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suicide, indicated CTE. But, according to Randolph, that same amount of tau can be found in the brains of healthy people as well. “There are no epidemiological data


to suggest the existence of CTE,” he says. “There are no data to suggest that there are any long-lasting or perma- nent results of concussions, no matter how many you get, let alone a distinct syndrome.” The bottom line, according to


Randolph, is that the disorders that affect former football players fall within clinically established forms of psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases, and that current evidence doesn’t sup- port the definition of a new syndrome. Randolph prefers to err on the side of caution, he says, because diagnosis can affect action. “The proponents of CTE strike me


as being unjustifiably alarmist,” he says. “There are consequences to the propagation of a belief that every psychological or neurological symptom experienced by a retired football player may be the manifestation of CTE, when we don’t even know if such a disease exists. Imagine you are a retired NFL player who develops a major depression. How might your actions differ if you believe that you are in the grips of a fatal neurodegenerative disorder, rather than a treatable depression?” Randolph does call for further


research, particularly on why a signifi- cant percentage of former NFL players have subjective complaints of cognitive impairment. He suggests that cumula- tive brain damage from repetitive head injury may reduce a person’s cerebral reserve, making him or her more sus- ceptible to the clinical manifestation of degenerative brain disorders later in life. “If there are late-life consequences


of repetitive head trauma from contact sports, it’s more likely to be due to di- minished cerebral reserve, which leaves individuals with less ability to fend off the effects of neurodegenerative diseases,” Randolph says, although he intends to keep collecting and analyzing data to more fully explore the issue.


Senior Tony Minnick and sophomore Maggie Nykaza show off the results of their labor as farm interns. INSTITUTE OF ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY


A new path Senior Tony Minnick, an environmental sci-


ence major, had experience in the classroom, but he wanted experience in the field as well. “I wanted to get my hands dirty,” he says. Nowhere could that desire be more literally


fulfilled than at the student-run farm at the Retreat and Ecology Campus, where Minnick completed an internship last summer. As one of a handful of interns, he participated in food


“I value self-reliance and being able to do things


for yourself.” —SENIOR TONY MINNICK


production from seed to table. This meant responsibilities ranging from weeding to networking with hungry friends of the farm at a weekly farmer’s market and through a Com- munity Supported Agriculture program. “I really appreciated learning a great deal of practical skills,” Minnick says. “I value


self-reliance and being able to do things for yourself, like producing your own food. I also really enjoyed being given the independence and autonomy to take on my own projects.” One of Minnick’s projects focused on


increasing the productivity of the orchard through sheet mulching and developing plans for plant guilds around the dwarf fruit trees that model the ecology of natural systems. He was also involved in a project that takes the invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle plants being removed by restoration teams and turns them into high-density wood pellets to fuel a wood stove to heat the greenhouse. “It was transformative for me, learning these


skills and realizing I have more to learn,” Minnick says. “This internship not only gave me a great deal of concentration in my major, but it also solidified what I wanted to do with my life. It was a life-changing experience.” He aims to continue work for sustainable


food systems, seeking apprenticeships or assistant manager positions at other farms.


WINTER 2014


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