C of I Newsletter

2012. 08. 24

back to archive


C of I student completes Rocky Mountain research program

Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory

View from the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colo. Photo by Laura Barbour.

College of Idaho student Laura Barbour spent most of her summer break gaining valuable research experience through an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) opportunity funded by the National Science Foundation.

The view wasn’t bad, either.

Barbour, a senior from Parma majoring in environmental studies with a conservation biology focus, spent 10 weeks working at an elevation of 9,500 feet with the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colo. As one of 10 REUs selected out of 130 applicants, Barbour studied high-altitude ecology, investigating the impacts of selection by pollinators and seed predators on the hybrid zone dynamics of two closely related Rocky Mountain phlox wildflowers – Ipomopsis aggregata and Ipomopsis tenuituba.

“This has been a great opportunity for me,” Barbour said. “Living at such a high elevation was an awesome and totally different environment. And I had the chance to gain practical experience conducting research in the field and to learn from the many world-class ecologists who work at RMBL.”

Barbour was mentored by Diane Campbell, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California-Irvine. Their research demonstrated that seed predator insects can select for certain floral traits in Ipomopsis, which means that seed predators and pollinators likely both are influencing selection on floral characteristics – and could be driving selection pressures for certain traits in opposing directions. For her work studying how the seed predator fly (Delia) responds to scent compounds released by the flowers, Barbour will be listed as a co-author of a published paper on floral scents by Campbell and Cornell scientist Mascha Bischoff. Barbour also submitted a research paper and presented her findings during the REU student symposium.

“It was great working with such a strong community of people,” Barbour said. “The researchers there really made the students feel like part of the scientific effort, which I appreciated. “

Several of Barbour’s connections at the C of I helped make her REU project a reality. The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory was recommended by alumna Melissa Pickett ’11, who also completed an REU there. Barbour also credits her C of I professors including her advisor, environmental studies and English professor Rochelle Johnson, biology professor Chris Walser and biology professor Eric Yensen, who first introduced Barbour to conservation biology.

“I really owe this experience to the C of I environmental studies and biology faculty,” Barbour said. “The biology courses I’ve taken prepared me for the program at RMBL – compared to many students there, I felt like I had more exposure to statistics, scientific presentation and paper writing, and experimental design, and that’s thanks to my great professors.”

The many undergraduate research opportunities available at the C of I also have benefitted Barbour. She was part of biology professor Don Mansfield’s team in the Harold M. Tucker Herbarium last summer and also completed a separate research project with Mansfield during the school year.

“Through my work with Dr. Mansfield, I learned a lot about plant taxonomy, sample collection and processing, and plant ecology,” Barbour said. “Without that valuable research experience, I would have been a much less competitive applicant for the REU program.”

C of I named to Princeton Review's 'Best 377 Colleges'

The College of Idaho has been named one of the nation’s top schools by The Princeton Review in the 2013 edition of its book, The Best 377 Colleges. The C of I for several years has been an annual inclusion in the book, which includes detailed profiles of the colleges with rating scores in eight categories based on surveys of students attending the profiled schools.

In this year’s rankings, the C of I faculty received outstanding reviews as students gave the College a “Professors Interesting” rating of 95 and a “Professors Accessible” rating of 93 (out of 99). Surveyed students also pointed out the overall quality of the C of I academic program, the friendly campus community and the diversity of the student body. The Best 377 Colleges, which also includes lists of the top 20 schools in 62 different categories, ranked The College of Idaho No. 18 in the category “Easiest campus to get around.”

“The College of Idaho enjoys a long tradition of outstanding teachers who are committed to the success of their students,” C of I President Marv Henberg said. “I’m gratified to see the quality of our professors recognized by those who know best – our students.”

For more information about The Princeton Review’s 2013 book and rankings, click here.

The C of I also was included in Forbes recently-released 2013 list of “America’s Top Colleges,” which ranks the top 650 schools in the nation. Forbes’ rankings are based on post graduation success, student satisfaction, debt, four-year graduation rate and competitive awards. The C of I ranked No. 222 on this year’s list, easily the best mark by any Idaho institution. Click here to see the full list.

The 2013 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges included The College of Idaho as well. The book, compiled by former New York Times education editor Edward B. Fiske, is a selective, subjective look at approximately 300 of the best colleges and universities in the United States, Canada and Great Britain.

Freshman class prepares to discover Idaho soil virus

Soil Research

Ann Koga and Luke Daniels are set to help C of I freshman discover a new Idaho soil virus.

Freshmen at The College of Idaho will get an opportunity to discover a new virus during their introductory biology lab course this year, thanks to the College’s acceptance into the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science Education Alliance.

As the first Idaho school to be invited into the prestigious Alliance, the College is participating in a national genomics research project that also aims to introduce science students to novel research at the beginning of their undergraduate experience.

Luke Daniels, assistant professor of biology, said that in the new course students will collect soil samples from several locations in the Treasure Valley and then isolate viruses – known as bacteriophages – that infect soil bacteria. Once the phages have been isolated, the students will characterize their viruses and select one to have its entire genome sequenced.

“Our biology majors already have opportunities to get involved in research projects, but this new program allows all students to be involved in research from their very first course,” Daniels said.

Ann Koga, an instructor of biology who will teach the course with Daniels, said that added element of discovery can improve students’ educational experience.

“In the current introductory biology lab, our students get experience with DNA analysis and molecular biology techniques, but nothing novel,” Koga said. “In this new course they will be using a lot of the same techniques, but they’re using them to advance human knowledge. Other participating schools report that students are so excited because they are doing something new and the results aren’t known. They have a greater sense of ownership about what they’re learning and doing in the lab.”

Approximately 40 C of I freshmen will be enrolled in the course this fall, and approximately 15 to 20 students are expected to continue into the second part of the course – a computer-based lab in which students will compare the genome of their phage with that of other phages – during the College’s winter term. At the conclusion of the course, the students will upload their findings into a national biological database, and one student will present the class’s research at a national symposium organized by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

While bacteriophages can’t infect people, gaining a better understanding of them has implications for improving human health, Daniels said.

“The relationship between phages and soil bacteria is very important for scientists to understand because phages also infect bacteria that cause human disease,” Daniels said. “It’s also important for us to understand how phages change and diversify over time, as well as their geographic diversity.”

The College of Idaho is one of only half a dozen colleges and universities accepted this year into the prestigious program, now in its fifth year.

“Ultimately, we hope that students will be more interested in and have a better idea of what research is all about,” Koga said. “Even students who aren’t going into biology I believe are likely to see science as more fun and think about how research applies in any field or career they pursue.”

Orma J. Smith Museum readies for annual Bug Day


The College of Idaho’s Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History is set for Bug Day, the annual celebration of insects that is one of the museum’s signature events. Bug Day will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise. Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for children and IBG members.

Bug Day traditionally draws more than 1,200 attendees. This year’s activities include an “Ask an Entomologist” question and answer session, insect tattoos, bug races, an insect safari, insect bingo, bug crafts, insect Olympics, opportunities to catch live bugs and more. Participants young and old will have a chance to earn a “Certificate in Bugology” while learning why insects are an important part of any garden. Bug-themed treats and edible insects will be available for purchase along with souvenirs from the Orma J. Smith Museum and the Idaho Botanical Garden. The museum also will display part of its extensive insect collection and host the expert Q & A.

This year’s event is co-sponsored by the Orma J. Smith Museum and supported by the OfficeMax Boise Community Fund. To learn more about Bug Day, call the Idaho Botanical Garden at (208) 343-8649 or visit the Bug Day webpage.


Summer/Fall 2012

College Events Calendar

August 25

Idaho Rivers United presents the Sawtooth Salmon Festival, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Stanley Interpretive and Historical Association. Featuring C of I student Annie Morrison as IRU mascot Lonesome Larry.

September 1

Opening Convocation for incoming freshmen and their families, 7 p.m., Jewett Auditorium

September 1

The College of Idaho's Langroise Trio performs at the Boise Philharmonic Orchestra's Picnic at the Pops, 7:30 p.m., Eagle River Pavilion

September 8

Caldwell Fine Arts Beat Beethoven 5K and Fun Run, 9 a.m., Morrison Quadrangle

September 14-15

Tenth annual Caldwell Indian Creek Festival featuring live music, farmer's market, family activities, art exhibits, local vendors and more. On Indian Creek in Downtown Caldwell, 6-11 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday


College of Idaho professors Rochelle Johnson and Don Mansfield are featured in the August issue of Treasure Magazine. The married couple and their recently remodeled, energy-efficient home in Boise are part of a story about sustainable building and living.

C of I alumnae and former volleyball standouts Kristyn (Price) Rutland ’03 and Lauren Bourgeau ’11 have teamed up in Sun Valley as coaches of The Community School Cutthroats high school volleyball team. Read more about the Coyote coaching duo in this article from the Idaho Mountain Express.

C of I alumna Kristi (Wilson) Running ’04 has joined the faculty of the University of Idaho College of Law as a legal research and writing instructor in Moscow. Kristi graduated summa cum laude with a degree in business/international political economy and history from the C of I and went on to earn her law degree from U of I in 2008.

The College of Idaho extends its condolences to the family and friends of Jeanne Martin Skyrm Hayman, who recently passed away at the age of 90. Jeanne was the wife of the late Richard Skyrm, the longtime C of I music teacher who created the Caldwell Fine Arts series. After Skyrm's death, Jeanne married Paul Hayman. She spent more than 60 years living in Caldwell, where she was a piano teacher and a longtime member of Boone Memorial Presbyterian Church.

The College of Idaho's Langroise Trio will perform as part of the Boise Philharmonic Orchestra's “Picnic at the Pops,” outdoor concert series Saturday, Sept. 1, at the Eagle River Pavilion in Eagle. Families are encouraged to bring their children and a picnic dinner. The show begins at 7:30 p.m., with gates opening at 6 p.m. For tickets and info, visit summeratthepops.com/pavilion or call (208) 344-7849.

Become a fan of Coyote Athletics! Like the Yotes on Facebook, follow the action on Twitter or email Mike Safford to subscribe to Yote Notes.