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Thomas Larkin ’13
BaRack Little ’12
Emily Bradley ’10
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(photo by Andrew Daddio)
The way you do the things you do
Krista Ingram, assistant professor of biology, wants to know what keeps harvester ants up at night. She’d also like to understand how hundreds of thousands of
within a single colony can organize themselves into squads of builders, foragers, defenders, and scouts without the coordinating power of a central leader.
Because questionnaires and psychological profiles won’t work with ants, she takes a biologist’s approach: she studies their genes to track the evolution of their social behaviors, and she invites undergraduates into her lab to participate in the discovery process.
Ingram’s fascination with ants began, oddly enough, while she was studying dolphins in Hawaii. At the beginning of her PhD work at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, she realized that, in order to delve into the microscopic origins of animal behavior as she had originally intended, she would have to find a model species — one that was easier to fit on a microscope slide. So Ingram transferred to Harvard, where she could study social insects under the guidance of evolutionary biologist Steve Palumbi and collaborate with legendary naturalist E.O. Wilson.
Jump forward a decade, and you’ll find Ingram in her own lab at Colgate. Here, she dabbles in conservation genetics and molecular ecology, but devotes the bulk of her time to investigating the foraging behavior and circadian rhythms of ants.
Ingram and her students observe their insects as they engage in a variety of activities, then freeze them to capture a real-time snapshot of their brain chemistry. With the help of a new qPCR machine, purchased through grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), she can note exactly how many copies of any particular gene are active. In the future, she will use chemical inhibitors to switch them off and see if the technique changes ant behavior.
It doesn’t take a PhD from Harvard to realize that dolphins, ants, and people are different organisms, but Ingram points out that we share many common genes. That’s why the NSF, the National Institutes of Health, and Colgate’s own Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute are interested in funding her research.
“I want to understand the relative roles of development versus environment in how genes are regulating these processes,” she said. “The same mechanisms are probably important for us as well.”
For example, if foraging genes can be linked to obesity, then knowing how to suppress them in an ant could prove valuable for humans; if you can track down the genetic cause for a sleep disorder in a six-legged insomniac, perhaps you can transfer that knowledge to a biped.
For Ingram — who recently collaborated on the publication of a complete fire ant genome — the excitement comes from seeing the presumably unseeable, discovering the way we do the things we do, and teaching a new generation of scientists the art of asking challenging questions.
“I always had the vision of working at an undergraduate liberal arts institution, but I wanted it to be a competitive institution, so I would have great students in the lab,” she said. “Many of my peers at other research universities have become managers — I am lucky that I get to do the teaching and the science.”
— Mark Walden
Thomas Larkin ’13
(photo by Bob Cornell)
Speaking to Thomas Larkin ’13, you’d never guess that the 221-pound defenseman for the men’s hockey team originally hails from Italy. There’s no trace of an accent — well, maybe when you hear him pronounce “binoculars” as he talks about his favorite pastime of bird watching, which he explores during walks through Colgate’s woods and while fishing with his teammates.
Larkin, who is on a short list of junior hockey captains in Colgate history, admits that hockey players from Italy are rare. In all fairness, his hometown of Cocquio Trevisago is in northern Italy, close to the Swiss border, where hockey is more prevalent. He got involved in the sport at the age of 7 — oddly enough, through swimming lessons. When his mother first took her two sons to the local pool, which is attached to the ice rink, Larkin’s brother spotted a hockey practice going on, and wanted to play.
“Being the younger brother, I decided to follow in his footsteps,” Larkin explained. But, while his brother lost interest, Larkin fell in love with the sport and was determined to improve. Little did the young Larkin know then that, at age 18, he would be drafted into the National Hockey League.
His drive to become a great hockey player led him to America. “I had outgrown Italian hockey — there aren’t a lot of chances for youth development in hockey there,” he explained. So, at age 14, he enrolled at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H., where he set the single-season record for goals and assists by a defenseman and left with the career point record for a defenseman.
Ironically enough, in honing his skills at Phillips Exeter and Colgate, Larkin earned the chance to represent his homeland. Last spring, he became the youngest player on Team Italy, which won the gold medal at the Division IA World Championships in Hungary. The win advanced the team, and in May, they will play the top teams in the world.
In the hopes of being invited to again compete for Team Italy, Larkin will audition at a three-week camp this spring. The camp takes place in the final weeks of the semester, which, Larkin acknowledges, will be tough to juggle with his studies. “It will be hard, but it’s such a great opportunity, and Italy hasn’t been in the top group in a while,” he said of his potential to play for Team Italy in the championships this year. “I’d get to play against the best players in the world, and it would be great for my development.”
The economics major (who speaks three languages) hopes to work in his field of study down the road, but for now, he has set his sights on the NHL. After graduating from Colgate, Larkin hopes to play for the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team picked him in the 2009 Amateur Draft, so he is hoping to sign with them in 2013.
In the meantime, Larkin said, he will continue to “do the best job I can for my teammates and team.” Having been recruited to Colgate, Larkin added that, “it’s been everything I thought it would be. Coach Vaughan, Assistant Coach Dexter, and Assistant Coach Lefevre are all great guys, and I’ve learned a lot from them.”
— Aleta Mayne
BaRack Little ’12
(photo by Andrew Daddio)
— Hometown: Fayetteville, Ga.
— Major: psychology
— Football team: tight end, #6
Did you know you wanted to study psychology before coming here?
Growing up, I wanted to do sports medicine and physical therapy. Then, my senior year of high school, I took an AP psychology class and fell in love with it. When I got here, I decided to major in psych. This past year, I found out about sports psychology, so I’m applying to graduate school for that.
Tell us about a Colgate course that’s changed your life.
The Psychology of Leadership with Professor Carrie Keating. It was amazing to me to learn how many traits could predict leadership. I find groups and status emergence very interesting.
And that class led to your research project?
Yes. I’m up here in the summer for football workouts, and I asked Professor Keating if we could do research together. We thought it’d be interesting to observe the status in hierarchy in a group of kids who come and do a two-week program consisting of sports and science at Colgate. We gave them a questionnaire assessing their social motivations and another survey that asked them to rank the kids as most popular, most likely to be a leader, and most socially influential. We gave them these surveys again at the end of the camp. We also asked the counselors to rank who they thought were leaders. We found that what the kids predicted in the beginning lasted to the end.
How are you continuing this research?
For my senior thesis, I’m doing another study, on the Gate House dorm. It seems like a really dynamic group of kids to study, so this will give us two different age groups and two different settings to compare.
What do you do for fun?
I’m really into acting. I was in a play last summer at home, called
. It was about the struggles of a community. Here, I was in a self-written play by Jamil Jude ’09. I was the lead character, falsely accused of a crime. It was a serious role for me; I liked playing that because a lot of times I’ve played comedic roles.
I write and produce music, too. My roommates and I have a group, called The Swagged Up Squad. We have a song about Colgate that’s kind of gotten big on campus. We just love writing music. It’s mainly hip hop, but we’ve been working with alternative rock instrumentals.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My mom, LuRoyale Little. My father passed away of a heart attack when I was 12, so she had to take over a lot of things that he was doing in my life, like taking me to practice. I played three sports in high school. I was playing baseball in a county that was an hour away from my house, and she would take me to practice. She never, ever complained about a sacrifice she had to make for me. She does social work; she was able to manage that, and she never missed any of my games in high school. That motivates me; if she could do all the things she did to keep up with me and keep her life, it lets me know that I can do anything. That’s why I try to never make excuses.
What has been your favorite moment playing football here?
We played Syracuse University last year, and it was great playing in the dome in front of 30,000 people. I actually had a key block in the touchdown we scored.
— Aleta Mayne
Emily Bradley ’10, Colgate trustee
(photo by Chris Usher)
– Graduated with honors in political science
– Trustee since 2010; Academic and Faculty Affairs, Student Affairs Committees
– Associate producer,
Face the Nation,
– Former assistant to the Washington bureau chief, CBS News
How did you become a junkie for U.S. politics?
It’s a funny thing for a Canadian to be doing, I guess! My family is from Toronto, but my grandfather was a career U.S. diplomat, so politics was always fair game for dinner table conversation. I thought I’d major in international relations, but after I took Professor Tim Byrnes’s class The Presidency and Executive Leadership, I changed my mind.
How did you end up wanting to blend politics and journalism for your career?
While I was in D.C. on the Washington Study Group, I had the good fortune to secure an internship with Bob Schieffer and his staff at
Face the Nation
. I got totally hooked.
Describe your role with
Face the Nation
Early in the week, I help with the booking process, figuring out which people can give the best insights on an issue and can bring different perspectives to the table. Once we have a guest list (which, if news breaks, we may need to throw out as late as Saturday), I compile the research and footage we need for the show. I also manage the show’s website and social media. Sunday morning is the best part of my week, hands down. I have the opportunity to meet our guests, and to work in our control room during the live broadcast. While we’re on the air, I tweet out headlines from the show. It’s interesting to watch how quickly a tweet can get picked up and make its way through the “Twitterverse.” We connect quotes back to our guests’ Twitter accounts, and suddenly we’ve generated an online conversation that’s happening in real time as the show progresses.
What is the most memorable story you’ve worked on?
Face The Nation
had a fully booked broadcast when Congresswoman Giffords was shot. It happened on a Saturday — when I got the e-mail, I hopped in a cab and went into work. I spent the day getting us up to speed and helping to rebuild the show. It was incredibly emotional to be at the bureau as the news unfolded.
As a young alumni trustee at Colgate, what do you try to bring to the table?
Student life and alumni engagement are two of the board’s key priorities, so I try to bring an up-to-date vision of what it’s like to be a Colgate student and a young alumna.
What do you do to relax?
I cook. My weekends fall on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I have time off when everybody else is at work. I’ve started feeding lots of Colgate people — on Monday night, I cooked for everybody who had to be at the office.
If your apartment was on fire, what would you carry out with you?
I think my mother would like me to say I’d take my fish. But, I also have a shadow box with memorabilia from all the political campaigns my grandfather worked on. I’d take both.
What’s your favorite movie?
It’s a Wonderful Life
— we watch it as a family every year. I love the holidays. It’s not Thanksgiving yet, but I’m already drinking coffee from a Christmas cup. This year, Christmas and New Year’s both fall on Sundays, so I’ll be celebrating in the control room at CBS News.
— Rebecca Costello