Vol. 28 No. 15 - December 4, 2023

Features

  • NSF Grant Puts Truman in the Supercomputer Game

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    Colin DeGraf, assistant professor of physics, presents at a recent meeting of the American Physical Society. DeGraf was a co-principal investigator for an NSF grant that will put Truman in a consortium of schools with access to supercomputer.

    Truman is leading the way for undergraduates to access a high-performance computer, opening the door for new research opportunities on campus and providing students with in-demand workforce skills.

    Through a recent National Science Foundation award of nearly $700,000, Truman is one of four schools that will soon develop a high-performance computer (HPC), commonly referred to as a “supercomputer.” The consortium, comprised of Missouri Western State University, Webster University and Southeast Missouri State University, are all primarily undergraduate institutions, which was by design. Although the majority of NSF funding tends to go to research universities, schools like those in the consortium have been estimated to produce approximately 40% of STEM bachelor’s degrees.

    “With computational resources becoming nearly ubiquitous in both academic research and a wide range of career sectors, we think it is important to provide students with the opportunity to work with HPCs as part of their education,” said Colin DeGraf, assistant professor of physics and co-principal investigator for the NSF grant. “The experience and skills they can gain from this should help them with their next step after graduation – whether going to graduate school or entering the job market – and also make them more productive in any computational field they might enter.”

    Beyond career readiness, supercomputer access will expand potential research opportunities for Truman students and faculty members alike. That was a key factor in DeGraf’s involvement with the consortium. His current research examines how galaxies collide, which can involve looking at data from 15 to 20 million galaxies.

    “On a very personal level, my research is computational. All of the research that I work on are using what are called cosmological simulations,” he said. “It’s a simulation that attempts to model as much of the universe as possible. Running those really requires a national- or international-level supercomputer.”

    To solve the type of computationally intensive problems involved with research such as DeGraf’s requires a machine that can do a lot of calculations in a short amount of time. Central processing units have gotten faster over the years, but there are still limits in areas such as how many transistors can fit on a chip, or how to handle the heat they produce or transmission delays. Similarly, the number of cores a computer has will increase its speed. Modern home computers can have multiple cores, but it still is not enough to process the amount of data in some research. An HPC counters this speed problem by utilizing nodes, which are multiple servers networked together. Each node works almost like its own computer, but they can also work together to tackle bigger and harder problems. A single program can be run across multiple nodes resulting in more power and the ability to perform larger, more computationally expensive jobs. The current plan for the HPC in this project calls for 20 nodes, with each node having 128 computing cores and 512 GB of RAM.

    “In addition to single jobs using multiple nodes, each node can be used separately, and you can even have multiple people all using a single node at the same time, depending on how many resources each user requests, which gives a lot more flexibility,” DeGraf said.   

    Having access to this kind of computing power will allow for more cutting-edge research at Truman and can enable projects which would otherwise not be feasible. While his own research will benefit immediately, DeGraf foresees students getting the most out of this project.

    “The cluster is being designed to have several nodes which are prioritized for educational use,” he said. “For example, if a professor wants to use the HPC for a computing lab, they can reserve nodes for their class time – whether for a single instance, or for an entire semester – so their students have guaranteed resources available to them.”  

    The NSF grant includes some funding to send students to a summer workshop at the Linux Cluster Institute so they can then act as student leaders on campus to help others make the most of the supercomputer. This will also provide them with additional hands-on experience with HPC use, administration and construction.

    Students and researchers who benefit from the HPC could come from almost any scientific discipline. In their NSF application, DeGraf and his fellow investigators included cases ranging from astrophysical simulations, computational chemistry, data science, cybersecurity and genetics.   

    “We wanted to focus on how the HPC would improve research and educational opportunities at primarily undergraduate institutions in as wide a range of subjects as possible, rather than focus on a single research area,” he said.

    Truman and its partner schools on the HPC project will operate as the Computational Infusion for Missouri Undergraduate Science and Education (CIMUSE) consortium. Initially, that group will consist of only the four institutions listed in the grant, but eventually more will be invited to participate. All primarily undergraduate institutions across Missouri will be eligible to join, and the CIMUSE consortium will look to expand in order to maximize the use of the HPC and the impact it has on both faculty researchers and undergraduate students.

    “The goal of this project is to bring more supercomputer access to students across Missouri,” DeGraf said. “It will be used for faculty research, but also we want the best for all of our students, and the more experience we can give them, the better suited they will be.”

    The NSF grant will begin in December. The CIMUSE has already begun planning meetings regarding hardware and software needs and purchases, as well as user policies. The HPC itself will be physically housed at the University of Missouri’s HPC center, but it will be accessible from anywhere in the world.

    Tentative plans are for Truman faculty and students to have HPC access as soon as the next academic year. To learn more about this project, listen to DeGraf’s recent appearance on the Missourinet podcast “Show Me Today.”
  • Truman Expands Direct Admission Options

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    Starting with the current recruitment cycle, Truman has opted in to the Comm App Direct Admissions program, meaning more prospective students will have an additional path to enrollment at the University.

    For years, Truman has been a part of the Common App, a not-for-profit admissions option that allows students to apply to any of the more than 1,000 member colleges and universities with one application. In 2021, the Common App piloted a direct admissions program. By expanding to include this option, Truman can now reach a larger pool of qualified students who could be a good fit for the University.    

    While the Common App allows prospective students to apply to a particular school, by participating in the direct admission program, Missouri students who meet criteria established by Truman will receive a direct message letting them know they are eligible for acceptance upon completing their application.

    “Participation in the direct admit program will allow us to reach a pool of students who may not have previously considered Truman and provides an opportunity to show them we are an option for their college choice,” said Allison Gus, director of admission. “Sometimes students aren’t familiar with Truman, others may think they are not qualified, so they choose not to apply. This program will proactively let more prospective students know Truman might be the best place for them.”

    Missouri high school students utilizing the Common App who have a GPA of 3.4 or higher will be notified they are eligible for direct admission. While this offer guarantees a place in the incoming class, additional criteria may be needed for acceptance into specific programs. Also, direct admit students would still have to go through Truman’s in-house process in order to be eligible for scholarship review.

    “Participating in the direct admissions program is really about having access to more students and starting the process of getting them enrolled,” Gus said. “We will still see the same caliber of student we have come to expect, and all of our considerations for acceptance will remain the same.”

    Similarly, students who may not qualify for direct admission are still encouraged to apply. Truman offers multiple means of admittance, including test- and essay-optional paths. Automatic admission has also previously been available with an application, transcript and verified test score for students who qualified for the University’s TruMerit Scholarship.

    “Truman has always taken a holistic approach to the admissions process. In recent years we have expanded our admissions practices in an effort to accommodate students and speak to the updated expectations of today’s high school students,” Gus said. “Prospective students should feel like college is an accessible option for them and that our team is here to help them reach their goals.”

    Expanded opportunity is another byproduct of participating in the Common App Direct Admissions program. A focus of the program is to close the equity gap for low- and middle-income students. In addition to reaching more first-generation students, the program provides resources to families, as well as counselors who have students eligible for direct admission offers.

    Applications are open now for the 2024-25 school year. More information for prospective students and families can be found at truman.edu/admission-cost, or by contacting the Admissions Office at 800.892.7792 or admissions@truman.edu. Family and friends who know prospective students who might be interested in pursuing a Truman education can refer a student here.
  • Marketing Professional and Truman Alumna to Deliver Commencement Address

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    Laura Brooks, co-founder and managing partner of the marketing agency Foundation Collective, will serve as the December commencement speaker.

    Foundation Collective specializes in developing actionable go-to-market and brand strategies. In her capacity at the agency, Brooks serves as a fractional chief marketing officer for a diverse range of clients, and she is an advisor and investor to early stage consumer packaged goods companies.  

    As a seasoned marketing professional in the consumer packaged goods industry, Brooks’ expertise spans a wide array of leadership, marketing, e-commerce and insights roles, solidifying her reputation as a classically trained marketer. Her career took root at The Clorox Company, where her tenure in a Fortune 500’s brand management department laid the groundwork for her subsequent accomplishments with venture-backed companies.

    Brooks’ passion for working with small, mission-driven companies ignited during her role as director of marketing at Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP where she spearheaded the brand’s inaugural national TV advertising campaign. In part to her work, the company was acquired by ConAgra for $250 million in 2018. Brooks’ track record continued to flourish when she assumed the role of vice president of marketing and e-commerce at Solid Gold Pet. Her strategic vision repositioned the brand, sparking a remarkable business turnaround that culminated in the company’s sale to H&H Group in 2020 for $163 million.

    This background ultimately led Brooks to embark on the journey of entrepreneurship as co-founder and CEO of Dojo Labs supplements, achieving national distribution with GNC upon launch.

    A 2009 graduate of the University, Brooks earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration, with concentrations in marketing and management, along with a minor in psychology. Apart from her career, she works with the Women on Boards Project, a non-profit organization with a mission to facilitate the placement of more women in first-time board seats.
  • Truman Participates in Model United Nations Conference

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    Meg Edwards, associate professor of political science and international relations, led students from her Model United Nations course to participate in the American Model United Nations (AMUN) Conference in Chicago, Illinois, Nov. 18-21. Truman students represented the Philippines and South Africa in the four-day conference, alongside approximately 1,400 students, faculty and young professionals from across the U.S. and around the world. Truman was recognized with exceptional representation of South Africa in the general assembly second committee. Dylan Powers-Cody and Courtney Mendenhall served as South Africa’s representatives for this committee.

Announcements

  • Finals Scream Set for Dec. 10

    Finals Scream will take place Dec. 10 in the Student Union Building. Bingo will begin at 7 p.m. with other activities such as de-stressing, screaming contest prizes and more starting at 8 p.m. Free pancakes and coffee will also be available.

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  • SERVE Center Hiring for Spring

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    The SERVE Center is accepting applications for a graduate assistant for the upcoming spring semester. The duties of this job are to assist students who visit the office, organize and distribute food packs, inventory donations to the Food Pantry and help with planning service opportunities with community coordinators, as well as outreach to local non-profit organizations. This position is for students looking for scholarship or work-study compensation. The position is on a rolling deadline and students can apply on TruPositions. For more information email serve@truman.edu.
  • Truman to Host On-campus Scholar Bowl

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    Surrounding schools are invited to participate in Truman’s first annual Scholar Bowl Winter Invitational on Jan. 20 in Violette Hall.

    This tournament will consist of two age divisions, fifth-sixth grade and seventh-eighth grade, with different sets of questions for each division. First and second place in each age division will receive medals and the all-tournament team members will receive books. This event has been sanctioned by MSHAA and standard MSHSAA scholar bowl rules will apply.

    The day will start at 8:30 a.m. with a brief meeting followed by four morning pool play matches. A lunch break will take place at 12 p.m. and a list of on-campus and Kirksville dining options will be made available closer to the tournament. The event will resume at 1 p.m. with teams sorted into afternoon pools based on the morning results. All teams will play at least eight games. This format may be adjusted based on the number of registered teams.

    Teams can sign-up here. There will be a $25 registration fee per team and each district is asked to bring one set of buzzers.
  • Applications Open for New Student Tele-Ambassadors Program

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    The Office of Admission is looking for enthusiastic student leaders with a passion for sharing their Truman experiences to apply for student tele-ambassadors for the 2024 spring semester.

    Student tele-ambassadors speak with prospective students on the phone or through text messaging to answer questions about Truman and the college search process. Scholarship, work-study and other opportunities are available. Applications can be found online and are due by 11:59 p.m. Jan. 7.
  • Make Plans Now for On-Campus Housing

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    Students who want to live on campus during the 2024-25 academic year can start planning where they and their friends might like to reside.

    The housing portal is now open for students interested in living on campus during the 2024-25 academic year. Residence Life is offering new options for next year, including expanded pet housing and more deluxe doubles in some residence halls at the same price as a regular double room, as well as more single-occupancy availability.

    In former triple occupancy rooms in Blanton-Nason-Brewer Hall, which were rarely in demand, students will now have the option to secure a deluxe double room for the same price as a standard double. For upper-class students, Campbell Apartments will also offer single-occupancy options for the first time.

    “Returning students living on campus have more options than a first-year student because returning students self-select their room earlier,” said Jamie Van Boxel, director of Residence Life. “Returning students can group up with their friends to take over a section of a residence hall or a group of apartments in Campbell. Returning students also have the opportunity to live in larger rooms or in an on-campus apartment with more space with a roommate of their choosing.”

    On-campus housing will be available in Missouri Hall, Ryle Hall, West Campus Suites, Blanton-Nason-Brewer Hall and Campbell Apartments. Due to the Dobson Hall parking lot being utilized as a construction staging area, that hall will not be available. As a result, additional options will be available in West Campus Suites and, if needed, Missouri Hall.

    “From a community building standpoint, this will allow us to offer a better student experience,” Van Boxel said. “Having more students in some of our more in-demand locations and room types will give students more opportunities to meet one another, make friends and have access to a full range of services.”

    Pet housing will still be offered for the 2024-25 academic in the south wing of Blanton-Nason-Brewer Hall. The demand for pet-friendly housing has increased every year since the option was first offered in 2021. More information about pet-friendly housing can be found online.

    Students planning to live on campus are encouraged to submit their housing application as soon as possible. Room self-selection begins Feb. 15 for returning students and April 3 for new incoming students. More information regarding the room self-selection timeline can be found online here. Questions about the housing process can be directed to Residence Life at 660.785.4227 or reslife@truman.edu.
  • Volunteers Needed for University Publications

    Student volunteers are needed for University marketing purposes. Those interested in being featured in various marketing materials should fill out this form.

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  • Spring 2024 Room Lottery Open Until End of Semester

    Union & Involvement Services will continue accepting Spring 2024 Lottery requests on a first-come first-serve basis. These submissions will be processed after priority consideration lottery, which ended Nov. 3. Forms can be found here. Paper forms will not be accepted. Contact the Union & Involvement Services Office at union@truman.edu or 660.785.4222 for more information.

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  • Student Representative Needed for Alumni Board

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    The Alumni Board of Directors represents Truman’s alumni population and helps stay connected with the interests of alumni. The board works with the Office of Advancement and facilitates the exchange of ideas between alumni, students and the University. The student representative to the Alumni Board will provide student perspective to board discussions and create awareness on campus of alumni involvement and benefits.

    The board term is one year, July 1-June 30, with possible renewal for a second consecutive term. To apply, submit an application along with a current resume to Mandi Wiser at awiser@truman.edu.
  • Residence Life Hiring Student Advisors

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    Residence Life is looking for students who will create welcoming environments, develop connections with students and foster a learning-centered community to apply as student advisors for the 2024-2025 school year. Student advisors will have their room and meal fees fully covered.

    Anyone enrolled in classes, has lived on campus for at least one semester once employed and maintained a 2.75 GPA, is qualified to apply. The application is open now until Jan. 19. Visit reslife.truman.edu or email reslife@truman.edu for more information.
  • Food Pantry Hours for Finals Week

    During Finals Week, the Truman food pantry will be open from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students can request a food pack here. The food pantry is located in the Student Union Building Down Under.

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  • Sign Up to Get SERVE Center Volunteer Opportunities

    Are you interested in performing service at local non-profits this school year? Sign up to be included in communication with volunteers. The SERVE Center has partnered with more than 130 community agencies located in the Kirksville community to bring service opportunities to meet every student’s interests.

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  • Athletic Fee Accountability Committee Accepting Proposals

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    Any member of the Truman community can propose a project idea to the Athletic Fee Accountability Committee for consideration. These projects should enhance the athletic facilities or equipment on Truman’s campus. The purpose of this proposal is to introduce the project to the committee. Proposals should include as much information as possible, but the committee will also help to refine submissions. Submissions can be submitted here by Jan. 7.
  • FAFSA Applications to be Available by Dec. 31

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    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2024-2025 school year is scheduled to go live by Dec. 31.

    All students in need of financial assistance are encouraged to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Federal Student Aid is the largest provider of financial aid for college students in the United States.

    Even though a student may not qualify for grants or work-study, all students are considered for the Federal Direct Loan (no co-signer required). Filing the FAFSA does not commit students to taking a loan, but it does allow for more options.

    The 2024-25 FAFSA will use 2022 tax year information with a priority deadline of Feb. 1, 2024 for Missouri residents. It is strongly recommended to apply or renew before Feb. 1 Details about the FAFSA can be found online at studentaid.gov.

    Truman’s Financial Aid Office is currently working on details of when aid offers will be available for students. This year it will most likely be March for incoming freshmen and April for current students.

    For more information, contact the Financial Aid Office at 660.785.4130 or finaid@truman.edu. The Financial Aid Office website also has a variety of helpful resources for students and their families.
  • Holiday Reception for Faculty, Staff and Retirees

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  • Retirement Reception for Teresa Wheeler

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Notables

  • Norgard Elected as New President of AIMS

    Amy Norgard, associate professor of classics, co-organized a series of special panels at the Antiquity in Media Studies (AIMS) virtual conference on the topic of “Star Trek and the Ancient Past,” Nov.10-18. The six panels featured the work of 15 different scholars whose work investigates how the “Star Trek” franchise engages with the ancient Mediterranean past to inform humanity’s high-tech, enlightened future. Norgard presented a paper entitled “Pygmalion and Personhood in the Holodeck in Star Trek.” Norgard was also elected as the new president of AIMS and will take office in January 2024. Josh Nudell, visiting assistant professor of history, also presented a paper at the AIMS conference titled “Aspasia of Miletus: Reflecting Pernicious Stereotypes in ‘Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.’”

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