Learning through doing

first_imgIn an effort to get his students to make slow, careful observations of organisms in the field and the lab, Gonzalo Giribet has a secret weapon — the pencil.As part of Giribet’s “Biology of Invertebrates” class, students spend hours in the lab studying dozens of animals, and making closely observed, highly detailed sketches of each. The idea, said Giribet, the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, is to encourage students to rely on illustration as an observational technique that is as powerful as, and sometimes more reliable than, photography.“In zoology, scientific illustration is very important,” he said. “It allows you to highlight every aspect of an organism, some of which may be more difficult to discern from a photograph. If you’ve spent hours drawing a butterfly, when you’re done, you’ll know for sure that it has two pairs of wings, you’ll know how the posterior and anterior wings are arranged, you’ll know what the antennae look like. That’s the idea behind this class.”Though Giribet has taught the class for a number of years, the emphasis on observation through illustration was introduced last year by doctoral student Christopher Laumer.“Gonzalo gave me more or less creative control over the lab section of the course, so for three hours every week we’d look at a diversity of adult body plans,” Laumer said. “My idea was to model the class after the invertebrate zoology class I took just before I came to Harvard, at Friday Harbor Laboratories on the Washington coast.”Laumer stressed that the class was more about encouraging students’ observational skills than nurturing their artistic abilities.“One thing about invertebrates is you have to become comfortable making open-ended observations of their morphology, and illustration is a good route to that because to make an illustration, even for someone who isn’t artistic, you have to look very closely at the animal,” he said. “It’s a different mental exercise than taking a photograph.”While talent isn’t a prerequisite to make the illustrations, “many of the students were naturals at it,” Laumer said.“I was extremely impressed with the quality of their observations,” he said. “It was deeply satisfying to see them progress over the course of the term.”The skills developed during lab hours were put to good use during a trip to Panama. Students spent hours snorkeling on shallow reefs to collect specimens for class, which was held at a local lab, and observed dozens of animals in their natural habitat.“That field work is one of the most important components of the course,” Giribet said. “The students not only get the theory in the classroom, but we then go to the lab and they have the opportunity to see the animals and dissect them, and to see them in situ on the reef.“For many students, it’s a whole new experience,” he added. “Some of them may have never been in the ocean, or never been to a tropical location. It complements a lot of the things we do in the classroom with the chance to experience invertebrate zoology done in the field. Every year, I hear from students who tell me this is the best class they’ve ever taken.”last_img read more

Denise Gough Will Bring People, Places & Things to New York

first_imgJacqui Dubois, Denise Gough & Sally George in ‘People, Places and Things'(Photo: Johan Persson) U.K. stage favorite Denise Gough will bring her Olivier-winning performance in People, Places & Things to New York. The Duncan Macmillan play will kick off St. Ann’s Warehouse’s 2017-18 season beginning October 19. It is set to run at the Brooklyn venue through November 19.This marks the first collaboration of St. Ann’s Warehouse with the U.K.’s National Theatre and Headlong. The show, directed by Jeremy Herrin, follows an actress struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. As she navigates through rehab, her complicated story begins to blur the lines between truth and lies. Gough, who will star in the National Theatre’s upcoming production of Angel in America, took home an Olivier for her performance as Emma in the show’s West End transfer.The season will continue with the New York premiere of 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, adapted by War hourse author Michael Morpurgo and directed by Emma Rice. Performances will run from March 16 through April 9. Beginning May 9, St. Ann’s Warehouse will present the American premiere of Enda Walsh’s Arlington; at that same time, Irish Arts Center will stage Walsh’s Rooms. Performances of both will run through May 28. View Commentslast_img read more

Tata plans closure of UK’s British Steel pension fund

first_imgThe British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) is to close to new accrual, Tata Steel has told union representatives.Union GMB called Tata’s plan to close the fund “unnecessary and profoundly disappointing”, and said it was preparing a strike ballot.According to the union, the fund had £13.6bn (€17bn) in assets at the end of November last year, up from £12.6bn at the end of March. David Hulse, GMB national officer, said the union did not expect to find itself discussing closure to new accrual, following months of negotiations that got underway in November. “Throughout a long process, we have acted in good faith and negotiated constructively in trying to reach an agreement that addresses what we acknowledge to be a significant deficit in the scheme,” Hulse added.According to the fund’s most recent annual report from 2013-14, BSPS had a £1.1bn deficit in March 2013 when measured on an on-going basis.Hulse was critical of Tata’s plans to close the fund to new accrual.“We have made every effort to compromise with the company, even discussing the possibility of meeting the deficit through changes to member benefits, despite the fact the company is legally obliged to pay for the deficit and has always done so in the past,” Hulse said.“Sadly, the company rejected this offer out of hand. It appears they are hell-bent on closing the scheme and are not prepared to compromise.”He said the management of parent company Tata Steel Europe should “seriously consider their positions” after what he deemed a breakdown in trust between the scheme’s sponsor and its workforce.A spokesman for Tata said the company put forward changes to the defined benefits (DB) fund that would have balanced any changes across the entire workforce.“We believe the trade unions’ proposals to change member benefits would have unfairly disadvantaged younger scheme members, who would have had to bear most of the impact of the changes.He added: “We have been unable to come to an agreement that would have enabled defined benefit provision to continue and we will be consulting employees on a proposal to close the defined benefit scheme to future accrual.It is proposed that future pension provision will be on a defined contribution basis.BTPS is a DB scheme, with a standalone defined contribution arrangement launched in 2014.The DB section returned 1.6% over the course of the 2013-14 financial year, and 7.8% over the three years to 2014.last_img read more

Batesville Council backs recycling center; other meeting notes

first_imgCity officials offer a design as they plan to transform the former Ivy Tech building into a center housing non-profit organizations.BATESVILLE, Ind. – City Council members have agreed to provide additional funding toward a proposed recycling center in Batesville.The Batesville Recycling Building is estimated to cost 75-thousand dollars and will be operated by Southeastern Indiana Recycling District (SEIRD).On Monday night, Council unanimously approved funding of up to $25,000 from the Belterra riverboat revenue-sharing funds.Last month, the Rising Sun Regional Foundation granted $30,000 to the City of Batesville toward the project. SEIRD Board of Directors recently provided a $20,000 donation as well.The Belterra funding request was spearheaded by District 1 Council Member Derrick Cox, who calls the project “a benefit to not only Batesville, but surrounding communities.”Fellow councilman Jim Fritsch inquired on the timetable of the project, which Mayor Rick Fledderman says could be as early as next spring.The proposed center will not alter curbside trash or recycling pickup, officials confirm.The City will own the building but operations and utilities will be covered by SEIRD. The company plans to have an attendant on duty during operation hours which are projected to be three days a week from noon to 6 p.m., and Saturday mornings.Recyclables accepted include paper, plastic, glass and aluminum, along with electronics, household hazardous waste, appliances, scrap metal, tires and car batteries.Company officials note that the center will not be a location to exchange scrap metal for cash.Other news and notes from Monday’s meeting: –Curbside trash collection is currently on a weekly basis, as it previously was twice a week. The City agreed Monday to move forward with a contract with Rumpke, but officials are now considering whether to schedule collection weekly or biweekly. Batesville resident Mike Vonderheide shared thoughts on the matter:“Once a week is plenty and twice a year [large trash collection] is plenty,” Vonderheide said. “Also, keep the recycling weekly as well, I know there are hardly any trash cans on our street during the second weekly [pickup] in the summer.”City officials are keeping the discussion open as they look for input from city residents.–A citizen asked the mayor if the City was aware of any ongoing investigation. Fledderman declined any knowledge of an investigation, and told the audience he was unaware of any wrongdoing by city officials.–Drones in Batesville? Council President Gene Lambert asked Police Chief Stan Holt about drones reportedly seen flying over Batesville. Holt says he is looking into the legalities as Lambert inquired on privacy concerns.If you have captured a photo of a drone locally and wish to share it with us, email our news director at [email protected]–Board of Works members approved the purchase of the former Ivy Tech building at the intersection of County Line Road and Huntersville. An anonymous donor agreed to donate 50-thousand dollars toward the project on stipulation the City receives matching funds. Mayor Fledderman announced Monday that donations have reached $50,000 and the transaction was later approved by the Board of Works.–Council members support a resolution to change the state funding formula for Indiana Schools.Mayor Fledderman reasoned, “I’m in support of this because of how funding is to the Batesville school system, we achieve at a higher level than many other [schools].”last_img read more