On Campus: Student News

Southwestern Welcomes the Class of 2011

Southwestern welcomed 375 members of the Class of 2011 this fall—a class that is the second largest in the University’s history. Here is a brief snapshot of the class:

  • The class is 63 percent female and 37 percent male. Twenty states are represented.
  • Fifty percent of the first-year students were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class and 82 percent were in the top 25 percent of their high school class.
  • The average SAT score for incoming students was 1220.
  • Twenty-two percent are minority students.

One hundred and seventy-one students from the first-year class participated in 13 Living-Learning Communities this fall—an increase of 22 students from last year. This program has now become so popular that it was expanded to include the first floor of Brown-Cody residence hall. Students in Living-Learning Communities share suites with other students in their First-Year Seminar Class. Topics of this year’s First-Year Seminars included everything from chocolate (“An Aesthetic, Historical and Scientific Journey into the Wonders of Chocolate”) to surfing (“Lessons to be Learned from the Search for the Perfect Wave”).

Kinesiology Students Conduct Research for NASA

Three Southwestern seniors are getting a unique opportunity this year—the chance to conduct a real study for NASA.

Kinesiology majors Lauren Arrowood, Ben Hoffman and Eric Sterner are completing a senior capstone project that evolved from a field trip in their tissue biomechanics class to the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in the spring of 2007. Conversations with scientists in the laboratory about the limitations of exercise on the International Space Station led to the development of a project to investigate the consequences of running on a treadmill that is dramatically smaller than traditional treadmills. When the students returned this fall, they immediately began planning and implementing the study under the guidance of Scott McLean, associate professor of kinesiology.

The use of treadmills is important for exercise on the space station because it offers a mode of exercise that has a positive effect on maintaining bone mass. On an eventual one-way trip to Mars, astronauts could be in space for nine months or more. “Over that time period, an astronaut could lose as much as a quarter of his or her bone mass, which is equivalent to the bone loss accrued during an entire lifetime,” McLean says. Currently, astronauts on the space station work out for up to two hours a day on a freestanding treadmill called the TVIS (Treadmill with Vibration Isolation System). Because of limited space in the space station, the TVIS is dramatically shorter and narrower than standard treadmills, forcing the astronauts to take shorter strides and with little margin of error for side-to-side deviations.

In addition to testing on a standard treadmill, the students have manipulated the useable area of a standard treadmill with attachments that mimic the current TVIS dimensions and a treadmill of intermediate dimensions. They are using data collected from trained distance runners to examine differences in impact forces, leg muscle electrical activity and oxygen consumption while running on each of the treadmill designs.

The students will submit a report to the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at NASA Johnson Space Center and will subsequently present their findings at the Texas Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting in spring 2008.

Carlos Barròn

Every other spring semester for the past four years, students in Professor Thomas Howe’s Architecture Studio III (Modern Structures) have been given the assignment of designing their own master plan for the property on which the World Trade Center was located. Here, sophomore Carlos Barròn displays the model he built for the assignment last spring. A studio art major, Barron hopes to become an architect someday. Several models from the class were on display at the library this fall.

Robert Curl

Robert Curl, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry, visited campus in October. He visited a chemistry class, gave a guest lecture, and spoke at a leadership luncheon sponsored by Pi Kappa Alpha.