Physicist, Economist Tapped to Head Leading Mindfulness Organizations
Submitted on Friday, 1/6/2012, at 4:00 PM
Professor of Economics Daniel Barbezat has been named executive director of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, succeeding Professor of Physics Emeritus Arthur Zajonc, who has been appointed president of the Mind & Life Institute.
Zajonc, who formally took up his appointment in January, succeeds R. Adam Engle, a Mind & Life co-founder who served as the president and chair of the Institute for more than two decades. The Mind & Life Institute, headquartered in Boulder, Colo., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a scientific understanding of the mind through the investigation of contemplative practices, in order to reduce suffering and promote well-being.
Resident Artist David Gloman Featured on Heisman Telecast
Submitted on Friday, 12/2/2011, at 2:00 PM
By Rob Mattson
Football and painting seem to have as much in common as Nietzsche and NASCAR, but David Gloman can attest otherwise. The 19-year veteran of Amherst College, a resident artist in the Department of Art and the History of Art, was hired to create drawings of 30 of today’s best football players as part of the ESPN production of the 77th Heisman Memorial Trophy Presentation. On Dec. 10, Baylor University player Robert Griffin III became the 32nd quarterback to earn college football’s most coveted trophy, but the opportunity to be part of such an iconic event was a victory for Gloman as well, like a swollen river that finally crested, but only after years of ebbing, flowing, meandering and shaping the landscape of his life.
Amherst Professors Reel in NSF, NIH Grants
August 1, 2011
Four faculty members at Amherst College—John-Paul Baird, Ethan Clotfelter, Michael Hood and Katharine Sims—have recently been awarded sizable research grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
The four professors will use their grants to work with students to continue researching brain circuitry, fish evolution, plant disease and environmental conservation, respectively. Below are brief descriptions of the grants and the research that will be supported.
In the Lab
Tracking Air Pollution in the Pioneer Valley
October 28, 2010
Just looking off into the distance on a warm day in the Pioneer Valley shows that the area doesn’t have quite the air pollution problems that smog-plagued cities Beijing or Los Angeles do.
But that doesn’t mean the air is completely free of pollutants, says chemistry professor Karena McKinney; a nearby coal-fired power plant may be emitting harmful levels of mercury, a neurotoxin. McKinney, two other faculty colleagues and several undergraduate researchers set out this past summer to get a better handle on how that power plant is affecting the environment by measuring the amount and geographical distribution of mercury in air, sediment and biological samples. (Related studies with a new, cutting-edge piece of equipment recently caught the eye of staffers with the Massachusetts Recovery and Reinvestment Office, who featured her work on the organization’s website.)
In the Lab
Fighting Obesity by Studying the Brain
Janurary 25, 2011
Obesity is an epidemic that ravages individuals and weighs upon society as well. At Amherst College, John-Paul Baird, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, has spent the last year eight years exploring neural networks and brain chemicals that impact eating behavior. These chemicals, called neuropeptides, influence feelings of hunger and fullness, or satiety. Professor Baird's lab is working to characterize how some of these neuropeptides function in certain areas of the brain to influence food intake. The longer-term goal of basic research such as this is to identify potential therapeutic compounds that could contribute to the treatment of obesity and other eating- and metabolic-related disorders.
Professor Lawrence Douglas Publishes Two New Works of Fiction
Submitted on Wednesday, 8/17/2011, at 4:25 PM
Interview by Katherine Duke '05
In Chapter Five of The Girl with the Sturgeon Tattoo—Swedish author Lars Arffssen’s new thriller about an investigation into serial reindeer killings and the secret history of the UKEA furniture company—protagonist Mikael Blomberg sneaks into the vast but messy apartment of the brilliant young hacker Lizzy Salamander and finds, on her nightstand, a copy of the novel The Vices, by Lawrence Douglas. “Must order it on Amazon,” he thinks.
Such conspicuous product placement is a treat for readers who are in on the joke: that Arffssen and Douglas are one and the same. Aug. 30 will mark the release of Sturgeon Tattoo, a parody of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the other novels in Stieg Larsson’s bestselling crime thriller trilogy. The Vices, released on Aug. 16, is—like Douglas’s first novel, The Catastrophist—set partly at a fictional (but familiar) liberal arts college in Massachusetts.
Austin Sarat Edits Two New Books, Prepares For NEH Seminar for School Teachers
Submitted on Friday, 8/12/2011, at 6:33 PM
By William Sweet
For many, the legal system can be a remote entity, something known mostly through film and literature. But for some, the U.S. justice system is anything but remote. It is the means by which they will die.
What Should I Do?
February 22, 2011
For the last several years, Amherst College Professor of Philosophy Alexander George has been on a mission: to bring philosophy out of the ivory tower and into the public sphere.
At Long Last, a Latino Literature Anthology Debuts
September 9, 2010
At least thirteen years in the making, and covering more than 400 years of writings by 201 writers, The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, set for release on Sept. 13, is being hailed as a powerful contribution to American literary culture by authorities such as Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. and author Barbara Kingsolver.
Physics Professor Pioneers New Method to Image Vortices in Ultracold Gases
September 3, 2010
Physics professor David Hall and his group of undergraduate researchers have invented a new technique for examining the behavior of rotating matter at the coldest temperatures in the universe.
The method—which involves an apparatus that refrigerates atoms to billionths of a degree above absolute zero—enabled them to create the first-ever movies of vortex motion in individual Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs). And they developed the technique in Hall’s very own campus laboratory.