Monthly Archives: November 2018

PUC Biology Professor Floyd Hayes Scales Matterhorn

By Sarah Tanner

Since 1865, over 500 people have died climbing the Matterhorn. Dr. Floyd Hayes was almost one of them. From August 24 to 26, the Pacific Union College professor and resident rock climber took on Europe’s 14th highest peak, only to be caught in a near-whiteout snowstorm on the way down.

Hayes teaches biology and environmental studies at PUC. In conjunction with quarterly classes, he also conducts student trips to locations around the world including Alaska, Micronesia, Fiji, Panama, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Paraguay, and Kenya. It is safe to say the professor is quite the explorer. Along with former PUC professor of mathematics, Roy Benton, Hayes expanded his travels this summer when he flew to the town of Zermaat in Switzerland in preparation to climb the Matterhorn.

Hayes and Benton have been climbing together for years, and the decision to climb Matterhorn came naturally to the two adventurers. To prepare for the roughly 14,700-foot ascent, the professors made a number of solo preliminary hikes as well as a joint two-day ascent of Switzerland’s Breithorn shortly before their Matterhorn ascent.

As part of his training, Hayes explained, “I climbed Mount St. Helena with a backpack and books. It’s about a 10-mile round trip. I also spent the night at 12,000 feet during a 15-mile round trip hike up White Mountain Peak in eastern California.” He smiled, “After this, I think we were in shape.”

Rather than employ a guide, the veteran climbers decided to tackle Matterhorn on their own. Though confident in their ability to scale its summit, the two, Hayes admitted, tended to veer off route. However, these brief diversions from the trail proved to be the least of their worries as they neared the pinnacle of the famed mountain.

On the morning of their first day, the pair made their way to 10,696 feet via a combination of cable cars and normal hiking.

“The next morning we started climbing at 4:30 a.m. and after seven hours, we made it to the top,” Hayes recalled. And that is when it started to snow.

Professor Hayes enjoys the view from the top.

“At 11:30 a.m. just as we reached the summit, the snow started falling. It wasn’t supposed to happen for another three hours, so we thought we had time.” He explained that after weeks of following conflicting weather reports, they had purposely planned to summit the mountain on this particular day because the chance of storms had dropped to a mere 20 percent.

“We spent nine hours descending and did 24 rappels during the storm. It was well below freezing and we could barely see the ropes in front of us, much less the side of the mountain.”

He explained in addition to the inherent danger of the conditions, rappelling in itself is a significant challenge.

“We were afraid the hanging rope would get caught as we were coming down. We have a lot of experience and know how to survive. But accidents happen. You have to be prepared,” Hayes warned.

As the last shreds of daylight slipped between the peaks, Hayes and Benton made their last rappel to the emergency hut stationed at 13,000 feet.

Professor Benton on the climb.

“We slept fully clothed under six blankets and still shivered.” Hayes continued, “The next morning we had to wait for some of the snow to melt before making our way back. This time, we only made two rappels before downclimbing the rest of the way.”

Hayes captured the entirety of the climb, blizzard included, in a video using a small camera he attached to his gear.

“Out of all the climbing videos we’ve made, this is by far the most spectacular.” he grinned, “I wasn’t very happy about it at the time, but looking at it now is incredible.”

Undeterred by the complications on the Matterhorn, Hayes is hopeful about his future adventures. Having already scaled Grand Teton in Wyoming, Mount Shasta here in California, and various locations in Colorado, he hopes to tackle Washington’s Mount Rainier next.

“My experience is mostly in rock climbing, not mountain,” Hayes explained, “I still have a lot of locations I haven’t tried.”

Students who want to learn more about rock climbing are welcome to talk to Hayes, who has insight about a fledgling club at PUC. He also mentioned a climbing class using the rock wall in the gym is in the works.

For those interested in his Matterhorn adventure, Hayes has posted his video to YouTube, which you can view below.

#FacultyFriday: Meet Bryan Ness

Dr. Bryan Ness, professor of biology, has taught at PUC since 1989. His research interests include plant systematics and genetics. He advises in the areas of biology, natural science, veterinary medicine, medical radiography, and occupational therapy. He enjoys spending time outdoors, doing a variety of activities such as birding, fishing, tide pooling, hiking, and backpacking. He also has an extensive menagerie, for which is he most known for. At any given time you may see him with a snake around his arm. Without further ado, let’s spend a few minutes getting to know Dr. Ness!

Name: Bryan Ness
Title: Professor of Biology
Faculty since: 1989

Classes taught: Foundations of Biology (BIOL 112), Introduction to Research Methods (BIOL 222), Scientific Discoveries (GSCI 205), Genetics (BIOL 354), Issues on Origins (BIOL 355), Biotechnology I (BIOT 345), Biotechnology II (BIOT 445), Biology Seminar (BIOL 397)

Education: B.S. in biology, Walla Walla University; M.S. in biology, Walla Walla University; Ph.D. in botany, Washington State University

What sparked your interest in biology?

I spent a lot of time outdoors as a child and loved finding animals of all kinds, from insects to snakes. Later I became fascinated with knowing the names of all the plants I would see and learned how to identify them.

What made you want to teach?

I wanted to share what I loved about the living world and share it with others who also come from a Christian background so they could see how nature tells us about God.

What is your favorite area/topic in biology, and why?

Genetics has become my favorite area because it helps make sense of living things, both how they should be classified and why they look and behave the way they do. I especially enjoy the insights genetics gives us about human variation and behavior.

Where did you grow up?

The Seattle area in western Washington State.

What are some of your hobbies?

Reading, photography, reading, music, reading, hiking, reading, and travel. 

Okay, it sounds like you really enjoy reading! Who is one of your favorite authors, and why?

J.R. R. Tolkien, because he is not only an excellent writer, but he makes his stories come alive and they are steeped in Christian symbolism and allegory.

Where is your favorite spot on campus?

The library stacks.

What’s something people may be surprised to learn about you?

That I almost became an apprentice to a harpsichord maker.

Do you have any pets?

A few. Two cats, two rats, a guinea pig, about 15 snakes, three turtles, four lizards, and about 25 tarantulas.

A Day in the Life of a Capitol Hill Intern

By Redi T. Degefa

Editor’s note: Redi Degefa is a sophomore and political science major at PUC. Her goal is to attend law school and later work in Washington, D.C. Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, among lawyers and politicians, Redi developed her passion for legislation and public service at an early age.

For undergraduates like myself, inclined toward a career in politics and public service, an internship on Capitol Hill is the ultimate opportunity to gain firsthand experience in the world of government and politics. This summer I interned in  Washington, D.C., for Congressman Mike Thompson. He is the representative in Congress for California’s 5th district, which includes Napa Valley.

As an aspiring politician and congressional staffer, it was important for me to experience my future career climate and gain a better understanding of what it means to work on Capitol Hill. I started pursuing this internship in December  2017 and was accepted in March. I interned for almost three months, starting on June 26 and ending on Sept. 14.

This internship opportunity was both exhilarating and challenging. Not only was I constantly learning something new, but I was also seeing our politicians are not the self-seeking, money-grubbing verbal jousters we see portrayed in the media. In reality, they are genuine and passionate individuals who care about the people and the country they serve. This internship restored my faith in our government and our politicians.

When Congress is in session—meaning when representatives are scheduled to vote or debate on the floor of the House—both interns and staffers have their busiest days. Below is my typical daily timeline from one of those in-session days.

5:45 a.m. – 7 a.m.

Wake up. Stare at my closet for approximately six minutes as if my clothes are going to arrange themselves into “The Olivia  Pope” business attire I want for the day. After a

thorough waste of my time, I will choose the same black pencil skirt from the day before and the same white button-up.

7:04 a.m.

Run frantically to the bus stop while contemplating the importance of planning my outfit the night before to avoid this chaotic and sweaty run to catch the bus.

7:11 a.m.

Ride the 310 bus to the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station.

7:25 a.m.

Ride the blue line to Pentagon Station while actively trying to avoid looking at the chicken bones underneath a seat or that man’s tie decorated with penguin prints.

7:50 a.m. – 8:22 a.m.

Transfer to the yellow line at Pentagon Station and ride it to L’Enfant Station. From L’Enfant, transfer to the silver line and ride it to Capitol South Station—my last stop.

8:30 a.m.

Arrive at Cannon House Office Building. A maintenance crew who believes 60 degrees is the ideal office temperature immediately makes me regret not bringing a jacket. If Rep. Thompson is in the office, I organize his newspapers and place them on the right side of his desk.

8:40 a.m. – 11:45a.m.

Unroll phones, which deactivates the voicemail mode and allows calls to come through. Check the voicemail box. Check my calendar and email for invitations to briefings.

Collect and compile news articles from the past 24 hours.

As I gather news articles, I do my best to avoid the Napa Valley Register’s list of cute pets for adoption. Complete writing the Congressional Record Statement (CRS) from the day before, then deliver the CRS to the Democratic Cloakroom. Answer calls from concerned constituents regarding our deteriorating democracy, Trump’s tweets or possible impeachment. These calls are all logged to make sure the constituent gets a response. Take phone calls from other representatives’ offices or the White House. Print the congressman’s schedules and prepare his “Take Home” binder. Buy a 3 feet by 5 feet cotton flag from the Supply Store, pack the flag and deliver it to The Flag House Building. Rep. Thompson’s office sends flags to constituents at their request for funerals or other occasions. Send out constituent letters. Rep. Thompson insists that every constituent who contacted him via email, phone call or mail receives a response. The letters address the concerns of the constituents and express Rep. Thompson’s  stance on the issues. Answer more phone calls.

12 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Take the underground subway to Hart Senate Office Building to meet fellow interns for a  brief lunch. Walk to Union Station in the sweltering heat to the nearest Chick-fil-A. We discuss our failed attempts to do something “memorable” together and propose a new plan as if the next one will come to fruition.

12:45 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

Collect co-sponsorship signatures from different representatives’ offices. Stay focused when walking by Rep. Joe  Kennedy III in the halls of Rayburn House Office Building. No fan-girling over his shiny red hair or cute freckles. Again, stay calm when taking the elevator with Rep. John Lewis. Pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming that a civil rights leader is indeed having a casual, “How is your day going?” conversation with me. What is happening?!

1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

Give constituents a tour of the U.S. Capitol Building. In the  Capitol Rotunda, I place my mixed political views aside and appreciate the fact I just walked past Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Paul Ryan.  

3 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Attend a short briefing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Write a memo summarizing the main points of the briefing and submit it to the staffer who handles foreign affairs. Sort and batch constituent emails and mail. Write a constituent letter responding to concerns regarding the renewal of the Farm Bill. Write another CRS honoring Napa’s retiring police chief. Draft an executive letter on behalf of a constituent who is requesting a personal tour of the White House Vinyl Collection. Submit the letter to the chief of staff for approval. Call all House committees and check for hearing rooms availability. Fill out reservation forms for all openings and book a room for a film screening hosted by Rep. Mike Thompson. Walk to FedEx in Eastern Market and mail legislative materials to the district offices. Answer more phone calls.

6:15 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Meet fellow interns in the tunnel of Cannon House Office Building. Go to a dinner at a nearby townhouse to meet “important” Capitol  Hill staffers who will help me land bigger internships and find other employment opportunities. While dining on fresh mozzarella, encounter Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen.Dianne Feinstein and chat briefly with them about the current political climate.

9:10 p.m. – 10:45 p.m.

Go to the US  Navy Memorial near Chinatown—my favorite thinking spot—and chat about my day with friends from Rep. Jared Huffman’s and Sen. Kamala Harris’s offices while admiring the beautiful architecture of the National Archives Building.

11 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.

Take the Uber home.  

11:50 p.m.

Set alarm. Fall into bed and look forward to another day. 

As previously published in the Campus Chronicle, PUC’s student-led campus newspaper.