Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week:


1) Fall semester is in full swing! Total enrollment this semester has not yet been officially counted, but it could exceed 36,500. Here are some other facts and figures to get the semester off to a start, thanks to a compilation by Inside Iowa State, the university’s faculty and staff newsletter:

  • Mean class section size: 34
  • Number of new tenure-track faculty this semester: 70
  • Number of anticipated library visitors: more than 2 million
  • Number of rec facility users last year: 28,000
  • Number of CyRide rides last year: 6.7 million
  • Number of unique daily wireless connections on campus: 35,000
  • Number of new “treecycled” hallway benches that have been added in 24 campus buildings: 400

2) This year’s Homecoming theme is “Leave Your Legacy,” and we can’t think of any cuter legacyway to leave your legacy than with actual flesh and blood legacies — your kids who may attend ISU in the future. As part of this year’s Homecoming celebration, we’re collecting photos of adorable future Iowa Staters in their best Iowa State gear to feature on our Homecoming Facebook page. Send your child photos to Kate Bruns at and indicate which future graduating class the child represents and how you want the child identified in the photo caption (suggested: child’s first name, parent(s) name and grad year(s), current city of residence, number of generations Iowa State in family). Can’t wait to see all the submissions!

3) With apologies to Anchorman’s “Panda Watch,” “Rhino Watch” is on at Des Moines’ Blank Park Zoo, and ISU veterinary clinician June Olds is right there waiting. Olds, who serves as the Zoo’s senior veterinarian, says the (decidedly-not-a-jerk) Ayana — a member of the endangered black rhino species who came to Blank Park Zoo with male rhino Kiano in 2012 — is expecting a baby this fall, and the rare birth is a VERY big deal. Learn more in an exclusive ISU News Service video.


4) On Wednesday, University Museums will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the recently-restored iconic ISU landmark, the Fountain of the Four Seasons. Join President Steven Leath, members of the Meskwaki Settlement’s Brown Otter Drum Group, and others for a free public celebration at noon.

5) Is there anything else going on this week? Oh, yeah: We’re ready for some football THIS Saturday night at Jack Trice Stadium! Sign up by noon on Wednesday if you want to dine with us at our Cyclone Central tailgate (4-6:30 p.m.) at the ISU Alumni Center, but even if you don’t we encourage you to stop by and check out all the cool, new things (and old favorites) we have going on at our regular pregame event.

The incredible journey of Goran Micevic

A fateful encounter with an Iowa State professor’s textbook changes a war-weary young man’s life.

By Steve Sullivan

Goren Micevic-029.jpg

On April 12, The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans – the premier graduate school fellowship for immigrants and children of immigrants – announced the names of their prestigious 2016 Fellowship recipients. Of the 30 names announced, one name stood out to those of us at Iowa State: Goran Micevic.

Soros Fellows are selected for their potential to make significant contributions to U.S. society, culture, or their academic field and this y ear were selected from a pool o f 1,443 applicants.

The 2016 Fellows, who are all 30 or younger, come from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, and are all naturalized citizens, green card holders, DACA recipients, or the children of immigrants. Fellows receive up to $90,000 in funding over two years for the graduate program of their choice.

The following story about Micevic by freelance writer Steve Sullivan was originally printed in LINK, the magazine of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, in winter 2016.


He was just 12 when they came for him.

They didn’t wear uniforms or have badges. They were armed, though, with weapons, as well as strong suspicions that this Yugoslavian boy was an enemy. His parents had spent time in the United States and he was born there. In Yugoslavia during the brutal regime of Slobodan Milosevic, being born on American soil was enough to label you a threat.

So they came for him, and they took him from his parents. They detained him and interrogated him for weeks.

Goran Micevic made it through this terrifying experience. Surviving the physical and psychological burdens of war, he said, felt like being given a second life where nothing is impossible. For Micevic, that may very well be true. This young man not only survived a war, but a fateful encounter with a biochemistry textbook led to a wealth of opportunities at Iowa State University. His success at Iowa State then took him to Yale University, where he is piling up grants as a young pioneer in the field of cancer research.

From Yugoslavia to Macedonia and back
Micevic’s parents are both doctors. In the late 1980s, concerned about the growing instability of Yugoslavia, they came to America on a research fellowship at Northwestern University in Chicago. Micevic was born in Chicago. When the fellowship was over, the family returned home.

America provided a brief respite from Yugoslavia’s problems. The country was falling apart. The late 1990s was a time of turmoil and bombs. Young Micevic split his days between school and the bomb shelter – until he was taken from his parents.

“They kept close tabs on people leaving and entering the country. My parents were on a list somewhere and I was listed as a U.S. citizen on it,” he said. “The regime feared that information was being provided to foreign governments, so they tracked people down and deported or jailed them. Because of my age, I think they were as surprised as
I was when they came for me. I never completely knew who they were.”

After weeks of captivity, Micevic was dumped at the Macedonian border. After several weeks of staying with relatives, he was able to sneak back into Yugoslavia and reunite with his parents.

“I think we probably cried for a full day,” he remembers. “It was wonderful to be back and be able to put everything behind us. Things started changing for the better after the war was over and I was able to get back to school.”

A textbook leads to Ames
Micevic was always a curious boy, with an insatiable interest in science.

“My favorite pastime would be to take something apart to see how it works,” he said. “It would drive some parents crazy to see that their child was studying a remote he had just disassembled, but my parents encouraged it.”

During the war, he would help his parents in a makeshift clinic they had set up in a community bomb shelter. He would take vitals and administer insulin shots. This instilled in him the value of medicine.

As a high school student, he knew he wanted to pursue a career as a physician researcher and would likely need to go to America to do it. His high school library had few English language textbooks, but one would change Micevic’s life.

That book was Biochemistry: The Chemical Reactions of Living Cells, by David Metzler, a now-deceased ISU professor of biochemistry. The book is highly respected in the field, but how it ended up in a high school library in Belgrade, Serbia, is anyone’s guess. Micevic devoured the nearly 2,000-page tome. For Micevic, Metzler’s book came to symbolize the laboratories and collaborative research that could await him at Iowa State.

“I couldn’t take the SAT in Serbia, so I went to Macedonia to take it. I did well enough to get admission, and soon received a letter from Iowa State welcoming me to the class of 2010,” he said.

He arrived in Ames with $500 and that insatiable curiosity and ambition. Iowa State, he said, more than lived up to the vision inspired by Metzler’s book.

“I really enjoyed my time in the biochemistry department,” he said. “It was so welcoming. Most of my years in college were spent doing research in biochemistry. Dr. Kristen Johansen was very welcoming. I never dreamed she’d think this sophomore who barely spoke English would amount to anything. She believed in me and let me tinker in her
lab. Because of these people believing in me, I was happy to continue studying and working hard.”

Welcome to the lab
Johansen uses Drosophila, a fruit fly, as a model to study the role of protein modifications in regulating gene expression. Micevic was a work study student in her lab, helping with stocking and cleanup. His interest in research was obvious, and Johansen suggested he apply for an internship that would allow him to assist in the lab. He jumped at the chance and was soon working alongside Johansen and her graduate students. This experience, he said, was instrumental in learning experimental design and basic molecular biology techniques.

The undergraduate earned one recognition after another. In 2008, he was awarded an academic exchange scholarship to study at the German Cancer Research Center in the laboratory of a scientist considered a pioneer in the use of mass spectrometry.

Johansen and Micevic developed an independent project involving the use of highly specialized techniques to identify sites of chromosomal binding in the Drosophila genome. This work provided the basis of his honors thesis and helped him land a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship in 2009. That same year he was a Mayo Clinic Summer Research Fellow.

“He just really stood out,” says Johansen of Micevic. “He has an air about him that gives you great confidence. He loves what he does and is always looking for opportunities to move his projects forward, to get the training and experience he needs. Goran is going to do work that pushes the field into whole new areas.”

Micevic graduated summa cum laude from Iowa State in 2010 with a B.S. in biochemistry. He is now enrolled in the combined M.D.-Ph.D. program at Yale University School of Medicine and is a doctoral candidate in the school’s Department of Experimental Pathology. He’s interested in tumor biology and studies mechanisms of melanoma formation and progression using genetically engineered mouse models of melanoma.

In 2014 his research earned him a Research Scholar Award from the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation and a grant from the American Skin Association. In 2015 he was awarded a National Cancer Institute training grant to study epigenetic changes in melanoma.

“To a 12-year-old boy sitting in a bomb shelter in Belgrade, this all would have been science fiction,” he said, looking back on his incredible journey. “I’m very proud what I’ve overcome to be where I am now.”

Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week:


Artist Rose Frantzen, right, paints a portrait of Mary Giese at the Iowa State exhibit in the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fair. (Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University)

1) The Iowa State Fair is in full swing this week. Besides enjoying the butter cow and food on a stick, fair goers can stop by the Varied Industries Building for a truly creative experience at the Iowa State exhibit: Iowa artist Rose Frantzen will be painting portraits of Iowa Staters on site each day (except Wednesday). The university’s exhibit this year is “Your Beautiful Adventure” and also features eight works of art from University Museums’ Art on Campus collection as well as a photo station where visitors can take pictures of themselves in front of six campus scenes. As usual, fair goers can also pick up Cyclone football posters and get temporary tattoos. The Iowa State Fair continues through Sunday, Aug. 21 in Des Moines.


2) The tents are up! Nothing says “football season is just around the corner” than the appearance of these Cardinal & Gold striped tents in the Iowa State Center. (Can’t you just smell the food cooking on the grills?) The season (literally) kicks off in just 19 days!

3) Summer hours end this week: Those of us at the Alumni Association – and in many other departments across campus – have been arriving at work early the past couple of months so we can enjoy these long, hot summer evenings. But all good things must come to an end: We’re back to our regular 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours starting this week.

4) We’ve all been watching as former Cyclone athletes – all of them All-Americans at Iowa State – compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero. Betsy Saina (’13 child, adult & family services), Hillary Bor (’10 finance, MA ’12 accounting), Mohamed Hrezi (’14 accounting), and Guor Marial (’11 chemistry) have competed – or will compete – in the Games. On Friday, Saina finished fifth in the Women’s 10K with a new personal best. For more details, go to


Astronaut Clayton Anderson works in space during his five-month stay at the International Space Station in 2007. (Photo by NASA)

5) Space camp: Alumnus and former NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson (L)(MS ’83 aerospace engr) continues to bring out-of-this-world knowledge and experiences to Iowa State students. His Spaceflight Operations Workshop, going on right now, features astronaut-training exercises such as scuba lessons, team-building exercises, flight simulations, skydiving, a virtual reality trip to the International Space Station, wilderness survival tips, and lectures about spaceflight.


Colette Johnson: That Iowa Girl


Defying the stereotype that Iowa produces just corn, pork, and eggs, Colette Johnson (L)(’91 accounting) has set out to create niche markets for Iowa products ranging from cheese to salsa to hummus.

Her company, “That Iowa Girl,” delivers products made by Iowa’s small farmers and manufacturers to stores throughout Iowa and surrounding states. It’s a unique business model because, Johnson likes to say, “Nobody else is crazy enough to go out and do what we do.”

The idea started out with one product: healthy soy oil. Johnson was working for a group of soy farmers called Innovative Growers, and she offered to try to get the product placed on the shelves of Hy-Vee grocery stores. It was a natural fit for her, with her family background in farming, a degree in business, and a 1,000-megawatt smile perfectly designed for sales. She picked up a few more clients and in 2010 started delivering non-perishable food items from the back seat of her car.

“That Iowa Girl” grew from there. Johnson kept meeting more small business owners who wanted her to promote their products, so she bought a refrigerated delivery truck. And hired a driver. And bought a second truck. And added a sales staff.

Today the Iowa products distribution company that Johnson runs out of a former gas station in Clarion, Iowa, represents some 30 vendors and places their products in Hy-Vee and Fareway stores, Natural Grocers, Brothers Markets, and many other grocery stores and food co-ops throughout the state of Iowa as well as to stores in Nebraska, Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Kansas – more than 300 grocery stores in all.

Products run the gamut from Amish bakery items to small-batch potato chips, but a few items have been best sellers.One is La Casa chile con queso, a restaurant-style cheese dip manufactured in Iowa City.

“There’s really nobody else who makes a product like this, and it tastes just like you get in the Mexican restaurants,” Johnson said. “La Casa used to have a restaurant in Iowa City, but now they just do food production. People from Iowa City know this product from the restaurants.”

Other best sellers are Madame Mary bloody mary mix from Templeton, Oasis hummus from Iowa City, and Gino’s sauces and dressings from Des Moines. New to her distribution list is Do-Biz frozen cookie dough from Ames.

“Having a customer like That Iowa Girl puts our product in niche locations that we would never find on our own,” said Craig Smith, president of Sterzing Food Co. in Burlington. “Colette adds the personal touch that Midwesterners are known for and she represents our Iowa product very well.”

In 2013 the business expanded to include an outlet store in Clarion that offers most of the products Johnson and her team distribute to retail stores.

“This store is just kind of my fun thing, because I’m so proud of what we have,” Johnson said. “People will ask me about such and such, but as you know we’re kind of in the middle of nowhere, so it’s a way for them to try the same food I’m taking to Hy-Vee…and everywhere else. Guess what? They can come right here.”

Johnson sings the praises of small-town Iowa.

“I have such fond memories of growing up on the farm,” she says. “When I first graduated from Iowa State and went to Des Moines, that was my dream, to be a city girl. But I love small town safety, and people helping out one another. I’m very blessed that the community supports me.”

Bloom Where You are Planted


Reiman Gardens isn’t getting bigger, but it is getting better.

The Gardens’ staff recently announced the completion of a 20-year master plan that has been in the works for almost two years. The plan doesn’t increase the acreage of the Gardens, but rather makes better use of the current space.

The 20-year plan incorporates several new gardens, a small lake, and water features such as cascades and falls. New hardscape additions include terraces, boardwalks, courtyards, arbors, a stone amphitheater, and a new visitor center.

Ed Lyon, director of Reiman Gardens, said master plans are dreams of the ideal and aspirations of how to make the best of every available space. He said that many components of the new plan reflect Reiman Gardens’ Iowa roots, including the use of limestone and edible plants, a nod to Iowa’s contribution to food production.

The Reiman Gardens site plan does not encompass future plans for the south side of Jack Trice Stadium, but both plans will complement one another.

“They are two separate spaces, but not disparate,” Lyon said. Despite the changes and additions, the Gardens’ educational mission remains unchanged.

“The Gardens won’t be just beautiful, they will be educational,” Lyon said. “There’s not a garden we’re developing that doesn’t include an educational component.”

Many favorite aspects of Reiman Gardens are staying put.

“A lot of elements will remain,” Lyon said. “The Hughes Conservatory won’t change, and the Butterfly Wing will remain but be expanded. All the changes that we’re making elevate dramatically what we already have.”

Lyon emphasized that two directives for the Gardens have been embraced by the staff and incorporated by the design team.


Reiman Gardens director Ed Lyon and Sarah Rummery, manager of horticulture, walk through the area that will become the ISU Family Bulb Meadow beginning this fall.

“The first was easy,” he said, “because it was part of the original master plan: maintaining
the Gardens’ sense of place. It’s the sense that visitors are in a garden that reflects its heritage and the fact that it is in central Iowa and a part of the Midwest.”

The second directive was to make sure the Gardens is one of the leaders in the sustainability movement, with a focus on restoring eroding natural systems of plant diversity.

Another primary goal of the 20-year master plan is to enhance Reiman Gardens’ presence throughout Iowa and the nation. Lyon said that by enhancing the Gardens and offering grander exhibits, he anticipates that Reiman Gardens will become a destination stop, increasing tourism revenue for the city of Ames.

Lyon estimates the cost to implement the 20-year plan is at least $25 million.

The second phase of the Jack Trice Stadium expansion, an $11.5 million development of about 10 acres between the south end of the stadium and Reiman Gardens, began this spring. One part of the project involves removing the parking lot (S3) immediately south of the new End Zone Club facility, shortening the lot on either side of it and replacing the entry road to Reiman Gardens off of University Boulevard.

Reiman Gardens’ primary entrance will close for a time in early summer while crews reconfigure the intersection. During this time, visitors will access the Gardens and parking lot from the Beach Avenue driveway.

The other part of the project, for which the design isn’t yet finalized, will create a landscaped green space and plaza on the S3 parking lot site as a visual link between the stadium and Gardens. The plaza is expected to include a water feature and formal and informal gathering spaces. The landscaping component will likely begin sometime this fall, with final plantings installed in spring 2017.


During the planning process, Roy Reiman (L)(’57 ag journalism), the Gardens’ primary benefactor and namesake, suggested a project that could easily involve the entire Iowa State family: its alumni, students, faculty, staff , and friends.

The idea came from one of Reiman’s earlier successful projects to make the city of Greendale, Wis., where he currently resides, the “Daffodale Capital of the Country.” He started the process by donating the first 2,000 daffodil bulbs and then asked readers of his Birds & Blooms magazine to send a few bulbs from their gardens so they could say that they had contributed to the mission.

Readers exceeded his expectations, sending more than 54,000 daffodil bulbs. The daffodils were planted in 50 sunrays around a red tulip center, representing every state.

“They truly made Greendale a daffodale center,” Reiman said.

His idea for Reiman Gardens is another “bulbs from home” project, but with a twist for alumni and friends who don’t have bulbs of their own. Lyon explained that a site adjacent to a planned hillside garden overlooking the Outdoor Living Room area on the west side of the Gardens is fairly steep – so it’s not traversed by visitors, but it’s highly visible.

“There’s a trend toward planting ‘meadows’ in place of unnecessary turf or in difficult sites, utilizing native fescues or other short-growing native grasses with bulbs for seasonal interest,” Lyon said. “This meadow would provide ample viewing of bulbs without the need to walk through the beds, and demonstrate to a homeowner a form of gardening with low impact on both environment and maintenance. Mixing in additional late spring, summer, and fall blooming bulbs would extend the color and interest all season.”

Here’s how you can help: The Gardens invites alumni, students, and friends, no matter where they are, to contribute daffodil or other bulbs from their own gardens to the ISU Family Bulb Meadow. You can mail the bulbs or drop them off in person at Reiman Gardens between now and the end of September.

“It would be special for alums to know a part of their home is now a part of the campus,” Reiman says. “For alums who can’t afford huge gifts, this offers a chance to give something of themselves they can afford…in a small, meaningful way.”

Alumni who don’t have a garden or a daffodil bed can still get involved. The ISU Alumni Association has partnered with Reiman Gardens to allow alumni and friends to order flower bulbs online at Order by September and the bulbs will be sent directly to the Gardens for fall planting.

Whether the bulbs are some of your own or ordered from the website, Reiman Gardens will match each gift, providing site preparation, labor, meadow grasses, and future maintenance.

Lyon says that the hope is to create a beautiful bulb meadow that alumni and students can visit with family and friends for many years, with the knowledge that within the mix, some of their bulbs are part of the floral “family” display.

Be a part of Reiman Gardens’ ISU Family Bulb Meadow
Here’s how you can be part of this campus beautification project! Simply send your flower bulbs to Reiman Gardens or order bulbs online.

How to send flower bulbs from your own garden:

  • Dig daffodil or other bulbs from your yard
  • Package and mail the bulbs to Reiman Gardens, 1407 University Blvd., Ames, IA 50011
  • Or drop them off in person at Reiman Gardens, located at the south entrance to
    Iowa State University

How to order new flower bulb packages to be sent directly to Reiman Gardens:

  • Visit the ISU Alumni Association’s Reiman Gardens Bulb Gift section of its online store
  • Choose bulb packages and add to cart. Choose as many as you’d like!
  • Check out by providing your name and credit card information
  • Bulbs will be delivered directly to Reiman Gardens in your name

Bulbs should be received no later than Sept. 30. Planting will take place this fall. Note that online orders are tax-deductible; however, shipping is not tax-deductible.

Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week:


Photo by Christopher Gannon

1) It’s August 1, which means everything is being kicked into high gear on campus: many students have already returned to Ames, and classes are set to begin again Aug. 22. The first Cyclone football game kicks off in 34 days, and crews are busy on campus finishing up construction and beautification projects — including the renovation of the Fountain of the Four Seasons plaza north of the MU. The iconic Christian Petersen work will be celebrating its 75th anniversary Aug. 31 at noon.


2) Iowa State women’s shot putter Christina Hillman is one of two Big 12 athletes who have been nominated by the league office for “2016 NCAA Woman of the Year.” A 2016 Wallace E. Barron All-University Senior Award recipient who has been honored as an academic All-American and the 2016 Academic All-American of the year for track and field, Hillman has been as active in the community as she has been successful on the field. The 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year will be recognized Oct. 16 at a special ceremony in Indianapolis, Ind.

3) Several ISU Alumni Association local clubs have events coming up this weekend. Check out the ISUAA Club of Boston’s brewery tour event, the ISUAA Club of Denver’s family picnic, the ISUAA Club of Phoenix’s Football Kickoff BBQ, and the ISUAA Club of the Twin Cities’ Ice Cream Social for Future Cyclones. Saturday night is also Iowa State Night at the Iowa Cubs in Des Moines.

4) Money magazine recently published an article highlighting the best value colleges and universities in each U.S. state. Guess who topped the list in Iowa?

5) August 1 is national “Respect for Parents” Day. ISU Extension’s “Science of Parenting” blog is a great way to honor that most special of relationships. Respect yourself and read on!