Amherst Alumni in the Field: Kirk Johnson '82

February 5, 2018

“Museums are warehouses of our culture’s knowledge.”

Museums are warehouses of our culture's knowledge

From the time he used to sneak into the Pratt Museum late at night to catalog fossils, Kirk Johnson ’82 has always seen the importance of preserving history in three-dimensional form. Now as the Sant Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where he is responsible for a collection of more than 145 million objects, Johnson sees more value in cataloguing natural history than ever before. Then, as now, Johnson believes that the true value of museums is in sharing, not only an understanding of the history of the planet and of humans, but of how the two interact.


 

Amherst Alumni in the Field: Catherine Brownstein '97

September 18, 2017

“My job didn’t exist when I graduated from Amherst. It didn’t exist when I graduated with my Ph.D. But I was able to find it and succeed because Amherst taught me how to adapt, think critically, and carve out a place for myself.”

Sequencing a Better Tomorrow

Catherine Brownstein ’97 graduated from Amherst with a double major in psychology and interdisciplinary studies in evolutionary biology. While pursuing her Ph.D., she found genetics and her vocation. Brownstein entered the field when it was exploding with new developments and now runs a research lab at Boston Children’s Hospital with an emphasis on rare diseases. 


 

Amherst Alumni in the Field : Brooke Kamin Rapaport ’84

April 10, 2017

While studying art at Amherst, Rapaport was first introduced to the complex nature of creating works of art through art history and gallery work. “What Amherst taught us to do was look more closely at things in our environment, at works of art in our environment.”

Public art is a form of democracy.

That’s what Brooke Kamin Rapaport ’84 has come to believe, both from her one-on-one work with faculty artists at Amherst and as a curator working with large-scale sculptures. As Director and Martin Friedman Senior Curator at Mad. Sq. Art, Rapaport oversees the selection, production and realization of vast outdoor installations by contemporary artists in New York City’s Madison Square Park.

“The whole process that was once behind the scenes is now completely open and available for the public,” she notes, “because it’s not a mystery how things are built, how artists realize work; it's an opportunity.”

While studying art at Amherst, Rapaport was first introduced to the complex nature of creating works of art through art history and gallery work. 

“What Amherst taught us to do was look more closely at things in our environment, at works of art in our environment,” she said. “The gift Amherst gave is in that ability to analyze and then interpret back to the public.”

See the latest Madison Square Park Conservancy installation, “Big Bling,” by Martin Puryear, and hear more about Rapaport’s work as a curator.


Peter Rubinstein ’64 on His Path to Becoming a Rabbi

February 27, 2017

“It began in my freshman year. A friend of mine from West Virginia asked me ‘What do you believe? What do Jews believe?’ And I couldn’t answer that question.”

Sometimes a conversation changes everything.

“It began in my freshman year. A friend of mine from West Virginia asked me ‘What do you believe? What do Jews believe?’ And I couldn’t answer that question. It bothered me that I couldn’t. I knew who I was as a Jew but I couldn’t answer that question.” 

Amherst didn’t have a department of Jewish studies, or even a class on Judaism, so Peter Rubinstein ’64 took a theology class with Professor Pemberton instead. And he was hooked. 

It would take several more years, other career interests, and a multitude of classes, but he eventually became Rabbi Rubinstein and recently retired after more than 20 years as senior rabbi at New York City’s Central Synagogue. 

Hear about Rabbi Rubinstein’s remarkable career path and the lessons he learned along with way.


From English Major to Yogurt Maker

November 10, 2016

Amy Klippenstein ’89 and Paul Lacinski ’89 talk about their unusual path to running a successful farm in western Massachusetts.

“I am skeptical of planning.”

Join Amy Klippenstein ’89 and Paul Lacinski ’89 of Sidehill Farm for the inaugural video of Amherst in the Field. Hear about their unusual path to owning Sidehill Farm, a dairy farm producing wildly popular Western Massachusetts yogurt.