C of I Newsletter

2011. 06. 24

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C of I professor wins NSF grant to boost awareness of Idaho flora

Dr. Don Mansfield, a professor of biology at The College of Idaho, will use a $365,815 National Science Foundation grant to enhance what scientists and the public know about plants, lichens and fungi in southwest Idaho and surrounding areas. The NSF grant will be paid out over 36 months to fund SWITCH, a collaboration between C of I and Boise State University to create an online resource focusing on the unique botany of the region.

“It’s exciting because our faculty and students have been collecting plant specimens since the time of (College founder) William Judson Boone,” Mansfield said. “Through this project, we finally have the opportunity to make all of those efforts internationally known and available to the world.”

Mansfield will work with C of I alumna and research associate Dr. Barbara Ertter ’75 and Boise State professors Dr. Merlin White and Dr. James Smith to establish “Southwest Idaho: The Comprehensive Herbaria,” an online database resource for botanical research and education. The SWITCH project will provide online access to nearly 120,000 preserved plant, fungus and lichen collections housed at The College of Idaho, Boise State University, and regional, state and federal agency herbaria. Most specimens in these herbaria are from southwest Idaho, eastern Oregon and northern Nevada, a region from which plant specimens and data presently are underrepresented in national efforts to understand and map plant diversity.

“This region has been a geographic hole for many years,” Mansfield said. “Fortunately, the National Science Foundation determined that we have something worth contributing right here in Caldwell. Now we will be able to provide a research tool to understanding the evolution, ecology, biodiversity and commercial potential of the flora in this region.”

Mansfield and his peers hope SWITCH will provide a critical resource for research scientists, students, federal and state agency land managers, and citizens. The project has five core objectives:

- Contributing directly to ongoing national biodiversity projects
- Helping scientists and others track rare plants and invasive species
- Providing support for policy formulation in a region that is more than half federal public lands
- Supporting a program in which citizen scientists may learn and contribute to the ongoing study of Idaho’s botanical and ecological heritage
- Stimulating further interest in Idaho plants, fungi and lichens

The NSF grant will fund equipment, including a new camera and imaging station, as well as internships and full-time summer jobs for C of I students. Mansfield will oversee the project while continuing his decade-long work documenting the flora of the Owyhee region.

To learn more about SWITCH and the Harold M. Tucker Herbarium, contact Mansfield or visit the herbarium online.

Grant funds student curator at Orma J. Smith Museum

Sorting through jars full of mud and dead bugs probably doesn’t rank too high on the list of summer jobs for a pre-medical college student, but College of Idaho sophomore Caitlin Indart rather enjoys her work. Thanks to a $4,500 grant from the Schlinger Foundation, Indart spends her summer days in the Boone Hall basement, curating and cataloging samples collected from Baja California – some of which might contain species not yet known to science – for the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History.

“I definitely learn something new every day,” said Indart, a biology major who also does work study for the museum throughout the school year. “At first, I didn’t really like bugs, but I’ve learned a lot about them as well as the process of curating and all the work that goes into it.”

Indart’s work is a welcome boost for the museum, which runs on a volunteer basis and has far too many samples for its small staff to sort on its own. Specimens collected from the Mexican peninsula have been a focus over the past three summers as grant funds from the Schlinger Foundation have allowed the museum to hire C of I students to catalog the expansive stock of samples.

“It’s been so nice having students like Caitlin because this collection is so expansive,” said museum director Bill Clark. “There is so much to do here in the museum; we just don’t have enough hours in the day. But the students have done a nice job of cataloging these samples and turning the Baja California collection into an important resource for the museum and scientific community.”

The Baja California samples are collected using pitfall traps that lead to jars full of preservative chemicals. Anything that falls in the trap is preserved and the jars are collected every 6-12 months. The traps collect a wide variety of species, including ants, roaches, beetles, spiders, scorpions, centipedes, shrews, kangaroo rats and lizards. The project has produced interesting results over the years, discovering several new insect species and helping document the biodiversity of the area. Through her work on the Baja project, Indart hopes to raise interest and awareness about the museum both on campus and in the community.

“I don’t think a lot of people know about the museum, even here on campus,” said Indart, who attended nearby Caldwell High School. “I definitely hope we can get more interest and participation because the museum is a great resource. The materials we curate here are incredibly interesting.”

The museum has volunteer work days coming up on July 9 and August 6. To sign up, email Clark or call (208) 459-5507. You also can visit the museum online

Last chance to donate to 2010-2011 Boone Fund

Less than one week remains for The College of Idaho alumni base to donate to the Boone Fund for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. So far, 1,985 alumni have made gifts, and the College needs 310 more to reach its goal of 34 percent alumni giving by the June 30 deadline.

“This is the final stretch,” said Boone Fund coordinator Tara Wensel. “Everybody here at the College is firing on all cylinders trying to reach our goal.

“If you haven’t given yet, it’s not too late. We need you, and we appreciate your support.”

The Boone Fund is an unrestricted giving program that supports the operating needs of the College and its students. Gifts to the Boone Fund boost the College’s alumni giving percentage, an important criterion that national publications such as U.S. News & World Report use to rank the country’s top colleges. C of I also relies on private support to provide student scholarships.

Last year, alumni set a record by reaching a 34-percent giving rate and contributing more than $660,000 to the College. Now it’s your turn to act. To learn more about the Boone Fund, or to make a gift, contact Wensel at (208) 459-5016 or click here.

C of I establishes Carter-Chalker Lectureship on Faith and Contemporary Issues

A new endowed lecture series at The College of Idaho will encourage public discussion of the connections between faith and contemporary issues including business, government and science. The Carter-Chalker Lectureship on Faith and Contemporary Issues, made possible by a $150,000 gift from the estate of the late William Carter, will bring prominent speakers to C of I to explore and draw attention to faith-based issues both on campus and beyond. The lectureship is named after Carter, a longtime friend of the College, and Dr. William Chalker, a retired C of I professor.

“As a grandson of our founder, the Reverend William Judson Boone, William Carter devoted himself to inquiry into the grounds of faith,” C of I President Marv Henberg said. “Professor William Chalker did likewise during his teaching career at The College of Idaho. Thanks to this endowment, our community will enjoy in perpetuity the fruits of these two men’s hard work and passion.”

Carter, who passed away in January, made his living as a professional photographer in New York City. He did not attend C of I, but he maintained a positive relationship over the years with the school his grandfather founded in 1891. Chalker, who lives in California, taught philosophy and religion at C of I from 1960 to 1987 and also served as dean of the College. He authored the book Science and Faith: Understanding Meaning, Method and Truth and in 2007 received The College of Idaho President’s Medallion.

The Carter-Chalker Lectureship on Faith and Contemporary Issues is intended to bring at least one lecturer to campus every year for a public talk. C of I will launch the series once the fund has earned some income, likely sometime in 2012. Additional gifts to the endowed fund will allow for additional lectureship events. To learn more about the fund, contact development director Jim Hansen, or click here to make a gift.


Summer 2011

Upcoming Athletic Events

July 9

Volunteer workday at Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History (Boone Hall basement), 7 a.m.-4 p.m.

July 9

EcoAlumni series featuring Ben Jarvis '09, 9 a.m., Red Feather Lounge (Boise)

July 16

Alumni Family Day: Blueberry Picking at Suyehira Farms, 8:30 a.m. (Emmett)

July 31

Willamette Valley Wine Tour, Portland, Ore. Email [email protected] for more information

Save the Date! September 20-25

2011 Homecoming celebrating Boone Hall math and science alumni. Email [email protected] for more information


Professors Jasper LiCalzi, Kerry Hunter, Steve Maughan and Megan Dixon discuss the debate over the national debt ceiling, government promotion of green energy and Newt Gingrich's campaign troubles in the newest edition of College of Idaho Insights.

The Sustainability Council is working to establish C of I as a Canyon County drop-off location for Idaho’s Bounty, an online co-op that delivers produce from local farmers to the Treasure Valley. Co-op members ($10 per year to join) and volunteers are needed. If the program sticks, five percent of the funds from each order picked up at C of I will be donated back to the Sustainability Council. For more information, visit Idaho’s Bounty online or email the stewards.

Join The College of Idaho's social media community! Become a fan of the C of I Facebook Page, check out the new PEAK video on the C of I YouTube channel and browse new photo galleries on the C of I Flickr page. Post comments, tag your friends and interact with the C of I community no matter where you are!

The College of Idaho honored 211 students - 20 percent of its total enrollement - on the 2011 Spring Semester Dean's List.

Due to high demand, the deadline for ordering commencement photos has been extended to July 17. Click here to view and purchase photos of your C of I graduate.

The "C of I Day at the Capitol" display profiling The College of Idaho and Idaho's governors has been converted to an online format by C of I archivist Jan Boles and Smylie Archives volunteer Samantha Sink '11.

C of I alumna Colleen Smith '11 has been honored as the Cascade Conference's female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Smith ran cross country and track, served as student president and maintained a 3.99 GPA.

Dora Gallegos, director of The College of Idaho's Center for Experiential Learning, was interviewed for an Idaho Press-Tribune article about the importance of internships for Treasure Valley college students.