Iowa State University Alumni Association

Cyclone Stories

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Lee Ann McCue (’86 microbiology and biophysics), a computational biology scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., hates photos and videos of herself. But when she was approached about being part of a Women’s History Month campaign called #SitWithMe to encourage women to enter STEM fields, she didn’t hesitate to participate. McCue has never been one to listen to noise suggesting that women should shy away from science. “I chose the people I listened to,” she says. “There were critical individuals, but I just walked away.”

McCue loved science and mathematics way too much to listen to those critics. “I was interested in too many things. At Iowa State I took biology, I took differential equations, I took physics – I took everything,” she says. “Finally I just had to stop. But when I did a post doc as a statistician I saw the relationships between computing and math and biology – that’s when sequencing really took off. So that was a good marriage of all my interests. And now [after 11 ½ years in her current position] I’ve learned to communicate in a variety of different science languages.”

And she loves them all. Her first love, biology, had a healthy mix of men and women – but she says statistics proved different, with women in a significant minority. For McCue, encouraging women to enter STEM – whether it’s biology, statistics, anything, or everything in between – may boil down to simply helping the world see women scientists. That’s where the #SitWithMe campaign comes in. “They did all these video interviews separately, and none of us knew what the others said,” she says. “Yet well all had the same message: Don’t listen to the critics.”

“I just thought it was important for people to see that there are women scientists.”


Reagan Hoefler (S), an ISU junior in dietetics, is currently working with $7,000 in research and scholarship funding from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium to figure out just how to make the movie “The Martian” into reality and plant a garden on Mars. Her main emphasis is on testing the effects of radiation on maize, using a linear accelerator at Ames’ Mary Greeley Medical Center.

The work is relevant not just around future designs on colonizing Mars, Hoefler says: “Our own ozone is depleting, so Earth may one day become more Martian-like,” she explained. “We’ll all have to eat, so we’re seeing if this plant growth under these conditions is possible.”


Most people don’t have the good fortune of living to age 100. Even fewer hit that milestone with a healthy, energetic body and a sharp, inquisitive mind. Nels Gerrard Glesne ('40 forestry) has all that, plus a sense of adventure that rivals most people a third his age. Glesne celebrated the century mark in 2016 with a capital C. He went kitesurfing, paragliding, and ziplining in Hawaii, the state in which he now resides. The former World War II bomber pilot was also honored at a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field in September – he thinks he gave them good luck at the World Series – and played tennis with one of the top-ranking tennis players in the world, John Isner, who also happens to be 6’10” tall.

Glesne’s adventures were captured by the Tennis Channel; PR Web; IKSURF, the international kitesurfing magazine; Maui Now; Tennis World magazine; Surfer Today, and other media outlets. This photo, shared on GoPro camera’s Instagram account, was taken during his ziplining experience at Skyline Eco-Adventures’ Haleakala location. Glesne completed all five lines of the zipline course. “My favorite part of the zipline is jumping off and accelerating,” he told PR Web. Somehow, we do not find that surprising. Happy birthday, Mr. Glesne!

Read previous Cyclone Stories features >>

Class Notes:
Rock Your Different

Jennifer Krienert ('00 sociology) is the creator of the "Rock Your Different" line of clothing -- T-shirts, tanks, hats, and hoodies inspired by her son Rory, who wears an eye patch. "I don't want him to think that being different is a bad thing," Krienert said. "We see it as something to celebrate." A portion of all proceeds from the clothing line will be donated to Phoenix Children's Hospital.

Class Notes

Living a Life Podcasts:
Hopeful Africa

Moses Bomett ('13 econ, pol sci, and intl. studies) was born in the U.S. and raised in Kenya, but today he remains deeply connected in both nations through his nonprofit organization, Hopeful Africa. Learn more about how he was inspired to create Hopeful Africa, what he's accomplished as a philanthropist, and what he hopes for the future.

"Living a Life" podcast series


More to explore:

VISIONS Magazine
Notable Alumni

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