Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Summer at Wheaton

New programs extend, broaden learning opportunities

High school junior Noah Schultz presents a business idea during a July session of the new Discover@Wheaton.

High school junior Noah Schultz presents a business idea during a July session of the new Discover@Wheaton.

It’s a warm, sunny morning in mid-July—peak summer vacation time—and Ethan Farrell, a high school senior from Cleveland, Ohio, is standing at the front of a classroom in the Mars Center for Science and Technology, pitching a business idea.

Farrell is the last of six teens in Discover@Wheaton’s “Innovation and Social Change” class to deliver a rocket pitch—a three-minute presentation aimed at potential investors (played by President Dennis M. Hanno, Associate Professor Kim Miller, and student mentors Leslie Gould ’15, Andrew Mani ’16 and Jackson Towle ’16).

“Rivers, streams, fish, birds … they’re everywhere, but what if they weren’t?” Farrell begins. His idea is to design a system to catch salt and sediment from roads and prevent harmful buildup in watersheds. He plans to market the system to parks and cities.

After his presentation, Farrell receives feedback from the class. Then the “investors”  head out into the hallway to decide which two projects will move on. From here, the high schoolers will split into two groups and spend the last two weeks of the inaugural Discover@Wheaton Summer College for High School Students developing their ideas into real businesses—all while attending class for four hours a day and daily workshops on subjects such as PowerPoint and LinkedIn, working their way through three textbooks and several articles and films, and participating in academic and social activities outside of class.

Summer vacation? Not exactly. This is the new summer at Wheaton—a wider-reaching, more broadly defined type of liberal arts education—and things are heating up. [Read more...]

An unexpected journey

Wheaton’s alumnae/i are prepared to take on whatever opportunity comes their way. Thanks to Wheaton’s distinctive liberal arts experience, they’re well-rounded, critical thinkers and seasoned communicators who do well with any major they choose. In February, a group of them returned to campus for the annual Sophomore Symposium to share with current students how Wheaton poised them for great careers—even those that were unexpected. [Read more...]

Scientist has formula for success:

Perseverance, perspective and a healthy sense of humor

Joshua Nordberg ’00Sometimes science is messy, and not for the faint of heart. It requires perseverance.

As a scientist currently immersed in groundbreaking work developing less-invasive diagnostic tests for cancer and Lyme disease, Joshua Nordberg ’00 knows what it means to persevere—even in the most trying of circumstances.

A sense of humor helps, which is something he learned from Professor of Biology Robert Morris. Like the time sea urchins started spawning in the lab aquarium, forcing a panicked Nordberg to call Morris at 1 a.m.

“Dr. Bob rushed back to the lab to clean up, laughing the whole time,” recalled Nordberg, a biology major. It was among their many funny, legendary moments together. [Read more...]

The business of science, the science of business

Course explores balance between “greater good,” profit

Every pill has a story. Before it got to a medicine cabinet, that pill had to pass the scrutiny of scientists toiling in labs. It had to win confidence in business meetings and prove itself safe to government regulators.

Along the way, that pill could cost $1 billion or more in investment, and go on to generate billions in profit. That path, in more technical terms, is called life science commercialization, and it drives major sectors of the U.S. economy. It affects taxpayers, doctors, politicians, patients and anyone buying or selling a product that was once developed in a bio lab. Yet few undergraduates in the United States actually learn about that process.

Last fall, Professor of Biology Robert Morris and Visiting Assistant Professor of Business and Management David Huizenga combined their experience and wisdom to form “Applied Health Science” (MGMT 298).

The course examined life science commercialization, and the tension between the good and greed that drives it. Students first mastered the fundamental ways that science and business meet—from funding and patents, to government regulations and profits. In turn, they got a glimpse of their different chosen concentrations functioning in a real-world context, whether they were majoring in the humanities, sciences or social sciences. Ultimately, the professors advocated embracing this tension, and applying it to the competing interests, ethical ideals and practical constraints in contemporary problems. [Read more...]