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Students and alumni put their liberal arts education to work in local and global communities

March 15, 2011

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    Photo by Kris Krug

Undergraduate Campus

Lewis & Clark students are immersed in varied and vibrant pursuits in classrooms, laboratories, communities, and environs around the world. That work continues after graduation, with Lewis & Clark alumni in 50 states and 90 countries.

From neurobiology to urban agriculture, global healthcare to cyborg anthropology, Lewis & Clark students and alumni seek creative and collaborative solutions to challenges in our local and global communities.

Learn about some stellar students and alumni in the following profiles.

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Meet Isaac Holeman ’09…

Isaac is the cofounder of an organization that uses low-cost mobile technology to support community health workers in the developing world. Since graduating in 2009, he has been based in East Africa, where he integrates his interests in technology and medicine to empower health workers to deliver efficient health care to rural areas. Isaac credits his study abroad experiences in Cuba, The Netherlands, and Guatemala, as well as his major in biochemistry and molecular biology, with preparing him for his current work.

“If I had not been a part of this rigorous, very challenging major, I just don’t think I would have the confidence to do what I’m doing right now…” Read the interview with Isaac or learn more about his work on his organization’s blog.

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Meet Piper Davis ’87…

Piper is a co-owner of Grand Central Bakery, a family-run company with eight bakeries and cafes in Seattle and Portland. After teaching in Sri Lanka for two years, Davis came home to Grand Central.

In her current role as the Bakery Cuisine Director, Piper oversees quality, consistency, and product development. She is the driving force behind the company’s commitment to delicious food made with locally sourced ingredients. 

Davis credits Lewis & Clark with her global perspective on food: “A liberal arts education helps you see connections.” To Grand Central, business is more than the bottom line; it’s about relationships. “We offer people good jobs that pay a living wage,” Davis says, “I prefer doing business with the farmer down the street. I can visit the farm, and the farmer can come in and have a pastry. It’s more than a business—it’s a relationship.”

Learn more about how alumni are stirring up the local food community in this profile.

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Meet Samantha Stein ’11…

Samantha has immersed herself in issues of cultural competency and conflict resolution throughout her time at Lewis & Clark. The senior sociology/anthropology major spent last summer in Tel Aviv, working with a United Nations program devoted to building peace in the Middle East by engaging all sectors of society in an inclusive consensus-building process. An advocate for international development and intercultural dialogue, she continued her work on campus in the fall as a board member of the student-led Pluralism and Unity Project. This spring, Samantha is participating in Lewis & Clark’s inaugural study abroad program in Morocco.

“My studies at Lewis & Clark have provided me with the proper tools to examine the social and cultural influences in other societies and to assess the different options for responding to societal needs,” Samantha said.

Read more about Samantha in this profile or watch this video about the Pluralism and Unity Project.

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Meet Ben Mitzner ’11…

Ben is an environmental studies major whose research focuses on how city policies need to change to support the urban agriculture movement. Currently at work on his senior thesis, Ben is applying the principles of situated research to a comparative study of urban agriculture in Portland and Detroit, considering the unique contexts that gave rise to the movement in each city. 

“I think situated research absolutely fosters a more productive approach to developing and implementing environmental policies,” Ben said. “Although broader platforms of environmentalism tend to reach more people, it is becoming increasingly obvious that a one-size-fits-all approach to environmental policy is not effective or sustainable. I think the future of successful environmental policy lies in decentralized, location-tailored regulation that allows unique places and spaces to implement their own methods of reaching broader standards.”

Read about Ben’s research and how a $600,000 grant recently awarded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation will expand environmental studies at Lewis & Clark.

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Meet Amber Case ’08…

Amber is a cyborg anthropologist. She studies the interaction between humans and computers, examining how our relationship with information technology is changing the way we think, act, and understand the world around us.

“I read a lot of science fiction books when I was younger, and cyborg anthropology is the real-world manifestation of the questions that science fiction poses,” Amber said.

A 2008 alumna, Amber wrote her sociology/anthropology thesis on the techno-social aspects of the cell phone. Last year, Amber was named to Fast Company magazine’s list of the Most Influential Women in Technology. Read more about Amber, watch her TED talk, or follow her on Twitter.

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Meet Conor Jacobs ’09…

Conor is wrapping up his first year of graduate school at Stanford University, where he is continuing the study of neurobiology that he began at Lewis & Clark. The biochemistry and molecular biology major won a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Lewis & Clark’s top academic honor, the Rena Ratte Award, as an undergraduate. In 2010, the National Science Foundation awarded prestigious graduate research fellowships to eight Lewis & Clark alumni, including Conor.

“I’ve always thought the brain was fascinating, but working in Janis Lochner’s lab at Lewis & Clark galvanized my interest,” he said.

As part of the Lochner lab, Conor explored questions regarding the proteins and processes that underlie long-term memory formation. He helped co-author a paper that Lochner, Pamplin Professor of Science, and Bethe Scalettar, professor of physics, published on this work. He also contributed to a second paper that is nearing publication.

Read more about Conor’s research and the impact his study abroad experience had on him in this profile.

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Meet Nicola Warmuth ’12…

Nicola is one of the students behind the Bucolic Farmers Society at Lewis & Clark, a group committed to building community and fostering sustainability through the creation and maintenance of gardens on campus. A Hispanic studies and history double major, Nicola grew up on a subsistence farm and considers her work with the gardens the natural synthesis of her interests.  

“Food issues don’t just stay in the grocery store or even in your own stomach,” Nicola said. “They’re international issues. And I think working in the garden is a really fun and interesting way to grapple with those issues.”

Learn more about Nicola’s passion for gardening and the students’ vision for the Lewis & Clark campus gardens in this video.

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