Reading With The New Books Network

Submitted on Thursday, 9/6/2018, at 11:07 PM

The Society for Scholarly Publishing’s The Scholarly Kitchen recently featured an interview with Marshall Poe, founder of the New Books Network, an ever-expanding network of podcasts devoted to new scholarly works.

The College has partnered with Poe since 2015, providing a platform for the library of podcasts. The network now boasts 81 subject-specific podcast channels. Various channels have interviewed Amherst faculty about their newest books, and the network has devoted episodes to titles published by Amherst College Press.

“I sometimes think of the NBN as a kind of audio library; we’ve published 5,100 author interviews and add 100 new interviews every month. It just grows and grows, and as it does it becomes richer and richer. Even today, you can find pretty much anything in our online archive,” Poe said.

Watching a Baby Planet

Submitted on Thursday, 8/30/2018, at 4:29 PM

“For the first time, astronomers have caught a baby planet in the process of growing,”wrote Paul Scott Anderson for the science website EarthSky, one of a number of outlets taking notice of a recent paper by a team of scientists, including Kate Follette, assistant professor of Astronomy at Amherst, who observed a new planet in the process of growing by accreting material from the disk surrounding PDS 70, and orange dwarf star located 370 light years from Earth.

“This isn’t just a newly developing planet, located in a gap in a star’s disk of primordial dust and gas. That’s been done before. This is direct evidence that such a planet is still gathering material from the star’s surrounding disk, and thus that it’s growing larger,” Anderson wrote.

Using adaptive optics on the 6.5-meter Magellan Clay Telescope in Chile, the team of astronomers led by Kevin Wagner of the University of Arizona studied the ten-million-year old star, publishing their observations in a paper for The Astrophysical Journal Letters  

The paper also attracted the attention of The Space Reporter and the American Astronomical Society’s AAS Nova.

Victoria Wilson on Beating the Trick Question

Submitted on Thursday, 8/23/2018, at 2:02 PM

In an extensive and entertaining piece on how to survive the common pitfalls of a job interview, College Magazine turned to Victoria Wilson, Amherst’s associate director for internship programs, on how to handle the trap question, “Why shouldn’t I hire you?”

“Stay calm,” she said. “If an applicant is unsure of how to answer immediately, the worst thing to do would be to charge ahead blindly or say ‘I don’t know.’”

Taking time doesn’t show weakness, it shows thoughtfulness, she added.

Chipo Dendere's Take on Zimbabwe's Election

Submitted on Thursday, 8/23/2018, at 11:44 AM

In numerous news accounts on Zimbabwe’s recent election, Chipo Dendere, visiting assistant professor of political science and Consortium for Faculty Diversity Scholar, is an expert whose name keeps popping up.

“Zimbabwe is deeply divided between the rural and urban constituencies,” she wrote in an August 8 piece for Al Jazeera, urging unity among opposition groups, who have since sought a court nullification of the July 30 presidential election won by the incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Chipo Dendere has authored or been quoted in Zimbabwe election coverage including Washington Post, China Global Television Network, New Vision (Uganda), and Africa News.

McQuirter: Starting a Plant-Based Life at Amherst

Submitted on Thursday, 8/9/2018, at 11:03 PM

Tracye McQuirter ‘88, the author (with her mother Mary) of the new book Ageless Vegan: The Secret to Living a Long, Plant-based Life, recently spoke with Huffpost about the intersection of race, politics and food, and traced her own journey back to when, as a second-year at Amherst, she heard a life-changing speech by activist and comedian Dick Gregory.

“He talked about politics, economics and culture of food, food deserts, why black folks eat the way we eat … he talked about using food as a tool for liberation. He traced the path of a hamburger, from a cow on the farm to the slaughterhouse, to a fast food restaurant, to a clogged artery, to a heart attack. It blew my mind.”

Judge Peter J. Messitte ‘63 and the Emoluments Clause

Submitted on Thursday, 8/9/2018, at 11:01 PM

It was an Amherst alum, U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte ‘63, who last month rejected President Trump’s latest effort to stop a lawsuit that alleges Trump is violating the Constitution’s previously-obscure “emoluments” clause, which bans federal officials from accepting benefits from foreign or state governments without congressional approval.

The case, and Judge Messitte, are the subject of a recent article penned by the judge’s son Zach Messitte for the Baltimore Sun.

“Public service runs deep in my family,” said the younger Messitte, writing about how a judge’s life experience informs his judicial ability. 

“Even though the emoluments case may be the most far-reaching constitutional case of his more than three decades as a judge, my father has heard thousands of cases that have an impact on Maryland: He’s put MS-13 gang members behind bars; adjudicated part of the collapse of the savings and loan industry in the state; and ordered the end of mandatory busing in Prince George’s County, effectively concluding a government effort to desegregate the schools,” he wrote.

Recent Graduates Discuss The Theft of Mayan Culture

Submitted on Thursday, 8/9/2018, at 10:59 PM

Sunna Juhn ’18 and Emily Ratté ’18 recently wrote about businesses engaged in appropriating, unpaid, images, products and knowledge of indigenous communities, for a piece in Intercontinental Cry, a non-profit newsroom underwritten by the Center for World Indigenous Studies.

“With $1400, you could buy an iMac or a trip to Europe. You could also buy a designer jacket … inspired by designs stolen from indigenous Maya communities,” they wrote in “Intellectual Extractivism: The Dispossession of Maya Weaving,” based on a talk given at Amherst in the spring by Angelina Aspuac and her colleagues at the Guatemalan Association of Maya Weavers.

“The stealing and appropriation of Maya textiles and designs contributes to the slow erasure of indigenous peoples from the cultural map of the world,” they wrote.

Conservation Incentives Pay Off: Sims

Submitted on Thursday, 8/9/2018, at 12:03 PM

Katharine Sims, associate professor of economics, continues to get attention for her research into how land conservation incentives get results.

“New research finds that a national payments for ecosystem services (PES) program in Mexico not only benefits the environment but supports social relationships in local communities, as well,” wrote Mongabay’s Mike Gaworecki in a recent article about the team of researchers —lead by Sims and Oregon State University’s Jennifer Alix-Garcia— who looked at how participation in PES programs, which pay landowners directly to conserve their land, affected agrarian communities in Mexico.

“Sims and co-authors found that enrollment in the PES program increased land management activities like patrolling for illegal loggers and poachers, building fire breaks, conserving soil, and controlling pests by approximately 50 percent in participating communities,” he wrote.

The researchers wrote a detailed report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the official scientific journal of the National Academy of Sciences.

Pawan Dhingra on Gains in the Face of Racism

Submitted on Thursday, 8/2/2018, at 5:06 PM

In a recent opinion piece by Boston Globe culture writer Jeneé Osterheldt, the author quotes Pawan Dhingra, professor of American Studies at Amherst, who sounds a note of hope even while discussing the dire status of the current national discussions about race.

“These are scary times,” he said. “There’s no question. You feel it in the way people vocalize resentments and racist views. But the reason I don’t curl up in a ball and get depressed is part of what they are resisting and responding to are gains being made by traditionally marginalized groups.”

Draucker: Climate Change is an Immigration Issue

Submitted on Thursday, 8/2/2018, at 1:54 PM

An administration that claims to be concerned about the refugee crisis would be better served by not minimizing the importance of climate change, Laura Draucker, Amherst College’s Director of Sustainability, wrote in a recent opinion column for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

“While the Trump administration claims it wants to ‘solve’ immigration, almost all its actions fly in the face of root-cause solutions to the refugee crisis,” including, significantly, “withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement, the first (and a long time coming) global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change,” she wrote.

“Climate change is not a ‘nice to solve’ problem that we deal with when our own borders are secure — it’s actively contributing to disruption and devastation around the world,” she wrote.

“The science is clear — climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. These include the heat waves, droughts and intense flooding that are impacting food production and water availability around the world,” she wrote, noting that famine factors into violence and displacement in Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Venezuela, and rising sea levels will result in many more people seeking new homes.