Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Programmed for success

Computer whiz blends technology, liberal arts

RIchard Neal ’15

As a teaching assistant, RIchard Neal ’15 helps other students

Apple’s late founder Steve Jobs once said he believed that technology, on its own, is not enough: “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing,” he explained.

Richard Neal ’15 is a great example of what Jobs meant, and what Wheaton’s curriculum encourages. He is double majoring in computer science and mathematics and  also earning a minor in secondary education. Neal is deeply involved in some of the college’s most innovative initiatives, while also serving as a teaching assistant and a tutor. On top of all that, he plans to graduate in just three years.

Neal, who grew up in a suburb outside Boston, said that technology has always been a major part of his life, but he didn’t arrive at Wheaton planning to major in computer science. However, he was drawn in by a few introductory classes and encouragement from two professors of computer science, Mark LeBlanc and Tom Armstrong. Neal has done independent studies with both professors; during one he helped create cowDuck, a free iPhone app that provides Wheaton students with information about the college. [Read more...]

Family matters

Joseph Lee ’08 brings leading-edge science to infertility research

Joseph Lee ’08As Superstorm Sandy chased tens of thousands of New Yorkers from Lower Manhattan in October, Joseph Lee ’08 played a role in an altogether different human drama less than two miles from surging floodwaters.

At the Midtown offices of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York (RMA), where Lee is research project manager, live incubated embryos awaiting uterine implantation suddenly were at risk when much of the island lost power. So were the childbearing hopes of as many as 10 women scheduled for fertility treatments that had to be performed within a 48-hour window. In the end, the power held, even as stress levels spiked.

“There was a lot of confusion and nerves were high. The phones were ringing off the hook,” says Lee, who was unable to return to his Queens home because of the storm. “We tried to answer everyone’s questions, and we were on 24/7 alert to make sure everything was OK.”

There was good reason for vigilance. Sixty blocks south, NYU Fertility Center not only lost power, but its basement flooded and generators failed, forcing frenzied staff to safeguard embryos in liquid nitrogen. No embryos were lost at either center, and RMA of New York was able to provide transportation and lodging to patients with scheduled appointments.

[Read more...]

Biology major sails into academic adventure

Betsy Meyer ’14

Betsy Meyer ’14 in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Only a year ago, Elizabeth “Betsy” Meyer ’14 had never traveled far from the Boston suburb where she grew up, let alone flown on a plane or set out to sea for days on end.

What a difference a semester makes—particularly if the semester is spent enrolled in the Maritime Studies Program of Williams College and Mystic Seaport, which has been giving undergraduates a hands-on interdisciplinary experience learning about the sea since 1977.

Meyer, a 21-year-old biology major, spent last fall living in a historic house on the grounds of the seaport in Stonington, Conn., and studying in nontraditional classrooms like a sailing vessel along the coast of California. Quoting Woody Guthrie, Meyer said she “literally got to see America ‘from the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters,’ accompanied by fantastically intelligent people who related everything I saw to our academic studies.”

[Read more...]

Creating learning opportunities from research grants

Professor Matthew EvansProfessor Matthew Evans and four Wheaton students will spend the next three summers above the Arctic Circle seeking to better understand how the melting of Greenland’s glaciers will contribute to rising sea levels.

“The big question is how the Disko Bay system has responded to temperature changes in the recent past,” Professor Evans said. “The hope is that we can better predict how warming will impact the system in the future. It’s an important system, with one of the fastest-advancing and iceberg-producing glaciers on Earth.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a $139,104 grant to Evans for the research effort, which will also take the Wheaton team to the National Ice Core Lab in Denver, Colo., to analyze the 100-meter ice cores they will collect in Greenland. [Read more...]