Community of Scholars
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The Community of Scholars

Enriching Undergraduate Research with Interdisciplinary Dialogue at a Liberal Arts College

Round Table Discussion

The Community of Scholars is a unique cross-disciplinary enterprise of Wofford College undergraduate students conducting independent research full time during 10 weeks of the summer. These 19 student Fellows representing 16 different majors are housed in the Wofford Village Apartments. They conduct their research in collaboration with one of 10 Faculty Fellows who are themselves engaged in their own research projects. Student and Faculty Research Fellows in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences create a community of scholars by meeting frequently, often over meals, to discuss their individual projects and issues of mutual interest.

Our purpose is to encourage undergraduate research in a setting that recognizes and exploits the virtues of collaboration and conversation among researchers pursuing projects in a wide variety of fields at a liberal arts college. We assert that research is enriched by these cross-disciplinary interactions.

Click on the portraits below to read more about each Scholar’s research. Scholars make formal presentations of their research during two symposia open to the public on August 7 and September 12, 2009. Symposia schedules are found in among the “Important Links” on this webpage.

Sammy Nassri

The Current and Potential Uses of Biomedicine-Traditional Chinese Medicine Hybridities

Sammy Nassri

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been in use in China for over two thousand years, and offers a perspective on health and illness far different from that of the biomedicine widely practiced in America. Some TCM modalities have recently begun to enjoy some measure of popularity in other cultures (like ours) as a form of alternative or complementary medicine, such as acupuncture, cupping, massage, and herbal medicine. In my research, I will examine the degree of integration of TCM into biomedical practices in America, and the degree to which this hybridization is able to improve the quality of patient care.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

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Shannon Brunner

Genocide and Famine as Tools of War in Africa: NGOs on the Front Lines

Shannon Brunner

This research investigates how genocide, famine and mass rape are used as tools of war, and the effect of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) on this problem. I'm asking "Why are NGOs addressing these wars and why aren't these situations addressed by governments, the military of the United States, or intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations or NATO?" This is explored through case studies of the Ethiopian famines in 1984-1985 and 1998-2000, the genocide in Rwanda in 1994-1995, and current examples of the genocide in Sudan and mass rape in Congo. The result will be a journal length research paper.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Amy Chalmers

Gender, Race, and Class in English Children's Illustration, 1850-1900

Amy Chalmers

During the late 19th and early 20th century, many popular English illustrators of children's books also worked as cartoonists for political publications, and used caricature as a form of social commentary. My research seeks to find parallels between the physical attributes of characters in children's illustrations as well as figures in satirical cartoons by the same artist, and will examine the use of physiognomy and its relation to various perceptions of gender, race, and class in a historical context. Specifically, I am researching three prominent cartoonists and illustrators during this time: George Cruikshank, Sir John Tenniel, and Florence Kate Upton.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

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Jonathan Hufford

The Confluence of Western Biomedicine with Traditional Healing Methods

Jonathan Hufford

Innumerable healing modalities exist across the globe, many of which are considered 'alternative' from the 'Western' perspective. My research makes the assertion that-regardless of mechanism-all modalities offer a benefit, a method of relieving suffering. Investigating how indigenous and traditional practices combine with and complement modern biomedicine, both in western culture and in their native contexts, should offer a greater understanding of the cultural relevance of medicine in general and a glimpse of how medicine originated and how it might evolve. This book project incorporates my field observations in 26 countries as Wofford's Presidential International Scholar.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Christine Dinkins

A World on the Edge: Philosophical Perspectives on Contemporary Science

Dr. Christine Dinkins

My book with co-author Steven Zides, physics instructor at Wofford, discusses highly probable scenarios like climate change and bio-terrorism and less likely but more entertaining scenarios like what if aliens visited Earth or Artificial Intelligence-Beings demanded civil rights? It's not about inevitable doom and disaster, it's about hope and strategy. Our approach to science is not as the sole cause of or solution to the world's major problems, but as a potential ally. We also present the ideas of great philosophers like Plato, Kant and Nietzsche to help readers develop thinking tools necessary to make informed decisions about how to live in today's world.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Sarah Newman

Cultural Influences on Colonial Architecture in South Carolina

Sarah Hannah Newman

One would expect South Carolina to have been settled in a gradual dispersion similar to Virginia which shared its agrarian infrastructure; however, it was settled more like New England-in townships. French, Dutch, German, Swiss, Scotch-Irish, and English settlers populated these townships. In my research, I will analyze the settlement pattern of South Carolina and how the national origins of the settlers as well as the landscape influenced architecture prior to 1776 in South Carolina. To do so, I will examine approximately two houses from each region (Low Country, Midlands, Upstate) which reflect the settlers' different origins and adjustments to the climate.Spartanburg Herald Journal: Wofford Scholars Dig Back Into History6 July 2009

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Mark Byrnes

The "Great Debate" over US intervention in World War II

Byrnes

I am collecting and editing documents and writing an introductory essay on the "Great Debate," perhaps the most significant public discussion on foreign policy that the United States has ever engaged in. Elected officials, academics, private citizens, newspapers editors, members of organized interest groups and many others addressed fundamental questions about the nature of American society and the role it should play in the world. The debate ranged from sober to demagogic, encompassing the full range of opinion in the country during a turning point in both American and world history. In many ways, it set the stage for the world we live in today.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Courtney Gregory

Regulation of Carbon Dioxide Usage in Halothiobacillus neapolitanus

Gregory

Halothiobacillus neapolitanus is a bacterium that converts carbon dioxide into food, forming oxygen as a byproduct. The conversion requires one of two types of an enzyme called RuBisCo, depending on atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide. A variety of laboratory techniques will allow us to determine if the protein, cbbR, binds to the bacterium's DNA, therefore serving as the regulator for determining which form of the enzyme is used. Knowing the key steps of this process could possibly lead to manipulation of this bacterium for environmental aid.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Katie Grainger

Batman: Pop-culture Icon or Postmodern Hero?

Grainger big

I am studying the identity of Batman by exploring the most recent graphic novels and cinematic adaptations of the character-Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008). Batman is a superhero whose character has been altered through several generations. Does today's Batman represent a way of being for us in the world, and if so, is he a moral exemplar? Batman's Gotham is a representative American city, presenting common situations involving social, economic, and political dilemmas that we face today. Batman provides one way of responding to these situations. I will examine these responses in the context of philosophical theories developed by Foucault, Kant, Hobbes, and others.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Nicole Woller

Regulation of Carbon Dioxide Usage in Thiomonas intermedia

Wollerbig

Thiomonas intermedia is a bacterium that uses atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) to produce its food. The first step in this process uses one of two forms of an enzyme to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. We are looking at how the bacterium regulates the production of these two forms, via a possible regulatory protein called CbbR. The protein binds to DNA if it is a regulator. With laboratory techniques we can visualize this. Understanding how the bacteria regulates removal of CO2 may help us engineer bacteria that remove CO2 from the atmosphere eventually helping reduce global warming.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Bryan Splawn

Formation of Free Fatty Acids by Enzymes in Human Saliva

splawnbig

Socioeconomic, genetic, cultural, and behavioral factors appear to promote excess dietary fat intake. My research collaborators are showing that the taste of fat is strongly preferred in laboratory rats but it is not clear to what degree humans can detect fat. The ability to taste fats depends on free fatty acids interacting with receptor cells on the tongue. However, most fats are not ingested as free fatty acids but as larger, more complex molecules. The goal of this research is to determine whether free fatty acids can be generated from complex fats by enzymes in human saliva. My student research fellows and I will use analytical chemistry methods such absorption spectroscopy and mass spectrometry in our investigations.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

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John Ware

Desperate Measures: Women under Duress in the Drama of Elizabeth Inchbald

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For contemporary recognition, Elizabeth Inchbald (1753-1821) is indebted to Jane Austen (1775-1817); after all, it's Inchbald's play Lover's Vows (1797) that is to be performed by the Bertrams and their friends in Austen's novel Mansfield Park (1814). Yet, Inchbald was a significant figure in her time; she was a successful actress, playwright, fiction writer, and critic, where success is denoted by critical acclaim and financial independence. In this project I will discuss the forms of women's work represented in Inchbald's drama: for example, maid service, education, and prostitution. I'm particularly interested in contrasts between representations in Inchbald's early and her late plays, between the characterizations of laboring women and those of genteel women, and between the attitudes expressed to women's labor.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

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Jenny Afkinich

No Room for Racism: Rock Hill, SC during the Civil Rights Movement

afkinichbig

I will investigate several major Civil Rights events which took place in Rock Hill, SC during the 1950s and 1960s. St. Anne's Catholic School integrated in 1955, immediately following the Supreme Court's decision that segregated schooling was unconstitutional. This was the first school in the state to do so, years before most of South Carolina's public schools. In 1961, 8 local college students and an outside advisor staged a non-violent sit-in at a segregated lunch counter. Rather than allow the NAACP to post their bail as was customary, these students chose to spend 30 days in jail in an attempt defy the system with which they so strongly disagreed. Using archival research and oral accounts, I intend to present a paper full of new primary sources which covers these racially-related events and others from that era.Spartanburg Herald Journal: Wofford Scholars Dig Back Into History6 July 2009

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

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Harry Quedenfeld

Preference of Rats for Linoleic Acid during 24 hr tests.

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Dietary fat, a common constituent of daily consumption, is not often seen as beneficial; however, it is highly caloric and is thus packed with energy. Corn oil is an example of a dietary fat, and contains a fat called linoleic acid. I am performing tests to see if laboratory rats prefer tastants, or flavors, with this fatty acid present. Based on previous data it is hypothesized that linoleic acid enhances flavor in the mouth and thus the rats will prefer an appetitive flavor when linoleic acid is present. It is possible this preference evolved because organisms that prefer high calorie foods have a higher chance of survival.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

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Nathan Redding

Color Me Verde

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Color me verde! focuses on environmental outreach and education for the Latino community in Spartanburg. Student Fellows Krista Jones and Nathan Redding will conduct interviews with members of the Latino community and with local environmental non-profit organizations. Jones and Redding will explore local green spaces and develop educational material for these locations. The ultimate goal is to make a product and/or design a program that can be used by the participating non-profits to make their green spaces more user-friendly to the Latino community. This could culminate through the creation of bilingual educational material and signage, developing better means of communication and advertising between non-profits and the Latino community, and designing educational programs at the local green spaces that cater to this minority.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Chelsea Nill

Preference of Rats for Oleic Acid during 24 hr tests.

nillbig

The purpose of my project is to demonstrate that the chemicals found in dietary fat alter the perception of tastants (bitter, sour, salty, sweet, umami) in a way that encourages consumption. Rats serve as an animal model to measure preference for the primary fatty acid chemical found in olive oil, oleic acid. Though the quantities of oleic acid are minute, an observable effect is predicted across all tastant categories.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

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Hayes Modlin

Moving Outside the Realm of Conventional Allopathic Medicine

modlinbig

With increased costs, insurance difficulties, government involvement, and safety concerns, many individuals are turning away from conventional allopathic medicine and experimenting with forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Such practices have historically lacked the "proper" research necessary to gain widespread acceptance and incorporation into Western biomedicine. In the past couple decades, however, there has been an outbreak of new studies involving CAM practices. My research will compile and examine various primary research articles to assess the efficacy of four specific CAM modalities-chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, and nutritional supplements. Such insight will lead a more complete understanding of the best combination for overall healthcare.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Krista Jones

Color Me Verde

jonesbig

Color me verde! focuses on environmental outreach and education for the Latino community in Spartanburg. Student Fellows Krista Jones and Nathan Redding will conduct interviews with members of the Latino community and with local environmental non-profit organizations. Jones and Redding will explore local green spaces and develop educational material for these locations. The ultimate goal is to make a product and/or design a program that can be used by the participating non-profits to make their green spaces more user-friendly to the Latino community. This could culminate through the creation of bilingual educational material and signage, developing better means of communication and advertising between non-profits and the Latino community, and designing educational programs at the local green spaces that cater to this minority.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

Back to Community of Scholars Introduction

Sarah Harste

Exploration and Colonization: A Survey of Representations of the Female Body as Territory

harstebig

In her novel Written on the Body, Jeanette Winterson presents an ideal way in which a woman's body should be viewed: as land to be explored by her partner. In contrast, I believe texts written by authors from colonized countries will show a corrupt way to view the female body. Just as Africa - often described as a female body - has been colonized, I believe that African literature will reveal a similar kind of colonization in the form of a man possessing the female body. By reading African literature, I will trace this metaphor and compare it to Winterson's model.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

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Regina Fuller

From Slavery to Exclusion: Perceptions of African Identity in the Dominican Republic and Brazil

fullerbig

During the period of exploration, both the Dominican Republic and Brazil were colonized in similar ways: sugar plantation economy, introduction of millions of African slaves, and racial hierarchies. Because of the lack of female Europeans, many Europeans reproduced with their African slaves, making a mulato or mixed class of people. In present day Brazil and Dominican Republic, mulato people, people of mixed races, compose the majority of the population, with most people having some African ancestry. Despite their similar ancestries, Brazilians and Dominicans both deny their African heritage and African influence in their present day cultures. My research seeks to explain why Dominicans and Brazilians reject their African identity.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Ben Dunlap

Cultural Notes: The World Music Experience

dunlapbig

What do Japan, Nigeria, and the American South from the 1920s to the present have in common? Not a whole lot, but I can add another to the list after this project is finished. Each place has a musical culture that could fill volumes of description and each has specific musical qualities that can be expressed easily. This projects searches for those qualities in Japanese Kabuki Music, African Tribal Drumming, and American Jazz and explores how these ideas can be combined to create a multicultural musical composition that exemplifies and celebrates their unity.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

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Jay Carlson

Dialectic and Disagreement: Bernard Lonergan in 20th and 21st Century Epistemology

carlsonbig

Philosophers have traditionally thought that knowledge could be obtained independent of what else a subject knows. A subject can obtain knowledge of something without appealing to their pre-theoretical prejudices or gathering empirical data. In the 20th century, such a conception of the theory of knowledge has sustained heavy criticism, leading to several alternative approaches to knowledge being proposed. My project will examine the possible synthesis of the traditions of W.V.O. Quine and Hans-Georg Gadamer in the critical realist approach of Bernard Lonergan.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Jennifer Finley

Eben Taylor: A Gentle Spirit of Love and Justice

finleybig

I'm researching the life of the late Rev. Eben Taylor, a Wofford alumnus said to be "the social conscience of South Carolina Methodism." He spoke out on behalf of those who had little support, standing up for people he believed weren't being treated fairly. Eben cared deeply about workers' rights, uniting the Methodist church, achieving equality for all, and had a passion for civil rights. Through his words and actions, he advocated love and justice and fought racism. He was also a beloved friend and mentor to me. I intend to show how Eben truly lived the teachings of Christ.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Karen Goodchild

Giorgio Vasari's Understanding of Landscape Painting

goodchildbig

Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists is the single-longest text on art from the 16th century. Though Vasari has been studied extensively, no one has analyzed the Lives to discover his attitude towards the then-nascent genre of landscape painting. I will examine the text to find what Vasari thought the purpose of landscape painting was, what sorts of artists he thought excelled at it, and what he thought was properly included in it. What emerges from this study will not only add to our knowledge of landscape painting, but will alter the way we view 16th century art theory.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

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Cissy Fowler

Indigenous Fire Management in the Monsoonal Tropics

fowlerbig

My plan is to write an ethnography about indigenous fire management in Kodi (Sumba, Eastern Indonesia). Theoretically, I am interested in knowledge production, and links between human perceptions and behavior. Technical data about burning and vegetation will enable me to assess the impact of cultural fires on vegetation in the dry monsoonal tropics. The ethnography consists of numerous short stories about real people involved in specific fire incidents. The stories that make up this ethnography work together to build a set of lessons about and to illustrate patterns in anthropogenic fires on post-colonial Sumba.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Camille Bethea

Is It Really a Dog Eat Dog World?: Women and the Game of Power in Mexican Fiction

betheabig

My research focuses on how women with access to powerful men navigate the “rules of the game” of patriarchal society as portrayed in contemporary Mexican narrative. I hope to publish an article in which I explore how modern-day Mexican women challenge conventional gender constructs with strategies of empowerment. I am particularly interested in examining the role that ethical behavior plays as part of the measure of how one may gage their success. To what extent can the women who adeptly employ the same questionable tactics to get ahead that they learn from men be considered models of “successful” women?

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

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Laura Barbas-Rhoden

Where I Belong: Latin(o) American Narratives of People and Place in Bilingual Books for Children

barbasrhodenbig

In my summer research, I examine how bilingual, illustrated children's stories relate a sense of land, labor, and the relationship of the human to the non-human in ways that challenge environmentalists to explore the mobility of cultural communities, and their practices for existing in place, in an age of globalization. Bilingual-bicultural children's titles record important voices of dissent from an environmental agenda that in the United States has been dominated by discourses of localism. They offer new tropes of place in stories that take into account the accelerated deterritorialization of people in Latin America, particularly in Mexico and Central America. My project explores those tropes to challenge scholars to conceive of an environmental ethics that is grounded in eco-cosmopolitanism and is sensitive to diverse cultures.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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Stefanie Baker

Regulation of Carbon Dioxide Usage in Halothiobacillus neapolitanus

bakerbig

Halothiobacillus neapolitanus is a bacterium that converts carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere into sugars in a manner similar to plants. This bacterium possesses two forms of the enzyme, which are present in different amounts depending on the level of CO2, that enable it to use CO2. To elucidate how the organism determines which form of the enzyme to produce, we are creating and characterizing a mutant that lacks a putative regulator protein. Understanding how CO2 usage is regulated in bacteria will be invaluable in determining how CO2 capture and retention can be increased to help reduce global warming.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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A.K. Anderson

A Voice from the Chilean Night: The Problem of Evil in the Works of Roberto Bolaño

andersonbig

While the technical discussion of the problem of evil generally takes place in the fields of theology and philosophy of religion, the most powerful statements of this issue come from literature. Works such as Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and Elie Wiesel's Night have become paradigmatic articulations of the theodicy question. My project is to analyze the fiction of the Chilean author Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) to see what insights it holds for gaining a greater understanding of the full complexity of the problem of evil. I will be analyzing novels such as By Night in Chile, with its focus on the horrors of the Pinochet era, and 2666, which deals with the ongoing murders of women in Juarez, Mexico.

250 Word Abstract

Two Page Project Description

Wofford Newsroom Article

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G.R. Davis

Director of Community of Scholars 2009

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Having participated as a Faculty Research Fellow in 2007 and 2008, I now serve as Director of the Community of Scholars for 2009. My duties are to assure that researchers have the necessary materials and time for their research, to promote scholarly and social interactions amongst all participants, and to share the success of our program with other institutions and individuals who might wish to implement similar programs on their campuses. Persons wishing additional information about Wofford's Community of Scholars should consult Wofford's Community of Scholars Website and contact me at davsigr@wofford.edu or by phone at 864-597-4621

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  • Sammy Nassri

    Sammy N., '11
    Biology & Chinese

  • Shannon Brunner

    Shannon B., '11
    Government

  • Amy Chalmers

    Amy C., '10
    Art History and French

  • Jonathan Hufford

    Jonathan H., '10
    Biology & Intercultural Studies

  • Dr. Christine Dinkins

    Christine D., 
    Philosophy

  • Sarah Hannah Newman

    Sarah N., '10
    Art History & History

  • Byrnes small

    Mark B., 
    History

  • Gregory small

    Courtney G., '10
    Biology

  • Grainger small

    Katie G., '10
    English

  • wollersmall

    Nicole W., '11
    Biology and French

  • splawnsmall

    Bryan S., 
    Chemistry

  • waresmall

    John W., 
    English

  • afkinichsmall

    Jenny A., '10
    German, Sociology & History

  • quedenfeldsmall

    Harry Q., '11
    Biology

  • reddingsmall

    Nathan R., '11
    Biology & Spanish

  • nillsmall

    Chelsea N., '11
    Psychology

  • modlinsmall

    Hayes M., '10
    Biology

  • jonessmall

    Krista J., '11
    Spanish & Environemental Studies

  • harstesmall

    Sarah H., '10
    English & Government

  • fullersmall

    Regina F., '11
    Intercultural Studies and Spanish

  • dunlapsmall

    Ben D., '10
    Chemistry and Philosophy

  • carlsonsmall

    Jay C., '10
    Philosophy

  • finleysmall

    Jennifer F., '11
    Biology

  • goodchildsmall

    Karen G., 
    Art History

  • fowlersmall

    Cissy F., 
    Sociology

  • betheasmall

    Camille B., 
    Spanish

  • barbasrhodensmall

    Laura B., 
    Spanish

  • bakersmall

    Stefanie B., 
    Biology

  • andersonsmall

    A.K. A., 
    Religion

  • davissmall

    G.R. D., 
    Biology