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News from the Reed College public affairs office

“You Can Do Anything,” a Business Writer’s Ode to the Liberal Arts

George Anders is the bestselling author of five business books, including The New York Times bestseller Perfect Enough about how Carly Fiorina helped restructure Hewlett Packard’s business model and stopped the company’s steep decline. He also wrote The Rare Find, about how hiring managers can do a better job of recognizing exceptional talent, and the follow-up book Becoming a Rare Find. In between authoring business books, Anders pens articles for the likes of Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Fast Company. So, you may be wondering, what possible interest could Anders have in Reed College?

In his latest book, You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of the “Useless” Liberal Arts Education, Anders comes to the conclusion that “in a tech-dominated world, the most needed degrees are the most surprising: the liberal arts.” Those most familiar with the liberal arts education might suggest that Anders remove the word useless and move the scare quotes to “Surprising Power,” but they will agree with the book’s insight:

“Curiosity, creativity, and empathy aren't unruly traits that must be reined in. You can be yourself, as an English major, and thrive in sales. You can segue from anthropology into the booming new field of user research; from classics into management consulting, and from philosophy into high-stakes investing. You can bring a humanist’s grace to our rapidly evolving high-tech future. And if you know how to attack the job market, your opportunities will be vast.”   

Tyler Nordgren ’91 Sees the Solar Eclipse in its Totality

Sun Moon Earth book cover

Sun Moon Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets

Totality. When the darkness comes, Tyler Nordgren ’91 will be ready.

A passionate advocate for astronomy and stargazing, Tyler is the author of Sun Moon Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses From Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets, and he is is going above and beyond to celebrate the total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. He has created a series of posters that educate the public about this momentous event, and he worked with Rainbow Symphony to design eclipse glasses for the National Park Service (NPS).

Tyler is a professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Redlands and a former board member of the International Dark Sky Association. He works extensively with the NPS on night-sky preservation and education and has led astronomy-themed trips to Italy (studying Galileo), rafting the Grand Canyon, and to Alaska for the northern lights and an occasional eclipse. This eclipse will pass through 14 states, from Oregon to South Carolina, the first since 1979 to pass over mainland United States. Tyler saw the total eclipse in Europe in 1999, and tells The Guardian that "nothing compares to the multisensory experience a solar eclipse offers." Also, he comments on how this phenomenon has been perceived throughout history in an OPB video.

RIP Prof. Scott Smith, Historian and Humanist

The Reed community mourns the loss of Prof. Scott Baldwin Smith, 53, visiting assistant professor of history, Russian, and humanities from 1997 to 2002. He succumbed to lung cancer on July 22, 2017, at his home in Southeast Portland, surrounded by family and close friends.

An electrifying and devoted teacher, Prof. Smith forever touched a generation of Reed students. Possessed of astonishing intellectual range, he taught courses in three departments, and across many boundaries: disciplinary, geographical, linguistic, and conceptual. A historian of the highest rank, he trained a cadre of Reed students who became professional historians and Slavists. He was equally committed to shaping the lives and minds of students who went on to do vital work outside of the academy. In his final days from his hospice bed, he gave a riveting lecture on sexual politics in Gogol’s “The Nose” to several former students, and described the thrill of revisiting his most beloved texts and seeing them with fresh eyes.

Born in Massachusetts, he attended Phillips Academy Andover, where his father Nat taught mathematics: pedagogy was in his DNA. After earning his BA at Yale in 1986, he attended Harvard University, where he was awarded an AM in 1991 and a PhD in 1995, both in history. For several years he served as a lecturer on history and literature at Harvard, before taking up a position as visiting assistant professor of history and humanities at Reed.

Senior Wins Award for Thesis on Chilean Art Resisters

Flavia Bortoleto ’17 examined the role of artists and resisters during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.

History-literature major Flavia Bortoleto ’17 has won the Lankford Award for her thesis, “Temporary Marginalities: The Role of the Artist-Intellectual in Resisting Dictatorship in Chile (1973-1988).”

The award, named for the late Prof. Bill Lankford [English 1977–83], recognizes accomplishment in both history and literature and is given to students with outstanding academic records and strong potential for further achievement.  

My thesis focused on analyzing artist-intellectuals' representations of marginal subjects, such as shantytown residents, during the Pinochet dictatorship,” Flavia says. In particular, she explored the work and reception of an artist-activist group named CADA (Colectivo Acciones de Arte), whose visual and performance pieces questioned the rule of General Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean dictator who seized power in a 1973 coup secretly backed by the CIA.

12,280 Feet Later: Reedies Summit Mt. Adams

PEAK EXPERIENCE. Students Zachary “Beadle” Beadle ’19, Edward Zhu ’19, Indra Boving ’19, Tiffany Thio ’19, Katie McPherson ’18, and Sumner Walters ’20 stand tall on the top of Mount Adams. Mount Rainier (far right) successfully photobombs.

Six bold Reedies. Six long miles. And 12,280 unforgiving feet.

The Reed Outing Club mounted an expedition to Mt. Adams last week, reaching the peak of the majestic stratovolcano after a two-day hike that spanned six miles and an elevation gain of 6,700 feet.

The hardy crew included Katie McPherson ’18, Tiffany Thio ’19, Indra Boving ’19, Edward Zhu ’19, Zachary Beadle ’19, and Sumner Walters ’20.

Senior Wins Award for Thesis on Cyberfeminism

Ben Landauer ’17 won the Unrue Award for their thesis on cyberfeminist poetics in China and Taiwan.

Chinese major Ben Landauer ’17 has won the Unrue Award for their senior thesis on cyberfeminist poetry, focusing on three internet poets based in China and Taiwan.

The Unrue Award recognizes outstanding work in the Division of Literature and Languages. It was created with a gift from John and Darlene Unrue in memory of their son Greg Unrue ’84, who died in 2008.

Ben began to research online Chinese poetry during a study-abroad in Bejing in 2016. That research led to a 15-page research paper their junior year, which led in turn to a senior thesis  titled “Cyberfeminist Poetics in China and Taiwan: Zhai Yongming, Yin Lichuan, and Xia Yu.”

Annual Fund Raises Record $4.6 million

Alumni, parents, and friends of Reed engaged in a flurry of passionate philanthropic support in the 2016-17 fiscal year, giving a record-breaking $4.638 million to the Annual Fund to support the challenging, rigorous, and transformative education that Reed provides.

Altogether, some 4,293 alumni made gifts to Reed, including 2,839 members of the Loyal Owl Society (for alumni who give for three years in a row.)

To inspire a strong finish, a challenge match was sponsored by trustee Deborah Kamali ’85 and Kevan Shokat ’86; trustee Konrad Alt ’81; and parents Steven and Diane Marrow.

Bio Profs Win NSF Grant to Study Shapeshifting Cells

SHAPING A CELL. This S2R+ cell expresses fluorescently labeled actin and fluorescently labeled NMII, imaged by total internal reflection microscopy.

Your gastrointestinal tract may not seem like the most exciting part of your physical identity, but it is one of the most vital. Virtually every creature on earth, from the ant to the elephant, is built on a similar plan, organized around a tube that eats at one end and excretes from the other. But how does this majestic triumph of evolution actually take shape?

The way an organism takes shape—known as morphogenesis—remains one of the central puzzles of biology. Now two Reed scientists, Prof. Derek Applewhite [biology] and Prof. Anna Ritz [biology], have won a $589,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to lead a project investigating the mysterious signalling system that turns a blob of cytoplasm into a stomach or a spinal cord.

The Reed project will focus on non-muscle myosin II (NMII), a key protein that governs the shape of a cell. The researchers are seeking to better understand the sophisticated chain of command that switches NMII off and on. This chain begins with the architectural blueprints encoded in a cell’s DNA and ultimately generates the microscopic filaments that change the cell’s shape. For example, NMII triggers a process known as apical constriction, which turns round cells into wedge-shaped cells, beginning the process that will form the tubular formations that become spinal cords and guts.

Defining Your Own Career

Lucy Bellwood Drawing

Adventure cartoonist Lucy Bellwood '12 draws her own career path.

Saturday of Reunions 2017, Reedies of many generations flocked—or rather, in classic Reed conference fashion, trickled—into the panel A Different Drummer: Reedies Navigating Self-Made Career Paths. By the end of the panel’s two-hour time slot, the classroom was standing-room only, and the wide-ranging discussion was still going strong. 

Westwind’s Whisper Echoes Still

Camp Westwind

Alumni and their children comb the beach on the annual retreat at Camp Westwind. Photo by William Aegerter '85

Reedies gathered Saturday afternoon of Reunions 2017 to reminisce about Camp Westwind, the legendary annual retreat on the Oregon coast.

The session, led by Jim Quinn ’83 and Johanna Colgrove ’92, kicked off with a slideshow of the surf, cliffs, caves, and sunsets of the secluded camp.

As attendees treated themselves to cardamom pound cake—from a recipe that Johanna retrieved on Facebook from a former Paradox baker—Jim gave a history of Camp Westwind, starting with the collision of the North American and Juan de Fuca plates 50 million years ago. The camp itself, which was built by the YWCA in 1936, first hosted Reedies in 1962. It was the start of a decades-long tradition of beach bonfires, talent shows, coastal adventures, and mythic late-night escapades. Through the ’70s, according to Jim, Westwind became such an epic event that classes weren’t held the following Monday, in order to accommodate campers making their way back to campus.

New Initiative Helps Students Work for Social Justice

Anthro major Daliyah Tang ’18 won a grant from the Social Justice Research and Education Fund to study federal Indian policy at the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana. She is an enrolled member of the tribe.

Studying tribal sovereignty among the Northern Cheyenne. The symbology of Afrofuturist art. Providing access to healthcare in Tanzania.

These are just a few of the projects that Reed students will undertake this summer thanks to the Social Justice Research and Education Fund, a new initiative sponsored by Reed’s Office for Institutional Diversity and the Center for Life Beyond Reed.

The fund was made possible by generous donations from Kathy and Alex Martinez ’73 and The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation, and came in response to demands from Reedies Against Racism, who seek to make Reed a more inclusive and welcoming environment for people of color.

Alumni Raise a Glass For Reed (and Dionysus)

Like a cluster of grapes, alumni of all vintages gathered last week to drink wine, celebrate Reed vintners, and raise money for Reed.

More than 70 alumni converged on the second annual Reedies Drink Reedie Wine for Reed event, where they enjoyed a profusion of reds, whites, and rosé from seven Reed winemakers:

The real highlight of the evening may have been a presentation by recent grad Nicolette Sutherland ʼ17 on her thesis, Cross-modal Perceptual Learning: A Novel Shape-Tasting Method for Sensory Discrimination of Wine.

Held in a chic Ducati dealership in Portland, this year’s event was hosted by Alumni Fundraising for Reed and the Portland Alumni Chapter and and raised $2,513 for Reed.

Organizer Dylan Rivera ʼ95 launched the event after his class coordinated a wine tasting at its 20th Reed reunion. He thought this should happen more often, but with a philanthropic component. “Reed was such a life-changing experience for me, I see it as my duty to give back  as much as I can,” Dylan says. “I benefitted from financial aid, and by giving to the Annual Fund every year, I help give a new generation access to the education that has enriched my whole life.”

Special thanks to the following alumni, who helped make this event happen: Stephany Watson ’82, Dylan Rivera ’95, Andrew Schpak ’01, Katherine Woods-Morse ’01, and Caroll Casbeer ’10.

Math Profs Win Grant to Stretch a World of Silly Putty

Prof. Osorno and Prof. Ormsby won a grant from the NSF to do research in homotopy theory, a branch of mathematics that uses the tools of algebra to explore the otherworldly terrain of topology. Photo by Chris Lydgate

Imagine an elastic, rubbery world where baseballs can be stretched into spaghetti, and coffee cups squeezed into wedding rings. Where our familiar intuitions about shapes, points, and proximity are given rigorous mathematical definitions—and then turned inside out, distorted into an alien universe of dazzling symmetries and dark infinities.

Welcome to homotopy theory, a peculiar domain where mathematicians use the relatively well-established tools of algebra to peek inside the fantastic terrain of topology.

Reed math professors Kyle Ormsby and Angélica Osorno have won a monster $368,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to explore this emergent field (pronounced HOME-uh-topy), which is populated by strange mathematical entities such as Hopf fibrations, Burnside rings, and infinite loop space machines.

Poetry Prize Goes to Environmental Studies Major

Poet Tiffany Thio ’19 draws inspiration from her dedication to science and the great outdoors.

Tiffany Thio ’19 has won the 2017 Mary Barnard Poetry Prize Contest for her poem, “quintessential hard heart.”

Tiffany is a environmental studies–biology major. Her busy course schedule has meant she hasn’t had an opportunity to take creative writing workshops at Reed—yet. “I’ve been writing poetry, stories, and songs since I was a kid, and I wanted to be a novelist when I grew up until I discovered that science is something I really love and want to pursue,” she says. As a kid she moved around between Asia and America and spent her high school years at an international school in Shanghai.

A science and outdoor enthusiast, Tiffany’s poetry takes inspiration from the natural world. She wrote“quintessential hard heart” during a trip for Reed’s outdoor program as she was riding back from skiing in the Santiam Pass. On the road to Sisters she passed by the Detroit Dam on the Santiam River, the same river where she had paddled her first class III rapid in a kayak and taught kayaking camps. “It was kind of bizarre to see flat water and a huge concrete wall in a river that’s flipped my boat so many times! Thinking about the numerous ways in which dams affect riparian habitats and surrounding watersheds is fascinating and quite saddening. Water has always thrilled me, and I love to raft, swim, surf, and kayak—it makes its way into a lot of my writing.” She drew on this and some personal family struggles to craft her winning poem.

Reed Grad Slain Defending Teenagers from Hate

Reed graduate Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche ’16 was one of the two people fatally stabbed while protecting the safety of others on the Portland, Oregon MAX train on Friday, May 26, 2017.

According to police reports, Taliesin was attacked while trying to intervene during an incident characterized by witnesses as an anti-Muslim and racist tirade.

President John R Kroger described the loss as "shocking and horrific."

Taliesin majored in Economics at Reed. We have heard from many community members this morning who are sharing their grief and memories of this beloved young man. Prof. Kambiz GhaneaBassiri [religion] described Taliesin as an extraordinary person. “I still remember where he sat in conference and the types of probing, intelligent questions I could anticipate him asking. He was thoughtful, humble, smart, inquisitive, and compassionate. He was a wonderful human being. As good as they come. And now he is a hero to me."

Prof. Noelwah Netusil [economics] was Taliesin’s thesis advisor, and describes him as “a very caring person, smart, hardworking, and with such a bright future.” Other remembrances by friends were published in the Oregonian on Sunday.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler issued a statement hailing Taliesin and the other bystanders as heroes. "Two men lost their lives and another was injured for doing the right thing, standing up for people they didn't know against hatred. Their actions were brave and selfless, and should serve as an example an inspiration to us all. They are heroes."

Reedies Rack up NSF Grad Research Awards

Tally Levitz ’14 won an NSF graduate research fellowship for her work in biochemistry.

Ten Reed students and alumni have won National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards or honorable mentions this year, for projects ranging from cultural anthropology to theoretical physics.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is the oldest fellowship program in the country that offers direct support to graduate students in STEM fields, and works to help “ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity,” according to its mission statement. Receiving a Graduate Research Fellowship has been the beginning of many brilliant successful careers: 42 fellows have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes, and more than 450 have gone on to become members of the National Academy of Sciences.

The fellowship is often a springboard directly into successful completion of a PhD program, with more than 70% of awardees completing their doctorates in 11 years. NSF Graduate Fellowships, then, are a natural path for many Reed students, as Reed is the third-highest producer of PhDs in the life and social sciences in the nation.

Seven Excuses for Not Attending Reunions and Seven Reasons Why You Should

NOW AND THEN. Reunions are a blast if you can approach them with a relaxed attitude.

Before ambivalently attending my first class reunion in 1983, I put together the following list of excuses not to show up. Maybe you’ve used some of the same ones to avoid coming back as well. Consider the counter arguments I came up with, and then consider joining us this year. I’ve had a blast at every reunion I’ve attended, and I think you will, too.

1. No one will remember me. Even if you didn’t hang with the folk dancers, the druggies, the politicos, or the all-in-black clique, someone is likely to remember you, no matter how solitary you were. But even if that someone is not among this year’s attendees, we’re a friendly group. You’re sure to meet someone who will like the you that you have become.

2. My life at Reed was too painful. Painful is waiting expectantly at the dorm window, unwilling to go to dinner until a certain person, who didn’t know I existed, entered commons. Painful is taking three final exams with an undiagnosed burst eardrum. Painful is sitting at home alone after class with a black cat on my lap, tears streaming unbidden down my face. That bout of clinical depression lifted only after I volunteered as a dance therapist with schizophrenic kids at the Perry Center. If I can survive all that, and then have fun at a class reunion, I suspect you probably can too.

Reed Biologist Lands $429,000 NIH Grant to Study Zebrafish Eye

headshot of Kara

Prof. Kara Cerveny

The National Institute of Health awarded $429,000 to Assistant Professor of Biology Kara L. Cerveny [2012-] to advance her research on cell behavior inside the eye of the zebrafish. Prof. Cerveny’s research will focus on understanding the specific mechanisms employed within the retina that govern growth, tissue size, and composition.

“I’m fascinated by the development of the nervous system,” said Professor Cerveny. “One of the things I hope to discover is how at precise times and in specific locations, seemingly identical embryonic cells are encouraged to generate all the different types of neurons required for us to perceive our surroundings.”

Cerveny aims to uncover how specific signals, naturally occurring within and around the developing eye, impact proliferation and differentiation of embryonic cells. By studying these events in the zebrafish eye, she hopes to provide insight into exactly how the human eye regulates analogous cells.

Physics Major Traps Chaos in a Jar

Edgar Perez ’17 is the first researcher to observe chaotic behavior in a monopole ion trap, which he designed and built for his thesis. His project was honored with the illustrious Class of ’21 Award.

Hovering between two electrically charged spheres, the microscopic ball zigs and zags with giddy abandon, dashing hither and yon in seemingly random motion. To physics major Edgar Perez ’17, however, this intricate dance represents something beautiful—chaos, captured in a jar.

The jar is actually a monopole ion trap, and he is the first researcher to show that it can generate chaotic behavior, which he demonstrated in a series of experiments for his senior thesis.

”I’m very, very happy,” says Edgar, who won the Class of ’21 Award, recognizing “creative work of notable character, involving an unusual degree of initiative and spontaneity,” for the project.

Reedies Nab Fulbrights

Hayden Bunker ’17 (right) won a Fulbright to teach English in Taiwan.

Four Reedies have been selected as Fulbright recipients for the upcoming year:

Zain Alattar ’14, as a Masters student in the Arabic and Islamic World programme at Sorbonne University in Paris, France; 

Nicole Cohen ’16, as an English Teaching Assistant in Galicia, Spain;
Ben Hemenway '16 as an English Teaching Assistant in Germany; and
Hayden Bunker ’17, as an English Teaching Assistant in a public school in Taiwan.

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