Replica G-Nomes built to last are installed on Molecular Biology


The new G-Nomes on the Molecular Biology Building are precise replicas of the original versions, which were removed in early July due to water damage. Photo by Charlie Coffey.

After a brief disappearance, a familiar sight returned this week to the top of Iowa State's Molecular Biology Building.

The G-Nomes are 12-foot sculptures that have stood atop the building's four corners since it opened in 1992. They are part of the G-Nome Project, the building's elaborate integrated artwork meant to spur discussion about the ethics and impact of genetic research.

The outstretched arms of the figures hold X and Y chromosome rods, and they are adorned in black and white to symbolize the colors of business suits and scientific lab coats, according to Iowa State university museums, which manages art on campus. The project was named in part for the Human Genome Project, which was just beginning when the artwork was created, and as an allusion to gnomes, often the mythical guardians of treasures.

Originally built from terra cotta, the 3,000-pound sculptures were damaged by decades of freezing and thawing after they were pierced for the installment of required lightning rod protections, said Lynette Pohlman, director and chief curator of university museums. They were removed in early July. Hopes to display an original somewhere on campus were dashed, as they crumbled apart during the removal process.

"Each one came down in thousands of pieces," Pohlman said.

In their place are 400-pound aluminum replicas, painted to look identical but built to last. The new G-Nomes, which have lightning rod support systems inside them, were returned to their usual positions by crane Monday.

Pohlman said the replacement sculptures, commissioned about 18 months ago, were approved by Andrew Leicester, the artist who envisioned the numerous pieces that make up the G-Nome Project.  

But they were built at the University of Northern Iowa's public art incubator under the direction of UNI art professor Tom Stancliffe. The incubator helps fabricate designed projects, giving students valuable experience and making public art more affordable, Pohlman said. 

The G-Nome Project was controversial when first unveiled, but Pohlman considers it one of the best pieces of public art on campus and is pleased it has been restored.

"Our public art collection is to inspire learning," she said. "It’s not a matter of liking it. It’s a matter of education."

Full-time ombuds officer starts Aug. 7

Deanna Clingan-Fischer, the state of Iowa's long-term care ombudsman since 2011, will become the university ombuds officer on Aug. 7. For the first time in its nine-year history, this is a full-time position.

As of July 1, all university employees -- faculty, professional and scientific and merit staff -- and graduate students are welcome to use the confidential services of the ombuds office, which include everything from simply listening to neutral assistance in resolving workplace conflicts. The ombuds office intentionally is housed in a less conspicuous campus location, 37 Physics.

In her role as long-term care state ombudsman, Clingan-Fischer directed investigations of consumer complaints related to health care facilities, assisted living programs, hospital long-term care units and elder group homes, as well as complaints related to Medicaid-managed care.

Previously, she worked for the the Iowa Department on Aging, serving as program planner and, later, legal services developer.

Clingan-Fischer earned bachelor's (emphasis in economics and business administration) and law degrees from Drake University after completing the paralegal program at Des Moines Area Community College, Ankeny.

Related story

Stolee to serve as interim ombuds officer, Jan. 19, 2017


Marcketti named interim director of CELT

Sara Marcketti has been named interim director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, effective July 24.

Sara Marcketti


Marcketti, professor of apparel, events and hospitality management (AESHM), has served as CELT associate director since 2013. Her new appointment will extend through June 2018. Previous CELT director Ann Marie VanDerZanden was appointed associate provost for academic programs earlier this month.

"Sara has an impressive track record as associate director, and I am pleased she has agreed to serve in the interim role," said Dawn Bratsch-Prince, associate provost for faculty. "I have great confidence in her leadership and her ability to maintain CELT's momentum in areas like inclusive classrooms; flipped, hybrid and online pedagogy; and implementing Iowa State's new learning management system."

A native of New York, Marcketti holds a bachelor's degree in art history and master's in textiles, merchandising, and interiors from the University of Georgia; and a Ph.D. in textiles and clothing from Iowa State. She joined the AESHM faculty in 2005 and rose through the ranks from lecturer to full professor in just 10 years.

"I am excited for this opportunity to lead CELT's dedicated staff and work with faculty to support Iowa State's teaching academic mission," Marcketti said. "We have built a remarkable number of resources for faculty, staff, graduate students and post-docs over the last 24 years, and I look forward to continuing and growing the excellent work we are known for."

A search for the next permanent CELT director will be held during the spring semester.

Crackdown coming on street parking near campus


Cars line Ash Avenue near a parking sign. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

This fall, Ames police will begin enforcing time restrictions on street parking in residential neighborhoods south and west of campus, actively patrolling for violations instead of responding to complaints.

The police department will need to hire additional part-time community safety officers to handle the increased workload, which amounts to about 84 hours per week, according to a memo prepared for the Ames City Council earlier this month.

"Any time we make a change in a strategy like this, it's a surprise to people, no matter how hard we work to get the word out," chief Chuck Cychosz told the council at its July 11 meeting. "You need to be ready for that. We need to be ready for that."

The increased parking enforcement will start with the beginning of the fall semester, Cychosz said this week. However, patrols won't be in full force right away, ramping up as quickly as hiring and training allows.

The council unanimously approved the more aggressive approach, which was prompted by feedback from residents who live in the affected areas.

"Neighbors are getting tired of complaining. They don't feel like they should have to complain," Gloria Betcher, a 1st Ward council member who represents some Campustown neighborhoods, said at the July 11 meeting.

The parking crackdown is focused on about 30 residential blocks, from Beach Avenue to State Avenue as far south of Lincoln Way as Storm and Cessna streets. West of campus, active parking enforcement will be from Campus Avenue to Sheldon Avenue as far north as Oakland Street.

The additional cost of the enforcement is expected to cost about $117,000 per year, but police estimate they'll take in nearly $57,000 in new parking ticket revenue, for a net cost of about $60,000, according to the council memo.

In addition to the hourly time limits, parking officers will patrol for violations to overnight alternating side regulations.

Cychosz said police still will respond to neighbors' parking complaints. In some neighborhoods where complaints were already common, residents and parkers might not notice much difference, he said.

The new philosophy is considered an experiment of sorts, a potentially temporary measure with no definite end point. It could lead to additional changes in city parking laws. 

As they set next year's budget, city leaders also plan to discuss an increase in parking fines, which are $20 for most street parking violations with a $5 discount for paying within a week.

They also may consider making parking regulations more consistent. Time limits and overnight alternating rules can change by block.

"There's legitimate confusion," said Cychosz, who supports more standardized parking laws.

Mayor Ann Campbell, however, warned that the last time city officials studied street parking regulations, the rules became even more varied in response to differing concerns and preferences of residents. 

Police are planning outreach to alert students and residents to the new parking patrol plan, possibly with mailings and door hangers, Cychosz said. Officers also will attend some student events to spread the word, he said.

To ease the transition to tighter parking enforcement, police also may issue warnings at first instead of citations, though Cychosz said a single warning should be sufficient.  

"The whole idea here is to nudge people toward compliance," he said. 

Regent universities will ask new students to complete online financial literacy course

Efforts to bolster undergraduate students' financial literacy will take a new tack this academic year. All freshman and transfer students automatically will be registered spring semester in the online, not-for-credit Cyclone CashCourse. The course includes learning materials and quizzes for these four modules:

  • Prepare financially to meet your costs
  • Manage your spending
  • Reduce your dependence on credit and debt
  • Financial aid options to minimize student loan debt

Each student is expected to complete all four modules within four weeks, in whichever order he or she chooses.


Following an 18-month review and search for a financial education piece that all three regent universities could use and a CashCourse pilot last winter involving 400 Iowa State students, the state Board of Regents approved the CashCourse proposal at its June meeting. CashCourse is a free, existing program developed by the nonprofit National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE). Schools are able to select from an array of learning modules to create a CashCourse for their students.

Professor emerita of human development and family studies Tahira Hira, who led the regents study group, said she was opposed to developing a course when proven products already exist. NEFE's products are used around the world, she said, and its customization feature was a draw.

She called Cyclone CashCourse "basic training" for students. The goal, she said, is to follow that up with additional information when students want to learn more. Those options, she said, include ISU for-credit courses, online resources and campus offices that can be resources for them during their university years.

"For the rest of their lives, the more they know, the better off they'll be," Hira said.

Spring course

Cyclone CashCourse will be administered by the Student Loan Education Office, led by Jennifer Schroeder. The course will be among those listed when students log in to their learning management system site next spring.

Schroeder is no stranger to NEFE since Iowa State has had an account with it for several years. Cyclone CashCourse would involve the most Iowa State students to date.

While the universities of Iowa and Northern Iowa will offer their versions of CashCourse this fall, Schroeder said Iowa State opted to wait until spring semester, for several reasons:

  • Incoming freshmen often are overwhelmed with transition-to-college issues during fall semester.
  • Many first-year students live in the residence halls and their full university bills are paid by their parents or financial aid.
  • Once students start looking ahead to their sophomore year and possibly transitioning to off-campus housing, budget issues become more pertinent.

Schroeder said she will hire peer mentors, as many as 20, to help run the program, motivate students to complete the modules and be a "hands-on, in-person connection" to answer questions. Peer mentors would be assigned to locations around campus during the four-week course period, she said.

Schroeder noted that financial literacy strategies on university campuses have improved over the last 10 years, but figuring out how to engage students when "they don't know what they don't know" remains a challenge. There is no penalty for students who don't complete Cyclone CashCourse next spring.

Improvement projects, budget are on the August regents agenda

Approval of Iowa State's budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 and updates on two searches, ISU president and board executive director, are on the agenda when the state Board of Regents meets telephonically Wednesday, Aug. 2.

The meeting will originate from the board office in Urbandale at 1:30 p.m. Audio of the meeting will be livestreamed on the board's website.

The FY18 general university operating budget of $652.8 million is about 2.5 percent larger than the beginning FY17 budget a year ago. The incremental change includes $26 million in additional tuition revenue to counter an $11.5 million cut in state operating support.

The board's property and facilities committee also will review a $2.1 million proposal from ISU recreation services to improve the intramural fields east of the Maple Willow Larch residence complex. The project would regrade the fields to improve drainage, install an automatic irrigation system and add lighting so the fields can be used after dark by sports clubs and intramural programs. The proposal is scheduled for final board approval also at this meeting.

Final board approval also is anticipated for:

  • Schematic design and budget ($2.75 million) for a radiation therapy addition to the Veterinary Medicine small animal hospital for treating pets with cancer. The premanufactured structure includes a shielded treatment room containing radiation equipment, control room, storage and mechanical space. Construction would begin in October, with occupancy within five months. Proposed funding sources are university funds, a capital appropriation and private gifts.
  • Schematic design and budget ($2.2 million) for a remodel and addition to the southwest corner of Sukup Hall to add an in-floor vehicle chassis dynamometer in the existing vehicle power systems lab. Construction would occur from January to June 2018. About 80 percent of the funding is private gifts, with the rest university funds.