Spring 2006


Spaceships & Supramolecules

WSU chemists Mel Zandler and Francis D’Souza create supramolecules — intriguing giant molecules that form when two or more molecules are enticed to combine. Over the course of their decade of research together, Zandler and D’Souza have conjured up many a supramolecule, but none has sported the shape of their most recent creation: that of a Star Wars Twin Ion Engine fighter ship (the backbone of the Imperial fleet, no less). Zandler, a Trekkie and longtime sci-fi fan, was the first to recognize the similarity, while Zandler, D’Souza, their teams of student researchers and research partners in the United States, Japan and Europe are studying and attempting to replicate the natural process of photosynthesis — and their new spaceship-shaped supramolecule is advancing their mission at, well, warp speed.

Cookbook of Champions

WSU student-athletes are sharing their favorite recipes in Cookbook of Champions. Funds raised from the sale of this Shocker cookbook will benefit the CHAMPS Life Skills program. The cookbook costs $15 with a $3 shipping charge per book sent through the mail and is available in the Downing Academic Learning Center in Charles Koch Arena.

Gambling on Vintage Slots

Don Creekmore ’98 of Wichita is gambling on vintage slot machines to pay off in a big entrepreneurial way. As the owner of a web-based business called Nation’s Attic, Creekmore buys, restores and sells old slot machines, some of which date back to the 1890s. “Finding the machines is the hard part. If I can find them, I can sell them all day, “he says, adding that he’s dealt with buyers and sellers around the globe. Check out his offerings at www.nationsattic.com, where, by the way, you can also unload or snag World War II flight jackets.

Presidential Honor

Marni Vliet, president and CEO of the Kansas Health Foundation, a private philanthropy dedicated to improving the health of all Kansans, was awarded the President’s Medal by WSU President Don Beggs at fall commencement exercises Dec. 11, 2005 in Charles Koch Arena. “Marni,” related Beggs, “is the recipient of numerous awards recognizing her commitment to health improvement and outstanding leadership in philanthropy and her community. She is truly the model for the purpose for which this medal is awarded.” The medal is presented annually to a person selected for extraordinary and exemplary leadership through integrity, service to humanity and expertise in his or her field.

Spear Studies

WSU anthropologists Carole and Clay Robarchek paid close attention to the new docudrama End of the Spear, a film that tells the story of the Waorani, who live in Ecuador’s remote Amazon rain forest. In 1987 and again in 1992, the Robarcheks studied the Waorani in their home territory — not a cushy research gig, especially when you know that the Waorani were once considered the most murderous people on earth. One result of the intrepid pair’s research is their 1997 book Waorani: The Contexts of Violence and War. For more about the docudrama, check out www.endofthespear.com, where you’ll find the Robarcheks’ 1987 visit noted in a timeline of significant events in the tribe’s spear-to-spearless history.

Delightful DiDonato

After making her Metropolitan Opera debut to rave reviews this past fall, Joyce DiDonato ’92 delighted London opera-goers as Rosina in a Royal Opera House production of Barber of Seville. In a classical music update titled “An American Opera Star Shines in Britain” and aired on Jan. 22, NPR praised the mezzo soprano and revealed that “when she was a child, she cared little about opera — her musical world revolved around Shaun Cassidy and Billy Joel.”

Wheat and More Wheat

Craig Miner ’66/67 has gleaned “early wheat farming in western Kansas” as the subject of his inaugural lecture as the Willard W. Garvey Professor in Business History. Miner, who’s taught history at WSU for 36 years, is the first person to hold the endowed Garvey professorship. Last May, WSU supporter and Garvey’s widow, Jean, announced the establishment and funding of the professorship as part of the Kansas Partnership for Faculty of Distinction Program. Garvey’s gift is also part of the We Are Wichita State fundraising campaign; Miner’s position is one of 14 created since the campaign began in July 2005. Among the facts in Miner’s lecture: Kansas farmers produced 200 million bushels of wheat in 1940; today, wheat production is 400 million bushels annually. Whew! It’s a relief to Shockers everywhere that mechanization has made wheatshocking a thing of the past.

Your E-Shocker Mag

The online version of The Shocker has a new home, and we’re inviting you to our open house. No presents, please, just the pleasure of your company. Come for a visit and settle in for some Shocker news. We’re at www.TheShockerMagazine.com.



Newsworthy info about alumni and university personalities and happenings — all packaged up in bite-size reads.