Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ODAC honors WildCats for academic achievements

What does it take to succeed in academics and athletics in college? Here are more than 50 Randolph students who can tell you just that.

On Monday, the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) named 53 Randolph College students to its All-Academic Team. A place on this roster requires a student-athlete to maintain a grade point average of 3.25 or higher.

Women's Cross Country had more members on the ODAC All-Academic Team than
any other team at Randolph College. The team had seven students receive the
honor, including Lily Noguchi ’14, pictured here at the 2011 ODAC championship. 
This year’s All-Academic team includes at least one student from each of the 13 Randolph College athletic teams that competed during the 2011-2012 academic year.

Last year, there were 40 Randolph student-athletes on the ODAC All-Academic team. The growing number of students on the list demonstrates the academic strength of Randolph College athletes and the excellent support given by coaches, faculty, and tutoring staff to help athletes and other students achieve.

Here is the list of Randolph College student athletes named to the 2011-2012 ODAC All-Academic Team. Be sure to tell them congratulations in the comments below this post, and in person when you see them!

Cameron Colquitt ’13 - Men’s Basketball
David Conrow ’13 - Men’s Basketball
Colton Hunt ’13 - Men’s Basketball
Logan Sneed ’15 - Men’s Basketball
Derrick Woods-Morrow ’12 - Men’s Basketball
Bonnie Bishop ’15 - Women’s Basketball
Brianna Lowry ’15 - Women’s Basketball
Morgan Thompson ’13 - Women’s Basketball
Chris Hollingsworth ’15 - Men’s Cross Country
Jim Kwon ’14 - Men’s Cross Country
Ryan Purrington ’14 - Men’s Cross Country
Jerry Wells ’12 - Men’s Cross Country
Emma Bartholomew ’14 - Women’s Cross Country
Jane Campbell ’12 - Women’s Cross Country
Alina Herron ’12 - Women’s Cross Country
Julia Kim ’14 - Women’s Cross Country
Lily Noguchi ’13 - Women’s Cross Country
Sally Taylor ’15 - Women’s Cross Country
Sarah Terlizzi ’15 - Women’s Cross Country
Ryan Blackwell ’13 - Men’s Lacrosse
John Croney ’13 - Men’s Lacrosse
John Grundy ’14 - Men’s Lacrosse
Ryan Mahon ’15 - Men’s Lacrosse
Jessica Andersen ’13 - Women’s Lacrosse
Ashley Edwards ’14 - Women’s Lacrosse
Sara Ignarro ’15 - Women’s Lacrosse
Samantha Maggard ’14 - Women’s Lacrosse
Jennifer Fowler ’12 - Riding
Amy Jacobs ’14 - Riding
Averie Morgan ’15 - Riding
Dara Niketic ’15 - Riding
Kendall Trewin ’14 - Riding
Stephany West ’15 - Riding
Brianne Roth ’13 - Women’s Soccer
Erin Vasta ’15 - Women’s Soccer
Jacob Hood ’14 - Men’s Soccer
Tristan Luxner ’14 - Men’s Soccer
Coulton Watson ’15 - Men’s Soccer
Kristen Hutchinson ’14 - Softball
Lauren Stevenson ’13 - Softball
Samantha Thacker ’13 - Softball
Brittney Via ’14 - Softball
Brittany Willingham ’13 - Softball
Anna Culpepper ’15 - Women’s Tennis
Jason Corsbie ’14 - Men’s Tennis
Mitch Franko ’15 - Men’s Tennis
Hart Gillespie ’15 - Men’s Tennis
Tung Ha ’14 - Men’s Tennis
Reid Winkler ’12 - Men’s Tennis
Lexi Harrington ’15 - Volleyball
Sydney Henson ’14 - Volleyball
Katherine Lesnak ’15 - Volleyball
Megan Wheatley ’13 - Volleyball

Friday, July 27, 2012

Student Center Renovation Update: July 27, 2012

The most visible change to the Student Center this week is the installation of glass on the north wall of the facility. This glass is a prominent feature in the two-level cardio center. Top-of-the-line exercise equipment will be placed facing this window in order to capitalize on the beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Check out more of the progress here: http://web.randolphcollege.edu/studentcenter/slideshow/july27/index.html

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Alumna will dance in the Olympics opening ceremony

When Mary-Elizabeth Carter White ’90 learned that she could audition to dance in the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, she hesitated. Should she really try out? Most of the other dancers would be many years younger than her. The rehearsal schedule would be demanding.

But then she recalled the words of Doug Hamby, a dancer and choreographer who visited Randolph when she was a student. When Hamby did not cast White for a dance he choreographed for an annual show, he gave her one piece of advice: “Be bold.”

Watch the Opening Ceremony
Friday, July 27, 9 p.m. London
NBC broadcast in the U.S. at 7 p.m. Eastern
Alumna Mary-Elizabeth Carter White ’90 will be in a group that starts performing about 57 minutes into the program.
“Now, I often think to myself, ‘Be bold,’ before I throw myself into new adventures,” White said. “His two little words made a huge impact on me.’

With that inspiration, she signed up to try out. After two exhausting auditions, she was offered a role, and she will be one of the thousands of performers on stage Friday night.

White, who now lives in England, majored in economics, but she also studied dance under Pam Risenhoover, who still leads the dance program today, and the visiting artists Risenhoover brought in. While she was in England for Randolph’s signature study abroad program in Reading, England, she met her husband.

“I don’t think I realized how lucky I was with R-MWC dance,” White said. “The exposure to so many different styles and teachers helped me when I headed to London and started dance classes there.”

White said she has not danced professionally, but she is a “passionate amateur” whose career has centered on performing arts. She has worked at English National Opera, Warner Brothers, and now a theatre group in Putney, London.

Dance rehearsals for the opening ceremony began in April, White said. Her shortest rehearsal was five hours long. The longest rehearsal ran for 10 hours. While it was hard work, she got to meet many other skilled dancers who have prepared an impressive show. “This is a hugely talented bunch of people, and I am so proud to be a part of it,” she said. “I am a mere cog in the whole thing, but I am having a grand time doing what I love—dancing!”
Olympic Stadium in London

White doubts that anyone watching the opening ceremony on television would be able to pick her out of the crowd, but she says her group’s performance is not to be missed—although she is sworn to secrecy about what the performance actually includes. You’ll have to tune in for the surprise.

The opening ceremony will take place on Friday, July 27, at 9 p.m. London Time (4 p.m. Eastern), but NBC will broadcast a recording at 7 p.m. Eastern. White’s group is scheduled to dance starting 57 minutes into the ceremony.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Student Center Renovation Update: July 24, 2012

Stay up-to-date on the latest progress of the $6 million Student Center renovation! Check out our newest slideshow here: http://web.randolphcollege.edu/studentcenter/slideshow/july24/index.html

Friday, July 20, 2012

Grass and free-range chicken diets: Students lead research with organic garden chickens

Two Randolph students are leading a study to help determine the best practices for raising healthy chickens that produce high-quality eggs.

Laura Word ’13 and Michael Taylor ’13 are conducting this research with chickens in the Randolph College Organic Garden. They placed one group of chickens in an area without grass, and another in an area with grass. Then they started tracking the health and egg quality of hens from each group.
Getting chickens to sit in a bucket long enough to be weighed
isn't always easy, but it is an important part of the research
Laura Word ’13 and Michael Taylor ’13 are conducting.

Word, who wants to become a veterinarian, thought of the research idea because she was interested in seeing how a grassy habitat would affect chickens. “You would think that if they have grass, they would be much better; but being a scientist, I can’t just trust my gut.”

Word and Taylor each received a grant from the Randolph Innovative Student Experience (RISE) program, which provides grants to help students pay for research and other scholarly endeavors. Word also received a Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges summer fellowship to fund the project.

After putting the chickens in different environments, they provided an identical corn and pellet ration to each group. They weighed the chickens, checked them for parasites and bacteria, and analyzed their eggs.

The researchers were surprised to find that the chickens among the grass gained weight more slowly than the other chickens. They produced fewer eggs, but the eggs had higher quality according to several measures.

Word plans to continue this research project in the fall to try answering other questions. For example, is the lower egg production caused by the age of the hens? Or could Einstein (the sometimes overprotective rooster who watches over the forage group) be causing them stress?

Adam Houlihan, a Randolph biology professor working on the research with the students, said this project gives context to the poultry industry’s free-range practices. “Free range, by definition, simply means that the birds have been given some period of time outdoors,” he said. “It doesn’t define the quality of the outdoor space, and it doesn’t define the period of time.” Some free range chickens are given an outdoor field of dirt or gravel, although some farmers are pushing for raising chickens with grass.

“This tiny little experiment with 28 birds has the potential to change some of the ways that the industry conducts business,” Houlihan said.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Randolph concert airs on Virginia radio station this weekend

Randolph College’s spring choir and orchestra concert will hit Virginia airwaves this weekend.

Classics Radio (91.7 FM in Lynchburg, 89.5 in Fredericksburg) will play highlights from the concert at 9 a.m. Friday, followed by replays at noon and 5 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

The April concert featured Mozart’s Solemn Vespers and Randall Thompson’s The Place of the Blest performed by the Randolph College Chorale and Chamber Orchestra along with the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra. Randall Speer, Randolph music professor, conducted the concert. Classics Radio coordinated with the Randolph music department to record the concert.

Solemn Vespers is the piece that Chorale sang in Carnegie Hall this spring.

Virginia Private College Week — Meet your tour guides

The Gold Key Guides at Randolph College invite you to join them for a campus tour during Virginia Private College week. The special event is just around the corner, and it’s your opportunity to get to know great colleges in Virginia while saving money on your college applications.
From July 30 –August 4, Randolph and 24 other members of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV) will open their doors for daily tours. Prospective students who visit at least three of the participating colleges during the week can then apply to three CICV colleges without an application fee.

Reserve Your Spot Now!

You can claim your place in one of our Virginia Private College Week tour sessions online. For more information, email the admissions office at admissions@randolphcollege.edu or call 800-745-7692.
During Virginia Private College Week, Randolph College will hold two informational sessions and tours each day—one at 9 a.m. and one at 2 p.m.

Now, without further ado, let’s introduce you to the Gold Key Guides. These Randolph students will be providing the tours during Virginia Private College Week, so we asked them to tell you a little about themselves.

Name: Sara Reed ’15
Hometown: Azusa, California
Majors: Biology and Dance
Minors: Chemistry
Favorite spots on campus: The Riding Center and the organic garden. “I love animals!”

Name: James Lindsay Potter ’15
Hometown: Lynchburg, Virginia
Majors: Classics (concentration in Archaeology) and English Literature.
Favorite part of tour: Lipscomb Memorial Library, and talking about Randolph traditions such as the Odd-Even rivalry.

Name: Julia Kim ’14
Hometown: Wonju, South Korea
Major: Economics
Minor: Studio Art
Favorite part of tour: Seeing people’s expressions when they learn about the Even Stairs and Odd Stairs tradition.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Student pushes through programming challenges to create mobile app for medical research

Thawda Aung ’13 hopes a mobile phone app that he wrote this summer could help improve and extend the lives of people with Alzheimer’s, depression, diabetes, or other illnesses. That’s one reason why hitting a quagmire in the middle of thousands of lines of code was so challenging.

He wanted the app, part of a Summer Research project connected to a major medical study, to automatically upload data that it collected so doctors could analyze it. This was not as automatic as he had hoped.

“I’m not the kind of guy who would give up something really easily, but I was about to give up after four nights of not sleeping,” he said. “I was pretty much a zombie.”

Finally, he decided to walk away and focus on other things for a day. He slept, he went to the gym, he went for a run. While he was running, his mind caught hold of an idea. Back at the computer, he worked through his problem and got the app working correctly.

Aung is working with Randolph College Professor Katrin Schenk, University of Nebraska Medical Center professor Stephen Bonasera, and fellow student Jim Kwon ’14 to develop and test a medical mobile monitoring system using cell phones. This fall, Alzheimer’s patients will be given Android phones that will track their daily activities and help doctors understand how the disease is affecting them, and whether medications are working as intended. The study won a $200,000 grant from the Alzheimer’s Association.

Aung and Kwon have worked on the project for the past two summers. Kwon has focused on developing an algorithm that analyzes a cell phone’s accelerometer data to determine a person’s activity level. This summer, he has worked to refine that algorithm with the help of University of Nebraska students who carry phones with them to gather data. “They’re doing things like going hiking, walking up and down stairs, so that we can look at the accelerometer data, and Jim is working on analysis,” Schenk said.

Kwon is also writing a paper about using mobile monitoring to understand a person’s activity level.

Last year, Aung created the monitoring app on a Nokia phone. But Nokia has discontinued the operating system the program was written for, so this summer he converted the code to run on Android phones.

The app is now ready to collect data for the Alzheimer’s study, but Aung plans to continue developing its capabilities and testing it until it is ready to be published in an app store. He said it has features that will set it apart from other apps that track people’s motions.

“People have made pedometers, and people have made GPS tracking apps. But we are analyzing your movement, your behavior patterns, and how they change,” Aung said. This analysis could help app users recognize when they slip into behavior patterns that could signal depression or other health problems. Recognizing those behavioral changes could help them improve or prompt them to seek help.

Research shows strength of traditional honor codes

A traditional honor system really can make students less likely to cheat, according to research by a Randolph College student and two professors.

For the past year, Megan Hageman ’13 has worked with psychology professors Beth Schwartz and Holly Tatum to study the concept of academic integrity and learn more about how honor codes affect academic behavior.

Schwartz, the Thoresen Professor of Psychology and assistant dean of the College, said this research could help all schools, including colleges, promote honesty in academic behavior. “A lot of us understand what motivates students to cheat. Now it is time to understand what we can do to motivate students to have academic integrity.”

The interest in studying academic integrity developed after Schwartz, Tatum, and Jerry Wells ’12 co-wrote a chapter about the teaching and learning environment at Randolph College, which is guided by a longstanding traditional honor code. Schwartz saw that there was not enough research into the effectiveness of honor systems. During the 2011 Summer Research Program, she asked Megan Hageman to sort through existing research on the subject and choose topics for further study. They decided to study the way different kinds of honor codes affect student honesty.

Like most traditional-style honor codes, the Randolph honor system includes a student-run adjudication board, unproctored exams, and trust that students will report dishonest behavior.  These systems aim to build a culture of personal responsibility and integrity.

Some schools use a modified honor code, which is often run by the school administration or faculty and lacks many of the features, such as a student-run judicial process, emphasized by the traditional honor systems.

Hageman and Schwartz designed a survey to gauge students’ attitudes toward various behaviors that are sometimes encountered in college. They asked students to read a list of questionable behaviors, such as turning in the same paper for two different classes or consulting a smart phone for help on a test, and rate them as honest or dishonest. They were also asked whether they would report the behavior.

More than 750 students at eight private liberal arts colleges took the survey last year. The results showed that students in colleges with traditional honor systems were more likely to view questionable behaviors as dishonest. Students in a school with a modified honor code answered almost identically to the students in schools without any honor code.

“Previous research has demonstrated that modified honor systems are supposed to decrease the occurrence of academically dishonest behaviors, but we found that not to be the case,” Hageman said.

Hageman helped Schwartz and Tatum conduct the survey and analyze the data. During this year’s Summer Research Program, she presented the research at a convention of the Association for Psychological Science. Then, she worked with Schwartz to write an article about the research, which they plan to submit to a scholarly journal later this summer.

The next phase of the research, which will form Hageman’s senior project, will seek to determine why a traditional honor code is more effective. If they can identify specific attributes that make a traditional system more effective, other colleges could adopt those features to decrease cheating, Schwartz said.

Hageman said this project has helped her learn more about the process of research and writing, but also about what can make honor codes more effective. She hopes her research can stimulate conversation about how to strengthen honor systems and increase academic honesty in other colleges and at Randolph. “Without talking about academic integrity no one can understand it and it cannot become fully ingrained in the culture of the campus,” she said.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Students produce play in motel room to study environmental theatre

Even Mother Nature knows that, in theatre, timing is everything.

A severe thunderstorm with powerful winds rolled through Virginia during one of Randolph College’s performances of the play Bug on June 29. The lights were off during a scene transition. When Ashley Peisher ’15 reached out of the bathtub that served as the stage manager’s control room (we’ll explain that soon) and flipped a light switch to begin a new scene, the room remained dark.

Peisher flipped the switch again and again. The storm had cut power to the motel where the play was being performed.

It was as though the power outage was on cue.

“The elements really worked well for us,” said Sonja Cirilo ’15. “The power went out going into a scene where the characters were hunkered down, and they were trying to hide.” The actors played out that final scene with flashlights, which added to the scene’s intensity and made it more real. When a giant clap of thunder accompanied the very end of the show, the audience was convinced, Cirilo said.

“Until I came out at the end of the play, they didn’t know that the power had gone out,” said Mace Archer, director of Bug and a theatre professor at Randolph. “They thought we were just doing our play.”

The production of Bug was part of Randolph College’s 2012 Summer Research Program. Archer, Peisher, Cirilo, and Emily Sirney ’14 were experimenting with environmental theatre, in which a show is performed in a space that is similar to the actual setting. In the case of Bug, it was a motel room.

The play tells the story of Agnes, a woman living in a motel room, who gets pulled into the conspiracy theories and delusions of Peter, a Gulf War veteran. The story includes drug use, violence, nudity, and profanity, and the research team used the performance to examine how the close setting would affect an audience in such an intense play.

Sirney said she wanted to help with the production as soon as she heard about it. “I thought it was a really special opportunity,” she said. “In college theatre, everything is sort of given to you—the stage, the equipment, the costumes. This was something that was all ours, and we had to build it from the ground up.”

Sirney served as company manager, finding and making props such as a fake tooth and scientific equipment. She also learned how to simulate blood in a live theatrical setting.

Peisher stacked pillows in the motel room’s bathtub to make it a comfortable control room. She ran sound on a laptop connected to speakers, and a single light switch in the bathroom controlled all the lighting.

Cirilo handled promotions and ticket sales for the show. She also recorded the reactions of audience members during the performances.

Audiences said the close proximity to the action did make the show more intense, and, at times, intimidating.

“This is such an opportunity for people to get more emotionally involved,” Sirney said. “In a proscenium theatre, you remember you’re watching a show. But almost every audience member we’ve talked to has said that at some point, they forgot they were watching the show. They felt motivated to get involved and comfort Agnes when she was beat by her ex-husband.

“That was good, because it means we’re doing our job well.”

“If you’re in a fifteen-hundred seat theatre, you’re still trying to have that connection, even with the audience member on the back row,” Archer said. Environmental theatre gives actors the opportunity to learn more about how that connection is created.

Archer also said the show allowed the students to obtain real production experience that is harder to come by in a traditional show. “I’ve watched them confront the level of detail that is necessary when you’re actually charge,” he said. “I think they’re in a position to put shows on themselves.”

Internship in the Alaskan wilderness

Imagine taking care of a vast Alaskan wilderness for an entire summer. It is about the farthest you can get from a paper-pushing desk job, which makes it perfect for Nick Cornell ’14.

Cornell is participating in a summer internship program in Alaska’s Kachemak Bay State Park. His summer “office” consists of 400,000 acres of mountains, valleys, streams, and lakes. “I wanted to be outside,” said Cornell, a native of Front Royal, Virginia, who is majoring in environmental studies. “I didn’t want to be bored in an office.”

Two years ago, Cornell and his family vacationed in Alaska and visited numerous tourist attractions. That experience made him think about returning to take in more of the wilderness areas.

Cornell’s trail maintenance crew camps in the park for about 10 to 12 days at a time. They hike to various areas to remove trees from trails, cut weeds, and build bridges. Some parts of the park are only accessible by boat, so they spend some time on the water as well.

“This internship has definitely sparked my interest in working with a parks system in a state or at the national level,” he said. “It has taught me how much work you need to put in to make a state park accessible to the public.”

Working in an internship far from home was perfect  “It’s always good to try something, go somewhere, get out of your comfort zone, and explore the country,” Cornell said. “You never know what might spark your interest.”

Friday, July 6, 2012

Student Center Renovation Update: July 6, 2012

Hot weather and power outages haven't stopped construction from continuing on Randolph's Student Center renovation. Check out the latest photos here:

TV station internship opens door to job for Randolph student

A summer internship has turned into a full-time job for one Randolph College senior.

Ryan Blackwell '13 adjusts settings on a camera during a news broadcast. He
joined WSET as an intern and then was hired as a full-time production assistant.
A few weeks into his internship,  Ryan Blackwell ’13, a communication studies major, became a production assistant at WSET, an award-winning ABC-affiliated television station near the College, He helps produce three WSET newscasts each day, creating on-screen graphics, controlling sound levels, and operating a live camera.

He signed up for the internship, and then applied for the job, to help him prepare for a career in broadcasting. “It’s mostly about gaining experience during my schooling,” he said. While his classes are preparing him intellectually, he believes “some practical experiences are going to be equally helpful.”

Blackwell’s entrance into the television news world originated from his interest in radio. Growing up in the Washington, D.C., area, he was fascinated with the numerous local talk radio shows. He believes local radio is an important part of a thriving community. “Audio always has resonated with me as an interesting medium, and is one of the most versatile ways for disseminating information and telling a story,” he said.

Ryan Blackwell '13 gives a cue to a news anchor.
When he visited Randolph College for a scholarship  interview, he learned about the student-run radio station WWRM. The station allows students to produce their own shows, and Blackwell launched his own as a first-year. He served as station manager for the WWRM for the past two years.

While exploring radio station internships with the help of Randolph’s Experiential Learning Center, Blackwell learned of the WSET position. Krista Leighton, the career development director, encouraged him to consider the WSET internship because it would offer important hands-on experience.

The internship allowed Blackwell to cultivate technical skills such as graphics editing and audio production. He also learned how to collaborate with others to produce a show with a firm deadline. “Working at WSET has really given me a taste of what it’s like to work on a real production team that has to work through issues real-time,” he said.

The experience also has given Blackwell a new perspective on his academic pursuits. Communication studies majors usually examine media from the perspective of consumers, he said. “Being on the production side, inside the newsroom, and seeing what these reporters actually go thru to create a news product for the masses, has really opened up my eyes.”

While interning, Blackwell heard that the station needed a full-time production assistant, so he applied and earned the job. He hopes to continue on a part-time basis during his senior year.

Blackwell said more students should consider fulfilling internships while in college. “You’re definitely going to have to put a lot of time into it, especially when you’re finding and applying for them,” he said. “I would suggest that you go ahead and tough it out. It will bring you new opportunities and great experience for whatever you want to do.”