Skip to main content
Courtney Thames '25 presenting
Courtney Thames '25 presents a poster with Rachel Jocson '24 and Samuel Vasich '24 titled "What Really Counts: Comparing Sources of Math Talk in Childhood."

Celebration of Learning 2024 showcases research

The annual Celebration of Learning showcases work by students, faculty and staff at Augustana.

This year's celebration on May 8 included poster presentations, interactive sessions, an art show, panel presentations and special events.

Dr. Roman Bonzon, Dr. Mark Safstrom and Jacob Grothjan
Dr. Roman Bonzon, Dr. Mark Safstrom and Jacob Grothjan

Who gets the last seat on the lifeboat?

One last seat on a lifeboat and three professors vying for the spot.

The "Lifeboat Challenge," presented by ALIVE (Augustana Leaders in Vocational Exploration), stands as a cherished tradition at Augustana, offering a platform for professors to advocate for the significance of their disciplines in securing the world's survival. As they compete for the final seat in the metaphorical lifeboat, each professor presents compelling arguments on how their field contributes to the world.

Jacob Grothjan, visiting assistant professor of biology; Dr. Roman Bonzon, professor of philosophy; and Dr. Mark Safstrom, associate professor of Scandinavian studies, engaged in a fierce competition for the final seat.

And the winner is… Dr. Mark Safstrom!

According to Dr. Safstrom, his proficiency across various disciplines positions him as the ideal candidate for securing a place on the lifeboat, guaranteeing a versatile skill set essential for survival and adept problem-solving in unforeseen situations.

Some may argue that his victory in securing the open seat also was tied to his thoughtful gesture of bringing Pepparkakor, a delicious Swedish ginger thin.

Krisha Silwal
Krisha Silwal '26

Inclusion law in Nepal falls short

In "Navigating Nepal's Legal Requirements for Transgender Inclusion Beyond Labels," Krisha Silwal, a sophomore from Nepal, discussed how Nepal's legal recognition of a third gender category has presented complicated limitations for transgender individuals.

In 2007, Nepal became the first South Asian country to legally recognize a third gender category beyond the traditional male or female binary by allowing individuals to opt for "other" in their official documents based on their self-identification. Nepal subsequently garnered recognition as a nation supportive of the queer community's rights by challenging the Western notion of a gender binary.

While the law aimed to support the diverse needs of the community, it fell short in practice.

Silwal — a women, gender, and sexuality studies; economics; and data science triple major — argued that the proof of gender-affirming surgery and recommendation from the medical board required by the government for individuals seeking to alter their gender identity legally reinforces established power structures. In particular, the intersection of wealth and caste and lack of representation of the LGBTQ+ community in medicine and government influence the accessibility of gender recognition.

The fact that only 10 individuals have legally transitioned since the law’s passage in 2011 demonstrates, Silwal argued, that the legislation creates barriers that limit transgender individuals to legally self-identify.

Christina O'Connell
Christina O'Connell '24

Senior Art Show 2024

Christina O'Connell, a senior from Moline, Ill., majoring in graphic design and studio art, presented her Senior Inquiry.

"Creating design systems and then figuring out how to implement consistency across a variety of outlets is a fun puzzle I enjoy putting together, so with Squiggle Squaggle, I’ve created a cohesive brand system along with the products that live within that brand," said O'Connell.

See more work from the Senior Art Show 2024

Chef Joseph Yoon
Chef Joseph Yoon

Embracing passion with the insect ambassador

In “Kitchen Metamorphosis,” Chef Joseph Yoon shared his personal journey that led him from buying a one-way ticket after college to play his saxophone in Europe to now being known as a world renowned chef and an edible insect ambassador.

Since 2017, Yoon has traveled 300+ days and toured across five continents to champion the potential of insect agriculture. He regularly appears in global media and presents at colleges and museums.

Yoon described himself as “a very proud liberal arts major.”

“It allows you to think critically, and not just accept the answers that were given to me,” he said. “The liberal arts prepared me for becoming an adult and entering the real world.”

Over the years, Yoon worked in the music industry and then transitioned to cooking, eventually cooking for celebrities and executing meals for hundreds or thousands of people. In 2017, he was approached for a project to cook with insects. That sparked him to research U.S. agricultural organizations and learn about the prospect of insects to aid in food insecurity.

Yoon chronicled experiencing racism and doubters during his life experiences. He encouraged everyone to continue following their passion and seek what is authentically true to them, no matter the barriers.

“Because when we’re able to shut out that fear and we’re driven by purpose and we’re able to say yes, amazing things will happen in your life,” he said. “Finding that purpose and conviction was so much more important to me than making money.”

Upcoming events with Chef Yoon:

If you have news, send it to! We love hearing about the achievements of our alumni, students and faculty.