Five Things

Happy Cyber Monday, Cyclone Nation! Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week:

2016_11_25scarfnew1) We’d be remiss if we didn’t start with our Cyber Monday offer: $10 off a purchase of $50 or more from the ISU Alumni Collection online. Simply enter code CYMON10 at checkout to get the discount — and remember, ISU Alumni Association members already receive individual discounts on each item in the store. Some of our most popular holiday deals: Our Zoozats Infinity women’s scarves are currently on sale for $10/each, and we’re liquidating our inventory of the discontinued Cat’s Meow collectibles, which you can also now score for only $5/each.

2) This Thursday the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics is bringing its fall 2016 Mary Louise W32Z-208.jpgSmith Chair to campus as Lynn Povich, the first female senior editor at Newsweek magazine and former editor-in-chief of Working Woman magazine, will present “The Good Girls Revolt: Women, Work and Politics” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1, in the Memorial Union Great Hall.

The Smith Chair was established in 1995 to honor Iowa native Mary Louise Smith – the first and only woman to chair the Republican National Committee. The purpose of the chair is to bring nationally known political leaders, scholars, and activists to Iowa State to enrich the experiences of students and educate citizens about the role of women in the political process. Povich is the 29th woman leader to visit Iowa State through the sponsorship of the Smith chair. Past chairs have included such prominent figures as Hillary Clinton, Christine Todd Whitman, Carol Moseley Braun, Mara Liasson, Carly Fiorina, Elizabeth Dole, and the late Gwen Ifill, to name just a few.

3) After Iowa State students staged a walkout Nov. 16 over concerns about the status of undocumented students under the next U.S. presidential administration, Iowa State University issued a pre-Thanksgiving statement on the matter.

“Iowa State University Police do not gather information about the citizenship or immigration status of the people who have interactions with police officers and have no jurisdiction or role in enforcing United States immigration laws,” the statement read, in part. “The university has no plans to change this practice.” Read the full statement here.


4) Yesterday was Selection Sunday — no, not for basketball but for women’s volleyball. The the 11th-straight year, Iowa State has been selected to participate in the NCAA championship under head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch. The Cyclones will take on Purdue Thursday in Columbia, Mo. The first-round first serve is set for 4:30 p.m. at the Hearnes Center; if the Cyclones advance, they will play the winner of No. 15 Missouri/Northern Illinois in a second-round contest on Friday night. Stay tuned to for ticket and live-streaming info.

1-1197052336ycrm5) The ISU Horticulture Club’s poinsettia sale starts Wednesday and continues through Dec. 3. If you’re local, consider giving our students your business as you prepare to trim your home.

Get all the details about the sale here.

How we got here

The words sting.

Raw and honest and unapologetic, they laid it on the line: What was it like being black on a campus of mainly white students? And what’s it like today?


Three Iowa State alumni from the late 1980s and ’90s and a former staff member spoke on campus this fall to a packed Sun Room crowd in the Memorial Union. “How We Got Here: Challenges and Achievements / A Conversation with Black Alumni” was sponsored by the Committee on Lectures, Black Student Alliance, and other organizations. Panelists included:

  • Modupe Labode (A) (’88 history), public scholar of African American history and museums and an associate professor of history and museum studies at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis
  • Keecha Harris (L)(’96 dietetics), president of KHA Inc., a consulting firm specializing in evaluation and organizational development for nutrition and public health support services, Sterrett, Ala.
  • Mohamed Omer (MS ’96 physical chemistry), former forensic chemist and associate VP for strategic foresight and innovation at L’Oréal, Naperville, Ill.

The moderator, Cecilia Naylor (A), was director of ISU’s Margaret Sloss Women’s Center from 1993 to 1997. She opened the discussion with a frank and honest declaration: “When I left Iowa State, I said I would never, ever, ever, EVER come back here. I was not stepping foot in the state of Iowa.” Her experience on campus as a staff member during the 1990s was that bad. But in the end, she said, she decided to make peace with Iowa State.

img_5086She said she connected with Harris, one of her fellow panelists, and they “decided to do something for the black students here now,” many of whom were in the audience.

Despite significant challenges during their time at Iowa State, the panelists agreed that their experiences made them stronger, and each made lifelong friends.

“My experience at Iowa State made me not afraid of anything,” Omer said. “I was the only black graduate student in the chemistry department. And this is the University of Science and Technology! There were NONE! Everywhere I went!”

Omer went on tutor and mentor undergraduate black students who were taking chemistry classes. “We were really a close-knit community,” he said.

He also told the students gathered in the Sun Room not to be afraid to work hard and try something new while they’re in school.

“I worked as a detassler,” he said of the ubiquitous Midwest summer cornfield job. “I had no fear. If you can survive detassling for 10 days, you can survive anything.”

Harris named the late George Jackson, former ISU assistant VP for student affairs and director of minority student affairs, as “the reason we’re all in this room.” Jackson implored Harris and other black students to take care of themselves and also of each other.

“He told us, ‘This place is incredibly rich in tradition but psychologically unstable for you. We are not as transracial as we think we are,’” Harris said.

Others on the panel listed Liz Beck (former director of the University Honors Program), Pat Miller (director of the ISU lectures program), and other faculty members and academic advisers as helping them navigate what was for them a difficult time.

“It was a hostile environment,” Harris remembered. “I loved the professors, but my classmates questioned whether I should be here. I became a parent during my sophomore year, and my daughter experienced micro-aggression even in preschool. It was heartbreaking.”

But, Harris said, she’s still “proud to be a Cyclone. I want this to be a better place for those of you who are here now.”

Labode, a Rhodes Scholar, became an ISU faculty member after graduation. “My greatest achievement here was the opportunity to teach,” she said. “The student-teacher relationship was really fascinating. I was in awe of all the student activism [of the time]. It remains with me today.”

Following the panel discussion, audience members were given an opportunity to ask questions. “What’s your advice on handling these daily micro-aggressions?” asked one student. “Majority students don’t have to deal with the things we deal with.”

Naylor, now a professor of history and Africana studies at Barnard College, responded: “Racism is racism is racism. You belong here just like everybody else. There’s a structural shift that needs to happen.”

And from Omer: “Part of learning is mixing with others. It’s going to help you at the end of the day. You need to know your Indian neighbors, your white neighbors. There’s a lot of beauty – you just have to open yourself up.”

— Carole Gieseke

Five Things

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


1) To say it was a successful weekend for Iowa State athletics might be understating things. First-year head football coach Matt Campbell got his first Big 12 win on the road at Kansas, Iowa State’s men’s and women’s cross country teams BOTH qualified for the national championships — one of just 14 schools nationally to do so, the Iowa State volleyball team upset No. 5 Texas in Hilton Coliseum, and the men’s and women’s basketball regular season kicked off with wins.

2) If you want to tailgate at the ISU Alumni Center for either of ISU’s last two home football games, you are welcome to join us at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 19 and Nov. 26 for food, fun, and friends. Please note, however, that if you want to eat the full catered buffet meal at either or both events, you must register online by this Wednesday, Nov. 16. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, reservations for both tailgates are due this week — so be sure to make your plans now.


3) University officials have spent the last week addressing concerns by Iowa State students who say they have been threatened, intimidated, or harassed in the wake of last Tuesday’s highly divisive presidential election. ISU President Steven Leath released a video last week condemning all racism and bigotry on campus, but issues have persisted. Last week ISU community members held peaceful protests on campus.


4) Thanksgiving is next week. Get all the meal preparation tips you may need from ISU Extension — or call Answer Line next Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday morning for more assistance with your Thanksgiving meal!

5) Speaking of Thanksgiving, the Iowa State men’s basketball team is spending that holiday in Orlando as a participant in the Advocare Invitational tournament. Are you following the Cyclones to the tourney? If so, join us for a pre-tourney Turkey Day spirit rally. Register to attend by Nov. 23 and you could win an autographed Steve Prohm basketball.

Rock on: Iowa’s Geologic Record


From glaciers to inland seas, from Midcontinent Rift to a cataclysmic meteorite strike, the stuff that Iowa is made of is more than meets the eye. While the state doesn’t have Rocky Mountains like Colorado, or rock formations like Utah, or the Grand Canyon like Arizona, Iowa nevertheless has a fascinating and dynamic geologic past.

Going deep: Iowa’s earliest beginnings
All the cool stuff that happened in Iowa’s geologic past happened in the Precambrian, according to Jane Pedrick Dawson (’83 geology, MS ’86), ISU senior lecturer in geological and atmospheric sciences. But then, Dawson admits, her research specialization is the Precambrian. She gets really excited talking about basement rock and rift systems and gravitational pull.

“It’s really hard to study the Precambrian in Iowa because it’s just not exposed,” she says. “So our knowledge about it is pretty fuzzy. You can’t get to the ‘basement.’ It’s there, but we don’t have access to it.”

What geologists here study, she explains in lay terms, are the “first and second floors of the house.”

“The Precambrian basement here is billions of years old. Iowa is on a very stable area of continental crust.”

Actually, she says, maybe not ALL the exciting stuff happened in the Precambrian (which ended more than 500 million years ago), but much of it did.

“One really interesting exciting thing that happened in Iowa toward the end of the Precambrian – about 1.1 billion years ago – there was a massive continental rifting event. It went from Kansas up through Lake Superior, called the Midcontinent Rift. This was a very fast event with a massive, massive outpouring of lava and associated volcanic activity. We’re sitting on the shoulder of the rift here in Ames.

“Later compressional forces squeezed the rift valley in Iowa up into a mountain range, and sediment shed off into basins on the side,” she continues. “It got eroded and then buried under younger sediments after the Precambrian (the last 540-odd million years) – that’s about the last one-eighth of the Earth’s history. Precambrian is the first seven-eighths of Earth’s history. The development of multi-cellular life is in the last eighth.”

So, that’s the beginning – before Iowa was covered in a warm, shallow sea, before it was covered by glaciers, before prairies, before bison, before people. That’s how it all got started.

Touching the past
rockon2There’s something unique in the far northwest corner of Iowa: A piece of history more than a billion years old.

Sioux Quartzite is the oldest exposed rock in the state, and you can find it in Gitchie Manitou State Preserve, where the closest town is actually in South Dakota.

Jane Pedrick Dawson, ISU senior lecturer in geological and atmospheric sciences, is beside herself with happiness when she sees the wind-polished, pink-tinted rocks in their natural habitat for the first time.

“This is about 1.7 billion years old,” she says reverentially, touching the rock. “It’s from a unit of time in the Precambrian called Proterozoic; it’s middle Proterozoic in age. These quartzite bodies are showing us where the southern margin of North America used to be” before the continents shifted many millions of years ago.

Sioux Quartzite is resistant to weathering. Through millions of freeze-thaw cycles and a half-dozen continental glaciers, it has survived. Beginning in the late 1890s, for several years the rock was quarried here in Iowa’s northwest corner. It is currently quarried in South Dakota and Minnesota, and the crushed rock is used on roads and for railroad ballast.

“One of the things that just trips my trigger is when you think about the processes that went into making all this [Sioux Quartzite] and then it just SAT THERE for over a billion years and then we come along and find a use for it,” Dawson says. “When this gets put into asphalt, people are driving over pieces of what used to be the edge of our continent without even realizing it.”

Continent on the move: Plate tectonics
In high school Earth science, most of us learned that the top layer of planet Earth is a series of plates that are constantly shifting.

Jane Pedrick Dawson, ISU senior lecturer in geological and atmospheric sciences, describes this process a bit more colorfully: “All continents are put together like patchwork quilts,” she says. “You start with a few pieces and then you just keep adding more and more pieces around the outside, so all continents are amalgamations of pieces that may be locally derived or may have traveled a long way and then get smashed in and attached.’’

While Iowa’s landscape was transforming through the years, the North American continent itself was slowly making its way up from the south, explaining the fossil records of some tropical plants and animals in Iowa.


Glaciers R Us
When you ask Iowa’s geologists, anthropologists, and historians what has most influenced the current Iowa landscape, they’ll all give you one word: glaciers.

“We have a beautiful glacial history in Iowa because of the way the glaciers have shaped our land masses,” Hannah Carroll, ISU PhD candidate in ecology/evolutionary biology and environmental science, says.

Glaciers are what made central Iowa’s landscape flat and fertile. They produced rivers and streams and “prairie potholes.” In the northwest, south, and northeast, glaciers created the Iowa Great Lakes and the rolling farmland made famous by artist Grant Wood.

The Upper Midwest probably experienced around 25 phases of glaciation in the last 2.5 or 3 million years. Scientists know there were multiple glaciations from the many layers of sediment (or till) laid down by the glaciers and from mud layers cored from the ocean bottom that changed their chemistry every time glaciers advanced.

Central Iowa was de-glaciated very recently relative to other parts of the state. The Des Moines Lobe – with its terminal moraine right around downtown Des Moines – retreated from Iowa only about 14,000 years ago.

“The interesting thing about the Iowa landscape is that most of Iowa – the southern part, the western part, and the eastern part – those parts of Iowa were last glaciated more than 300,000 to 400,000 years ago,” Neal Iverson (’83 geology), ISU professor of geological and atmospheric sciences, says. “So those glacial sediments have been subject to river erosion for all that time since then. That’s why the land outside the Des Moines Lobe is more rolling.”

Iverson is Iowa State’s top expert on glacial science. “What makes this [central] part of Iowa unusual,” he says, “is that this glacier stepped out of here not that long ago – about 14,000 years ago – probably not too long before the first Native Americans were in the area.”

He says that at the time the Des Moines Lobe came into Iowa, the climate was getting warmer. “There was actually a forest,” Iverson says. “It wasn’t tundra; there were trees like hemlocks, spruce, boreal forest sorts of trees, and they got pushed over by the glacier. If you’re lucky you can find these old logs buried at the bottom of the Des Moines Lobe sediments and you can date those old logs using radiocarbon. They tend to have ages of about 16,500 to 17,000 calendar years.”

The Iowa Great Lakes were formed by the last glacial advance. Other lakes – Clear Lake and Wall Lake, for example – are also natural lakes that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the last glacial advance. Outside the boundaries of the Des Moines Lobe there are virtually no natural lakes, only reservoirs.

Iverson thinks it’s important for people to understand glacial movement. “The last time ice came into Iowa, it was likely surging due to dynamic reasons rather than advancing for climatic reasons, and I think that’s pretty important,” he said. “I think people think of glaciers as being these passive blobs of ice that just respond in a very slow way to climate change. That’s just not true; sometimes glaciers advance very rapidly for dynamic reasons unrelated to climate change. The base of the glacier effectively gets very, very slippery and the ice slides out across the landscape very rapidly. People think the Des Moines Lobe advanced at a speed of something like 2,000 meters a year, which is quite fast for a glacier.”

Making an impact: the Manson Crater
rockon5Around 74 million years ago, something really shocking happened near what is now the town of Manson, in southeast Pocahontas County, Iowa. A large asteroid hit the Earth, causing debris to fly to areas as far away as Nebraska and Dakota.

Nobody was hurt, because nobody was there. This was in the Cretaceous period, and it would be millions of years before humans arrived on the scene. But the meteorite, thought to be about 1.2 miles in diameter, created an impact structure 24 miles in diameter and likely caused a tsunami in the Western Interior Seaway.

The site at the time was the shore of a shallow inland sea. No surface evidence exists today due to relatively recent coverage by glacial till, and the site where the crater lies buried is now a flat area – the crater is essentially invisible to the naked eye due to Iowa’s shifting landscape.

Researchers first became interested in the site in 1912 when well water proved to be unusually soft when compared to other Iowa water. The Manson crater was first recognized as an impact structure in 1966.

The Manson impact structure is the largest intact onshore meteorite crater in the continental U.S. The town of Manson holds an annual Greater Crater Days.


Traveling Iowa’s geological wonders
Nothing to see here? You just have to know where to look! Take a trip across Iowa to check out these unique landforms. We’ve also included some detailed recommendations from many of our Iowa State experts.

  • Loess Hills in western Iowa (pictured, above)
  • Gitchie Manitou State Preserve, for Sioux Quartzite, in northwest Iowa
  • Fossil & Prairie Park in Floyd County near Rockford, for its Devonian-aged rocks and marine fossils that you can collect and take home
  • Devonian Fossil Gorge near Iowa City, for marine fossils
  • Ledges State Park and Dolliver Memorial State Park, for snapshots of the Pennsylvanian time period
  • Maquoketa Caves State Park in eastern Iowa, for Silurian-aged rocks and examples of karst topography
  • Freida Haffner Kettle Hole State Preserve in northwest Iowa’s Dickinson County, for an example of a glacially created kettle feature

The experts weigh in:

  • NEAL IVERSON: “I think the most interesting landscapes in Iowa are the Loess Hills; the Ames area because it was so recently glaciated; the northeastern part of Iowa, whose landscape is dominated by karst processes; and southern Iowa, which is this old landscape that was glaciated 300,000- 400,000 or more years ago, multiple times.”
  • HANNAH CARROLL: “What we have, I think, is a really interesting geological history because of all the different glaciations that have gone on and all these different landforms. You go over to the Driftless Area; you’ve got this Paleozoic plateau that hasn’t been glaciated for a long time, and you’ve got these beautiful limestone bluffs (northeastern Iowa). Loess Hills is interesting; you’ve got that really thick layer of very fine loess, and that sandy soil gives you a different kind of prairie than you would have in the Des Moines Lobe.”
  • JANE PEDRICK DAWSON: “Drive up Hwy 52 [in northeast Iowa]. Come in to Guttenberg from the south, go down a great big hill – the Mississippi River is on your right, and there’s a road cut on your left. This is considered to be one of the most complete exposed sections of the Galena Group Middle Ordovician-aged sedimentary rocks in Iowa. These rocks were deposited in shallow seas that once covered the state. We just don’t have too many places in Iowa where we get to see big exposures like that.”
  • JEROME THOMPSON: “People have a perception of Iowa being flat. Any person that’s ridden RAGBRAI will tell you it’s not. If you want to see Iowa, avoid I-35 and I-80. Traveling up Interstate 35, you see corn field and bean field and corn field and bean field…the area that was heavily glaciated and flattened. Now, if a person were to drive along Hwy. 18 in northern Iowa, they would get a sampling of the Loess Hills, and they would also get across part of the Des Moines Lobe and then get into the karst area of northeast Iowa. You get a lot of landscape change along that particular route.”


This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.

Five Things


Monday, Monday: Here you are again. These are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week:

1) Veterans Day is Friday, and the Memorial Union will be holding its annual Gold Star Hall Ceremony today. This event is designed to pay tribute to our university’s casualties of war, as the Gold Star Hall was created in 1928 as a way to honor and remember ISU students who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War I. Over the years, the memorial has been expanded to include all military conflicts and all Iowa Staters who died — including many who had been previously overlooked or not properly documented. This year’s Gold Star Hall Ceremony honorees’ names have been engraved on the walls of the MU for many years, but the soldiers have not yet been individually honored by the university for their sacrifice. They include:

  • Morris Rusch Marks, Lake Park, studied veterinary medicine and business at Iowa State in the 1930s. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942, and was killed during his sixth bombing attack over the Netherlands in February 1944.
  • Galen Dean Grethen, Emmetsburg, came to Iowa State in 1961 and stayed for two years before enlisting in the Army. He was a combat medic and paratrooper in Vietnam, where he was killed in April 1966.
  • Wayne William Gross, Carroll, came to Iowa State for graduate work in economics in 1967. The following year, he entered the Marines, and graduated from officers’ training school as a second lieutenant. Just one month after deployment in Vietnam, he was killed by sniper fire in August 1968.
  • Donald Gary Lammers, Forest City, graduated from Iowa State in 1966 with a degree in English and speech, although he already had enlisted in the Marine Corps. He went to Vietnam as a helicopter pilot in March 1968, and his final flight was five months later in August 1968.

Today’s 3:15 p.m. ceremony and post-ceremony reception is free and open to the public.

1sy9-2082) In other Veterans Day-related news, Iowa State on Thursday will present a one-of-a-kind lecture by James Wright on “Enduring Vietnam: Reflections on a War and Those Who Served,” based on the veteran and historian’s forthcoming book with the same title. The lecture is free and open to the public.

There is also a special Veterans Day tribute planned for Friday night’s men’s basketball game at Hilton Coliseum. So be sure to show up and, um, get carded.

3) The “Buchanan 2” residence hall construction project currently nearing completion on the south side of campus may not be known as “Buchanan 2” much longer. The Board of Regents is currently reviewing a proposal to name the building “Geoffroy Hall” in honor of ISU’s 14th president, who retired in 2012.


4) Already missing Homecoming week 2016? Here are 126 photos to take you back, courtesy of our ISUAA Facebook page.

5) Finally, it’s one day before the end of a presidential election cycle that has brought racial issues to the forefront in our nation — and the ISU campus has not been immune to racial tension. It’s been a little over a week since ISU Police removed and began investigating white nationalist posters (which were also found at about 20 other universities nationwide, including the University of Iowa) that appeared on campus during the wee hours of Oct. 27. It has been less than a week since an ISU Latina student reported on Facebook that she was harassed with racially-charged chants outside a Campustown pizzeria. And it has been just a few days since the state of Iowa was rocked by the ambush-style killing of two Des Moines-area police officers by a man with racist motivations (kudos to the Iowa State football team for its efforts to pay tribute to the fallen officers on Saturday).

While Iowa State has made great strides since ISU President Steven Leath vowed to strengthen the university’s diversity and inclusion efforts more than a year ago, it is obvious that much work remains to be done. Take a few moments today to review our university’s Principles of Community, and thank you for your support — as an alumnus or friend — in helping move our diverse university community forward in unity.