Keeping the Pianos in Tune

Small town Tennant Iowa gave Team Simpson riders an opportunity to catch up with Rob Espenscheid. Rob travels to Simpson College’s music department once a week to tune the pianos. Rob was marketing his new novel. Thanks for keeping us on the right note Rob!


In Tune

Simpson Success Story – Parents Who Couldn’t be Happier

I stopped at a gas station outside Shelby for a chance to escape the heat and find a cold drink. Proudly “flaunting” my red and gold Simpson College bike jersey, a nice couple asked “do you work at the college”? Steve and Lori Murga introduced themselves as proud parents of alumni Ben ’10 and Lucas ’13. Ben is currently employed as a web designer and Lucas a very recent grad, is employed in a biology research lab. Both enjoying successes in their respective fields with a Simpson education. “As parents, we couldn’t be happier with their Simpson education and where they are now” said Lori.

You never know when you will connect with members of the Simpson College community and hear how great our alumni are doing. So happy that I was wearing a Simpson College bike jersey.


Happy Parents



Making New Friends

Team Simpson riders Chad and Teresa Layland get acquainted with the locals in Underwood, IA. Think we can recruit him for the incoming class of 2017?



Summer Research at Michigan State University

I was given the opportunity to do research in biostatistics this summer at Michigan State University. My team worked on identifying protein-protein interactions (PPI) between membrane proteins of the plant, Arabidopsis thaliana. The biologists who conducted the experiment used a mating-based Split Ubiquitin System (mbSUS) to investigate interactions between proteins by utilizing yeast as a heterologous system. We developed a mixed model to improve the modeling of yeast growth, which provides a more accurate detection of the PPI since it can be observed through the fluorescence scores. The model was applied to detect interactions between thousands of Arabidopsis membrane proteins. This summer research has been a wonderful and worthwhile experience.

~Sarah Jermeland

Getting to Know: Aaron Young ’14

Aaron transferred to Simpson last year and has been working hard to make up for lost time!

I’m studying Integrated Marketing Communications with a creative emphasis. Some classes that I have enjoyed in particular are definitely the ones I took with Professor Brian Steffen. He makes every single thing that much more interesting and he goes the extra mile to see students excel. He personally has helped me hone my writing skills during our coaching sessions for my practicum class.

As far as for extracurricular activities, besides playing baseball for the Storm, I am a part of the Simpson Student Media. Last year, I served as a sports reporter for the school newspaper, The Simpsonian. Being a part of the paper really showed me that this could be something I could enjoy doing; meeting people, writing about their life and presenting it to the public. I never really grasped what potential I could have until I won those two, first-place awards at the 2013 Iowa College Media Association convention for Best Sports Story and Best Sports Feature Story. That really sealed the deal on me wanting to work within this field. I was fortunate enough to get elected as Director of Sports Content for Simpson Student Media, and I am definitely eager to get things rolling this year. I’ll have big shoes to fill with Zach James graduating, but it is definitely going to be a lot of fun. I’ve also helped out as a student assistant to Athletic Communications Director Bryan Geelan since I stepped on campus.

Aaron has a unique internship this summer with Midwest Cage Championship, the largest Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) company in Iowa.  MCC hosts events at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines and their featured fighters have gone on to greatness in the UFC.  We’ll let Aaron tell you more about his internship:

I currently am a Staff Writer/Media Relations Intern with Midwest Cage Championship, a cage-fighting promotion in Des Moines.  I got involved with MCC through a personal connection to the co-owner, John Halverson, and his wife.  They have followed bit-by-bit of my work with The Simpsonian and thought I could really contribute with the promotion. I went to one of the shows last January, and boy, seeing someone get their head pounded live rather than on television is something else! I was so amped up after watching the fights that I totally wanted to get involved and see where this goes. 

To get everything started, I had to do research on my own to get a much better knowledge with the sport. MMA was a sport that was definitely overlooked by me personally as I typically follow baseball, basketball and football. I spent hour-after-hour reading MMA articles, watching YouTube clips and learning the jargon. Once I got the feel for things, I was ready to go and went right to work.

My primary duties include covering all of the fighters on our card. We typically hold 12 fights at our events, so 24 fighters each event. I’ve reached out to each one of them for interviews, then with whatever is suiting, write preview stories, feature spotlights and event previews. I also interview our fighters on-camera live at our public weigh-ins and for post-fight interviews after their fights. Along with controlling most of the digital content produced, I’ve helped out with marketing efforts via social media and have shadowed what John and my other boss, MCC co-founder and match maker Ryan Hass, do day-in and day-out.

I’ve had this internship since March and have enjoyed every second of it. I’ve met a ton of great people throughout this internship and have gained valuable experience and good networking from it. I plan on staying with MCC once my internship credit is up. Simpson has definitely prepared me for work after college, so I am confident for what my senior year brings and what I end up doing after college.


Thanks Aaron!  We’ll be looking for your work in The Simpsonian in the fall and your continued hand in the promotion of MCC!

Prairie Restoration

This summer, we are funded through an MAA NREUP grant, an MAA activity funded by NSA (grant H98230-13-1-0270) and NSF (grant DMS-1156582). We have two projects involving prairie restoration.   Our first objective is to mathematically model the change of land from prairie to agriculture to restored prairie in the Midwest. We are using a modified version of an SIR model, which is typically used to describe the spread of diseases.

In addition to our model, we have done statistical analysis on data collected from a restored prairie in Nebraska. Summer researchers in the biology department collected this data in June of 2012. Data collected includes the richness and diversity of plant species on the prairie as well as the richness and diversity of ground-dwelling invertebrates. One of our goals is to see whether higher plant diversity attracts higher insect diversity.

Our conclusions from this summer project could influence modeling of other ecological systems as well as encourage more national prairie restoration.

~Hannah Longstreet, Tony Saucedo, Lauren Tirado, Demetre Van Arsdale

Getting to Know: Professor Marilyn Mueller

After a vacation in the southwest, Professor Mueller is back in Indianola for the summer; she took some time to chat with us about her background.

What is your field of study and Teaching?

Management and Law

Do you have any areas of specialization that fall into this field?

Law, Strategy and Entrepreneurship

What classes do you teach?

Business Law, Business Ethics I and II, Small Business Management, Organization and Behavior and the Senior Seminar in Strategy Capstone for the Management Major

What can you tell us about your family?

My spouse Bob, I and “Lexi the Wonderdog” live in rural Dallas County.  Our kids (Cullen, Evan, Ben and Julie) are grown and on their own! 

What else should we know about you?

My background is in both law and business.  I have been lucky to have had a variety of interesting and challenging jobs throughout my career – including spending three years working in the State Capitol Building in law and government, working at a large law firm in the corporate, property and tax division,  being part of a legal aid office and being of counsel with a solo practitioner.    My passions involve small business and entrepreneurship.  I love to do anything I can to help small business owners and entrepreneurs grow and develop their businesses while showing my students business ownership and entrepreneurship as a career path for them.  Some of my travels have taken me to into entrepreneurial communities abroad – including Nicaragua, China and India. 

On campus I love working with Enactus Regional and Simpson Outstanding Organization Trophiesstudents in my classes, internships and student organizations.  Enactus is one of the student organizations I help advise (  and Emerge@Simpson is one of the areas where my students intern on campus in an intensely entrepreneurial environment.   

I am a proud “Cheese Head” from Wisconsin, grew up working in our family’s business (dairy farm) and root for the Packers! 

Emerge @ Simpson in the News

Silicon Prairie News writer, Megan Bannister, has again featured the business incubator collaboration project at Simpson College in a new article, “Draper, Simpson College incubator tackle building a Hudl for rugby.”


The Department of Business Administration and Economics has students working on these business start-up projects all summer long.  PlayTagger is one project that a number of students are engaged with right now.

For more information about Emerge @ Simpson, contact Chris Draper


Sabermetrics, which is the mathematical and statistical study of baseball, is the topic our research team is focusing on this summer. Our background on Sabermetrics is based on a paper titled An Introduction to Sabermetrics by Jim Albert. The Bryan Summer Research Program funds the research we are conducting. Our project has two parts: creating a model to predict the 2013 All Star Team, and to use math to predict the formulas that ESPN uses to assign values to different baseball players.

The first part of our research will take place from the beginning of the program (June 10th) through the conclusion of the All Star voting (July 4th). To create the most accurate model we are using all of the data from the 2012 season prior to the All Star Break. It is beneficial for us to base our model off of the 2012 game because we actually know which players made the team, and which players did not. Once we create a model that accurately predicts the results from the 2012 game, we will then gather information from the 2013 season and plug it into our model. This hopefully will result in the correct selection of the 2013 All Star roster.

The second part of our research is focusing on finding formulas that ESPN uses to assign values to players. There are many different online fantasy baseball leagues and games. Our research team all has entered into an ESPN online program called “Baseball Challenge”. The goal of this game is to create a MLB team with only $50 to spend. Each player is assigned a monetary value that then allows the user to pick the best team within the budget. We want to use our data to predict how ESPN assigns the monetary value to each player.

With our research we are not coming up with a cure for cancer or creating world peace, but we are stepping into the world of Data Mining. Men and women across the country use Data Mining in all different fields to analyze the success of a job, the possible outcome of a business change, or the actual cost of an interest rate. By researching with baseball data we are preparing ourselves for the real world of applied mathematics.

-Katie Westlund, Nick Yaeger, and Ruth Ann Roberts