Summer 2013 Seminars

The Summer Seminar Series, which will be held in CL 1148 on Wednesdays at noon throughout the summer, is an opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to share ideas, enjoy fellowship, and learn over lunch.

Summer 2013

May 22

What is this thing we call education?
John Zwart

Should lectures be a thing of the past? The last few decades have seen a tremendous growth in educational technology—from clickers and smart boards to on-line courses and MOOCs. The plethora of educational options pushes us to re-evaluate what we do in and out of the classroom. In this presentation, we’ll look at some ideas that flow out of “discipline-based educational research” as a way of addressing some of these concerns. Many of the ideas presented are shamelessly lifted from the recently held “Experienced Faculty Workshop” funded by the National Science Foundation. While the emphasis of that workshop was on physics pedagogy, that will not be the focus of this discussion.

Wouldn’t You Like Some History with That?
Cal Jongsma

This talk will present a case study in using history for the teaching and learning of mathematics, drawn from the textbook I’m working on. We will explore the nature and early development of algebra, focusing primarily on the work of the medieval Arabic mathematician al-Khwârizmî (825 AD), who is often considered the founder of classical algebra. Bring along your impressions and prejudices from early high school algebra—nothing more mathematically demanding than solving a quadratic equation will be considered.

May 29

Kjøttkaker: The case for and against using bad language in religious education
Ethan Brue

Religious education: It ain’t all the same. As a product of three very different systems of religious education, it seems to me that what distinguishes these radically different educational systems lies in the language we choose to use or avoid. I would like to describe my movement from the deeply zealous religion of the American public school system to the secularized system of pietistic evangelical education to the neo-reformational system which still seems to struggle like an insecure immigrant to communicate across a cultural language barrier. For those of us who have been educationally displaced more than once, we often find ourselves needing to revert to our tribal language when the culture around us has no word for what we are trying to express—leaving us feeling a bit embarrassed and awkward. All three systems begin each day singing (either via music or method) “Oh be careful little eyes what you see…oh be careful little ears…oh be careful little hands…” with the assumption that properly learned tunes will lead to proper action.  

While I may chuckle at the list of “minced oaths” of my early Christian education, I am recently more troubled by the pietism of my public education system which aimed to clean up my foul language through the use of multiplication tables and number lines. I am specifically concerned about our language in the sciences, which ironically is often perceived as a universal language. All this language talk challenges me to wrestle with my own accent. Are students able to understand what I am trying to say? Or do they find my accent simply amusing or entertaining? I worry that my language is not offensive or culturally inappropriate enough to be of any use to them. I would like to suggest that the worst language is not necessarily words that have offensive meaning, but words that mean both everything and nothing, words that expose that I don’t really know what I am saying. I’d like to share some of these words with you. I may claim to be Reformed, but I cannot hide the fact that I don’t belong. I am from a different religious educational community. Force me to say “Shibboleth”…but before you kill me, give me a few minutes to explain.

June 5

Staff Satisfaction, Dashboards, and Backchannels
Val Zonnefeld, Sue Droog, and Jim Bos

Join us to learn more about the BCWI survey that Arlan Nederhoff previewed in the all campus assembly. We’ll dig in a bit further and learn what makes Dordt a great place to serve and where our opportunities for improvement are. The new dashboard will also be unveiled. Learn how you can use this tool to answer data-related questions about the college. We’ll run a backchannel throughout the presentation, so bring your laptop, or other smart device to post your questions.

June 12

'Beemageddon' threatens US with food disaster
Duane Bajema

The title was taken from Reuters May 2013 headline which reported on a malady labeled Colony Collapse Disorder that has been occurring in honeybees. There are definite implications for our food supply as much of the supply is dependent on plant pollination by honeybees. The disorder was first reported in 2006, and as with many initial reports, there was limited coverage, skepticism and uncertainty if the condition actually occurred or was a one-time anomaly. The condition has continued in varying degrees, and the news media has given a growing crescendo to the coverage, sometimes with accurate information, but many times with gross errors, and often with sensationalism as noted in the Reuters headline.   We will discuss a general background to the disorder and discuss potential implications to the public.

Summer Research on Gaussia Luciferase
Crystal Elenbaas (Darren Stoub)

Gaussia Luciferase, GLuc, is a chemiluminescent protein from a marine copepod. This luciferase has characteristics that make it ideal for cellular technologies such as bioluminescent imaging. Our summer research project is focused on optimizing this protein. We are doing this by inserting mutations into its amino acid sequence to slightly modify the protein structure. With these changes, the goal is to optimize the protein so that it emits light longer and with a different color. The optimized protein can then be more effectively used for bioluminescent imaging technology, as a reporter gene, and for other techniques such as tracking infections in biological systems.

June 19

Results of the Android Workshop
Kari Sandouka

Following the end of the spring semester, a group of employees participated in an Android Development workshop. The goal of the workshop was to learn how to make Android Applications through the App Inventor software provided by MIT. The apps created from the workshop will be demonstrated along with a discussion of how app development and mobile technology is making its way into lives of Dordt students and employees.

Understanding Inflammation by Determining Integrin Signaling Interactions
Collin Korver and Christy Sikkema (Darren Stoub)

Integrins are a type of protein located in the membranes of white blood cells. Because of their location, integrins are able to communicate information about the intracellular conditions outward and the extracellular conditions inward. As a result, integrins play an essential role in communicating the immune response. Our research project investigates what other proteins may be interacting with integrins to communicate an immune response. By using site-directed mutagenesis, we mutate single amino acids in the intracellular domain of the integrin. These mutations allow the insertion of an unnatural amino acid, called benzophenone. When ultraviolet light is shone on benzophenone, a reaction called photocrosslinking occurs, which tightly binds the integrin to any other nearby proteins. By identifying what these other nearby proteins are, we can learn more about the signaling pathways involved in communicating a physiological response.

June 26

Nitrates in Sioux Center Drinking Water—How Much and Why?
Rob De Haan

Sioux Center, along with many other towns throughout the Midwest, obtains much of its drinking water from 30-40’ deep wells located in a river valley. These shallow wells are impacted by the way in which the land area above them is used and managed. Nitrate nitrogen levels in these wells are of particular concern, as they often bump up against, or exceed, EPA standards in areas where much of the landscape is used for agriculture. For the last four years several colleagues and I have been conducting research examining the potential of nitrate leaching following several different cropping systems. Our results indicate that cropping system has a large impact on residual nitrate nitrogen levels in fields, and therefore on the likelihood of nitrate leaching into ground water. Land use is a complicated issue, and reflects our values as a society. We will explore these issues on Wednesday.

Using Recombinant Protein Technology to Investigate Inflammation
Caleb Boehler (Darren Stoub)

Inflammation is a natural response that can cause problems in the body. Specifically, inflammation that results from breast cancer radiation therapy can lead to the metastasis of tumor cells and inflammation during kidney transplant surgeries can lead to rejection of the new kidney. Dr. Stoub and his colleagues recently discovered a new class of anti-inflammatory drugs that appear to interact with a specific integrin protein involved in cellular communication.  Integrins are transmembrane proteins in leukocytes (mainly neutrophils) that interact with the endothelial lining of blood vessels, facilitate migration into the surrounding tissue, and signal changes in cellular function that caused the destruction of damaged tissue, each of which is part of an inflammation immune response.  In order to further improve the new class drugs, we need to understand how and where the drugs interact with the integrin proteins. This summer, we are using recombinant protein technology and a variety of protein purification methods to produce large amounts of a portion of the integrin protein called the Alpha A domain.  Once we have the purified Alpha A domain of the integrin protein, we can use a variety of methods, including x-ray crystallography, to understand the interactions between integrins and the new class of drugs.

July 3

Continuous Improvement Initiatives at Dordt College
Kari Sandouka and Dale Zevenbergen

The term “Continuous Improvement” has become common around campus over the last few years. Kari and Dale will share what the CI philosophy and methodology involves, and how it fits at Dordt College.

Using design hierarchy in digital logic to illustrate the scientific method as a human invention
Douglas De Boer

What level of authority should be given to “science?” For example, in a 2008 presidential debate, candidate John McCain said that, “[public] policy ought to be based upon sound science. However, Christians believe that science is a human invention, thus subject to our sinful nature and thus not necessarily “sound,” yet expressive of our God-given call to creatively care for the creation. 

The universe is holistic. It does not obey or respond to science (or mathematics, or philosophy, or theology for some other examples), no matter that we humans cannot seem to perceive the complexity of the universe apart from some employment of scientific theories. The relationship is the other way around. Science (and mathematics, philosophy, etc.) is a human response to the universe. Digital circuits are also holistic. When constructed and actually used they might exhibit unpredicted behaviors. Understanding of the scientific method as a human invention in response to God’s creation gives insight to why unpredicted behaviors occur, and more importantly, is essential to relating one’s science to one’s faith. 

The hierarchical structure of digital logic naturally lends itself to an illustration of how the science of digital logic is humanly constructed.

July 10

Supreme Court wrap-up discussion
Donald Roth

Who defines what “marriage” means? Is Jim Crow dead and gone? Can you patent a part of nature? Is a houseboat a “vessel” for purposes of federal maritime jurisdiction? You can learn the answers to all… on second thought, most of these questions this Wednesday with SCOTUS 2012 in Review. Join Donald Roth, Instructor of Criminal Justice and Business Administration, to hear a short presentation on some of the most interesting and important cases to come out of the recently completed term of the Supreme Court, then engage in a (hopefully) lively round of Q&A and discussion over some of the finer points of what these cases (or any others you’re interested in) really mean.

What is the faculty?
Neal DeRoo and Mark Tazelaar

A few weeks ago, we sent around some ideas we’d been discussing as a department about the Office of the Faculty at Dordt College. Our hope was to start a conversation about the issue of what it means to be a faculty member here, and that hope was met and exceeded. We have met with many faculty members in the weeks since then, representing every division and various years of service here, from first-year people to those here 35 + years. During our summer seminar, we will briefly summarize the main issues coming out of those discussions,and open the floor to further conversation, including ideas about how best to continue this discussion in a meaningful, campus-wide way at Dordt.

July 17

The Power of Marketing. Why you NEED that sports drink, but what has it done?
Mary De Young

Marketing and advertising can greatly influence our buying habits. One of the most successful marketing campaigns to the general public has been that of the sports drink. How can something that was designed for athletes be so heavily marketed to the general public? Sports drinks are big business, but what has it done to the business of our health, our teeth and to our children? Come and find out the history of sports drinks and the effects it is having on our society today.

Ninth-Century Music Theory in Context
John MacInnis

For two weeks in May, Anna Visser (undergraduate, English/Music) and I studied ninth-century music treatises as well as some philosophical documents read and written by ninth-century scholars. Sadly, Anna is unable to present with me, so I'll outline our project and share some of our findings using the website she created.

July 24

Quantifying Breathing Mechanics Using Lower Radiation Doses
Andrew De Haan (Kayt Frisch)

 Many lung diseases alter the ability of the lungs to perform gas exchange (i.e. breathing) by changing the tissue biomechanical properties. Lung mechanics can be quantified non-invasively using image registration of CT scans at different lung volumes. CT scans create images using x-ray radiation, which is known to have negative side-effects. In an effort to lower the radiation dose, we are exploring the radiation dose required to gain useful mechanics information. Using a swine model, we are creating different breathing mechanics and analyzing the mechanics using CT scans taken using four different radiation doses.

The Effects of Impact Mechanics and Chest Protectors on Commotio Cordis
Rebecca Megchelsen (Kayt Frisch)

Commotio cordis (CC) is a rare phenomenon in which the heart stops beating after a blunt object strikes the chest directly over the heart during a short “vulnerable window” of a heartbeat. Most common in young athletes, 25% of CC fatalities are wearing chest protectors at the time of impact, showing that chest protectors do not effectively prevent CC. We are investigating how mechanical properties of impact objects and chest protectors affect the occurrence of CC in a swine model. Using high speed videos of impacts and compressive mechanical stiffness of the impact objects, we are looking for correlations between compressibility of chest protectors, CC and other bio-physical mechanical factors implicated in CC. The ultimate goal of the study is to provide data that will contribute to the design of chest protectors that will reduce the incidence of CC.

July 31

Cux1 in the brain: developing a yeast two-hybrid assay to identify proteins that interact with Cux1 in neural tissue
Brandon Wubben (Tony Jelsma)

The cortex of the brain is made up of six distinctive layers that play different roles in consciousness, thought, and memory but the differential development of these layers is poorly understood. The developmental protein Cux1 has been shown to be present only in cortex layers two, three, and four. In other developing tissues Cux1 is generally associated with cell division but in the brain it appears to regulate branching of the neurons. Moreover, altered levels of Cux1 may be associated with clinical depression. To understand better the role of Cux1 in neural development, we want to study its mechanism of action. I am developing a yeast two-hybrid assay to identify proteins that interact with Cux1 in the brain. Knowing which other proteins interact with Cux1 to help direct layer differentiation will allow a better understanding of both normal and abnormal cortex development processes.

Historic distribution of Massasauga rattlesnakes in Missouri
Katie Tazelaar (James Mahaffy)

Two rattlesnakes can be found in northern Missouri. One is the more abundant Timber rattlesnake that is found throughout the state. Another rattlesnake, the massasauga, has only been found in northern Missouri. Voucher specimens (preserved specimens in jars) of massasauga rattlesnakes are found mainly from counties along the Missouri, Mississippi, and Grand Rivers. This distribution has been used to suggest that massasauga populations were originally restricted to the floodplains of these major rivers. Massasauga distribution from surrounding states and our historic research would suggest that these snakes were more widely distributed throughout northern Missouri in wetter areas. The prairie crayfish was found throughout the northern grasslands. Burrows of this crayfish provide Missouri massasauga with its favored hibernating structure. The Missouri State Historical Society has digitized records for most of the Missouri counties; we searched all of those in the prairie crayfish range for rattlesnake accounts. We also searched local newspapers (digitized and a couple on microfilm) for rattlesnake accounts. We found 213 rattlesnake accounts.  In a few cases massasauga  were named (usually by the name prairie rattlesnake), but more often we had to use habitat, size, or other characteristics to try and determine the type of rattlesnake. Still, in 86 accounts there was not enough information to determine the type of rattlesnake. From these historic accounts, we found 8 counties that we are quite confident had massasauga populations. Four of these counties (Monroe, Pettis, DeKalb, and Caldwell) are counties not in the floodplain of the major rivers. Sixteen more counties had accounts that suggested massasauga populations, but we only have weaker evidence for these counties. Nine of the sixteen are scattered throughout northern Missouri away from the floodplains of the major rivers. Our historic evidence suggests that massasauga were widely distributed throughout the prairie crayfish range in suitable habitat in northern Missouri.

August 7

Investigating Proteases involved in Cancer Metastasis
Sam De Nooy and Kim Buyert (Robbin Eppinga)

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Death does not usually result from the primary tumor, but rather from the spread of the cancer. If we can stop cancer surgically, then the prognosis is often encouraging. Through studying the tumor microenvironment, we are finding an intriguing relationship between the gene dynamin and fibroblasts' extracellular matrix degrading capabilities.

Vice President of Enrollment Management
Howard Wilson

This summer, Howard Wilson became the vice president of enrollment management at Dordt. What does this new admissions position entail? Stop by the Summer Seminar Series on Wednesday to find out more, as Wilson will discuss what the enrollment management team does, what ideas they are considering, and what faculty and staff can do to help.

August 14 (Warning: This presentation, and its title and summary, contain major spoilers.)

“Huh? They’re All in Purgatory?!?”—A Christian Critique of LOST and Its Otherworldly Ending
Josh Matthews

When the popular and critically-acclaimed TV show LOST ended in the spring of 2010, it revealed some of its secrets.  And one of its major secrets—that the mysterious “alternative reality” narrative in the final season was really some kind of post-death purgatory—annoyed lots of viewers. It probably annoyed some of you; it certainly annoyed me. 

Despite this reaction, my presentation will critique LOST’s massive narrative arc and its resolution. I’ll discuss literary precedents, problems, and reasons for LOST’s ending, and I’ll examine what the show’s ending and its use of Christian imagery means for its 21st century global audience.