Manning Co-authors Research on Mars’ Atmosphere

Dr. Heidi Manning, professor of physics, is the co-author of an article on Mars that ran in a recent edition of Science magazine. manning

Printed in the July 19 issue of the journal, the article discloses the first measurements of the composition of the Mars atmosphere made by the instruments on NASA’s Curiosity rover.

“It’s an honor to be among the first scientists to disseminate what we’ve learned about Mars,” says Manning, who is one of 10 authors on the article. “The fact that the most prestigious and desirable scientific journal chose to publish our data just emphasizes the noteworthiness of our results.”

The analysis of data sent back by Curiosity provides clues to how Mars lost its original atmosphere, which Manning and her colleagues believe was much thicker than the one left on Mars today, Manning says.

Curiosity’s suite of Sample Analysis on Mars instruments, the rover’s cornerstone lab, measures the presence of different gases and isotopes in samples of Martian air.

Measurements showed that heavy isotopes of carbon and oxygen were more abundant in today’s thin atmosphere compared with the proportions in the raw materials that formed the planet.

“The data shows atmosphere was lost to space and not reacting to the ground, where we found the heavier isotopes,” Manning says.

She has spent six months analyzing data with the NASA Curiosity team and the designers of the Rover’s instruments. The work coincided with a sabbatical leave from Concordia, which enabled her to travel to labs in Maryland and California to work with the teams.

Manning expects her analytical work will diminish when she returns to teaching full time this academic year, but she plans to resume working with the NASA teams next summer.

“I feel so fortunate for being able to participate in these experiments,” she says. “All the equipment is working well and we’re getting great results. The data coming back to us is telling us far more than we ever knew about Mars.”

Concordia Professor Follows Arizona Firefighter Tragedy

Scott Olsen spent summer 2012 studying fires. Big fires. Fires that call for smokejumpers, air tankers and hotshot crews. And while Olsen, a Concordia English professor and author, is fascinated by the fire and the path it takes, he’s more fascinated with the people whose lives revolve around those fires and the stories that run with them.

This summer he’d moved on to hurricanes. He’d written the collection of stories about the people who fought those western wildfires. Finished it, so he thought. He’d been waiting for a call from the Hurricane Hunters to get his chance to fly with them during the duration of a storm. And then the tragedy near Yarnell, Ariz., happened. Nineteen firefighters were killed by a fire that changed directions with the wind. Olsen changed directions then, too. This was too big to say his original work was complete. He got in his Jeep and headed to Arizona.

Read The Forum’s article on Olsen in Arizona.
Read Olsen’s piece in The Huffington Post on one firefighter’s narrow escape.


Alumna’s Love of Food Turns Competitive

A former triple major at Concordia, Sonya (Nelson) Goergen ’99 knows how to balance time. Today, she’s juggling ingredients in the kitchen as well. Despite lacking professional culinary training, she’s cooked her way to the semifinals of the Pillsbury Bake-Off, one of the world’s greatest cooking contests.

Read our Q-and-A session to get a taste of the passion behind her award-winning mini Italian shepherd’s pies.

Q. How did you get into competitive cooking?

A. My sisters and I have been competitively cooking against each other since 2001 (both are Cobber grads). When our dad was diagnosed with cancer, we would get together on Sundays to fatten him up after he had lost a lot of weight due to chemo treatments. Our brother once told me that my sister made a recipe better than mine. So we started family “festivals” to outdo each other.

I entered a cooking contest in 2007 on a whim after watching a TV show and thinking, “I could do that.” Since then, it’s been a good hobby because my family has to eat anyway. We might as well make it interesting. Sometimes things turn out weird and then we have something to talk about. My siblings get sick of me talking about food, but everyone I know likes to be a judge. My husband, kids and siblings are the most honest critics. Everyone else is too nice.

Q. Where did the inspiration for mini Italian shepherd’s pies come from?

A. I have been entering the Pillsbury Bake-off Contest since 2008. Around the time of submissions, I get a little crazy thinking about how I could put any ingredient in Pillsbury pie crust or dough or unique ways to use Pillsbury products. My family gets sick of hearing about the Bake-Off. I even made lemon chicken with lemon frosting. Unbelievable, but it was good.

I was eating dinner with my family and was eyeing my daughter’s meatball, thinking about what crust it would fit into. I tried it a few different ways, including stuffing it into a crescent roll and then thought that if I put something on top of it, it would taste good. I experimented a bit, submitted it both with a meatball and ground beef and Pillsbury picked the mini Italian shepherd’s pies. They’re easy and awesome. I entered eight recipes in this round of the contest.

Q. What do you love about cooking/baking?

Sonya with Guy Fieri in the Food Network Kitchen

A. Cooking is how I relax. I like cooking because you really can’t mess up (you just add something else) and it gives me an outlet for creativity.

Entering cooking contests has been a great hobby because I have been invited to places I would likely have never visited such as South Pittsburg, Tenn. If you’re ever in the area, check out the National Cornbread Cook-Off. It’s a great festival and a beautiful part of the country! I’ve met a number of famous chefs, learned some new techniques, won a large number of products and cash, and have met some great friends who are as obsessed with food as I am.

Q. As a semifinalist, what would winning the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest mean to you?

A. Of course, I would love to win the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest. Who wouldn’t want to win a million dollars? But just getting to “the” Bake-Off has been a goal of mine for five years. It’s the greatest cooking contest that exists. Participating in the contest will also allow me to meet up with cooking friends I have met over the years at cooking contests all over the U.S. and to cook alongside the Doughboy. How fun!

I think the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest is also a measure of credibility as a recipe writer. I didn’t go to culinary school, but I have some “chops.” I can taste things and recreate them and I have unique ideas.

Goergen lives in Moorhead with her husband, Troy, and two children, Olivia, 5, and Gabriel, 2.

Vote for Sonya and her Mini Italian Shepherd’s Pie

Mini Italian Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Concordia College Global Service: Learning in Santorini

Concordia students are taking to the dogs this summer on a Greek island – and learning from the experience.

The goal is for students to live responsible engagement by “owning” one of the pressing social issues in their host community on Santorini, says Dr. Peter Schultz, associate professor of art and program director of Concordia’s Summer School in Santorini.

This mutually beneficial experience for students and the community is a new service-learning project offered during the program. Students earn credits while gaining useful insights into local community values.

On Santorini, the issue is unwanted stray dogs and the challenges faced by the local shelter. The Santorini Animal Welfare Association cares for the dogs and strives to find owners for them, in spite of sometimes negative perceptions of stray dogs from townspeople, who view them as a nuisance.

Students are working with shelter staff to create a fundraising plan, develop a multimedia awareness campaign, and publicize favorable views of neglected dogs.

“We want to raise awareness in our host community and help promote the idea that strays can, in fact, make great pets,” says Schultz. “We’re also trying to come to a better understanding of how tourism impacts Greek society and how the ‘dog problem’ may be seen differently by tourists and local residents.”

All of the Concordia students in the Santorini summer program have participated in a massive “dog walk” one day on the beach and bought new leashes for 38 lucky dogs.

Charles Tirey ’13, Rapid City, S.D., and Alison Kessler ’14, Arden Hills, Minn., are two of the students working on the pilot program to generate public support for the dog shelter.

It’s been an eye-opening experience for them, and they are impressed by the passion and dedication of the shelter staff.

“The shelter is only able to function due to concerns by tourists for the animals,” says Kessler. “We see numerous feral cats and dogs hanging around restaurants, hotels and markets. I see a moral responsibility to help these innocent animals by advocating for sterilization and better treatment.”

Tirey says the active role he’s playing on Santorini has given him a sense of personal responsibility for the community he lives in, and the need for people to be involved in how a community functions.

“We clean, feed, walk and administer medicine at the shelter every day, and teach the dogs to behave on leashes,” says Tirey. “While working here is a fun experience, it is also heartbreaking to know the brutal reality many of these unwanted animals face.”

Graduate Receives Fulbright

April Reino ’12 has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright scholarship. Beginning in September, she will spend a year in Vienna teaching English at a secondary school while also studying at the University of Vienna.

She is the 30th student from Concordia to win a Fulbright Award since the college began participating in the program in the mid-1980s. Concordia is among the leading Lutheran colleges in securing Fulbrights. Reino is currently teaching English at an elementary school in Incheon, South Korea.

“It’s a great place for English teachers,” says Reino. “Nearly half the population of the country lives in the Seoul metro area, so it’s easy to meet Koreans and people from all over the world.”

Reino says studying abroad in Germany and participating in Concordia Forensics gave her the skills and confidence to work abroad.

“I was a timid person when I came to Concordia, but my teachers, coaches and teammates helped me conquer my fear of the unknown, and I learned how to take more risks,” she says. “I was challenged to go for my goals.”

At the University of Vienna, Reino will conduct research on international law and its role in the world economic crisis. After her Fulbright year, she plans to attend law school and ultimately work with an international organization.

“Vienna is a perfect fit for me. It hosts dozens of international organizations and is a crossroads between Western and Eastern cultures in Europe,” says Reino.

Class of 2013: Where are They Going?

Concordia College will present approximately 588 bachelor’s degrees and 10 Master of Education degrees during the Commencement ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 5, in Memorial Auditorium. Roxana Saberi ’97, author, journalist and human rights advocate, will speak at the ceremony.

We set out to discover how Cobbers will be sent forth and making the most of their Concordia degree after they walk across the stage.

Read our Storify about graduation
View more information about commencement

Leading Change: Bill Gates at Concordia

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and co-founder of Microsoft, spoke at Concordia College, Moorhead, on April 27 as part of dedication festivities for the newly renovated Grant Center, home of the Offutt School of Business.

Approximately 3,800 people attended the event. Hundreds more watched it via livestream. Gates, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, addressed his career at Microsoft and his transition to philanthropy. He spent most of his 70-minute presentation answering questions from Concordia students.

“What a great day for Concordia College,” says President William Craft. “We are so pleased at the inauguration of the Offutt School of Business and the chance to honor Ron Offutt, one of our most distinguished and philanthropic graduates. What a delight and honor to have Bill Gates here. He set such a terrific example this morning in Memorial Auditorium. I was so pleased about the event as an educational moment for our students and something that in many ways embodies the mission of the college to influence the affairs of the world.”

Read our Storify of tweets and pictures gathered from the day.

Curating Creations: From Classroom to Real World

It’s one thing to learn about creating and curating works of art. It’s a completely different experience to actually do it.

Students from an intermediate ceramics course and a capstone class created artwork, which was then curated by students in a museum studies course. The end product? A student art exhibit that displays a visual commentary on activism. “From the Earth” was unveiled during the Celebration of Student Scholarship April 18.

The timing was intentional, explained Ross Hilgers, who teaches ceramics and the capstone course.

“By exhibiting in the campus center during the Celebration of Student Scholarship, we are inviting the viewer to contemplate the visual arts as any other form of research and scholarship,” he says.

For the students, it was an opportunity to put classroom experience into action. Bryan Wang ‘13, Billings, Mont., says the environmentally active theme of the exhibit was a great way to become more responsibly engaged in the world.

“Students creating art for an exhibit that is commenting on issues with globally profound effects directly relates to being a responsible citizen,” Wang says.

The “From the Earth” exhibition is a first for collaboration between student artists and Dr. Susan Lee’s museum studies class.

Curating an exhibit requires a different mindset than creating the art, says Kaitlyn Garvin ’13, Hutchinson, Minn. She learned that the collaboration between artists and curators can strengthen a particular message and guide focus of the exhibition for the viewer.

“Through this exhibition, we’re encouraging others to think about these environmental issues,” Garvin says. “We’re challenging them to become involved themselves.”

“From the Earth” Exhibit is located outside Jones A/B in the Knutson Campus Center and in adjacent lounge until April 24.

Get more information about the Celebration of Student Scholarship and see the complete schedule.

Vaccines for Africa

Students at Concordia are taking action to help save lives in Africa by raising funds to purchase vaccines that fight the effects of meningitis.

It’s called the Meningitis Vaccine Project and a donation of only 50 cents will purchase a vaccination. Project partners hope to inoculate 300 million people in the African meningitis belt by 2015.

Arthur Gutnik ’13, Sioux Falls, S.D., and Marc Pritchard ’13, Hawley, Minn., are the students leading the fundraising effort.

Gutnik says they expect to raise enough funds to provide for 700 inoculations. He says an anonymous benefactor from Fargo-Moorhead is matching all funds donated by students.

“This shows how far a dollar can go and how much good a small gift can make,” says Gutnik. “It’s low cost with a high impact.”

The Meningitis Vaccine Project is a partnership between the World Health Organization and PATH, an international nonprofit organization based in Seattle. The funds raised on campus will be sent to PATH, which will deliver the vaccines to the meningitis belt and provide the inoculations.

“So we know exactly where the money is going,” says Pritchard. “Every dollar we raise will be spent on vaccines.”

Gutnik says he’s heartened by the response from students.

“Some have told me they are contributing their lunch money for one day,” he says. “What matters is that something is being done here on campus that has a global impact.”

Meningitis is an inflammation of membranes that surround the brain, and is caused by infection by bacteria or viruses and can lead to deafness or death.

Gutnik and Pritchard learned about the seriousness of meningitis infections in a microbiology class taught by Dr. Ellen Aho, then heard of PATH in Dr. Peter Hovde’s global sustainability class.

“We put the two together and quickly saw how we could take on a global project that would be affordable for students, yet do a lot of good,” says Gutnik.

He says the vaccination project started when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided a global health grant to improve the lives of people living in Africa’s meningitis belt.