The magazine for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at
Iowa State University
Michael Young, assistant professor of mathematics. Photo by Chris Gannon.
Michael Young, assistant professor of mathematics. Photo by Chris Gannon.

LAS news update

News and information from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Keep up with the college on our news site,

Anonymous gift is largest in ISU history

A gift reported in January will result in a new endowment fund, with an estimated value of $145 million, to support the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The transformational gift will more than triple the amount of scholarships awarded by the college and elevate innovation, research and learning opportunities.

It is ok to be “good at math”

The National Science Foundation announced a grant for an Iowa State University-led initiative designed to provide a network of support for students of color interested in mathematics. The network will include mathematicians of color from U.S. colleges, universities and industry who want to invest time in, share their expertise with, and learn from students of color and their teachers. “Society tells all students it is OK if they are not good at math or science,” Michael Young, assistant professor of mathematics, said. “When you add in the additional factors of oppression that students of color experience in society and the classroom, it makes it very easy for the students to decide this isn’t for them. We hope this will lead to students having more opportunities in the classroom.”

Expanding digital literacy in Iowa

Access to digital technology has far outpaced the availability of educational resources to promote responsible use. Douglas Gentile, professor of psychology, fears what the consequences might be if that trend is not reversed. “There has never been a period in human history when we have created such a powerful tool and then placed it in the hands of toddlers and children without proper training or supervision,” he said. Gentile is working with the Partnership for a Drug-Free Iowa to expand digital literacy programming in schools. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced one part of that effort, a first of its kind digital literacy conference, which will bring experts from around the world to Ames to discuss the effects of media on health, education, workplace productivity, body image, aggression and wellness. Children not only need to be responsible digital media users, but also be aware of its influence, he said.

Meredith renews, commits $500,000

Meredith Corporation, a leading media and marketing services company headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, has extended its partnership agreement with Iowa State University for another five years. The $500,000 commitment benefits the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, part of the LAS college, through continued support of its Meredith Apprentice Program, a Meredith professional in residence and the Meredith Integrated Media Suite.

Detecting a concealed weapon not easy, even for experienced officers

Terrorist attacks and bombings at concerts, sporting events and airports underscore the need for accurate and reliable threat detection. However, the likelihood of a police officer identifying someone concealing a gun or bomb is only slightly better than chance, according to new research by Christian Meissner, professor of psychology, and Dawn Sweet, adjunct professor of communication studies and psychology. The work is ongoing, with the goal of developing a standardized approach to evaluating behaviors that predict if someone is concealing a weapon or dangerous device, and therein poses a threat.

Grant to boost understanding of the integration of science and humanities

Most people consider science and humanities opposites, but a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities will help further the integration and understanding of how intertwined they really are. David Marshall Miller, assistant professor of philosophy, will utilize grant funds to assemble global academic leaders in the history and philosophy of scientific revolution, and define the future path of study.