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Mathematician to receive young alumnus award for 2007

The Awards Committee of the Bethel College Alumni Association has named Susan Loepp, Williamstown, Mass., as the winner of the 2007 Young Alumnus Award.

Loepp is an associate professor of mathematics at Williams College, where she has been since 1996. Her field of research is commutative algebra and she often teaches courses in abstract algebra at Williams.

Loepp is a 1989 Bethel graduate with a B.A. in mathematics and a B.S. in physics. She earned her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1994, where her dissertation topic was “Making the generic formal fiber local.” She was a visiting professor at the University of Nebraska from 1994-96.

Loepp is the author of a number of articles published in the “Journal of Algebra,” the “Journal of Pure and Applied Algebra” and the “Rocky Mountain Journal of Algebra,” among others. In 2006, she published her first book, a collaborative effort with fellow Williams College professor William Wootters, a physicist.

“Protecting Information: From Classical Error Correction to Quantum Cryptography” (Cambridge University Press) is intended as a text for undergraduate students as well as an introduction to mathematical strategies used to ensure faithful transmission of information through “noisy” channels such as a scratch on a CD.

Information may be intercepted by an identity thief or corrupted by sources of noise such as that scratch on the CD. Because of this, communications are often protected by mathematical codes designed to compensate for the noise or foil a potential eavesdropper. However, an eavesdropper of the future might have access to a “quantum computer” that could crack many of the codes currently in use.

The book grew in part out of a course that Loepp and Wootters teach together. It was also enabled in part by an $85,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2000-02, under which Loepp and Wootters developed an interdisciplinary course for undergraduates on protecting information.

Loepp has also been the recipient of funds from two other substantial NSF grants, 1999-2000 and 1999-2004 (the latter as part of a research project with six others). Awards that have recognized her teaching abilities include Dodd Teaching Excellence Awards from the University of Texas at Austin 1989-91, 1992 and 1993 and a Department of Mathematics Teaching Excellence Award from UT in 1992. The Williams College student body presented Loepp with the Faculty of the Year Award in 2001. While she was at Bethel, Loepp, a tennis player, received Academic All-American honors from the NAIA in 1988 and 1989.

Loepp will be on campus to receive her award and present a special convocation on Friday, March 9. She will speak on “Protecting Your Personal Information: An Introduction to Encryption.” The 11 a.m. lecture, in Krehbiel Auditorium of the Fine Arts Center, is free and open to the public.

Herman Bubbert visits campus during interterm

Bethel’s perennial and ageless prankster, Herman Bubbert, resurfaced recently after a six-inch snowfall and, with the help of some students late Sunday night, Jan. 21, built a toboggan run on the steps of the Administration Building. A homemade banner strung across the arch in front renamed the structure “Herman Bubbert Lodge.”

The sign also read “Prospectives Sled Free,” since Monday was a campus visit day for high school students.

Nearby, a signpost pointed to some “new” features on campus: Convocation Cabins, Dale Schrag Slalom, Mt. Menno Simons, Patty Shelly Point, Barry Bartel Bungalow. Students, staff and administrators enjoyed the sledding run for several days, along with snow art created by Jess Rempel, a senior from Littleton, Colo.

It seems Bubbert had intended to clean up the steps himself on Wednesday, Jan. 24. However, in an e-mail sent from a hotmail account, the fictitious character pleaded for help.

“I’m sure most of you noticed my little addition to the campus these last few days,” Bubbert wrote. “I hope you all got a chance to sled down Mount Menno Simons. It was a creation that I am very proud of . . . I was planning on cleaning the whole thing up by myself today, but my dear wife Wilcia has fallen ill, so I won’t be able to make it . . . So I’m asking that anyone who can come out to help clean up at 4 p.m. today. If you help me out, I promise to keep you entertained in the future--I’ve got lots of ideas for ‘campus improvement projects.’”

Students, faculty and staff were quick to assist Bubbert in his time of need. The steps were soon clear.

For photos, go to "Herman Bubbert Lodge" at the Bethel College Photo Gallery. Among the pictures is one of new President Barry Bartel and former Interim President John Sheriff racing down the slope.

Interterm courses offer variety on and off campus

During Interterm, Jan. 3-26, students were engaged in a variety of classes on campus and off. Courses on campus included Entrepreneurship, Printmaking, Human Genetics, Understanding Literature, Basic Issues of Faith and Life, Software Development, Mental Health Nursing, Theories and Practice of Counseling and other classes.

Interterm was also a time for travel courses away from campus: Jerusalem Seminar, Literary London, History of East Central Europe, German Language and Culture in a German Environment, Introduction to Astronomy (primarily on campus, but with an optional one-week trip to observatories in the Southwest U.S.), and Experiential Learning (through the Chicago Center for Urban Life and Culture).

Music students selected for KMEA college band

Four Bethel College music students have been selected to represent Bethel in the Kansas Intercollegiate Band. They will perform at an in-service band concert and clinic hosted by the Kansas Music Education Association on Friday, Feb. 23, at Century II in Wichita.

The students are Aaron Linscheid, senior from North Newton, on trumpet; Brett Jackson, junior from North Newton, on alto saxophone; Brent Badawieh, junior from Parsons, on bass clarinet; and Blake Long, junior from Moran, on percussion.

The band consists of juniors and seniors from Kansas colleges and universities. It is organized by the Kansas Bandmasters Association. Members are nominated by their band directors.