Commencement speaker to deliver message about overcoming adversity

Maddie Van Beek, an NDSU senior majoring in English education, will share a message of overcoming adversity and appreciating each day as speaker during winter commencement, scheduled for Friday, Dec. 19, at 3 p.m., in Festival Concert Hall. The ceremony, one of three to be held that day, will be for undergraduate candidates from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; College of Human Development and Education; and College of Science and Mathematics.

Maddie Van Beek, an accomplished NDSU distance runner, was at an Iowa track meet in April when she received a life-changing phone call. Her fiancé, Daryl, had been diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer.

The diagnosis and following treatment quickly refocused their priorities.

“I honestly let go of a lot of stress,” Van Beek said. “I find myself not worrying so much about the day-to-day things. I would rather appreciate each day for what it’s worth. Be present and enjoy the people you surround yourself with.”

The NDSU senior majoring in English education will share a message of overcoming adversity and appreciating each day as speaker during winter commencement, scheduled for Friday, Dec. 19, at 3 p.m., in Festival Concert Hall. The ceremony, one of three to be held that day, will be for undergraduate candidates from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; College of Human Development and Education; and College of Science and Mathematics.

Van Beek got married in July. Her husband’s tumor was removed shortly thereafter. He has been given a clean bill of health, but the series of events gave Van Beek a fresh outlook on life.

She plans on using that perspective in her career as an English teacher and she urges her classmates to do the same.

The self-described “geeky kid” who always read while walking down her school hallways has been student teaching at area middle and high schools. She is focused on helping teens who will be first-generation college students. She urges them to think for themselves and become their own advocates in life.

“I want to impact and help others, especially kids who don’t have the support at home,” she said.

Van Beek has made an impact outside the classroom as well. She is a member of the NDSU women’s cross country and track teams, and holds school records for the steeplechase and indoor 5K. She credits her teammates for pushing her on the track and for helping her through the cancer diagnosis and treatment.

“Working with my teammates is inspiring,” Van Beek said. “It’s a daily refueling in a way.”

Van Beek was named to the Capital One Academic All-District and second-team Academic All-American teams for her cross country, indoor track and outdoor track seasons. She was the Most Valuable Player at the 2013 Summit League Indoor Track Championship.

Van Beek plans to use her newfound perspective on life as she completes her track and field career this spring. She’s using the extra semester to complete a second major in English.

Van Beek was a representative on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and a member of Blue Key National Honor Society, where she volunteered at TNT Kids Fitness, Dorothy Day Food Pantry and a fundraising event for Fargo-based Homeward Animal Shelter.

“I’ve grown so much because of everything that has been available to me at NDSU,” Van Beek said. “I’m always going to have a heart toward NDSU for how much it’s helped me, from my connections with coaches, teammates, professors and to being able to grow as an educator and person.”

Information about the NDSU commencement ceremony is available at www.ndsu.edu/commencement. The event will be streamed live, with an archive video available the week following the ceremony.

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NDSU commencement speaker to encourage graduates to maintain childlike wonder

Katie Scholl will speak to undergraduate candidates from the College of Engineering and the College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources Friday, Dec. 19, at 1 p.m., in Festival Concert Hall.

Katie Scholl plans to enter her career and with the same excitement and wonder she saw in the wide eyes of children during an internship in Orlando, Florida. The winter commencement speaker hopes that if her fellow NDSU graduates leave the ceremony with just one thought, it’s the importance of being open to the delight of life.

Scholl will speak to undergraduate candidates from the College of Engineering and the College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources Friday, Dec. 19, at 1 p.m., in Festival Concert Hall. It’s one of three winter commencement ceremonies to be held that day.

The senior in industrial engineering completed an internship at Walt Disney World during fall semester in 2013, and she will use the words at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom as the central theme for her comments: Here you leave Today and enter the World of Tomorrow, Yesterday and Fantasy.

“I’ll urge my classmates to not forget the kid side in ourselves, and to enjoy the future we have created with NDSU as our stepping-stone into that future,” explained Scholl, who is from Brainerd, Minnesota. “There’s magic in children. Their outlook is so positive and not swayed by what is going on. That’s important to remember when the stresses of life come into play.”

Scholl will emphasize that plans sometimes change, and the new graduates should be open to different opportunities. It’s something she did in creating an amazing collegiate experience, and will continue to do in the next stage of her life.

Scholl will emphasize that plans sometimes change, and the new graduates should be open to different opportunities. It’s something she did in creating an amazing collegiate experience, and will continue to do in the next stage of her life.

Scholl was active in NDSU’s Society of Women Engineers, holding such leadership roles as secretary and banquet chair. In addition, as the society’s TechGYRLS representative, she helped organize a program to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics among girls in third through seventh grade. In addition to her Walt Disney World position, she interned with Sanford Health and Ecolab.

“There’s a feeling of family at NDSU,” Scholl said of her time on campus. “It has been such a big part of our lives, and moving forward, we’ll be able to keep everything we’ve learned close to us. I am so glad to have been at NDSU and I’m thankful to everyone’s contributions to my future.”

Information about the NDSU commencement ceremony is available at www.ndsu.edu/commencement/. The event will be streamed live, with an archive video available the week following the ceremony.

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Commencement speaker to issue service challenge to fellow graduates

Heather Bergan Roller is a speaker during one of three winter commencement ceremonies on Friday, Dec. 19, at 11 a.m., in Festival Concert Hall. She will be addressing all graduate and professional candidates and undergraduate candidates of the College of Business, College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Allied Sciences and College of University Studies.

Heather Bergan Roller will take many lessons away from her journey toward a doctorate in cellular and molecular biology at NDSU, but one stands out: a single act, experience or person can change the world.

Roller plans to share her lesson and issue a call to action to her fellow graduates as a speaker during one of three winter commencement ceremonies on Friday, Dec. 19, at 11 a.m., in Festival Concert Hall. She will be addressing all graduate and professional candidates and undergraduate candidates of the College of Business, College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Allied Sciences and College of University Studies.

Her hope is that, when the lights go down, her fellow graduates will take her story as inspiration to be the change as they set out on their own new paths.

Roller’s storyline changed unexpectedly early in her doctoral program. The experience was a course in teaching college science, and the person was Erika Offerdahl, associate professor of biological sciences. Up to that point, Roller had been focused on conducting research in the laboratory. Offerdahl showed her an alternative.

“I didn’t know the art of teaching was so scientific,” said Roller, who now teaches an NDSU course on endocrinology. “I realized there are researchers looking at how students learn and how we can best teach them, and I fell in love with teaching. It really meshed my interest in research with mentoring students.”

Offerdahl, who became a mentor for Roller, predicts a bright future for a student she calls one of NDSU’s best. “Heather is a remarkable, mature student who is highly motivated, well-spoken, with an amazing outlook on life,” Offerdahl said.

“She has great promise as an academic, teacher and scholar.” She might have added advocate, as well.

Roller believes the most important skills new graduates take away from NDSU are their abilities to think, reason and create, and no matter what their major area of study has been, each student can and should make a difference through service.

“I will challenge our graduates to use their newfound abilities not just in the workplace, but throughout their communities,” Roller said. “Do the small things. Maybe we can’t change the entire world, but by helping one person we can change theirs.”

Service is dear to Roller, who brought a dedication to volunteerism from her hometown of Bismarck, North Dakota, to NDSU and Fargo. Her activities here range from serving as a health instructor at the Fargo YMCA to walking dogs for the Homeward Animal Shelter.

“We all have our own interests. Everybody has their own niche where they can contribute,” she said. “By doing that, it really can improve the world overall.”

The path of self-described scientist turned teacher will continue following commencement at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she will be a post-doctoral student investigating how students learn biology at the undergraduate level.

“I’m really excited about it and that’s where I see my future – trying to understand how students learn and how we can adapt our teaching to best facilitate their learning,” Roller said.

Information about NDSU commencement is available at www.ndsu.edu/commencement/. The event will be streamed live, with an archive video available the week following the ceremony.

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NDSU history professor to give presentation on settlers’ earthen homes

Tom Isern, University Distinguished Professor of history at North Dakota State University, and Suzzanne Kelley, managing editor of New Rivers Press at Minnesota State University Moorhead, are scheduled to present “Prairie Earth, Prairie Homes” Tuesday, Dec. 30, at 6:30 p.m. at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, located in the Hjemkomst Center at 202 First Ave. N. in Moorhead.

The society is now displaying a National Endowment for the Humanities House and Home exhibit that asks the question, “Would you like to live in a house made of dirt?”

As scholars of the history of earthen homes on the northern plains, Isern and Kelley take that question seriously. They suggest earth was not the material of last resort, but rather the material of choice for many settlers on the plains. In addition, there was knowledge and technique involved, as Kelley and Isern discovered during their restoration efforts at the Hutmacher Farmstead in Dunn County, North Dakota.

“There is nothing like taking a house apart and putting it back together again for gaining an understanding of how prairie pioneer homemakers operated,” they said.

In their talk, Isern and Kelley will illustrate the variety of techniques setters used to fashion houses of earth, assess the virtues and faults of this type of housing and share insights from their restoration experience.

Isern is a specialist in the history of the Great Plains. He has written or co-written six books and is host of the popular weekly feature, “Plains Folk,” on Prairie Public radio. Together, Kelley and Isern have led multiple service-learning expeditions of college students restoring historic earth buildings.

The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County collects, preserves, and shares the history and culture of Clay County, Minnesota. For more information, call 218-299-5511 or visit www.hcscconline.org.

As a student-focused, land-grant, research university, we serve our citizens.

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NDSU winter commencement set for Dec. 19

NDSU’s winter commencement is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 19, in Festival Concert Hall.

Three separate ceremonies will be held at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The schedule will be as follows:

11 a.m.

  • All graduate and professional candidates
  • College of Business undergraduate candidates
  • College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Allied Sciences undergraduate candidates
  • College of University Studies undergraduate candidates

1 p.m.

  • College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources undergraduate candidates
  • College of Engineering undergraduate candidates

3 p.m.

  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences undergraduate candidates
  • College of Human Development and Education undergraduate candidates
  • College of Science and Mathematics undergraduate candidates

Students are encouraged to limit guests to four due to seating limitations.

According to Jackie Schluchter, associate registrar, 560 graduate, professional and undergraduate students have indicated they plan to participate in the ceremony, as of Dec. 15. She said a total of 1,111 students are eligible.

Three commencement speakers have been selected to address each ceremony.

Graduate student Heather Bergan Roller was selected to be the commencement speaker for the 11 a.m. ceremony. The Bismarck, North Dakota, native is receiving a Doctor of Philosophy degree in cellular and molecular biology. Roller is active on campus, the community and within a variety of professional organizations. She was the instructor for the Endocrinology course at NDSU and twice organized the Northern Plains Biological Symposium. She served as treasurer, vice president and president for the Biological Science Graduate Student Association. Roller’s local volunteer activities range from serving as a health instructor at the Fargo YMCA to walking dogs for the Homeward Animal Shelter. Roller earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from NDSU in 2010.

Katie Scholl, will speak at the 1 p.m. ceremony. The Brainerd, Minnesota, native is receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering. Active in the Society of Women Engineers, she held leadership positions as secretary and banquet chair. In addition, Scholl was the society’s TechGYRLS representative, helping to organize the program to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics among girls in third through seventh grade. She also was active in the Institute of Industrial Engineers and participated in intramural volleyball. In addition, Scholl completed internships with Sanford Health, Walt Disney World and Ecolab.

Maddie Van Beek, who grew up in Perham, Minnesota, will be the commencement speaker for the 3 p.m. ceremony. She is receiving a Bachelor of Science in English education. Van Beek was an outstanding member of the Bison women’s cross country and track teams, and holds NDSU records for the steeplechase and indoor 5K. She was the Most Valuable Player at the 2013 Summit League Indoor Track Championship, and was named to the Capital One Academic All-District and second-team Academic All-American for her cross country, indoor track and outdoor track seasons. She participated in the Bison Blood Drive and volunteered at high school track meets. Van Beek also was a representative on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and a member of Blue Key National Honor Society, where she volunteered at TNT Kids Fitness; Wags, Whiskers and Wine; and the Dorothy Day Food Pantry.

Michael Peyto III of Coon Rapids, Minnesota, was selected to be the commencement soloist. He is receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal music education, with a minor in instrumental music education. He was the vice president of the NDSU Concert Choir during the 2013-14 academic year. His many other student music activities include the NDSU Madrigal Singers, BisonArts Singers and NDSU Opera. He played the role of Sarastro in the 2013 opera production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” In addition, he earned three first place titles in North Dakota National Association of Teachers of Singing competitions.

More information about the NDSU commencement ceremony is available at www.ndsu.edu/commencement/. The ceremony will be streamed live, with an archive video available the week following the ceremony.

As a student-focused, land-grant, research university, we serve our citizens.

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Students to premiere Red River Valley documentaries

Students in the NDSU Public History Program are set to premiere two historical documentaries about the Red River Valley as part of the Fargo History Project.

NDSU graduate and undergraduate students are slated to present “The 1862 Siege at Fort Abercrombie” and “The Randolph Probstfield Story” on Friday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, Minnesota.

The Fargo History Project is a public history initiative sponsored by Angela Smith, assistant professor of history at NDSU. She designed the project and the associated website, www.fargohistory.com, as a vehicle for student research. Each fall, students conduct research and add their findings in a multimedia format to the site. The project’s aim is community education and local history engagement. Both documentaries will be posted to the site after they premiere.

“So often work is produced and the only audience is the course instructor,” Smith said. “The students in this class focused on research about two compelling local history topics and created two short documentaries with a public audience in mind.”

The presentation of the documentaries and student comments is expected to last approximately one hour.

For more information about the Fargo History Project, visit www.fargohistory.com.

As a student-focused, land-grant, research university, we serve our citizens.

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Robotics competition attracts teams from US, Canada to Fargo

Middle and high school students from throughout the tri-state region and as far away as Pennsylvania will soon converge in Fargo to determine whose robot is best. NDSU is scheduled to host the Northern Plains BEST Robotics regional championship Dec. 4-6 at the Fargo Civic Center.

Teams from across the country competing in this year’s robotics challenge were given six weeks to design and built a robot to compete against other schools. A total of 36 teams advanced from local competitions and earned a spot to compete in the regional championship in Fargo.

The competition is free and open to the public on Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Fargo Civic Center. The opening ceremony is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Robot matches are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an awards ceremony at 4 p.m.

A live stream of the event will be available at https://newlondonspicer.eduvision.tv.

The theme of this year’s competition, Blade Runner, challenges teams to design a vehicle capable of transporting and maneuvering wind turbines of extreme length and weight to an assembly site without negatively affecting America’s transportation system. The vehicle will then construct the wind turbines once it delivers the components to an assembly site.

The advancing teams are coming from one of eight local competition sites including Fargo and Dickinson, North Dakota; Bowling Green, Ohio; Brookings, South Dakota; New London, Minnesota; and DuBois and Grove City, Pennsylvania. NDSU’s College of Engineering hosted the Bison BEST Robotics Competition Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

Teams advancing to the regional championship either had the top-performing robot in their local competition or won the BEST Award, which includes the delivery of a marketing presentation, the writing of a project engineering notebook, design of a team exhibit, and a spirit and sportsmanship component.

More than 160 area volunteers, consisting of business professionals and NDSU students and faculty, are helping to manage the event. During the past eight years, the BEST Robotics program in the tri-state area has grown to more than 60 teams, and approximately 1,200 students engaged in the program this year.

BEST stands for boosting engineering, science and technology. Its mission is to inspire middle school and high school students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through participation in a sports-like science and engineering-based robotics competition.

For more information about the competition, contact Holly Erickson at 701-371-0795 or holly.erickson@ndsu.edu or visit www.ndsu.edu/coe/k_12_outreach/best_robotics.

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Purple Heart recipient to present seminar on service dogs, veterans

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Purple Heart recipient is set to speak at NDSU about the impact of matching service dogs with veterans.

Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran Geoff Zehnacker and his service dog, Luke, are scheduled to present a seminar on Wednesday, Dec. 3, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Memorial Union Room of Nations as part of the NDSU Animal Assisted Therapy Speaker Series. The seminar is free and open to the public.

Zehnacker served in the Marine Corps from 1996-2010. He was deployed three times during Operation Iraqi Freedom and was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during his second tour.

In 2005, Zehnacker was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. He medically retired from the military in 2010. That same year, his dog Luke became an official service dog.

Zehnacker is past president of Patriot Assistance Dogs, a nonprofit organization that matches service dogs with veterans in need.

The talk is presented through a collaboration of the NDSU Department of Animal Sciences; NDSU Counseling Center; Office of Registration and Records’ Military and Veterans Services; Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences; and the NDSU Equity and Diversity Center.

As a student-focused, land-grant, research university, we serve our citizens.

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Climatology faculty member teaches middle school students about weather

Akyüz at Discovery Middle School

Adnan Akyüz, associate professor of climatological practices and state climatologist, recently gave some Fargo eighth-graders a close look at his subject of interest. On Nov. 17-18, he described the abstract concept of atmospheric moisture to Discovery Middle School students in earth sciences classes.

Using hands-on demonstrations, Akyüz effectively got his message through to the students. The outreach visits were an example of NDSU’s land-grant mission.

He noted that it’s important for the students to learn about topics related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM.

“We must inspire students at all levels with live examples of the science around us so that they have foundation in STEM subjects and be able to use this knowledge in their daily lives,” Akyüz explained. “Science does not have to be just another subject to fulfill their requirement for graduation – I want to show them that it is exciting and fun so that they can think about having careers in STEM field.”

NDSU students Trevor Haugdahl and Allison Haider accompanied Akyüz. They both had previously taken his Meteorology and Climatology class.

“It feels good to be able to give back some of what we learned and get the next generation of students excited about science,” said Haugdahl, a junior majoring in psychology. “With a little assistance from us, the students picked up on the material right away, and even understood some of the same topics we were taught in our class at NDSU.”

Haider, a senior majoring in biological sciences, said the students used sling psychrometers to determine temperature, dew point and relative humidity.

“As a future science educator myself, it was an excellent opportunity to engage with the students and help them bring what they are learning in class to life through the meteorological activities we conducted,” Haider said. “It helped them to see just one of the many ways science is intertwined in their everyday lives.”

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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Researchers name new insect for ‘Harry Potter’ creature

Thestral incognitus

The series of “Harry Potter” fantasy books was the inspiration for the naming of a new insect discovered by NDSU researchers. The species of stink bug was named “Thestral incognitus,” after the imaginary thestrals created by author J.K. Rowling.

NDSU doctoral student Eduardo Faundez and David Rider, professor in the School of Natural Resource Sciences, reported their discovery in the article, “Thestral incognitus, a new genus and species of Pentatomidae from Chile,” recently published in the Zootaxa journal.

According to Faundez, the research was a long-term project that involved a trip to the Smithsonian Institution insect collection funded by the Knipling Thesis Enhancement Award from the NDSU entomology department. The new species will be included in his dissertation.

Rowling’s thestrals are a breed of winged horses with skeletal bodies, which often cannot be seen. The ivory carinae of the stink bug and calluses on its dorsum are similar to that skeletal structure.

“The reason for this special name is because the specimens of this new genus come from localities that have been fairly well collected. Yet, we believe that they are hard to find and not all people can see them, much like Rowling’s creations,” said Faundez, “Additionally, the bugs have some bone-like ridges in their bodies that resemble the skeletal bodies of thestrals.”

Identifying, describing and naming new stink bugs, or Pentatomidae, is the main focus of Rider’s work. Rider, who is Faudez’ faculty adviser, said, “Eduardo is doing a tremendous job. He has probably published between five and 10 papers in the past year, some of which are on other insect groups.”

Rider said about 1 million species of insects have been described, but estimates indicate there are about 10 million species yet to be identified and named. Researchers have barely scratched the surface.

Naming new species can take many tracks. Some are named for their color or shape, others honor a researcher for their work and still others are named for the location they were found.

But, sometimes a bug deserves something truly distinctive.

“This all can get a little tedious, and so now and again, it is kind of fun to come up with a different name that still has some pertinence,” Rider said.

So, Faundez decided on the reference to thestrals. He notes that it’s not uncommon to give unusual names: a beetle called Agathidium vaderi is named after Star Wars’ Darth Vader and a fungus, Spongiforma squarepantsii, is named in honor of the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon.

In addition, the “Harry Potter” series already has a wasp (Ampulex dementor), spider (Aname aragog) and dinosaur (Dracorex howartsia) named after characters.

“A reason for choosing this kind of name is that it makes people get interested and learn about the species,” Faundez explained. “People are aware of it, and consequently that helps us to get new data. This is important because the work is just starting with this new species.”

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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