Saint Mary’s College announced Saturday that first year student Elizabeth “Lizzy” Seeberg died suddenly Friday afternoon. Seeberg was 19 years old and came from Northbrook, Ill. She was an intended nursing major. A memorial will be held at 5 p.m. tomorrow in Regina Hall Chapel for students and faculty. There is also counseling available to students at 6 p.m. today in the McCandless Hall Chapel.
This semester, the Office of Sustainability is recharging its annual Energy Competition and renewing initiatives to make campus even “greener.” Beginning Feb. 4, the Office will sponsor “Mega-Watt Madness,” a three-week energy conservation competition that will pit dorms against each other in three separate events, education and outreach program manager Rachel Novick said. “This competition has better odds, because each week is a new chance to win,” she said. “At the end of the three weeks, the dorms get to choose the prizes based on how many times they’ve won.” Myles Robertson, intern and program coordinator in the Office, said the Office also altered the structure of this competition from previous contests to accommodate each dorm’s unique characteristics. “Each dorm will be matched up with a dorm similar to themselves, such as being built around the same time, and having similar heating or cooling systems,” Robertson said. “This reshaping of the competition also means that dorms who get behind will not get discouraged and that people will be more inclined to participate.” Linda Kurtos, director of sustainability, said the Office will jump-start RecycleMania on Feb. 3, joining a national movement toward campus sustainability. “RecycleMania is a competition where colleges and universities around the country compete to recycle the most and to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills,” Kurtos said. The Office will also continue programs that have been successful in the past, such as the Green Discovery program, which Kurtos said strives to make labs on campus greener and is “going really well.” “We are currently working with 49 percent of the labs in the College of Science, and we are just starting with the College of Engineering,” she said. Kurtos said the Office of Sustainability uses a Green Loan Fund to make the initial payments for newer and more efficient equipment. As a lab saves money due to reductions in energy use, it pays the loan back, she said. Novick said the Office hopes to continue this program and impact all labs at the University. “We do audits in the labs almost every week, and we are hoping to reach all of the labs on campus,” she said. “We will probably have reached all of them in another year.” The Office also utilizes “Green Commissioners,” which are students who help raise sustainability awareness in their respective dorms, Robertson said. “These commissioners meet monthly to talk about upcoming events, and provide feedback on our programs around campus, which is why we are reshaping the dorm energy competition this semester,” he said. Kurtos said the Office is continually finding different ways to reduce waste and increase awareness of its programs. “Our goal is to see which of our continuing processes are working the best for us and to look for some new ideas on how to get where we should be going,” she said. “We keep trying to find ways to keep people interested in sustainability.” Robertson said campus-wide participation and enthusiasm are key to making the campus more sustainable and encouraged students to share their ideas with the Office. “Participate and bring ideas. We are always open to how you see sustainability at the University,” he said. “More than anything, keep the hype up.”
Tags: bellacappella, collegiate choir, nancy menk, SMC choir, SMC women’s choir, spring choral concert The Saint Mary’s College Women’s Choir, Collegiate Choir and Bellacappella will perform in the Spring Choral Concert Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m. in Little Theater. The groups have been working on music throughout the semester and will be presenting a compilation of their works, Nancy Menk, chair of the College’s music department, said.The Collegiate Choir will sing pieces such as Telfer’s “The Source of the Waters,” and the Women’s Choir will perform works such as Raminsh’s “In the Beginning,” Menk said. There is no overall theme for the concert, senior Catherine Cook said.“It is just full of great music that covers a wide variety of interests,” Cook said, “Selections from the concert include a jazzy version of ’My Favorite Things’ by the Collegiate Choir, ’Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,’ ’The Village’ (a contemporary Korean folk song) and ‘Ave Maria’ performed by Women’s Choir.One song the audience will recognize is “Eatnemen Vuelie” by Frode Fjellheim, which was featured in the movie Frozen, Cook said.This final concert will be a bittersweet experience, she said.“So much of my Saint Mary’s experience has revolved around Women’s Choir and the girls I sing with,” Cook said, “I always look forward to performing with my peers and being able to showcase all the hard work we put in during rehearsals.“From funny moments in practice, to sight-seeing on tours, to bringing ourselves to tears over our performances, we become a big family with Dr. Menk as our mom. It will be difficult to leave this behind,” she said.Freshman Women’s Choir member Jaclyn Schramm said the atmosphere of this concert will be different since it is the seniors’ final performance. She is excited to sing Langager’s “Irish Blessing,” and she said she thinks students should attend in order to de-stress and support their classmates.“[The concert] is a good way to relieve stress before finals, and it’s really good music,” Schramm said. “I am definitely excited for this concert. We’ve been working on some really hard pieces and I can’t wait to hear how they turn out.”Admission is free for Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and Holy Cross students. More information about the event can be found at saintmarys.edu/tickets or by calling the Moreau box office at (574) 284-4626.
John T. McGreevy, dean of the College of Arts and Letters and professor of history, presented the Cushwa Center Lecture as part of a yearlong celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Fr. Edward Sorin, founder of the University.The lecture, titled “The Jesuits, Father Sorin, and the 19th-Century Catholic Revival,” focused on the Jesuit order, who McGreevy said are oddly contemporary in their focus on internationalism.McGreevy said one of the impressive aspects of the Jesuits is their development of a Catholic community more attuned to the reverberations of global Catholicism than seemed imaginable in 1816.Jesuits came from Europe to the United States for two reasons, McGreevy said. Jesuits followed the Catholic tide of emigrants who left Europe between 1820 and 1900, as more than half of the 60 million people were Catholics.Another reason McGreevy said Jesuits came to the United States was because they were kicked out of 22 European and Latin American countries between 1840 and 1900.When the Jesuits came to America, they carried the books, journals, devotional pamphlets, chalices, rosaries and holy water from a European Catholic world in crisis and translated them into an American idiom, McGreevy said.McGreevy used the example of Fr. John Bapst, a Jesuit priest in Maine, to describe the range of missionary work in the United States during the 19th century.“One way Bapst is part of the 19th century revival is [through his] devotional culture. A second way is education. A key component to the 19th century Catholic Revival is a focus on Catholic education and more broadly Catholic institutions,” McGreevy said.Bapst started his own Catholic school after he lost his case protesting the use of the King James Bible in public school, he said.“There are almost eerie similarities between Bapst’s story and that of Notre Dame’s founding president Reverend Edward Sorin,” McGreevy said. “Like Bapst, Sorin was marinated in Catholic devotional culture, [which was] just reaching full pitch.”McGreevy said Jesuit globalism has a history that peaked in the 19th century, declined and then re-emerged again in the Second Vatican Council.“Their orientation to the world, their linguistic curiosity, … now seems oddly contemporary,” McGreevy said.“While it is uncertain how this new era of Catholic globalization is going to work, the Catholic connections and communities now being forged by text messages and Skype necessarily follow the paths that were laid by Bapst and Sorin,” he said. Tags: Cushwa Center, Fr. Sorin, Jesuit
Beginning 5 p.m. Tuesday and lasting until the same time on Wednesday, units from the Notre Dame Airforce, Navy and Army ROTC will commemorate Veterans Day by standing vigil at the Clarke Memorial Fountain, known colloquially as “Stonehenge,” according to a University press release.“Cadets and midshipmen from the three ROTC units will stand guard at each of the fountain’s four corners from 5 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 10) until the Veterans Day ceremony at 5 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 11),” the release stated.The release stated the 24-hour vigil is a traditional event, held by Notre Dame ROTC units each year on Veterans Day — the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I.“Veterans Day is celebrated every year on Nov. 11 to commemorate the armistice signed at Compiègne, France, that ended World War I on that day in 1918,” the release stated. “The guns fell silent at 11 that morning, ‘eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’ of the year.“Traditionally, two consecutive minutes of silence were observed at 11 a.m. local time in memory of some 20 million people who died in the war, and of those who survived them.”According to the press release, the ceremony following the vigil will last 30 minutes and will include an address to the entire corps by Notre Dame class of 1966 alumnus and veteran James W. Wagenbach.“The public is invited to pay their respects during the vigil and to attend the ceremony, which will be standing room only,” the release stated.Tags: 24-hour vigil, ROTC, Veterans Day, World War 1
After the recent discovery in Washington, D.C. of mosquitoes capable of carrying and transmitting the Zika virus, worry over the disease — which can lead to severe birth defects — possibly spreading across the continental United States has grown. According to David Severson, a professor in the department of biological sciences, this panic over is not grounded in the reality of the situation.Severson said his primary research areas include entomology, evolutionary biology, genetics and genomics and infectious and vector-born diseases. Though Severson does not work directly with the Zika virus, he has studied the mosquitoes that transmit the virus.“People’s paranoia about Zika, in some ways is overdone. Some of these other viruses are much more of a threat when you go to these places,” Severson said.Those more threatening viruses include the dengue virus and yellow fever virus, both of which are of the Flaviviridae family along with the Zika virus. Additionally, the chikungunya virus, though of a different family, is carried through the same type of mosquito. All four related viruses are found in the “new world tropics,” Severson said, though none of the viruses are endemic, but rather were brought over from Africa and southeast Asia during colonialism.“We’re in a global society,” Severson said, “In most cases, with all four viruses, you may never realize you’re infected. So … the virus is circulating in your system, but you either hardly get sick at all, or you might feel like you have a slight cold, something like that.”Severson also said despite the recent discovery of mosquitoes that are capable of carrying the Zika virus in Washington, D.C., “there’s little transmission in the continental U.S., although there is certainly potential for transmission.”“As far as we know, there is no virus, there has been no active transmission in the Washington, D.C. area,” Severson said, “But it’s at least five years that that population has been there … so if you have active breeding during the summer, and you have someone come in from Brazil that lives in that neighborhood, you have the potential for a short term, seasonal outbreak of these viruses.“We have had dengue virus endemic transmission in southern Florida for probably the last three or four years, probably a little longer,” Severson said, “So we certainly have the potential for this coming in to the southern warmer areas around the east coast, then around the gulf and then along the Texas-Arizona-California-Mexican border.”If the Zika virus were to be transmitted widely across the United States, Severson said, “it probably won’t be as severe” as in Central and South America.“In the U.S. we have different standards of living: we tend to like air conditioning, we like screens on our windows, so we have everything closed up,” Severson said. “So we have limited contact compared to … [for instance] Brazil, you might not even have screens, people like to have the breeze blow through, so there’s a lot more opportunity for exposure to being bitten by a mosquito. And there’s a lot of opportunity for breeding sites, these things will breed in any little container that holds water for a couple weeks … and people don’t tend to have dependable municipal water in some places, so they’ll tend to hoard water in gallon drums or big plastic tanks … and those are the prime breeding grounds oftentimes.“So in the U.S., I suspect we’ll likely have some transmission. It’s the dry season in the new world tropics right now, so mosquito breeding is at the lowest point of the whole year, disease transmission is at the lowest point of the whole year. Rainy season will start in early June and ramp up, and that’s when the mosquito breeding will start, and shortly after that there will be a rapid spike in disease transmission.”Though there is no cure or treatment for the Zika, dengue or chikungunya viruses yet, Severson said that curbing outbreaks would begin with combatting insecticide resistance.“Right now with all those viruses, the only one for which there is a good vaccine is yellow fever,” Severson said, “There is no good vaccine for the other three. And there are no drug treatments. If you get sick, you have to power through it and get better. So right now the only way to deal with outbreaks of this or to try to prevent outbreaks is to try to control the mosquito population. So there’s massive insecticide use throughout the tropics to try to control the mosquito population, and you get pretty strong genetic resistance to those. People are looking at different ideas on how to deal with this.”Severson said his recent research with the mosquitoes that carry the dengue and Zika viruses has focused on “understand(ing) various pathways, what genes are up or down and regulated.”“We may be able to identify chemicals and drugs that you could take so if you were infected … you wouldn’t transmit it through the mosquito to another human host, so you could break the cycle that way,” he said.Severson said he hopes that his research with mosquitoes could lead to possible vaccination developments in the future, as well as species-specific pesticides that would cut back on the use of pesticides that “blanket kill every insect that’s out there.”“If we understand what makes a mosquito genetically competent to transmit this pathogen, then perhaps we can engineer a genetically modified mosquito that’s no longer capable … [of transmitting] that virus,” Severson said, “Then look into actually releasing those into the environment. So there’s a whole host of things that people have talked about, and some of those are actually in practice.”According to Severson, the Zika virus can only be transmitted from person to person in two ways. The first is through a blood transfusion, if the blood donor happens to be viremic. Severson said if a person goes to donate blood and finds that he or she is carrying the virus, however, “they might just say come back in a couple weeks and then you can donate blood.”Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted, Severson said, although this is “completely unusual,” noting there have only been two documented cases of sexual transmission.“The point to remember with Zika is that this virus has been around for a long, long time,” Severson said. “And usually it’s been most people, probably 90-plus percent of people, either don’t know they’ve had it or they get some mild (symptom), a cold, a flu or they just don’t feel well. … Microcephaly in Brazil, that’s brand new, and outside of that, if you’re not a young woman in a child-bearing age where you have the potential to get pregnant, it’s generally a benign problem.”As far as taking precautions against these viruses, Severson said it is important to note the time of day in which mosquitoes transmitting Zika virus bite.“These mosquitoes are day biters, they bite people during the daylight hours,” Severson said, “You hear about malaria and people sleeping under bed nets, but they won’t stop Zika virus. The mosquitoes that transmit malaria are night biters. So right now if you go to Brazil, for example, it does absolutely zero good at preventing Zika or dengue or chikungunya to sleep under a bed net. The mosquitoes that transmit these viruses are most active right at dawn and right near dusk. … That coincides when people are the most active, getting up to go to school or go to work, you’re coming home … especially in the tropics.”Severson said U.S. citizens planning on traveling to Brazil and other areas in which Zika outbreaks have been prevalent shouldn’t worry too much about the dangers of that virus, but should focus on avoiding the dengue virus.“Globally, there are about half a million hemorrhagic fever forms of (dengue) virus per year where you get internal hemorrhaging, and if you don’t get adequate healthcare, you could actually die from it,” Severson said, “So for people going to [tropical areas], dengue is a much greater threat. And that’s another one where you get infected and in most people you get a mild illness. The same thing with chikungunya. It doesn’t tend to cause [fatality], but habitual neuropathy in some people. … So of all the other things that are out there, outside of microcephaly coming through pregnant women, Zika is a pretty benign virus.”Tags: Zika virus
On Thursday night in Stapleton Lounge, Saint Mary’s created a space for three boss ladies who had something to say. The panel discussion, “Boss Ladies, Real Talk with Female Executives,” was the first in a series of events featuring women business leaders. The series will culminate with the annual Engaging Women Conference to be held at Saint Mary’s on May 22. Willow Wetherall, director of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative at Saint Mary’s, hosted the event which was sponsored by 1st Source Bank. Bethany Hartley, director of diversity and inclusion for the South Bend/Elkhart Regional Partnership, moderated the event.At the beginning of the discussion, Hartley clarified the meaning behind the notion of ‘boss lady.’“Women should be proud and embrace the word boss,” she said. “It’s an energy, it’s a feeling and it’s a movement.” The panelists for the event included South Bend city clerk Kareemah Fowler, vice president of philanthropy at Lakeland Health Foundations Brandi Smith and market development manager at Manufacturing Technologies, Inc. Constanza Lengerich. The panel began with a question about intentionality. Hartley said she pushed herself to create a panel that was intentionally diverse, and that diversity is possible if we all take the time to make it happen. Smith said for her, being a successful boss demands intentionality. “My work is relational and it demands intention,” she said. “I have to be hyper-aware and very thoughtful because my communication is critical.”Fowler said she strives to be a role model for her daughter and finds inspiration in the popular culture they share.“Drake was talking about success, and he said, ‘I am who I think I am.’ That was huge for me,” she said. “With social media and the digital age, people can put on a big facade, so for me, that hit home, and I often think about if I am who I want to be.”With everything in her life, Fowler said she tries to be intentional when seeking and creating change. “Who I am is an advocate for women and a woman who supports women,” she said. “I’m an advocate for diversity and inclusion in small business. I have to make a lot of decisions, and if I have the opportunity to make changes in those areas, I do that. I only do things where I can make a difference. I pride myself as a person who can get things done.” Lengerich said she is intentional in her competitiveness and likes to push herself to be better. Lengerich is originally from Chile, and said that intentionally pushing herself to achieve her dreams proved lucrative and successful. “I wanted to study in the U.S., so I applied for a scholarship in Chile that covered all my expenses to study for my master’s abroad,” she said. “I didn’t get the scholarship, but I said, ‘I’m still going to study there and study in one of the best universities.’ I connected with Notre Dame — they have a really good innovation program called the ESTEEM program. I was actually one of the first applicants, and I told them that this was my dream. I ended up with a scholarship that covered 90 percent of my expenses.”Fowler said she often finds success when she is true to herself and true to her work, which she finds meaningful.“Success for me is simple — it’s being able to do meaningful work without compromise, be a role model for my 16-year-old daughter and provide for my family,” she said. “I’m at my best when I’m at service to others.”Before becoming vice president of philanthropy, Smith was living in Los Angeles, having successfully helped to develop three short films. Smith said while she was working on her screenplay, however, she discovered that she was pregnant and had to make different career choices for herself and her family. “The best advice is to be authentic,” she said. “When I started my family, that really changed my ability to be 100 percent in all the work that I do, and I still try to bring myself to the work, but I have to make choices for myself and my family. Ultimately, for the younger women in the room who haven’t started families, the best advice is to really go for it before starting a family. Go for that thing that terrifies you because it’s harder to do once you have a family.” While the focus of the night was on women supporting women, Hartley emphasized that men can still be accountable for helping to support women. “This has always been an interesting trend, and that is that older men are not threatened by helping women,” she said. “It’s been very beneficial to me to have that relationship with those men who are willing to help me.” Lengerich and Fowler both spoke about how their fathers empowered them and made them stronger. “He empowered me,” Fowler said, “He made me stronger and taught me not to be afraid of men.” Smith said ultimately, her goal is freedom — including financial freedom, creative freedom and psychological freedom. “I’m working on building myself right now so that I can help grow others in the future,” she said. Fowler said she is now open to where her life in public service will take her, and hopes to mark her success by her growth and the growth and development of others she has supported. “Ten years from now, I want to be the best version Kareemah I can be — physically, mentally and spiritually,” she said. “I want to be able to go out into my community and pinpoint the impact I have made. I want to be able to point to all the women that I took along with me.” Tags: boss, entrepreneur, ESTEEM, Feminism, Women Empowerment
Between studying for exams and writing essays for classes, some Saint Mary’s students find time to be creative. The editorial staff of the on-campus magazine Chimes helps to facilitate a place where student art and creative writing can be published and seen by the campus’ community. Last year, the College’s two literary journals, Chimes and The Avenue, combined and published their first joint annual journal.Chimes has been a staple in Saint Mary’s culture for over 100 years. In August, the College honored the publication’s history in a campus-wide email celebrating Saint Mary’s 175th anniversary.“Chimes is as deeply-rooted in tradition and history as the College itself. The first issue of Chimes came out in September of 1892,” the email read.The publication officially acts as a club with its president doubling as its senior editor, and a vice president, secretary and treasurer who work as editorial staff. This year, the publication is led by senior Dalanie Beach.“This team will go through all of the selections twice a year, and decide what goes in and what stays out,” Beach said.Beach and her staff opened the first round of submissions for the publication on Oct 1.“We accept art of any medium — fiction, nonfiction, poetry, basically all genres of writing,” Beach said.The publication also accepts visual art, she said.Beach is hoping to open the editorial process and include the student body in some of the decisions, including a potential open vote on the cover design.“I wanted to open it up to the students to decide and be like an editor a little bit themselves, just to make it a little bit more family,” she said.The types of pieces included in the publication change every year. Beach said they attempt to create a cohesive publication that has shared elements and aesthetics.“And [the aesthetic] changes depending on the initial work that we received,” she said. “I think it’s always cool to see the stuff that students do in their classes, but it’s also nice to see outside, on-their-own-time work; we usually get a senior comp[ilation] or two that ends up being a longer short story or some poems.”Though the journal’s board is looking for the pieces to have a shared aesthetic, Beach said, it is also looking for them to be diverse, unique and representative of the Saint Mary’s student body.“Honestly, we’re just looking for a wide variety of voices,” she said. “We’re very interested in women’s writing, especially because it’s so underrepresented in the publishing world right now, as it always has been.”One of the biggest hurdles the publication faces is the amount of submissions, Beach said.“I’m trying to encourage people to submit, because that’s honestly our biggest issue,” she said. “A lot of times students doubt themselves — they feel like, ‘Oh, my work’s not good enough,’” Beach said. “But it’s good enough — I promise. We want to see it. We want to look at everything to engage with it. And we also want to publish it.”Beach said she approaches the editorial process from a place of understanding as an artist herself.“I’m a writer too. I’m an artist too,” she said. “I understand it’s difficult. It’s really not a scary thing, though. Have faith in yourself.”Chimes allows editors, the student body and creators to be in communication with each other, to share their artwork and ideas with the world around them, Beach said. It allows student and student leaders, like Beach, to gain publication and editorial experience while connecting with their peers.“I love just getting the opportunity to see what students are doing, to get to see the kind of artwork that they’re making, or the kind of stories they’re thinking about,” she said. “Because that’s pretty much what I want to do with my life. I want to be engaged with narratives of women of my generation, the next generation and generations of the past, and just to see what other writers and artists are doing.”Tags: Chimes, The Avenue
Wednesday would have been the opening night of the Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) Department’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” the 1970 rock opera exploring the life of Jesus. After numerous weeks of rigorous rehearsal, the cast and crew were devastated to learn that they would not be returning to campus this semester. However, they have since resolved to keep their hard work from going to waste in the midst of the global pandemic. Alysa Guffey | The Observer Student cast members have turned to social media sites to broadcast “Jesus Christ Superstar” clips. The musical‘s TikTok account, @jesuschristsuperstarnd, has published three videos thus far.The spring musical was expected to be a unique modern interpretation of the classic Biblical story of Jesus Christ, cast members said. “It was going to be a multimedia musical theatre show, which was super exciting for us to be able to work on,” senior cast member Teagan Earley said. “We were going to take the original score and script and set it in modern times where all of a sudden Jesus is not just the one everyone thought was going to be the Messiah, but also a social media star.” The crew was planning on supplementing the show with images of interactions between characters via Twitter and other forms of social media. “We were going to use a lot of social media to help tell the story,” Earley said. “So something would happen on stage, and then you would see screens above the stage.”The cast had worked on developing their characters, learning choreography and running the show throughout the semester up until spring break, she added, which made the abrupt change of plans even more difficult.“I spent a lot of time thinking about how I was going to bring this character to life on stage,” Earley said of her role as Judas Iscariot. “She turned into such a complex and interesting character, and I’m really sad that I didn’t get the chance to introduce her to everyone.”“We put so much time into it,” freshman cast member Kelly Harris said. “We had rehearsals from 6 to 10 [p.m.] every night, except Fridays and Saturdays.”Seniors were especially challenged with coming to terms that their last college production was canceled in such an unprecedented way, senior cast member and dance captain Rachel Thomas said.“When you’re an actor going out to the real world, your last show kind of means a lot,” Thomas said. “It’s kind of that last hurrah with the people in FTT. You can’t begin to describe the disappointment that the seniors feel right now.”The show’s director Matt Hawkins sprung into action when the bad news first reached the student body. “Our director has been such an incredible leader in this crisis,” Earley said of Hawkins. “He led the way on announcing that he was going to be releasing his directorial concepts and footage from our rehearsal process bit by bit every day.” Hawkins — an assistant professor in the FTT department — said he refused to let the show lose to the pandemic.“Once we got canceled, I had to figure out … Do we let the virus beat us? Do we make the best of it?” Hawkins said. Since March 17, Hawkins has been posting daily videos on his YouTube channel showcasing the different aspects of the show and describing how they would have played out on stage. “He has students actually submit videos talking about their favorite part of the show and who they played in the show,” Thomas said. Thomas was playing the role of Peter in the show, and Hawkins used her footage to create one of his videos showing the scene where Peter denies Jesus.“He rolled the clip of me talking and then combined it with the video of me performing [the denial scene] in the rehearsal room,” she said. “I got to talk about what that meant for me and how that developed my character of Peter more.” By featuring a combination of rehearsal videos, personal testimonies and illustrated walkthroughs of the production plan, Hawkins has created a virtual commemoration of the show. “The intention was to do my best to honor all the work we have done as a collective [team],” Hawkins said. “This was just my attempt to continue to build community and try to salvage what we had done.” Some of the cast members have also been working on their own social media campaigns to keep Jesus Christ Superstar alive. Earley has created a series of Instagram IGTV videos entitled “The Judas Diaries” about her process of becoming her character. Harris and her castmates have expanded their reach onto TikTok, creating an account dedicated to spotlighting some of the cast members’ talents.“The idea is that we’re going to put people singing and dancing just showcasing the work that we did in that short period of time and putting it into a place where multiple people can see it,” Harris said. Thomas also hopes to have a virtual compilation of one of the songs ready to share at some point.“We’re looking at having our music director send out a piano recording and have everyone sing their part,” she said, “I’d just put them all together with music and have this video of everyone singing their part and the harmonies coming out.” Though the cast members were disappointed by the cancellation of the show, Thomas said they are looking forward to bringing the performance to audiences in alternative ways.“It’s extremely devastating, but to have something like this gives you some glimmer of hope that all your hard work was not put to waste,” Thomas said. Tags: FTT, Instagram, Jesus Christ Superstar, TikTok, YouTube
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical experts have been looking for inexpensive and effective ways to detect positive cases.While nasal swab and nasopharyngeal testing gained traction across the U.S., saliva-based testing is becoming more prominent, with the technology being adopted in the surveillance testing strategies of institutions like University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Yale University, University of South Carolina and Rutgers University.Here at Notre Dame, this type of test was implemented on Sept. 20 as part of the University’s large-scale surveillance testing strategy, which also includes nasal swabs.Associate vice president for research, Liz Rulli, who also leads the team that planned and implemented the University’s surveillance testing strategy, said Notre Dame adopted saliva-based testing due to its effectiveness and lower costs.“It’s self administered, so it doesn’t require nursing staff to do the test, and it’s very safe for everyone at the collection and in the lab as well,” Rulli said.Paul Bohn, a professor in the department of chemistry, who advises Rulli’s team, said saliva-based testing expedited the chemical process behind detecting the virus compared to nasal testing.“Basically if you have the virus, the virus is transferred to the swab, and then there are two separate steps that are associated with getting the virus off the swab, breaking the virus down and then transferring the virus into a solution that can turn the RNA into DNA,” Bohn said.The move towards saliva-based testing came after Bohn became aware that a long-time colleague and Notre Dame alum, Paul Hergenrother, a professor in University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s department of chemistry, was working on a new kind of sample collection strategy.“I thought, ‘Well, this sounds like it could really be valuable for Notre Dame,’ because if we were going to get to the point where we were going to want to do widespread testing, we would need something that would be sufficiently acceptable that students would want to or be okay with being tested on a routine basis,” Bohn said.Hergenrother began developing this type of test in late April through the Manhattan Project, which aimed to “develop a fiber based test that bypassed any sort of the need for any supply chain limiting reagents, and that could be employed at a large scale and with a high frequency, and that was inexpensive,” he said.After the experimental stage concluded, Hergenrother said the group made its manuscripts freely available in order to help other universities cope with the pandemic.“The thing that universities have is that they have the technical expertise, and they have the equipment to run these tests,” Hergenrother said. “Here at the University of Illinois, we’re doing 10,000 a day, and have really dramatically lowered our positivity in the area. It’s just a luxury to be able to go get tested whenever you want and get a result in five to 10 hours. It’s remarkable.”Contrary to the nasal tests that are also administered at Notre Dame, the saliva samples are not taken to a commercial lab, instead, they are processed on campus at the University’s Genomics and Bioinformatics Core Facility, directed by Michael Pfrender, a professor in the department of biology who was tasked with getting the laboratory ready to process samples.“For the past two months, it’s really been helping to get that lab organized and set up,” Pfrender said. “We started from scratch with all the equipment needed to run the tests, and we had to hire staff to staff it. And then we hit the setup all the computer infrastructure working with our Center for Research Computing.”Since September, around 8,000 saliva samples have been collected, Rulli said, but the University is looking to ramp up its daily testing. On Oct. 14, 827 tests were collected — the largest amount per day— according to the HERE dashboard. However, Pfrender said the laboratory has the capacity to process 1,000 samples per day.“The sample part is easy and quick,” Pfrender said. “We can do a lot of people and generate or collect a lot of samples. Having a facility on campus allows us to do that high throughput, and we can get the results very quickly. So if we do find individuals that we think warrant further testing, or that we should be following, we can do that. So that’s the big advantage of having a facility like that.”Surveillance testing at Notre DameThe University’s reopening of campus for the fall semester was possible in large part due to its establishment of a large scale testing strategy, which includes three types of tests: rapid antigen, commercial nasal PCR and saliva-based testing.The rapid antigen test results are delivered in a matter of 15 to 20 minutes and are administered to people who receive a red pass from their daily health check, or are presenting symptoms. The commercial nasal swabs and the saliva-based samples — which are both PCR tests — are part of Notre Dame’s surveillance testing strategy.Another key difference between the three is that, at Notre Dome, only the rapid antigen tests and nasal swabs can be utilized as diagnostic test, as the university is still working on obtaining the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certification for saliva-based testing.“You have to have your lab CLIA certified in order to give a result to a patient,” Rulli said. “So we’re unable to say you’re positive or you’re negative. With those tests out of those saliva lab, we’re able to say, there’s nothing further you need to do, or we need you to go get a diagnostic test.”Since saliva-based tests are currently exclusively used in a surveillance fashion, instead of having the samples traced back to individuals, they are aggregated into a pool of people.“If everybody in the pool is negative, the whole pool tests negative, but if the if one of the people is positive then the whole pool is asked to go and get a diagnostic test,” Bohn explained.Pfrender said that having a robust surveillance testing strategy provides the benefit of early detection, something that can help mitigate the spread.“What we know now about the virus is that actually, you’re shedding the virus, typically for a few days before you show any symptoms. So, it you randomly test everybody, you have a much better chance of catching people early on before they start to show symptoms,” Pfrender said.Another advantage, Pfrender explained, was that surveillance testing enables the identification of asymptomatic people.“Many people, especially in the demographic age group that’s in college and undergrads and early 20s, have a large portion of asymptomatic cases. They never show the symptoms, but yet they can still transmit the virus. And so if we can catch those people, then we can also further prevent the spread to people who may be more susceptible to the symptoms,” he said.In order to carry out this surveillance strategy, 50 students have been employed to collect the saliva samples. Their tasks include ushering, aiding and checking-in people inside the Joyce Center — where Notre Dame’s testing facility is located. They also scan, label and collect the testing tubes, senior Haley Rague said.One of their main goals is to provide an accommodating and calm space, Rague said.“It’s a stressful time, and we just wanted to not make going into surveillance testing seem scary and remind people of how scary the whole situation could be,” she said. “We play music throughout the whole day, and we try to be as friendly as we can with people.”Senior Katelyn Steenvoorden said she has felt safe working with potentially COVID-19 positive tests, as the students are given with protective equipment and underwent BSL2 training before starting their job.“We’re very careful as workers, we’re never actually touching the person coming in to do the test nor their sample. So I would say it’s a pretty safe process,” Steenvoorden said. “I’m always wearing gloves, I wear glasses to protect my eyes and we’re distancing ourselves.”For Steenvoorden, carrying out tests has proved to be a learning curve. The team constantly makes changes to the process in order to make it more efficient, she said.“Our supervisors encouraged us to come to them with any feedback that we had about the process and what was working and what wasn’t working. This process has been evolving, just like our school has been adapting to the whole situation. So we’re pioneering it and making the most efficient changes we can,“ she said.The students are not only working to expand saliva-based testing on-campus, but are also helping in the efforts to cross-reference nasal and saliva samples to measure their effectiveness, senior Riley Wester said.We have been cross referencing our test with diagnostic tests. Since saliva tests are faster, we want to switch over to them. So we’re making sure that the two tests are synced up — that people test the same way in the two — and, if they are not, to dig deeper into why that is,” Wester said.The three students made the same plea to the Notre Dame community: “Please show up for surveillance testing.”“I know it can be an inconvenience, but just remembering why it’s important for us to stay here on campus and showing up if you’re called for testing is extremely important,” Steenvoorden said. “We have to just accept it as the new normal. It’s going to be here at least through next semester.”Tags: COVID-19, saliva testing, surveillance testing