(l to r) Professor Myrl Beam, Ronan Wallace '22

Maccolades is a monthly round-up of the most recent accolades and accomplishments earned by members of the Macalester community. Below are highlights from December 2023.

Beyond the birds and the bees

Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Kathryn Kay Coquemont was one of six panelists at the U.S. Department of Education’s convening on college students’ access to contraception, led by Vice President Kamala Harris and other government officials. They joined representatives from 68 colleges and universities in 32 states to discuss ongoing efforts to protect this access. 

As a featured speaker, Dr. Coquemont shared Macalester’s innovative approach, led by medical director Dr. Steph Walters, that focuses on sexual and reproductive care and efforts to destigmatize reproductive health through anonymous access to contraceptives and safe-sex kits. Vice President Harris commended Macalester’s approach as “a great model” for others to consider. 

“We are proud that our peers and the American College Health Association consider us a leader in strategies and support to promote reproductive health for college students,” said Dr. Coquemont. 

Tenure extended

Seven professors were awarded tenure: Mary Heskel, Biology; Michael Prior, English; William Mitchell, Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science; Morgan Sleeper, Linguistics; Serdar Yalçın, Art and Art History; Leslie Myint, Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science; and Robin Shields-Cutler, Biology. Prof. Heskel studies plants and how they respond to the effects of climate change in Arctic, forest, and urban ecosystems. Prof. Prior is a poet with an expertise in Asian North American literature. Prof. Mitchell is a mathematician with expertise in fluid mechanics. Prof. Sleeper is an expert in musicolinguistics, Patagonian Welsh, and language in Japanese popular media. Prof. Yalçın is an expert in the art and archeology of ancient Western Asia with a focus on art and identity and artistic interconnections in the ancient world. Prof. Myint is a biostatistician who focuses on the analysis of biological data and causal inference, or policy evaluation. Prof. Shields-Cutler is a microbiologist who uses laboratory and high performance computing techniques to understand how microbes interact with humans and other animals.

Diving into Minneapolis’s fiery past 

Dr. Myrl Beam, associate professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, received the 2023 Arcus Places Prize, which supports public scholarship on the relationship between gender, sexuality, and the built environment. His project, “The Long Fire at Lake and Minnehaha,” explores the history of the intersection surrounding the Minneapolis Police Department’s third precinct: Lake Street and Minnehaha, which burned during the 2020 uprising after George Floyd’s murder.

Lake and Minnehaha grounds a decades-long history of struggle over Indigenous land, public space, and violent policing, punctuated by eruptions of racist and transphobic violence and marred by the quotidian dehumanization of houseless people, many of whom are Native,” Prof. Beam said. Students in his spring course, Telling Trans Stories: Oral History as Method and Practice, will join the research project with Dr. Beam and collaborators, engaging in archival research, conducting oral histories, and working on the digital exhibit. The award will also fund student research assistants contributing to the project.

A flood of ideas in the Himalayas

The School for International Training named Macalester graduate Ronan Wallace ’22 as the newest Alice Rowan Swanson Fellow. Wallace studied abroad in SIT’s Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples program in spring 2022. For his fellowship project, he plans to return to Nepal to document flooding impacts through 3D modeling and ethnographic interviewing in two villages threatened by Himalayan flooding, which is growing more acute each year due to the climate crisis. A lack of documentation makes it difficult for the communities to get the assistance they need. Fellowships are awarded twice annually for recipients to return to their program country and pursue projects benefiting human rights in that region.

“I am beyond ecstatic to reconnect with the communities and relationships that contributed immensely to my initial experience in Nepal,” Wallace said. “I am excited to contribute tangible value by combining engineering, ethnography, and empathy to understand mountainous climate impacts from underrepresented perspectives.”

Witness the mock trial success 

Macalester’s mock trial team participated in two invitationals — one in Madison, Wisconsin and the other in Iowa City, Iowa. In Madison, all three stacked teams enjoyed competing together, and Amarah Friedman ’24 received an outstanding attorney award. In Iowa City, one team competed (1018), securing second place with a 6-1-1 record. Friedman, Rylan Mueller ’25, and Maita Mungah ’26 each earned outstanding witness awards.

Bookmarked for an award 

Dr. Walter Greason, DeWitt Wallace Professor of History, contributed to a book that won the Phillis Wheatley Book Award for nonfiction from Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage. Dr. Greason’s chapter, “Unequal Housing and the Case for Reparations,” is part of The Black Reparations Project: A Handbook for Racial Justice. 

How to be considered for future Maccolades

If you or someone you know recently earned an award, fellowship, or honor and would like it to be considered for inclusion in next month’s Maccolades, please let Communications & Marketing know by filling out this Maccolades form. For recent book publications, please use this book publication form

December 19 2023

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