Archive for December, 2005

Standout Performers of the Week

Friday, December 9th, 2005 | Allie Wieczorek

Kelly Manning
Women’s basketball

Manning led her fifth-ranked Washington University women’s basketball team to a 91-46 rout over Blackburn College on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Manning posted a team-high 26 points in the effort, despite playing for only six minutes in the second half. She shot 10-for-16 from the field and 5-of-10 from three-point range, as well as recording three rebounds and two blocks.

Michael Slavik
Swimming and Diving

Slavik’s standout performances at last weekend’s Wheaton Invitational in Illinois helped guide the men’s swim team to victory. Slavik atomatically qualified for the NCAA Championships in five events and helped the Bears break multiple school records. He earned NCAA “A” cuts in the 50- (20.52), 100- (44.49) and 200-yard freestyles (1:39.77). In addition, Slavik helped the Bears’ 200-free relay (1:22.34) and 800-free relay (6:47.42) teams to automatic qualifying times and school records.

Mike Grunst
Men’s Basketball

Grunst posted a double-double in the University’s 68-50 win over Blackburn College on Wednesday. He led the team with 11 rebounds, and contributed 14 points to the effort, good for second best on the team. In 28 minutes of play, the center also led the team with two blocks and helped the strong Bear defense hold Blackburn to 50 points on the night.

Meredith Nordbrock
Swimming and Diving

Nordbrock led the women’s swim team to a third-place finish at the Wheaton Invitational. She automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships in two events and provisionally qualified in five others, earning NCAA “A” cuts in the 100-yard backstroke (58.31) and the 800-free relay (7:40.73), a school record-breaking time. Nordbrock also provisionally qualified in the 200-yard back (2:06.12) and 200 IM (2:09.22), as well as the 200-medley relay (1:47.76), 400-medley relay (3:56.48) and the 400-free relay (3:34.76).

An unforgettable night: ‘Swish!’

Friday, December 9th, 2005 | Allie Wieczorek

It happened last Sunday night. It was my first truly out-of-body experience. In the seconds leading up to it, I was overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety, anticipation, even fear. Fortunately, this fear only lasted for those few seconds – 1.6 seconds, to be exact.

And then this feeling of pure elation came over me. I was suddenly uncontrollably shaking, and yelling “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” And suddenly, I reached this point where I couldn’t even yell anymore. I couldn’t relax my face. I was unconditionally stuck with this wide-open-mouthed smile that wouldn’t go away, my eyes bulging out of my head. I was frozen from the neck up. And yet, I could’ve sworn the rapid pounding of my heart and trembling of my hands would never go away.

Luckily, I got the feeling back in my face and the convulsing shenanigans eventually came to a halt. But those 1.6 seconds, and the 10 or so minutes that followed them, will be with me forever. And all because of one little sound: “Swish.”

I swore I’d hold off on writing about Duke at least until second semester, but I had to make an exception. And if you saw that Duke-Virginia Tech game Sunday night, you have no choice but to forgive me. Besides, this isn’t about the greatness and superiority of my precious Dukies, but rather about the greatness and superiority of college basketball, as a whole, in the realm of competitive sports.

For those of you who missed the game, it was college basketball at its best. Only in college basketball does an unranked team like the Virginia Tech Hokies actually pose a threat to a No. 1 team like the Duke Blue Devils when they’re visitors at a place like Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Sure, there are upsets in every sport, but in college basketball – particularly in the ACC – no game can ever be approached lightly or overconfidently. In this conference season-opener for both the Blue Devils and the Hokies, the teams faced 19 lead changes and 12 ties. Finally, with a little over four minutes to go, Duke had built an 11-point lead (74-63) and all of us Duke fans could relax a little. They had it.

Or so we thought. Before I knew it, those “a little over four minutes” had passed and Virginia Tech’s Coleman Collins’ tip-in had just finished off Tech’s 12-0 run. That’s right: 1.6 seconds to go and Duke’s down (75-74). After a timeout (and not to mention some debate over the amount of time left and some difficulty getting that amount of time on the scoreboard accurately), Blue Devil rookie Josh McRoberts had the ball at the baseline. He passed it roughly 47 feet to Sean Dockery at half-court. Dockery had no choice but to shoot. And that’s when I heard it: “Swish!”

There was no way that shot wasn’t going in. 1.6 seconds have never gone by so slowly. That ball just flew, almost as if in slow motion, directly to the basket. And then it gracefully fell through the exact center of the hoop. No rim. No backboard. Just “swish.” Buzzer. Game. Perfection. Duke wins 77-75.

Now, that’s college basketball for you. No other sport could generate what went through the minds, bodies, hearts and souls of every person watching that game Sunday night. College basketball, from a fan’s standpoint, is an emotional roller coaster. I find myself so overwhelmingly affected by wins, by losses, and especially by specific single shots, steals, rebounds – you name it. And whether or not there’s a game on or it’s even college basketball season, it distracts me from “real” life, from what I should probably be thinking about or doing instead. But moments like Dockery’s half-court shot to win Sunday’s nights game for Duke make it all worth it.

Water polo takes the Nationals by storm

Friday, December 9th, 2005 | Derek Winters

Washington University has a top 20 nationally ranked water polo team. Unknown to most of the University population, the team has quietly gained a national spotlight from old-fashioned hard work and high school recruiting.

“Our connections to our high schools are the main form of recruitment. Many of our players come from the same high schools throughout the country,” said senior Dan Kozlov, the team’s co-president.

Despite its ability to recruit talented athletes devoted to the game, a club sport like water polo must always deal with the issue of money. In order to stay above the water line (no pun intended), the squad maintains a strict budget and receives a “good” amount of money from Student Union. How much they are given is often correlated with how successful the team is.

Despite Student Union funding, team members still have to pay between $100-$250 dollars a season to keep the team afloat, an amount with which they are willing to part for the team’s success. The final amount each member has to pay depends on the number of trips the team takes.

“Six years ago we didn’t get much funding and we weren’t good. However, Student Union has stepped up the funding and they have seen results,” said Kozlov.

Now in its sixth year of competition, the team is considered an underdog in the Division I world. Facing many “uneven” standards, the team is nonetheless very efficient at winning when it counts.

Starting off the season sluggishly, the team ultimately found itself at a record of 3-5. Being a major underdog and the fourth seed out of five in the Missouri Valley Conference, however, the team rattled off some timely victories against Lindenwood University’s “B” Team and rival Western Illinois to find itself facing Lindenwood’s “A” Team in the Conference Finals. Even though the team lost 19-7, members found themselves in second place in the conference. Lindenwood decided to take a bid to the Division III National Championships, opening up the Missouri Valley Conference spot to the Bears.

“It is very hard to compete with Lindenwood and other teams in the league for various factors, such as time commitment and scholarships,” said Kozlov.

Lindenwood University, located in St. Charles, Mo., is about the same size as Washington University. Lindenwood is known for favoring its sports and scholarships over its academics, though.

“Lindenwood is giving out scholarships all the way up to full rides. We cannot compete with that because we are a club team and we cater to a different student,” said Kozlov.

Another factor regarding the Missouri Valley Conference that is disadvantageous to the Bears is the type of schools in the conference. Unlike the University Athletic Association (UAA), which includes several schools that have similar academics to Wash. U., the Missouri Conference is made up of Lindenwood, Northern Illinois, and Western Illinois. With the exception of Lindenwood, these teams have between 1,200 to 12,000 more students than the University, creating a potentially larger and more talented pool.

Nevertheless, the Bears stood up to the challenges they faced and have taken the water polo world by storm. This season, the team was led by seniors Andrew Killips, who had seven out of the nine goals in the National Championships, Matt Weber, who was a three-year veteran on the squad, and goalkeeper Kozlov.

Referring to reasons behind the team’s overall 3-5 record, Kozlov noted, “We were playing very unorganized at the start of the season because we didn’t have a coach. Another problem is that many guys didn’t really come to practices often.”

The team, which practices three times a week, racking up 15-20 total hours per week, finally found a coach. In doing so, the team gained the motivation it needed and found itself the 14th seed in the Division I National Club Championships, which were held Nov. 18.

Due to the timing of the Club Championships, six out of the 10 starters didn’t make the trip for academic reasons. This gave the opportunity for many freshmen to step up and fill in during their first year.

In the Championships, the Bears faced off against Michigan State University in the first game of the tournament, but was outmatched by the much bigger Spartan team, losing 21-1. The Spartans ended up losing in the Championship game and taking home second place.

In the second game the squad faced Big 12 powerhouse Iowa State. Playing a very poor first half, the Bears went into halftime down 10-1. Better defense and six goals from Andrew Killips narrowed the gap to 18-8, however, before the Bears finally lost and ended their season.

The team looks to rebuild and reload for next season, with an already strong foundation in place to build a “great” team.

“We have so many freshmen and many of them have National Championship experience. There is no reason why this club shouldn’t be great in the years to come,” said Kozlov.

The club is set up like a corporation, according to Kozlov. The team puts juniors and underclassmen in roles on the board to prepare how to run the club. Junior Alex Mueller will be looked to as one of the new leaders for next year.

“The club is a lot like a business. We have to allocate money, set up travel, manage people, and hopefully win some games along the way,” said Kozlov.

The team has been invited to three off-season tournaments in Iowa, Colorado, and New Orleans for the rest of this season.

A final goodbye to senior fall athletes

Friday, December 9th, 2005 | David Kramer

As an ode to the departing senior fall athletes, Student Life asked the stars of our fall sports about their experiences at the University, what they’ve learned, what they’re walking away with and everything in between. In a group discussion format, seniors Brennan Bonner (cross country), Brad Duesing (football), Kara Liefer (volleyball), and Andrea Moreland (cross country) took a stroll down memory lane.

The Athletes:

Brennan Bonner: of Baltimore, Md., a biomedical engineering major, was the No. 1 runner for the men’s cross country team. Bonner was named to the all-Midwest region in 2004 and 2005, first team all-UAA for the past three years, and helped lead the Bears to the University Athletic Association (UAA) title in 2003 with a personal best 8K time of 24:52.00.

Brad Duesing: of Cincinnati, Ohio, a political science major, was twice named UAA offensive player of the year and was a four-time first team all-UAA honoree. Duesing, a team captain, had a school-record 75 catches for 1,136 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2005. He eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards for the fourth-consecutive season, becoming only the second player in NCAA history (Division I, II or III) to record four consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He ranks first in school history in pass receptions and receiving yards, third in Division III history in receptions (287) and sixth in receiving yards (4,249).

Kara Liefer: of Red Bud, Ill., a mathematics major and the setter and co-captain for the women’s volleyball team, was a three-time AVCA All-America selection (including two first-team nods), and led the UAA in assists per game (11.92) in 2005. Liefer was a two-time team captain and ranks third on the Bears’ career assists list (4,461). Liefer also tallied eight career triple-doubles and helped lead her squad to a 35-2 record in 2005 and a national championship in 2003.

Andrea Moreland: of Rochester, Mich., a French and economics major, was a senior runner for the girl’s cross country team and a three-time all-UAA athlete. Moreland helped the women’s team win four consecutive UAA titles and four consecutive national top 10 finishes.

What was your favorite sports memory at Washington University?

Liefer: Mine would have to be winning the national championship my sophomore year. We beat La Verne in the semifinals and the championship game was held at La Verne. It was nice to beat them on their own court, because the atmosphere there was like a 10. It was a really packed area with a lot of fans screaming and yelling at us that kind of gave us some power behind our win. We did end up beating one of our conference rivals in the finals (NYU), which was nice, too. Also, we had not won a national championship for so long and it was nice to bring that back to Wash. U. after so many years of drought.

Moreland: My favorite moment would have to be my freshman year when we found out we got fourth place at Nationals. It was a really special moment because we had really exceeded expectations of what we could do and we just really came together as a team to accomplish what we did.

Duesing: I would have to say that it was my last game against Greenville, at least for me personally, ’cause I had a really good game; but also, the team rallying after falling behind early and then to come back and score 35 unanswered points and just really end the season on a good note after starting out 1-3. To end on four straight wins definitely builds the confidence for the guys coming back next year to work hard in the off-season.

Bonner: My favorite moment would have to be indoor conference championships last year when I won the 3K and set a school record by beating the school record. My teammate Kevin Gale also broke the school record.

Did you ever wonder what it would be like if you had gone to a bigger school?

Liefer: Well, when I was choosing where I would go to school I was recruited by a lot of smaller D-I and D-II schools in Illinois. I live really close to St. Louis, so I knew a lot about Wash. U. Wash U. had pretty much the complete package with academics, as well as a chance to compete and win a national championship every year, so really I have no regrets.

Moreland: I chose Wash. U. because I realized they take athletics seriously, but also that I could also have a chance at the full college experience. I am really glad I chose to come here.

Duesing:: I never really had too many other options to play football, but I definitely wanted to continue playing football, and Wash. U. had great academics that gave me a chance here.

Bonner:: When I was looking at colleges I knew I wanted to go into engineering and I knew that I wanted to keep running, and I just narrowed it down to about four schools. Coming to Wash.U., I just felt really comfortable with the situation here.

Looking back at your four years here do you have any regrets?

Liefer: I didn’t necessarily have any regrets. Sometimes you wonder what it would be like, but with the athletics here and the academics, it’s really the best of both worlds. With the volleyball team in particular we’ve been really successful every year I have been here. So I really don’t have any regrets because I’ve had a great time, playing on a sports team, and doing well on a competitive team and academically.

Moreland: No regrets.

Duesing:: I don’t have any regrets. If I had gone D-I, I would have had to walk on and I would have had to have been on the scout team for four years and maybe gotten a chance to see the field like one or two games. The best part about playing a sport here is actually being in the games. At Wash. U. I got an opportunity to play and I am happy for that.

Bonner:: You sometimes wonder what it would be like. I mean, now I guess it’s different with running, because with cross country we actually got to race a lot of D-I schools and you realize that you’re actually better than a lot of D-I runners. So I have no regrets because I really wasn’t missing out.

Did you have any role models or people you would like to thank?

Bonner:: I would say this guy who was a junior my freshman year and captain two times, Matt Foley. He was an okay runner in high school but he was a crazy example of hard work. He would do all the smaller things to a “T.” I guess coming in, since I only ran two years in high school (played soccer two years), he helped me really mature as a runner and I was really thankful for his help.

Duesing: I would say Coach Kindbom because he has been coaching me for four years. Also there was an offensive coordinator, Coach Keene, who recruited me in high school. I guess he saw something in my tapes that he really liked that no other coaches saw and then once I got here he kind of stuck his neck out on the line and told Coach Kindbom to start me as a freshman, which was kind of unheard of here at Wash. U., so I am really thankful for him as well.

Moreland: I don’t think I have any real role models but I really appreciated that Coach Stiles has always really believed in me even when I wasn’t having a great season. When I was going through a rough time he always knew that I would bounce back. It was really encouraging when you’re having harder times, to have someone keep encouraging you.

Liefer: When I was a sophomore, Katie Quinn was a senior, and that was the year that I started for the first time. We won the national championship that year, but she was really positive all the time, never complained, and was such a hard worker. I was young and she really helped me out and told me what to do in certain situations. Also, Coach Luenemann, because he took extra time for me to give me extra help because setters need to go in for additional practices like a quarterback that needs extra throws with his receivers. Lastly, my senior teammates Megan Houck and Nicole Hodgman, who have been there for me no matter how tough the times were for me or the team, and I really appreciate them for always being great friends.

Are there any words of advice you want to leave your teammates after four years of experience?

Bonner:: Every year at the end of the year there is a cross country banquet and seniors always say that it goes by so fast, and that’s probably what I am going to end up saying. I mean, it really does go by really fast, and it’s a great time.

Duesing: I’d probably say the same thing. Even when you are by yourself doing your last rep, you still get to play college football. I mean, look at all the people that are done after their senior year in high school. You still get to play four more years. Just cherish every moment.every game.every snap.

Moreland: I would tell them to remember that every time you go out there that this could be the last time you ever get to do something that you love everyday with 20 or 30 other people your age that love it, too. Just really appreciate that you are part of a team.

Liefer: I agree with all of these things, but to add to it, just to make the best of it, try your hardest. be competitive. like you all said, it’s going to be over when you graduate, unless you go play professional somewhere, which doesn’t happen very often. So just have fun.

What are your plans after graduation?

Liefer: Well, I’m doing an internship in St. Louis at a consultant firm, Millman Inc., and they actually offered me a job, so that is what I plan on doing. I haven’t taken exams yet, but I took the job. So after I finish the exams, I will be working there.

Moreland: I was just offered a job in Washington, D.C. at the Corporate Executive Board of research analysts and I’m pretty sure I am going to take it.

Duesing: I’m still searching right now, but I am going to take the LSAT in the spring, and probably take a year off and then probably go to law school.

Bonner: It’s still up in the air what I do next year. I am really interested in doing Teach for America, but I am not sure.

NFL Week 14: WU do you pick?

Friday, December 9th, 2005 | The Sports staff

Jordan Katz:

Once a cross-state rivalry, this week’s game essentially means nothing, other than another minor obstacle to the Bengals, who will clinch the AFC North for the first time since the first Bush administration. Carson Palmer will perform like he always does – efficiently and accurately, and Chad Johnson will send the Browns scrambling for the Pepto-Bismol. Cleveland’s rookie starting QB, Charlie Frye, will play decently but won’t put up numbers big enough to get the ‘W.’ Rueben Droughns, Cleveland’s first 1000-yard RB since the year “Back to the Future” came out, will put up a solid game against a weak Bengal front line, but the Browns will need about one point twenty one giga-watts of effort from the whole team to even have a chance at this one. It pains me to say this, but the Browns will lose again.

Cincinnati 26, Cleveland 16

Alex Schwartz:

This week’s spotlight will focus on the bitter NFC East division rivalry between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Football Giants. To put it simply, however, this is not likely to be the Giants’ most difficult game of the season. The Eagles are missing WR Terrell Owens, RB Brian Westbrook, and QB Donovan McNabb. Can they still win? Well, would you want to go see The Beatles perform without Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison? It was called Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, and history has learned to pretend it never happened. Lining up across from the cast of misfits on the Eagles offense will be the suddenly staunch and sophisticated Giant defense, which has stifled and stymied the opposition in recent games. Expect the Giants to defend their lead atop the NFC East as they roll to another victory against the Eagles.

New York 30, Philadelphia 13

Disabled students find resources on campus

Friday, December 9th, 2005 | Amanda Ogus

By now, most students have learned about many of the ways in which Wash. U. caters to the needs of everyone. From the thriving Career Center to late hours at Olin Library to themed Center Court dinners, Wash. U. definitely offers many resources to students. While students have heard about the many ways in which to take care of their tuition payments, there are still many aspects of the campus that few students take advantage of or even know about. The Disabilities Resource (DR) component of Cornerstone is one such resource.

The DR provides a plethora of resources for about 250 undergraduate and graduate students. These resources include extended time for exams, a distraction-reduced environment, in-class note takers and texts with enlarged print. Most of the resources center around the academic arena, as students are encouraged to utilize their four-year adviser for most other problems.

Disability Resources Coordinator Zachary McBee approves of Wash. U.’s style of aid.

“Really, at this point for students, especially students who are registering here, they’ve been dealing with a disability for a long time, so they have learned how to cope with it, how to adjust to it, how to advocate for themselves,” said McBee. “There isn’t a lot of counseling that is going on, or ongoing advising, because they really just need their academic accommodation for them to show what they know.”

McBee believes that the DR is mainly set up to help students exhibit all their knowledge and achieve their academic goals by minimizing challenges posed by their disability. He maintains that the character of each school is reflected in its learning disabilities resources, making each department different. McBee is impressed by the attention Wash. U. has given to the DR’s academic resources.

“I don’t think there is another university like Wash. U., and because of that, we have our own distinct students we are working with,” said McBee. “No university is the same. No disability office is providing the same sort of thing. There is no perfect program. There is nothing we can model ourselves after. We provide what is necessary for the students here. It’s really based on the students who walk onto this campus every fall.”

The University’s smaller student body also changes the shape of the program. With a larger amount of students, larger state schools must treat many more cases of physical disabilities, which affects the character of the program. While the DR does deal with students who have either temporary or permanent physical disabilities, these students make up a smaller percentage than at state schools.

Most of the disabilities treated at the DR, about 70 percent, said McBee, are learning disabilities like dyslexia or Attention Deficit Disorder. There are many restrictions placed on aid for disabilities at the college level, so the DR must run through a specific process in order to make sure that a student qualifies for aid.

“There are things that we can provide to students with a disability, but they have to meet a certain set of criteria,” said McBee. “If we are providing that to any student who wants it, it’s an unfair advantage [over] the rest of the students.”

McBee strongly believes that the effect of the disability on a student’s life is particularly great at the college level, especially at an institution like Wash. U.

“I always tell students that as much as you are dealing with your disability, it is an opportunity for you to learn the things that you are going to need for when you get out to the real world,” said McBee. “When students with disabilities get out of the University and into the real world, their disabilities are not going to affect their everyday lives that much.”

There are many ways for students without disabilities to get involved at the DR. The center is always looking for students to bring their notes from class or to proctor exams at different times during the day.

Gut bacteria may provide insight into weight loss

Friday, December 9th, 2005 | Laura Geggel

When a grocery shopper glances at the nutritional information on a box of Cheerios, the number of calories is 110 calories for a serving size of one cup. But depending on the type of bacteria living in the shopper’s gut, the full 110 calories may not be fully absorbed. The number of calories denotes “the absolute amount of energy in that serving, and shoppers with different [types] of bacteria in their gut may harvest and store different amounts of energy from that same serving,” said Jeffrey Gordon, the director of the Center for Genome Sciences at the School of Medicine, and the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor.

Over 800 species of microbes live in the human gut. Consequently, research on bacteria may be able to offer insights about how energy and weight are stored in the human body. Gut bacteria also may be the key to drug therapies that could treat a variety of digestive or weight loss processes.

Gordon, along with Ruth Ley, an instructor in molecular biology and pharmacology, recently received approval from the National Institutes of Health to sequence 100 microbial genomes.

“We think of this as the next logical step in the human genome project because the micro-biome is an integral part of our genetic landscape,” said Gordon. “We can begin to understand the different types of properties these organisms bring to us.”

“Most people think of bacteria as being adversaries, pathogens, [but] we think that most of our encounters with microbes are friendly and mutually beneficial,” he continued.

Although the microbes that reside in human guts are foreign entities, often introduced at the time of birth, from mothers and from the environment, they are essential to digestion and fat storage.

“We’ve done experiments in [bacteria] free mice that show that when you add bacteria in a very short period of time, the mice acquire a market increase of 60 percent in the amount of fat cells,” Gordon said.

He added that, “The way that works is that the microbes help break down these indigestible components of the diet and liberate the calories, but they also help the host by allowing the energy that is liberated to be stored in fat cells. They do so by manipulating a series of genes in the host.”

“You can think of this symbiosis in a very elegant way, in that microbes not only help break down components of the diet and liberate calories that would otherwise be lost, but also to ensure that those calories are stored,” said Gordon.

Gut bacteria, for instance, can break down polysaccharides, a carbohydrate found in plants that are integrated into everything from bread to pasta.

Gut bacteria, also believed to influence metabolism, may eventually allow scientists to form drugs specific to people with certain species of bacteria living in their gut.

“Armed with that knowledge of what the metabolic potential of these microbes are, I think that we will begin to see clinical trials within the next five years. For example, the nature of nutritional advice is predicated on the knowledge of what the microbes in an individual’s gut can do, so [individuals could have] more of a personalized nutrition of what they should consume,” said Gordon.

The microbes, which interact with genes in the storage of fat, could potentially help overweight individuals drop pounds.

“This gene product, which actually operates to limit the amount of fat stored, could become more of a potential therapeutic agent,” he said.

Despite the crucial role gut bacteria play in digestion and energy storage, the microbes’ genomes have only recently been addressed within the scientific community. While the first comprehensive description of microbes in the human gut was published in June 2005, Gordon explained that the study only included three adult humans.

“There was quite a large differences in types of bacteria present,” he said. “We don’t know if the membership to the community vary or operate differently. It may be that there’s a lot of redundancy among the types of bacteria even though they’re called different organisms, they may perform similar functions.”

Gordon and Ley hope to sequence gut bacteria first in mice and then compare and contrast microbes in people living in different regions of the planet, “both to understand how humans vary in respect to one another and how environment influences differences in genes,” said Gordon.

Surviving finals: how to keep your sanity

Friday, December 9th, 2005 | Mackenzie Leonard

As classes wind down for the fall semester and students approach Reading Week, a spirit of angst seems to permeate the Washington University community as students come to the realization that finals are near.

For many college students, finals represent a hectic week of long, sleepless nights, skipped meals, and pre-exam cram sessions. Even the typically over-achieving, forward-thinking student can feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of material that must be mastered and memorized prior to each exam.

Alan Glass, director of Student Health and Counseling Services, said students should be particularly vigilant about maintaining positive health habits during exam week.

“Sometimes because of increased stress or lack of sleep, immune systems aren’t what they should be, so we see an increase of infectious-type illnesses (i.e. sore throats, colds, and bronchitis),” said Glass.

He added, “The counseling service sees increased incidents of anxiety, stress, and sleep difficulties. Those who have pre-existing mental health issues become more severe during times of stress.”

With so many physical and mental health concerns exacerbated during finals, students must do all in their power to maintain the lowest stress levels possible. Glass recommended that students “be conscious of their diets – there’s sometimes a tendency to ‘get the munchies’ – and try to maintain a consistent schedule as much as possible; eat a balanced diet; drink plenty of fluids; try to limit caffeine intake or to keep it consistent with what you do the rest of the year; and attempt to get restful sleep. Your brain needs sleep to accurately process and retain information.”

Freshman Ningning Ma plans to do just that.

“I think I’m going to get seven to eight hours of sleep [every night]. I’m going to [keep from getting stressed] by setting aside some time for studying and some for relaxation,” she said.

Though following Glass’s suggestions can seem almost impossible during a time when academics are at the forefront of everyone’s mind, numerous resources are available on campus to assist students in reviewing for and preparing for exams and in eliminating as much stress as possible.

Cornerstone offers a number of study aids and help sessions for students during finals. According to Harvey Fields, assistant director of academic programs for Cornerstone, Peer Led Team Learning (PLTL) groups are an excellent resource for students already involved in them (students must register for these at the beginning of the semester).

For students not participating in PLTL or study groups or those who are participating in the programs but would like extra assistance, Cornerstone offers scheduled “work sessions” (exam review sessions between now and the times of the finals) for general chemistry, general chemistry lab, organic chemistry, organic chemistry lab, physics, all calculus classes, and Math 217. The schedule for these sessions is posted on the kiosk in front of Cornerstone and on Cornerstone’s Web site (

Fields also noted that those who live in Brookings, Wayman Crow, or William Greenleaf Eliot Residential Colleges have access to their residential peer mentors (RPMs) during their established office hours. RPMs are also willing to help a limited number of students who don’t live in their residential college but who are seeking help during office hours.

In describing how students should go about preparing for finals, Fields said, “It is never too late to utilize time management principles to prepare for one’s exams. Time management can be the tool to help students allocate adequate time for studying on a staggered basis.”

He further noted, “We always recommend that students use the course-designed materials – any office hours or help sessions that are offered by the department should always be utilized.”

The numerous resources mentioned above as well as those available through professors and departments will certainly assist students in preparing for exams in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

According to Glass, “This is a challenging time of year for students, and I’d encourage them to be sensible and make good decisions about health behaviors. And even the smartest students could use a little luck, so I wish them good luck.”

Mars rovers continue their operation

Friday, December 9th, 2005 | Elizabeth Lewis

They were supposed to survive only 90 days. Yet they’ve lasted for two years – two Earth years, that is.

But one of the men who controls Spirit and Opportunity, two NASA rovers exploring Mars, said he isn’t surprised.

“They are very well-built machines. I wouldn’t be surprised if they lasted another year,” said Ray Arvidson, the deputy principal investigator for the mission and a faculty member in Washington University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

The department’s building is one of 30 sites around the nation that manage the rover. Arvidson, along with other faculty, undergraduates and graduate students, holds a series of meetings each day with the other sites to coordinate rover activities.

The two rovers landed in Jan. 2004 on opposite sides of Mars, near the equator. The mission’s purpose was to see if the planet had water in the past. Liquid water does not exist today on Mars due to its extremely cold climate, but there is direct evidence that liquid water once flowed on the planet.

Right now, Spirit is climbing Husband Hill, looking for exposed rocks on the crust of the planet like sandstone, ejecta, and ash, and it has found that all of them have been modified by groundwater trickling through those areas.

The Opportunity rover is examining a set of rocks very close to the surface that formed in shallow lakes billions of years ago.

The average day for Arvidson and his team starts around 10 a.m., when there is a kick-off meeting in which about 30-40 people discuss what they would like the rovers to do. The ideas are then narrowed down to the most important activities and compiled in a computer list.

Two or three hours later, there are two successive walkthroughs where the group discusses preliminary summaries and reviews of sequences. Finally, around 6 p.m., there is a Commander Approval Meeting (CAM) where the group makes sure that the processes are safe and scientifically important. The data is then given to the NASA engineers who form the data into a radio signal to be sent to the rovers.

The machines are solar-powered and must receive their instructions during the Martian day, meaning making contact with them can be a harrowing task.

“Every day, Earth time moves 39 minutes ahead of Mars time. Also, the two rovers are on opposite sides of the planet. We have to keep three times in mind and we really have to watch the times,” said Arvidson.

NASA and the University are planning future Mars missions, which they hope will uncover more secrets of the planet or perhaps even life.

“These zones are places that had the right stuff at the right time to form life,” said Arvidson.

In the meantime, he is basking in the success of the current rovers.

“NASA is very proud of the mission,” he said.

WU selected as historic physics site

Friday, December 9th, 2005 | Helen Rhee

The American Physical Society has selected Washington University as a historically significant site to the field of physics. The University is the location where Arthur Holly Compton, former chancellor and professor of physics, did his Nobel Prize-winning research on X-rays. APS has also selected four other universities to be designed as part of the register of historic sites. APS has launched the project just this year to recognize historically significant sites to the field of physics.

On Dec. 12, Chancellor Mark Wrighton will receive the plaque on behalf of the University, presented by John Hopfield, president of the APS. The plaque will be placed inside the Eads Hall main entrance, where the building basement served as the laboratory for Compton when he discovered the X-ray scattering effect.

As a part of the commemoration ceremony, Neal Lane, former director of the National Science Foundation and chief science adviser to President Bill Clinton, will give a keynote speech, entitled “Compton and Science Policy.” Following the address, physics professor Michael Friedlander will discuss “Compton as Chancellor.” John Rigden, adjunct professor of physics, will speak about the significance of Compton’s experiment.

In 1920, Compton began his career at Washington University as the Wayman Crow Professor of Physics in Arts & Sciences and the chair of the physics department. During the ensuing three years, Compton investigated the dual nature of X-ray research, and subsequently received his Nobel Prize in physics.

Friedlander remarked on the significance of Compton’s research in the field of physics. “His x-ray experiments were important steps in stimulating the invention of quantum theory, which took place in Europe during the 1920s,” said Friedlander.

In 1923, Compton transferred to the University of Chicago, where he investigated such topics as cosmic ray physics. During World War II, he served the important role of director of the Metallurgical Laboratory for Atomic Projects. In 1945, he returned to the University and became its ninth chancellor.

“He was a very distinguished scientist. Washington University was fortunate to have him come back as chancellor,” said Friedlander.

Compton received the Nobel Prize in physics for his discovery of the X-ray scattering effect. He discovered that an X-ray loses energy when it scatters off an electron. This is also known as the “Compton effect”, which demonstrated behavior similarly between radiation and particles.

The four other places that were selected for inclusion in the APS Register of Historic Sites include Case Western Reserve University, the location o f the Michelson-Morely experiment; the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, to celebrate Benjamin Franklin’s work in electricity; Johns Hopkins University, the site of Henry Rowland’s experiment; and Yale University, to recognize the contribution of J. Willard Gibbs in the development of thermodynamics.

According to Alan Chodos, associate executive officer at the APS, the initial idea to begin the Register of Historical Sites came from Europe, where important sites in science are already being commemorated. He stated that the registry is one of the ways to raise pubic awareness about important historic events, noting that that APS would continue to recognize numerous sites in the upcoming years.

The registry coincides with the 2005 World Year of physics.