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BROPHY FELL IN LOVE with one fossil in particular during her first field season in South Africa. Her name is Mrs. Ples, and she dates back about 2.5 million years. “Originally her genus was Plesi-

anthropus transvaalensis,” says Brophy. “Later on she got put into a different genus and species, but that’s why she’s called Mrs. Ples.” “The first time I saw her in the museum only

about 10 people could go in at once due to the size of the room and the fragile nature of the fossil con- tents. I went in the first group and was overwhelmed with excitement about seeing her.” She was so excited the second group let her go in

with them as well. Brophy now drives a car boasting an “I Love Mrs.

Ples” bumper sticker. Her e-mail icon is a photo of Mrs. Ples. And every time she goes to South Africa, she makes sure to dress up when she visits Mrs. Ples.


Teaching creativity —creatively


she’s using for comparison at Rising Star. Although results have so far been encouraging, she is still trying to test the assumption that shape is species-specific with hominids. “If we find that teeth at Rising Star look exactly like

teeth at Malapa, does that mean they’re 100 percent the same species?” Brophy says. “Or does it just mean that they have similar teeth?” She is unlikely to settle the debate once and for all at Rising Star, but it’s an exciting question nonetheless. For a project built on ancient history, Rising Star is

also evidence of the future of paleoanthropology. Ris- ing Star, like Malapa before it, is open-access, meaning that the site is open to any scientists whose proposals, like Brophy’s, are accepted for research. “This is a really new way of doing paleoanthropol-

ogy,” Brophy says. “Traditionally, people excavate fos- sils and present at meetings, but then you don’t hear anything more for a year or so. If you know a person or have an in, then maybe you get to see the fossils. It’s been a secretive science for a long time. If you open it up, you have a dialogue; you create a conversation.” Brophy believes this is ultimately beneficial. “It’s not good science to keep it closed up. It’s

healthy to compare and debate results.” What has resulted from the open call, which ex-

pressly encouraged early-career scientists, is a group of researchers from all over the world and of all ages converging on Rising Star. Through their expertise and collaboration, we all stand to learn more about our early ancestors.

Patrick Madison (left) and Hannah McCormick try to figure out the “Bending of Space- Time” game, which calls for making the hanger dip without pulling on one of the strings or adding weight. The answer? Spin one of the balls.

ssistant Professor of Psychol- ogy Robert Morrison has a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. He

conducts research about how the brain allows people to reason and remem- ber throughout their lives. He’s also an accomplished artist whose photos, paintings, and sculptures have been displayed in galleries and museums across the country. With that unique background, it’s

no wonder that Morrison’s teaching style is a little, well, unusual. Take, for example, an assignment

for his Psychology of Creativity honors course, which he calls “the great mind presentation.” For this, Morrison divides his class into small groups and has the students research the lives and creative processes of seven of the greatest thinkers of the modern era, including Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, and Pablo Picasso. Morrison has only one rule for the assignment: “Don’t bore me,” he says. “This is a class

about creativity, so be creative.” One group took the class on a time-

travel tour through Dumbach Hall, where students got to meet the people who influenced Picasso’s artwork. Another group staged the “Einstein Winter Olympics” to help explain the physicist’s most famous discoveries. Loyola senior Brittney Rooney was

part of the team that came up with the idea for the Einstein Olympics. She and the others in her group had only a basic understanding of physics and math, so they came up with some novel ways to share Einstein’s theories and discoveries. Rooney, who is double majoring in

political science and environmental science, had never taken a psychology course before this semester. But it’s turned out to be one of her favorite classes at Loyola. “It’s more work than your average

class,” she says. “But it’s also more rewarding.”



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