Tag: Innovation

“Radiolab” founder, co-host Jad Abumrad discusses “Gut Churn” in Lawrence convocation

The creator and co-host of “Radiolab,” one of the country’s most popular radio programs, explores what it means to innovate and how it feels to create something new in a Lawrence University convocation

Jad Abumrad presents “Gut Churn” Thursday, Feb. 1 at 11:10 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The address, the third in Lawrence’s 2017-18 convocation series, is free and open to the public. A question-and-answer session will immediately follow the address.

Jad Abumrad holding a light bulb
Jad Abumrad is the founder and co-host of the popular program “Radiolab.”

In Abumrad’s world, “gut churn” is that radical uncertainty that is a key component of any creative process that pushes the envelope. He applied that philosophy in launching “Radiolab” on New York radio station WNYC in 2002. What began largely as a science program has evolved into an exploration of broader issues — sport, the death penalty, counter-terrorism and most recently the U.S. Supreme Court — examined from less conventional angles.

The show, which combines cutting edge sound-design, cinematic storytelling and a personal approach to explaining complex topics, is nationally syndicated to more than 500 stations and its podcasts attract nearly two million listeners.

Skeptical of today’s mainstream media, Abumrad prefers “journalism that forces you to experience what someone else is going through” to articles that focus on telling you whether what someone said is right or wrong.

In an interview with The Guardian, Abumrad explained his approach to “Radiolab.”

“There is an ocean of difference between explanation and experience and I feel what I’m always trying to do is cross the ocean. I’m trying to get to the experience.”

“Radiolab” show has been recognized twice—2010 and 2015—with the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, which honors “the most powerful, enlightening and invigorating stories in television, radio and online media.”

Abumrad himself was honored in 2011 as MacArthur Fellow, commonly known as “the genius grant.” In recognizing him, the MacArthur Foundation hailed Abumrad for “inspiring boundless curiosity within a new generation of listeners and experimenting with sound to find ever more effective and entertaining ways to explain ideas and tell a story.”

In 2016, Abumrad created a spinoff program he called “More Perfect” which is based on  cases from the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court and how they affect people’s everyday lives.

A native of Tennessee, Abumrad earned a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, where he studied creative writing and music composition. Prior to launching “Radiolab,” he composed music for films and reported on and produced documentaries for a various local and national public radio programs, including NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence team of student entrepreneurs hit The Pitch out of the park

Despite its baseball-themed title — The Pitch — and its obvious baseball venue — Fox Cities Stadium, home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Class A minor league team — it took three hockey players to collect “the game’s” biggest hit.

Photos of members of the winning team at The Pitch holding their $10,000 check
Team Tracr — Ryan Eardley, Mattias Soederqvist and Felix Henricksson — picked up the first-place prize of $10,000 in cash and $15,000 in professional services.

Lawrence University’s trio of budding entrepreneurs Ryan Eardley, Felix Henriksson and Mattias Soederqvist — all members of Lawrence’s men’s hockey team — took home first-place honors at the first-ever northeast Wisconsin The Pitch competition.

Modeled after the television show “Shark Tank,” The Pitch featured eight teams of student entrepreneurs presenting their business idea to a panel of judges and room full of business leaders and mentors. The competition featured two teams each representing Lawrence, St. Norbert College, UW-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh.

Eardley, Henriksson and Soederqvist wowed the judges with their presentation on Tracr, a software application they developed for forensic asset analysis. The software automates the task of tracing assets acquired through fraudulent activities.

For their efforts, they collected the top prize of $10,000 in cash and an additional $15,000 in professional services (web design/development, product prototyping, marketing, legal advice, accounting support).

photos of the members of Team Tracr making their presentation
Mattias Soederqvist (left) gives “the pitch” for the team’s software application Tracr.

“This is way better than a hat trick,” said a smiling Soederqvist after receiving the first-place prize.

The Tracr application was inspired by an internship Eardley had last summer at Deloitte, a national company that provides auditing, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax and related services. By creating an algorithm, the team has been able reduce the function of tracking fraudulent assets from a 20-hours-by-hand process to a two-hour computer process.”

“We put in so much hard work,” said Soederqvist, a senior from Stockholm, Sweden.  “We spent six weeks completing this in a data science programming class. It was a cool project. And now we are here. It’s amazing.”

Going into it, a confident Eardley felt The Pitch was “ours to lose.”

“We have a product that is proven there is a need for and that being said, makes it a lot easier to market,” said Eardley, a senior from Ile Bizard, Quebec, Canada. “I’m so glad we were able to communicate what our product does and the value that we are providing came through in our presentation.

“Now we want to complete a beta version of our software as soon as possible and get it in the hand of practitioners,” added Eardley, whose father got the last seat on an Air Canada flight to the area and flew in from Quebec for The Pitch. “We really want to gather feedback and test the robustness of the software.”

That $10,000 check will help get the ball rolling in that direction according to Henriksson.

Group photo of all the Lawrence competitors at The Pitch
Gary Vaughan (far right), coordinator of Lawrence’s I & E program mentored the university’s student entrepreneurs — Felix Henrickisson, Ryan Eardley, George Mavrakis and Mattias Soederqvist — for the inaugural The Pitch competition.

“The $10,000 is primarily going toward contracting a junior software developer, who is going to execute our vision and that of our current tech advisor,” said Henriksson, a senior from Helsinki, Finland. “We work very well together, we all have tremendous work ethic and we’re committed to carry this venture forward.”

Gary Vaughan, coordinator of Lawrence’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program and lecturer of economics, watched The Pitch unfold from the wings with the pride of a father of a new-born baby.

“I could not be prouder of these students for their accomplishments, especially the way they represented themselves and Lawrence in this event,” said Vaughan. “Team Tracr’s accomplishment is exciting and the result of a lot of hard work by the students, their professors, their alumni mentors, their parents and as international student-athletes, the support of their host families.”

Both the local host families for Eardley and Soederqvist attended The Pitch to show their support for the team.

All three Tracr team members extended sincere gratitude to Scott Myers, a 1979 Lawrence graduate and member of the university’s Board of Trustees, who has been instrumental in supporting the I & E program and The Pitch competition, financially and otherwise.

“Our I&E program is amazing,” said Soederqvist. “It’s given us the experience we would not have gotten any other way. It’s definitely been one of the best parts of my Lawrence education.”

“The efforts the I&E program at Lawrence has put forward to make this thing happen has been incredible,” Eardley added. “Behind the scene, there is so much effort that goes into something like this. I’m just extremely grateful to be a part of it.”

Photo of George Mavrakis
George Mavrakis makes his pitch for C-Star at The PItch.

Sophomore George Mavrakis also represented Lawrence at The Pitch. A saltwater aquarium aficionado who started his own business in sixth grade and won the 2016 LaunchLU contest, Mavrakis presented C-Star, a commercial product designed to eliminate one of the least favorite jobs of owning a fish tank: cleaning the sand.

Second place honors at The Pitch were awarded to Abbie Merrill from UW-Oshkosh for her “In Our Hands” political app, which enables users to comment on upcoming legislation. She received $5,000 in cash and $10,000 in professional services.

The Pitch was organized by The Fox Connection, a collaboration of academic institutions in northeast Wisconsin to enhance entrepreneurial education and opportunity for area students.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

The Pitch: Lawrence student entrepreneurs competing in $40,000 contest

Four Lawrence University budding entrepreneurs will present their ideas for “the next great thing” Wednesday, May 3 at Timber Rattlers Fox Cities Stadium in front of a panel of judges and an audience of northeast Wisconsin business leaders.

Head shot of George Mavrakis
George Mavrakis ’19

Sophomore George Mavrakis and seniors Mattias Soederqvist, Felix Henriksson and Ryan Eardley will compete for a total prize package worth $40,000 in cash and professional start-up services against students from St. Norbert College, UW-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh in the first edition of The Pitch.

The Lawrence students advanced to The Pitch — think “Shark Tank” for college students — after sharing first-place honors in Lawrence’s recent fourth annual LaunchLU competition.

Gary Vaughan, coordinator of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program at Lawrence and lecturer of economics, said the idea behind The Pitch is to enhance entrepreneurial education and help retain young talent to the Fox Valley and northeast Wisconsin.

“We have bright entrepreneurial students graduating from our local universities and going to Chicago, Minneapolis, New York,” said Vaughan. “We want to identify who they are on our campuses, showcase them at events like The Pitch and invite our CEOs of area corporations to come to support them and talk with them.”

Photo of George Mavrakis delivering a presentation on his product C-Star
George Mavrakis explains his aquarium sand-cleaning product C-Star at the 2017 LaunchLU competition.

“We’ve got lots of talent here. We just have to find ways to communicate to them that they have a future here,” Vaughan added. “We want to provide a forum to showcase our young talent in front of our local COEs and find other ways for corporate leaders to identify our talented students.”

Mavrakis, who started his own business in sixth grade and won the 2016 LaunchLU contest, will present C-Star, a commercial product designed to eliminate one of the least favorite jobs of owning a fish tank: clean the sand in salt water aquariums.

The starfish-shaped device stirs up sediment in the sand, providing food for coral while allowing the excess to be flushed through the filter system. The device can be programmed to operate at night while you’re sleeping so the tank is always clear when you’re awake. Mavrakis is working on a solar-powered prototype that would work off the aquarium’s own light.

Soederqvist, Henriksson and Eardley, teammates on the Lawrence hockey team, will compete as team FA Analytics. They will pitch Tracr, a software application they developed for forensic asset analysis. The software automates the task of tracing assets acquired through fraudulent activities.

The application was inspired by an internship Eardley had last summer at Deloitte, a national company that provides auditing, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax and related services.

head shot of Mattias Soederqvist
Mattias Soederqvist ’17
Head shot of Felix Henriksson
Felix Henriksson ’17
head shot of Ryan Eardley
Ryan Eardley ’17

“By using an algorithm, they have been able to take the function of tracking fraudulent assets from a 20-hours-by-hand process down to a two-hour computer process,” explained Vaughan. “When you fraudulently obtain money, you’re likely buying stuff with it and you have these assets. From a forensic view, the software tracks down through bank statement and credit card statements and identifies the fraudulent purchases.”

According to Vaughan, proof of concept for Tracr has passed a few people at Deloitte, who said they were on to something and would pay for it if they can operate it.

“I feel like they have a decent chance of working this all the way through,” said Vaughan.

Photo of Mattias Soederqvist, Felix Henriksson and Ryan Eardley making a presentation at the LaunchLU contest.
Team FA Analystics — Mattias Soederqvist, Felix Henriksson and Ryan Eardley (l. to r.) — discuss their software application Tracr at the 2017 LaunchLU contest.

The winner of The Pitch will receive $10,000 in cash and $15,000 in professional services (web design/development, product prototyping, marketing, legal advice, accounting support), while the second-place finisher will receive $5,000 in cash and $10,000 in technical services.

Without making any predictions, Vaughan is confident Lawrence’s “pitchers” will represent the university well.

“Our students, with our speaking-intensive courses we have, will pitch well, they will present themselves professionally in my opinion,” said Vaughan. “I think we have a good chance. I think we can do it.”

Serving as judges for the first Pitch competition will be:

• Maggie Brickerman, gener8tor. Managing director for gener8tor’s gBETA program, a free accelerator for early stage companies with ties to Wisconsin colleges or universities.

 • Mike Daniels, Nicolet National Bank. President and CEO who co-founded Nicolet National Bank in 2000community lender.

• Craig Dickman, Breakthrough Fuel. Founder, CEO and chief innovation officer for Breakthrough Fuel, which specializes in supply chain logistics and fuel cost management.

• Greg Lynch, Michael Best. A partner with the national law firm Michael Best. Lynch advises companies on financing strategies and mergers & acquisitions. He is co-founder of the firm’s Venture Best emerging company practice.

• Neil Mix, Quadrant. A silicon-valley style technologist, product developer and entrepreneur. A veteran of several venture capital funded startups, Mix co-founded a Microsoft acquisition and helped build Internet radio service Pandora from the ground up.

• Zack Pawlosky, Candeo Creative, owner of the nationally recognized entrepreneurial marketing agency based in Oshkosh. He also is the founder of a software development company and a partner in a venture capital firm.

• David Trotter, Winnebago Seed Fund, managing director of Winnebago Capital Partners, the general partner of the Winnebago Seed Fund, a newly formed venture capital fund in Neenah. The fund focuses on seed investments in startup companies in the Fox Valley.

The Pitch is organized by The Fox Connection, a collaboration of academic institutions in northeast Wisconsin to enhance entrepreneurial education and opportunity for area students.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

 

$1.5 Million Gift Establishes Endowed Professorship in Innovation

During a 38-year career with 3M, the company that developed Scotch Tape and the Post-it Note, Dwight Peterson learned the importance of innovation and creative thinking.

Peterson-Professorship_newsblog
Dwight and Majorie Peterson have donated $1.5 million to establish an endowed professorship in innovation. Adam Galambos, associate professor of economics, will be the first holder of the professorship.

Peterson, a 1955 Lawrence University graduate, is a firm believer that a liberal arts education can be a hotbed of innovation because of the way liberally educated students think about ideas and problems from the perspectives of multiple disciplines and look at old problems in new ways.

To fuel innovative thinking at Lawrence, Peterson and his wife, Marjorie, have established an endowed professorship in innovation with a $1.5 million gift.

Adam Galambos, associate professor of economics, has been named the first holder of the Dwight and Marjorie Peterson Professorship in Innovation.

Appointments to endowed professorships are made in recognition of academic and artistic distinction through teaching excellence and/or scholarly achievement. Galambos was one of three faculty leaders who launched Lawrence’s program in innovation and entrepreneurship in 2008.

Dwight Peterson, a former member of the Lawrence Board of Trustees (2005-2013), spent his entire professional career at 3M, where he says innovation is ingrained in the company’s culture.

“The long term history of 3M is based on continuous development of new products,” said Peterson, citing Wet-Or-Dry sandpaper, masking tape, Scotch Tape, magnetic recording tape and reflective sign sheeting as examples of the many products the company has created. “I learned about Lawrence’s program in innovation and entrepreneurship a few years ago and found it stimulating.

“We’ve been thinking about being able to help the school in a major way and decided that innovation really fit my interest most closely,” Peterson added. “The idea of looking at things from new and different perspectives, of doing collaborative interdisciplinary work, of having a culture where there is the possibility to fail — and it is acceptable — and then start over and rework it, that all fits very well with a Lawrence education.”

David Burrows, provost and dean of the faculty, said the college was “very excited and grateful” for the Peterson’s gift establishing the professorship in innovation.

“The ability to create what is new is one of the primary goals of a liberal education,” said Burrows. “As the world changes more and more rapidly, this ability looms larger in its importance. Professor Galambos has established a brilliant record as a person who engages in the creation of new ideas and new approaches. He is an ideal person to hold this professorship.”

“The idea of looking at things from new and different perspectives, of doing collaborative interdisciplinary work, of having a culture where there is the possibility to fail — and it is acceptable — and then start over and rework it, that all fits very well with a Lawrence education.”
— Dwight Peterson ’55

While thrilled to be named the professorships inaugural holder, Galambos said its establishment is the result of the collaborative efforts of many.

“Dwight and Marjorie’s generosity is wonderful recognition of the work we have done over the past few years, starting with Marty Finkler in economics, who introduced the idea of entrepreneurship to the Lawrence community more than 10 years ago, and John Brandenberger in physics, who first proposed that we teach innovation,” said Galambos, who joined the Lawrence faculty in 2006.

“In addition to Marty and John, the variety of courses and co-curricular programming we now have in I&E is a result of the enthusiasm and commitment of a number of other colleagues as well, including Gary Vaughan in I&E, Dena Skran in government, Tim Troy in theatre arts, Brian Pertl in the conservatory, and art department members Rob Neilson, Ben Rinehart, John Shimon and Julie Lindemann. The Petersons’ gift is a great affirmation of all of their efforts and encouragement to continue to bring I&E to Lawrence students in new ways.”

A number of student-created and directed ventures have grown out of the I&E program — the Rabbit Gallery, a pop-up art gallery in downtown Appleton, Greyfell Theatre, a company devoted to producing student-written plays, the Paper Fox, a printmaking workshop with a community programming component and the Lawrence Baroque Ensemble, a student performance group that focuses on community outreach activities — and other projects continue to be created by students who have taken I&E courses.

This spring, students Joe Bazydlo and Eddie Elizondo were among 20 finalists from among more than 250 teams from around the country to deliver a presentation in Princeton University’s Entrepreneurship Club’s annual national competition. They pitched a smart phone app — Trailblazer — to be used by hikers and other trail users to unlock preloaded information about specific locations in U.S. national parks was was developed in Lawrence’s “In Pursuit of Innovation” course.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Trailblazer: App leads Lawrence students to finals of national entrepreneurship competition

If Joe Bazydlo has his way, visitors trekking through any of the U.S. National Parks one day soon will have instant access to fascinating information about the park at their fingertips.

Joe-Bazydlo-headshot_newsblog
Joe Bazydlo ’16

Thanks to a smartphone app he helped develop — “Trailblazer” — hikers and other trail users will be able to magically add entries to their digital field journal via GPS technology. Each GPS point, or Trailblazer Beacon, once hiked through will unlock preloaded information about the hiker’s immediate environment provided by the people that know the most, the park’s rangers.

“It’s sort of a scavenger hunt,” said Bazydlo, who has spent time as an interpretive ranger at Hawaii’s Haleakala National Park.

Hikers will find themselves on a park-wide scavenger hunt to pass through all Trailblazer Beacons in the park trails and complete all entries in their field journals.

“The whole app works via GPS technology rather than using cell service, so it will work in even the most remote locations.”

The app is designed to be interactive.

“People could also create their own entries. A botanist, for instance, could go to a park, find a colony of a certain plant, save the GPS point on their phone, write a description about it that could be sent to park officials who then could approve or decline the entry,” Bazydlo explained. “Essentially, we want to use Trailblazer to crowd-source every park in the nation. We want to provide a platform for everyone to contribute their unique perspective on the parks.”

With help from Eddie Elizondo and Alex Shabazi, Bazydlo developed “Trailblazer” in Lawrence University’s “In Pursuit of Innovation” course last fall and took the idea all the way to the finals of the 2015 Tiger Launch Competition at Princeton University.

Bazydlo and Elizondo were among 20 finalists from an original pool of more than 250 teams from around the country that submitted 90-second video pitches for the first round of the competition when it began last November.

Bazydlo delivered the team’s four-minute presentation in front of three venture capitalists who served as the competition’s judges. The annual competition is sponsored by Princeton’s Entrepreneurship Club.

Lawrence was one of the only liberal arts college invited to the finals, which included teams from Princeton, Duke, Cal Tech, Clemson and Johns Hopkins universities, among others.

“It was an unbelievable experience…it certainly proved Lawrence students can run with the best of the them.”
— Joe Bazydlo

“I was a kind of shocked, but we certainly were honored to make it that far,” said Bayzdlo, a junior anthropology and Chinese major from Rocky River, Ohio. “There were some student presenters who were completing their MBAs and some who were working full time on their projects.”

The first- and second-place presenters as determined by the judges received funding awards of $10,000 and $5,000, respectively. Although he didn’t get any financial support for Trailblazer, Bazydlo felt the opportunity was priceless.

“It was an unbelievable experience, a great learning experience,” said Bazydlo, who was still tweaking the presentation on the train ride from Newark’s Liberty International Airport to Princeton. “It certainly proved Lawrence students can run with the best of the them. Without a business school, we had to learn everything from the ground up to even go into the project while still being full-time students.”

Adam Galambos, associate professor of economics and one of the drivers behind Lawrence’s innovation and entrepreneurship program, expressed pride in the Trailblazer team’s success.

“Joe and Eddie combined their expertise and worked very hard to pursue an idea they are both passionate about and we’re certainly proud of their success in this year’s Tiger Launch competition,” said Galambos. “I hope their success inspires others to pursue their own innovative and entrepreneurial ideas, whether they are in the realm of social enterprise, commercial ventures or innovation in any field. Our I&E program is here to support those initiatives through relevant courses and events such as LaunchLU, as well as the new I&E club coming this fall.”

The journey from Briggs Hall to the Princeton campus was a major triumph in itself considering the challenges the team encountered along the way, starting with the initial 90-second video pitch.

Joe-Badzyldo_newsblog2
Joe Bazydlo hopes his phone app will enhance users visits to the country’s national parks by providing additional information about their immediate environment.

“We shot it at three in the morning the day we were leaving for the end-of-term holiday break,” recalled Bazydlo. “It was not good.”

So “take two” was shot in Bazydlo’s living room back home in Ohio.

“I just propped up my iPad on the fireplace mantle and starting giving our pitch. It was a very awkward video, but we submitted it thinking it’s all about the idea, not the quality of the video.”

The team lived in limbo for nearly three months before finding out on Valentine’s Day weekend they had made the second round.

“Suddenly we realized we were running with the big dogs. We had made the semifinals,” said Bazydlo.

To earn a ticket to Princeton, the team had to survive a Skype interview, conducted by a business school professor from UC-Berkeley. With Elizondo in Chicago on an off-campus study program for the term, that required a three-way conversation.

“That went terrible,” Bazydlo said bluntly. “It was just a slaughterhouse. He was ripping apart every aspect of our plan.”

Despite their own poor self-assessment of the interview, to their complete surprise two weeks later they learned they made the top 20 and should start packing for a paid trip to Princeton.

“We were probably the most unusual team there, a combination of a computer science major and an anthropology major, neither with any business background,” said Bazydlo. “We had no idea we’d make it to be among the top 20.”

As for the next step for Trailblazer, Bazydlo says some additional tweaking is in the works.

“Right now we are still trying to perfect the app so that we can create a positive and impactful change in the way young people interact with our national parks. It will take a lot of outside learning, but we are so grateful to have the support of everyone at Lawrence and we are excited to see where Trailblazer will take us.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

The Rabbit Gallery: Lawrence University Student Entrepreneurial Initiative Offers New Venue for Local Artists

Sydney Pertl just wanted to help…her fellow student art majors, Fox Valley artists and the downtown Appleton business district. Becoming a budding entrepreneur in the process was just a side benefit.

After a year-long gestation and a fair share of sweat equity, the Lawrence University junior from Seattle, Wash., is looking forward to unveiling Appleton’s first “pop-up” art gallery in the gift shop half of the former Conkey’s Bookstore on College Ave.

Featuring paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography and digital works of more than 25 community artists, including Lawrence students and faculty, the Rabbit Gallery holds its official opening Tuesday, May 17 from 4:30-8:30 p.m.

As a “pop-up” gallery, the Rabbit Gallery is by nature a temporary venue that will utilize empty storefronts in downtown Appleton that are for sale or lease. Its goal is twofold: market the vacant properties to potential buyers and provide professional space for local artists to showcase their work.

“No business district wants to see empty stores, so the gallery acts as a transitional storefront that we hope generates increased foot traffic downtown and eventually leads to a local business owner taking over the property,” said Pertl. “I hope the community takes advantage of the opportunity this presents.”

The Rabbit Gallery concept was conceived more than a year ago in the class “Entrepreneurship in the Arts and Society,” part of Lawrence’s new Innovation and Entrepreneurship program. Studio art major Krissy Rhyme, a senior from Green Bay, and junior Ranga Wimalasuriya, an economics major from Sri Lanka, were instrumental in bringing the project to fruition. Rhyme, one of the project’s founding members, oversaw the design of the gallery’s web site, while Wimalasuriya handled all of the project’s finances as its business manager.

The students were guided by an advisory board that includes three Lawrence faculty members, former Jansport CEO and community advocate Mike Cisler and representatives from Appleton Downtown Inc. and the Trout Museum of Art.

Adam Galambos, assistant professor of economics, said the Rabbit Gallery is breaking new ground in realizing one of the primary goals of the innovation and entrepreneurship program: to create student ventures that function as experiential learning labs.

“These students are using their unique skills and what they have learned at Lawrence to create something that has not existed in this community before,” said Galambos. “It is a great example of how liberal education can be translated into action to create positive change in the world.”

Jennifer Stephany, executive director of Appleton Downtown Inc., says the arts can be an economic driver in a city’s downtown district. She cited a 2007 plan adopted by the city of Appleton that called for maintaining the vitality of the arts and entertainment district as a key initiative by creating new venues for arts activities and pursuing opportunities to attract artists and arts-related businesses to the district.

She sees the Rabbit Gallery as “an exciting and progressive project that brings positive momentum to several economic development efforts surrounding the arts in downtown Appleton.

“By hosting the gallery in a vacant available space it will generate traffic to the central businesses district and bring awareness to opportunity for entrepreneurial business development,” said Stephany. “The Rabbit has brought synergy to the efforts of Appleton Downtown Inc., The Trout Museum of Art and Lawrence University to highlight downtown as the Fox Cities cultural core for the visual arts.”

One of Pertl’s strongest motivations in pursuing the gallery project was the potential benefit it has for her classmates.

“Networking is very important if you’re going to survive as an artist,” said Pertl. “Having the opportunity to showcase your work in a professional gallery while you’re still a student is invaluable. There is a lot to be gained by connecting Lawrence student artists with the working professional arts community in the Fox Valley. The Rabbit Gallery should help open doors for art students after they graduate.”

According to Pertl, the Rabbit Gallery will benefit local artists as well by charging a lower-than-normal commission for any sold artwork.

“Our gallery is designed to have the artists receive the majority of the value for their work.”

Following the grand opening, the gallery, which will be staffed by student and community volunteers, will be open May 20, 5-8 p.m., May 21-22 and May 27-28 noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment.

After May 28, the gallery will close for the summer, with plans to reopen next fall in a new downtown location.

President’s Matriculation Convocation Opens Lawrence University’s 162nd Academic Year

Lawrence University President Jill Beck officially opens the college’s 162nd academic year as well as the 2010-11 convocation series “Innovation Through Collaboration” Thursday, Sept. 16 with the annual matriculation address.

Beck presents “Expanding Student Opportunities in Research, Performance, Public Service and Environmental Activism” at 11:10 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The convocation is free and open to the public.

President Beck

In her address, Beck will outline the steps involved in the process of innovation and highlight some examples in which Lawrence is practicing innovative approaches in curricular and co-curricular areas. Joining Beck in the presentation will be Professor of Music Janet Anthony, Assistant Professor of Government and Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs Jason Brozek, Associate Professor of History and Pieper Chair of Community Engaged Learning Monica Rico, Associate Professor of Government and Edwin & Ruth West Professor of Economics and Social Science Dena Skran and students Sarah Ehlinger, Joseph Neumann and Katelin Richter.

Beck is in her seventh year as president of the college. Since assuming the presidency in 2004, she has focused her priorities on raising Lawrence’s national profile, increasing the number and spectrum of individualized learning experiences for students, fostering collaboration between the fine and performing arts and the traditional liberal arts and sciences, cultivating a desire for environmental sustainability on campus and in the lives of Lawrence alumni, creating greater diversity in the Lawrence community and engaging alumni, parents and friends of the college to enhance educational experiences.

Other speakers on the 2010-11 convocation schedule include:

• Oct. 5, 2010 — Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for “The NewsHour” on PBS, “The Browning of America.”

• Feb. 8, 2011 — Mary Jane Jacob, executive director of exhibitions and exhibition studies, 
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, “The Collective Creative Process.”

• April 5, 2011 — Timothy X. Troy ’85, Professor of Theatre Arts and J. Thomas and Julie Esch Hurvis Professor of Theatre and Drama, Lawrence University, “Unexpected Collaborators: The Geniuses Among Us.”

• May 17, 2011 — Sara Quandt ’73, professor, department of epidemiology and prevention, division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, “It Takes a Community: Collaborating to Reduce Health Disparities in the U.S.”

$23,000 Grant Boosts Lawrence University Program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

A $23,000 grant will support Lawrence University’s growing innovation and entrepreneurship program, a university-wide initiative launched in 2008 that engages students, faculty and alumni.

The two-year grant from the National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance will target the program’s flagship course “In Pursuit of Innovation.”  Cross-taught through Lawrence’s economics and physics departments, the course incorporates the use of guest experts from various fields, intertwines innovation with entrepreneurship and employs a project-driven, hands-on component designed to develop a learning community eager to pursue innovative and entrepreneurial ventures.

Since its launch, 41 students have taken the “Innovation” course.  Operating in three-person teams and in conjunction with the FabLab, a prototyping facility at Fox Valley Technical College, students have worked on projects ranging from the development of a multi-directional split-field camera and an ergonomic student desk to a hand sanitizing system for hospitals and schools and a personal identification system that allows health records to be retrieved automatically in the event of an accident.

“From its inception, our course has focused on diverse teams creating innovative products or processes, leading to functioning prototypes,” said Adam Galambos, assistant professor of economics and one of the program’s originators, along with John Brandenberger, professor emeritus of physics and Marty Finkler, professor of economics.  “This grant will enable us to take the Innovation course to a whole new level with student ‘E-teams,’ which will translate ideas into new products or services that benefit society.

“With its long-standing commitment to the liberal arts and sciences, Lawrence is the ideal setting for a program that inspires students and faculty to create innovative new ventures that combine ideas from diverse backgrounds, fields and perspectives,” Galambos added.

The “Innovation” course is designed to prepare Lawrence students to become major contributors to a globally competitive American economy through an immersion in innovation and entrepreneurship.  Students in the course develop their own innovative ideas to lay the groundwork for entrepreneurial ventures, examine how innovation and entrepreneurship invigorate businesses and industries and their roles in creating new ones, study the innovation and entrepreneurship literature and interact with active, successful innovators and entrepreneurs.

“Our students learn to connect theory with the real-world experiences described by our visiting experts and to apply this learning to their own projects,” said Brandenberger.

The impetus for Lawrence’s “In Pursuit of Innovation” course was a highly-influential national publication entitled “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” and a bipartisan piece of legislation leading to the 2007 America Competes Act, both of which warned of slippage in American competitiveness worldwide. The studies pointed toward increased emphasis on innovative and entrepreneurial effectiveness, especially in scientific, technological and engineering pursuits, as one solution to reverse the trend.

In addition to “In Pursuit of Innovation,” courses such as “Entrepreneurship and
Financial Markets ” and “Entrepreneurship in the Arts and Society” also are part of the effort to build an innovation and entrepreneurship program at Lawrence.

Based in Massachusetts, the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance supports technology innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education to create experiential learning opportunities for students and socially beneficial businesses.