Honors Salons: Weird Name, Interesting Topics

by Eric Schnieders

Hey you! Yeah you. Do you enjoy learning about cool interesting topics outside the scope of your daily academic dosage? How about interacting with faculty on a relaxed personal basis? If you answered yes to any of these questions or… then Honors Salons sound like just the thing for you.

On Friday afternoons twice a month Honors students gather in the main lobby of Jischke to listen to and interact with a wide variety of faculty presenting on anything from their own personal hobbies, to their groundbreaking research areas. These experiences are beneficial to Honors students as they push us outside the box of our so called “major-specific” area of knowledge. This semester I’ve attended many salons and learned things from how the movie Twister is actually a horrible display of natural phenomena, to what Iowa State students are doing in Africa to help fight world hunger, and how Edgar Allen Poe had a slight obsession with placing animals into his poems and short stories. These are topics that would never have crossed my mind if I hadn’t chanced upon these awesome salons.

Did I mention that there’s free popcorn? Well there is! See, there is really no excuse for not attending, free food and intellectual knowledge.

Gallus photoMy favorite Honors Salon of this semester was given by Dr. Bill Gallus on “Catching a Tiger by its Tail: The struggle to understand tornadoes.” In this presentation Dr. Gallus first presented a short background on what tornadoes actually consist of; it turns out my previous definition, a cool looking swirly thing, was not accurate. After that he jumped into some of the research he and his students were doing to better understand what was happening with tornadoes and the damage they cause. Lastly he described some of his own personal stories on chasing tornadoes which I found to be extremely interesting (Chasing at least one tornado has now been added to my bucket list). At the end of the salon as I was walking back to Harwood (best honors floor ever!) a thought popped in my head: how is this information relevant to my life? Although Ames isn’t in the middle of tornado alley there is still a good chance we will be affected by severe thunderstorms/tornadoes once a year. Having some base knowledge on tornadoes and the power they possess could turn out to be very useful.

This thought of “how can I use the knowledge I just gained” pops up in my head after every salon I attend. I will admit sometimes the answer isn’t very clear but I always place it in on the back burner and sometimes a few weeks later a relevant situation for the information will pop up, amazing me every time.

So let’s do some recapping: Honors Salons present a great format for Honors Students to gain knowledge in areas well outside the scope of their major, interact with amazing faculty, and munch on free popcorn. There’s no better way to spend an hour of your Friday afternoon. If you haven’t had the chance to attend a salon yet you’re in luck, there is still two more left this semester. This upcoming Friday, April 10, Dr. Elizabeth Shirtcliff will presenting on “How Manly is Your Testosterone”. Also, on Friday April 24 Dr. Soeren Prell from the Physics department will be presenting on his research area particle physics. Don’t miss out on these informative, fun salons!

P.S. If you know of any faculty that could give some amazing presentations don’t be afraid to contact Emily Wilcox. You can find her upstairs in Jischke or just shoot her a quick email.


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