Apathy Is Not Your Blankly: This Should Scare You
by Martha 
Grinnell College Class of 2021
Bangladesh drowns
while California sinks:
the simultaneous fear of 
too much water and
not enough.

Ocean acidity will
triple by 2100, another
break in the marine food 
chain, causing both the 
subsistence and existence of your 
grandchildren to be uncertain.

Between manufactured beach 
fronts in Nigeria and artificial 
islands in the South China Sea, 
how can water survive the 
assaults made on it?

There is no singular
incident, only a labyrinth of 
interconnected self-induced 
wounds that collapse with
the Tibetan glaciers, but 
we sit idly by. 

This is a rallying cry:
it’s not just your 
grandchildren, it’s you.
Bangladesh  is drowning
and California  is sinking.

Water is intrinsically 
entangled with the political:
who gets it, who does not,
and the very knowledge of its
molecular makeup.  
proFile of Suzie Sheehy
by Suzette....
There’s a lot to hate about Twitter, for sure. But one of the things I love about it is the chance to follow and get to know thousands of intelligent and clever people. Especially for women in higher education, Twitter has been a way to learn, share and connect. On occasion I will search Twitter for women in academia that do fascinating things – especially in the sciences. I am a social scientist, but I have at times secretly desired to be a chemist, or geologist, or astronomer, or biologist. This must be why I elected to earn a Bachelor of Science in political science rather than a Bachelor of Arts.

As an undergraduate pursuing my B.S. degree I took about every science class I could, but one subject eluded me – physics. It is something that I regret, and I’m hopeful that one day, perhaps in retirement, I will take an introduction to physics class and learn more about the behavior and motion of matter throughout space and time. Because of this hidden interest of mine, I have searched for and come across a few fascinating and outspoken female physicists on Twitter – and Dr. Suzie Sheehy of Oxford University is one of them. She is an incredible scientist AND public speaker. I recently spoke with Dr. Sheehy about her work as a particle accelerator physicist, the challenges facing women in the sciences, and her advice for those starting out in the field. 
Could you tell us a little bit about your background (where you are from, where you went to school, etc.)? What are some of the foundational experiences you had growing up that led you down a path toward science?

I’m originally from Melbourne, Australia. I was born on the edge of the desert in a place called Mildura, but my parents moved us closer to Melbourne for education and work opportunities. I went to school at a state primary school, where I had a wonderful science teacher who would run little weekly competitions to build/engineer/design something. In my last year of primary school, my identical twin sister and I both won scholarships to an all-girls grammar school for our secondary education. My school was right on the beachfront and as I grew up with so much sunshine, I was pretty interested in solar energy. For years, I took part in a competition to design and race miniature solar powered cars, which got me into building stuff in the workshops, learning basic electronics and thinking about engineering. I suppose that was a formative experience, but really I just did it because it was fun and I like a challenge. I was interested in lots of other things –many of my high school friends thought I might study performing arts when I left school, as I’d always had a love of drama, singing and dance. 

Why study physics? And for those of us that don't know a thing about physics (me), what is a "particle accelerator physicist"? Which just sounds amazing, by the way! 

I started out at University thinking I’d be a structural engineer, and took physics to back that up – but when I learned more physics I started asking questions like “but how does that work?” and when I found the answer was “no one knows,” I think that really hooked my interest. Physics describes how the world works at the most fundamental level. I love that as a physicist I can look at a system or a phenomenon and try to break it down into its most important parts, figure out the forces at play and try to build up an understanding of how it works. Seeing the same basic principles of physics pop up over and over again on different scales and in unexpected places is fascinating and elegant. For example, the concept of resonance crops up everywhere from building bridges, to the sound a wine glass makes when you clink it, to the stability of particle beams in particle accelerators. Leonardo Da Vinci said that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  I see physics in this way, as the most basic of the sciences using mathematics and physical concepts to build up our understanding of the world. 

The other side to physics is its application. I’m very driven to use my understanding of physics to solve real world problems. As a particle accelerator physicist, my job involves understanding and designing particle accelerators – atom smashers, often enormous machines designed to manipulate subatomic particles. At the moment my research focuses on trying to understand how to develop more intense accelerators, quite literally to fit more particles into the machine, when they are all electrically repelling against one another. This field brings my love of basic physics together with the capability for real world applications. I’ve been involved in designing accelerators for cancer treatment, for next-generation energy sources and for new scientific facilities. 


  Getting Green with
Campus Gardens
by Jacque
College and university campuses are undoubtedly getting greener. Sustainability is a trend on campuses throughout the country and one of the most exciting products of this trend are urban gardens. Many campuses are planting vegetable gardens and using their produce to stock food pantries, provide fresh fruits and vegetables to dining halls and to teach about sustainability, and some even have their own farmer’s markets. An example is Washington University in St. Louis, whose student-run urban garden The Burning Kumquat, founded in 2007, grows produce to sell at the city’s Farmer’s Market, provides food justice education and offers camps to teach kids aged 9-12 about where food comes from. Molly, a junior at Washington University, has been involved with The Burning Kumquat since freshman year. She had this to say about the organization:

Communities that form around farming and the environment are intentional, welcoming, and unique. I found all of these things at the Burning Kumquat (BK). Our community formed around shared values, shared actions, and just a down-to-earth (literally!), quirky, and laid-back atmosphere. College can get exhausting and it’s easy to get caught up in the rush of it all. But the BK is a grounding place, full of community, intentionality, and – of course – yummy veggies. The BK really brings together values and practice, living out certain ideals in impactful and inspiring ways. 

Women in higher education are "catching air" all over campus. Whether they are on the field, in the gym, or on the stage, college women are in their element when they have wind in their sails or are jumping to success. You won't catch a whiff of fear here - for these women, catching some air is a breeze!
Pieter Paul Rubens - The Union of Earth and Water (Antwerp and the Scheldt), 1618

The four elements, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, were considered to be fundamental elements of the world contents, and were usually depicted as classical gods and goddesses. Earth is personified by Demeter (Ceres); Water is personified by a river god; Air is usually represented by Hera (Juno); Fire is represented by Hephaestus (Vulcan) or may be depicted as a woman with her head in flames

A Book, a Fire and a Teach-In: How Earth Day Came to be
by Rebecca
In June of 1969, Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught on fire. Yes, you read that correctly, the RIVER, a moving body of water, was so polluted it caught on fire. A TIME article published a month later brought the incident to the nation’s attention exclaiming that, “if you fall in, you don’t drown, you decay away.” It is interesting to note, that the 1969 fire was actually the 13th time the river caught on fire, and the image used on the magazine cover was actually from a much more serious fire on the river a decade earlier. Nevertheless, this became a catalyzing event for the environmental movement and, in addition to other events, led to the creation of Earth day on April 22, 1970.

Although the fire was an important moment, it was the publication of a book a few years earlier that brought environmental issues to the forefront of American thought. In 1962, Rachel Carson, already a well-known and respected scientist and author, published Silent Spring, which explored the links between the environment and public health. The book, which sold over 500,000 copies and was published in more than 20 countries, most famously led to a debate about pesticides commonly used in the agricultural industry and resulted in the outlawing of DDT. Silent Spring started a dialogue about a number of important environmental issues and became the inspiration for activists across the country. So when a fire started on the Cuyahoga River in 1969, parts of a movement were already in place to respond and push for more responsible environmental policies.

After nearly a decade of heightened social awareness and a string of widely publicized environmental disasters, Senator Gaylord Nelson (Wisconsin-D) partnered with Congressman Pete McCloskey (California-R) and Harvard activist Denis Hayes to organize a national teach-in on the environment. On April 22, 1970, a date that fell nicely between spring break and finals on most college campuses, the first Earth Day was held. But participation extended well beyond college campuses. An estimated 20 million Americans joined in meetings, protests and other displays to draw attention to environmental concerns. This was remarkable in that it seemed to by-pass partisanship and included people of many diverse backgrounds. Within a few years, important legislation, such as the Clean Water Act, was passed and the Environmental Protection Agency was created with a mandate to safeguard and protect the environment. Earth Day also became an international day of protest and continues to be marked around the world.

This year, Earth Day activities are expected to draw more participants than in recent years. Along with other rallies, a March for Science will take place in Washington DC on the National Mall and in many other cities around the country. In many ways, this all began with a book by an incredible woman of science that fueled interest, a fire that caught national attention, and a teach-in that spread and ignited a movement. Happy Earth Day!