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Butler Magazine

Spring 2017

Butler's Healthcare and Business Major

Amy Peak ’97

from Spring 2017

Here we grow again! Innovative programs continue to be developed and implemented all over campus.  The novel undergraduate Healthcare and Business (HCB) major, a unique partnership between the Lacy School of Business and the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, is a perfect example. This program, which began in August 2016, consists of a nucleus of liberal arts, science, healthcare, and business experiences surrounded by a plethora of elective options. This adaptable new bachelor’s degree program will prepare students for direct entry into the workforce in areas which include, but are not limited to, healthcare marketing, health insurance and risk management, healthcare finance, healthcare information technology, healthcare data analytics, healthcare policy, and much more. HCB is also excellent preparation for graduate programs such as Master of Health Administration, Master of Public Health, Master of Business Administration, and multiple clinical graduate programs.

Two fundamental themes within the HCB program are collaboration and flexibility. Throughout the four- year curriculum, HCB majors have more than a dozen courses in common with health science majors. In these courses, future healthcare providers, administrators, insurers, and business leaders all work and learn together. By purposefully combining these cohorts of students throughout their undergraduate experience, we believe tomorrow’s generation of healthcare leaders will be better equipped to solve complex problems in a modern healthcare environment.    

Flexibility is also essential. Over half of today’s college-students change their major at least once, and over 20 percent change majors three times or more. The HCB program is designed to provide students with the flexibility to explore and pursue different career options without necessitating a major change.  Over 50 elective course options are available, allowing students to customize their educational experience to optimally prepare for their individual career goals.   

As this new program grows, we are actively seeking support from our alumni, friends, and community members. If you are an individual whose career is in the business of healthcare, and you are willing to allow a HCB student to shadow you for a half day or more, please provide your contact information here.  (add link-need a tiny url here if you can or ask Nancy)  If your organization currently offers, or is interested in developing internships for which HCB students may apply, please contact Amy Peak at apeak@butler.edu.

Butler's Healthcare and Business Major

Here we grow again!

by Amy Peak ’97

from Spring 2017

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No Literary Grandma Moses

Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

In May 2018, I will have completed all the requirements for an MFA in Creative Writing from Butler University and be preparing to graduate. And like so many students, I’ve been asked countless times: What are you going to do with that degree?

My usual answer is that I’m going to have an interesting last quarter of my life. I’ll be 59 by the time 2018 commencement rolls around, so I’m not looking for a career. I have no expectations of becoming a literary Grandma Moses.

I went through the MFA program (30 classroom credits, plus thesis) because I wanted—and got—a great education. I enjoy writing stories about reprobates and other morally ambiguous people—a woman who fled her marriage after 9/11; a meth addict who thinks he’s on a reality show; a recent graduate who takes a job writing scam emails. So that’s what I did.

Over two years as an MFA student, I wrote a play, a movie script, at least a half-dozen short stories (three of which have been published), and a handful of prose poems and flash fiction stories. I learned alternative forms of storytelling and how to write a non-fiction book proposal, read brilliant authors I never would have known about otherwise, and gained insights about writing and storytelling from exceptional faculty and visiting writers.

When I was a kid, I wrote a lot of fiction. Then I stopped. I don’t remember why. The MFA program motivated me to write again, and it enabled me to have my work critiqued by highly accomplished professors and classmates who make up for in talent and insight what they lack in age.

If you’ve ever thought about going back to school—whatever your age—I highly recommend the experience. And if you’re ever in a bookstore or browsing Amazon.com and see a novel about a racist obstetrician who microchips babies so he can track their movements as adults, I hope you’ll buy it.

No Literary Grandma Moses

"If you’ve ever thought about going back to school—whatever your age—I highly recommend the experience."

by Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

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From the President

James Danko

from Spring 2017

When North Western Christian University—later to be renamed Butler University—opened its doors in 1855 with only two professors, natural science was a foundational part of the curriculum. As courses of study evolved in later years, the science track was in high demand among students. And in the mid-1940s, as Eli Lilly and Company was achieving success with the production and distribution of penicillin, Butler took over the Indianapolis College of Pharmacy, becoming one of only two colleges in Indiana to confer pharmacy degrees.

Now, as then, Butler University is dedicated to providing world-class academic programs in pharmacy and in life, physical, and health sciences. Demand among students and employers for these programs, as well as for Butler’s engineering and technology programs, is high, and many—including the Science, Technology, and Environmental Studies program featured in this magazine— prepare students for medical school and other graduate programs. Butler is dedicated to all these programs not only because they are central to its academic mission, but because the University has an important role in supporting economic development in the Hoosier state.

Over the past decade, Butler’s undergraduate enrollment in the sciences within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has increased by over 56 percent. As applications to the University reached an all-time high last year, 10 percent of those applications were for Biology. Applications to the Computer Science and Software Engineering major have jumped 67 percent over the past two years alone. Because science and technology are integral to economic and social progress locally and worldwide, they are central to Butler’s educational mission. As Butler prepares a diverse, socially responsible generation of students to excel in these fields, I hope you will join me in celebrating the success stories highlighted in this edition of Butler Magazine.

Campus

From the President

Butler University is dedicated to providing world-class academic programs in pharmacy and in life, physical, and health sciences.

by James Danko

from Spring 2017

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Faculty Focus: Tara Lineweaver

Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

When she entered Butler University as a first-year voice major, Professor of Psychology Tara Lineweaver ’91 never would have imagined that she would graduate four years later with a Psychology degree as well. Nor would her first-year self believe she would head to graduate school in Georgia, finish an internship in Chicago, complete a doctoral program in California, and work at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, only to end up right back where she started—at Butler. 

“It’s funny because when I was a student at Butler, I always said I wanted to work at a place like Butler when I grew up, but I never really imagined I’d work at Butler,” Lineweaver said. “I worked in Admission as a student, so I thought if I did come back I was going to be an admission counselor. I had no idea I would return as a professor.” 

Since arriving back at Butler, Lineweaver has participated in numerous research projects with her students, and she also, along with a group of faculty, has played an integral role in helping create and teach Butler’s new Neuroscience minor. 

“Provost Kate Morris, who was the chair of the Psychology Department at the time, initiated the effort. We were excited to get the Neuroscience minor approved,” Lineweaver said. 

The new minor is interdisciplinary with coursework in Psychology, Biology, and Philosophy. Since its creation in 2013, 26 students have graduated with a Neuroscience minor and 62 students are currently pursuing it. 

“One thing that’s really cool about the minor is that it encourages students to think about the mind and brain from both a scientific and liberal arts perspective,” Lineweaver said. 

In addition to the coursework, students involved in the Neuroscience minor complete internships and research as well. 

For instance, last year one of Lineweaver’s students, Colleen Frank ’16, completed a project that looked at the recognition of emotion through both facial expressions and tone of voice in patients with Parkinson’s disease. She found that people with Parkinson’s disease are not as good at recognizing emotion as their healthy age-matched peers. 

Lineweaver’s passion for neuroscience and collaboration with students has allowed her to build up her own research portfolio and to keep pursuing the many areas of interest she developed prior to teaching at Butler, including Parkinson’s, Epilepsy, Dementia, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder research. Many times her students have guided which direction her research takes. 

“I’ve always been a dabbler. I tried many different types of research through my graduate training, and when I got to Butler I continued in all of those areas,” Lineweaver said. “That is one thing I really like about being at Butler, that I can do a lot of different things and not just focus on one question.” 

Lineweaver continued by saying, “Not too many people get the opportunity to go back and work at their alma mater. I am really fortunate that I had that opportunity. I love working at Butler.” 

 

Tara is also currently interested in researching healthy aging. If you are age 60 or over, live in or near Indianapolis, and want to participate in future studies, please email her at tlinewea@butler.edu

Faculty Focus: Tara Lineweaver

“It’s funny because when I was a student at Butler, I always said I wanted to work at a place like Butler when I grew up, but I never really imagined I’d work at Butler.”

by Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

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Athlete Profile: Haley Hallenbeck ’18

Jimmy Lafakis ’19

from Spring 2017

Haley Hallenbeck ’18 fell in love with lacrosse in seventh grade. Once she stepped foot on the turf, she never looked back. The Indianapolis native attended Park Tudor School and earned US Lacrosse All-American honors twice. Hallenbeck said her love for the sport has made a huge difference in her life. 

Haley Hallenbeck ’18“The lacrosse field is like home to me,” she said. “I fell in love with it because of the high-speed tempo of the game and high-pressure game situations.” 

Lacrosse took Hallenbeck across the United States. She spent her first two years of college at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Hallenbeck said she is happy to have lacrosse as a steady part of her life. 

“With a lot always changing around me, lacrosse has been the one constant thing in my life,” she said. “I appreciate all of the opportunities it has given me, as it will always have a special place in my heart.” 

Hallenbeck, a midfielder, said she recognizes the challenges thrown at her on a day-to-day basis. “As a midfielder, you have to be in great shape,” she said. “That is one of my favorite aspects of the sport. You run for miles and miles every match.” 

Butler is 10 minutes away from her home. She said she appreciates eating a home-cooked meal and spending time with her new family of teammates. 

“All of the run tests, sprint workouts, and lifts with my teammates are some of my favorite memories,” she said. “But they are always opportunities to see how hard I can push myself.” 

Athlete Profile: Haley Hallenbeck ’18

Butler is 10 minutes away from her home. She said she appreciates eating a home-cooked meal and spending time with her new family of teammates. 

by Jimmy Lafakis ’19

from Spring 2017

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Writing for Wellness

Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

Leona, a lady beyond a certain age, likes to break out in song. Doesn’t matter where she is or who’s in the room or that it’s well after Christmas and she’s still singing “Silent Night.” She’s going to sing.

At this moment, she’s sitting in a conference room at American Village retirement community, explaining herself between song bursts to Stephanie Anderson, a student in Butler’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. Every Tuesday, Anderson and three other MFA students visit Leona and others at American Village to hear their stories and get them down on paper.

Leona talks, and Anderson captures her words.

“Leona feels happiest when she is among her 10 children,” she writes. “She loves to sing a lot too, and this is a gift she shares with her children, especially since it's a God-given talent. She loves singing in a choir and sharing the community, because God knows when she is happy and sad, and he projects his goodness through her. Leona knows we have to choose happiness. Words cannot describe the joy she feels being with her family, the one at home, and the one at church.

“Sometimes she is so glad to be alive that she bursts into song, being so glad for her life and her gift. She used to teach singing and sometimes she would sing those songs to her children when they felt lonely or sad, particularly ‘Amazing Grace.’ Leona believes firmly in love and laughter and compassion, and believes harder in the power of beautiful love. She doesn't want to be evil and frowning. She wants to kill sadness with joy. She sings when she is sad and when she is happy, because the voice is the soul coming to the light."

Sometime later, Anderson reflects on what happens in these sessions.

“We’re making a difference in these people’s lives,” she says. “We’re getting to know each other. We’re making friends. We’re showing ourselves and each other that it’s a big world we live in, but in this circle there’s joy, there’s happiness, there’s laughter. This is marvelous.”

This is Writing for Wellness, a program that MFA students began two years ago to use writing for therapy, for recollection, for relief, for fun. The first classes took place at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis, where the MFA students worked with hospital staff who needed an opportunity to relax and unload.

Since then, Writing for Wellness has expanded—to Riley Hospital for Children, Indiana Women’s Prison, Hope Academy (a high school for students recovering from addiction), and Indiana Youth Group (an  organization for LGBT youth). The program is soon to add sessions for breast-cancer survivors.

The idea to bring Writing for Wellness to Butler started with Hilene Flanzbaum, the Director of the MFA program. Flanzbaum has taught creative writing on the undergraduate and graduate levels, and her husband, Geoffrey Sharpless, runs the summer creative writing camp at Butler and teaches creative writing at Park Tudor School. They often talk about the psychological benefits of that work, how the participants seem happier when they’re getting a chance to express themselves.

Flanzbaum thought that idea could be incorporated in the MFA program. And since one of the program’s missions is to provide service, Writing for Wellness seemed like a natural fit.

“It’s a discipline that’s fairly well established in other places but had no footprints at all in Indiana or Indianapolis,” Flanzbaum says. “So I saw a real opportunity for our students.”

Around the same time, Flanzbaum was recruiting a new MFA student, Bailey Merlin, who had taught in a Writing for Wellness program as an undergraduate at Berry College in Rome, Georgia.

“When we talked on the phone,” Merlin says, “I told her what I did: I bring everyone in, I have people write, they come to conclusions on their own, and it’s pretty fascinating. She’s like, ‘That’s exactly what we want.’”

That led Merlin to choose Butler for her MFA, and she led the MFA program’s first Writing for Wellness group that went to Eskenazi. There, she says, they saw staff members “writing about things they’d never expressed before and crying.” At Riley Hospital, she worked in a behavioral unit with kids suffering from eating disorders and depression.

“To see the spark of life go back into them is just amazing,” she says.

The spark works both ways.

“You would be amazed how much doing this changes you as a person,” Merlin says. “Just to see how you directly affect someone else. You don’t get that opportunity a lot.”

The MFA students who facilitate the program all seem to have that reaction. Tristan Durst has spent her Tuesday afternoons writing with a retiree named Robert, who was part of a 1950s Indianapolis-based doo-wop group called The Counts. The first week, she says, he told the same stories several times.

“Now, he’s remembering more, and more of his personality is coming out,” she says. “And this week, he was cracking jokes left, right and center. He was telling me about his brothers playing baseball and he said, ‘I won’t say that I was the best baseball player. I could, but I won’t.’ He started slipping in jokes, and I’m getting a real sense that he enjoys being there.”

Taylor Lewandowski, the MFA student who’s leading the group at the senior center, says he and the other Butler students are needed there. He tells the story of a woman he’s worked with named Martha.

“Her roommate passed away, and she saw her last breath,” Lewandowski says. “That obviously affected her. She came in three days after that and I worked with her. Afterward, she said, ‘That was really good for me. It was good for me to get out and talk to someone.’ Writing for Wellness creates this community that’s really nice. It’s really a service. We’re there to be there for them and once you realize that, it’s really nice. We’re actually doing something good.”

Writing for Wellness

Leona, a lady beyond a certain age, likes to break out in song.

by Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

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Butler Summer Institute–Celebrating 25 Years

Sharon Alseth ’91

from Spring 2017

No classes, no employment, no interruptions—only research. That’s just the way they want it, the 30 students who are chosen to immerse themselves in the Butler Summer Institute (BSI), celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

These are dedicated, self-directed Butler student researchers with a methodological background and a passion to pursue a significant question, every day for nine weeks. Students who apply need a recommendation from a faculty member, and an explanation of their project. BSI participants each get a $2,500 stipend and live and work on campus. Each student has his or her own faculty mentor and close bonds are formed, with the added support and encouragement of fellow student researchers.

“No topic is off limits,” said Dr. Dacia Charlesworth, Director of Undergraduate Research and Prestigious Scholarships at Butler. “It could be that a student found something interesting in the humanities, and they’re excited to take it to another level. One student analyzed Tweets about the violence in Ferguson, Missouri, and then the Orlando nightclub shootings happened and her project shifted focus. We had a history major who wants to be a dentist, study the effects of mercury tooth fillings. She uncovered an actual melodrama musical of mercury’s side effects.” Said Charlesworth, “These are great students who want to learn, and that makes our job easy.”

The BSI students have to show how they are advancing research in their field, and make a definite contribution to their discipline. There are “research recaps” at the end of each week, aided by presentation training so students can more confidently explain their work in basic terms to their audiences. In the end, students are required to produce work worthy of acceptance in a professional conference or publication, and they present their project at Butler’s Undergraduate Research Conference the following April. 

Butler Summer Institute–Celebrating 25 Years

No classes, no employment, no interruptions—only research.

by Sharon Alseth ’91

from Spring 2017

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The Reflective Practitioner

Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

When Robert Soltis ’87 returned to Butler in 2016 to serve as Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, he came in with a goal to deliver on the College’s mission of developing graduates who serve society as dedicated, competent health professionals and community leaders.

At the 2016 White Coat Ceremony, Soltis said the Pharmacy and Physician Assistant programs are committed to integrating the liberal arts with professional preparation. He described this in terms of creating graduates who are “reflective practitioners”—competent PAs and pharmacists who “think deeply about their professional responsibilities and their patients.” 

“They are, in the end, dedicated and caring individuals who work for the good of others,” he said.

To illustrate the point, Soltis told the story of an Indianapolis woman named Eileen, a diabetic. Eileen’s husband lost his job and subsequently their health insurance. With limited money for insulin, test supplies, and her other medications, Eileen stopped taking most of her drugs and cut her insulin doses in half to stretch her budget. She also cut back on food, thinking she could control her disease by eating less.

Eileen became malnourished, anemic, and experienced diabetic ketoacidosis. At that point, she had to be rushed to the ER and spent several days in the hospital. “I truly did not think I was putting my life in danger,” she said at the time.

In this case, Soltis said, a reflective practitioner would have considered several questions, including: How did Eileen’s situation come to be? Was there no one to help her understand her disease? Why did she not realize the consequences of her actions? 

Most importantly, a reflective practitioner would reflect inward and ask: Could there be an Eileen among my patients? And, do I treat my patients in a way that they know they are deserving of, and are entitled to, the best care possible?

Eileen became malnourished, anemic, and experienced diabetic ketoacidosis. At that point, she had to be rushed to the ER and spent several days in the hospital. “I truly did not think I was putting my life in danger,” she said at the time.

In this case, Soltis said, a reflective practitioner would have considered several questions, including: How did Eileen’s situation come to be? Was there no one to help her understand her disease? Why did she not realize the consequences of her actions? 

Most importantly, a reflective practitioner would reflect inward and ask: Could there be an Eileen among my patients? And, do I treat my patients in a way that they know they are deserving of, and are entitled to, the best care possible?

To be a reflective practitioner requires knowing the right questions to ask and being committed to your patients’ well-being, Soltis said.

“I ask that from now on, every time our students put their white coat on, that they think about how they are preparing for a life of professional service,” he said. “And they should know that it involves not just caring for patients but caring about them as people.”

The Reflective Practitioner

by Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

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Faculty Focus: Hala Fadda

Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

Although Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Hala Fadda did not start working at Butler University until 2011, she entered the University with a passion for learning, research, and collaboration. All qualities that embody what it means to be a Butler Bulldog. 

“I knew Butler was a great school with an excellent pharmacy program,” Fadda said. “I came here for the interview and was impressed with the dedication and passion of the students. I thought to myself, ‘I would like to be a part of this—part of educating the next generation of pharmacy students at Butler.” 

Upon starting at Butler, Fadda immediately reached out to gastroenterologist Dr. Monika Fischer at the IU School of Medicine to begin a variety of research projects to understand drug absorption in health and disease. 

The ongoing research focuses on drug absorption, transit times, and motility patterns of our gastrointestinal tract in different patient populations, utilizing tools such as a Capsule endoscopy (camera capsule). Capsule endoscopy is a powerful tool for imaging the gut which is used in the investigation of gastrointestinal disorders. 

“We came up with the idea to look at how this camera capsule transits through the gut—to see the path and examine how fast, or how slow it goes through. We are particularly interested in the small intestine as this is the part of our gut where most drug absorption takes place,” Fadda said. 

From these studies, Fadda and her collaborators were able to determine that transit times of tablets are highly variable between patients. 

“Transit times can range from 50 to 460 minutes. That is a huge variability,” Fadda said. “It was previously thought that small intestinal transit is uniform across patients. We also showed that patients with ulcerative colitis and active Crohn’s disease have longer small intestinal transit times compared to non-inflammatory bowel disease patients. This helps us understand the differences in drug absorption between different patient populations.” 

Fadda and her team of PharmD and graduate research students at Butler have utilized this new knowledge to set up a bench-top model in one of the labs at Butler to simulate the stomach and small intestine. 

“In this model we are mimicking pH transitions and fluid flow in our gut to understand how medicines behave in our body. All this research will help improve the testing and design of new medicines with improved therapeutic efficacy and reduced side effects,” Fadda said. “Ultimately, the goal is to develop better medicines for our patients.” 

Working with a multi-disciplinary research team comprised of both researchers and students, is enriching and allows one to gain new perspectives and ideas and share the latest research findings in the classroom. 

“I’m able to tell my students that there is no such thing as the average individual, and there is no such thing as the average patient. It is important for students to appreciate the variability between different patient populations. Eventually, they are going to apply this knowledge to enhance patient’s lives and make a difference.”

Faculty Focus: Hala Fadda

“I thought to myself, ‘I would like to be a part of this—part of educating the next generation of pharmacy students at Butler.’” 

by Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

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The Linklater Voice

Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

Theatre is an art where the human being is the medium the art is created with, and the art form is about bringing a human being to life. In order to achieve a great play, actors must learn and train in the actor’s quartet: voice, body, mind, and heart.

At Butler University, theatre students train in all these areas, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the University had a well-structured and effective voice class.

“I knew we weren’t offering training that was good enough in this department, and I wanted something better,” Jordan College of the Arts Theatre Chair Diane Timmerman said. “We just had one random, inconsequential Voice for the Actor class, and now we have three that are very structured, specific, and effective.”

Timmerman spent four years obtaining a Linklater Voice certification to help create and teach Butler’s new Voice for the Actor classes. The Linklater Voice methodology uses a combination of imagery, art, and science to teach students to liberate their natural voices; the hallmark of the Linklater work being maximum effect with minimal effort.

“I like to look at the work with two main purposes,” Timmerman said. “One is called vocal hygiene—developing the breathing and speaking mechanism and restoring it to the way it was originally meant to be utilized. The other side of the work, which is of utmost importance to actors, is expressivity.”

Throughout the semester, Timmerman’s students complete a variety of physiological exercises and study the anatomy of the human body to gain a better understanding and awareness of how their bodies and their breath affect one another. Timmerman even utilizes a parachute, like the ones used in elementary and middle school gym classes, to help students better visualize how the diaphragm actually works.

“Ninety percent of people’s voice issues have to do with breathing issues. So we begin with skeletal awareness, breath awareness, and exactly how the breathing process works,” Timmerman said.

Timmerman explained the outcome of these exercises and the studying of anatomy is that students develop a picture of the skeleton which means they can better release extraneous tensions that impede the breathing and speaking process.

“Breath is the foundation for everything with your voice,” Timmerman said. “Your voice can be much more when you want it to be. Certainly an actor on stage wants the voice to be more effective. They’re playing a role and they want the feelings, the thoughts, and the essence of that character manifested in their sounds.”

Timmerman further explained that the Linklater methodology is holistic work that takes time to learn and master, but that it works, which is why Timmerman pushed to earn her certification to teach it.

“Once a student goes through even one semester of Voice for the Actor class, they have developed so much awareness of their breathing and speaking mechanisms that they do far superior work on stage,” Timmerman said.

Timmerman is one of fewer than a 140 individuals worldwide certified in Linklater Voice. This means Butler students, who learned the Linklater methodology through Timmerman’s class, are a rare group of students who hold a better understanding of how their voice works and how they can use it in various situations to excel both personally and professionally.

The Linklater Voice

Theatre is an art where the human being is the medium the art is created with, and the art form is about bringing a human being to life.

by Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

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Suits or Sails?

Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Spring 2017

Wet or dry shoes? Shorts or a sport coat? Sunshine or fluorescent lights? Mosquitos or … well, fewer mosquitos? 

You may not think of these things when considering an internship, yet they do become part of your reality. Just ask Butler interns Tyler Hudgens and Keiffer Williams. 

Tyler Hudgens ’17 

Manufacturing and Quality Science Intern, Eli Lilly and Company Tyler Hudgens

Tyler Hudgens chose dry shoes and fluorescent lights when he took an internship with Eli Lilly and Company, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Indianapolis. He’s happy with his decision—so happy, in fact, that when the company offered him a job upon graduation, he accepted with alacrity. 

Hudgens is in this spot because he availed himself of a Butler opportunity and attended a Woods lecture. He walked in as a pre-med student who was questioning his career choice. He walked out realizing bioengineering was what he’d been looking for. 

“I’d volunteered in hospitals and found it wasn’t for me. I was more interested in the science behind healthcare,” Hudgens said. “So when I heard a heart tissue bioengineer speak and learned what they did, I switched.” 

His internship at Lilly has confirmed his decision.

“I’ve gained strong problem-solving and strategic-thinking skills,” Hudgens said. “I was able to incorporate engineering and scientific concepts to solve real-world issues in pharmaceuticals while I was gaining knowledge about manufacturing processes within the medical industry.” 

Keiffer Williams ’16 Keiffer Williams

(Former) Intern, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Oceans Research and Butler Summer Institute 

Applying to grad schools 

Keiffer Williams, on the other hand, opted for shorts and wet shoes. As an intern in the fish biology lab of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and at Oceans Research in South Africa, Williams indulged his passion for ocean ecology and conservation. 

“I’ve enjoyed the ocean since an early age, especially sharks, and I nurtured that interest all through high school,” Williams said. “I was searching for ways to have a more limited experience to decide if marine science was something I wanted to do when I found Oceans Research.” 

He dove with dolphins and sharks (focusing on Great Whites) in the six-week program, coming to understand the significant effect humans can have on a species—even in the name of conservation. 

In Panama at STRI, working under the direction of visiting scientist Dr. Michele Pierotti, he explored the evolution of visual ecology among marine fish sister species native to the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Smithsonian experience instilled in him a keen understanding of the opportunities that come with a higher-level degree. 

Williams also participated in the Butler Summer Institute on plant hormones research. Now, he’ll spend the next two years applying to graduate school. 

The former Boy Scout is also keen to be a better conservation advocate. 

“In today’s world, there’s a large disconnect between scientists in the trenches of data and the lay person. It’s essential for people to be able to understand what we’re doing and what it means to the environment,” he said. 

Suits or Sails?

Wet or dry shoes? Shorts or a sport coat? Sunshine or fluorescent lights? Mosquitos or … well, fewer mosquitos? 

by Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Spring 2017

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The Science of Movement

Kailey Eaton ’17

from Spring 2017

How do dancers move the way they do? There’s actually a science behind every spin!

Emily Elwell ’17 is a Dance Performance major who has learned this science of movement through the Jordan College of the Arts.  

It’s called Laban Movement Analysis, or LMA, and it is a system created for observing, describing, and executing movement.  It is used not only by dancers, but also actors, musicians, athletes and health and wellness professionals.

LMA was created by Rudolf Laban, a movement analyst, choreographer, and dancer, as a way to classify and interpret human movement.

Elwell said she had minimal exposure to LMA before coming to Butler.

“My second semester of sophomore year at Butler was when I took Laban Movement Analysis and began to understand its principles and how they can be applied across the board in my dance classes,” she said. 

All dance majors in the Jordan College of the Arts are required to take a course in Laban Movement Analysis. This one-semester course gives the dancers exposure to the fundamental principles of LMA.

Elwell says that as a dancer, LMA has challenged her to explore different efforts in movement and has pushed her to find a voice within her own movement. She also says that it is a useful tool for professors to help the dancers understand the reasoning behind movement and execute the efforts properly. 

“There are instances when Professor Pratt will use LMA concepts in her Jazz class if we are struggling to use the right effort to perform a particular movement,” Elwell said.

Cynthia Pratt is a dance professor in the JCA who teaches a class on LMA. She says she uses the system as a tool for performance and choreography.

“Rather than having a vocabulary that is based on steps and gestures, LMA uses spatial pulls, dynamics and body organizations to express the various ways a human body can move,” Pratt said. 

She also uses terminology and concepts learned in LMA to help the dancers understand what she is looking for in particular choreography.

Pratt says one of the primary concepts in LMA is that human movement takes place within a “Kinesphere”—the space around your body that you move in—and by imagining the Kinesphere in different three-dimensional geometric forms, one can accurately describe or execute a movement.

LMA divides this space around the body into 27 different points where one might move, which contributes to a dancer’s heightened awareness of his or her body.

The dynamics of the movement are described by weight, space, time, and flow. This works for all kinds of movement, not just dance.  For example, if you are swinging a baseball bat, you might be using Strong Weight, Free Flow and Direct Space.

Elwell believes that understanding the science behind her movement has made her a better dancer.

“The concepts and principals I learned in the class have been exceedingly valuable to me as a dancer, and have broadened my understanding of dance.”

The Science of Movement

How do dancers move the way they do? There’s actually a science behind every spin!

by Kailey Eaton ’17

from Spring 2017

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It's In Her Nature

Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

Marissa Byers ’18, the first Butler student to officially major in Environmental Studies, figures she now has the best of all worlds when it comes to career options. The junior from Springfield, Illinois, could use what she’s learning to work in public health. Or maybe on public policy issues. Or perhaps working for a non-profit or doing something in urban ecology. 

As someone with a broad range of interests who has considered majors in business, communication, and education, Environmental Studies plays to her strengths. 

“My passion has always been the environment, and in Environmental Studies I get to combine a lot of my skills,” she said. “If I go into non-profit work, I’m going to be using those communication skills and those business skills in outreach with communities. So I’ll be using my strengths for a purpose I’m passionate about. Environmental Studies is a nice combination of that.” 

Environmental Studies is a new major under the Science, Technology, and Environmental Studies (STES) umbrella. Biology Professor Carmen Salsbury, who directs the STES program, said student interest in a broad range of disciplines is driving the new major, which allows for a career in the science arena without doing the classic biology-chemistry-physics track. 

“What’s great about STES is that these majors reflect how the world is,” Salsbury said. “These majors are very interdisciplinary and that’s how the world is as well. You have to know an awful lot about a lot of things. If we’re trying to train students who are going to contribute to society, we have to teach them to think broadly and critically and see how things interconnect.” 

Environmental Studies majors focus on the relationship between environment and society and those environmental issues that deserve attention, like: How do we institute environmental change or awareness? Students take some prescribed science courses to establish a basic understanding of chemistry, ecology, and evolutionary biology, as well as other courses that focus on the environment. They also delve into the sociological aspects, such as humanity’s relationship with the environment and what that means for the future. 

All Environmental Studies majors must complete a practicum experience—either taking the Environmental/Sustainability Practicum course or by completing an independent practicum/ internship experience in which they work with a community partner on an issue relevant to that partner. Byers, for example, is fulfilling her requirement by interning with the CUE Farm on campus. Some students might work with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, or even at the statehouse dealing with lobbying organizations on an issue like concentrated animal feeding operations or another factory farming-related cause. 

“We really want the students to get out into the community and engage the community in those issues that are environment-related,” Salsbury said. “I think students are recognizing that science and society is critically important to implement policy and change behaviors with regard to the environment, medical practices, and immunizing children, to name just a few areas. All of those things have major sociological, ethical, cultural, political, and economic components to them.” 

Byers said she figures she may end up in a job that doesn’t exist yet. That might mean something in the area of working with kids, since there’s a trend in schools to incorporate nature into the curriculum. That has a lot of benefits for child development education, she said, and also prepares the next generation to be more environmentally conscious. 

“I want to work in urban environments to change people’s perceptions of nature as something that’s out there that we’re not connected to,” Byers said. “I want to bring it into urban environments to help people understand what their daily actions do to the overall environment.”

It's In Her Nature

by Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

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One Butler: The Brain Project

Catherine Pangan MS ’99

from Spring 2017

What do you get when you combine leaders in the neuroscience field from around Indianapolis, an engaged community, and a spirit of integrated learning? You guessed it—One Butler: The Brain Project. 

One Butler: The Brain Project is a yearlong, campus-wide initiative focusing on brain health, with the goal of developing appreciation of how neuroscience is woven into the tapestry of our lives. 

The Brain Project transcends academic disciplines and is led by a dynamic steering committee that includes representatives from the community, each of Butler’s six colleges, students, trustees, the library, performing arts venues, Student Affairs, the Health and Recreation Complex, and several faculty members who are already using neuroscientific research in their curriculum. (Read more on Butler faculty neuroscience study in this issue’s faculty profile of Professor Tara Lineweaver.) 

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor kicked off the initiative in September 2016 to a packed house in Clowes Memorial Hall. The Brain Project includes a yearlong speaker series, integrated coursework opportunities for students, faculty art exhibits, and connections in our Themed Living Communities in the residence halls. 

A central highlight of One Butler: The Brain Project is the installation of the “Big Brains!” This exhibit of 10 enormous fiberglass brain sculptures (5’x6’), commissioned by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, depicts neuroscience themes (mental health, concussion, food, etc.) and will be displayed on campus this April. 

Efforts have been coordinated with community partners, including the Eskenazi Center for Brain Care, Community Health Network, and others. 

Some of the topics explored this year include: 

  • Mental health’s cutting-edge research in schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s 
  • Creativity: music, art, and innovation 
  • Addictions, Brain Food, and Sleep 
  • Sports Wellness: prevention of traumas and concussions 
  • How we learn: education and neuroscience with an Educational Neuroscience Conference offering April 29

The Butler Brain Project seeks to distinguish Butler as an environment where academics, student life, interpersonal relationships, and physical and mental health are informed by knowledge of the human brain and how it works. It also aims to create a model for comprehensive, collaborative, and transdisciplinary exploration of a relevant topic that can be replicated and scaled to other campus environments.

Serving as a convener for neuroscience educators and clinicians from Central Indiana, we expect 40,000–50,000 students, faculty, staff, and community members will experience the One Butler: The Brain Project. We hope you can join us for this brain-boosting experience! Please visit www.butler.edu/brainproject for the most up-to-date information. You can also find us on Facebook under One Butler: Brain Project.

One Butler: The Brain Project

by Catherine Pangan MS ’99

from Spring 2017

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From Intern to Mentor

Megan Yates ’16

from Spring 2017

Before going off to college, I had always heard that internships and opportunities that one was presented with while in school would help them land their future career. Little did I know how true this would be for me when beginning my journey at Butler University.

Before my first-year began, I decided to declare my major in Organizational Communication and Leadership in the College of Communication. After much research, I determined that this seemed like the best fit for the combination of my primary interests; planning events and nonprofit organizations. Along the way, I picked up a double major in Critical Communication and Media Studies. The two majors coincided well and provided me with a solid foundation in my professional development as well as communication skills.

My sophomore year of college was when I realized how applicable my major was going to be in the real world. I landed my first internship with Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). My primary task was to help with the silent auction at JDRF Indiana’s Promise Gala. Working on the silent auction, I helped secure over 300 auction items that we then bundled together to sell in larger packages the night of the event. By the end of Gala, the silent auction had brought in over $70,000. 

When my internship with JDRF concluded, I knew that I wanted my next opportunity to be with another nonprofit organization doing similar work. October of my junior year, I received my second internship with Riley Children’s Foundation. In this internship, my energy was focused on helping with a variety of third party events as well as miscellaneous office duties. Each day presented a new set of tasks ranging from drafting letters to families treated at Riley Hospital for Children all the way to organizing and attending fundraisers which benefitted the hospital.

Before my senior year began, I heard that JDRF was looking for summer help. I applied for and accepted the open internship and was excited to be back at JDRF. This internship was centered around helping plan the Indianapolis One Walk that would take place in October. Not far into the summer, JDRF was looking to hire a full-time Development Coordinator that required 35+ hours of work each week and provided the opportunity to have a large play in the logistics and fundraising aspects of the fundraisers that JDRF would hold throughout the state of Indiana. I knew this was a career that I’d be interested in post-graduation and decided to apply for the opening; despite having one year left of college. Just a few days before my senior year started, I was offered the position.

With the guidance and support of Professor Scott Bridge, Internship Director for the Butler University College of Communication, I was able to manage a full-time schedule with JDRF and remain in a full course load at Butler. Through the internships and internship program that I had been a part of my first three years of schooling, I was able to gain a skillset which an employer saw value in prior to me receiving my diploma. While the real world might’ve started a year earlier than I had anticipated, it was a great opportunity that I had because of the successful internship program at Butler University. Today, I am still working with a focus in special events and fundraising at JDRF and love every day. My passion for planning events and helping others has continued to blossom into a career field that I hope to be in for years to come.

From Intern to Mentor

My sophomore year of college was when I realized how applicable my major was going to be in the real world.

by Megan Yates ’16

from Spring 2017

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Athlete Profile: Mason Dragos ’19

Jimmy Lafakis ’19

from Spring 2017

Mason Dragos ’19 loves to compete. He came to Butler as a state champion, and his work ethic drives him to succeed. The sophomore tennis player looks to make another big impact after his strong first-year campaign. Dragos said he is fond of working hard and grinding his matches out. 

“I will always remember what beating a good team felt like,” he said. “Having a close team match and coming out on top is really quite surreal.” 

He said he enjoyed growing as a person and student through the ups and downs of his first year. “Our school is special because of its small-sized campus with big-school resources,” he said. “You get to develop relationships with your professors that are able to help you in many aspects of your life.” 

Dragos crossed state lines for his college experience. The Lexington, Ohio, native said he found a family of new friends at Butler. “It is a special place,” he said. “I went there not knowing a single person. I was able to make some great friends and experience some things I would not have if I did not come to Butler.” 

Dragos, who plays singles and doubles, said last year’s lessons made him a more mature player. 

“If you win the deciding match, your teammates go nuts,” he said. “I’m trying to focus on solidifying my game. Becoming more mentally tough will help myself and my team win even more matches than we did last year.”

Athlete Profile: Mason Dragos ’19

The sophomore tennis player looks to make another big impact after his strong first-year campaign.

by Jimmy Lafakis ’19

from Spring 2017

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Every other year Butler University students, primarily those in the biological sciences, apply to take a two-week course in Panama allowing them the opportunity to work with world renowned researchers and scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI).

Students in PanamaSTRI, founded in 1923, is dedicated to understanding tropical biodiversity and is home to 38 staff scientists and supports 900 visiting scientists annually. Collectively, the work of STRI scientists and the location and quality of STRI’s facilities, has resulted in STRI becoming one of the premier research institutions in the world.

“The staff scientists who work at STRI, essentially the faculty, are top-notch, world renowned researchers and we thought giving our students access to them would be pretty phenomenal,” Travis Ryan, Professor and Chair of Biological Sciences, and one of the two faculty members who lead the trips, said.

The partnership with STRI formed about 10 years ago when Frank Levison ’75, Ph. D. established the Sciences Opportunity Endowed Fund. The income from the fund provides for equipment replacement and repair, faculty and student travel, undergraduate research, and scholarships to recruit high-quality science students.

“We run the class in the summer and use funds from the endowment to defray the costs of the trip for students,” Ryan said. “If you were to take a summer course on campus, it would be about $2100 for a 4-credit hour class. Last summer when we took the students there we charged them $2300. So for an additional $200 dollars, students got air fare, accommodations, and 85% of their meals covered for two weeks in Panama.”

Prior to leaving, students meet once a week for a semester covering the basics so when they arrive in Panama they are able to focus on experiential learning.

“We don’t see a lot of value in traveling a quarter of the way around the world to sit in a classroom. So if we do hear a lecture, it’s from a guest speaker,” Ryan said.

While abroad, students spend time meeting with staff researchers, graduate students, field technicians, visiting field sites, and tagging along on research trips. Oftentimes the students’ days begin at 6:00 AM and usually go to 10:00 PM.

“It’s a pretty intense couple of weeks, but the endowment makes it possible,” Ryan said.

Since the program’s beginnings in 2008, Butler has sent around 70 students to Panama.

 

In addition to the course, Butler students have the opportunity to complete a 3-month long internship in Panama working with STRI scientists. There have been around 15 students who have completed internships at STRI site in Panama and Butler continues sending about two students a year. 

“Interns become part of a research lab,” Ryan said. “In addition to contributing to a bigger overarching project, they normally have a project they’re in charge of—one of the first students we sent there was dissecting the brains of ants.”

Students in Panama

Other research projects students have worked on include studying frog mating behavior both in the field and in acoustic chambers. Ryan explained over the last several years, a number of students have been sent to work in Rachel Page’s bat lab to work on various aspects of bat communication and ecology.

Carmen Salsbury, Professor of Biological Science and one of the people in charge of overseeing Butler’s STRI student internships added, “The STRI experience has proven to be quite transformative for our students. Several of our past STRI interns have leveraged their experiences to land positions in some of the top graduate programs in the country.”

It’s been made clear to both Ryan and Salsbury that the relationship with STRI is not only beneficial for Butler and its students, but for STRI as well. Ryan explained a commonality between the two programs at Butler is that students often leave a lasting impression on the researchers at STRI.

“Our interns have a great reputation among STRI researchers,” Ryan said. “The fact that we keep sending people to Rachel Page’s lab is because she’s always impressed with what she gets out of our students when they’re down there.”

Ryan concluded by saying, “The partnership with STRI is really a great program. It’s a fantastic opportunity for our students and one that you’d be hard pressed to find at other institutions.”

Student Research–Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Provides Students with Opportunities to Work with World Renowned Researchers

by Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

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Butler Alumna Makes Science Fun

Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

Julie Boyk ’10, Senior Education Coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Chicago, remembers having a difficult time deciding which college to attend. She was excited to be accepted to Butler University but she had two other colleges who were offering scholarships from which to choose. It wasn’t until her dad was heading to Indianapolis for a business trip that he asked her along to tour the campus.

“I went on the trip just to appease my father. It was freezing cold and snowing, but the moment I stepped out of my dad’s car, I felt at home,” Boyk said. “I thought, ‘this is where I was going to spend the next five years of my life.’ We went on a tour, further drawing me into what some people call ‘Butler magic;’ I was hooked.”

Boyk spent her next few years at Butler working toward her degree in Early/Middle Childhood Education. About a year after graduation, Boyk stumbled across a position at MSI while perusing the museum’s website prior to a planned visit, and since she had been having a difficult time finding a job within the school systems, she decided to apply. Julie Boyk with students

“MSI was the mecca of field trips as a kid from the Chicago suburbs, so the thought of working there brought back many positive memories,” Boyk said.

During her interview, Boyk pulled from the skills toolkit Butler’s College of Education gave her to demonstrate a potential lesson plan that was hands on, thoughtful, and tasty since Oreo cookies were involved.

“All of the hands on work Butler exposed me to was very helpful and I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today without that,” Boyk said.

Before she made it home, Boyk had an offer.

Since getting hired, Julie has had many realizations about herself and the job she had in mind before starting at MSI.

“I never saw myself teaching middle school or high school students, but it’s so fun. I’ve discovered it’s one of my favorite parts,” Boyk said.

Her list of favorites regarding her work at MSI doesn’t stop there. Every day is different and through MSI’s Learning Labs she has the opportunity to teach a wide range of science subjects like forensics, pendulums, simple machines, and Mars, where students and Boyk have the opportunity to teleconference with real NASA scientists to ask questions.

If she had to choose a favorite aspect of her job, it would be when she gets to make science fun for all of the students who enter the museum with the mindset that science is boring, or confusing.

Julie Boyk with students

“Not too long ago we were doing a project about Mars and a student in 6th or 7th grade asked me if I was a scientist. Technically I’m not, but to answer his question, and to get him involved I responded by saying ‘Yes, I am a scientist and you are too,’” Boyk said. “At first he said ‘No, no I’m not.’ He came up to me after class and told me, ‘I understand what you mean now about how I’m a scientist too,’”

Creating even just a small shift in attitude among students about science, and making sure they understand that science can be messy and fun is why Boyk loves the work she does and for a museum that is considered an industry leader.

“I’m able to touch the lives of so many more students with what I’m doing here. Between myself and four other co-workers, we are able to interact with about 24,000 students a year,” Boyk said. “We really are at an important museum, and it makes me want to work above and beyond my abilities to make sure I represent the museum in the best way possible.” 

Butler Alumna Makes Science Fun

It wasn’t until her dad was heading to Indianapolis for a business trip that he asked her along to tour the campus.

by Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

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A Flexible Foundation

Stuart Glennan

from Spring 2017

One Friday afternoon a month, you’ll find Butler faculty members from across the disciplines at the Bent Rail Brewery, discussing—often loudly, sometimes with a beer in hand—topics as varied as the “new conservation” movement and the biological and social causes of mental illness. We call this STS School, short for Science, Technology, and Society. It’s a place where scientists and non-scientists learn from each other about new developments at the intersections of our disciplines, and talk about how to bring these ideas into our classrooms. 

Our students learn about the state of the art, but our focus is on knowing how—how to observe; how to experiment; how to find and absorb new research; how to collaborate both within and beyond their disciplines to create and apply new knowledge. 

This know-how is important for our graduates who pursue professions in scientific research, but it is equally important for those in the many professions that rely upon and support scientific exploration and technological innovation. The flexible foundation our students get can take them in many directions. 

Science education at Butler starts in our core curriculum, where every student must take a course that includes a lab. This might mean anything from a neuroscience of music class, which gets non-science majors involved in research on how music affects dementia patients, to a course that uses the case of “HeLa” cells used in cancer research to explore genetics and molecular biology while examining questions about the commercialization of science and the ethics of research. 

Over 40 percent of Butler students study traditional STEM disciplines like physics, biology, mathematics and engineering that are located in our College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as do all students in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (COPHS) and our interdisciplinary and cross-college majors in Science, Technology and Society, Environmental Studies, and Healthcare and Business. We also have students with a primary major in a non-STEM discipline who pursue pre-med or other pre-health courses in the sciences, and we have education majors who either pick up secondary STEM majors or do required course work to support their licenses. 

These programs have been led by scientists and non-scientists, and have drawn faculty from the sciences, social sciences, humanities and from Butler's professional schools. We talk together and teach together.

As a philosopher of science, I was welcomed by Butler’s scientists when I came here 25 years ago, and in my time I have collaborated with them in the founding of three popular interdisciplinary programs—the science, technology, and society major, the neuroscience minor, and most recently, our environmental studies major. These programs have been led by scientists and non-scientists, and have drawn faculty from the sciences, social sciences, humanities and from Butler’s professional schools. We talk together and teach together. 

The world is a big place, and none of us can know but the smallest bit of it. But we—faculty and students—can cultivate the skills and attitudes that will help us learn new things and do new things that will make a difference for ourselves and the world around us. And, if we have to argue with our colleagues over beer to do it properly, well, that’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make. 

The keystone of our science education is getting students to apply science through undergraduate research.

  • The Chemistry and Mathematics programs have developed “research boot camps”—intensive week-long summer experiences where students learn the tools of the trade. 
  • Most students in Psychology choose to join a faculty-led research group. Over their career, it is not uncommon for Psychology students to present their research not only at Butler’s and other undergraduate research conferences, but also at national meetings where most presenters are graduate students, post-docs, and faculty. 
  • Astronomy students take advantage of a consortium that allows access to telescopes around the world to explore the stars. Students present their discoveries at national professional meetings and publish their work in scientific journals. 
  • While most student research is done at Butler, some of it is done afar—like the tropical field biology course in Belize or internships at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. (Visit butler.edu/magazine for a related story.) 

Another feature of butler’s STEM education is the push to take science education beyond the walls of science buildings—to have students learn from, and give back to, the communities to which we all belong. 

  • Computer Science and Software Engineering majors take a required Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) course, where the class collaborates on a software project in support of the mission of a non-profit organization. 
  • Students in Biology, STS, and Environmental Studies often enroll in the Environmental Practicum, where they take on a sustainability project in support of the Indianapolis community. 
  • Students from a number of STEM fields get true hands-on experience working on Butler’s farm—managing crops that are served on campus and in local restaurants while engaging in NSF funded research. 
  • The Chemistry department has begun a series of successful short-term study abroad trips in which students have traveled to Europe, integrating scientific and cultural learning as they explore the chemistry of sustainable energy production, food, and art. 
  • Students from a range of fields intern at local hospitals and research facilities, tech firms, museums, governmental agencies, and non-profits. There are the clinical rotations that are central to the training of health care professionals in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

A Flexible Foundation

These programs have been led by scientists and non-scientists, and have drawn faculty from the sciences, social sciences, humanities and from Butler's professional schools.

by Stuart Glennan

from Spring 2017

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Ideas That Take Flight

Sharon Alseth ’91

from Spring 2017

Nearly 30 years in the making, Butler University’s Undergraduate Research Program is widely recognized as one of the nation’s best. “Longevity and a cohesive program make us stand out,” said Dacia Charlesworth, who oversees Butler’s program. “All facets of undergraduate research opportunities are merged at Butler year-round, which is rare to find. Other universities divide their research program into departments.” Each spring, Butler hosts an annual Undergraduate Research Conference (URC), one of the largest in the country, and Butler students compete for 30 spots in the immersive Butler Summer Institute (BSI), for focused research on projects in any discipline. 

With more societal influences affecting science, and an interdisciplinary approach, there are no barriers to research topics. There’s traditional lab work, and experiential learning that’s an extension of the classroom. Butler research students have studied the development of butterfly wings, how to prevent the fading of color in pieces at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the behaviors and attitudes of pre-pharmacists toward HIV and AIDS patients, and even confessional poetry. “It’s the integration of our mission statement,” said Charlesworth. “We put Liberal Arts and professional programs together and demonstrate to the community how they can help.” 

Students are encouraged to present and share their results with others, with Travel to Present and Honors Thesis Grants contributing to Butler’s national exposure. It’s not enough to conduct the research. Butler coaches presentation skills, with students learning to avoid jargon so their research is more relatable and significant to a general audience. End-of-year reports and an active Twitter feed (@ TheButlerURC) boost awareness of Butler’s program. The 2016 Undergraduate Research Conference drew more than 900 people, an increase of 200 participants from the previous year, despite a trimmed promotional budget and slight fee hike. This year for the first time, there will be a new presentation category with cash awards, to add a tier of competition to the URC. 

Charlesworth has held the title of Butler’s Director of Undergraduate Research and Prestigious Scholarships for about a year and a half, and has an infectious enthusiasm about her job. She tells prospective students and their parents, “Look at other universities and see if they have a position like mine. Most universities don’t. It sets Butler apart, having an all-inclusive program, and someone who can identify top scholarships for student researchers.”

Ideas That Take Flight

by Sharon Alseth ’91

from Spring 2017

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Butler's Researchers Tackle TB

Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Spring 2017

Most of us get a TB test some time in our lives, and we go on our merry way, assuming it will be negative.

We don’t know how lucky we are.

Butler University Associate Professor of Chemistry Jeremy Johnson is searching for a way to spread that luck to the parts of the world where tuberculosis still kills more people than any other infectious disease: 1.5 million annually.

Worse yet, the bacterium causing the disease (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) is becoming increasingly resistant to the antibiotics doctors use to treat the infection.

“The incidence of TB has remained fairly steady over time. It now annually causes more deaths worldwide than HIV, the other major fatal bacterial infection,” said Johnson, the recent recipient of a National Institutes of Health grant to study the disease.

Researchers rightly made a massive push toward arresting HIV growth in the 1980s, with tremendous success. Today, Johnson is part of a growing body of researchers determined to achieve the same success with TB.

“The bacterium that causes TB has a complex life cycle that’s very difficult to treat with current methods: four drugs and six months to treat a full-blown case,” he said. “In the U.S., we have a healthcare system that makes sure patients take their drugs all the way through their treatment schedule. In other countries, people start feeling better and stop taking their medicine, leading to drug-resistant TB infections.”

When TB is in its active form, it’s contagious and transmitted through the air. When it’s dormant – where Johnson is focusing his research – the bacterium exists inside the lungs, kept inactive by a healthy immune system.

Most treatments today don’t target inactive versions of TB. Johnson believes stopping the bacterium at the dormant stage – long before it’s a contagious infection – holds the most promise for eradicating the disease.

Here’s where Johnson gets technical.

“We’re looking at a particular class of enzymes within TB known as serine hydrolases. When researchers looked at the toxic proteins TB produces, they saw that serine hydrolases accounted for twice as many as other toxic bacteria produced – in fact, a higher relative amount of serine hydrolases are made in TB than we make as humans.

“In the change between dormant and active states, the body secretes a large number of these serine hydrolases into a person’s lungs, where they break down the host’s cellular components. TB bacterium then feed on nutrients from those components to survive.

“Our proposal is that if we can inhibit these serine hydrolases from being active during dormancy, then we could stop the entire process. In the dormant state, there is only a very small number of bacterium.”

More than 30 million people have died since the World Health Organization declared TB to be a global emergency in 1993. In 2016, the WHO declared the world is not doing enough to meet its TB goals.

Not if Johnson and his research students at Butler University can help it.

Learn more about the hands-on research happening at Butler here.

Butler's Researchers Tackle TB

We don’t know how lucky we are.

by Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Spring 2017

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Butler Adds Women's Lacrosse

Katie Goodrich ’17

from Spring 2017

In a whirlwind of hiring, recruiting, and program building, Butler University has added a new varsity sport: women’s lacrosse. The Division I team began its journey as a BIG EAST program in February. 

Head Coach Cecil Pilson, who previously coached at Mercyhurst University for more than a decade, said he is glad Athletic Director Barry Collier and President James Danko had faith in him. 

“It’s definitely very exciting to start a Division I program, especially in the BIG EAST and at a university like Butler,” he said. “As a coach, you always want to be at a school where you can buy into the school’s philosophy and the academics. Butler aligned with everything I wanted as a coach.” 

In early 2016, Pilson worked tirelessly to contact potential recruits and encourage them to submit applications to Butler. “I recruited a large roster knowing that a lot of other D-I programs…did not have enough players,” Pilson said. “We definitely have the numbers now to be successful.” The team’s roster of 30 women includes first-year recruits, transfers, and former club team players. 

Senior and Captain Emma Annand was on the club team during her first three years at Butler. After playing for Granite State Elite and in high school, Annand said she considered playing lacrosse in college, but ended up really loving Butler and decided to play club. But then she got the opportunity to play varsity. 

“I met with Coach Pilson and he was very convincing,” she said. “And I thought, in 10 years looking back, if I didn’t do this, I would kick myself. And I have not looked back.” 

First-year student Journey Fischbeck is among the first class of recruits who will get the chance to play lacrosse for her entire career at Butler. She was originally going to attend Mercyhurst but decided to follow Pilson to Butler after falling in love with Butler’s big-school feel with small-school perks. She said the basketball team didn’t hurt either. 

The inaugural team’s season will be full of firsts. “Everything we do—no matter what—it makes history,” Annand said. “We’re writing our story and laying the foundation for years to come. We’re setting the mold for how the program is going to be, so we are not taking anything lightly. Everything we do has a lot of thought behind it because it is so significant.” 

Pilson said his No. 1 goal for the season is growth. “Regardless of wins and losses, what is really important is that the team is able to develop,” he said. “The thing I can control is players developing and becoming better, setting that culture for them to grow on.”

Butler Adds Women's Lacrosse

In a whirlwind of hiring, recruiting, and program building, Butler University has added a new varsity sport: women’s lacrosse.

by Katie Goodrich ’17

from Spring 2017

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Faculty Focus: Jen Kowalski

Megan Ward MS ’13

from Spring 2017

Sure, there are collaborations with faculty here at Butler and other institutions, including the University of Massachusetts, but “students do the vast majority of the work,” said Kowalski. This work includes growing and maintaining the C. elegans worms, generating new strains of worms by performing mating crosses, doing molecular biology, fluorescence microscopy, and biochemical studies. They also do data analysis, help write and present their work at conferences here and around the country, and co-author all publications. 

So why C. elegans? Even though they only grow to about one-and-a-half millimeters in length and only have 302 neurons and 959 total cells, humans have surprisingly a lot in common with the worm. Yes, we have a lot more neurons (hundreds of billions) and quite a few more cells (around 60 trillion); but, we have a similar number of genes—around 20,000— and many of those genes are the same. As Kowalski states, “Although our nervous systems are much more complex, the basic organization of the circuitry is the same.” 

What are Kowalski and her students hoping to learn from their research? They’re interested in a family of proteins called ubiquitin system enzymes and the role these enzymes and their targets play in controlling neurons’ signals. “We use the C. elegans neuromuscular junction (the point of contact—or synapse—where motor neurons signal to muscle cells) as a model to investigate ubiquitin enzymes,” explained Kowalski. 

A cell biologist by training, Kowalski is interested in understanding how cells carry out their functions. She’s intrigued by the nervous system because it is a collection of cells that are working in both a “coordinated and tightly regulated fashion to allow information processing, storage, and transmission” (i.e., communication between neurons). This communication is disrupted in various neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer disease. 

The potential impact of their research is enormous. As Kowalski puts it, “Understanding how communication between neurons is regulated in a healthy nervous system is critical to understanding what goes wrong in these diseases—and how we might be able to effectively treat them.”

Faculty Focus: Jen Kowalski

The potential impact of their research is enormous.

by Megan Ward MS ’13

from Spring 2017

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Preparing Students for the Future

Kailey Eaton ’17

from Spring 2017

Audrey Bonn ’16, a graduate of Butler’s Science, Technology, and Society (STS) program, puts her degree to use to its fullest every day. 

Bonn is currently the Patient Communications Coordinator for Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis. Her job responsibilities include managing outpatient communications and performing an analysis on the productivity of the messages that she sends. 

“I try to find a correlation between appointment reminder messages and whether or not a patient will show up for their appointment,” Bonn said. “Being an STS major helped to prepare me for this job because I was taught to look at situations critically, think outside the box, and not just assume that what appears on the surface gives the whole story.” 

Bonn says her favorite part of the STS curriculum was the opportunity she had to consistently study thought-provoking topics, which helped her broaden her worldview. The program allowed her to use the skills from her major and become a problem-solver in her field—a true critical thinker. 

“The vast majority of our assignments required us to analyze topics and propose educated solutions for issues that we studied,” she said. “I use this in my job not only when I am trying to find correlations between two things, but also when I am trying to brainstorm new campaigns that would help solve some of the hospital’s problems.” 

Students in STS are equipped with an understanding of how our world is transformed and challenged by science and technology. The program examines the interaction between science and technology and our health, families, communities, and environment. The curriculum builds on students’ problem-solving and communication skills.

It also places an emphasis on the STEM Disciplines— Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These academic disciplines are being taught in middle schools and high schools and have increased in prominence over the last eight to 10 years both nationally and globally. 

Carmen Salsbury is the Director of the Science, Technology, and Environmental Studies program, which is the overarching program that the STS major falls under. Salsbury says the STS program has grown exponentially. The first 10 years of its existence saw only about 15 majors. The program now sees consistently around 50 majors. 

Now more than ever, Salsbury says that there is a need to understand science and society given the decline of our environment and the struggle to acquire resources globally, which could be why the STS major has become so popular. 

The major is also highly customizable to what students are interested in. Students are required to take 30 credit hours of coursework—12 hours of STS core courses and 18 hours of STS elective courses from across campus. This curriculum allows students to explore a wide variety of interests. 

Kellie Dominick ’17, an STS major, says she enjoys this aspect of the curriculum because she does not feel the pressure to commit to a single career path. “My current plan is to work in hospital administration, but the great thing about STS is that if I realize that it’s not for me, there are also different paths I can take,” she said. 

There is also an increasing demand for non-scientists who have some training with science and technology and who also have an understanding of the institutions of science and their place in modern society. This kind of background is at the core at the STS curriculum, which is why Butler students are finding success in careers and entrepreneurial opportunities outside of the traditional sciences employment tracts. 

Students in the program have gone on to pursue careers not only in science and technology, but also in health, education, law, public policy, and communications. 

Salsbury says that because the curriculum is interdisciplinary, it forces students to look at issues from many different directions, like Bonn does in her role at Eskenazi. She says it’s a skill that takes practice and experience, but is highly valued by employers. 

The major also stresses the importance of communication as an underlying skill needed for success across the board. “This major strongly emphasizes the ability to communicate, whether in writing or speaking, because to understand all of these issues is nothing if you can’t communicate effectively.” 

Salsbury is confident that this versatile set of tools acquired in the STS program will serve them well in postgraduate life. “In the end,” she said, “I think graduates of the STS program end up with a pretty powerful skill set.”

Preparing Students for the Future

There is a need to understand science and society given the decline of our environment and the struggle to acquire resources globally, which could be why the STS major has become so popular. 

by Kailey Eaton ’17

from Spring 2017

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Faculty Focus: Jeremy Johnson

Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Spring 2017

The World Health Organization still ranks tuberculosis as a leading cause of death worldwide. On the Butler campus, Associate Professor of Chemistry Jeremy Johnson is turning undergraduate research students into real scientists seeking new answers to halt the spread of TB. 

Johnson’s lifelong enthusiasm for research has helped reshape Butler. He oversees all student research opportunities as Programs for Undergraduate Research committee chair, and he headed up the Butler Summer Institute for a year, giving him the chance to set up independent research projects for 30 students involving all six colleges on campus. 

The Chemistry Department, his home base, has turned many of its lab courses into what he calls “classroom undergraduate research experiences” (emphasis on experience) and added chemistry courses taking new approaches to hands-on learning. In Chemistry and Community, for example, students design experiments for presentation to elementary and middle school students. In Study Abroad for Chemistry, students absorb the scientific background on energy, then explore a German city that operates solely on renewable energy. Jeremy Johnson

Though the hands-on approach requires extra time and effort for both students and faculty, Johnson is unequivocal about its advantages. 

“In research, you develop your own understanding of a problem, look at all the angles, then explain the outcome. It provides a picture of your intellectual ability that you can’t get from classroom opportunities alone,” he said. “We’ve seen significant strides in students’ development of critical reasoning skills. Plus, I find students become more invested. They can see the applicability of what they’ve learned in class, and they get excited to see the end results.” 

As with their TB research, their results can extend far beyond campus. 

“We have students who are looking for and making new derivatives of cholesterol medication for testing at a lab in Iowa. Our students are collaborating on projects with Dow Chemical and Eli Lilly. Next fall, we’re offering a new biochemistry major where we’ll be addressing such questions as whether cancer is curable. These are new ways we’ve built in for students to gain the research and other scientific skills they will need once they move beyond Butler.” 

Johnson not only loves creating research opportunities for students. He considers it his duty. Coming from a small liberal arts college, he sought out Butler for its opportunity to interact closely with students. 

“Part of being a faculty member is your service to the institution. I feel like I’m supporting the students and opportunities I want to see grow here,” he said. 

Dr. Jeremy Johnson was recently named the Hershel B. Whitney Professsor in Biochemistry as a result of a generous gift from the estate of Hershel B. and Ethel L. Whitney. 

The prestige and recognition of an endowed position helps the University attract superb scholars to campus and encourages exceptional educators like Dr. Johnson to remain at Butler.

Faculty Focus: Jeremy Johnson

“I feel like I’m supporting the students and opportunities I want to see grow here.”

by Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Spring 2017

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Conversation Transformed

Hayley Ross ’17

from Spring 2017

Every Thursday night from 5:30-8:00 PM in the basement of Jordan Hall, the Butler Aphasia Community meets, giving voice to those who are struggling with language and speech and inspiring those striving for a career doing just that. 

The program has the Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) undergraduates work as a support group for those suffering from aphasia, which is most often caused by a stroke and affects communication abilities. The program is a CSD elective.

“A main identifier of people with aphasia is they can say the words but can’t make the sentences flow,” CSD major Betsy Russo ’17 said. “Or they can say the transitional words but can’t form the sentence.” 

Russo will be taking the class next semester after completing the prerequisites and observation hour requirements. She observed the group multiple times in preparation. “It is really awesome to see the individual growth,” she said. “There may be people who recently had a stroke and then people who have been there so long that they can have almost completely normal conversation. It is so inspiring to see the transformation.” 

During the first hour, the group meets as a whole. They have a big activity, such as yoga/painting/exercise class, and it is modified for those in wheelchairs from a stroke. Then they split into smaller groups to play games, talk, or do whatever else the group wants to do. 

“It is a lot of fun,” group member Madeline Koenig ’17 said. “One of the things we work on is the life participation approach to aphasia (LPAA). It focuses on conversation aspects and gets them back into everyday life and activities.” 

Koenig was in the program this semester. Although the program is technically a class, she is going to try to take it again next semester because it directly correlates to what she wants to focus on for the rest of her life. “I genuinely like working with adults,” she said. “It is my passion in our field and this has allowed me to utilize both my knowledge and passion. It really just gets me excited to practice hands-on as a student what I want to do professionally.” 

Mary Gospel, Chair of Communication Sciences and Disorders, started the group at Butler four years ago. Since then, there have been 54 clients that have come through the program—almost all of them for more than one semester. 

“The opportunity for the students and clients to work together and get to know each other is such a win-win,” she said. “The students benefit and the clients benefit. Also, because clients’ insurance runs out so quickly, we knew there weren’t a lot of options and this was a big need in the community.” 

Gospel has volunteered with the Northside Aphasia Support Group since 2001, and it was a big inspiration when creating one at Butler. “In class you learn what aphasia is, but with this you learn what it is like to live with aphasia,” she said. 

Koenig said this group has been one of the highlights of her Butler career. 

“There aren’t a lot of support groups around, so it is really important that we have one,” she said. “They are such a fun group of people and it couldn’t be a better way to end my Thursdays—doing something fun, and something I want to do when I graduate.” 

Conversation Transformed

by Hayley Ross ’17

from Spring 2017

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