Artist Maeve Brammer ’22 Looks for Next Exhibition Opportunity

Submitted on Monday, 9/19/2022, at 12:58 PM

Press-Republican — An article highlights Brammer’s experience as a double major in English and art at Amherst, and their recent solo exhibition at the Upper Jay Art Center in their hometown of Upper Jay, N.Y.

“It was exciting to be there because of the relationships I was able to form with professors because of the small class size. The community was small enough that it had a real community feel,” Brammer says of their time at Amherst. “I ended up working with wet medium most of the time, watercolor and ink. But I had the opportunity to take classes in a bunch of different disciplines, so I took printmaking and sculpture.” A photo shows Brammer at work on their Spring 2022 senior thesis show.

The article, written by Robin Caudell, mentions Brammer’s linocut series Preserve, included in the recent UJAC show, and an earlier acrylic self-portrait the artist painted and displayed at the center. “Next,” writes Caudell, “Brammer embarks on a long road trip out west to be present in nature, write, read and create.”

Amherst Researchers Track Black Bear Population Boom in Massachusetts

Submitted on Monday, 9/19/2022, at 12:57 PM — An article about the state’s black bear population, which is rapidly growing and expanding eastward, includes comments from Thea Kristensen, biology laboratory coordinator at Amherst College and principal investigator on the MassBears project, as well as from student researcher Elizabeth Zhang ’24.

Reporter Ross Cristantiello explains some reasons for the ursine population surge in recent decades, and describes MassBears, “a project led by researchers affiliated with MassWildlife, Amherst College, UMass Amherst, and the United States Geological Survey [that] aims to survey black bears using hair snares and molecular science.” The project is an example of “citizen science,” as it is informed by reports of bear sightings from the general public.

“Increasingly, what we’re seeing and suspecting is that these bears in the east, in areas that have a higher human density, are more likely to approach human homes,” Zhang says.

But Kristensen reassures readers, “It’s actually extremely rare to have negative interactions with black bears… they’re not interested in eating people at all.” She says of the research project, “Bears are a really dynamic species and people are always excited about them, or nervous about them, so getting the public thinking about this and talking to us about it is a really positive step towards coexisting.”

Rejji Hayes ’97 Included on Forbes CEO Next List for 2022

Submitted on Tuesday, 9/13/2022, at 2:17 PM

Forbes — Hayes, who has served as chief financial officer of CMS Energy Corp. since 2017 and as an Amherst trustee since 2021, has earned a spot on the magazine’s “second annual list of 50 executives who are likely to lead some of America’s top companies.”

“We surveyed top recruiters, executive coaches, consultants and the Forbes newsroom to create this year’s list of 50 leaders who look poised to step into large-company CEO jobs,” write Diane Brady and Jena McGregor. “What unites the executives on this list is that their accomplishments and talent are being noticed by those who have built their careers and reputations on finding and working with the CEOs of tomorrow.”

Hayes’ citation on the list (which is alphabetized by last name) describes him as “a strategic leader who’s adept at doing deals, managing multiple stakeholders and driving growth. Recruiters say he's shown leadership during previous roles at publicly traded companies such as ITC and Exelon, as well as earlier in his career at firms like Lazard and Banc of America Securities.”

Larry Dilg ’69 Remembers Using a Computer Dating Service Long Before There Was Tinder

Submitted on Thursday, 9/8/2022, at 12:54 PM

The Cut  — Dilg, an actor and musician, and his wife, actor Mimi Kennedy, were interviewed for The Cut’s Love Stories column about their 1960s experience with Operation Match, one of the country’s first computerized dating services. The system matched Dilg with Kennedy while they were students at Amherst and Smith College, respectively—but they didn’t start dating until years later.

The couple told interviewer Hanna Kozlowska about filling out the detailed questionnaires for Operation Match. “I wanted to be taken seriously as the authentic me, not a fake me. I sort of pulled back and said, ‘Well, you know, it would be interesting if I was totally honest about who I am,’” Dilg said. He received Kennedy’s name on his list of matches, but his response to her Catholic high school yearbook photo was, “Oh my God, it’s a nun!” Meanwhile, Kennedy began a relationship with someone else.

The pair briefly crossed paths in person years later at a dance, and finally were brought together by mutual friends in New York in 1974. “And that’s where we met and fell in love. I mean instantly. Wow,” said Dilg. Kennedy added that, when Dilg walked in, “I had that small still voice within me that said, ‘This one’s yours.’” They have been married since 1978. 

Emmett Knowlton ’15 Wins Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition

Submitted on Tuesday, 9/6/2022, at 12:50 PM

Writer’s Digest — Knowlton, who majored in English at Amherst, is the Grand Prize winner of the 22nd annual contest, which rewards excellence in fiction of 1,500 words or fewer. His story, “Bluebird,” focuses on a young boy who finds and buries a dead bird in his family’s yard. 

“On his fifth birthday, his grandfather gives him a book about birds,” begins the story, which Writer’s Digest has printed in its entirety. Knowlton tells of the unnamed boy’s promise to learn all about the birds, his discovery and burial of the beautiful bluebird, and what happens when he brings two neighbors to see the burial site. The story ends abruptly, but not before an ominous suggestion that these events may turn out to be “the first real fulcrum of his life, the root somehow of all that went wrong.”

“Emmett Knowlton grew up in Montclair, N.J.,” reads the author’s bio beneath the story. “He is a graduate of Amherst College and holds an M.F.A. from the University of Montana. His short stories have appeared in The Masters Review and MAYDAY Magazine. He is at work on a novel.”

Rana Barghout ’20 Highlighted as Member of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Class of 2026

Submitted on Thursday, 9/1/2022, at 8:50 AM

Weill Cornell Medicine Newsroom — In an article and video celebrating its annual White Coat Ceremony of induction for new students, the New York City medical school focuses in part on Barghout’s life story. Her family emigrated from Egypt to Jersey City, N.J., and experienced homelessness before she enrolled as a first-generation college student at Amherst. 

As a teenager, Barghout found herself “living in a car for months with her two younger siblings after a tragic house fire left her parents in the hospital,” the article explains. “But for years she felt ashamed of this part of her past, keeping it a secret. Then, as a senior at Amherst College, where she was studying neuroscience, she was selected to give a TED Talk about her experience.” 

“I want to feel like I’m making a difference,” Barghout is quoted as saying. “I hope to work with underserved communities and increase awareness of the uneven access to care, and give back by helping others who have struggled like me. With everything I’ve experienced, I feel very impassioned to tackle these inequities and advocate for meaningful changes.”

Soo Youn ’96 Interviews Writer-in-Residence Min Jin Lee on Wrapping Up Trilogy About Korean Life

Submitted on Tuesday, 8/30/2022, at 3:29 PM

The Washington Post — Youn, a reporter for The Washington Post, spoke with the author about her writing process, global beauty standards and her activism amid increased anti-Asian violence. Lee recently won South Korea’s Manhae Grand Prize for literature and is working on American Hagwon—the follow-up to her bestselling novels Free Food for Millionaires and Pachinko—as well as a nonfiction book called Name Recognition.

Lee tells Youn why it was important to her to travel to Seoul with her parents to accept the Manhae Prize in person, as the first Korean American writer to receive it: “Recognition of a person like you and me, diasporic Koreans, by an establishment organization, is personally very, very meaningful, because I’ve studied so much about diasporic Koreans and our experience of not being accepted.”

The term hagwon refers to Korean after-school academies or “cram schools”; Lee uses this as a central metaphor in the third novel of her trilogy about the Korean diaspora. “I’ve never met a Korean who doesn’t have a strong opinion about education,” she says. “I’m working on it now trying to explore what education means to Korea, to Koreans and diasporic Koreans. So what I’m really writing about is wisdom.”

Professor David S. Hall ’91’s Research Shows Whirlpools with Symmetries of Squares and Tetrahedrons in an Exotic Quantum Superfluid

Submitted on Thursday, 8/25/2022, at 12:20 PM

Through experiments conducted at Amherst, an international research team led by Hall has created and observed a new class of vortices (tiny whirlpools) in an ultracold gas, reports Lancaster University. Their discovery has been published in Nature Communications.

“Although the vortex medium here is a fluid, it also possesses a set of hidden discrete symmetries. For example, one of the team’s creations had the fourfold symmetry of a square, and another had the symmetries of a four-sided die,” notes the Lancaster article. “The team’s work may have exciting future implications in unconventional realizations of quantum information and computing.”

In addition to Hall, Amherst’s Paula R. and David J. Avenius 1941 Professor of Physics, the researchers included Magnus Borgh of the University of East Anglia; Janne Ruostekoski of Lancaster University; UMass graduate student Alina Blinova; Tuomas Ollikainen, who was visiting Amherst College from Aalto University in Finland; and Yixin (Arthur) Xiao ’19, lead author of the study. “We’re fortunate to have extremely talented and dedicated students who can do these kinds of challenging experiments,” says Hall.

Ginger Polich ’06 Tapped for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame

Submitted on Monday, 8/22/2022, at 3:57 PM

Polich, a track star at Luther L. Wright High School in Ironwood, Mich., and then at Amherst College, is one of 10 athletes to be inducted into the UPSHF at its 51st annual banquet on May 13, 2023, according to The Daily Mining Gazette

Polich earned eight running letters in high school and 12 more at Amherst, writes Dennis Grall: “At Amherst College she broke individual 600m and 800m indoor track school records and helped her team break the 4 x 800m relay school record. She qualified to race the 800m and distance medley relay at NCAA nationals, and her relay team twice earned All-American honors.”

The UPSHF is located in Escanaba, Mich., and inducted its first class of athletes in 1972. In addition to Polich and another runner, the 2023 cohort includes standouts in horse racing, coaching, golf, basketball and tennis. 

Dylan Hsu ’25 and Brother Damon Join World Lacrosse Championship

Submitted on Friday, 8/19/2022, at 4:23 PM

Washington Parent Media features the Hsu brothers, who are competing in the 2022 World Lacrosse Men’s U21 Championship Tournament in Limerick, Ireland. Dylan is a rising sophomore and lacrosse player at Amherst, and Damon is a rising junior at Lehigh University.

Though the brothers were both born in Washington, D.C., and currently live in Potomac, Md., they are “playing for Team China, representing the national heritage of their grandparents,” writes Chris Dooly. The 11-day tournament includes 23 teams and 500 athletes and was delayed for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In addition to the two tryouts it took to secure their spots on the team, the brothers also attended the men’s training camp … in Towson, Md. Damon and Dylan Hsu traveled to Dublin, Ireland, at the end of July for more training before Team China’s first game in the tournament began on Thursday, Aug. 11,” Dooly concludes. “Wish these local brothers some luck!

The Restored Emily Dickinson Homestead Is Ready for Its Closeup

Submitted on Thursday, 8/18/2022, at 10:03 AM

The Emily Dickinson Museum, owned by Amherst College, reopened to the public on Aug. 16 after two years of pandemic closure and its most significant restoration project ever. “The newly restored and more vivid furnishings allow visitors to experience the home in which Dickinson lived and, most importantly, wrote most of her 1,800 poems,” says an article in The Boston Globe.

Globe correspondent Betsy Groban begins by noting the “unexpected and extraordinary revival” of the reclusive poet’s popularity in recent years, relating to the TV series Dickinson and films such as A Quiet Passion and Wild Nights with Emily. Groban explains the history of the Homestead and the Evergreens, the two Dickinson family residences that today constitute the museum.

Citing museum director Jane Wald, Groban describes the extensive renovation—which focuses on historical accuracy—and names some features guests can expect to see, including a “wonderful interactive display [that] allows visitors the chance to complete several of Dickinson’s unfinished poems,” “a reproduction of one of her legendary white dresses, her writing desk (so tiny!)” and portraits on the walls.

Home of Jim Steinman ’69, H’13: A Gothic Rock Cottage Fit for a Bat Out of Hell

Submitted on Wednesday, 8/17/2022, at 9:03 AM

The legendary songwriter “left no instructions about what he wanted done with the house after his death. Now his longtime friends are putting the property up for sale—with a provision: It is being sold ‘as-is,’” writes Andy Ryan in The New York Times. This includes “the gothic furniture, spooky artwork, wall-mounted records, grand piano, even closets full of clothing.”

The article, illustrated with numerous photos, details many of the items in the Ridgefield, Conn., house. Ryan notes, “The asking price is $5,555,569—the $69 is a tribute to Mr. Steinman’s beloved Amherst College, where he graduated with the class of 1969….” 

Several of Steinman’s friends and associates are quoted describing his homes, lifestyle and personality. In selling this house, they say they seek to honor the “vision and legacy” he has left behind after a long career of crafting hit songs with and for such artists as Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler, Celine Dion and Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

Professor Edward D. Melillo Pays Tribute to a Black High School Teacher who Revolutionized the Study of Insect Behavior

Submitted on Monday, 8/15/2022, at 4:46 PM

Writing for The Conversation, Melillo, Amherst’s William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of History and Environmental Studies, notes: “Turner authored 71 papers and was the first African American to have his research published in the prestigious journal Science. Although his name is barely known today, Charles Henry Turner [1867–1923] was a pioneer in studying bees and should be considered among the great entomologists of the 19th and 20th centuries.”

“While researching my book on human interactions with insects in world history,” continues Melillo, referring to his 2020 publication The Butterfly Effect, “I became aware of Turner’s pioneering work on insect cognition, which constituted much of his groundbreaking research on animal behavior.”

Melillo’s essay, which has been picked up by numerous other websites, describes Turner’s early life and education, as well as the difficulties he encountered in securing long-term employment at a university; he spent most of his career teaching at Sumner High School in St. Louis. Turner not only conducted and published entomological studies that are still widely cited today, but also wrote extensively about education for African Americans.

Q&A with OSU English Professor Elizabeth Hewitt ’88

Submitted on Wednesday, 8/3/2022, at 3:55 PM

The Ohio State University College of Arts and Sciences spotlights Hewitt, who earned her B.A. at Amherst and her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University before joining the OSU faculty. In her research and teaching, she focuses largely on 18th- and 19th-century U.S. literature, but her interests are wide-ranging.

“I came to the study of literature relatively late—adding an English major in my final year of college,” Hewitt says. “As a political science major, I had written a senior thesis on utopianism and realized that I was particularly interested in imaginative writing about governance and socioeconomic policy. I was lucky enough to have had superb teachers in both literature and political science in both college and graduate school who allowed me to couple these interests.”

The Q&A touches upon Hewitt’s 2020 book, Speculative Fictions: Explaining the Economy in the Early United States; the courses she teaches and a study-abroad program she has led; her advice to students; and her favorite books, music, movies and hobbies. “There’s not much that I don’t like talking about,” she says.

Where Is Model Lyndsey Scott ’06 Now?

Submitted on Monday, 7/25/2022, at 4:45 PM provides an update on the career of Scott, a fashion model, actor, computer programmer and advocate who appears in the new Hulu documentary series Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons

The article touches upon Scott’s young life in New Jersey, her early interests in programming and the entertainment industry, and her “dual degree” (in theater and dance and computer science) from Amherst College. “[S]he only pursued modeling upon graduating college,” writes Kriti Mehrotra. “She eventually became the first Black woman to sign a Calvin Klein exclusive contract, propelling her into fame and prestigious jobs, just for her experience with Victoria’s Secret to be much different.” Mehrotra quotes Scott’s comments from the Hulu docuseries about how Victoria’s Secret, as a company, was “not racially diverse” and not empowering to women.

The article lists highlights from Scott’s work in modeling, software development, and acting in TV and film, noting that she has also written a screenplay and spoken publicly about the importance of diversity in tech fields.

Scott made headlines, and was profiled in Amherst magazine, in late 2013 and 2014 for succeeding in both computer science and the beauty industry—thereby defying stereotypes about coders and models alike.