Month: February 2021

2 Minutes With … Lauren Askenazy: First Lawrence goal forever frozen in time

Lauren Askenazy ’23 is a member of Lawrence’s first women’s hockey team. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Lauren Askenazy ‘23 has long waited for her chance to play college hockey. She didn’t know she’d be landing in the record books and doing it at a school with deep family roots.

The sophomore transfer student from Albuquerque, New Mexico, became the first player to score a goal in the newly launched women’s hockey program at Lawrence University.

The team faced off against the College of St. Scholastica in its Feb. 13 debut at the Appleton Family Ice Center, fulfilling Askenazy’s dream of playing college hockey. With 3:19 left in the game, she fired a wrist shot over the shoulder of the St. Scholastica goaltender, etching her name in Lawrence lore for evermore.

She followed that up by scoring a goal in each of Lawrence’s first four games.

Lauren Askenazy ’23 scores the first goal in Lawrence history on Feb. 13.

Finding a home

Askenazy was no hockey novice when she arrived at Lawrence. She started playing at 7 years old in her native Albuquerque. From those first shaky steps on the ice, she went on to become a three-year player with the HTI Stars in Canada, from 2016 to 2018.

Askenazy then enrolled at Connecticut College, but she kept her eyes open for a liberal arts school that was the right fit academically and had a women’s hockey team.

Everything fell into place. Vikings coach Jocey Kleiber was recruiting former members of the HTI Stars team when she learned of Askenazy’s interest in college hockey. The two connected and the recruiting process began.

It didn’t take long for her to feel at home on the ice here. She calls hockey a therapeutic outlet.

“I’m so happy every time I can step on the ice,” she said. “Especially since we’re all sitting in our rooms on our computers 24/7. As soon as everyone is together in the locker room, everyone cheers up.”

Family roots at Lawrence

Askenazy didn’t choose Lawrence on a whim. She continues a family legacy at Lawrence — her mother, uncle, and grandfather are alumni. When she was recruited for the newly created hockey team, Lawrence quickly became more than just a university she had always heard about.

“My family members are very excited about me coming to Lawrence and they are so happy I get to continue doing what I love while also making history,” she said.

It goes without saying that a new hockey team beginning its first season faces unconventional challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s especially true, Askenazy said, in the realm of team relations.

“It’s been a lot more difficult, especially because we’re a brand-new team,” she said. “Usually, teams can hang out and do bonding activities, and we can’t do that. But we’re willing to do anything we can to be able to play. We’re appreciative that we can have games.”

Getting wins has been tough early on, but it’s a learning process for a new program, one that is filled with promise.

“Everyone on the team is so excited to be a part of a new program,” Azkenazy said. “We’re building the foundation.”

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

On Main Hall Green With … David Gerard: Economics in real time

Portrait on Main Hall Green: David Gerard (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

David Gerard, the John R. Kimberly Distinguished Professor of the American Economic System and associate professor of economics, has spent considerable time over the past year studying and teaching about the economics of the COVID-19 pandemic.

No surprise there. A specialist in risk regulation and public policy, particularly in areas of energy and the environment, Gerard regularly brings real-time issues into his teaching.

In 2015, his research and teaching on environmental issues earned him Lawrence’s annual Faculty Convocation Award. He then delivered a Convocation address on the growing economic and political challenges associated with climate change.

Gerard joined the Lawrence faculty in 2009 following eight years at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was executive director of the Center for the Study & Improvement of Regulation in the College of Engineering. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College and a master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.

We caught up with Gerard to talk about his interests in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

I developed this class especially for you, the Lawrence student, and I believe in my heart that you can do well. This is especially true for the introductory economics students, who often want me to know that they have never taken an economics class. I tell them, hey, this is intro, you are in the right place.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

The pandemic has really shaken things up for me. My research and teaching focus on risk regulation and on the interface of the public and private sectors, so there is a lot going on.  There is so much going on, in fact, that I pushed back my Spring 2020 sabbatical to teach a seminar on the economics of pandemics. We followed along with the economics and policy scholarship that was emerging in real time, and we also surveyed the social science and historical scholarship on how epidemics and pandemics have shaped the arc of history. There are elements of that material in just about every course I will teach going forward. It was a pretty central focus of my Public Economics course this past fall. In our Senior Experience seminar this term we are examining recent economics scholarship on topics ranging from vaccine allocation decisions to the effects on public trust in scientists to the lasting impacts on civil liberties. Professor Shober and I are hosting a reading and discussion group on the U.S. experience with infectious diseases. I’m looking forward to finding out how this one ends.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

My first time teaching First-Year Studies we covered The Tempest. This was the year we had that giant class of 450 first-year students, so we moved the lecture to the Chapel.  The place was packed. Professor Bond brought the house down with a lecture that featured two student actors and a big log. The Actors from the London Stage were on campus to perform the play and to conduct these hands-on acting workshops for our sections. There was this extended, exhilarating Shakespeare buzz across campus for a week or more. I wasn’t expecting the campus-wide Shakespeare buzz. 

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing?  

My wife, Kirsten, tells me that I am happiest when I am teaching, so I count it as a blessing that I will never have to find out. My students will tell you it would have to be something with an “inelastic demand for my services.” The correct answer is a professional bocce player. 

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

That would be the Fishbowl on Briggs 2nd.  The back wall is a big window that looks into the hallway, so passersby can look right in. It is such a ridiculous room, I love teaching in there. Our tutors also hold office hours in there at night sometimes, and I like dropping in to see how that’s going and chat with the students in a more relaxed setting. My second choice would be a chair next to the window in the Nathan B. Pusey Room overlooking the Fox River. Professor Parks and I used to go drink our coffee and while away the hours there back when we were young and carefree.   

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both? 

The book is Michael Chabon’s Wonderboys. It is about navigating successes and failures and coming to terms with who you are and who you might become. I have read it at different stages of my life and take different things away every time. It is one of the rare books where the book is considerably more violent than the film. And it is set in Pittsburgh!  

The recording is Miles Davis’ Right Off from the Jack Johnson album. A friend gave it to me and I could not believe I had never heard it. The energy is incredible. Everything about it is incredible.

The film that speaks to me is Breaking Away. I still cry every time I see it. Well, now you know.

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

For more On Main Hall Green With … features, see here.

2 Minutes With … Justin Williamson: Galaxies collide in simulation project

Justin Williamson ’22 used Lawrence’s Experiential Learning Funds to complete a computer science simulation project he had been working on for years. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

When he was in high school in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, Justin Williamson ‘22 spent lunch periods asking his physics teacher all kinds of questions about how the world works. Now, his curiosities about physics and space have culminated in his first big 3-D graphics project.

With the help of Lawrence’s Experiential Learning Funds (ELF), the computer science and French double major finished a long-running attempt to simulate two galaxies colliding. Supported by alumni and other donors, the fund helps students access summer internships, self-directed research and projects, and more opportunities that enhance their learning experiences.

The simulation Williamson completed over winter break is just one iteration of a project he has been tinkering with for about five years. His earlier version of the simulation depicted between 100 and 200 stars. That’s grown to about 50,000 stars in a collision that takes place over 750 million years. More stars mean more computing power and, well, more skill. The difference lies in programming on the CPU (central processing unit) versus the GPU (graphics processing unit).

“Most programs run on the CPU, which is good at running serial calculations, but not 50,000 of the same calculation,” Williamson said. “But the GPU is good at that kind of calculation. It’s very different because you have to think about everything happening at the same time, rather than sequenced.”

Help from the ELF

That’s where the stipend comes in. Williamson had been working with the Career Center to hunt down internships when they sent an email detailing the ELF. This was Williamson’s first time programming on the GPU, so some extra research, which comes with added expenses, was necessary to achieve his goal.

“[The fund] allowed me to get books very easily,” Williamson said. “Also, a little bit of hardware for my computer to make it run better. I don’t think I would’ve finished it over the break if I hadn’t had the stipend.”

Programming a simulation like this can be a gamble. Williamson put faith in his calculations. He recalled the final moment of truth: letting the simulation run overnight.

“I didn’t know if it was going to work the night before or not,” he said. “That day I encountered two or three subtle bugs. Once the calculation started, all the stars would instantly disappear. So, it all could’ve been for naught. But I was amazed at what was happening when I actually could see the simulation.”

A needed assist

It wasn’t just the financial boost that helped Williamson achieve his goal. His passion for programming was met with support from his past.

“I’m so thankful to my high school physics teacher,” Williamson said. “I spent two or three hours on the phone with him trying to fix my math.”

The successful simulation is a testament to Williamson’s growing skills in computer programming, but it’s anything but the end. He hopes to eventually simulate galaxies of one million stars. But those are calculations for another day.

Watch the galaxies colliding here.

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

On Main Hall Green With … Celia Barnes: In search of Enlightenment

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Celia Barnes (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Celia Barnes, associate professor of English, has forged an impressive track record in working across departments, merging her deep interest in 18th-century literature with related subject matter in areas as seemingly far-ranging as philosophy and physics.

She’s been doing that since joining the Lawrence University faculty just over a decade ago, teaming with other faculty to present such classes as “Newtonian Lit: Chronicles of a Clockwork Universe” (physics) and “Enlightenment Selves” (philosophy).

Her love of literature was nurtured as an undergrad at the College of William & Mary, where she majored in English. But it wasn’t until her graduate school days at Indiana University that she went all in on 18th-century British literature, including women writers of that period.

Her classroom work at Lawrence earned her the 2020 University Award for Excellence in Teaching, one of three annual faculty awards presented at Commencement.

We caught up with Barnes to talk about her interests in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

That if you had told me when I was a college student and an English major all those years ago that I would be a scholar and teacher of 18th-century literature, I would have laughed in your face. As many of my students have heard—this is a favorite Professor Barnes story—in my undergrad 18th-century British lit class we never read one work by a woman. So, this period came to me by surprise years later, in graduate school, when I recognized that there was a beauty and weirdness to the literature—and that women and people of color, and not just bewigged white men, were writing it. I was hooked; the rest is history. When I tell this story to my students, I insist that they will be hooked, too, after a novel or two. And many of them are.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

Last Winter Term, I taught a class called “Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa and the #metoo Eighteenth Century” in which we read one of the longest—and, really one of the most depressing—novels in English in just 10 weeks. Clarissa is long, depressing—and it’s an epistolary novel, which is a form 21st-century readers aren’t really used to reading. I thought I would be lucky to have four people sign up for this class, but we were full, and we had such a wonderful time. The students came to class every day ready to dig in. It was one of the most rewarding teaching experiences I’ve had here, and I’m excited to offer the course again next year.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

I have a small person at home, so literal travel when there isn’t a pandemic raging is limited to the annual conference trip, but I did have the opportunity to prepare, with my friend Jack Lynch at Rutgers, an Oxford World’s Classics edition of two texts that chronicle one of the most famous 18th-century vacations: Samuel Johnson’s and James Boswell’s accounts of their journey to the Scottish highlands together in 1773. The two friends went to the Hebrides together, but they both wrote up very different accounts of their trip, so both texts are fun to read and consider together. I had never prepared a student edition before, so it was certainly new territory, as it were, for me.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing? 

Canning vegetables. Can you make a living doing that? No, seriously, I really do love cooking, baking, and preparing jams, sauces, and the like. As anyone who is a friend of mine on Facebook knows, cooking has been something that has really grounded me during the pandemic.

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus? And why?

I miss Andrew Commons so much. I miss eating there with colleagues and seeing students and chatting with them over lunch. I miss the wonderful staff. I miss that ridiculously delicious tofu on the salad bar. It’s really my favorite place, hands down.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

Everyone should read—or try to read, because it’s not for everyone—Laurence Sterne’s strange and wonderful novel Tristram Shandy, which is basically about a guy who is trying to tell us his life story but he’s so digressive that it takes him almost half the book before he’s finally born. Meg Pickett and I teach it in our “Newtonian Lit” course, and it’s just a transformative reading experience for some of our students. Highly recommend. But if you can’t make it to the end—it really isn’t for everyone—then Michael Winterbottom made a really wonderful film version in 2005 with Steve Coogan and Gillian Anderson. A recording? Last March, Sir Patrick Stewart began reading one Shakespeare sonnet each day, starting with Sonnet 1 and going in order, and posting his readings on Instagram. He finished in October. It’s a fabulous, fabulous series.

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

For more On Main Hall Green With … features, see here.

2 Minutes With … Molly Ruffing: Meeting a “desperate” need for tutors

Molly Ruffing ’22 is running VITAL and other education-focused programs in the CCE.

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

The Equal Access to Education coordinator position has always been a complicated student role. The COVID-19 pandemic has not made it any easier.

But that has not been a deterrence for Molly Ruffing ‘22, who has reintroduced the program in the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE) in a big way.

“I knew they were hiring quite a few people in the CCE,” Ruffing said. “I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to do it; I thought of all the requests for tutoring that would come in and how heart-breaking it would be. But I also knew it would be a great learning experience.”

A new path

Ruffing, a psychology and English double major from Kaukauna, was hired as the program’s coordinator last winter, before the pandemic hit and most students were sent home. Typically, the CCE does their hiring in Winter Term, and trains new employees during Spring Term. This was not the case for Ruffing. The pandemic changed everything, and Ruffing set out to create a new path.  

Over the summer, she worked on developing a plan for a re-envisioned version of the Volunteers in Tutoring at Lawrence (VITAL) program, which matches Lawrence students as tutors for K-12 pupils in the Appleton Area School District.

Molly Ruffing ’22 is among the Lawrence students supported as Paulson Scholars. Read more here.

“It was only 10 hours a week; I would just work on stuff for VITAL,” Ruffing said of her summer efforts. “A lot of it was thinking about how we wanted to do training, logistically can we have people meeting, what were the forms going to look like now, do different questions have to be asked? Talking with partners in Appleton to see what we could do, because it’s difficult to get an adult to be with a minor on video by themselves, so working through that.”

In the past, when students would sign up to be a tutor, they would meet with their student in the library on campus. With COVID, this was no longer an option.

“I was looking at our end-of-the-year reports, and seeing what we did in the spring,” Ruffing said. “That was a partnership with St. Norbert College, but we wanted to be independent in the fall. So, looking at that and seeing what we can actually apply to our own program.”  

The demand grows

More than 200 tutoring requests have come in since school began in the fall. Appleton students were accessing classes remotely, and many were struggling to keep up.

“There were always a lot of requests, but it seemed like the requests became more desperate,” Ruffing said. “Before it was like, ‘It would be nice to have help’, and now it’s like, ‘My kid is months behind because they didn’t learn in spring at all when we transitioned.’ It was really hard to read some of those requests, but at a certain point you have to remember you are doing the best you can.” 

To fulfill such a high demand for tutors this year, Ruffing began partnering with retired Appleton teachers and even some Lawrence alumni. Right now, there are more than 100 pupils who have been paired with a tutor through the program.

In addition to VITAL, Ruffing is in charge of other access to education-focused programs.  

“I worked on starting a new program, which I am really excited for,” Ruffing said. “It’s a first-generation student-mentorship program with Kaukauna High School, called First of Many, and it’s starting this term. Not everyone who’s passionate about education necessarily wants to tutor; I still want people to be able to pursue that passion and give that to the community.”  

Ruffing said this work has confirmed her passion for education. After Lawrence, she hopes to work as a high school counselor.

“I love [my job] a lot,” Ruffing said. “In the beginning, it was kind of stressful because it is a lot. I would look at the requests and be thinking about all of these kids who are waiting, and I would just feel awful. But then I had to remember, ‘No, think of all the kids that you are supporting.’ It taught me how to set up that boundary and it made me more mindful of the impact I am creating, and it has just made me more passionate.” 

Awa Badiane ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.