“Happiness, like the flu, is contagious.” Catherine Sanderson, the Manwell Family Professor in Life Sciences (Psychology), in her new book The Positive Shift: Mastering Mindset to Improve Happiness, Health, and Longevity.
“This mission is at the limit of what humans are capable of doing—remotely and even, possibly, beyond that limit.” What can a Mars rover teach us about space? What can it teach us about humanity? Emily Lakdawalla ‘96 explores these questions in the new Amherst magazine.
“It allowed me to look at myself completely differently. Classes like this are why I chose to come to Amherst.” Alexis Chavez-Salinas ’22 on his First-Year Seminar “ Finding Your Roots,” taught by Professor Rick A. Lopez ’93.
Assistant Professor Pooja Rangan’s Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary has won the 2019 Harry Levin Prize for outstanding first book.
NOTE: Read a review of the book by her former student.
“Wade Fellows helped show us how to reconcile the blessing and burden of our education, to take it and do something for our communities.” Adrienne White-Faines ’82 speaking about a program that for decades has introduced Amherst students to the successful and rewarding careers of notable black alumni.
Note: Neuroradiologist Nadia Biassou ’88, the newest Wade Fellow, has been appointed for the 2019-21 academic years.
“He became smaller. It became very clear this was not Philip’s war.” Lisa Brooks, professor of English and American Studies, was just awarded the prestigious Bancroft Prize for History for her book Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip's War.
“Why not take music one step further? Why not use it to help others, or to comment on injustices, or to speak up for people?” Arianne Abela, Amherst's choral director, on leveraging the power of music.
“If you asked me what are the big loves of my life, as top three I would put my country, my daughter and my mother. So for me, this was very painful.” Andreas Georgiou ’83, who faces life in prison for recalculating the Greek deficit.
NOTE: After you read the article, let us know what you think. Submit a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org.
College Plans to Go Carbon-Neutral by 2030. The College’s Climate Action Plan provides a roadmap for the College to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
“King is eminently quotable—perhaps too quotable—and I wanted to push students to return to both the source and the historical moment.” Visiting lecturer Alec F. Hickmott on the course he developed on the life and times of Martin Luther King Jr.
Note: President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Martin Luther King, Jr. at the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
“I found that economics was underlying a lot of things that I thought were wrong in the world.” Jakina Debnam, assistant professor of economics, studies the impact of economic policies and events on human thriving in this Amherst magazine Q&A.
“All my plots for the future seemed equally out of reach and equally possible.” Amelie Hastie, professor of English in film and media studies, writing in Amherst magazine about a movie that haunts her.
“There’s something really interesting about this asymmetrical connection you have with people.” David Chen, in “Screen Talk,” speaking about the relationship between the podcaster and the audience. Chen created the podcast “The Watchers” with Devindra Hardawar ’05, and a number of other podcasts including “A Cast of Kings,” about the TV series Game of Thrones.
“I expect you all to put these recommendations in a combined memo for the president.” Steven Simon, visiting professor of history. In Steven Simon's class, “National Security Decision Making,” students role-played as the secretary of defense or head of homeland security, creating strategies to handle national security disaster scenarios. Simon himself was a member of the National Security Council in the Clinton and Obama administrations.
“One of the arguments a lot of digital humanists make is: In x number of years, we won’t call it ‘the digital humanities.’ It will just be ‘the humanities.’” English professor Marisa Parham, in “Deconstructing the Game,” which explores her highly popular course, “Videogames and the Boundaries of Narrative.”
“I don't recall much that happened. We spent most of our time hanging onto Mother Earth.” 1st Lieutenant Wallace Minot Leonard Jr., Class of 1916, recalling how he and his men crawled 1,000 yards across a field in northern France, under merciless enemy fire, to reach and take out an enemy gun emplacement in World War I. For his heroism, Leonard was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Croix de Guerre. He is one of 33 World War I servicemen honored on Amherst's War Memorial. The war ended 100 years ago this November 11th.
“Gregor. Charles. Nettie. Maud. Carl.” Caroline Goutte, biology professor.
NOTE: These are the names for the state-of-the-art freezers in Amherst’s new Science Center. They honor geneticist Gregor Mendel; naturalist and biologist Charles Darwin; Nettie Stevens, who discovered sex chromosomes; biochemist Maud Menten; and microbiologist Carl R. Woese ‘50.
“The sand disappeared under the restless sea, in some cases permanently. By-the-shore establishments, which profited off the sea, were now swallowed by it.” Hugo Ríos Cordero. From Cordero's essay in the most recent issue of The Common literary magazine, which explores Puerto Rico a year after Hurricane Maria.
“She was an artificer as much as an observer, imagining dramatic new ways to express the world's beauty and, as she saw it, its sacred order.” Hitchcock was one of the premier scientific illustrators of her time and the wife of Amherst’s third president. She is featured in the new Amherst magazine.
“It made me think of the long chain of generations we all belong to and the ways past, present and future interact.” Professor Ilan Stavans, offering a paean to his favorite building on campus. His essay appears in the new Amherst magazine.
“This is a place that now can be seen as a center—as a place to go to learn about Native history, culture, tradition, from Native peoples themselves.” Assistant Professor Kiara Vigil, speaking of the 2,600 volumes that brought scholars from around the country to study at Amherst this summer.
NOTE: The College’s Kim-Wait Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection is among the most comprehensive of its kind.
“The story of beavers is the story of early American history, in all of its grandeur and destructiveness.” Ben Goldfarb was interviewed by Geoffrey Giller ’10 for the cover story of the newest issue of Amherst magazine.
“Putting your team first is like putting your audience first.” Chelsea Cutler ’19, in “Songs Not Papers. Cutler's debut single, “You Make Me,” hit the Billboard viral chart last year. An Amherst soccer player, Cutler intentionally dresses like an athlete onstage, refusing to buy into the sexist stereotype of female performers in high heels and tight clothes.
“We can suck the fish into the robot without killing it.” Orin Hoffman ’01 in “Send in the Robots.” Hoffman is the chief roboticist for the Lionfish Project, which helps fisherman by deploying robots to reach lionfish in deeper waters. Lionfish have no natural predators and are throwing off the ecological balance of coral reefs.
“Considering my chronically contentious relationship with the English language, it is no surprise that I came to realize my bilingualism in the midst of a fight.” Min Cheng, a staff therapist in the College’s Counseling Center. This essay is adapted from Confluences: Lost & Found in Translation, a new multilingual magazine conceived by Aqiil Gopee ’20, Hapshiba Kwon ’20 and Emily Merriam, a Writing Center advisor. You can read Cheng’s essay in Chinese, French, Korean and Urdu at confluences.wordpress.amherst.edu.
“I went from introducing myself as a researcher, writer, student, to settling with and becoming a volunteer, and then in time, a friend.” JinJin Xu ’17, in “Real Lives of Refugees.” Traveling from China to India, Thailand to Germany, Xu interviewed a number of asylum seekers. She plans to transform those stories into a book about dislocated motherhood.
NOTE: In 2017, Amherst was distinguished for being the only school with three Watson Fellow winners, including JinJin Xu ’17.
“It is an accidental career. You won't find ‘admission officer’ on any of those career-pondering checklists. But as I was doing this work, I loved it.” Katharine “Katie” Fretwell ’81, former Dean of Admission, just retired after three decades of service to her alma mater. Read our interview.
“The experiment is conceptually simple, but the phenomenon is both beautiful and remarkably complex.” Physics Professor David Hall ’91, speaking of the rare electrical phenomenon of “ball lightning.” Hall and his students are among the only people in the world to have made and observed a microscopic simile of ball lightning in his Amherst lab.
“I was tired of intellectual historical ideas that float in ether. So I challenged myself to find out about how physical things shape how we experience ourselves.” Trent Maxey, associate professor of Asian languages & civilizations and history, speaking of his book in progress, Automotive Modernity: The Politics of Mobility in 20th-Century Japan.
“You find errors that happen seemingly randomly, and you create an environment in which they can happen at your wish.” Sabato Visconti ’09 is a “glitch artist,” who purposefully distorts images digitally. His art has been shown at many museums and festivals, including the Tate Britain.
“Any study of human behavior or culture is going to have children in it.” Karen Sanchéz-Eppler, professor of American studies and English, speaking about the growing field of childhood studies. In “They Study Childhood,” four Amherst professors discuss their thought-provoking research into the history and psychology of children.
“I had such a great experience being in a place that was so alive and different. I wondered: how could I recreate this for other students?” Jason Kung ’08, one of three young entrepreneurs in China profiled in the new Amherst magazine.
“These Wade Fellows helped show us how to reconcile the blessings and burden of our education, to take it and do something for our community.” Adrienne White-Faines ’82, speaking of the College’s Wade Fellows. Since 1977, black alumni Wade Fellows have returned to campus to engage with currents students as informal career counselors, mentors and role models.
“It was like we were waiting for paint to dry. Literally.” Rilla McKeegan ’21, on coloring sections of a Slinky toy for a design-your-own-adventure project for Physics 123 “The Newtonian Synthesis: Dynamics of Particles and Systems, Waves.”
NOTE: During the 2018 Undergraduate Awards, McKeegan was awarded the Bassett Physics Prize given to students who have “distinguished themselves by the excellence and maturity of their performance in the class and laboratory work of the first course in physics.” [Learn more]
“The only way to describe it is ‘Kafkaesque.’ ” Professor Geoffrey Woglom on the firestorm Andreas Georgiou ’83 entered after recalculating the Greek deficit. Woglom and Georgiou will speak at Reunion 2018. See the full schedule.
“Nonfiction is like those TV contests where you get a basket of pre-chosen ingredients to cook with...Fiction, on the other hand. My god! There are no constraints.” Catherine Newman ’90, essayist and memoirist, on the challenges of writing her first novel.