’22

If you’re a student-athlete, like me, you know that balancing the demands of academics and athletics can sometimes be overwhelming.

It’s hard, and it’s not for everyone. But finding that healthy balance is doable and necessary. Drawing on my experience—heading into my fourth year at Lawrence, I’m an English (literature) major and a captain on the women’s basketball team—I’ve compiled a list of six tips to help you maintain your equilibrium while being a student-athlete. No matter which of Lawrence’s 22 varsity sports you’re playing, keep these things in mind:

1. Be health-minded

This means eating well and getting enough sleep. I know that our schedules can get really crazy and sometimes we just don’t have time to sit down in the Commons for an entire meal, but that doesn’t mean you should skip out on food. I recommend stocking your residence hall room with snacks and fruit—think protein or granola bars, apples, crackers, muffins and yogurt (if you have a fridge). You also can grab a to-go meal from the Café or a paper bag lunch from the Corner Store and eat it on the go. Most professors will let you eat in class, so you don’t have to worry about not finishing your food in time—as long as you’re not disturbing the class, of course.

You also need to make sure that you’re getting ample amounts of sleep—at least seven hours. This is something I struggled with my first and second years, so I know that it’s easier said than done. For some reason, I would leave a bulk of my homework to finish after practice, and then I’d stay up as long as necessary to finish my assignments, which would sometimes take until well after midnight. Don’t do that. It might be hard, but pick a reasonable time to stop doing homework—no matter how much you have left—and just go to bed; your body needs that rest. 

2. Be proactive with your studies

When you’re in season, it might seem like there’s no time to complete assignments. Between practices, lifts, traveling, and every other team activity, getting your work done is challenging. What helps me to stay on top of my work is really just knowing my schedule and committing blocks of time to work on assignments. Get a routine going. If you know that you have an hour or two between classes, use that time to get easy assignments out of the way. If you have an away game, bring your work with you, find a seat on the bus with an outlet and take advantage of the free WiFi to get some work done. Wake up early at the hotel and chip away at your workload. Don’t wait to do assignments until after you’ve come back from games or practices—it’ll just cause you more stress and, in the end, you’ll have less time to get it done right.  

3. Rely on teammates for support

More often than not, one of your teammates will have taken the same class as you or had the same professor. Use them as a resource. They can give you insider tips on how to do well in the class. Or maybe one of your teammates is a tutor and can help you with a paper or they know how to help you solve a problem. Also, sometimes your teammates will know some resources to help you that you hadn’t thought about. A lot of the time, my teammates and I will study together even if we’re working on different assignments. Ask your teammates to do the same because just being around that kind of atmosphere can help put you in that homework mindset.

4. Take study breaks

Sometimes your mind can’t focus and you need to give your eyes a break from looking at screens or books. Ask a teammate if they want to go to the gym and get a small workout in, go for a walk along the river or just stroll down College Avenue for food or beverages. Balancing the student-athlete life also means incorporating time for activities that don’t involve either. I know that I can’t sit for hours on end trying to complete one assignment, so taking breaks to reset my mind helps me to be more productive.

5. Be honest with coaches

It’s important to remember that you’re a person first, then student and then an athlete. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with something in your personal life, talk to your coaches and let them know that you’re not at your best. Your mental health is important and should not be overlooked. The coaches at Lawrence also understand that the classes are challenging and stressful, so if you’re falling behind on an assignment or you have a big test coming up, discuss your concerns with them to see how you can come to a solution so that you’re not sacrificing one over the other. And if you get injured, no matter how insignificant you think it is, let your athletic trainer and coaches know. Not communicating these things with your coaches can affect your performance in the classroom and in games or meets.  

6. Why so serious?

Speaking as a senior captain, my last piece of advice is to simply have fun. Don’t be too serious about it all. Give your best effort, of course, but don’t burn yourself out trying to do everything perfectly. You’re not going to remember all the shots you miss or the pitches you didn’t swing at. It’s the memories from team dinners, karaoke bus rides, inside jokes, and the friends you make that you’ll take with you after you graduate. Not to sound cheesy, but enjoy it while it lasts.

Karina Herrera ’22 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.

Navigating Lawrence’s three 10-week terms: Plan ahead, stay organized, relax

Plan ahead as you make your way through Lawrence’s 10-week terms. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Karina Herrera ’22

One thing I was nervous about while coming into my first year of college was Lawrence’s trimester system. Even though I had experienced a similar academic structure in high school, I knew that college would be different. I was worried about what the workload would be like, how to manage my time, and how to prepare for classes.

So, for any incoming first-year who has those same concerns, or for sophomores who are wondering what to expect from an academic year with fewer COVID restrictions, look no further. I’m a senior now, and I’m happy to share some insights to hopefully help you best traverse the weeks of each term.

What’s a trimester, again?

Lawrence is split into three terms: Fall, Winter and Spring, with students taking three classes per term. They’re all 10 weeks long with midterms held about the midpoint of the term and finals after the last week of classes. Ten weeks will fly by fast, so be ready.

As you start your journey as a Lawrentian, one thing you’ll learn is that both students and professors reference things by weeks. For example: I can’t believe it’s third week already. Students also say it to convey their stress level or indicate their workload. Naturally, the deeper you are in the term, the more work you will have and the more in depth your learning material will be, so some weeks carry more weight than others.

A general guide to how the weeks go are as follows: weeks 1-3 of any term are typically less stressful because everyone is adjusting to their new classes and course materials, including the professors. Weeks 4-6 are a little heavier in the workload because you are past the learning curve of knowing how your classes are structured and what’s expected of you. Midterms are generally held during this time so you’ll find students burying their noses in books or writing papers. Weeks 7-10 make up the final stretch to the term and it’s where students are usually at their busiest. Students will be working on presentations, final projects or papers, and then finals are right around the corner after 10th week.

I’m generalizing, of course, as the rhythms of any term will vary depending on your classes, including for those students in the Conservatory who might have recitals and other performances to account for. But you get the idea. The workload—and accompanying stress—tends to ramp up as the term goes on.

Fear not, this is doable

This might sound like a lot, but don’t panic. As a first-year, I was comforted in knowing that each term you only need to take three classes; a standard class is six units (we use units instead of credits) and in order to be a full-time student, you need 18 units. I always liked bragging to my college friends back home that I only had to take three classes at a time while they had to take five or more.

A chance to de-stress comes with the mid-term Reading Period. It’s essentially a four-day weekend at the end of sixth week, a break built into each term. Traditionally, it was intended for students to use to study for their midterms the following week, but it more often plays out as a needed breather. A lot of professors schedule their midterms before Reading Period, so many students go home during this long weekend; others, like me, will take this opportunity to catch up on sleep, relax, hang out with friends, and generally get refreshed. What I’m saying is, unless you’ve been slacking in your studies, there’s not much reading involved, despite its name.

Advice from someone who has been there

OK, advice time! I have five tips to help you best navigate the 10-week terms. I had to learn these the hard way.

1. Order your books with plenty of time to spare. Like I said, most professors are pretty lenient the first three weeks and understand that mishaps occur with the mail system, but it’s still a little embarrassing not having your books on the first day of class. So I recommend ordering your books at least two weeks before the term starts and sending them to your SPC box at Lawrence; that way they’ll be there when you arrive on campus. There are cheaper purchasing options than buying brand new editions; you can buy used versions, rent your books or see if any upperclassmen will lend or give you theirs.

2. Be organized from the get-go. This means investing in a planner or calendar of some kind and becoming best friends with it. You’ll want to write down your class schedule and times, and once you get your syllabus, write down the due dates of assignments. Being organized also means checking your school email daily. Almost every professor will email you with information about class, whether it’s changing an assignment or extending a due date or maybe canceling class—trust me, you don’t want to show up to a class that’s been cancelled and find out you could’ve slept in.

3. Don’t procrastinate. I know, easier said than done. My rule of thumb is if you can get it done in five minutes, do it now. Make a list of the assignments you have to do for the day or upcoming week and order them from which ones have to get done first, or from easiest to hardest. That way you’re not spending more time on something that’s due in a week versus something that’s due tomorrow. It also helps to set up a study schedule and block out chunks of time that you dedicate to finishing certain assignments.

4. Find your study spot. If you work best inside your room, then great! But sometimes your roommate will need to take a call or maybe they chew loudly and you can’t focus. It’s always good to have a backup or two that you can call your own. A good place to study, of course, is the library because the level of quietness goes up the higher the floor you’re on. Other nice indoor spots to study are the fourth floor of the Warch Campus Center, the Steitz Atrium, the Café or in the large venue rooms on the backside of Warch. When the weather is nice, some outdoor spots would be on the Main Hall Green, the Sage patio, or the tables outside both the library and the Café.

5. Take breaks. Even though these other tips are geared toward helping you with your studies, my last piece of advice would be to not let your work consume you. It’s important to take a breather every now and then. College life is stressful but it’s also a great time to meet new people and try new things. Also, remember to get involved with activities on campus. Each term has its own traditions and events that you don’t want to miss. Always keep an eye on the campus calendar for details.

Karina Herrera ’22 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.

Summer research grows more robust across an array of academic departments

Tyler Scott ’23 adjusts a drone as part of a summer research project at Two Creeks Buried State Forest Natural Area on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Scott and several other students are working this summer with geosciences professor Jeff Clark. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

From mapping bluff erosion along the shores of Lake Michigan to translating theatrical works from French to English, Lawrence University students are diving deep into a wide range of research this summer.

The Lawrence University Summer Research Fellows Program has come roaring back following a year in which summer research was either limited or strictly remote because of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 100 students—most of them on campus but some still remote—are taking part in summer research, funded through Lawrence and its supporting partners and encompassing 17 academic departments across the college and the conservatory, all in collaboration with Lawrence faculty.

Elliott Marsh ’22, an environmental sciences and geosciences double major who is working with a team of students alongside geosciences professor Jeff Clark on the Lake Michigan bluff erosion project, said he loves the hands-on approach to summer research.

“In my case, I am learning a lot about drones, remote sensing, and GIS, which are very good skills to have in the job market these days,” he said. “Also, research is all about problem-solving, and being immersed in trying to answer a handful of questions in 10 weeks is a very different experience.”

Student participation in the summer research program has grown by 50% over the last six years, jumping from 70 students in 2015 to 105 this year. The number of academic departments taking part has grown from 11 to 17.

Through numerous grants, donations, and other funding, more than $350,000 was available for this year’s summer research. Faculty members applied for funding to support their research; students then applied to join faculty projects that interested them.

“Despite the pandemic, summer research at Lawrence continues to grow and flourish—we have more students participating in summer research with more faculty across more programs than ever before,” said Peter Blitstein, associate dean of the faculty.

The natural sciences continue to lead the way, but there is now more consistent participation year in and year out from the arts, humanities, and social sciences. That, combined with greater flexibility in how available stipends are used, has helped increase participation each of the past six years, with the exception of last summer.  

Relena Ribbons, an assistant professor of geosciences who is leading students in climate-based research in SLUG (Sustainable Lawrence University Garden), called the skill-development that comes with hands-on research a valuable piece of life-after-Lawrence preparations. Seeing it return this summer with such enthusiasm has been a welcome sight.

From left: Katie Mahorney ’22, Gillian Buckardt ’22, Relena Ribbons, assistant professor of geosciences, and Ella Lemley-Fry ‘23 work in SLUG as part of a summer research project.

“Summer research fellowships here at Lawrence provide students with the opportunity to fully engage with the entire research process, which is both a valuable stepping stone for connecting more deeply with academic research and a meaningful and enjoyable way to spend the summer months,” Ribbons said.

The work provides students with important insights into graduate school and allows them to explore career possibilities on a deeper level. In the process, it adds skills and experiences to their resumes.

“These experiences are especially valuable in helping students figure out if they might want a career in research, and if so, the work they do over the summer is an important part of their application for graduate school,” said Lori Hilt, associate professor of psychology. “The skills they gain—in data collection and analysis, communication, etc.—will help them in their lives after Lawrence, whether or not they decide to go to graduate school.”

BY THE NUMBERS: A CLOSER LOOK

To give you a look at the breadth of the research being done this summer by Lawrence students in collaboration with faculty across the college and conservatory, we’ve pulled together a “by the numbers” guide.

105: Number of students participating in summer research

Blitstein said the growth in the program stems from the diversity and creativity of the research projects and the influx of available funds over the past several years to support the students during the summer.

“I am delighted to see the range of projects our faculty and students are collaborating on this summer,” he said. “From the ceramics studio, to the biology laboratory, to the university archives, Lawrentians are engaged in hands-on learning, developing their skills, and supporting faculty in achieving their scholarly and creative goals.”

53: Total number of research projects under way

The program was renamed the Lawrence University Research Fellows Program in 2017, and with it came a greater emphasis in participation beyond the natural sciences, Blitstein said. That is playing out in a big way this summer.

“Overall, it has become more visible as a university-wide program in recent years,” he said.

46: Number of Lawrence faculty overseeing summer research projects

Hilt has been part of the research program every summer since joining the Lawrence faculty in 2011. She’s working with students this year on multiple projects that touch on mindfulness, rumination, and suicide prevention among school-age children and adolescents.

“I find it to be a rewarding opportunity to mentor students and have them contribute to my scholarship in a meaningful way,” Hilt said. “Many of my summer research students have been co-authors on published papers and have gone on to graduate school and careers in psychology.”

Jeff Clark, professor of geosciences, works with Itai Bojdak-Yates ’23 on research at Two Creeks Buried State Forest Natural Area in east-central Wisconsin. Clark is one of 46 Lawrence faculty members working with students on summer research.

17: Number of academic departments working with students on summer research

The departments involved touch almost every corner of Lawrence. In addition to the natural sciences, participation comes from Anthropology, the Archives, Art & Art History, the Conservatory, Economics, English, Film Studies, French & Francophone Studies, Government, History, Mathematics, Psychology, and Russian, plus outside partnerships with the Associated Colleges of the Midwest.

Midushi Ghimire ’24 is a biochemistry major spending her summer working with Mark Jenike, associate professor of anthropology, on research into the human biology of diabetes. The research is expected to contribute to a new course to be offered in 2022-23.

“The best part is that in order to understand the concepts, I have to sometimes revisit and refresh what I learned during my academic year,” Ghimire said of the work. “I feel that I have a stronger grasp on the topics I learned and am applying them to new areas. I am expanding my knowledge horizon and relating biology through a larger scope.”

50: Number of students taking part in science research (biology, chemistry, geosciences, and physics)

The Lake Michigan shoreline research that Clark is leading is part of an innovative NASA project that gives students the opportunity to conduct earth-observing experiments using remote sensing techniques. It ties in nicely with Lawrence’s newly launched environmental science major.

“We are using drones to map bluff erosion on the bluffs along Lake Michigan near Two Creeks,” Marsh said. “To do this, we are using not only a visual sensor but also a thermal sensor. That area is known for its distinct layers, and the sand layer is the weakest layer where the bluff is most likely to fail. So, with the thermal sensor, we are able to identify how saturated the sand layer is because the different moisture levels in the sand will yield different temperatures than 100 percent dry sand would.”

The students will analyze the collected data and by the end of summer prepare a paper on their findings.

13: Number of students taking part in Conservatory of Music summer research

Projects range from research into Brazilian drumming (with percussion professor Dane Richeson) to preparing arrangements for horn and mixed ensemble for publication (with horn professor Ann Ellsworth).

Claire Chamberlin ’23, a global studies major, is working with Eilene Hoft-March, the Milwaukee-Downer College and College Endowment Association Professor of Liberal Studies and professor of French, in the translating of short theatrical works from French to English. Kathy Privatt, the James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama and associate professor of theater arts, and her theater students will then take some of those short plays to performance during Winter Term.

“I’m translating short contemporary retellings of four plays by Molière—who was essentially the French Shakespeare—from French into English,” Chamberlin said. “It’s valuable because it’s making art accessible to a new audience. All four plays are funny and incisive, and adapting them into English allows more people to enjoy them. For me, it’s a fantastic opportunity because I get to build my literary translation skills while learning more about Francophone cultures and the French language, especially its idiomatic use.”

7: Number of students involved with research that explores foreign languages and/or cultures

Parker Elkins ’22, a Russian Studies major, is one of three students working with Peter Thomas, associate professor of Russian Studies, to build assignments for Lawrence’s first-year Russian curriculum, including both written and video exercises.

“While I’m still unsure whether I intend to pursue higher education after Lawrence and teach Russian, this work is certainly helping me get a better understanding of some of what that job would entail,” Elkins said.

Researching the Russian text and breaking it down for possible use in future courses has not only proved beneficial in providing insight into possible career paths, it’s also helped give direction to a separate project, his senior capstone.

“I can say that for mine—a scholarly retranslation of Venedikt Erofeev’s novel, Moscow to the End of the Line—working on these (texts) has been immensely helpful,” Elkins said. “Erofeev’s prose shares very, very few similarities to these texts, but at the same time there’s been large parts of the process that I’ve been able to take from working on these first-year Russian assignments and apply to retranslating this novel.” 

23: Number of students taking part in psychology research, much of it focused on youth and adolescent mindfulness

John Berg ’22, an English and psychology double major, is working with Hilt in a study of mental health screening and suicide prevention among school-age children and adolescents in the Fox Valley. They’re partnering with community groups as they examine local screening data from the prior school year and look to develop new or improved screening instruments that can better identify students in need of help.

“I personally love doing this work,” Berg said. “I think that it is relevant and has the ability to help students who are at risk of self-harm and/or suicide.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Anxiety over registering for classes? Here are 11 tips from a student who’s been there

Thelma B. Jimenez-Anglada, assistant professor of Spanish, teaches a Spring Term Spanish class. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

Planning your schedule is the first step in setting the tone for the academic year and there’s always plenty of course options for your first year at Lawrence. But registration can be daunting if you’ve never done it before. Don’t worry, though. There are people to help, and once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy, and these 11 tips will help ensure you get off on the right foot.

1. Think about your schedule OUTSIDE of classes. Are you leaving yourself time to stop by Andrew Commons for lunch? Do you plan to have a job that will impact your schedule? Make sure your class times don’t conflict with your life outside of academics.

2. Know yourself and how you learn best. Do you work best early in the morning? Do you want periodic breaks throughout the day or back-to-back classes? And no matter what, don’t forget to consider your sleep schedule.

3. Remember that classes are usually offered multiple times. Especially as a first year, even if a class isn’t offered every term or even every year, you’ll likely have multiple opportunities to take a course if you are trying to choose between two classes offered at the same time.

Tyler Scott ’23 takes notes during a Hot Rocks geology class. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

4. If you really want to take a class that is full, immediately get on the waitlist and reach out to the professor to let them know how excited you are about their course. There might be a bit of wiggle room in class capacity or someone else might drop the class, which will make room for you.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions when you meet with your summer advisor. That’s what your advisor is there for. They know the whole process is new to you, and they want to help you and share their expertise.

6. Trust your instincts. It can be overwhelming to look at the full course catalog and narrow it down to three classes (or two since you take First-Year Studies your first two terms) especially after years of having your schedule basically decided for you. Whatever classes stand out to you are probably going to be the best fit.

Danielle Joyner, assistant professor of art history, works with Maren Stone ’22 and Izzy Thompson ’22 during a Spring Term class in the Wriston Art Center. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

7. But at the same time … remember where you are in your studies. During your first year, you’ll mostly be taking 100- and 200-level courses as you accumulate the knowledge you’ll need to excel in more upper-level classes. That 400-level seminar will still be there when you’re a senior.

8. Try to have a good balance of subjects. Three lab courses or three writing-intensive courses within one term probably isn’t the best idea.

9. If you don’t have the necessary prerequisites for a class you want to take, reach out to the professor to ask if you might qualify in a different way. Sometimes, classes you took in high school or unique experiences you’ve had can be substituted for the pre-req. But remember that those pre-reqs are about making sure you have the background and experience necessary to succeed in the course, so really think about (and maybe check with your advisor) whether the class is a fit for where you are in your academic journey.

10. It’s OK if you don’t know your major yet. Explore a variety of different subjects! Even if you think you know your major, first year is a great time to dip your toe into other interests as you start to figure out your own college path.

11. There are lots of resources to help you. I’ve already talked about your advisor, but there are more people who can help. The Registar’s Office is a great place to ask questions about the ins and outs of registration. And if you need help with anything related to academics, from academic counseling to procedures, the Center for Academic Success is your one-stop shop.

Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.