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Zebrafish and “Driver” Genes: Biologists Nab Grants

Prof. Kara Cerveny

Prof. Kara Cerveny [bio] won an $80K grant to study neurogenesis in zebrafish.

Three Reed biology professors have won significant grants this spring, continuing a remarkable string of success for the biology department.

Prof. Kara Cerveny won an $80,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to investigate neurogenesis—the process by which neurons are generated—in zebrafish. This is part of a collaborative grant with two other principal investigators at Whitworth University and Lewis & Clark College; the total amount awarded to all three institutions is $240,000. The Collaborative Research Alliance Pilot Initiative will establish a virtual "Center for Excellence" in the Pacific Northwest. The overall goal of this project is to study the mechanisms underlying cell specification behavior during neurogenesis in developing embryos.

Prof. Suzy Renn won a $57,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to organize the BRAIN STEM workshop which brought together professors and students from colleges around the nation to discuss the role of undergraduate research and education toward the national BRAIN Initiative.

Planting a Legacy, Dave Nielsen Retires

BRANCHING OUT. Groundskeeper Dave Nielsen is retiring after serving Reed for 24 years.

You know Dave Nielsen. You’ve seen him pruning the roses outside Sullivan, pushing a wheelbarrow across the Quad, or riding a lawnmower on the Great Lawn with a bandana over his face. Dave retired last week, having worked at Reed for more than 24 years.

Dave’s first day on the job was December 10, 1991. Before Reed, he had worked at the Gresham parks department, plus done stints as Safeway checker and McDonald’s cook.

Since then, Dave has left an indelible mark on campus. One example is the profusion of rose bushes outside Sullivan. He calls that area “My Mom’s Garden,” because it’s thanks to his mother’s emphasis on education that Reed has the flowers. Several years ago, Dave and his two daughters, who were aged around ten and twelve at the time, were shopping at the Lloyd Center mall when the signs scattered around caught his eye. The mall was holding a promotion: spend $75, bring in your receipt, get a free rose bush.

Tech firms come to Reed for skull sessions

Chemistry major Luke Kanies ’96 founded IT giant Puppet Labs, which employs more than 300 people in downtown Portland.

The room is a hubbub of debate about broken code, JSON arrays, and the finer points of system architecture. But we are not in a conference room of a tech startup. We are gathered in a Reed classroom for an innovative event organized by the Center for Life Beyond Reed.

Its name? MindStorm.

Huddled at a whiteboard typically devoted to Milton and Hobbes, a group of students led by former math major Chris Fesler ’96 discussed the minutiae of designing service discovery protocols with all the earnestness of Odysseus begging Achilles to return to the siege of Troy. In lay terms, a service discovery protocol tells individual copies, or instances, of programs how to find and communicate with each other—so that if, for example, one instance of a security program fails, another can quickly armor up to continue its defense. Or so that, in the case of Fesler’s financial clearing company, Apex Clearing, a member of al Qaeda can’t sell shares on the New York Stock Exchange when one of Apex’s trade screening systems goes down.

RIP Father Palladino, Master of Letter Forms

MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD. Father Robert Palladino taught calligraphy at Reed from 1969 to 1984.

Father Robert Palladino, a vital force in Reed's calligraphy tradition, and mentor to many scholars of the letter—including a penniless dropout named Steve Jobs—died quietly at home in Welches, Oregon, on Friday, according to his son, Eric. He was 83 years old.

A former Trappist monk, Father Palladino taught calligraphy at Reed from 1969 to 1984, where he guided students on an intellectual voyage through the the art and history of the letters of the alphabet with brush, pen, quill, and ink.

“Whenever you write, write something worth reading,” he told his students.

Reed to Launch Computer Science Program

BRING IN 'DA FUNCTION. Prof. Jim Fix will lead Reed's new initiative in computer science.

Reed’s digital footprint will grow by an order of magnitude next year with the launch of a fully fledged computer science program.

With $5 million in fundraising for endowments nearly complete, the college will hire two new tenure-track professors, offer deeper and more advanced coursework to a wider range of students, and establish a major in computer science.

Combined with other recent initiatives—such as computational biology and the Software Design Studio—Reed aims to build an outstanding program that provides students from all kinds of backgrounds an unparalleled opportunity to master this dynamic field.

Making a Career out of Creativity

This year’s Working Weekend featured an in-depth workshop on Arts and Beauty in the World for students interested in pursuing careers in the creative field.

The two-dozen students in attendance got a chance to spend time with a dynamic group of Reed alumni:

conservator Jim Coddington ’74;

Physics grads prove Einstein was right

The collision of two black holes at near-light speed sent a gravitational wave pulsing through the fabric of space-time. Physical Review Letters

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, two black holes fell into each other's gravitational field and began to spin around each other at insanely high speed, ultimately smashing together in a spectacular collision that sent a pulse of energy rippling through the fabric of space-time. 

This cosmic event was detected on September 14, 2015, by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)—a massive scientific achievement by thousands of scientists who worked on the project over multiple decades. Physics grads Larry Price ’01, Paul T. Baker ’06Grant Meadors ’08, and Meg Millhouse ’12 were on the team behind the historic breakthrough, which marked the first time that gravitational waves have been detected and the first time that two black holes were seen to collide. (Until now, in fact, the evidence for the existence of black holes was somewhat theoretical.) 

Grant Meadors ’08

How did it feel to be part of this discovery? "Wonderful!" Grant told us. "How often can one help open a view to a new side of the universe?"

Grant began his work on gravitational wave astronomy at Reed, where Prof. David Griffiths and Prof. Johnny Powell agreed to him take Physics 200 his freshman year. "That fall I saw posters for the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates," Grant says. "One was at LIGO Hanford. Dick Gustafson, a scientist there, knew of Reed and invited me to come work with him in the summer of 2005. That is how it all began!"

During his time at Reed, Grant ran the nuclear reactor, won a Goldwater Scholarship, and wrote his thesis, Re-searching galactic structure with Reed's radio telescope, with Prof. Bob Reynolds [physics]. 

After graduation, he studied physics at the University of Michigan and spent two years at the Hanford Observatory as a LIGO fellow, participating in the "quantum squeezer" experiment. After earning his PhD, he joined the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Hannover, Germany, to resume his search for gravitational waves.

Paul T. Baker

The authors of the groundbreaking paper included several other Reedies:


Paul T. Baker ’06
 graduated in physics, writing his thesis on electrodynamics and weak-field Kerr geometry with Prof. Joel Franklin ’97. After Reed, he earned a PhD from Montana State University and is currently a visiting assistant professor at SUNY in Geneseo, NY, where he specializes in gravitational wave data analysis and bayesian statistics.

Meg

Meg Millhouse ’12 wrote her Reed thesis on neutrino oscillation tomography with Prof. David Latimer. (Her preface begins with a memorable quote from renowned physicist Wolfgang Pauli: “I have done something very bad today by proposing a particle that cannot be detected; it is something no theorist should ever do.") She later published her thesis in the American Journal of Physics. She is currently pursuing a PhD in physics at the Extreme Gravity Institute at Montana State University.

Dr. Larry Price ’01

Larry Price ’01 wrote his thesis on Bargmann-Wigner formalism with Prof. Nick Wheeler ’55. After Reed, he earned a PhD from the University of Florida and spent six years working as a postdoc at the LIGO laboratory in Pasadena, where he developed software to optimize astronomical observations and authored well over a scholarly papers on the subject of gravitational waves. He is currently a data scientist at digital advertising firm OpenX.

Medicine—the Unsung Liberal Art?

Biochemist Kevan Shokat ’86 offered career insight at a workshop on healthcare and the cure of illness at Working Weekend.

A workshop on Global Healthcare and Cure of Illness over Working Weekend gave students valuable insight into how to use their Reed education to pursue careers in the healing arts and sciences.

Many of the two-dozen students in attendance came to the workshop looking for guidance on how to break into the world of medicine: what internships and volunteer gigs to look for, when to take the MCAT, how to choose a medical school.

But hospitalist Kjell Benson ’91, still in scrubs after a night shift at Adventist Medical Center, advised them to take a step back: “You have to get your heart going. Then you’ll write your resume.”

Students Chart Careers at Working Weekend

Cartoonist and illustrator Lucy Bellwood ’12 shares insights and advice at Reed's Working Weekend. Mandy Heaton

Some 150 energetic students seized the chance to map out potential careers at Reed's annual Working Weekend, presented by the Center for Life Beyond Reed on February 5-6. Events included six workshops, each dedicated to a Community of Purpose, and a Career Fayre at which 65 students met with potential employers.

The communities of purpose were devised to help students whose interests might not dovetail exactly with traditional occupational categories such as engineering, law, or medicine. Instead, the communities focus on larger themes, such as Global Healthcare and the Cure of Illness and Human Potential, Education, and Success, which spans careers from teaching to psychology research to coaching.

Employers represented at the Career Fayre included the City of Portland, Multnomah County Health Department, Peace Corps, Planned Parenthood, RVK Investment Consulting Services, and Scribe-X Northwest.

“Zero Project” turns art gallery into airplane hangar

Reed students assemble the Zero Project by Katsushige Nakahashi in the Cooley Art Gallery. The project involves stitching together more than 25,000 individual photographs. Daniel Cronin

It’s an airplane. It’s a puzzle. It’s a work of art.

The monumental Zero Project is currently on display in Reed’s Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Gallery, transforming the gallery into a surreal airplane hangar where students are painstakingly stitching more than 25,000 individual photographs into a single gargantuan image.

Eschewing mimesis for collaborative assembly, Zero Project is the brainchild of artist Katsushige Nakahashi. As a boy, he played with a plastic scale model of the aircraft flown by Imperial Japanese Navy kamikaze pilots during WWII— the Mitsubishi A6M Zero warplane.

Physics major builds a better brick

CUE THE CUBOID. Physics major Aiman Absar ’19 is on a quest to help Bangladesh cope with devastating floods with a cheaper, more sustainable brick.

A Reed physics major hopes to curb the devastation caused by floods in Bangladesh with a new twist on one of humanity’s most durable inventions—the humble brick.

Aiman Absar ’19 and two Bangladeshi friends have created a startup to manufacture a new kind of brick that is both cheap and environmentally sustainable.

With a population of 156 million people packed into an area the size of Iowa, Bangladesh has the highest population density in the world. During the monsoon season, heavy rain combined with poor drainage cause the rivers to flood their banks, inundating the countryside and destroying the makeshift houses of the impoverished rural population. When the waters subside, the farmers and fishermen begin the Sisyphean task of fashioning another abode from sheets of corrugated steel, mud, and thatch.

Religion professor to discuss Islamophobia

Prof. Kambiz GhaneaBassiri is one of the foremost scholars on the history of Islam.

Prof. Kambiz GhaneaBassiri [religion], an expert on the history of Islam, will address the City Club of Portland on the threat of Islamophobia on Friday.

When politicians call for Muslims to be barred from entering the United States and for Muslim citizens to be registered, it is clear that Islamophobia has become an increasingly common aspect of national conversation.

Prof. GhaneaBassiri will join educators, community organizers, and other scholars at the Sentinel Hotel to discuss how the rise of Islamophobia is playing out in the Pacific Northwest on Friday, January 8 at 12:15 p.m.

The Economics of the Big Cut

It’s quick, it’s painless, it’s free, and it cuts HIV infection in men by up to 60%.

Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) is a powerful tool for combating HIV in areas with high prevalence rates of the virus, according to the World Health Organization.

Nonetheless, men aren’t typically pounding down the door to get the operation. So government agencies, health workers, and NGOs in South Africa are trying to find ways to encourage more men to undergo the procedure.

Winter Fellows Circumnavigate the Globe

Nine intrepid Reed students won fellowships to pursue projects around the globe over Winter Break. (And yes, the guy in the sport coat is President Kroger.)

Nine intrepid Reed students will travel the globe this winter as part of Reed's Fellowship for Winter International Travel.

The nine fellows won $3,000 each to pursue a passion, develop a professional skill, or perform service for others over Winter Break. 

Chemistry major Joohee Bang ’16 will learn about carbon fiber in South Korea through a program offered by Korea Mirae Technology. "As a chemist who is pursuing academic career in materials science and engineering, I hope to gain further insights into new materials with industrial purposes and their applications," she writes.

Student Performers Win Kahan Fellowship

Hannah MacKenzie-Margulies ’16 was one of the winners of the Jim Kahan Fellowship.

Dance/music major Hannah MacKenzie-Margulies ’16 and art/dance major Grace Poetzinger ’16 are first-ever winners of Reed’s new Jim Kahan Performing Arts Fellowship.

The purpose of the fellowship is to provide students with the means to be able to spend their summer working on a music, dance, or theater project, which is performed at Reed during the following year.

Both students took creative risks with their projects. Grace travelled to Vienna to study an obscure but influential modern dance movement. Hannah, a talented dancer, spent the summer learning the clarinet. They performed a joint concert (or was it a Kahan-cert?) of music and dance in October.

Childcare Center Opens at Reed

SOMETHING TO SMILE ABOUT. Students, professors, and staff can now get professional childcare for their kids on campus. Photo by Tom Humphrey

To the merry sound of shrieks and giggles, a childcare center opened on the Reed campus this semester, serving about 50 kids from infants to preschoolers, spread over five classrooms.

Located in the northwest corner of campus (near the site of the former Eastmoreland Hospital), the new center is operated by Growing Seeds, an independent provider that runs two other centers in Portland, and employs several Reed students as part-time teachers.

Professors, staff, and students have long lamented the shortage of affordable childcare in the neighborhood. In fact, the center is the result of almost 20 years of planning, led by a faculty/staff committee that included Prof. Gail Berkeley Sherman [English], Prof. Jennifer Corpus [psych], Prof. Elizabeth Drumm [Spanish], Prof. Kathryn Oleson [psych], Prof. Paul Silverstein [sociology], communications guru Stacey Kim, and stats master Mike Tamada.

Great Pumpkin Appears in President’s Office

Vast. Vegetative. Vibrantly orange. President Kroger admires the gargantuan gourd bestowed upon him by a fleet-footed band of students.

An enormous pumpkin materialized in the office of President John R. Kroger last week, courtesy of a fleet-footed band of Reed students who wheeled the gargantuan gourd in on a handcart, installed it in the presidential suite, and promptly abstracted themselves from view.

Details of the shadowy operation remain unclear, but it appears that the stupendous squash—which weighs well over 100 pounds—was raised on the Flamingo Ridge Farm and resided in Commons for some time before its great migration to Eliot Hall. Students penned messages of holiday cheer on the colossal cucurbit, which now graces the president's coffee table.

The students also deposited a great pumpkin at the door of Community Safety Director Gary Granger in 28 West. Granger and his crew subsequently carved a face into the fleshy fruit and turned it into--what else?-- a gigantic Jack-o'-lantern.

Students nab prize for work on “hunger hormone”

Peckish? Ghrelin is probably flooding your hypothalamus right now.

A trio of Reed psych majors won a prize at a scientific conference last month for their research into ghrelin—sometimes known as the “hunger hormone.”

Biochem major Eliotte Garling ’18, bio-psych major Lia Zallar ’16, and psych major Hannah Baumgartner ’16 won the Neuroscience/Psychology Poster Prize at the 24th annual Murdock College Science Research Program held in Vancouver, WA, for their research into the mechanisms by which ghrelin affects appetite, metabolism, stress, and reward signaling.

Working with Prof. Paul Currie [psych], the students performed a series of experiments on rats to investigate the effects of ghrelin when injected into different parts of the brain.

What is Reed’s “Return on Investment?”

Ken Koe ’45 won a full scholarship at Reed and pursued a stellar career in biochemistry, culminating in the discovery of sertraline--better known as Zoloft.

He was a quiet, scrawny kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Grew up during the Depression. Bounced around the Pacific Northwest while his parents hunted for work before settling in Portland. Washed shirts in the family’s Chinatown laundry.

Money was tight; he sometimes went hungry. Walking to Lincoln High School, past the knots of hollow-eyed men who thronged the streets of downtown Portland, Ken Koe ’45 knew that for a guy like him, college was not a luxury. It was an escape hatch.

The night before his high school graduation, he heard the sound of the escape hatch opening—Reed College had granted him a full scholarship.

So in the fall of 1942, he became a day-dodger at Reed, embarking, as he would later say, on an “exhilarating intellectual journey.” He read Homer in Literature 11 and took freshman chemistry from Prof. Arthur Scott [chemistry 1923-79]. After class, he hopped on the Eastmoreland trolley back to Chinatown, waiting tables and washing dishes at Hung Far Low. Somehow he managed to graduate in just three years, writing his thesis with Prof. Fred Ayres [chemistry 1940-70].

En Garde! Math-Econ Major Nabs Fencing Title

Math-econ major Ian Morrison ’17 won the Douglas Williams Tournament. Photo by Jordan Yu ’16

Math-Econ major Ian Morrison ’17 parried his way to victory last week when he won the 18th annual Douglas Williams Fencing Tournament.

The contest featured incisive attacks and lightning ripostes from all the participants, but once the masks were lifted, their steely competition turned to cheerful camaraderie. Fencing coach Miwa Nishi ’92 says her favorite part of the tournament is the way that every student improves from the first to the last bout.

The tournament was started by the late Douglas Williams ’63, who learned to fence at Reed and later said that it taught him to value a balance of mental and physical excellence. He began the tournament to promote interest in the sport and to give back to Reed. It includes a purse of $8,000 that supports financial aid. (Any Reed student can compete, but only students who receive financial aid are eligible for the prize money.)

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