Media response to sexual assault concerns

When a fraternity's private Facebook posts were published anonymously, members of the campus community expressed serious concerns about messages' misogynistic content. 

After the local paper published a story—including photos of students' signs—journalists flocked to campus. The Portland NBC affiliate was one of many outlets that covered the issue:

The incident sparked discussions about sexual assault, campus climate and Title IX. 

In addition to developing a robust understanding of these issues through associated research and discourse, I was moved by stories from people involved and wanted to help address the need for men to become more engaged. I sought out formal training from the Association of Title IX Administrators, and I serve as an investigator and hearing panel member for related conduct cases. 

 

 

Arthur

With the light waning on a hillside facing away from the setting sun, I approached this from a photojournalist perspective and just followed Arthur as he cruised around the orchard. What a photogenic guy! 


My passion: Understanding science

I shared the following column, which ran on March 11, 2013, as part of the "My Passion" series in our local newspaper. 

Growing up in Las Vegas with parents that insisted I venture out into summer’s sandy oven, I spent a lot of time catching scorpions, vinegaroons and all kinds of reptiles. I marveled at the way each creature seemed perfectly suited for its place — and its prey. 

I’ve seen blood squirt from the eyes of a horned lizard, and I’ve dropped a desert iguana when distracted by the whip of its separated, writhing tail. One of my best friends can attest to the wallop a small sidewinder packs.  

Despite all the time I spent exploring and experiencing the desert, it wasn’t until a college trip with friends to Zion National Park, far from the electric skies of Las Vegas, that I looked up and saw the Milky Way - the band of stars that form the “backbone of night.” I felt the bewildering immensity of nature for the first time.

I still wonder what our ancestors thought as they gathered around a fire pit and looked to the sky. Some of their answers became myths that shaped and were shaped by society, but what of the countless millions who weren’t satisfied by such explanations? Among the everyday struggle for survival, there must have been people like me — people for whom the echoing question, “What are stars?” would never be silenced.

Human nature is to seek understanding. Our minds are powerful, complex but imperfect pattern detectors. When we look at clouds, we see shapes. We impose meaning on randomness. We confuse correlation and causality. We infer intent by default, and because we are biased to reinforce our own beliefs, it takes effort to overcome an incorrect idea that has taken root. 

These biases served us well through millennia. We survived. 

Through science, we’ve opened a window to the heavens, and we’ve looked back in time to discover much about how we came to be. 

I was stunned to learn that nearly half of Americans don’t know how long it takes our planet to revolve around the sun. I cringe when politicians deny evolution. My heart breaks when children die from easily preventable or treatable conditions because parents decide against vaccines or choose prayer over medicine.

Though science has certainly demonstrated its value to our health, economy and quality of life, it is more than advanced technology or medical treatments. The scientific method is humanity’s best tool to discover truth.

I started the local Science Pub series in conjunction with OMSI, and I collaborate with scientists to help share their work with the public. I’m passionate about the public understanding of science not just because I love the mysteries of quantum mechanics, neuroscience and cosmology, but because scientific literacy affects our ability to evaluate important issues facing our society.

With our growing population, its commensurate impact, our advancing technological sophistication and proliferation of ideas and claims, we need decision makers who understand the value and methods of science. We need a scientifically literate electorate that is able to face with open eyes our economic, environmental and geopolitical challenges.

I’m passionate about the public understanding of science not only because it answers the question, “What are stars?” but because I believe that the truth is the best foundation upon which to build our future.

Value infographic

Cited by a prominent financial aid consultant as one of the best communications in higher ed, I created this piece (with the help of an in-house designer) to help shift the college cost conversation to a university value conversation. We used the web infographic as the basis for a printed folder that held the financial aid award letter. Enrollment results and anecdotal feedback were exceptionally positive. 

The Scene concept

The university magazine theme and cover concept was based on Willamette's less known places, activities and talents. A friend and chemistry professor created a scale model of Waller Hall, one of the university's iconic buildings. 

Coastal shores along liquid hydrocarbon seas

Willamette University | Jan. 27, 2012
Adam Torgerson, Media Relations, atorgers@willamette.edu, (503) 370-6274

Willamette University brings Saturn to Salem
Willamette University features acclaimed planetary scientist 

SALEM, Ore. — On Feb. 9 at 8 p.m., Willamette University’s Atkinson Lecture Series will feature Carolyn Porco, acclaimed scientist, communicator and imaging team leader for the Cassini mission to the Saturn system. 

Porco will highlight the discoveries made so far by the Cassini spacecraft and its Huygens probe. In 2005, the probe landed on Titan - the first landing in the outer solar system. 

Cassini images trace coastal shores along Titan’s liquid hydrocarbon seas; others depict icy plumes erupting from the surface of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus. The mission’s visually stunning images and crucial data not only give scientists perspective into the nature of the planetary system, they demonstrate that conditions for life may be more abundant than once believed. 

Porco has co-authored more than 100 scientific papers in the planetary sciences. Winner of the Carl Sagan Medal for her skill at communicating scientific exploration to the general public, Porco regularly appears on television and has written popular science articles in a variety of publications, including The Guardian, Sunday Times, “New Statesman” and “Scientific American.”

She was the science advisor on the 2009 film “Star Trek” and the character consultant on the 1997 movie “Contact,” for which Carl Sagan personally invited Porco to consult. Among her many accolades, “Wired” described Porco as was one of 15 people the U.S. president should listen to, and Sunday Times named her among the top 18 leaders of the 21st century.

Porco created CICLOPS, where Cassini images are shared with the public, and she is CEO of Diamond Sky Productions, a company devoted to the scientific and artful use of planetary images and computer graphics for the presentation of science to the public.

Tickets

General admission seating is $10, and doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. presentation. Buy tickets or learn more at willamette.edu/events/atkinson_lecture. 

###WILLAMETTE###

Atkinson Lecture Series – information and tickets:
willamette.edu/events/atkinson_lecture/

Liquid Lakes on Titan:
saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/imagedetails/index.cfm?imageId=2432

Enceladus: 
saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/imagedetails/index.cfm?imageId=3852
saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/imagedetails/index.cfm?imageId=4185

More:
diamondskyproductions.com/
saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/
ciclops.org/

Tire chain video

One of the department's first videos uploaded to YouTube was also my first effort at video production. Though I'd make a ton of production choices differently now, the video has been viewed more than 100,000 times because it meets an audience need. 

Astoria-Megler Bridge Painting Project

Using my photograph of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, I created a poster for local residents to make them aware of an upcoming bridge painting project. Positive feedback, lack of negative feedback during closures and an usually large number of vanishing posters suggest that the tactic was successful. 

The poster was created using InDesign and Photoshop. It was designed to be printed on the district office's plotter, using stock paper. The poster's background and my blog background are white, but you can click on the image below to see the poster against a black background. 



Portrait Professional 12—first impression

I've only edited a few images with Portrait Pro 12, so I'm sure there's a lot more to learn. My first impression—interesting and slightly disturbing at its extremes.

I think I've learned enough editing a few photos to get a general sense of what this app does well. I'm not sure yet if the relatively minor issues are mine or whether the app has a few tricks that I still need to learn. 

Other than some confusion about the version I was purchasing (which was clunky and cost me an extra few bucks), the app has been stable. I haven't yet used the plug-ins for Lightroom and Photoshop. 

Like Photoshop, this app can create atrocious results, but Portrait Pro's sliders give you a lot of control. Someone with decent Photoshop chops will recognize what Portrait Pro does after experimenting with a few images. This is a good thing. It's easy to tone down the effects, which can be dramatic. 

This shot of my daughter looked nice, but my daughter and her friends felt like it didn't look like her.  

Photoshop

Portrait Pro 12

The results can seem clownish at the default settings. I took this really mundane shot of my wife in the yard to see what it would do with a snapshot. The final shot looks heavy-handed when compared to the original (though most post-processing can seem that way when compared directly with the initial capture). 

Original snapshot

Portrait Pro 12 

Portrait Pro doesn't do anything that you can't do without it, but it expedites a lot of the typical adjustments you'll make to most people photos. It does a great job on skin, provided you fiddle with the settings appropriately. I can see using this for the first pass at least, and, like many Photoshop actions or Lightroom presets, experimentation in Portrait Pro might spark an idea or might highlight an aspect of the image that could benefit from more attention. 

I've found some odd color artifacts when making many of the facial modeling and hair coloring adjustments, though these become noticeable only when trying to make fairly drastic changes. The uneven hair adjustment artifacts are evident in the hair below; I could have corrected this easily in the app or in Photoshop, and I probably will go back and make some additional changes later. Even with the most significant artifacts, I found that the "modeled" face offered some interesting potential when saved as a separate image and overlaid manually in Photoshop. 

From my brief time using the app, it seems like images shot straight on will work best. I struggled with facial geometry in a shot where the model's head was tipped toward the camera, for example. I don't see Portrait Pro replacing Photoshop for regular image adjustments, but I can see using it all of the time for skin, eyes and teeth.

Here's an image that I thought might particularly benefit from Portrait Pro. I've included the "original," which I made black and white in part to avoid some of the color issues in the capture. I don't like the amount of contrast I used initially, so I've toned that down when re-editing.  

As shot

Photoshop

Portrait Pro, converted in Photoshop

No doubt that these quick experiments don't represent what can be done with Portrait Pro 12, and I look forward to trying it out on a few other shots over the weekend.