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Cameron Spitzfaden: Blending Science, Dance

Cameron Spitzfaden helped design a robotic prosthetic hand, studied biomolecular sensing, resolved student technology issues and promoted the study of dance.

<em>Performing with the Alma College Dance team.</em>Performing with the Alma College Dance team.

Cameron Spitzfaden, the 2017 Barlow Trophy winner, balanced a commitment to academic discovery and dance performance during his four years at Alma College.

Research was an important part of Cameron’s Alma experience. Working alongside faculty sponsors, he helped design and fabricate a robotic prosthetic hand. He studied biomolecular sensing during a summer research project at the University of Kentucky. And for his senior project, he used computer simulations to examine how the human proteins that transmit mad-cow disease become deformed.

<em>"It's a sign of strength to ask for help," says Cameron Spitzfaden, the 2017 Barlow Trophy recipient.</em>"It's a sign of strength to ask for help," says Cameron Spitzfaden, the 2017 Barlow Trophy recipient.To help cover his educational experiences, Cameron selected on-campus jobs that directly impacted the campus community. He served as a residence hall assistant, tutored other students in physics and chemistry, and resolved student technology issues for the Information Technology Services department.

He also regularly contributed to the artistic vibrancy of Alma’s campus, performing multiple times each year as a member of the Alma College Dance Department. He held a leadership role in Pi Delta Chi, the dance honorary that promotes the study of dance to the campus and community through workshops and performances.

He graduated in April 2017 with majors in physics and mathematics and a minor in theatre and dance.

<em>Cameron Spitzfaden, in a pas de deux with Vivienne Walton, at an Alma College dance performance.</em>Cameron Spitzfaden, in a pas de deux with Vivienne Walton, at an Alma College dance performance.Cameron learned early in his Alma Experience that it is permissible, and even essential, to seek assistance when it is needed. He advises new students to not only ask for help in difficult times but also to be available and responsive to other students who need encouragement or tutoring.

“It is a sign of strength to ask for help,” he says. “As a campus community, we hold ourselves to a high standard and put a lot of pressure on ourselves to excel, but when it comes to caring for each other, we’re very understanding. Nothing is done in isolation, and no single person can be an expert in everything. It is a sign of strength to recognize in yourself what might be a deficiency and to not be afraid to ask others for help.”

The Barlow Trophy, Alma’s most prestigious award for a graduating senior, honors academic achievement and contributions to campus and community.

Story published on August 16, 2017