Honors Summer Snapshots: Abby

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2018 summer routines via photos. Abby Mankins (junior in Political Science, Communication Studies, and Environmental Studies) has spent her summer all over the midwest, based out of Fiji (the fraternity, not the island):

Hi Honors! My name is Abby and I am a junior majoring in Political Science and Environmental Studies. This summer I have spent most of my time in Ames taking a class and working at the Writing and Media Center, but I have definitely made time for a few road trips and concerts in between!

Practically right after my last final of spring semester, I hopped in the car to drive to St. Louis, Missouri to see a Cardinals baseball game with my boyfriend, Sam. We saw three games, visited the Missouri Botanical Gardens, and explored the city.

This was the first time I went to St. Louis when they weren’t doing some sort of construction on the Arch, so I had to capture a picture.


I honestly never thought I would be a big baseball fan, but being about 20 feet away from Dexter Fowler’s walk-off home run against the Cubs was enough to make anyone an avid Cardinals fan for life.

After returning from St. Louis, my summer class and work schedule commenced.

I took an environmental politics class (Pol S 383), which I greatly enjoyed. This class was six weeks long and consisted of reading and discussing novels about human’s interaction with nature and how that relationship can be viewed through a political lens. This was easily the best course I have taken at Iowa State, and it led me to change my primary major from Communication Studies to Political Science!


After class, I would go to the Writing and Media Center (WMC) in Carver to start work! Here’s Conner, the Administrative Assistant and welcoming friendly face to all WMC-goers. I am a Communication Consultant at the WMC, so I tutor undergraduate and graduate students on different modes of communication (primarily written communication).


Once I finished a day’s work, I would head to my home-for-the-summer, Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity (Fiji). I have realized that I have to clarify that I lived in Fiji the fraternity and not the island when explaining my summer, so keep that in mind. Although a lot of people laugh when I say I lived in a fraternity, living in Fiji was a great experience. Not everyone can say they lived in a fraternity for a summer! Full disclosure: I did not take this picture, as my antique iPhone SE couldn’t take a picture of this level of quality…

After my class ended in late June, I headed to Waupaca, Wisconsin with Sam and his family. They have a condo on the Chain O’ Lakes up there, so we spent the week relaxing by the lake and celebrating the 4thof July!

Technically we weren’t in Wisconsin over either of our birthdays, but we had a birthday celebration with cake anyway!

The day I got back from Wisconsin, most of my friends were home (Des Moines) to go to the annual 80/35 music festival!

80/35 was easily one of the highlights of my summer. Not only did I get to see a lot of my good friends (Kate is the pal pictured), but I also got to see some amazing performers and bands (Courtney Barnett, Phantogram, and Kesha included)!

After returning to Ames for another month, I headed to Breckenridge, CO with my family. Going to Colorado in the summer is somewhat of a tradition for the Mankins family, and it was great to spend some time with my family after being away for the summer (40 minutes away, if that counts).

We went on a few hikes in Colorado, which basically consisted of getting winded on the way up and then enjoying the amazing view at the top.


This picture depicts what was probably the biggest highlight of my summer. For my birthday, I got tickets to see Foster the People and Paramore at Red Rocks Amphitheater. If you know me, these are two of my all-time favorite bands performing at what is now my all-time favorite venue. To top it all off, this was the last show of their tour together and I’m pretty convinced I got the last two tickets of the sold-out show. The concert was amazing — easily one of the best concerts I have ever been to! P.S. Again, I must admit I did not take this picture, but it’s from the show I was at and it’s much better than any of the pictures I took 🙂

I am now back in Ames for the rest of the summer and just moved into my very first apartment! This has definitely been a summer to remember, and I am so grateful to have experienced all that I did! Until next summer…


Honors Summer Snapshots: Katie

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2018 summer routines via photos. Katie Neilson (senior in Materials Engineering) headed west to find food delivery robots, Star Wars symphonies and…her old peer mentor?

Hi everyone, my name is Katie, and I’ll be a senior majoring in Materials Engineering with a minor in Physics. This summer, I was able to do an REU (research experience for undergraduates) at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences.

Here I am in a TOTALLY NOT STAGED picture with the graduate student I’m working with. It’s a small world, because I was paired (completely by chance) with Honors alum Jake (MatE ’16), who even happened to be my peer mentor back in the day.


One interesting thing about Berkeley was all of the strange graffiti I found around campus. Here are my favorites.


We did some touristy stuff while we were here, which included biking across the Golden Gate Bridge… it felt like I was Mario on Mushroom Bridge in real life, though (like a good scientist, here’s the source for that picture: http://www.ign.com/faqs/2003/action-replay-ultimate-codes-mario-kart-double-dash-walkthrough-446206).


We had the opportunity to go down to LAM (semiconductor equipment manufacturer) in Fremont and got to wear cool bunny suits. Here I am with all of my new friends from this summer from every corner of the country!


Another thing I got to enjoy in the city was SF’s Star Wars in concert. They played the movie on the screen but the orchestra played all the music. It was just as amazing as you can imagine.


Berkeley has these cute little food delivery robots called kiwis. THESE TWO CAME UP THE HILL TOGETHER. THEY’RE FRIENDS!!!!!!!!


We also went to a computer history museum in Mountain View, and guess what I found there?? It was a little weird seeing things I recognized from when I was a kid in a museum, though.


The bay had some nice mountains (well, hills, but they’re mountains to me) we were able to climb and catch a good view at. It was extremely windy at the top and much colder than down in the city.


This is a nice view at sunset of Berkeley. The weather in the bay area was beautiful this summer.

I was able to meet lots of cool people and do a different style of research than I’m used to, which has been such a joy… I’m a little sad to be going back to the Midwestern heat. Alas, ready to finish up my final year of undergrad!

Honors Summer Snapshots: Elke

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2018 summer routines via photos. Did you know ISU has a field camp in Montana? Elke Windschitl (junior in Animal Ecology and Biology) spent a month there this summer getting up close and personal with the area’s ecosystems:

Here is a view of the pond at the new ISU Rod & Connie French Conservation Camp where I got to spend a month taking a field ecology course. I learned a lot in the course and had a lot of fun as well!


This is the whole group on our field trip to the top of Stark Mountain. We had two members of the US Forest Service escort us and teach us about the ecology of the mountain along the way.


Near the camp, we saw this small black bear from the car. It put on a little show for us and eventually trotted back into the forest.


One Saturday, we took a 6 mile hike (round trip) to Heart Lake. The views along the way were beautiful…


…but the view from the top was even better! We swam in Heart Lake and the water was freezing, but the experience was one to never forget.


Here, I am holding a pregnant rubber boa that we found on the road. Our TA stopped the car and put in in reverse so we could all go see it.


During the first weekend, we took a trip to Missoula, MT. There was a large farmer’s market, as well as a large people’s market. It was fun to do some shopping and get to talk to some of the locals.


During the last week, Dr. Greg Courtney came out to the camp and taught us about aquatic insects. We used waders and nets to get in both the stream and the pond to sample for insects.


Along with some aquatic insects, I also caught a frog in the pond!


In the end, it was sad to leave. Montana had some really amazing sights to see. This is the view from an evening hike on the North Fork trail.

Honors Summer Snapshots: Rebecca

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2018 summer routines via photos. Now that her Boeing internship is wrapping up, Rebecca Filak (senior in Mechanical Engineering) is likely buried in a GIANT ice cream float somewhere in St. Louis:

This summer, I have had the fantastic opportunity to work as an engineering intern for The Boeing Company in St. Louis, Missouri! Specifically, I work for Boeing Defense, Space, and Security under Boeing Test and Evaluation in the Flight Test Design/Build department. In the beginning, I was hired to develop methods for integrating additive manufacturing processes to optimize aircraft production time and cost. However, I was immediately given other high priority projects to complete in conjunction to my initial project.

Boeing has a strict policy about not taking pictures on the Boeing campus; however, there is one building that is open to the public where I was able to snag a few pictures. Here I am with the other intern in my department, Gigi.


The majority of my internship has been devoted to the F/A-18 as seen in this model replication. I have been creating 3D CAD models, assemblies, drawings, and part lists for a fuel test focused on the integration of the newly-developed conformal fuel tank. I designed a test that replicates the geometry of the conformal fuel tank and utilizes in-house additive manufacturing wherever possible to expedite production times. I should be assisting in the completion of the test on my last day!


Beyond the F/A-18, I also have completed design work for the F-15 which you can see modeled just behind me. Much of the work in Flight Test involves designing installations that can be added around the existing production designs. So, I’ve been focusing on completing the 3D models and drawings for the antenna installations for a new model of the F-15.


Boeing’s internship program also does a great job at hosting social events for interns. Here is just a small group of the St. Louis interns at Busch Stadium for a Cardinals game. Boeing has also arranged an intern barbeque picnic (where we all had to outrun a tornado), a bowling night at the historic Moolah Theatre & Lounge, and a night of dinner and games at Dave and Buster’s. Even during work, the internship program sets up tours where interns can complete an F-15 flight simulation and check out the assembly lines for the F-15 and the F/A-18.


But what’s a summer with all work and no play? I am extremely fortunate to be able to spend my summer in St. Louis living with my sister Rachel and my brother-in-law Steve. Since they’re using this summer to convince me to move to St. Louis post-graduation, they’ve taken it upon themselves to show me all the great things St. Louis has to offer, primarily all of the free activities.


Free activity number one: The St. Louis Zoo. The St. Louis Zoo is located in Forest Park along with many other free attractions. Pictured here is a cheetah escaping the St. Louis heat in the shade of the trees. The zoo is home to a wide variety of animals including penguins, lions, polar bears, elephants, kangaroos, sea lions, gorillas and more!


On the topic of animals, Grant’s Farm is another free place to spend your afternoon. Grant’s Farm, now owned by Anheuser-Busch, was once the summer home of the former U.S. President and Civil War general Ulysses S. Grant. It is filled with animals such as bison, elephants, deer, and ostriches that President Grant had originally brought to his home. My favorite part of Grant’s Farm is feeding the friendly baby goats.


Next on the list of free things to do: City Museum. Don’t let the name fool you. This is no ordinary museum. The City Museum has a 10-story slide, caves with tunnels small enough for me to get stuck in, a school bus hanging off the edge of the roof, and endless wire-mesh tunnels to climb through both indoors and outdoors.


If it’s raining, the St. Louis Science Center is another free place to spend your day. Here, you can build your own arch, try to beat your friends at a brainwave relaxation game, code a mission for a Mars Rover, and view the original landing pad of The Apollo 11 mission.


You can’t go to St. Louis without seeing the Arch. The area under and around the Arch is open to the public free of cost. Most outdoor festivals pick an optimal location so that you can always see St. Louis’s iconic 630-foot monument arcing over the main stage.


The sketchy tram ride up the Arch may cost a bit and make you question the engineering of the 1960s, but the view of St. Louis from the top of the Arch is definitely worth it. Here you can see half of Busch Stadium to the left, the Old Courthouse in the center, and the rest of downtown extending into the many St. Louis suburbs.


St. Louis is also home to many free concerts. I got to relive my middle school days watching Matt Nathanson and the Plain White T’s second row at a street festival for free!


Now for the best part…the food. St. Louis is known for its many barbeque restaurants and food trucks. My personal favorite is Sugarfire Smoke House. Beyond the hardy portions of brisket and overflowing sides of mac n’ cheese, Sugarfire also has a fully-stocked condiment bar with seven different types of barbeque sauce.


Next, we’ll take a look at Fitz’s. You could eat a meal here, but what you really want is the dessert. Fitz’s is actually a craft soda microbrewery, so they take pride in their signature floats. The float you see above is called the Peanut Butter Cup, made with cream soda and ample amount of peanut butter and chocolate ice cream.


Finally, if you’re looking for a smaller sweet treat, Ted Drewes is the place for you. Ted Drewes has everything you could want from concretes to malts to shakes to sundaes, all made with their famous frozen custard.


All in all, I’ve been having a great summer in St. Louis! Based off the fun I’ve had so far, Rachel and Steve might just get their wish of me returning to St. Louis after graduation. I guess we’ll see what the future has to hold! For now, I’ll just keep exploring all that St. Louis has to offer during my final days here.

Honors Summer Snapshots: Morgan

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2018 summer routines via photos. Morgan Ambourn (sophomore in Computer Engineering) occasionally broke out of her research lab at Cardiff University to see the UK:

I spent the summer in Cardiff, Wales for a research internship at Cardiff University. Cardiff was small for being the capital city, but it was definitely filled with character. There was no shortage of street performers or quirky restaurants. The generous food stipend included with the program allowed for lots of restaurant hopping. My only complaint of the trip was the obnoxious seagulls that never failed to wake me at 4am.


I went on lots of hikes, the best of which was Worm’s Head. Adequate planning is a must when visiting the end of the peninsula. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself camping on an island when the tide rises.


I took a road trip up to Snowdonia National Park. (I definitely recommend getting an experienced driver to face the narrow roads and left sided driving for you.) In the park I took a train up to the highest peak in Wales, Snowdon Mountain, but sadly the farthest view I got off the top was an arm’s length away due to the cloud like atmosphere that surrounded me.


Nearby Conwy Castle made up for the missed views off the top of Snowdon Mountain. This was just one of the half dozen castles I visited on the trip. When in Wales, you never seem to be too far from one of these old stone fortresses.


One of my farther weekend trips was to Edinburgh. The must-sees in this Scottish city are the castle, Arthur’s Seat, and a little known place called Camera Obscura. Haggis, despite its reputation, is also worth a try.


Another memorable weekend trip was to London. I had to visit all the classic tourist spots like the London Eye, Kensington Palace, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Parliament, and Trafalgar Square (as seen here). Despite my poor choice in walking shoes, wandering the streets was the best part.


Despite all the fun, food, and traveling, much of the summer was spent doing research. I worked in a magnetics lab at Cardiff University, redeveloping/recoding a machine (DC permeameter) that measures magnetic properties of soft magnetic metals. The project was rewarding, and I appreciated the team that I got to work with. Overall, the trip was a great learning experience both academically and culturally.

Honors Summer Snapshots: Ellen

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2018 summer routines via photos. Most people do their best to avoid ticks and mosquitoes, but Ellen Meis (senior in Biology and Environmental Science) has spent her summer seeking them out:

This summer I’ve been experiencing life at the Minnesota Department of Health as part of the Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease’s fellowship program. Since MDH offices are located in downtown St. Paul and I’ve been living in the southern suburb of Eagan, I’ve spent some quality time this summer with both my car and the public transit system.


At MDH, I’ve been working with the Vectorborne Disease Unit to conduct routine surveillance of mosquitoes (which in MN can transmit diseases such as West Nile virus, La Crosse encephalitis, and Jamestown Canyon virus) and ticks (which can transmit things like Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Powassan virus). For the first half of the summer, I spent most of my days in the field at state parks and other nature areas all across the state dragging for ticks – essentially we walk through tick habitat with white suits on dragging canvas cloths behind us and collect any ticks that latch on. Back at the office, I identify the species and life stage. Selected ticks will be sent to the lab for pathogen testing. Other ticks I use to create tick identification kits to give out to healthcare providers, camp leaders, and others for educational purposes. During the second half of the summer, the work shifts to focus on mosquitoes. Since we have partners across the state collecting mosquitoes for us, I don’t often go out to collect them myself, but I do help identify the samples as they come in. Since all mosquito and tick-borne diseases are reportable in MN, the unit epidemiologists also process all human case reports in order to monitor disease prevalence.


Besides the forests and trails I wander while working, I’ve found plenty of other places to explore in my free time. The trails at Lebanon Hills State Park near Eagan are lovely and extensive – ideal for getting some good exercise in. I also visited Minnehaha Falls and spent some time relaxing near the high bridge on the St. Croix River in Stillwater, hometown of the one and only Brady Nahkala.


Every Saturday, the Mill City farmer’s market pops up in downtown Minneapolis, near the historic Stone Arch Bridge, and like many farmer’s markets it’s a great place to eat delicious food – in my case, mostly cheese. I also camped for a night at Jay Cooke State Park near Duluth and the scenic Lake Superior and got to see Brady run his first trail marathon.


As someone who loves music and theater, I really enjoyed spending a weekend picnicking by Lake Harriet while listening to the Minneapolis Pops symphony and seeing a fantastic production of West Side Story at the Guthrie Theater.


This summer my family got a puppy! I was able to meet him while I was home in Le Mars, IA, for the week of the Fourth of July. He’s a Newdle (Newfoundland/Poodle) named Mo and I’m in love with him. With only a week of my fellowship left, I’m excited to go back and spend some time with him before classes start.


Next up? Researching grad schools and preparing for the GRE which I’m taking in August. Excuse me now while I go start studying…


That is, if I can sort out my priorities.

Honors Summer Snapshots: Ellie

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2018 summer routines via photos. Ellie Conrad (senior in Global Resource Systems, Agrigulture & Society, and Spanish) is enjoying a summer of policy nerdery, museums, and dance in the nation’s capital:

My name’s Ellie Conrad and I’m an upcoming senior in Global Resource Systems, Agriculture & Society, and Spanish! I’m really interested in policy and legal research, especially on a global scale.

This summer, I’m interning at the US Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. I moved out here shortly after getting back from study abroad and pretty much hit the ground running: my first day at work was exactly a month and two days after returning to the US!

D.C. is a big change from Cuenca: it’s double the population size and much faster-paced. Fortunately, I still get to practice Spanish every now and then!

I work in the International Regulations and Standards Division of the Office of Agreements and Scientific Affairs within the Foreign Agricultural Service – which is the kind of mouthful title you hear a lot here in D.C.! Our office is pretty specialized and focuses on addressing trade barriers created through agricultural policies.

My roommate and I share an apartment in Crystal City, which is about twenty minutes from our work at the USDA South Building. The metro makes getting to and from work a breeze; after my physical therapy routine and breakfast, we grab (free!) coffee in the lobby and walk a block to the metro. The stop we get off at is actually beneath our office building, too.

Once I get to my office, the predictability ends. On any given day, I could be tasked with something as silly as picking up doughnuts for a coworker’s birthday or as high-pressure as drafting a paper for senior staff members. My biggest projects recently have all been focused on policy research. I’ve been working with embassies in Latin America and Asia to compile information on export certificates their governments require and working with some of the senior staff in our office to prepare legal text in support of the US position in international negotiations.

That is even more of a mouthful than my title, but the main objective of all of my projects is the same: to help make international agricultural trade easier for US exporters.

On Mondays, I take the metro out to Friendship Heights to take a ballet class. The rest of the week, I either visit a museum after work or head straight home.

Yay ballet!

Being D.C., there are about a million things to do at any given moment. My work is one block away from the National Mall, which means I’m about a five-minute walk from most of the Smithsonian museums. I’m a huge museum nerd, so anything with ‘Smithsonian’ in the name is a happy place for me.

Degas is one of my very favorite artists; the National Museum of African American History and Culture is absolutely incredible.

Once I’m back to the apartment, it’s dinner time! I really enjoy cooking and almost never eat out, so it’s been a lot of fun to play around with different dishes this summer. D.C. is full of farmers markets, which means there’s always some place to get fresh fruits and veggies.

Apples at the longest running farmers market in the U.S. George Washington used to send his produce here!

My night usually winds down with an episode of Queer Eye on Netflix and a short trip to the gym in our apartment building. After that, it’s time to clean up for bed; my alarm goes off at 6:00 AM every morning, so I try not to stay up too late at night.

D.C. has definitely been a big change from my past experiences, but it’s been an amazing chance to learn a lot and figure out what I want to do after graduation. I can’t wait to see how much more I learn in the remaining two weeks!