As Bulldogs,

We believe in The Butler Way.

In doing more than our best.

In putting team above self.

And unleashing our strengths for the greater good.

We’re selfless. 

We’re united.

We’re unwavering.

Now more than ever. 

Meet the Voice Behind Butler’s New Commercial

By Katie Grieze

When Chinyelu Mwaafrika heard that a team at Butler University was looking for a student to be the voice of its newest television and radio advertisements, the first-year Theatre major jumped at the opportunity.

From his home in Indianapolis, he used his cell phone to record an audition for the voiceover: “As Bulldogs, we believe in the Butler Way. In doing more than our best, in putting team above self, and in unleashing our strengths for the greater good...”

The next day, he got the part.

“I’m always interested in trying new things, and I’ve never done anything like this before,” Mwaafrika says. “I also wanted to be helpful. Plus, I like Butler a lot, and I wanted to contribute in any way I could.”

For much of his childhood, Mwaafrika had planned to pursue engineering. But the desire to perform was always there, so he joined the Asante Children’s Theatre at 13 and continued to participate in plays throughout high school. Eventually, he realized theatre was what he needed to be doing full-time.

“I’m really into the potential for theatre to bring about change,” he says. “It encourages people to think and ask questions. It’s a good tool for bringing people together and exploring issues that people don’t always want to talk about.”

When Mwaafrika started looking for universities in his home state of Indiana, Butler seemed like the obvious choice.

“Butler was the only place I auditioned that I felt would be able to really push me and help me grow as an artist and as a person,” he says.

And so far, his college experience has been fantastic. He says the switch to online learning this semester hasn’t been ideal, but he appreciates the faculty who have found ways to adapt and make sure that students still get the best possible education.

“I cannot put into words how much I miss the people and the campus,” he says. “I love Butler so much.”

chinyelu
Student-Centered

Meet the Voice Behind Butler’s New Commercial

First-year theatre student Chinyelu Mwaafrika wants to help bring people together

Ethan King in Africa
Student-Centered

Butler Soccer Player Kicks in Coronavirus Aid with United 19

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Apr 13 2020

Soccer is a passion for millions worldwide, and Butler University junior Ethan King has enhanced that global love—and the lives of thousands of children overseas—by supplying them with new soccer balls and clean drinking water.  

Through his nonprofit organization, Charity Ball, King has coordinated donations of hundreds of soccer balls to children in 50 countries. Most destinations are impoverished, including villages where children play the sport by kicking around makeshift balls of garbage wrapped in plastic and twine. Charity Ball recently expanded its reach, thanks to Level the Field, a program within the organization that supplies balls to girls’ soccer teams and clubs. Half of Charity Ball deliveries now go to girls.

Today, however, soccer fields from Indianapolis to India are mostly empty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The Beautiful Game” is on hold, but King is drawing on his Charity Ball contacts for his latest initiative, United 19. This program will educate African villages on the dangers of the coronavirus and how to slow its spread, especially in areas with high rates of immunocompromised individuals already suffering from HIV, dysentery, and other diseases.

Ethan King dribbles the ball.
Ethan King dribbles the ball for Butler in a 2018 match versus Marshall.

“These places don’t really have hospitals or healthcare systems to help them stay healthy,” says King, an Entrepreneurship and Innovation major and forward on the Butler Men’s Soccer team. “We’re trying to take preventative action. We’re trying to give people the resources and advocacy they need and deserve.”

In collaboration with his father Brian King’s clean water organization, Vox, King is setting up prevention programs for workers from Vox to implement in the villages. He is identifying communities he has worked with for Charity Ball as areas in need of clean water, which assists in proper handwashing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s essential for people to have clean water to wash their hands,” King says. “When the water wells are broken down, they’re having to get water from the rivers they bathe in or other sources of contaminated water. That’s not going to help them in the fight against the coronavirus.”

Stephanie Fernhaber, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship, had a frontrow seat to King’s development of United 19. The program began as King’s project in Fernhaber’s Social Entrepreneurship course, which addresses social issues and problems in business development. Fernahber says United 19 can be an effective weapon against COVID-19’s spread.

“I think our students and younger people have great ideas, and we need to rely on their untapped potential,” she says. “What King has been trying to do has been a great example to incorporate into the class. I think everyone, especially nonprofits, needs to be responsive to the crisis. You have to respond and figure out how to incorporate it into your mission.”

As Head Coach for Butler Men’s Soccer, Paul Snape says King’s work on the field has improved each season. In 2019, King played 17 matches for the squad, registering an assist and 4 shots on goal. King’s work off the field impressed Snape, too. 

“Ethan seems to find that extra layer of motivation to grow,” Snape says. “He’s growing into a leader on the team. He’s becoming a leader, and Charity Ball has helped him achieve that.”

Snape grew up in soccer-crazed Liverpool, England. As a child, he only had one soccer ball, and he knew other neighborhood kids whose families couldn’t afford that luxury. Through Charity Ball, Level the Field, and now United 19, Snape is thrilled to see how King is using the sport of soccer as a channel to help children.

“He got me thinking about how soccer can be a vehicle that teaches more than kicking a ball,” the coach says. “It can educate communities and bring them together.”

 

Donate today

United 19 is accepting donations. Click here to give and to learn more about the international program.

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

Ethan King in Africa
Student-Centered

Butler Soccer Player Kicks in Coronavirus Aid with United 19

Ethan King, junior forward and LSB major, is raising funds to supply African villages with clean water, COVID-19 education

Apr 13 2020 Read more
Levenshus home office
Student-Centered

Butler Faculty Put Students First in Switch to Online Learning

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Mar 19 2020

While the suspension of on-campus classes in response to COVID-19 has been a letdown for students and educators across the nation, Butler University faculty are working hard to create new learning opportunities in the midst of crisis.

“It is deeply disappointing for many, if not all, members of our campus community that we will not learn and work together in person in the coming weeks,” wrote Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathryn Morris in a recent message to students, leading up to today’s launch of online learning. “Yet, by and large, people in our community are coming together virtually to make the best out of a truly challenging situation—with YOU, our students, at the heart of our efforts. Faculty have just spent three intensive days preparing for this transition. They are working harder than ever to provide you with the same high-quality educational experience you are accustomed to at Butler.”

For Abbey Levenshus, an Associate Professor of Strategic Communication, that means drawing on the current crisis to provide an up-close and personal case study for her students who are studying issues management.

Even before COVID-19 began to affect all of us in some way, Levenshus was using the outbreak as an example for how issues evolve over time. At first, the class looked at this as an early or “emergent” situation. Over the last several weeks, students watched as the issue progressed to “current,” and then “dominant,” and, now, “crisis.”

Even in emails to students regarding the logistics of switching to online learning, Levenshus has offered mini-lessons on how the pandemic is a living model of the concepts they have been learning all semester.

“But then I also remind them that this issue, too, will pass,” Levenshus says. “Eventually, this will be dormant. Right now, it’s very real, it’s very present, and it’s having a serious disruptive impact on our lives. But we’re going to be okay—we will figure this out.”

 

 

Levenshus records her first video message for students in the transition to online learning. She explains how she's adapting to this new normal, and she shares a tour of her new "office" in the basement of her home.

 

To move class content online over the last week, Levenshus started by inviting students to join the process. An email survey gathered data about the students’ living and learning situations: What technology can they access? Do they have textbooks? Have they ever taken an online class? She used the answers to those questions while deciding how to move forward with the semester.

“That really helped me because I felt like we were doing it as a team, even though we’re separated right now,” she says.

And Levenshus says it’s that separation—not the workload of moving online—that’s the hardest part.

“You know, you love these students,” she says. “I think one of the strengths of Butler is that you have these smaller classes where you really get to know one another. There is a deep sense of loss in terms of that classroom community. But part of my job is helping students gain perspective: If we can grieve our own losses while also looking for opportunities to be thankful, I think we will get through this even stronger together.”

Shelly Furuness, an Associate Professor of Education, is also grieving the loss of face-to-face interaction. Still, especially for the Butler seniors currently serving as student-teachers in K-12 schools, Furuness says students are gaining valuable experience in adapting through disruption.

“This is not about perfection,” she explains. “It’s about modeling how to teach in the face of the unexpected.”

For example, Butler students will continue supporting teachers at a Zionsville middle school with the design and creation of e-learning content. Furuness says the digital space can actually give educators more time to experiment with presenting the same material in a variety of ways, making the experience more accessible to students of all learning styles—something teachers don’t normally have the opportunity to do with face-to-face lessons.

“It is absolutely a challenge, because this is a personal disruption, too,” Furuness says. “But I think this gives us a good opportunity to show that the platform is less important than having a high-quality, flexible instructor. Even as we are modeling how to handle a crisis, we have the resources we need to help Butler students meet the same learning objectives we set back in January.”

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

Levenshus home office
Student-Centered

Butler Faculty Put Students First in Switch to Online Learning

Coronavirus pandemic forces cancellation of in-person classes, but professors make the best of a difficult situation

Mar 19 2020 Read more
budis
Alumni Success

Pharmacy Alumni: We Are ‘Clinical Activists’ During COVID-19 Pandemic

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Apr 13 2020

Matt Budi ’15 and Erin Budi ’15 met in the Butler University Pharmacy program, worked hard through rigorous classes, and fell in love. They graduated together and later married after establishing themselves as well-trained pharmacists in Indianapolis.

Today, they are among the thousands of healthcare professionals serving Central Indiana during a global pandemic.

While the Budis work at different pharmacies, their experiences are similar. Both have seen their over-the-counter medication shelves wiped clean. They’ve had to ramp up efforts to ensure their customers and staff members stay safe—cleaning every hour, maintaining six feet of distance from one another, and frequently washing hands. Counters, labs, and offices are thoroughly disinfected, and staff members working registers must wash their hands after taking money or health insurance cards from customers.

The precautionary measures have been in place since early- to mid-March, when President Donald Trump enacted travel bans and when Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb first announced the shelter-in-place order.

“We’ve learned a lot since we graduated, but this has been a different experience the last couple months,” says Matt Budi, Manager at a Kroger pharmacy. “That first week, especially, was one of the busiest weeks that I and my wife had ever worked in pharmacy. There was a very high increase in demand. Since then, it has kind of leveled off, but we’re still at a high volume.”

Matt Budi keeps his team up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 information. And with healthcare facilities loaded with patients suffering from the coronavirus, he welcomes questions from customers over the phone.

A Staff Pharmacist at a Walgreens, Erin Budi recommends customers—especially elderly patients—use the pharmacy’s drive-through, if possible. She says she’s used to busy shifts, but the nature of the virus has added some stress to the job.

“Not knowing what you may have been exposed to throughout the day and being in contact with many, many people at the pharmacy counter, we have to take extra precautions,” Erin Budi says. “When we come home, we wash our hands, sanitize the door, and wash our work clothes. Although we’re not actively taking care of sick people, customers may be carrying the coronavirus and not knowing it.”

Matt Budi’s pharmacy has a walk-up window, and Kroger has worked with FedEx to offer free prescription deliveries. During the pandemic, shipments have increased, and customers now receive free shipping.

Matt Budi recommends that anyone needing regular prescriptions take advantage of 90-day doses. Not only will it eliminate trips to the pharmacy, the option is less expensive in the long run through insurance plans and discount cards.

“We’re trying to limit customers’ exposure and save them money, especially with some people now out of work,” he says. “It’s like buying in bulk, as opposed to three 30-day fills, and it gives our staff more time to focus on clinically-oriented tasks.”

While a COVID-19 vaccine is still being developed, Matt Budi’s customers still require vaccines for hepatitis, whooping cough, pneumonia, shingles, and other common diseases. When administering the shots, staff must wear medical masks, as do the customers. He says while the coronavirus is rightfully dominating headlines, his customers still need care for their other maladies. He and his staff are making more calls to customers to check in on their health, especially with immunocompromised patients.

“Other conditions don’t go away,” Matt Budi says. “We’re trying to move away from just the dispensing role, instead moving more toward being clinical activists for our patients, looking out for their therapy management.”

Both Matt and Erin have utilized their Butler Pharmacy training in professional practice, from compounding medications and dosage forms to accurately taking blood pressure and applying methods to put patients at ease. Their overall experience at the University has especially come in handy this past month.

“We were taught to critically think and apply the knowledge outside of just what we learned in class, which has definitely been helpful,” Matt Budi says. “That’s just the culture at Butler: hard work, determination, and taking care of other people.”

 

Photo courtesy of Matt Budi

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

budis
Alumni Success

Pharmacy Alumni: We Are ‘Clinical Activists’ During COVID-19 Pandemic

Indianapolis pharmacists Matt and Erin Budi have maintained patient care through more deliveries, 90-day supplies 

Apr 13 2020 Read more
Mark Macbeth teaches from home
Experiential Learning

LAS Professor Finds the Right Chemistry for Distance Learning

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Apr 07 2020

About a month ago, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Mark Macbeth would look out to his General Chemistry lecture to see 57 first-year students in their seats inside a Gallahue Hall classroom, taking notes on chemical bonding.

Today, when he looks at his class, it’s like watching a more-crowded version of the intro to The Brady Bunch as the same 57 students pop up in little squares of video on Zoom. Since Butler University switched to online learning on March 19, the students and professor have used the popular video conferencing app three times a week for review sessions of the video lectures Macbeth posts on Canvas.

“I thought it was going to be chaos, but you roll up your sleeves and work through it,” says Macbeth with a laugh. “The students can still ask questions, and we still work through the problems together.”

The General Chemistry course also includes a lab section. With the academic labs closed for the semester, Macbeth says it was more of a challenge to figure out how to give his students proper lab experience online. Before, the students would strap on gloves, goggles, and lab coats for hands-on work—setting up the experiment, writing out reaction equations, and pouring the chemicals.

Macbeth decided to create demonstration videos of the experiments. In these “virtual labs,” staff and faculty from the Clowes Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry recorded experiments on concepts such as equilibrium and saturation. Ammonia added to silver chloride causes it to dissolve, and light pink cobalt solution mixed with chloride changes to dark blue, which makes for easier observation from a student’s laptop.

“It’s up to the students to interpret that data,” says Macbeth, whose current research focuses on the biochemical analysis of nucleic acid-protein interactions, as well as RNA and DNA editing. “At the end of the video, they do an online quiz about what their observations were and what concepts were used during the reaction.”

Macbeth's lecture notes
Macbeth uses a tablet to write notes in red during his distance learning lectures.

Students say the transition to online lectures has been smooth. For Healthcare and Business major Mason Runkel, not having the chance to be in a physical lab to refine his fine measurement skills has been the toughest aspect of learning from his home in Bloomington, Illinois. But he says Macbeth’s use of visuals and voiceovers on the digital lessons allows him to understand concepts just as well as he would in the classroom.

Chemistry major Audrey Wojtowicz says she was concerned about losing valuable lab experience, especially for complex techniques. An upcoming lab will focus on titration—the slow addition of one solution of a known concentration to a known volume of another solution of unknown concentration until the reaction reaches neutralization. However, Macbeth’s availability during the three weekly review sessions, as well as his office hours over Zoom, has eased some worries.

“Especially now, if you have concerns, go to your professor,” Wojtowicz says. “Everyone is in the same boat. Admittedly, I was stressed out, but I was assured it will be OK. Faculty members understand, and they are going to adapt to our needs for next semester.”

Macbeth has been impressed with his students’ performance the last few weeks, but he knows the online learning transition can sometimes be tough. He wants students to know he is there for them for the rest of the semester and beyond.

“It’s not an ideal situation at all for us,” Macbeth says, “but we’re trying to make it work the best we can. We’re trying to get the students to have some sort of learning process about chemistry, learn some chemical processes, and learn to interpret data.

“To the students who are really uncertain about this, I just want to let them know we are on their side. We want to help them get through this successfully and prepare them for their future courses.”

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

Mark Macbeth teaches from home
Experiential Learning

LAS Professor Finds the Right Chemistry for Distance Learning

With hands-on experiments now impossible, Mark Macbeth created video-based virtual labs for his chemistry class

Apr 07 2020 Read more
Ariel Rudd
Alumni Success

Butler Grad Fights COVID-19 in New York City

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Apr 06 2020

Ariel Rudd ‘13 wants people to know they need to stay inside.

The Butler University graduate, now a nurse in a large hospital on the Upper East Side of New York City, is on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in a place where the virus appears to be reaching its peak. And, she says, it’s way worse than she ever thought it would be.

“I think it’s easy for people to not take it seriously before they’ve actually seen what can happen,” she says. “But I know Indianapolis is now becoming a hot spot for COVID-19, and that makes me nervous for my family and friends still living there. From someone who has lived this already, I can tell you this is serious. It’s really, really bad.”

The Kirklin, Indiana, native came to Butler in 2009 and graduated four years later with a degree in Health and Physical Education. She’d always thought she wanted to be a physical therapist, but job shadowing sessions later in college helped her realize nursing would be a better fit. She wanted to be part of the first layer of care, right on the front lines. So, after graduating from Butler, Rudd completed an accelerated nursing program at Marian University.

Rudd launched her career with a position in the neonatal ICU at St. Vincent Indianapolis, then she spent a few years as a traveling nurse and landed in New York City. She accepted a nursing management position at her current hospital, and she’s been working in the pediatric ICU there ever since.

Until a couple weeks ago, Rudd was caring exclusively for patients ages 24 or younger. But the surge in COVID-19 cases forced her hospital to transfer nearly all its patients to elsewhere in the city, quickly transforming its units into spaces dedicated to coronavirus patients.

“That’s almost 900 beds,” Rudd says. “Before my unit started receiving patients, I went down to some of the other units to see what we were about to get into. And honestly, it’s like something from a movie. It’s bed after bed of people with the same exact thing. It’s patients of a wide range of ages. I was especially surprised to see how many young people are getting very sick with this.”

With a worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment in medical facilities, Rudd says her team only has one N95 mask per day for each person. Still, she’s grateful for all her hospital is doing to keep the staff safe.

Over the course of about a week, new walls went up to create more separation between patients and healthcare providers. The hospital also replaced several of its windows with HEPA filters, which can help eliminate pathogen-filled air particles in ways that better protect the staff.

“I’m very impressed and proud of the bravery and the strength of the nurses and the other employees I’m leading,” Rudd says. “You know, they’re scared. They have families they don’t want to take this virus home to. They have kids and grandparents they are trying to protect. But they’ve been so amazing—taking hits as they come. They are ready and willing to do anything to help these patients and save lives.”

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

Ariel Rudd
Alumni Success

Butler Grad Fights COVID-19 in New York City

The hospital where Ariel Rudd ’13 works as a nurse is now mostly dedicated to coronavirus patients

Apr 06 2020 Read more
test optional
Admission

Butler Adopts Test-Optional Admission Policy

BY

PUBLISHED ON Apr 15 2020

INDIANAPOLIS—In a commitment to provide support and improve access for prospective students during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, Butler University will no longer require applicants to submit standardized test scores. This applies to high school seniors in the Class of 2021, as well as to all incoming classes thereafter.

Beginning with first-year and transfer undergraduate applicants for the fall 2021 semester, the Butler Office of Admission will not require ACT and/or SAT scores for admission to the University. Some graduate programs will also waive requirements for GMAT and/or GRE scores. This change reflects Butler’s commitment to a holistic admission review process, offering flexibility as test-taking opportunities are canceled and future testing dates remain uncertain.

Applicants who still prefer to provide their test scores will be able to do so, and those scores will be considered alongside other application materials. Select undergraduate programs may still require or encourage the submission of test scores.

“As admission officers, we are very aware that the college application process may be stressful in any given year,” says Lori Greene, Butler’s Vice President for Enrollment Management. “Add the complexity of the COVID-19 crisis, and that process can be simply overwhelming. Our goal is to provide some clarity and reassurance to prospective students who are interested in the Butler experience, so they don’t need to worry about when and/or if standardized tests will be offered.”

More details about this change to the application process will be communicated to prospective students in the coming weeks through the Butler admission website. Students are encouraged to contact their admission counselors at any time to receive personalized support. Counselor information can be found here.

Butler’s test-optional admission policy will go into effect starting with the August 1, 2020, application opening for the 2021-2022 academic year and remain in effect for future admission cycles.

 

Learn more here.

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

test optional
Admission

Butler Adopts Test-Optional Admission Policy

Beginning with the fall 2021 incoming class, Butler will no longer require standardized test scores on applications

Apr 15 2020 Read more
Lori Desautels
Butler Experts

How to Care for Children’s Minds During COVID-19

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Apr 17 2020

Emotions are contagious.

During a time of crisis such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s natural to feel scared. It’s normal to feel stressed, anxious, or angry. But especially for teachers, parents, and other adults working closely with children, Lori Desautels says it’s important to understand how those feelings can affect those around you.

The Butler University College of Education Assistant Professor, whose work in educational neuroscience focuses on strategies to help students who have experienced adversity or trauma, is now developing new resources specific to this time of pervasive fear and uncertainty.

“When this started, we were all thrown,” Desautels says. “Even in that first week when we started seeing places close, schools began reaching out to me, concerned about how to support their students through the switch to e-learning.”

For many children, school is a safe place. It’s where their friends are, where they’ve built connections with teachers and other adults outside the home. For those who were already dealing with adversity, this global pandemic can add another layer to the trauma.

Families are already seeing the effects, Desautels says. Children are growing scared, restless, or angry about all they’ve lost this year. When it comes to schoolwork, some are just shutting down.

So over the last few weeks, school districts across Indiana and as far as Iowa and Colorado have asked Desautels to help with this transition. She is now creating weekly videos on topics related to COVID-19—like this one where she discusses the power of nonverbal communication, or this one with strategies to help calm the brain.

“I’m trying to keep up with emails from schools asking how they can help their families and their teachers,” she says. “We are seeing a collision of roles: Teachers need to also parent, and parents need to also teach. Some parents have lost their jobs or are feeling other pressures, putting them in a survival state of just trying to function. This is where emotional contagion is happening. The stress of all of this is felt by our children.”

According to Desautels, there are three conditions that the mind just can’t handle, and the COVID-19 pandemic hits all of them.

 

  1. Chronic unpredictability: To help ease the stress of this widespread uncertainty we’re experiencing, Desautels recommends building and following routines wherever possible. Even if kids can’t know when they’ll be able to go back to school, parents and teachers can create predictable schedules for things like meals and play time. Desautels also suggests setting up at-home “amygdala first aid stations”—designated areas where children can go to relax.

 

  1. Isolation: Desautels says building connections with students should always be a priority for teachers, but now more than ever, maintaining those relationships is key. When you can’t see kids in person each day, this means being extra intentional. “If you can,” she says, “reach out with a phone call or text. Remind students you are only a keyboard away if they need you. You could also use this time to write a letter of gratitude to each student, sharing a memory of them you will always cherish. Focus on connection: Academics should come second during this time.”

 

  1. Physical and emotional restraint: Look for opportunities to get moving and stay active. “I’m also encouraging teachers and parents to give kids a lot of choice, grace, and emotional wiggle room at this time,” Desautels says. “Give them some space. Let them feel safe with you.”

 

And just as parents and teachers try to ease their children’s anxiety, Desautels emphasizes the need to care for their own minds, as well.

“It takes a calm brain to calm another brain,” she says. “The good news is that our brains are built for resiliency. They are built to repair and to heal. They are constantly trying to find that balanced place where we can think clearly, pay attention, and focus.”

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

Lori Desautels
Butler Experts

How to Care for Children’s Minds During COVID-19

COE's Lori Desautels offers guidance for educators and parents as pandemic causes uncertainty, isolation, and restraint

Apr 17 2020 Read more
virus image
Alumni Success

Butler Grad Helps Americans See Coronavirus Up Close

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Apr 22 2020

You’ve probably seen the images flooding the news of floating spheres covered in spikes—an up-close view of the microscopic 2019-nCoV particles that cause COVID-19 and have changed our lives in so many ways over the past two months. The depictions provide a concrete visual for something otherwise so abstract to most people. There are many things we still don’t know about the novel coronavirus, but at least we know roughly what it looks like.

That’s all thanks to a team of artists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)—part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—where Austin Athman ’09 works as a Visual Information Specialist.

At Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana, science and art collide. After high-power microscopes capture black-and-white images of disease samples, Athman and his colleagues in the Visual and Medical Arts Unit use digital tools to add colors and details that bring the photos to life.

The end result is a colorized image that helps scientists better understand the virus particles—which are about 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair—as well as put a face to a top enemy for the general public.

When COVID-19 arrived in the United States, Athman’s lab received a sample of the coronavirus from one of the first patients.

“As soon as we had the sample,” Athman says, “we started taking pictures, colorizing them in Photoshop, and putting them on the NIAID Flickr website. The next day, we already saw the images being used by major news outlets across the country.”

Now, Athman has completed more than 15 different colorizations of COVID-19 images, along with a 3D model that can be printed and studied. Beyond providing compelling visuals for news stories, adding color helps scientists communicate their research.

Athman starts by sitting down with scientists and microscopists to learn more about what he’s looking at in the black-and-white photo. His colorized images are usually meant to accompany research publications, highlighting the features scientists are referring to in the text.

“If I can get a scientist to sit down and explain what something looks like in common language,” Athman says, “it helps people outside the lab understand something about science in a way words can’t always do.”

Athman wants viewers to look at the most important part of the image, and that’s where art comes in. Using photo editing software, he starts by adding highlights and shadows that bring depth to the otherwise flat-looking photos. He also rotates and crops the images in a way that guides the eye to desired focal points.

Then comes the color. The scientists and artists don’t know what the particles’ true colors are, or if the diseases even have color. But they choose palettes that make the photos more engaging and understandable while still appearing realistic.

 

 

While Athman has always enjoyed science, he says he doesn’t actually have much formal experience in the field. At Butler University, his degrees were in Music and Multimedia Studies. But he grew up near his current lab and first got involved with the NIAID when, back in high school, he applied for an internship that would let him explore his interest in graphic design. He started the internship as a high school junior, then returned each summer to work full time. When he graduated from Butler in 2009, he accepted a permanent position and has been at the lab ever since.

“Recently, I’ve been focusing on the COVID-19 images,” he says about his day-to-day work. “But when we aren’t in pandemic mode, I do all kinds of visual things. I draw illustrations, design graphs, edit videos, and create scientific animations.”

With the COVID-19 colorizations, Athman says it has felt strange to see his work all over the news so suddenly. But it’s not the first time his art has been on a national stage. Until now, a colorization of HIV particles was his most popular image, appearing for years on almost any article related to HIV. Several of his colorizations are also featured in a Smithsonian exhibit called Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World, currently open at the National Museum of Natural History and available digitally here. One of his Bubonic Plague colorizations was published in a 2013 issue of National Geographic—fulfilling one of Athman’s childhood dreams.

“It’s a new thing almost every day,” he says. “You never get bored. And this merge of art and science—I think a lot of people aren’t really aware this kind of field exists.”

 

Photos courtesy of the NIAID

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

virus image
Alumni Success

Butler Grad Helps Americans See Coronavirus Up Close

At the NIH, Austin Athman ’09 is part of a team that captures images of microscopic diseases

Apr 22 2020 Read more
COVID-19
Innovation

Butler Technology Joins Global Effort to Fight Coronavirus

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Mar 30 2020

Butler University has donated remote use of some of its powerful technology to a global effort to combat COVID-19.

A supercomputer and Butler Esports computers are now part of Folding@home, a project focused on disease research that utilizes help from computer owners around the world. Based out of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, the work has shifted from researching numerous infectious diseases to investigating the structure of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Using molecular protein folding computer simulations, the Folding@home project aims to discover drug pathways that can cause a dysfunction in the folding of one or more proteins in the COVID-19 virus, therefore killing it. Extra computer power from around the world is needed for faster, more precise simulations. 

“It takes huge amounts of computing power to try them,” Butler Computer Science Professor Jonathon Sorenson says. “The more they try, the better the chances of finding one that works.”

Protein folding is the process that determines a protein’s structure, and therefore its functionality. The shapes protein subunits form fit together like LEGOs to create new cells. Sometimes, when you are trying to build something specific, only one particular shape of LEGO will work. If the body’s proteins aren’t folding into the necessary shapes, this can have detrimental health effects. For example, in the case of sickle-cell anemia, the protein inside red blood cells—hemoglobin—is not capable of transporting oxygen due to a single amino acid change in the hemoglobin protein structure. Now, Folding@home is seeking similar weaknesses within the coronavirus’ proteins—looking for structures that could be altered to inhibit the virus’s ability to infect the body.

Computer owners who want to help with the project can download software that allows Folding@home to use the computers to run simulations. The simulations are usually timed for when the user sleeps, but with universities relying on distance learning during the pandemic, on-campus machines are left on and idle all day. More than 700 universities worldwide have lent their computer power to help run simulations around the clock.

Sorenson learned of the ongoing research project’s new focus on the coronavirus from an Association for Computing Machinery article and alerted IT of the potential of joining the project. A day later, IT Senior Systems Analyst and Computer Science Adjunct Professor Nate Partenheimer got the University’s newest supercomputer online to run Folding@home simulations.

“By lending our computing power to this huge project,” Sorenson says, “it’s a small way of helping that overall effort.”

Supercomputer specs

While Butler’s first supercomputer, The Big Dawg, is being utilized for current Butler research projects, a new system was to be used for artificial intelligence courses and other research. Those projects have been postponed, which opened up use for Folding@home. 

Thanks to Partenheimer, Folding@home is now benefiting from:

  • Four NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics processing units, each of which is capable of about 13 Tera-FLOPS. FLOPS, or floating point operations per second, is a unit of computer performance measurement in scientific computations. Just one of these graphics processing units can execute 13 trillion operations per second.
  • One NVIDIA GP100, which is capable of more than 10 Tera-FLOPS.

Now online, Butler has helped boost the project to 1.5 quintillion operations per second worldwide.

Esports scores an assist

Butler Esports donated its own NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics processing unit and an Intel i7 central processing unit to the Folding@home cause. Machines meant for powering spirited games of League of Legends and Rocket League are now dedicated to saving lives.

Student Activities Coordinator Doug Benedict had known about Folding@home since before the COVID-19 pandemic, but after a meeting with Butler IT, he decided to download the software and link the Esports machines to the cause. Benedict says the Butler Esports and Gaming Center’s mission is to be a source for community engagement, outreach, and philanthropy between esports events.

“We want to show the benefits of having this kind of space and this kind of technology to society as a whole,” he adds. “Technology has changed our lives time and time again, and clearly it’s going to continue to do that.”

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

COVID-19
Innovation

Butler Technology Joins Global Effort to Fight Coronavirus

A supercomputer and Butler Esports machines are linked to a COVID-19 research initiative focusing on proteins in the virus

Mar 30 2020 Read more
istock
Experiential Learning

In Switch to eLearning, Butler Student-Teacher Finds What Matters Most

BY Katie Grieze

PUBLISHED ON Apr 24 2020

Patrick Conway, a senior Secondary Education major at Butler University, spent three days student-teaching in a seventh-grade classroom before the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools across the nation to move online.

Now, as he continues his own Butler coursework remotely, he’s back home in Naperville, Illinois. But that isn’t stopping him from staying connected with his students at Zionsville West Middle School.

“The College of Education really emphasizes that you need to be flexible as a teacher,” Conway says. “Not every day is going to look the same. Not every lesson is going to look the same. That’s helped me adjust now. I am going with the flow and doing my best to help these students learn.”

For Conway, that has meant experimenting with new technologies and redesigning class content to fit the online space. Group work becomes individual projects. Interactive simulations become research papers. But Conway says the transition has given him a chance to focus on the most important parts of the curriculum, narrowing down ideas to spend more time on key points.

“Obviously, I would still prefer to be in the classroom,” he says. “But this situation has made all teachers reflect more on what we’re teaching. In the long-term, I think it might make classes and learning better.”

Conway says being physically separated from students has given him more appreciation for time spent in the classroom, and it reminds teachers how important it is to build relationships and provide support.

“For some of these students who maybe don’t have access to food at home, or whose parents are struggling with the effects of the pandemic, school might not be the most important thing right now,” Conway says. “So you still have to be there for them any way you can.”

Free online tools like FlipGrid, which Conway uses to create and share daily videos, have been key for staying connected with students and providing engaging lessons. Conway is using this time to explore new technologies, planning for how he might keep using them even after class is back in the classroom.

“You can be told over and over to always be ready for the unexpected,” he says, “but once you actually experience it, you are so much more prepared moving forward. We’re just all staying flexible and learning new things together. Teachers are a resilient group of people, and we are working hard to make this the best possible experience for our students.”

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

 

istock
Experiential Learning

In Switch to eLearning, Butler Student-Teacher Finds What Matters Most

Adapting to a pandemic, Patrick Conway develops new online content for seventh-graders at Zionsville West Middle School

Apr 24 2020 Read more
illustration of businessmen being protected
Innovation

Butler’s Risk Management and Insurance Program Authors Pandemic Act to Bolster Economy

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Apr 02 2020

A case study on PayPal, completed by Butler University undergraduates in 2017, could help save the U.S. economy in 2020.

Zach Finn, Clinical Professor and Director of the Davey Risk Management and Insurance program at Butler, and some of his former students have developed the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (PRIA). If passed, the legislation would provide a reinsurance backstop to cover losses in the insurance sector due to future pandemic outbreaks, such as the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. The act has already been adopted by the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, which is calling for its passing in Washington, DC.

zach finn
Zach Finn

The policy combines the students’ 2017 case study work on mitigation and monetization of global cyber risk—essentially, steps to reduce the negative effects of threats and disasters on business continuity—with a framework similar to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. The students studied the possibility of a black swan—a rare, unpredictable event with severe consequences that would lead to a cyber shutdown in America. Their solution was the development of a hypothetical Cyber Risk Insurance Act, which would protect the United States against the financial impacts of a widespread cyber-attack. The idea and research were meant to urge a federal backstop for uninsured losses resulting from the shutdown of large portions of the economy. 

Now, the PRIA draws on that concept. It would create a federal backstop—or last-resort financial support—for future, and possibly even current, losses that companies would face from a pandemic event. Finn sent the act to Indiana and federal governments in mid-March, and it has already landed on desks in the White House and Congress.

“We will never have a March Madness again unless the government backstops it,” Finn says. “The PRIA would allow businesses to have a fair shot of getting coverage in the case of a pandemic. No insurance companies would take this on now, so that kind of protection would require an act like this. Without a backstop, what happens if we have to shut down every 10 years like this? What if we have to shut down every three years like this?”

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chair of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, explains her support of the PRIA, “By requiring higher capital and liquidity buffers, banks are well-positioned to continue lending and play an important countercyclical role. However, America’s consumers, small businesses, and vulnerable populations are suffering. It is time for a policy and fiscal response to address their needs.”

Finn says the act would protect venues from losing revenue due to the cancellation of large events like the NCAA basketball tournament. It would also lessen the ripple effect that major event losses can have on area businesses.

“If you’re running a major convention center or something like Lucas Oil Stadium,” Finn says, “it would be a completely common professional standard that they would offer pandemic insurance.”

The PRIA could also provide an alternative to federal government bailouts, Finn continues. Businesses do take advantage of business interruption insurance, but that only covers events like fire, lightning, or wind. Business loss due to pandemics are not in the mix, yet.

Real life application

2017 Risk Management team
Butler's 2017 Spencer-RIMS Risk Management Challenge team could save 2020.

Nick Fox ’17 was part of the four-student team representing Butler at the spring 2017 Spencer Education Foundation’s Risk Management Challenge case competition, which explored options for insuring PayPal. His teammates included Erin Bundy ’17, Jessica Parada ’17, and Matt Pauszek ’17.

While placing third in the competition, the students’ analysis of what PayPal could do in the event of a cyber blackout turned heads. The PayPal risk manager congratulated the Butler students and took their Cyber Risk Insurance Act into serious consideration.

“She said our solution could truly be implemented in real life,” Fox recalls. “Three years removed, it could still be a focal point in the industry. It adds even more validity to the work we did.”

The students’ proposition was meant to protect businesses from a dire circumstance like the internet crashing or a global pandemic. It’s debatable which event would be more catastrophic, but Finn says the students' ideas from three years ago could help the U.S. today.

Climbing the insurance ranks

Today, Fox and his former teammates are all advancing within their respective insurance companies. Fox finished his studies at Butler a semester early and was quickly hired as a cyber risk analyst for middle market corporations and businesses at Marsh & McLennan Companies, based out of Chicago, Illinois. He is currently transitioning to a consultant position, working with risk managers and chief financial officers of Fortune 500 companies.

“The past few months, I’ve been focusing on emerging risks, one of which is COVID-19,” Fox says. “I’ve been consulting with different clients on things like violent threat modeling and cyber stress tests.”

Pauszek is a Risk Management Analyst for the University of Notre Dame. He has leaned on his Butler experience, especially since COVID-19 grew to pandemic levels in March.

“Faced with situations of uncertainty and crisis, the lessons I learned have equipped me with both the technical industry knowledge and the overall confidence to identify and execute creative business solutions,” Pauszek says. “I believe the Davey Program has built a culture that emphasizes and encourages students to approach their careers with an innovative outlook and careful consideration for others that makes them extremely valuable in their surrounding communities.”

Fox considers his training at Butler key to his early career success, too. The enactment of PRIA would be another boost to his career.

“It’ll put Butler University itself in its rightful place on the map in terms of Risk Management and Insurance,” Fox says. “This is going to create an opportunity for us to put our ideas in the forefront of the country.”

The PRIA is also fast-ascending. The piece of potential policy could be a boost to the U.S. economy in years to come.

“It’s not really a question of if another pandemic is going to happen,” Fox says, “it’s more so when and how serious.”

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

illustration of businessmen being protected
Innovation

Butler’s Risk Management and Insurance Program Authors Pandemic Act to Bolster Economy

Clinical Professor Zach Finn and his former students’ work is being lobbied by the U.S. House Financial Services Committee

Apr 02 2020 Read more
Wendy Meaden with SWAG gowns
Innovation

Butler Theatre Gives Health Professionals SWAG

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Apr 22 2020

Butler Theatre faculty and staff are utilizing their skills and passion to keep healthcare professionals safe worldwide.

The Indianapolis-born Safer With A Gown (SWAG) project is helping remedy isolation gown shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic by urging home-crafters to download their medical isolation gown patterns. Butler Costume Shop Manager Megan Wiegand, Theatre Professor Wendy Meaden, and Deborah Jo Barrett, Production and Stage Manager for the Jordan College of Arts, joined the collective in mid-March. Meaden drafted the gown pattern, which is to be printed out and pieced together as a blueprint similar to purchased patterns from a fabric store. When finished, the isolation gowns would be donated to a community healthcare facility.

Wendy Meaden at home
Theatre Professor Wendy Meaden prepares to creat another SWAG gown at home.

The SWAG website states “that these gowns are critical to the safety of doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and home health care workers to keep them safe when they are in close contact with patients.

So far, SWAG has received more than 2,500 downloads. The organizers received word that some expert-level sewers have crafted several gowns. So much stitching adds up.

"I have made only a handful of gowns for SWAG," Meaden says, "but if each of the 2,000 people who downloaded the pattern made only one gown, or two, it would make a huge difference."

Wiegand digitized the work, making it downloadable as a PDF. 

Meaden says the gown’s design would take a novice sewer about an hour to prepare the pattern and two hours to sew together. More experienced crafters can get it done in half that time. Of course, the more gowns you make, the quicker the process becomes.

“I’ve noticed as I’ve been sharing this pattern around,” Meaden says, “so many people really want to help in any way they can. I think we all feel good about creating something that is very satisfying. That’s one of the reasons I got into design.”

Most SWAG stitchers have used bolts of fabric or lightly used or new bed sheets as gown material. Meaden recommends tightly-woven cotton or a cotton polyester blend for best protection.

“Cotton is the most comfortable for the wearer,” Meaden says. “The poly blend will make a little better of a barrier.”

Butler Theatre joined SWAG in mid March thanks to Barrett, who is friends with the Indianapolis family that came up with the idea. As soon as she heard of the need to draft a gown pattern for the project, Barrett immediately thought of Wiegand and Meaden.

“There wasn’t a moment of hesitation from Wendy and Megan,” Barrett says. “Our first line medical professions need all the help they can get and I just think it’s wonderful that there’s this opportunity that the public can help.”

Dr. Deanna Willis, an Indianapolis family physician and primary care doctor, is the aunt and mother of some of the young SWAG starters. She says most factory-made gowns are going to large hospitals nationwide. The shortages are being felt most in smaller healthcare facilities like urgent care clinics and homecare programs.

“Microdroplets can stay suspended in the air quite a while,” Willis says. “These gowns provide a really important source of protection for those folks.”

Meaden consulted with Willis in the gown’s design, and Willis says she was impressed with their approach. They asked questions about medical professionals’ activities during shifts.

“It’s designed to be simple, not a lot of ties for taking on and off,” says Willis, also a Professor of Family Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "They really understand that the garments must be functional. The choice of materials, how they are constructed, and how they are worn are all part of that."

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

Wendy Meaden with SWAG gowns
Innovation

Butler Theatre Gives Health Professionals SWAG

Members of the program lent their skills for Indianapolis’ Safer With A Gown project for healthcare workers during COVID-19

Apr 22 2020 Read more
istock
Student-Centered

What Does an Online Music Class Look Like?

BY Brian Weidner

PUBLISHED ON Apr 27 2020

Over the last two months, the coronavirus pandemic has forced universities around the world to shut down campuses and rethink how classes are held. As an Assistant Professor of Music Education here at Butler University, I and my fellow faculty have faced unique challenges in moving typically hands-on experiences to an online setting, but we are making the best of this and learning to adjust.

For instance, several of our courses involve a practicum component with local K-12 schools that have also switched to distance learning. But that doesn’t mean we are eliminating this important experience for our students. Instead, we have found other ways to engage with these schools, in some cases providing even richer opportunities. Our students have been teaching small-group lessons via Zoom, helping K-12 teachers design online modules, providing feedback on submitted videos, and recording instrument demonstrations.

My Brass Techniques course also posed a challenge. Back on campus, this group met in-person at 8:00 AM. But about half my students now live in other time zones. If we held the class synchronously over Zoom, they would have to be up and playing brass instruments before their families are even awake.

So, we adapted. I’m using many of the same tools our partner K-12 teachers have been using to provide flexibility for students. We’ve experimented with Flipgrid, Acapella, and various social media platforms, reflecting on how these tools enhance Butler students’ own learning as well as how they might use these resources for their own teaching in the future.

Perhaps the biggest challenge has been recognizing that music courses are simultaneously academic and social. Many of our students are hurting from the social disconnect of this experience, and the music education faculty—along with our student National Association for Music Education (NAfME) chapter—have been working to bridge that gap.

Every day, we now have an open Zoom call at lunch time. At least one faculty member is there to chat with any students who want to join. On Fridays, our NAfME chapter hosts activity lunches. These have included cooking classes led by my children, yoga with one of our flute professors, and trivia. We have also stayed connected through social media and started biweekly “living room concerts” where anyone can share a performance or listen to others perform.

No online platform can replace being in the classroom with one another, or the opportunity for spontaneous chats in the hallway. Still, we are doing all we can to maintain the experience of being a Butler music student—even while miles from campus.

 

To stay connected during the switch to online learning, music students from Butler University's Jordan College of the Arts have been holding biweekly “living room concerts” through Zoom—providing a chance for anyone to share a performance or listen to others perform. Here's a look back at some moments from their concert on April 9, 2020.

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403 

istock
Student-Centered

What Does an Online Music Class Look Like?

JCA’s Brian Weidner explains how he’s meeting the challenge of holding remote music education courses

Apr 27 2020 Read more
istock
Experiential Learning

Pharmacy Students to Fill Indy’s Prescription for Hand Sanitizer

BY Tim Brouk

PUBLISHED ON Apr 30 2020

A small group of Pharmacy graduate students will briefly step away from their long-term research projects to help fill a need for the Indianapolis community.

Utilizing their lab skills, Victor Anguiano, Mohammed Ramadan, and Zach Todd are mixing up gallons of hand sanitizer to donate to Circle City hospitals, as well as homeless shelters, nursing homes, and domestic abuse treatment centers. Funding for the project came from the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (COPHS). Pharmacy faculty members Sudip and Nandita Das are supervising the project, which will distribute the sanitizer in 200-milliliter bottles.

The recipe contains 75 percent alcohol, making it more effective than some products once found on store shelves.

“We’re working from specifications set up by the World Health Organization, and we’re meeting their standards to make it efficient,” says Anguiano, who also works in research and development in the pharmaceutical industry. “Everything’s been verified.”

Anguiano says the entire process should take two days: Day one will consist of mixing the sanitizer and leaving it to settle overnight. Day two will be for bottling and distribution.

The process of making hand sanitizer is easy, especially for Pharmacy researchers. Combining the alcohol with glycerol only takes 10 minutes in lab mixers. The glycerol gives the sanitizer a gel-like consistency and a hydrating element. The students kept the recipe simple, excluding scents or other frills that would slow down the process.

“Being pharmacy students, this is one of the main ways we are able to contribute,” Anguiano says. ”We have a responsibility to make an impact in this fight.”

Professor of Pharmaceutics Sudip Das says many Butler students, staff, and faculty members are helping the community—and beyond—during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is proud of the students who are taking time out of their research to lend a hand.

“The No. 1 thing is that you do whatever you can during this humanitarian crisis,” Das says. “We are trying to make sure people know that COPHS is in the fight against this pandemic, and we want everyone to be safe and healthy.”

 

Media Contact:
Katie Grieze
News Content Manager
kgrieze@butler.edu
260-307-3403

istock
Experiential Learning

Pharmacy Students to Fill Indy’s Prescription for Hand Sanitizer

A trio of graduate students will make 50 liters of sanitizer for donation to community programs and facilities

Apr 30 2020 Read more