A Conversation with Shayla Lawson

Submitted on Friday, 1/11/2019, at 11:50 AM

For a year-end roundup, Oregon Public Broadcasting’s arts program State of Wonder aired an interview with poet Shayla Lawson, now artist-in-residence at Amherst, about her book I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean. The 2018 book grew out of her discovery of and meditations about singer, songwriter and rapper Frank Ocean, which also manifested as a series of live performances and videos with her band, the Oceanographers.

Baby Planets

Submitted on Friday, 1/11/2019, at 11:49 AM

Assistant Professor of Astronomy Kate Follette is getting more notice for her work in tracking the births of stars and planets.

A recent article in Nature gave an account of the discovery by her and colleagues at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile of the “baby planet” LkCa15b, and their later findings, published in August in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, of a second planet in the process of forming.

Corrales on Personality Cults

Submitted on Friday, 1/11/2019, at 11:48 AM

For a recent piece about President Donald Trump which cast his election in the tradition of right-wing populists, the New Republic examined populism and personality cults, citing experts such as Javier Corrales, Dwight W. Morrow 1895 professor of Political Science.

“Corrales … [an] expert on the Chavez regime, has written that one lesson from Venezuela’s experience is for the opposition to avoid fragmentation within the broader electorate and, when possible, polarization,” wrote journalist Alexander Hurst '12.

Rather than pursuing impeachment, said Corrales, “the opposition needs to focus on strengthening institutions of checks and balances, and embracing and defending policies that produce majoritarian consensus rather than just cater to the base.”

Min Jin Lee on Moving to Boston

Submitted on Friday, 1/11/2019, at 9:58 AM

Renowned author and National Book Award finalist Min Jin Lee, who will join the College as a writer-in-residence starting in the 2019-2020 academic year, was recently the subject of a profile in the Boston Globe.

The New York Times best-selling author of Pachinko (2017) moved from New York to Boston this fall to start a yearlong fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard. Lee is currently at work on American Hagwon, the final installment of her Korean diaspora trilogy, which began with Free Food for Millionaires (2007) and continued with Pachinko. The new novel is set in Boston.

She told the Globe that for each novel, she interviews “100 people, easily. Some are half-hour interviews, some are days long, where I follow people around,” she said. “So let’s say I’m writing a lawyer character — I’d take 10 people who do what she does, and cobble someone together.”

Her three-year appointment to Amherst’s English department came about after her appearance at the College’s LitFest in March 2018.

The Transfer Trend

Submitted on Thursday, 1/3/2019, at 9:48 PM

NPR recently talked with transfer student Maria Aybar ’20E and Associate Dean of Admission Lexi Hurd ’06 for a piece on how top colleges are diversifying their campuses.

In the piece, they spoke about the challenges that transfer students can face, and the resources that the College offers to help them succeed.

“When you have big dreams, and you don't have the resources for it, you feel trapped. And you feel that nothing is ever going to change. So being able to be here and to fulfill my dream of education means the world to me,” Aybar said.

Sanderson: You Are Not Alone in Your Grief

Submitted on Thursday, 1/3/2019, at 9:47 PM

For a story on people struggling with grief during the holiday season, Insider spoke with Catherine Sanderson, the College’s Manwell Family Professor in Life Sciences (Psychology) about the discrepancy between happy holiday dispatches on social media, and the reality that many are in a rough place during the holidays.

"It's important to recognize that the glowing holiday portrayals on social media don't necessarily represent reality," she said. "You are not alone in feeling sadness, grief, and loss — in fact, many people find the holidays really difficult, even if they aren't sharing those feelings openly on social media."

DJ Williams: Educating Against Hate Doesn't Stop

Submitted on Thursday, 1/3/2019, at 9:44 PM

DJ Williams ’20, a member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Hate Crimes Task Force was featured in a recent article by the Boston Globe about a new state report that says reported hate crimes in the Commonwealth rose last year to the highest level in over a decade.

Williams said it’s important to combat hatred through education, particularly given how many of the incidents take place on high school and college campuses.

“The general expectation is that people will grow out of any bias that they have once they become adults, somehow magically … but people in colleges still carry these biases and those people are going to be adults and are going to be our nation’s leaders one day.”

Chipo Dendere: a Year After Mugabe

Submitted on Thursday, 12/13/2018, at 2:03 PM

Marking the one-year anniversary since the ouster of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, the China Global Television Network’s program The Heat did a segment featuring comments from Chipo Dendere, visiting assistant professor of political science and Consortium for Faculty Diversity Scholar.

Dendere was joined by writer Joseph Ochieno, South African journalist Nhlanhla Sehume and Bright Matonga, formerly Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Information, in discussing the events of the past year, and what the future may hold.

You can skip ahead to her comments here and here.

Reyes on Lead and Poverty

Submitted on Thursday, 12/13/2018, at 2:01 PM

The lingering cost of lead poisoning was the subject of a recent summit at Harvard University, which included comments from Amherst College Economics Professor Jessica Wolpaw Reyes (a Harvard alum), excerpted in the Harvard Gazette.  

While lead exposure hurts everyone, she said, it has the greatest impact on disadvantaged communities.

“Reyes said one microgram of lead per deciliter of blood has the same effect on aggression, MCAS scores, and other social measures as $5,000 of family income, and an increase of 10 mcg/dl blood doubles the likelihood of teen pregnancy. All of these issues, she said, disproportionately affect the communities with the least compensatory resources,” the Harvard Gazette reported.

“You are losing leaders in these communities and gaining people who will need help and will have trouble contributing and interacting with others,” she said.

Emily Frey '04 Wins on "Jeopardy!"

Submitted on Thursday, 12/13/2018, at 2:00 PM

Emily Frey ’04, visiting assistant professor of Russian literature at Swarthmore College, won four rounds of “Jeopardy!” earning herself $64,503.

“It’s a show that really rewards liberal arts knowledge, I think. There aren’t many categories that come up on things like science, and when they do, they tend to be things I remember from taking two courses in chemistry when I was an undergrad. It does tend to be things like knowledge of history and languages,” she told the Swarthmore Phoenix. that the four shows, which aired in late October and early November, were filmed August 22nd in Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City, Calif.

Frey told the Phoenix that the liberal arts education she received at Amherst College helped her excel in “Jeopardy!”

She prepared for the competition by watching old episodes of the game show, and watching documentaries to bone up on such things as state and country capitals.

“A lot of it has to do with speed, I think. The buzzer is a huge part of it and I knew that, but I didn’t know how true that was going to be,” she said. “Eighty percent of the clues are buzzer races.”

She is hardly the first member of the Amherst community to compete on the game show. While still in his senior year, Ben Bishop ’09 won over $114,000 in four rounds, and returned for the 2009 “Tournament of Champions.” 

Ann Danielson ’91 and Gwyneth Connell ’00 each took part in the annual College Championship. Several alumni have competed on the show, including Scott Turow ’70 and Katherine Duke '05.