On Monday, January 21, it’s National Squirrel Appreciation Day. (Yes, it does seem there is, in fact, a national day for everything. But who can begrudge squirrels their very own day?)
Hope College has one faculty member and one staff member who know quite a bit about squirrels since the little critters are the college’s unofficial mascot due to their numerous, lively and beloved presence on campus.
Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray, professor of biology, has conducted several squirrel investigations as part of her Animal Behavior classes through the years. She’s able to set the record straight about the many myths surrounding black-coated squirrels. They are not a separate species, they did not arrive in Holland, Michigan, as the results of a wrecked circus train long ago, and their “aggressive” behaviors are the same as other squirrels. As a service to all squirrels everywhere, she can debunk misconceptions, relate some amazing foraging decisions squirrels make, as well as address squirrel genetic research regarding coat colors.
Greg Olgers, long-time director of news media services for the Public Affairs and Marketing Office, is also somewhat of a squirrel aficionado. His research and writing about the “culture” of squirrels at Hope, in Holland and even nationwide for a News from Hope College story in 2016 meant he was digging into multiple sources for nuggets of wisdom about the creature. He can address how Holland and other U.S. cities actively built their squirrel populations in city parks at the turn of the 20th century.
Though it may not seem that old, the computer mouse will soon celebrate a half-century of existence. Inventors Douglas Engelbart and Bill English began working on the device as early as 1963. English was the lead author of a 1965 report that featured the first print mention of the first mouse prototype. The Mother of All Demos, as the event has come to be known, took place on December 9, 1968, when Engelbart demonstrated his mouse, which moved rigidly along x/y axes.
During Dr. Herb Dershem’s long tenure in the department of computer science at Hope College, he saw a wide and fast-moving array of computer innovation. “When I began at Hope, the only way to interact with a computer was by a punch card,” he says. Dershem taught in the department for 44 years (1969-2013) during the period when the computer mouse was introduced, welcomed, and embraced, revolutionizing personal and business computing along the way. He is now director of institutional research at the college and can address such questions as:
How did the palm-sized contraption that we all know and love get its name?
How have the ergonomics, technology and functionality of the computer mouse changed since its invention?
How has the introduction and increased use of touch screens and voice recognition changed the way people use computer mice? Are they actually being used less frequently?
The Thanksgiving holiday is a perfect time to reflect on everything we are grateful for in our lives. Research shows that gratitude has daily benefits, both psychologically and physiologically, no matter the time of year.
Dr. Lindsey Root Luna, associate professor of psychology at Hope College, is a clinical psychologist who investigates how virtues are connected to our physiology. In particular, she is interested in the how embodying gratitude, mindfulness, forgiveness, and hope impact our psychological and physiological functioning. In a recent study with Hope neuroscience students, Root Luna investigated the influence of brief gratitude, mindfulness, and hope inductions in combating worry in college students. Although the mindfulness imagery had a greater impact on physiology, like muscle tension and respiration rate, gratitude imagery produced the most positive outcomes psychologically.
National Entrepreneurs’ Day on Wednesday, November 20 is a day to celebrate the hard-working, entrepreneurial men and women who have achieved success, sometimes against all odds, and were able to help a lot of people by creating jobs for them in the process. This day is celebrated during the month of November, which was declared as Entrepreneurship Month by President Barack Obama in 2012.
Mary Ellen Kettelhut is the director of the entrepreneurship program at Hope. Also a coach in the college’s Center for Leadership since 2015, Kettelhut spent most of her career (30 years) working in marketing for Fortune 100 companies, such as Herman Miller, Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Gerber. Within those companies, Kettelhut launched 36 new products as those companies’ intra-preneur. She is uniquely qualified to address stories about the motivations, design, implementation and effects of entrepreneurial projects and their high community impact.
Thanksgiving Day is a day for people to remember all that they’re thankful for and to celebrate that gratitude with friends and family. It’s also a day when food and feasting take center stage on tables (and in stomachs) across the country. But where did much of our food originate and what is its place in history beyond the United States? Global food history and food identity are unique topics which Dr. Lauren Janes can address at this food-centric time of year.
Janes, associate professor of history at Hope, is a food history scholar and the author of one book on the subject with another forthcoming in 2020. Her first book, Colonial Food in Interwar France: The Taste of Empire, was published in 2016 by Bloomsbury Academic. Her next text, Nourishing the World: A Global History in Three Foods and One Dish, is currently under contract for Hackett Press and in the writing stages by Janes. She often weaves lessons about how different foods affected world history into her classes at Hope and in her May Term course in Paris as well.
At 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the first World War ended with Germany signing an armistice prepared by Britain and France. The “War to End All Wars” had lasted four years and four months. The United States’ involvement lasted a little more than a year, having declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.
Dr. Jeanne Petit, professor of history and chair of the department, has conducted extensive research on the United War Work Campaign, an interfaith program that raised funds to support U.S. soldiers during World War I. As part of this project, Dr. Petit took four Hope students to the Library of Congress in summer 2015 as part of a Great Lakes College Association grant. Their final product was a website, For the Boys Over There: The 1918 United War Work Campaign.
Additionally, in 2017, she and Dr. Geoffrey Reynolds, Director of The Joint Archives of Holland, led another group of three students in researching how WWI affected the homefront in Holland, Michigan, and at Hope College.
The end of daylight savings is near, this year on Sunday, November 4. While the clock changing event might give you an extra hour of sleep, “falling back” still affects your circadian clock for a few days and so do the resulting dim days that follow.
Dr. Andrew Gall, assistant professor of psychology, is a behavioral neuroscientist who focuses his research on understanding the neural mechanisms and functions of sleep and circadian rhythms. He recently studied how dim light, a winter malady, is capable of disrupting the expression of circadian rhythms. Specifically, dim light causes a shift in behavioral patterns, such that it is more difficult to be awake during the day and can lead to more wakefulness at night. In his recent study forthcoming in the Journal of Comparative Psychology (a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the American Psychological Association), Nile grass rats — a day-active species — became more night-active when they were presented with dim light during the day. This has implications for us living in West Michigan, where about 70 percent of the days in the winter are cloudy, thus resulting in dim light. In fact, across the country, humans are exposed to less light in the winter, which can result in Seasonal Affective Disorder, depression, and mood swings.
With Halloween at its end, October is the time for scary stories. While we’re familiar with narratives like Frankenstein’s monster, Edgar Allen Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart, “The Blair Witch Project” and Toni Morrison’s Beloved,Dr. Kendra R. Parker’s longtime research focuses on lesser-known depictions of black female vampires in African American women’s novels and American films.
Parker, an assistant professor of English and affiliate faculty in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, has written extensively on the topic, and in December, her first book, She Bites Back: Black Female Vampires in African American Women’s Novels, 1977-2011, will be released by Lexington Press.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opened to college-going high school seniors and their families just a week and a half ago. According to collegeboard.org, in 2014-15, about two-thirds of full-time students paid for college with the help of financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships. Approximately 57% of financial aid dollars awarded to undergraduates was in the form of grants, and 34% took the form of federal loans.
Jill Nutt, the director of financial aid at Hope, can speak to trends and issues on the college financial aid landscape. Nutt has spent over 25 years on college campuses dealing with these questions, the last six at Hope. She is a member of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators as well as the Michigan Student Financial Aid Association where she has served in various positions on the governing board.
World Obesity Day aims to promote practical solutions to the global obesity crisis. This year’s theme focuses on weight stigma, which they call one of the last socially accepted forms of discrimination. Obesity is a major health issue among adults in the United States. The prevalence of obesity was 39.8% and affected about 93.3 million of U.S. adults in 2015-2016.
At Hope, two professors can address these topics: one from a physiological perspective and one from a communication perspective.
Dr. Mark Northuis, professor of kinesiology, focuses his research on performance physiology and obesity. He also serves as the college’s men’s and women’s cross country coach.
Dr. Marissa Doshi, assistant professor of communication, had her study recently published on how mobile phone applications (apps), marketed to women for health management, affect women’s conceptions of health and beauty.