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.

Taking Off the Shackles: Carolyn Sufrin '97 on Prison Reform Bill

Submitted on Thursday, 12/6/2018, at 11:06 AM

National Public Radio spoke with Dr. Carolyn Sufrin ’97 about bipartisan bill before Congress which would in part place a ban on shackling pregnant women in prison.

About two dozen states ban the practice of restraining incarcerated pregnant women during childbirth, but the First Step Act would apply to federal facilities.

The U.S. correctional system was designed with men in mind, said Sufrin, a medical anthropologist and OB-GYN at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who works with incarcerated pregnant women.

"When you have something as gender-specific as pregnancy, it reminds you of how flawed the system is and how ill-prepared it is to take care of pregnant people and the reproductive health needs of women in general," Sufrin said. "They're, if at all, an afterthought."

Remembering "The White Shadow" and Ken Howard '66

Submitted on Thursday, 12/6/2018, at 11:04 AM

The New York Post wrote an extensive retrospective on the 40th anniversary of the television drama “The White Shadow,” the brainchild and one the most famous roles of the late Ken Howard ’66.

Howard himself earned the nickname “The White Shadow” from his teammates at Long Island’s Manhasset High School in the mid-1960s, being their lone white starter. Years later, he would pitch an idea based on his former Manhasset coach and mentor, Fritz Mueller, to television producer Bruce Paltrow (husband of actress Blythe Danner, and father of actress Gwyneth Paltrow). The show ran on CBS for just three seasons, 1978 to 1981, but made a long-lasting impact.

“Long before a recent generation of sports fans enjoyed and devoured “Friday Night Lights,” viewers were introduced each week to Coach Reeves and Ms. Buchanan, Coolidge and Salami, Thorpe and Hayward, Go-Go and Goldstein, and the myriad problems they and their families encountered with drugs and teen pregnancy and domestic violence and countless other issues involving their personal lives in inner-city LA,” the Post wrote.

Howard “never got tired of being associated with something that was so positive and thought-provoking and ahead of its time and meant so much to people. The fact that people are still talking about it 40 years later really says so much,” his wife Linda Howard told the Post.

Katharine Sims' Minute on Environmental Incentives

Submitted on Thursday, 11/29/2018, at 11:03 AM

Katharine Sims, associate professor of economics and environmental studies, and chair of the economics department, recently spoke on WAMC’s “The Academic Minute” about her research into the benefits of paying landowners to help with environmental management.

She and her co-authors studied an ecosystem services program run by the Mexican National Forestry Commission, which pays common-property landowners to do things such as patrolling for illegal activity, building fire breaks, or enhancing soil conservation.

“We found that the program resulted in an approximately 50 percent increase in land management activities,” while boosting community involvement, she said. This study adds new information to prior findings that Mexico’s payments for ecosystem services program reduced forest cover loss and helped alleviate local poverty, she said.

“Incentive-based conservation makes sense because it compensates landowners for the benefits their ecosystems provide to others. Our research shows it can also support social capital, which is an important driver of economic development,” she said.

No-Loan Policy Reduces Debt

Submitted on Thursday, 11/29/2018, at 10:58 AM

Amherst was mentioned in recent articles about colleges that are committed to reducing student debt through no-loans policies.

CNBC and Moguldom published a list of 70 institutions, compiled by financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz, that eliminate loans from their financial aid packages.

Most recently, Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, announced he would give $1.8 billion to his alma mater, John Hopkins University, to replace loans with scholarship grants at the college.

Student debt burdens Americans more than auto or credit card debt. The average graduate leaves school $30,000 in the red, up from $10,000 in the early 1990s, according to the CNBC report.

At Amherst College, we’ve replaced all loans in financial aid packages with scholarship grants, making Amherst one of the few colleges and universities in the country that do not require students to take on student loans in order to pay for their undergraduate educations.

Balancing Both Sides of My Mind: Lyndsey Scott '06

Submitted on Thursday, 11/15/2018, at 10:46 AM

“Maybe one day the world will stop underestimating Black women, but until then Lyndsey Scott ’06—actress, Victoria's Secret model, first Black woman to receive a contract with Calvin Klein at New York Fashion Week, and a noted iOS coder— is here to put the haters in their place,” xoNecole wrote in a recent interview with Scott.

Jumping off from a fall incident where Scott clapped back at online trolls who scoffed at her coding abilities, xoNecole spoke with Scott about her modeling accomplishments and her work in tech, which dates back to her days at Amherst.

“Doing what I love motivates me,” she said. “And I feel fortunate that I've been able to structure my life in a way where I have the freedom to do everything I love. I wrote a screenplay earlier this year that tells a true story that's very important to me, and it's currently in pre-production. Since I've been in Los Angeles, I've had the freedom to produce, audition, and go to my weekly acting classes, while still being able to code at home for 20 hours a week; working on cool technologies with great clients. I enjoy the balance that comes from using both sides of my mind.

Niahlah Hope '16: Stunts and Superheroes

Submitted on Wednesday, 11/7/2018, at 3:41 PM

The Shadow League recently spoke at length with Niahlah Hope ’16 about her trajectory from child gymnast to college athlete to Hollywood stuntwoman, most notably for her work as Black Panther star Lupita N’yongo’s stunt double.

“My gymnastics background gives me a lot of confidence," she said. "There's a lot of choreography in gymnastics and it's about knowing your body and where you are in time and space. Because all of that has been ingrained in me from when I was younger, I know how to ride a wire. I can fall off buildings. I can do anything they need me to do. And I've hit the ground so much from being a gymnast that its second nature."

She spoke about having to sport many many different hairstyles for her roles, which have included stunt work for “Orange is the New Black,” “Night School,” and “What Men Want,” so shaving her head for Black Panther was no big deal. 

“I don't know if you've noticed, but there are a lot more women who are shaving their heads recently,” she said. “I think we started something.”

On Choosing The Chair: Sarat

Submitted on Wednesday, 11/7/2018, at 3:37 PM

On Nov. 2, Tennessee double-murderer Edmund Zagorski was executed by means of the electric chair, which he chose over lethal injection.

The Washington Post turned to Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, for context on why a convict would select an older method.

The prisoner’s decision to revert to an older method of punishment, Sarat said, “signals what we know to be happening — the breakdown of this idea that lethal injection would be any kind of magic bullet."

“Lethal injection was supposed to be the fulfillment of a century-long quest for a method of execution that could be safe, reliable, and humane,” Sarat said. Sarat makes the case in his book, Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America’s Death Penalty, more than seven percent of lethal injections have been botched.

Running With Olivia Polischeck '21

Submitted on Wednesday, 11/7/2018, at 3:36 PM

In preparation for a run in the the 26.2-mile New York City Marathon, Olivia Polischeck ’21 was interviewed by hometown newspaper Palos Verde Peninsula News on how living with Type 1 diabetes does not hold her back from athletics.

"The misconception (about me having Type 1 diabetes) is that I can't do something," Polischeck said. "Every race, I have a pod that gives me insulin and patches on both arms…diabetes is not a setback for me, it's a motivator."

Polischeck, ran alongside twenty members of Beyond Type-1, a non-profit organization dedicated to research and education on diabetes. She is currently a member of the Amherst College cross country team.