Amherst College Senior Nicholas Soltman Named Junior Fellow of American Academy of Political and Social Science

December 28, 2005
Director of Media Relations
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AMHERST, Mass.—The American Academy of Political and Social Science has named Nicholas C. Soltman, a senior anthropology major at Amherst College, a 2006 Junior Fellow of the academy. A resident of Tarzana, Calif., Soltman is the son of Harriet Cooper (New York, NY) and Neil Soltman (Philadelphia, PA). Soltman will now submit a paper submission for the undergraduate research award.

The Junior Fellow program of the AAPS recognizes the very best undergraduate students for their achievements in analyzing social problems and for their promise of becoming tomorrow’s outstanding social scientists. The academy invites leading social science departments in the United States to designate one undergraduate senior each year as a Junior Fellow. The academy says the designee must exhibit “an outstanding grasp of a discipline’s theories and methods, as demonstrated through prior coursework in the student’s major department, an enthusiasm for understanding social issues and the promise of making substantial contributions to the social sciences in the future.”

Deborah Gewertz, the G. Henry Whitcomb 1874 Professor of Anthropology at Amherst, nominated Soltman and says “he is simply a wonderful student: smart, playful and analytically sophisticated.”

In addition to writing a thesis on the role of media discourse in the failure of Clinton's 1994 Health Security Plan, Soltman is a columnist for The Amherst Student, for which he has served as a reporter, photographer and publisher. He is an attorney on the Mock Trial team, and was an intern last summer at Harlem RBI, where he led a small workshop group in a literacy-based enrichment program and coached baseball and softball. After graduation, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in law or anthropology or both.

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Amherst College Biologist Ethan Clotfelter Receives Grant to Study Aggression

December 21, 2005
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AMHERST, Mass.—Ethan Clotfelter, an assistant professor of biology at Amherst College, has been awarded a research grant from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation to study the biological basis of aggressive behavior and the extent to which environmental contaminants affect aggression.

The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation (http://www.hfg.org) in New York City was established by entrepreneur and former ambassador Harry Frank Guggenheim to sponsor “scholarly research on problems of violence, aggression, and dominance.” Most projects funded by the foundation come from the social sciences, but Clotfelter’s research will focus on biology. In particular, he will focus on a group of contaminants called phytoestrogens, which are found in runoff from agricultural fields and effluent from pulp and paper mills. His research, focusing on fish, will make predictions about the relationship between phytoestrogen exposure and aggression in a range of species, including humans. The funds will be used to purchase equipment and supplies that students can use as they conduct independent research in Clotfelter’s laboratory.

A member of the Amherst faculty since 2003, Clotfelter received a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in zoology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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Habitat for Humanity “Homebuilding 101” at Amherst College in January

December 21, 2005
Director of Media Relations
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AMHERST, Mass.—Amherst College students who can’t wait until next fall to start working on the first Habitat for Humanity house on college land can begin learning the necessary skills in a class called Homebuilding 101,” being offered daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Jan. 9 to Jan. 27, during the college’s January Interterm session. Beginning builders will learn the basic techniques of construction they will need to create new homes for low-income families.

“Homebuilding 101” is designed to familiarize students with the construction of a single family home, provide hands-on building opportunities at a Habitat home currently under construction in Northampton and prepare students to assume a leadership role in assisting unskilled volunteers at the Amherst College Habitat home construction.

The college announced in September that it would provide the land, as well as the labor, for the construction of four new homes for low-income residents of the town of Amherst. Three acres of college land off Southeast Street in Amherst were donated to the local chapter of the internationally active group that has brought capital, rather than charity, to the poor since 1976.

Construction of the first home in Amherst is expected to begin in the fall of 2006. A new Habitat home will be started at the beginning of every academic year for the next four years, so that a maximum number of Amherst College students, faculty, staff and alumni can take part in the work of building. The volunteer workers are expected to raise each home in one year. Designed by Kuhn Riddle Architects, a respected architectural studio in Amherst, the architecturally compelling contemporary houses will be gracefully sited and landscaped and will incorporate features that will reduce energy consumption and environmental impact. Despite their contemporary flair, the houses have been simply designed to be built by volunteers of mixed skills.

All are invited to participate in the Amherst Habitat project, but it is hoped that Amherst College students, faculty and staff will take the lead. Amherst College students have joined their Five College peers in the hands-on experience of constructing homes since 1992.

Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. By the end of 2005, Habitat will have built its 200,000th house and more than a million people will be living in Habitat homes they helped build and are buying through no-profit, zero-interest mortgages. More information is available at www.habitat.org.

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Amherst College Emeritus Professor

December 16, 2005
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AMHERST, Mass.—James E. Ostendarp, who was the football coach and professor of physical education at Amherst College for 32 years until his retirement in 1992, died on Thursday, Dec. 15 at the Solidiers' Home in Holyoke, Mass., in the company of his wife and children. He was 82 years old. Calling hours will be held from 2 p.m to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 18 at the Wrisley Funeral Home, 90A Sugarloaf St., South Deerfield, Mass. Funeral mass will take place at 10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 19, at St. James Church, North Main St., South Deerfield, Mass. After the mass on Monday, mourners are invited to a reception in the Founders' Room in the Alumni Gymnasium at Amherst College.

The winningest coach in Amherst’s history, with a record of 169 wins, 91 losses and 5 ties, the legendary Ostendarp is remembered for his devotion to his students. He offered this brusque denial when ESPN wanted to televise the Amherst-Williams game in 1985. “We’re in education,” he said, “we aren’t in the entertainment business.” Yet his teams won 13 “Little Three” championships, had two undefeated seasons and nine with a single loss, and sent four young men into the National Football League.

Born in Baltimore in 1923, “The Darp,” as he was known affectionately to generations of Amherst footballers, knew in grade school that he wanted to make a life in football, but was told he was too small to play in high school. He proved himself playing semi-pro ball on Sundays, made the team as a senior—and earned All-State honors. After high school Ostendarp received a scholarship to the University of Maryland, but he joined the 82nd Airborne as a paratrooper and saw action in Europe in the Second World War. After the war he returned to Bucknell University, where he received a B.S. degree in 1952, then played professional football for two years with the New York Giants—while earning an M.A teaching degree at Columbia University (1956)—and a year with the Montréal Alouettes.

His first coaching jobs were at Bucknell, then Cornell University and Williams College. He came to Amherst in 1959 and never left. A reporter once asked “The Darp” if he didn’t want to coach at a bigger school. “Where,” he replied incredulously, “would you go after Amherst?”

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Amherst Story Project Preserves Diverse Experiences of Student Body

December 15, 2005
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AMHERST, Mass.—When Raul Altreche lost his mother to AIDS as a young boy, his whole life changed. That moment set him on a path that would eventually lead to Amherst. Today, with tragedy behind him, Raul has a difficult story to tell, but he feels compelled to tell it in this year’s release of the Amherst Story Project.

Begun in 2004, the project asks students to respond to an open-ended request for meaningful life stories. Expected length, tone, format and subject matter are unspecified to allow for maximum personality in each piece. Past submissions have included tales of youth activism and life in pre-war Afghanistan, but this year, Altreche’s memoir, “Living,” proves especially poignant.

Altreche is joined by four other student authors, each of whom had their submissions chosen from a growing field of entries. All students selected presented their stories at this year’s annual homecoming festivities at an event celebrating the diversity of experience within the Amherst community. Along with last year’s selections, their stories are available on the Web at http://www.amherst.edu/alumni/Amherst_Story_Project/index.html.

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Amherst College Physicists, Led by Professor Larry Hunter, To Publish in Physical Review Letters

December 12, 2005
Director of Media Relations
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AMHERST, Mass.—Larry Hunter, the Stone Professor of Natural Science (Physics) at Amherst College, recently had an article on “Measurement of the Electron Dipole Moment Using GdIG” accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters, the journal of the American Physical Society, on Dec. 16.

“Time reversal violation,” Hunter says, “remains one of the most fascinating elements of modern physics. The preponderance of matter in the universe seems to call for new kinds of physics, beyond the standard model, a physics that violates the irreversibility of time. Looking for the permanent electric dipole moment of a fundamental particle is highly sensitive to such time reversal violation.” An electric dipole moment is a charge distribution characterized by the distance that separates positive and negative charges; in a charged particle like the electron, it can be thought of as the distance between the center of mass and the center of charge. This experiment has shown that for the electron this distance must be smaller than 5 x 10E^-24 cm. This distance is more than 10 billion times smaller than a proton radius.

Thus far, no permanent electric dipole moment of any fundamental particle has been observed. Hunter and his team have investigated a new technique for the measurement of the electric dipole moment of the electron, using gadolinium iron garnet (GdIG). The physicists apply a magnetic field to a GdIG sample and sensitively look for the predicted voltage across it. “With this method,” Hunter reports, “we have improved the limits obtained on the electron edm from a solid by a factor of 40. We have also identified the primary obstacle to further improvement of the method. If this obstacle can be overcome, experiments of this design may eventually achieve sensitivities to the electron edm beyond those obtained with atomic beams.”

David DeMille, a professor of physics at Yale University, says, “This innovative work opens an exciting new angle of attack on a problem which is one of the hottest topics in physics now. As always, the work of Hunter and his colleagues is thorough and insightful.”

Hunter shares authorship with current and former Amherst College students Ben Heidenreich ’06 (East Corinth, Vt.), Oliver T. Elliot ’03, Noah Charney ’02, Kyle Virgien ’08 (Los Angeles, Calif.), Alexander Bridges ’07 (Ponte Vedra, Fla.), Maggie A. McKeon ’05; as well as Stephen A. Peck, a postdoctoral fellow at Amherst; Dan Krause, Jr., the head of the machine shop; and Joel Gordon, the Stone Professor of Natural Science (Physics) Emeritus at Amherst. S.K. Lamoreaux of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Physics Division, was a co-author of the study, sponsored by Los Alamos, Amherst College, the National Science Foundation and the Howard Hughes Foundation.

A member of the Amherst faculty since 1983, Hunter has been engaged in a wide variety of research activities. His longest running experiment has been a search for an electron electric-dipole moment. He received the 1990 APS Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution, and in 1994 served as chair of the APS Precision Measurement and Fundamental Constants topical group. A Fellow of the American Physical Society, Hunter received a B.A from Columbia University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Amherst College Biology Professor Dominic L. Poccia Appointed Associate Editor of Journal of Experimental Zoology

December 2, 2005
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Dominic L. Poccia, the Rufus Tyler Lincoln Professor of Biology at Amherst College, has been appointed associate editor for reproductive biology for the Journal of Experimental Zoology, beginning in 2006.

As associate editor, Poccia will have responsibility for soliciting manuscripts and monitoring reviews in reproductive biology and advising on membership of the editorial board. He will soon publish an editorial outlining new directions for the section consistent with the aims of the revamped journal, expanding coverage into genomic, experimental and population studies and modeling, emphasizing the contribution of molecular variation to functional performance. Poccia has been a reviewer and assistant editor with the reproductive biology section since 1995.

The Journal, initially organized by the eminent biologists T.H. Morgan and E.B. Wilson of Columbia University, recently celebrated a century of publication. A reorganization of the editorial board was prompted by the retirement last year of Frank Ruddle of Yale after 20 years as editor-in-chief.

Educated at Union College and Harvard University and a member of the Amherst College faculty since 1978, Poccia is in his 10th year as an associate editor of the journal Molecular Reproduction and Development. A recent Fulbright scholar whose teaching and research explore nuclear transformations of the sea urchin sperm during spermatogenesis and following fertilization, Poccia also plays jazz saxophone and clarinet.

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Amherst College Orchestra to Join with DQ for Holiday Pops Concert Dec. 10

December 2, 2005
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The Amherst College Symphony Orchestra will present its annual “Holiday Pops” concert at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, in Buckley Recital Hall in the Arms Music Center at Amherst College. The concert will feature an array of solo vocal performances as well as songs from Amherst's coed a cappella group, the DQ, and seasonal favorites performed by the orchestra. Mark Lane Swanson will conduct the concert, along with Rob Lane '05, assistant director.

Advance ticket reservations are recommended and may be made by sending an e-mail to amherstorchestra@gmail.com. General admission is $3.

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Amherst College Professor Austin Sarat Receives NEH Grant for 10th Year Summer Seminar for High School Teachers

December 2, 2005
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Austin Sarat, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College, has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support a summer seminar with 15 schoolteachers called “Punishment, Politics and Culture.” The five-week seminar will explore the role of punishment in U.S. law, politics, society and culture. The seminar offered in the summer of 2006 will be the 10th NEH seminar that Sarat has taught.

Sarat, who has taught at Amherst since 1974, is author, coauthor or editor of more than fifty books, including Mercy on Trial, When the State Kills and Law, Violence, and the Possibility of Justice. Most recently he was the co-author of Something to Believe In: Politics, Professionalism and Cause Lawyering (2004) and co-editor of Law on the Screen (2004). His teaching has been featured in the New York Times and on the NBC Today Show. Sarat was the co-recipient of the 2004 Reginald Heber Smith Award given biennially to honor the best scholarship on “the subject of equal access to justice,” and has served as president of the Law and Society Association and of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent grant-making agency of the U.S. government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. Created in 1965, the NEH is the largest sources of funding for humanities programs in the United States.

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