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

Devun Miller: DuPont Pioneer

Devun Miller

Business Management – 2013

International Documentation Intern – DuPont Pioneer

DuPont Pioneer is a business dedicated to farmers, livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors.

How has Simpson College’s classes and professors prepared him for his internship experience?

“The biggest class for me coming into my internship that helped me with my experience was CIS145. CIS145 provided me with a lot of background knowledge with Microsoft Office. At my internship, I use Microsoft Excel, Word and Access pretty regularly. These programs help me stay organized with everything I do with DuPont Pioneer. I put a lot of data used for tracking different shipments with different countries into both Microsoft Access and Microsoft Excel. I also use these programs to analyze ways to become more efficient. As far as relationships with professors, I would say Simpson College’s professors have helped me become more professional with my internship. It always helps when you can go to specific professors and talk to them about your internship and get valuable feedback about some questions or advice you may need.”

What strengths did he gain within the position?

“There is so much I have taken away from this internship, and it has all come from getting experience in the work field. Going in, I was very new and inexperienced at everything I did with DuPont Pioneer’s distribution department. I had limited knowledge on international business and specific countries, but that has definitely increased as I have dealt with numerous ocean shipments (both seed and non-seed) to specific countries worldwide. I have learned how to communicate more specifically, especially through emails to other countries. You learn fast about how it can be difficult at times to express what the problem is at your end. You also learn fast about how to get the recipient to understand what point you’re trying to get across. I have also learned a great deal about both the agricultural and international business fields. There is always so much going on, and you have to consistently be a lifetime learner. You always need to be updated on current issues. Along with gaining experience at my internship, I have met some great people at DuPont Pioneer. I have had the chance to network with them and go out to formal business dinners with partners of the departments. They have really taught me a lot and make me feel right at home. I never hesitate to ask questions because they are always willing to lend me a hand.”

How did he find out about this internship?

“I obtained this internship in August 2012. I received an email about it from Simpson College Career Services. Since I had previously worked for DuPont Pioneer for the last 8 summers detasseling, I thought this opportunity would be great for me. I already had my foot in the door. I ended up getting an interview, and after passing a drug test, they hired me within a week or two. Career Services (Bobbi Meyer and Professor Marilyn Mueller) have helped me prepare my resume with my current job duties and broadening my experiences with this internship as well.”

What is Miller’s advice for students?

“I would recommend that students get involved with as many different experiences as possible for your resume. You want to have a diverse portfolio, and that comes with activities and internships that you get involved with during school. Also, before applying for an internship, make sure you know exactly what the company does. Do some research. You always want to make sure you are getting involved with something that will help you in the long run. Lastly, I would just say make as many professional relationships as possible, whether it be in an internship or groups that you may be involved with. It is all about you know now, and when looking for a job, it is always good to have your foot in the door somewhere because of someone you know. I know that has come in handy for me with a few job offers I have already received.”



Getting to Know: Ryan Rohlf ’14

Ryan has been an active member of the Simpson College community from the start of his time here in 2010.  Ryan chatted with us earlier this week about his current project – an internship with the Des Moines Arts Festival®.


So Ryan, what are you doing this summer?

Since the beginning of May, I’ve been working for the Des Moines Arts Festival®. Our offices are located in the Greater Des Moines Partnership building. It’s been a blast, and I can’t believe the Festival is almost here.  The Festival is June 28-30-I’d love to see Simpson students and alums out in force! 


Any particular projects you’ve been working on?

One of the big projects I’ve worked on was making the program for the Festival.  We finished the major work last weekend, and it was sent to print on Tuesday. My task was working on the layout and design for the program.  That’s one of the best things about working for a non-profit – I get to do work of real value that I can add to my portfolio.


What are you involved in on campus?

I’ve completed a few internships during my time at Simpson.  In the spring, I interned with  Simpson’s Department of Marketing and Public Relations.  That experience was another one where I had the opportunity to create some lasting materials for my portfolio.  I’ve also interned at a corporate training firm where I developed layout designs for their training materials.Relgious Life Community

On campus I’m involved with the Public Relations Student Society of America, the Student Alumni Association and the Religious Life Community.  I’ve been able to use the graphic design and communication skills I’ve learned to help these groups as well.


You’re going to be a senior in the fall, anything fun on the horizon?

I’m headed to London in September with Professor Brian Steffen and some other amazing students.  We’ll be taking classes at the University of Roehampton in addition to the two with Professor Steffen.  I’m excited to learn more about British culture through coursework and the folks I’ll be living with in the dorms. I will be focusing on learning more about British Advertising Culture.

When I get back in the spring, I’ll take the final courses for my majors in Integrated Marketing Communications and Marketing and begin looking for a full-time position after graduation.  I’m hoping to get a position at a local advertising agency or television network in account management.  The experiences I’ve had through my coursework and internships through Simpson have augmented my portfolio and given me great preparation, so I’m hopeful!


Thanks Ryan!  Good luck at the Arts Festival!

Thanks. I’d like to leave a few last words if I could: When I came to Simpson, I thought I’d have maybe one internship, after my junior year. Needless to say, because of our AWESOME faculty and staff, my plans changed. I got really serious about professional development and preparing myself to land a job after graduation. I would have never DREAMED of having all the amazing opportunities I have had if it wasn’t for Simpson.

Simpson College changed my life. It taught me to dream big, work hard and be all I can be. I’m so thankful I chose Simpson!! 

Getting to Know: Mike Prindle, Assistant Professor of Accounting

Simpson College has a very strong program in accounting that prepares students for the CPA exams and successful professional futures.  Professor Prindle is another one of our faculty who make that possible.

What is your field of study and Teaching?

Accounting and Finance

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

Financial Statement Analysis

What classes do you teach?

Principles of Accounting, Advanced Accounting, Governmental Accounting, Accounting Information Systems, Corporate Finance

Have you taught any May Terms in your time at Simpson?

I haven’t yet, but I’m looking at the development of a course in financial statement analysis

What can you tell us about your family?

 I have a wife, Maureen, son Jason, daughter Jennifer, a Boston Terrier named Lilly and 2 grandchildren.  I’m incredibly proud of my kids and what they’ve accomplished!

What else should we know about you?

I want my students to become successful members of society with lucrative and enjoyable careers and great personal lives.

I spend time watching documentaries on TV, and I would love to be able to finger-pick guitar like Gordon Lightfoot or James Taylor. I’d also like to have their ability to write songs and collect royalties like they do – then I could retire.  Until that miracle happens, I’m happy to work with Simpson students!

Determining Critical Locations in Indianola, IA

We are members of the Bryan Summer Research Program. This program has been funded by Simpson alums Dr. Albert and Greta Bryan. Specifically, we are working with Dr. Deb Czarneski on identifying critical locations in a city. Our research is based on the work of Urska Demsar, Olga Spatenkova and Kirsi Virrantaus in their paper, Identifying Critical Locations in a Spatial Network with Graph Theory. These researchers worked to find critical locations in the city of Helsinki, Finland. We plan to implement some of their methods in the map of Indianola.

Critical locations are defined as areas in infrastructure that are important to the navigation of a city. Once these locations are removed, the navigation of the city is disrupted. For example, if a bridge over a river was removed, it would be more difficult and perhaps impossible to navigate across the river. We will be using graph theory to determine these critical locations. Graph theory is the study of the relationships between objects in a given problem. Often, vertices represent these objects and edges correspond to the relationships between them. In our application, the vertices represent road segments and the edges represent intersections between these road segments.

Through computer programming, we are working to implement algorithms that calculate the importance of given vertices. We plan to use cut vertices and the centrality measure of betweenness to determine their individual importance. Our research can be used to prepare for acts of terrorism or natural disasters. It also allows for efficient repair of the navigation of a city.

~Casey Croson, Louis Joslyn, and Sara Reed

Link to Team Simpson

Like a well-oiled chain the days almost silently tick by, each revolution of our pedals brings us one day closer to RAGBRAI XLI. In 29 days (or about 4 short weeks) we will begin our two-wheel trek across Iowa together. Thanks to the hard work of Chris Goodale, Aaron Page, Erin Herren and Bob Lane – just four of the links in a chain that will make sure your personal efforts will continue to propel you forward – most of the organizing details are done. While we focus on things like gathering the needed snacks and beverages, your pre-RAGBRAI focus should be seat time on the bike and preparing and packing your gear.

This past weekend, my husband and I biked to Perry using the new bike trail on a training ride. I couldn’t help but marvel at the number of cycling friends we came across quite unexpectedly. After two friends spontaneously joined us for the entire return trip home it dawned on me that other riders might benefit from connecting with other cycling enthusiasts. While we don’t expect to try and coordinate a specific event like a team training ride we will provide this blog as a way to ‘link’ our team virtually before the start of RAGBRAI. Anyone is welcome – encouraged, in fact – to post your training ride, ask a biking question or even just share a funny biking story. Think of a post as a link in a chain – with each virtual link we’ll make the chain that is Team Simpson. Our rider list and their home towns are listed on the Team Simpson web site. As you can see we not only have riders in the numerous communities close to campus but Team Simpson also has riders from many states across the country.

Whether your chain is already slicked down with a state-of-the-art synthetic or slightly rusty from a lack of use I encourage you to check out our packing list to help you prepare. I have found RAGBRAI’s training blog to be helpful and their 15 week training plan to be an informative benchmark by which to judge your own training. RAGBRAI’s main blog always has new information, including daily posts on recent route inspection rides. The BikeIowa web site is a great place to find local rides and cycling news. The Des Moines bike collective publishes a weekly ride list that some Team Simpson members may be able to join and they also publish a comprehensive listing of central Iowa bike trail maps as well.

Do you have a ‘link’ that’s been particularly helpful? Share it. Need more information or concerned about a particular detail? Don’t be afraid to ask. Hopefully we’ll continue to add links to the Team Simpson chain. After all, it’s hard to get anywhere on a bike without a chain. Be safe on your training rides and keep the rubber on the road.