Cobbers Lead Law Review Board
Three graduates are editing the North Dakota Law Review this year at the University of North Dakota School of Law, Grand Forks.
The Cobbers hold three of the top jobs on the five-member student board. They are editor-in-chief Levi Andrist '07, managing editor Kelly Olson '07 and Denitsa Mavrova Heinrich '02, student articles and managing associate editor.
Their peers and faculty chose them for the prestigious positions after they wrote quality articles during their first two years of studying law.
All say they earned their positions because they learned good writing habits at Concordia.
Olson majored in English writing and Mavrova Heinrich in English literature and political science, while Andrist majored in music.
"We were well prepared," says Andrist. "Concordia's curriculum forced us to do a variety of writing, and a big part of legal work is being able to write clearly."
A native of Bulgaria, Mavrova Heinrich credits her English classes for improving her use of language. "Everyone here tells us our writing skills have been well developed," she says.
"But in addition to being able to write clearly, you have to have something to say," adds Andrist. "Concordia's liberal arts curriculum really helped us develop our oral and written communication skills."
Olson says her first year in law school was an eye-opener. "I quickly found out lawyers are essentially communicators, who work every day with words. So it's important to be able to express yourself clearly and concisely."
Editing the Law Review is considered the pinnacle achievement for law students. This summer the three worked nearly full time editing articles for accuracy and clarity, and now put in upwards of 20 hours a week to produce four issues of the journal.
They decide which articles will be published from those submitted by fellow students, faculty, judges, attorneys and experts. They also choose the theme for the annual Law School Symposium issue.
Story / Photo: Sheldon Green
Teaming up for Neuroscience Research
A small group of professors and students learned as much from each other this summer as they did from the mice they studied in their neuroscience research.
The interdisciplinary research team examined the behavioral and genomic effects of lupus in mice in hopes that their findings will one day help with a better treatment or even a cure.
Dr. Susan Larson, psychology chair, and Dr. Krystle Strand, biology assistant professor, pooled their specialties and their interest in studying autoimmune diseases while giving their two students valuable hands-on research experience. Strand and Amber Ferris '10, a biology major and neuroscience minor from Hibbing, Minn., learned about the intricacies of behavioral testing. Larson and Kelly Schaible '10, a psychology major and neuroscience minor from Warroad, Minn., pushed their research into the world of genomics.
Schaible says this work is preparing her for graduate school in psychology, with a focus on neuroscience.
"Neuroscience is a pretty new program on campus and I'm lucky to be able to take some classes and participate in this project," she says. "And it's really exciting to think our work could help someone else, in this quest to find a treatment."
All summer, the team monitored the behavioral changes in groups of mice displaying symptoms of lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease that affects various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood, kidneys and brain. They observed and recorded behaviors relating to memory, motor skills and anxiety against control groups, noting an increase in anxiety-like behaviors in those mice with lupus.
After their behaviors were recorded, they measured the animals' gene expression in regions of their brains affected by the disorder.
"We want to better understand at the molecular level what's causing the changes in behavior that we've observed in the lupus animals," Strand says. "Such information may be useful in developing a more focused treatment for neuropsychiatric lupus."
The group's research will continue throughout the academic year.
Story: Amanda Peterson / Photo: Sheldon Green
Sundrud Helps Identify Immune System Breakthrough
A passion for research kindled in the biology and psychology laboratories at Concordia led Mark Sundrud '00 to a breakthrough in understanding how the immune system generates harmful cells that cause a number of common autoimmune disorders.
The discovery could lead to new therapies in treating autoimmunity.
The results of this research conducted at Harvard Medical School were published alongside a commentary written by scientific peers in the June 5, 2009, issue of Science, one of the world's premier scientific journals. As lead author, Sundrud made a substantial contribution to the research.
The commentary accompanying the article called the findings an "intriguing concept" with "potentially important implications for understanding how the immune system prevents untoward generation of harmful cell responses."
Dr. Susan Larson, associate professor of psychology and one of Sundrud's undergraduate mentors, remembers him as being intellectually curious. "He was a motivated, determined and confident student who asked challenging questions. It's exciting to follow the trajectory his career has taken."
After completing his doctorate at Vanderbilt University in 2005, Sundrud was selected for a postdoctoral research fellowship by the Cancer Research Institute and recruited to the laboratory of Dr. Anjana Rao, a prominent molecular immunologist at Harvard Medical School and elected member of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Our finding represents a significant advance in the field of autoimmune therapy," says Sundrud. "This has the potential to affect how we may treat diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes."
There is considerable interest in identifying drugs that specifically inhibit the immune system from attacking the body without more generally preventing protective immune responses that fight off infections.
Sundrud will now continue this research at pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in Boston with the hope of developing the next generation of therapeutic drugs.
He also wants to develop research internship opportunities for Concordia students utilizing his ties with academia and private industry.
"Doing research is what really got me going in science," says Sundrud. "I'd like to help students develop that same passion."
Story: Sheldon Green / Photo: Submitted
Chinese Students Gain Global Outlook
Students from United International College in Zhuhai, China, were on campus this summer to improve their English proficiency and gain a dose of American culture.
Their experiences drew the attention of a delegation from Sri Lanka who observed the program, hoping to model it in their own country. The country wants to be a stronger player in the global economy, says Ananda "Lal" Liyanapathiranage, president of the Minnesota Sri Lanka Friendship Foundation. An understanding of English is necessary to do that, he says.
The classes and field trips for the Chinese students are part of the College Town USA program sponsored by Concordia Language Villages. Cultural trips included a RedHawks baseball game, Fargo Theatre, federal courthouse, the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, Itasca State Park and several businesses.
"Our aim is to help these curious students acquire the skills that would be necessary for them to study at Concordia someday," says program director Dr. Lisa Sethre-Hofstad.
Some of the students have been studying English since primary school, but benefited from speaking the language in an immersion setting.
"English is good preparation for admission to a good university in China," says Li "Randee" Zichao, who plans to teach English as a second language. "Being able to speak and understand English is very useful. It is used everywhere."
The students came to Concordia expecting it to reflect their perception of life in America.
"We thought everyone would be busy, always running around," says Hu "Katrina" Xizhi, who aspires to be an international journalist. "There would be big cities with tall buildings, but Moorhead is so different. It is a small city with small houses and everyone is so friendly."
One purpose of their time on campus is to encourage UIC and Concordia students to consider studying on either campus for a semester or two.
"I think is so important to have a global outlook," says Xizhi. "I think it would be paradise to study at Concordia."
Story / Photo: Sheldon Green
Discovering Ancient Treasures
The myths and stories of ancient Greece have always captured the imagination of Michele Hockett '10, Havre, Mont.
This summer she touched pieces of that history with her bare hands.
Hockett spent two months as a field excavator at the Athenian Agora, one of the most important sites in the history of Western civilization. She was one of 15 American students chosen this year to work at the premier American archaeological site in Greece.
She learned how to dig and wash pottery, as well as how to sort and catalog important finds. Those important finds included a couple of her own discoveries.
During her first week of digging, Hockett uncovered a nearly complete half of a black-figure lykothos, an ancient perfume bottle. A week later, she found a potsherd, a small fragment of pottery, featuring a red-figure profile of a young man.
"I was so excited, I cried," she says. The find was important for the trench where she was digging because it was the earliest datable piece of pottery found so far.
It's a huge privilege for students to dig in the Athenian Agora, says Dr. Peter Schultz, chair of the art department and the Olin J. Storvick Endowed Chair of Classical Studies.
"Three thousand years of Western civilization beneath your feet and you are responsible for its discovery and documentation," he says. "Michele has become part of historical record. I couldn't be more proud of her."
Hockett had always been excited about the thought of walking where Socrates and Plato walked, but the footsteps of ordinary ancient Athenians was just as exciting.
One day her team found a roof tile with a hand imprinted in its middle. Everyone in the trench took turns taking off their gloves and putting their own hand on the ancient handprint.
"Little by little we are figuring out who these ancient people were," Hockett says. "We're learning about their occupations, how they lived and treated each other – from a few bones and potsherds."
Story: Erin Hemme Froslie / Photo: Submitted
Called to Community Ministry
Whether she's in South Korea, the Twin Cities or Moorhead, one thing stays the same for Karis Thompson '02. She is convinced of her calling to establish meaningful relationships within a community.
"I know who I am through the relationships I have and the communities I belong to," says Thompson, who has spent the past seven years sharing her life, love and faith with anyone within her reach.
After graduation, Thompson followed her heart to South Korea where she taught English. It was there she says she started considering a career in public policy and pastoral leadership.
She enrolled at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., with visions of becoming a pastor. Then she met the Rev. Kelly Chatman, senior pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church and Redeemer Center for Life - a community-based nonprofit founded in 1999. That friendship laid the foundation for Thompson's ministry within a community context instead of a congregation.
At Redeemer, Thompson worked to build multiracial, multicultural neighborhoods, congregations and communities. She helped navigate the challenges of sustaining a small nonprofit organization with a powerful vision to connect neighbors to each other and the resources they need.
"In the past few years, my commitment to justice has transformed into a commitment to people - youth I've been blessed to mentor, co-workers who have inspired me, neighbors who have become friends," says Thompson, who adds she feels blessed to belong to such an empowering community.
Right now, that sense of belonging for Thompson means finishing her role at Redeemer and returning to the Fargo-Moorhead community to work with The Project F-M, a venture to cultivate a 21st century faith community of young adults.
No matter what the challenge, it's clear that Thompson will be ready to actively engage those blessed to be around her.
Story: Gia Rassier '10 / Photo: Submitted