The magazine for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at
Iowa State University

LAS Update

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

Boosting success in math

Success or failure in calculus classes has considerable significance in the retention of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors. That’s why Elgin Johnston, professor of mathematics, and Heather Bolles, senior lecturer of mathematics, converted their classroom to a team-based learning approach, improving attendance, participation and test scores. The change is part of a campus-wide initiative to help STEM student recruitment and retention efforts.

Geology students explore the Swiss Alps

This year’s field trip for geology majors offered students a journey that combined global studies and spectacular learning environments. Last summer, twenty students traveled to Zurich, Switzerland's Rhone Valley and northern Italy for a course in structural geology studies. The group studied glaciers, rock formations from the Mid-Jurassic period and other wonders of the Swiss Alps.

LAS physicists help filter the world’s largest particle accelerator

LAS physicists Chunhui Chen and Soeren Prell contributed to the international collaboration that found a way to sift and sort data from the Large Hadron Collider to observe the Higgs boson decaying into a pair of bottom quarks. Utilizing machine learning, their work gives physicists a better understanding of the Higgs boson and will enable researchers to collect more data faster.

Some women may feel political growing pains

LAS political scientists Tessa Ditonto and Dave Andersen found gender stereotypes and biases still influence voters, especially in elections with more than one woman on the ballot. New research found gender had the greatest negative effect on down-ballot races, in which women were running for a legislative office and another woman appeared on the ballot for a higher office, such as governor or president.

Alexa: How’s my thesis?

Elena Cotos, professor of English and director of the Graduate College’s Center for Communication Excellence, developed a research writing tutor for students, which automates feedback based on genre writing. The tool was developed within the interdisciplinary applied linguistic and technology program in LAS.