Arsenic: Poison and Building Block for Life?

The press conference announced last week by NASA promised to reveal details about “an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.”

The news, that researchers conducting tests in the harsh environment of Mono Lake in  California had, according to NASA , “discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic,” was indeed intriguing.

Who Knows: Deborah Gewertz, G. Henry Whitcomb 1874 Professor of Anthropology, on Thanksgiving

Editor’s Update: Writer and editor Katherine Duke ’05 sat down with Deborah Gewertz, G. Henry Whitcomb 1874 Professor of Anthropology just before Thanksgiving 2008 to get an anthropologist’s perspective on the biggest meal of the year.

Dueling: Deadly, Perhaps, But Hardly Irrational

April 9, 2010

Dueling may seem to be the ultimate irrational act, whether pistols at 20 paces or a swashbuckling sword fight at much closer quarters. But an AmherstCollege professor believes that duels were dangerous games that participants played for very rational reasons having to do with creditworthiness, honor and maintaining one’s social standing.

Career Counselor

March 24, 2010

It’s job-hunting time for graduating seniors across the country, and AmherstCollege seniors are no exception.

A Safety Net for the Unemployed

February 25, 2010

As the Great Recession continues into 2010, one of its defining characteristics is persistent unemployment. Walter Nicholson, the Ward H. Patton Professor of Economics, is a leading expert on unemployment insurance systems, which not only help laid-off workers but also prop up economies by helping to replace lost purchasing power.

Copenhagen Bound

December 9, 2009

It’s Copenhagen or bust for two Copeland fellows this week. Chris Cuomo and Diana Pei Wu packed their bags and headed north to take part in the much-anticipated UN Climate Conference (COP15) in Denmark. Cuomo will participate with a delegation focused on the ethical dimensions of climate change, while Wu is affiliated with a delegation of grassroots community organizations pushing for “climate justice,” a movement aimed at eliminating unequal burdens that indigenous, low-income and other disadvantaged peoples suffer because of climate change.

The Last Nazi War Crimes Trial

November 19, 2009

AMHERST, Mass. — On assignment for Harper’s Magazine, an Amherst College professor with expertise in international war crimes is planning to travel to Munich, Germany in late November for what could be the last major World War II trial involving alleged Nazi perpetrators.

The Hunting Professor

Fall means more to Professor Jan Dizard than a return to teaching, grading, advising and other academic tasks. For Dizard, the Charles Hamilton Houston Professor in American Culture, autumn also signifies another hunting season. It means weekends spent in the woods of New England and beyond, accompanied by his birddog, Dee, stalking feathered prey such as ruffed grouse, woodcock, pheasants and wild turkey.

Who Knows: LJST Professor Nasser Hussain on Guantanamo Bay and Detainee Rights

June 15, 2009

On his second day in office, President Obama signed an executive order committing to close the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by January 2010 and to review the legal status of the “enemy combatants” detained there. It was a development closely followed by Amherst’s Nasser Hussain, associate professor of law, jurisprudence and social thought, who has spent years writing about the writ of habeas corpus (the judicial mandate requiring that prisoners be brought before the court to determine whether the government has the right to continue detaining them) and the use of emergency powers. He spoke with Public Affairs’ Caroline Hanna recently about his work and the new administration’s policy on detainee treatment.

Who Knows: LJST Professor Lawrence Douglas on the International Criminal Court

With a new U.S. president moving into the White House in January, many around the world are hoping for increased American involvement in the International Criminal Court (ICC). The independent, permanent court, formed in 2002, tries people accused of the most serious crimes of international concern. Amherst’s Lawrence Douglas, James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought and an expert on international courts and war crimes trials, spoke with Director of Media Relations Caroline Hanna about the organization and what he sees in its future.

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