Tracking the Skyrmion

Submitted on Wednesday, 3/7/2018, at 10:59 AM

Interest in Physics Professor David S. Hall’s work with the skyrmion has taken off like, well, lightening.

Hall, members of his student research team and his collaborators at Aalto University in Finland recently created a three-dimensional skyrmion—a quasiparticle consisting of a knotted configuration of atomic magnetic moments, or spins—in a quantum gas in Hall’s lab. Scientists predicted the existence of the skyrmion theoretically more than 40 years ago, but this is the first time such an object, exhibiting the properties of ball lightning,  has been observed in an experiment.

The experiment has attracted the attention of Science, Gizmodo, and other science-related news services.

Sonya Clark '89 on "Unraveling"

Submitted on Thursday, 3/1/2018, at 12:24 PM

“I wanted to make a piece that sort of acknowledged how far we’ve come in some way or another … and how slow the progress has been,” Visiting Artist-in-Residence Sonya Clark ’89 told the Boston Globe, for a piece about her Feb. 21 Mead Art Museum performance of “Unraveling,” in which she and other participants slowly unravelled a Confederate flag.

Diverse: Amherst Noted for Mellon Initiative

Submitted on Thursday, 3/1/2018, at 12:20 PM

Diverse recently published a piece about the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarding Amherst College a prestigious $500,000 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program grant to fund an initiative to attract and better serve students from underrepresented groups.

“The goal of MMUF is compatible with Amherst, a renowned liberal arts institution with a highly diverse student body,” wrote Diverse. “At present, 44 percent of U.S. students at Amherst identify as students of color. One of the school’s chief principles is that liberal arts education develops individuals with deep understanding of the world and the possibility to create positive change through innovation and critical thinking.”

Chronicle: Amherst a Top Producer of Fulbrights

Submitted on Thursday, 3/1/2018, at 12:16 PM

Amherst College once again gets a nod from The Chronicle of Higher Education, in its annual list of institutions producing the largest number of Fulbright scholars. Thirteen Amherst students were awarded Fulbrights for 2017-2018.

Parham on Race and the Digital Humanities

Submitted on Thursday, 3/1/2018, at 12:14 PM

“My earliest experiences with computers and devices mainly stemmed from my grandfather’s obsession with Kaypros in the 1980s,” Professor of English Marisa Parham told DML Central, for part of a series of articles about last fall’s conference “Race, Memory, And The Digital Humanities” at the College of William and Mary. In the piece, she reminisces about her grandfather’s interest in computers and his support helped spark her own interest.

She spoke with DML Central about how support is essential for students of color interested in the digital humanities.

“Underrepresented students must be taught strategies to make sure they are able to develop and pursue their academic imagination,” she said. “My sense is that many students interested in college are not really sure what it is for. Being underrepresented amplifies this, especially because being underrepresented means that you are constantly at risk of your dreams not being represented in the options presented to you. You will likely literally never see a future version of yourself. Or, at worst, you’ll never have access to the tools to imagine, identify, and pursue options.”

The Bottom-Line Benefits of Conservation

Submitted on Thursday, 3/1/2018, at 12:12 PM

For a recent story about Chile designating 10 million acres of national parks as conservation land, The Huffington Post spoke with Katherine Sims, associate professor of economics, about her research into the positive economic effects of land conservation.

“Sims’ research has compared local communities living next to protected areas in both Thailand and Costa Rica with similar communities living far from parks. What she found surprised even her and bucked conventional wisdom: Poverty levels were lower for the people living near parks,” wrote HuffPo columnist Jeremy Hance.

“Her research shows that economic benefits from the park – tourism, increased infrastructure and the overspill of ecosystem services – outweighed the restriction placed on exploiting natural resources.”

Lisa Brooks on "Raising Questions and Reclaiming History"

Submitted on Thursday, 2/15/2018, at 2:21 PM

“I don’t want this to be a definitive history of King Philip’s War. What I really want is for this book to raise questions for people,” Lisa Brooks, associate professor of English and American Studies, told the Daily Hampshire Gazette in a recent article on her new book, Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s War (Yale University Press).

"Our Beloved Kin draws on written letters and other materials written by … Indians, who were thought to have been illiterate. Her creative, readable telling doubles as a relevant and timely interpretation of their history,” writes Gazette columnist Richie Davis.

A Dangerous Year For Women's Studies

Submitted on Thursday, 2/15/2018, at 2:05 PM

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently spoke with Amrita Basu, chair of Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies, for an article about how women's’ studies scholars have increasingly become a target of the conservative backlash against #MeToo and other feminist causes.

“They were sad more than anything," Basu said about hate mail sent to her when right-wing pundits reported on her course "Women and Right-Wing Populism.”

 “[There is] a great deal of fear and paranoia about what feminists believe and what they teach,” she told the Chronicle.

Amherst Tops Survey of Black Admissions

Submitted on Friday, 1/26/2018, at 1:13 PM

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reported in their 2017 survey that Amherst College is once again top-ranked in percentage of black first-year students among elite liberal arts colleges. Black first-year students, some 78 in number, make up 16.6 percent of the entering class.

Amherst broke the Journal's 24-year record two years ago, reporting a population of Black first-year students exceeding 18 percent.

In Praise of Darkness

Submitted on Friday, 1/26/2018, at 12:52 PM

“I decided to become an airline pilot in part because I believed that aviators might enjoy a particularly pure experience of night,” writes Mark Vanhoenacker ’96 in a New York Times essay that may change the way you think of the dark.