This is big

smoothly excavated site of the Student Innovation Center

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Excavation and underground utility work are complete for the 140,000-square-foot Student Innovation Center between Sweeney (left) and Hoover halls. Crews have begun to install a grid of 400 in-ground aggregate rock piers, each about 30 inches wide and eight to 14 feet deep, that will support the foundation. Pouring of the foundation is expected to begin in the next few weeks.

Senior construction manager Leroy Brown, facilities planning and management, expressed his appreciation to faculty and staff working in the adjacent Sweeney, Hoover and Marston halls for their "fantastic" support this summer. "This project has created a lot of big vibrations, we've closed sidewalks around here, they're dealing with a lot of noise, but the neighbors have been wonderful to work with. They understand this project is going to benefit a lot of people," he said.

The Student Innovation Center is scheduled for completion in early spring 2020.


Related story

New building will be a student-centered collaboration zone, Jan. 12, 2017

Five questions for P&S Council president Jessica Bell


Professional and Scientific Council president Jessica Bell. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Updated 10/4/17: Position at ISU: Post-Award Coordinator, Grants Hub

Years at ISU: Almost five

Updated 10/4/17: Contact: 294-4222,

Updated 10/4/17: Describe your work.

As the Post-Award Coordinator in the Grants Hub, I support and develop post award services for researchers across the university. I assist with various aspects of post-award consultations and management, as well as provide training and workshops for researchers and staff. 

What strengths do you bring to the council presidency?

I am a continual learner. If someone asks me a question I don't just say, "Oh, I don't know, but here's where you can go to find the answer." Instead I think, "Let's do this together because I want to know the answer, too." I also like to challenge my existing perceptions and ways of thinking. There's always more than one way to look at an issue, and I try to get different opinions and viewpoints to make an informed decision. Another strength I have is that I like to share knowledge I gain with others, helping employees become more engaged with their work at Iowa State.

What are your top priorities as council president?

A big priority this year for council is ensuring that all professional and scientific employees are represented and have a voice -- which we provide through council -- in all the changes that are affecting them this year. It's really important that we continue to keep open the lines of communication we've developed the past few years with P&S employees and improve upon that process, because there's a lot happening.

What challenges face the council this year?

In a word, change. P&S employees are facing a classification and compensation review, which will change how the university, we, ourselves and the outside world look at our positions. That impacts 100 percent of our employees in one way or another. WorkCyte and the corresponding Workday implementation then changes how we actually do our jobs, and that potentially will impact a majority of P&S employees. Shortfalls in funding affect the bottom line of the university, how we do our jobs here, and, I'll be blunt, they affect our paychecks.

The challenge lies in assuring employees that they have representation through council as these changes are planned and implemented. It's making sure we have a seat at all these tables and can represent employees with the best of our abilities.

What would you like to tell the employees you represent?

Professional and Scientific Council is here to represent all P&S employees. Councilors were elected from all areas of the university, and they want to hear from you. I encourage each employee to stay informed about the changes that affect us, communicate your concerns or questions with your elected council representative(s) and keep your mind open to the possibilities that lie before us. 

Five questions for Faculty Senate president Tim Day

Tim Day

Faculty Senate president Tim Day. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

P​ositions at ISU: Professor of biomedical sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine; faculty athletics representative; and Big 12 Conference representative to the NCAA Division I Council, the group's primary governing body

Years at ISU: 17

Contact information: 294-7100,

Describe your work.

My position has been research and teaching, with a larger research focus. My research focus is parasitic diseases and neglected tropical diseases (such as parasitic worms in humans). My lab primarily has been an NIH (National Institutes of Health) funded laboratory in the time that I've been here.

What strengths do you bring to the senate presidency?

I enjoy working with people -- finding their strengths and giving them an opportunity to use those strengths. I really look forward to getting a chance to interact with faculty, staff and administration from all over campus and working together to keep the high quality of our education on track.

What are your top priorities as senate president?

We will focus on clarifying the roles and the positions for faculty who are not in the tenure stream (non-tenure eligible). We want to widely recognize the great work that those folks do at the university and make sure the way their jobs are defined and understood is clear and fair.

Also, we want to work with the administration to find a sustainable financial model that allows Iowa State to continue to provide high-quality higher education to as many students as possible.

What challenges face the senate this year?

There are really important issues being discussed in our current social environment and the university is, rightly, a place to have many of those discussions. We welcome that, but we recognize that open discussions on important issues can sometimes lead to conflict. I think one challenge is for us to be able to facilitate and encourage those conversations while keeping a civil and respectful tone for everyone.

What would you like to tell the faculty you represent?

We should value the level of collegiality and cooperation that already exists amongst Iowa State faculty, staff, administrators and students. To value that means we have to continue to participate in it -- and we have to continue to constructively participate in chasing after the mission of the university. Sometimes it's in our offices, labs and classrooms. But sometimes it's in meetings, making policy decisions and working with our administration.

Peppers on purpose forges new ground


Horticulture student Amanda Vanscoy harvests green peppers at the Horticulture Research Station. The peppers were grown for use by ISU Dining, a first for the research farm. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Iowa State students eat a lot of green peppers. They'll consume more than 2.5 tons in the university's dining centers just in the first six weeks of the fall semester.

This year, forging new ground in a longstanding partnership, the majority of the peppers in all those sandwiches and salads will be harvested at Iowa State's Horticulture Research Station, an initiative ISU Dining and the research farm hope to see expand.

Dinner for thousands 

ISU Dining typically processes more than 12,000 transactions per day. Dishing up all those meals and snacks takes an astonishing amount of food. During the 2016-17 school year, the dining system purchased:

  • 48,852 pounds of tomatoes
  • 25,143 pounds of green peppers
  • 43,750 pounds of potatoes
  • 58,550 pounds of red and yellow onions
  • 194,168 apples
  • 416,160 bananas
  • 121,899 gallons of milk

'An easy win'

ISU Dining's food buyers have used produce from the horticulture farm for many years. The farm's orchard provides the dining system with tens of thousands of apples, including those given away at campus welcome stations on the first days of classes.

Dining system buyers also snap up whatever various vegetables and fruits are available and simple to slip into meals -- sweet potatoes, peaches, onions, tomatoes, cabbages, cucumbers, carrots, zucchinis. Last week, for instance, it bought a half-ton of research station cantaloupe.  

It's the top source of local produce for campus dining centers, "an easy win," said Karen Rodekamp, ISU Dining business and support services manager.

"We're quick, we're easy, we're local. We can talk," said Nick Howell, farm superintendent at the research station.

What's new is the scope and intention. The half-acre of bell peppers, expected to produce 3,000 pounds, was grown specifically with ISU Dining's needs in mind. Other produce used in dining centers -- like the 1,000 pounds of cantaloupe -- was grown for research, Howell said.

Timing troubles

Purposefully planting with hungry students in mind benefits both sides.

It helps ISU Dining buy more local produce, a goal that presents inherent challenges, Rodekamp said.

For the past decade, the dining system's Farm to ISU program has sought out local and sustainable food. But purchases made through Farm to ISU haven't climbed much past 10 percent, Rodekamp said. That percentage is even smaller when it comes to produce, she said.

"The burden of our situation is that we lose out on multiple weeks of the growing season because we just don't have the mouths to feed on campus," she said. "We get a six-week window to really work on that volume. There's not a lot of growers who want to invest in us at this time of the season."

The research station, however, planted its peppers a few weeks late specifically to time peak production with the start of the semester, Howell said.

Farm sales

At the research station, about 5 miles northeast of Ames, roughly half of the 230 available acres is devoted to turf grass, ornamentals and trees, Howell said. The wide variety of fruits and vegetables planted by researchers -- or maintained for possible use by researchers -- takes up most of the other half.

After the necessary data has been collected, research produce is put up for sale, if possible. A little more than a decade ago, none of the food grown at the research station was sold. Now, 20 to 25 tons makes it to market annually, Howell said.

In addition to ISU Dining, produce is purchased by growers who sell at the Downtown Farmers' Market in Des Moines, the Iowa State community via online sales and even some grocery stores, though Howell said they are careful to avoid competing with private farmers when they sell to grocers.

Twenty to 30 acres typically are unused for research and are planted with commodity crops, he said. ISU Dining's peppers were planted on a small chunk of that unused land, which Howell would rather devote to horticultural uses. In the past, he said land already planted with field corn or soybeans has been plowed under to make way for research projects.

"The research always comes first," he said.

Proceeds from sales of crops grown at the farm help subsidize research costs, he said.


Global resource systems and forestry student Morgan Smith harvests green peppers at the Horticulture Research Station. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Future growth

Howell would love to devote more of the research station's nonresearch land to food crops for students. There's one main obstacle.

"It's all about the labor," he said.

Starting last week, the peppers will be picked twice a week by hand until fall frost hits. They also must be sorted by hand to be graded for quality.

But the research station has purchased a vegetable washer to simplify sanitization, Howell said.

"We're slowly mechanizing the labor," he said.

The farm also bought a root digger to speed harvesting of in-ground produce such as potatoes.

Spuds grown at the research station could be the next bulk crop planted for ISU Dining, Howell said. They have a relatively long shelf life, which could keep Iowa State students eating local potatoes into the winter. Onions are another possibility. 

If the partnership expands to other crops, Howell can imagine using as many as 5 acres of research station land to grow produce in bulk for campus dining centers.

"We could obviously use it," Rodekamp said.

But it has to be a good deal for both sides, she said. ISU Dining has to consider the premium cost of local and sustainable product when it buys food, and she wouldn't want the research station to invest in growing more food unless it can be certain the dining system will buy it.

"It certainly takes some care to make it work," she said. 

Canvas training options begin in September

The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) and information technology are offering several opportunities this fall to help the campus community prepare for the new Canvas learning management system.

"We're pleased to provide a broad range of resources for faculty and instructional staff to help them get acquainted with Canvas and to transition their courses for the spring semester," said CELT interim director Sara Marcketti. "The transition also is a great opportunity to redesign courses and get the most out of our new technology."

Workshops hosted by Canvas

Canvas trainer Erin Wasson will visit campus Sept. 5-6 to lead a series that will help faculty and staff transition to the new system. All sessions will be held in 206 Durham. CELT staff also will host webcasts of the workshops (in 253 Durham on Sept. 5 and 116 Durham on Sept. 6). Participants should register via Learn@ISU for these options:

Tuesday, Sept. 5

  • 8-9:30 a.m., Modules and files management
  • 10-11:30 a.m., Communication and collaboration
  • 1-2:30 p.m., Assignments and discussions
  • 3-4:30 p.m., Grading and assessment

Wednesday, Sept. 6

  • 8-9:30 a.m., Assignments and discussions
  • 10-11:30 a.m., Grading and assessment
  • 1-2:30 p.m., Quizzes and question banks
  • 3-4:30 p.m., Modules and files management

Participants who prefer to view the workshops on their own may access unique links to each one on the Iowa State MyCanvas Training website. Recordings of each also will be available on the training website following the event.

Workshops hosted by CELT

Staff from CELT's Online Learning Innovation Hub will facilitate other workshops in September and October to introduce key features of the Canvas platform. The following topics each will be offered twice, from 12:10 p.m. to 1 p.m. in 2015 Morrill:

  • Canvas overview, Monday, Sept. 18 and 25
  • Communication, Wednesday, Sept. 20 and 27
  • Quizzes, Thursday, Sept. 21 and 28
  • Gradebook, Friday, Sept. 22 and 29

Participants should register via Learn@ISU. Attendees are encouraged to watch the two Welcome to Canvas videos, "First Look" and "Course Basics," as a prerequisite for on-site training.

Open labs for instruction and support

CELT also is offering open lab sessions, during which faculty, staff and teaching/graduate students may receive information and support related to quality course design and effective teaching practices in Canvas.

Through November, the sessions will be held Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays (8-10 a.m. and 1-4 p.m., Parks Library rotunda). There won't be open labs Sept. 5-6 due to the workshops.

For more information on Canvas faculty and staff training, contact CELT staff at For Canvas support, contact the Solution Center, 294-4000,


Orange materials flag changes to hazardous waste labeling and storage

Front side of orange hazardous waste tag

The front side of the new orange hazardous waste container label. Side 2 contains two more questions. Submitted image.

Lab managers and researchers returned this month to some refined procedures -- flagged with a new orange color scheme -- for labeling and storing the hazardous wastes produced in their labs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's first significant changes to hazardous waste regulations in about 30 years took effect June 1 in Iowa, and a team from ISU's environmental health and safety (EHS) department spent the summer updating signage, instructions and container labels for 1,800 campus labs.

Orange or green?

If the hazardous waste signage in your lab is neon green, call 294-5359 to request new (orange) materials.

Hazardous waste includes the spent chemicals, solvents, acids and bases used in lab experiments, shops and studios. The EPA deems they are hazardous if they are flammable, corrosive, toxic or reactive.

A campus Q&A page provides helpful information about the changes.

The intent behind the changes is better protection of both human health and the environment, said Clay Miller, environmental programs manager for EHS. The key changes require:

  • Additional information on the container labels in labs. Miller's staff created a two-sided orange label (pictured above) to accompany every container of hazardous waste -- including waste that's in the original container.
  • Lab users to decide if a material is hazardous. Under the old system, EHS staff made this decision after the material left a lab and arrived in EHS's holding facility.

If you think that second change is significant, you're not alone. Miller said the consensus among research stakeholders who met last March was that lab employees would know which waste products are hazardous and that it is wise to assign that decision to them.

Miller added that lab workers should know enough about the materials they're working with to know their hazards; OSHA (the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration) demands as much.

"This is about better communication and about keeping people safe in our labs," Miller said. His team will manage and transport materials as they have in the past.

Hazardous waste orange lab poster

A new lab poster summarizes hazardous waste storage and labeling requirements. Submitted image.

Orange poster

Miller's team also developed a small poster (8.5 by 11 inches, pictured right) for display in every lab that generates hazardous waste. In easy-to-understand language, it contains reminders on properly labeling and storing hazardous waste. It also includes a phone number and QR (camera-ready quick read) code for requesting pickup service from EHS.

Spill kits

A third key change to the hazardous waste regulations at the local level requires a spill kit in every lab that generates hazardous waste. Previously these were encouraged -- and Miller noted that a majority of Iowa State labs have them. He encourages lab managers to check each kit to confirm:

  • It's stocked with the materials necessary to deal with spills specific to that lab
  • It contains appropriate volumes of cleanup supplies relative to the lab's size

Iowa, Alaska out ahead

Because they don't have state environmental protection offices, the states of Iowa and Alaska must use the federal EPA rules. All other states have a choice (and a longer timeline) to either adopt the federal rules or develop more stringent ones of their own.

Miller said EHS is collaborating with Ames Laboratory and the ISU Research Park to educate its lab users about the revised process. As private companies emerge from the park's incubator facilities, Miller said he can help them implement their own hazardous waste program.

Related source

Project update on the stadium south green space

Fans arriving for the season's first football game on Saturday, Sept. 2, will notice a new park area is under construction immediately south of Jack Trice Stadium.

The primary construction area is located between stadium parking lots S2 and S3, both of which remain open for use. When it's completed, the park area will include a water fountain; extensive plantings of trees, grasses, shrubs and flowers; and paved walks through the green space connecting the stadium and Reiman Gardens. A more prominent sign will welcome and direct visitors to the gardens.

Construction will continue through the football season and completion of the project is planned for next summer. Its $11.5 million cost is funded by ISU athletic facilities bonds, the athletics department, private gifts and university funds.

The construction contractor is Henkel Construction Co., Mason City. The designer is RDG Planning and Design, Des Moines.

This work is the last part of the third phase of improvements to Jack Trice Stadium. Previous work made a variety of improvements inside and outside the stadium, enclosed the south end, added an indoor club facility and increased the seating capacity to 61,500.

New campus gallery invites participation, action

Location, hours

reACT Gallery is housed in the Christian Petersen Art Museum, Morrill Hall. The gallery is free and open to the public Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. An opening kickoff is planned for Tuesday, Sept. 5 (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.). All are welcome.

Two seemingly unrelated events last fall -- a panel discussion at a professional conference about how museums should advocate for civil discourse and a post-U.S. presidential election rally at the Border Crossing sculpture near MacKay Hall -- inspired Nancy Gebhart to act.

A believer in the transformative power of art, Gebhart, educator of visual literacy and learning with university museums, thought Iowa State needed a place where faculty, staff, students and the public can gather to safely and freely express viewpoints on current events and university topics, all while viewing relevant visual artworks.

The November rally near the sculpture, in particular, spoke to Gebhart.

"I've always believed very strongly in the power of art, and that was one of those moments where a sculpture that's nearly 30 years old was given new meaning, new life and new relevance by that particular group of people," she said. "They were feeling something, and they needed something visual and a space to gather. For me, that's a very specific and clear representation of how art can be transformative."

Gebhart pitched her idea for a new gallery and gathering place to university museums director Lynette Pohlman and senior vice president for university services Kate Gregory. Gebhart also approached Michael Bailey, former director of the Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities, and vice president for research Sarah Nusser, who seeks to provide more avenues for arts and humanities faculty to share their research. All were in, and the planning began. The gallery was approved in April and it opens Sept. 5 in the Christian Petersen Art Museum, Morrill Hall.

"reACT Gallery will provide the ISU community with a safe space for expressing and sharing reactions, opinions and views on current events and timely issues," Gregory said. "It's great that ISU will have this asset to enable people to think, learn and respond to current events."

Unique gallery

Unlike university museums' other campus locations, reACT will host shorter-duration exhibits on topics important to the campus community. Four exhibitions are scheduled:

  • Leadership (Sept. 5-29)
  • Water (Oct. 23-Nov. 17)
  • Green Dot Program (Jan. 22-Feb. 16, 2018)
  • First Amendment (April 2-17, 2018)

Pop-up exhibitions on other timely topics also may occur. Gebhart invites faculty, staff and student organizations to contact her with ideas.

"The hope is that in the future, people will say, 'We really could use a place to discuss this or to have a conversation about XYZ topic,' and they contact me to set something up," Gebhart said.

The common denominator of all exhibits, Gebhart said, is visitors' ability to interact with others and share their thoughts and opinions, either privately (and anonymously) through writing or artwork, or more publicly by gathering with a group within the gallery to share opinions.

"Opportunities to interact within the space will be available whether people come with a group and engage in discussion or respond to the exhibition on their own," Gebhart said. "Everyone will be encouraged to make something, write something, read something, do something."

Exhibitions also will include scheduled public programming, such as lectures, discussions and public events. Gebhart plans to incorporate small music and theatre performances when possible to help drive home an exhibit's topic.

Reading lists from the university library and class offerings related to the gallery's exhibits also will be available.

"The goal is that their experience doesn't just end in the gallery," Gebhart said. "The hope is it turns into some kind of action beyond the space of the gallery."

Artwork and more

Each reACT exhibit will include visual art objects from university museums' permanent collection along with loaned pieces from professional artists across the country. ISU faculty will create new visual works for some shows. Faculty members engaged in research connected to an exhibit's topic also will be featured.

"We are very excited about creating these interactive exhibits with materials from Iowa State researchers," Nusser said. "Creative and scholarly works by Iowa State artists and humanists frame the historical and cultural contexts associated with today's most challenging topics, and topical information provided by scholars in the sciences, engineering, business and other areas help us interpret the range of perspectives that exist for an issue."

Gebhart hopes the collaboration of the arts, interactive conversations and faculty research speak to reACT Gallery visitors in new and profound ways.

"I really hope that people will leave having questioned something they thought they knew and be more willing to hear other people," Gebhart said. 

Six shows highlight ISU Theatre package

Season tickets are on sale now for ISU Theatre's 2017-18 season. The six-show lineup includes an annual spring musical production and four plays. A collection of monologues to mark Banned Books Week kicks off the season Sept. 29.

Prices are $97 for adults, $93 for seniors and $65 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the Stephens Auditorium box office. Order forms can be requested by contacting the ISU Theatre department (294-2624,

This season's productions are:

  • "Out of the Fire: The Banned Books Monologues," Sept. 29-Oct. 1 and Oct. 6-8
  • "The Children's Hour," Nov. 3-5 and 10-12
  • "A Christmas Carol," Dec. 1-3 and 8-10
  • "Iphigenia," Feb. 23-25 and March 2-4
  • "Oklahoma!" April 5-8
  • "Our Town," April 20-22 and 27-29

All shows are held in Fisher Theater. Single-show tickets go on sale Sept. 11 at the Stephens Auditorium box office and through Ticketmaster. Individual tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and $11 for students, with the exception of "Oklahoma!" ($25, students $16).