Magnus the Good Fellowships

The “Magnus the Good” endowed fund, established by friends of the former Paracollege, supports a series of awards to encourage student-faculty collaborations in undergraduate research, or in exploration of innovative applications of learning.

Established in 2003, the fund honors several important values of the college, including (1) that faculty and students learn well when they collaborate in one-on-one partnerships for research and/or reflection, and (2) that students learn well through having opportunities to apply and extend classroom learning.

Thus, the fund supports projects that provide opportunities for collaborative work between students and faculty, and that situate the proposed project in the context of the student’s interests and work, and also in the context of the faculty member’s interests and work.

Announcing the 2014-15 Magnus the Good awards:

Eric Cole (Biology) and Sasha Dmytrenko ’16: Let’s Make It Glow: Designing a Hands-On Inquiry Driven Course on Genomics at St. Olaf

Our project will focus on modern techniques used in molecular biology to study gene expression. This question is pivotal in modern biology since it reveals the roles of proteins of interest in the life of a cell and consequently – the whole organism, which has been a question of interest in multiple areas varying from studying components of intracellular transport to anatomy of the cells and the control of cell growth and division. The model organism chosen for our project is  Tetrahymena thermophila, a free-living ciliate protozoan. Tetrahymena is easy and fast to grow in cultures, while each organism represents a well-organized complicated system with distinct metabolic activities, which undergoes mating and division, as well as intercellular communication. Results from the resulting research will be presented at the Midwest Protozoology Society Conference in the spring of 2015.

Jeremy Loebach (Psychology) and Katie Berg ’15: Using Aural Skills Training to Improve Speech Intelligibility in Cochlear Implant Users

This study is a spin off of a larger project in Professor Loebach’s Speech and Cognition Research Laboratory that aims to create a training program to help CI users learn how to use their implants to their fullest potential. A cochlear implant (CI) is a surgically implanted medical device designed for persons with severe-to-profound hearing loss who receive marginal to no benefit from conventional hearing aids. In the proposed study, to be conducted over the summer and into next year, we will examine the effectiveness of pitch training for both pediatric and adult CI users as well as normal-hearing control group listening to cochlear implant simulations. By focusing on increasing pitch perception, discrimination and direction identification in training, we expect to see benefits in speech intelligibility, as well as in other related areas like environmental sound identification, talker voice identification and speech perception.

Reinaldo Moya (Music Theory and Composition), Sophia Butler ’15, and Adrian Rossing ’15: New Opera Collective: A Website for Everything Related to the World of Contemporary Opera

Our project is to build a website devoted exclusively to the world of contemporary operas in the United States for the New Opera Collective. The working title for the site is The vision of the site is to be a kind of hub of information and features related to this burgeoning field. The site will include a calendar section where people can see all of the new operas being performed in the United States, as well as reviews, interviews, essays, and features. We hope to include a section containing a database of the new operas in the repertoire for easy reference. We envision this site as a place to build community and bring people together. We hope it can serve as a tool to aid scholars of opera, and show the world that it is still a thriving and vibrant art form.