Faculty Spotlight – James Poulsen

How long have you been teaching at Simpson and what do you teach?

I’ve been teaching Discovering Music for 23 years. I started teaching part-time in 2000 and it worked up to a full-time schedule in 2003. I teach music theory, ear training, Discovering Music, and piano lessons, plus I currently accompany 23 voice majors.

Do you work outside of Simpson? 

I teach some private piano lessons in my home; I play a jazz piano gig almost every Friday and Saturday night and sometimes Sunday. I play church piano and organ every Sunday morning.

What makes teaching at Simpson unique?

Actually, the exceptional music program and music faculty, but especially the excellent students the program brings in. A large part of what I do is accompany voice students so I get to hear some great singing voices 2-3 hours a day.

What do you enjoy most about working with adult students?

When you teach, you learn something new or different almost every week; adult students bring a different perspective to class. I enjoy hearing about a different artist, band, or type of music that someone mentions to me during or after class. My favorite thing, of course, is when someone gets interested in a classical composer or piece of music that they thought they wouldn’t be interested in at all.

You have had a very interesting career in music. Would you please tell us a little about the experience?

I’ve done a lot of things in music—even though I’ve always been a classical pianist first, I played in various bands from age 15-36, sometimes full-time. I almost got a record deal with CBS American records in the mid- 80’s, but that fell through with our agent. I composed music full-time for commercials and business films from 1991-2003 and I’ve done a few jingles since then. I even scored a full-length horror movie that was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005. I’ve had 4 commissions for orchestral works with the Des Moines Symphony and I’ve had works also performed by the Dubuque Symphony and the Waltham Philharmonic in Boston recently. I’ve written a number of art songs that are often performed by Simpson students and faculty and elsewhere around the country.

Please tell us about your family and how you like to spend your free time.

I’ve been married to Lori 28 years and we have two children, 17 and 13. Our son is coming to Simpson next year. I accompany my kids when they perform on sax or violin in recitals or music contests.

Please Welcome Stacy Lindsley

The Division of Continuing & Graduate Programs Welcomes Stacy Lindsley, Administrative Assistant for the Indianola Campus


How long have you been working at Simpson?

5 years. I started part-time in the Theatre Department. I started working full-time in the Continuing and Graduate office in August.

What does your job entail? 

I am the administrative assistant for the Continuing & Graduate Programs office in Indianola. When guests come into our office, I am the first person they see. I assist both Liz Glodek, the Indianola campus director, and Rosemary Link, the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. I do a number of various duties; clerical, admissions, retention, data entry, and student registrations just to name a few.

Where are you from?

I was born in Rock Island, Illinois, but I graduated high school from Oskaloosa, Iowa. I now live in Indianola with my husband, Jim and our two children, Alex and Megan.

What do you enjoy most about working with adult students?

I love seeing them begin a new journey with their continuing education.

Please tell us about your family and how you like to spend your free time.

Our kids keep us pretty busy these days. Alex is a senior and is involved in all sorts of activates at the high school. We are busy now trying to get him ready for college. Megan is busy too. Both of them are involved in music and acting.

As for me, I mostly just run to their activities these days. When I’m not running around I like to bake and do crafting. I used to have my own bakery but now I just bake for family.

I am an 80’s gal through and through. I love old 80’s movies and music from the 80’s. My favorite more current movie would probably be Wedding Date. I know, kind of sappy.

Welcome, Stacy, we are very happy to have you on the team!

An Introduction by Katie Princehouse

Fall has always been my favorite time of year… football games, apple orchards, pumpkin spice lattes, jeans and sweatshirts weather. The Indianola campus is simply stunning right now with the changing colors of the leaves. It’s the time of year that our staff are gearing up for the spring semester…

In my role as the Director of Enrollment, I have the privilege of helping prospective students learn about Simpson College and assisting with them throughout the admissions process. I enjoy getting to know them and hearing the reasons people make the decision to either start or continue their educational journey. We call this our students’ “Why”.

Your “Why” comes in many variations: seeking career promotions, the desire to graduate from college before your children do, after experiencing a major life event such as marriage, a move or new job, or simply finishing to conquer a personal goal.  Whatever your “Why” is, acknowledge it, remember it, write it down and reflect on it from time to time. As life happens and the balancing act of college, school, work, family gets to be too much, school will most likely be the first to go. When you are able to take a breath of relief, take that moment to remember your “Why”. It’s what motivated you to return to college…let it motivate you to finish your degree.

Wishing you a safe and wonderful holiday season,

Katie Princehouse

Student Life in London: Is It Really That Different?

After living in London for a few weeks, I’ve realized that my notion of the people was completely wrong. From my study of the culture before arriving, I generally thought that people would be pretty quiet and keep to themselves. English culture values privacy. So naturally, that is what I expected. And I suppose there is some degree of privacy, but things are a lot different in the university setting.

When I actually met my UK flat mates for the first time, I was kind of scared. I was an outsider, coming from a country and state were people are pretty darn friendly. I guess I wasn’t worried that people wouldn’t be friendly; I just honestly didn’t know what to expect. But now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure a lot of what I was reading wasn’t talking about students at university. I guess I judged things too soon.

To my surprise, the students here are similar to students in the United States.  Really one of the only differences I have found between our cultures is some of the language. I was prepared for dealing with the privacy of their culture, but I wasn’t as prepared for the language. They speak English, so I didn’t really think there would be a whole lot of differences in language. I mean, what could be that different if it is the same language? I forgot to consider the use of everyday sayings though.

I remember being at the Fresher’s Fair the first week. That’s like Roehampton’s equivalent of the student activities fair. At one of the booths they were doing a raffle for washing up. It was the Christian Union booth, so at first I thought it meant feet washing or something. But when I asked, which probably made me sound like an idiot, I found out that what they refer to as washing up in the UK is what we call doing the dishes in the US. It’s a subtle difference, but one that really confused me at first.

There are a lot of things that are different at university in the United Kingdom. Just look at some of Kate and my previous posts. The students though? If it weren’t for the accents and the lack of people wearing sweats everywhere (or trackies as they are called here), I’d probably forget I wasn’t in the states.

Maddie Besack awarded BBB Grant

Madelyne (Maddie) Besack was awarded a Beta Beta Beta Research Grant for her project “Characterization of Wnt Pathway Disruption on Axis Patterning in Nematostella vectensis”. Beta Beta Beta, the National Biological Honor Society, recognizes projects from select undergraduate student members of the honor society on the basis of a research proposal reviewed by regional directors.

Maddie and her research partner, John Greaves are continuing their work on this exciting line of investigation in a novel model organism, Nematostella vectensis, the starlet sea anemone. This simple organism holds a unique branch point on the tree of life and may hold keys to understanding the molecular regulation of traits shared with more complex animals, including humans. This project aims to further characterize the cellular events that regulate axis formation in this organism and to better understand how intracellular signaling molecules in the Wnt pathway, when disrupted by pharmacological agents, alter morphogenesis in these organisms. This team’s preliminary data show severe disruption of axis specification and in some cases we observed duplication of the axis with dramatic consequences for the embryos.

This project has also been supported by a Better FUTURES for Iowans grant from the University of Iowa for undergraduate research, and the Iowa Science Foundation (J. Brittingham).

Other recent Beta Beta Beta Research Grant award recipients from Simpson College include John Greaves (2012-2013) and Allison Boardman (2008-2009).

Finding success in Emerge@Simpson

Abby Miller is a senior double majoring in management and music.  This semester, she is taking the Senior Management Seminar with Professor Bob DeGraaff and has gotten involved with the Emerge@Simpson business incubator.  Abby is working on a project new this semester called Modern Dickens.Modern Dickens logo

Modern Dickens has been a collaboration of Emerge@Simpson Director, Chris Draper, the Iowa Arts Council and Des Moines Social Club.  Thus far, the project has seen two serial novels to completion with e-books published in 2011 and 2013.  Moving into a project of the incubator, a team of students is determining feasibility, setting long-term goals and handling the hands-on marketing and promotion of the project and eventually the 3rd book.

Students in the Senior Management Seminar had a choice of projects on which they would like to work.  After some deliberation, Abby chose the Modern Dickens project because of her creative interests and the similarities between a marketing a written work and her future goal of owning a recording studio.

Simpson-College-Press LogoIn collaboration with her team members and the Simpson College Department of English, Abby has developed Simpson College Press, attracted writers to submit their work for chapters 1 and 2 of the newest book, and worked on long-term planning goals.

Emerge@Simpson provides students with the opportunity to get hands-on experience with start-up businesses, moving the businesses in new directions, developing goals, performing analysis of objectives and more.  The students involved with the projects will get a stake in any future profitable ventures that come out of their work.

Any budding authors interested in submitting work to be considered should go to www.moderndickens.org

Undergraduate Research: Radio Frequencies, Parties, and Roads

You are invited to attend the annual Watson Lecture on November 6, 2013 from 1:00-2:00pm in Hubbell Hall.  The year the talk will be given by Debra Czarneski, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Simpson College and the Director of Undergraduate Research.

Deb will be talking about her experiences advising summer undergraduate research in mathematics at Simpson College.  Her talk will describe past projects, the benefits of undergraduate research for students, faculty and institutions, and her vision of summer undergraduate research at Simpson College.

This event is part of the First Wednesday series of campus-wide convocations.

Simpson Student Media attends 92nd Annual ACP/CMA National College Media Convention

Seven students traveled to New Orleans, La. last weekend to soak in all things journalism.

Hoda Kotb

Hoda Kotb speaks to audience.

Sponsored by Associated Collegiate Press and College Media Association, the National College Media Convention has more than 360 educational sessions based on media studies. Keynote speakers included Dateline NBC correspondent Hoda Kotb and The New Orleans Times-Picayune photojournalist Ted Jackson.

Simpson Student Media’s leaders fell in love with the sights, sounds, beauty and culture of New Orleans. More importantly, though, they brought back lessons to implement into The Simpsonian, KSTM-FM radio and I.D. Magazine.

“I took away lots of valuable information and tips relating to every aspect of student media, from writing and design to internships and portfolios,” she said. Junior multimedia journalism major Megan Quick said when presented with the opportunity to attend, she knew she had to immediately take advantage of this conference.

Quick is currently the director for I.D. Magazine and was able to attend sessions pertaining to magazine design and content.

Critiques, workshops and trade shows also provided students chances to review their media outlets. The Simpsonian was able to receive critiques from media professionals and other collegiate advisers. Students also had a chance to keep up with all sessions through live-tweeting under the the hashtag: #collegemedia13.

Some takeaways are:


For senior integrated marketing communications Julia Warfield, the conference was an opportunity to not only hear from media professionals, but also other students in her shoes. Warfield serves as The Simpsonian’s 2013-14 editor-in-chief.

“I chose to go on this trip because I think it is a great way to network and get ideas from other student journalists,” she said. “Also, the presenters are extremely talented and a great resource for networking after college.”

After attending the conference, Warfield came back to Simpson College with a realization about the industry. In a world with breaking news and a constant sense of urgency, sometimes people forget what matters, she said.

“The biggest thing I took away from this trip was that journalists need to take a step back and remember they are a person before they are a journalist,” she said. “You need to take time to get to know your subjects as a person. Don’t be so focused on getting the story right away.”

Mary Beth TinkerStudents had a chance to meet American free speech activist Mary Beth Tinker. Tinker is famous for her role in the 1969 Tinker vs. Des Moines Supreme Court case, where the Court ruled that the First Amendment applied to speech in public schools.

Tinker is currently participating in the Tinker Tour, a special project of the Student Press Law Center.

Senior Sarina Rhinehart is currently pursuing studies in integrated marketing communications and political science. She serves as Simpson Student Media’s director of marketing and the conference provided her with ideas on how other newspapers and media outlets market their brand.

“I went on this trip expecting to get some great ideas from other schools that we could implement into The Simpsonian,” she said.

She did just that. She attended sessions about eye-catching column ideas, potential news ideas and advertising strategies for college newspapers.

Rhinehart said the conference taught her a valuable lesson about Simpson College and the success students can have at this college.

“The biggest thing I took away from this trip was the Simpson Student Media really can compete with state schools,” she said. “When comparing our product to theirs, we are doing an amazing job here at Simpson.”

And not only did students learn how to market Simpson Student Media’s brand, they also came home with ideas on how to build their own brand. Communications is competitive, but with strong portfolios, resumes and online profiles, students can come out on top.

“I learned how to use my strengths when trying to get a job and learned about how crucial an e-portfolio is,” senior Renee Castenson said.

During free time, students and advisers from across the nation were able to try different cuisines and partake in New Orleans festivities. Simpson Student Media’s adviser, Mark Siebert, provided students with ideas on what to take advantage of, such as the Halloween parade and popular restaurants.

Students came back from the conference feeling even more fired up about journalism and media studies. With a little more than halfway to go for the semester, the staff is working hard to strengthen Simpson Student Media in print, web, video and radio.

Math Club Pumpkin Display

Last night, several members of the Math Club carved pumpkins at our monthly meeting.  The pumpkins are now on display outside Carver Science.

London Has a Way with Food

I’m going to dispel an American myth about the food in England. Right now. To be honest, it’s not as bad as everyone says. I was prepared to experience the worst, but I really haven’t found anything that is especially bad. It’s definitely different than American food, but that comes with the territory. In fact, they have a lot of good dishes here: fish n’ chips, beans on toast, shepherd’s pie, and pork pie to name a few.

Catching a bite to eat at a great Chinese place.

Catching a bite to eat at a great Chinese place in Chinatown.

With the diversity of the city, there are also loads of international cuisines. And when you have the chance to taste authentic Indian or Ethiopian food, you kind of have to try it to find out what you’ve been missing.

The best place to get your international food fix? You’ll definitely find it at one of London’s markets. In my opinion, that’s the best place to get it. For one, it’s cheaper than going to a restaurant (believe me). At the markets, though, you can usually find some pretty awesome street music as well.

Don’t fret if you need to get your American food fix. You can find a taste of home on just about every street corner. There are McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC restaurants pretty much everywhere. I suppose that comes in handy if you’re a picky eater, too. But where’s the fun in that?

Part of any study abroad experience is trying new things. So naturally, trying some new types of foods made it to the top of my list. And it’s amazing to have the opportunity to try so many different types of food. I’ll be honest; I’ve never been very adventurous with food. But hey, I’ve been learning to adapt to a completely different culture. I think I can handle some new foods in my life.