Sallyportal: Madly Blogging Reed

Professor Peter Rock Works Backwards to Cast "Spells"

Prof. Peter Rock Norah Hoover

The fragmentary novel Spells has its genesis when Prof. Peter Rock [creative writing 2001-] was  working as a security guard in an art museum, amusing himself by making up stories for pieces in the galleries.

“I entertained myself by trying to make up a story for each photograph, painting and object in the museum,” he explained when he spoke on campus September 25. “However, we guards weren't allowed to write on the job. Bending this rule, I carried a scrap of paper and a little pencil and then, in the minute or so when I was going down the stairway to the next floor, I'd furtively scribble a few words, to remind me of the stories I'd made up in my head. When I got to the break room in the basement, I'd write down as much as I could, in the half hour, and then begin again. Later, I'd go home and work some more on it all."

The Spells project came from a desire to get back to that sense of play in writing, Rock says, “it allowed me to expand what I thought was possible in terms of storytelling.”

Night Owl, Psych Major Nab Thief in Broad Daylight

REUNITED. Hugh Porter, vice president of college relations, is reunited with his trusty steed thanks to two alert Reed students. Photo by Vikram Chan-Herur ’17

Poli sci major Nicole Thompson ’16 and psych major Sidney Buttrill ’16 foiled a bike thief in the very act of velo-appropriation today, leading to the arrest of the suspect and the recovery of the bicycle.

Thompson was hurrying past the bike stands behind Eliot Hall on her way to the Public Policy Workshop just before 10 a.m. when she happened across an individual with a pair of “huge bolt cutters” cutting through a cable lock “like it was string,” she said. 

Trained in bystander intervention as a Night Owl, she confronted the would-be thief. “He mumbled an excuse about it being his dad’s,” she says, hopped on the bike, and attempted to pedal away. At this point, Buttrill, who was also passing by, sprang into action and held onto the bike’s rear basket, while Thompson alerted Community Safety to the theft in progress. The suspect then abandoned the bike and fled by foot across the Blue Bridge.

Reed and the Rankings Racket

WAVY LINES. Dubious data, errant arrows.

Fall has arrived, and all that comes with it—shorter days, longer nights, pumpkin-spice product placement, and of course, the autumnal deluge of college rankings.

As I’ve written before, the business of ranking colleges has long been fraught with arbitrary definitions, incomplete data, misleading comparisons, and outright manipulation. Some 91% of college admission directors suspect that cheating is rampant. And only 2% of them think rankings are “very effective” at helping prospective students find a good fit.

Nonetheless, collegebound high-school seniors are hungry for something, anything, to guide them on their momentous decision. And for millions of readers, articles on rankings remain irresistible clickbait. Thus the ranking systems and rating schemes keep sprouting like dandelions—this year even the federal government has gotten into the act with a College Scorecard website.

Bike Co-Op Named for Mark Angeles ’15

Chemistry major Mark Angeles ’15 cut a distinctive figure on campus. He was killed in a traffic collision 9 days after graduation.

The Reed Bike Co-Op was officially renamed today to honor avid cyclist and beloved classmate Mark Angeles ’15, who was struck down in a traffic collision just nine days after he graduated.

Scores of people gathered in the Quad to witness the moving ceremony and to listen as friends, classmates, professors, and staff members shared their memories of Mark.

“I’m never going to have another friend like Mark,” said Maren Fichter ’15, sounding a theme that reverberated through the occasion.

Students Drub Alumni in Ultimate Match

LEAP OF FAITH. Xander Harris ’16 seizes the day as Reed students triumph over alumni in epic Ultimate match. Photo by Jordan Yu ’16

The Berserk—Reed’s men’s ultimate team—narrowly defeated an all-star alumni team 9–8 on the sports field near Sullivan Hall, Saturday, September 5. The victors gave an impressive demonstration of speed, endurance, and determination that left the alumni panting.

The game was held to honor the wedding of two Reed ultimate coaches: Shane Rubenfeld ’06, who has coached the Berserk since 2011 and played ultimate all four of his years at Reed, and Whitney Mount, who coached the Reed women’s team last year. Alumni ultimate players converged on Portland to celebrate the occasion and decided to seize the opportunity to play a game against the students.

The alumni team was the odds-on favorite—last time they faced the students, they racked up a score of 17-8. But Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, was not on their side in this contest. While the alumni demonstrated superior skill and cunning, the students had the hustle and energy to run down the disc.

Tango from the Inside Out

Max Boddy ’16 got the chance to study with some of the world's foremost tango masters at Reed's annual summer workshop, Tango for Musicians.

I dashed along SE 28th Avenue with my case on my back and my phone in hand, checking the time anxiously to see how much time I had before rehearsal. It was brutally hot for a June day in Oregon, but my sweat wasn’t due to the heat alone. I was three days into an intense, weeklong “tango bootcamp” with some of the world’s leading tango musicians. Incredibly, I was supposed to be performing with them on stage in two days. And now my violin was acting up. How did I get here, anyway?

Last year, Astillero, a contemporary tango group from Buenos Aires, visited Reed, and I had the opportunity to accompany them in Reed’s orchestra. Playing their original compositions with them was exhilarating, and I wanted to play and understand that kind of music better, so I applied for a Rothchild summer stipend to study at Reed’s summer workshop, Tango for Musicians at Reed College. But first, as was emphasized in our workshops, it is important to play and understand the classic tangos before venturing out into the new territory of tango today, so I had to learn some fundamentals—fast.

At the front counter, I explained my situation to a young luthier as I got out my violin and handed it over for inspection. It was a little hard to believe that I was about to perform tango music on the same stage as Ida Kavafian and Chamber Music Northwest. I’d often imagined something like this—I just didn’t think the opportunity would come this soon!

Study Dashes Bucket of Cold Water on Psychologists

Reed psych major Melissa Lewis ’13 was one of the authors of a groundbreaking study on reproducibility published in the journal Science.

A massive study by 270 researchers, including three Reed psychologists, underscores one of the key challenges facing scientists today: Just how far can you trust scientific research published in professional, peer-reviewed journals?

According to this project, you should take it with a chunk of salt.

The study, published today in Science, set out to examine a core principle of scientific research: the property of reproducibility. Two different researchers should be able to run the same experiment independently and get the same results, whether the field is astrophysics or cell biology. These results form the basis for theories about how the world works, be it the formation of stars or the causes of schizophrenia. Of course, different scientists may offer competing explanations for a particular result—but the result itself is supposed to be reliable.

Class of ’19: Accomplished, Diverse, and 426 Strong

Reed students

THE GANG'S ALL HERE. With 426 members, the class of ’19 is among the strongest and most diverse in Reed's history. Photo by Leah Nash

The competition to join Reed College—often described as as one of the most intellectual colleges in the country—is getting stronger than ever.

Reed welcomed 426 new students to campus at its convocation ceremony on Wednesday, painstakingly selected from a record 5,392 applicants. The number of applicants is up 86 percent over two years, and 36 percent over last year. With the increase in applications, Reed’s acceptance rate fell from 39 percent last year to 35 percent, making it the most selective college in the Pacific Northwest.

The incoming class had an average combined total SAT score of 2070 and an average high school GPA of 3.95, with 88 percent ranked in the top 25 percent of their high school class. Twenty-two incoming students were either valedictorians or salutatorians.

Reed biologists show how parasites drive evolution

Reed bio major Shelly Skolfield ’14 and Prof. Todd Schlenke examined swarms of fruit flies (thankfully bottled in vials) to investigate the role of parasites in evolution. The experiment—the first showing that parasitic infection increases recombination in animals—was published in the journal Science. Photo by Tom Humphrey

Parasites are the Rodney Dangerfields of the animal kingdom—they don’t get no respect.

But it turns out that parasitic infection can actually spur evolution and may even be partly responsible for the origin of sexual reproduction, according to a study published in Science by a team of researchers including Shelly Skolfield ’14, Prof. Todd Schlenke [bio 2013–], and colleagues at North Carolina State University.

The researchers found that fruit flies that survived infection by parasites hatched significantly more diverse offspring, presumably to out-evolve the parasites that are trying to exploit them.

Reed Astrophysicist is Orienteering Star

ANGULAR MOMENTUM. Prof. Alison Crocker blasts through the finish line in women's sprint final at the World Orienteering Championships in Inverness, Scotland. Ethan Childs

Prof. Alison Crocker [physics 2014–] came in 15th in the women’s sprint final at the 2015 World Orienteering Championships, the best individual result ever achieved by a US orienteer at the world level.

Prof. Crocker’s shining performance came despite an initial stumble, when she misread the map and found herself on the wrong side of a stone wall, losing roughly 20 seconds. “Not a perfect race, but I was feisty after an early mistake and that did the job!” she wrote on Facebook after the race.

Prof. Crocker came in 15th in the sprint, 45th in the long distance, and was one of three runners in the US women’s relay team, which came in 20th. The events were held July 31–August 7 in Inverness, Scotland.

Mark Angeles ’15 Memorial Fellowship Established

Mark Angeles ’15 coordinated the mentoring program at Lane Community School. Photo by Daniel Cronin

Well known and well loved during his four years at the college, Mark Angeles was killed while riding his bicycle on May 27, 2015. In an effort to honor his legacy and to celebrate his life, Mark's family and friends have established the Mark Angeles ’15 Memorial Fellowship at Reed.

While excelling in academics, en route to earning a BA in chemistry, Mark created space in his busy schedule to be a dedicated volunteer both on campus and in the Portland community. He managed the Reed Bike Co-Op and shared his time and skills with the Community Cycling Center. He taught bike safety to children, was a mentor to underprivileged youth at Lane Middle School, served as an intern for SEEDS, helped run Paideia, sang with Reed’s a cappella group, the Herodotones, and was a house adviser.

The Angeles Fellowship will support a SEEDS student intern, whose work on campus continues Mark’s legacy of volunteerism and commitment to physical engagement as a component of service. Gifts can be made online or by mail. Please make checks payable to Reed College, and in both instances note that the gift is for the Mark Angeles Memorial Fellowship. 

Physics Prof Sets Compass for World Championship

Prof. Alison Crocker sprints through the Reed Canyon on her way to Scotland to represent the USA at the World Orienteering Championship. Tom Humphrey

Prof. Alison Crocker [physics 2014–] will represent the United States at the 2015 World Orienteering Championships, held July 31–August 7, in and about Inverness, Scotland.

Prof. Crocker is scheduled to compete in the sprint, the relay, and the long distance courses at the event. She has taken part in international orienteering since 2010, and she attributes her success to the concept of consistency. “Doing both the armchair studying of maps and the hard track or terrain intervals to have the speed. Most of all, it's getting out orienteering as much as possible, to make your brain expend minimal effort while figuring out orienteering puzzles.”

The sport of orienteering combines map reading, running, and not getting lost. Competitors have to find their way between a series of checkpoints, called controls, as quickly as possible and in the right order. Orienteers do not see the map of the course until the race starts, so there can be no advance planning of routes or control locations.

Field Trip to the Future of the Brain

Reed students infiltrate NeuroFutures 2015. From left: Jason Swinderman ’15, Rose Driscoll ’17, lab associate Greta Glover (kneeling), Mical Yohannes ’17, and James Fisher-Smith ’17. Suzy Renn

Reed biology research students took a field trip to the future this summer at the 2nd annual NeuroFutures conference sponsored by the Oregon Health & Science University Brain Institute in Portland last week.

Scientists at top institutions from around the nation presented their cutting-edge research on new technologies in brain imaging, brain mapping, and brain implants used to treat disease. One scientist presented her recent work on how to turn a gene that senses heat from a chili pepper into a remote-controlled brain “stimulation electrode.” She also talked about her work in engineering a device that could manipulate brain cells by shining a blue light down a microscopic tube implanted in a patient’s spine.

Other talks dealt with the massive effort to map the circuitry of the brain, and how the development of new automation techniques has drastically improved the rate of progress on this complex project. The presentations riveted the Reed students who attended, took notes, and asked questions.

Reed Profs Win $2.2M in Grants, Set 10-Year Record

Prof. Suzy Renn won big NSF grant to study voluntary starvation among mouth-brooding fish.

Professors at Reed won a total of $2,251,849 in research grants in fiscal year 2014-15, the highest figure in at least a decade (and possibly longer).

The eleven professors are pursuing a remarkable range of projects from the venom of parasitic wasps, to the compounds of bismuth, to the Moroccan diaspora.

Prof. Suzy Renn [biology 2006-] won a $618,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate a striking example of maternal behavior—voluntary starvation among African cichlid fish. Her research could shed light on the evolution of maternal instincts and deepen our understanding of metabolic and feeding disorders.

Psych prof wins $73K NIH grant to study alcoholism

Prof. Kristen Anderson [psychology 2007-] won a $73,000 grant from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, a division of the National Institutes of Health, to fund two years of a study entitled, “Facilitating Adolescent Self-Change for Alcohol Problems.”

The objective of Prof. Anderson’s research is to enhance understanding of the role gender plays in outcomes from an adolescent alcohol prevention program.

In adults, gender differences in substance use patterns and consequences have led researchers to explore whether gender-specific treatments for women are preferable. Research indicates that women-specific groups lead to greater treatment satisfaction.

Bio Prof Studies Insect Arms Race

WHEN WASPS ATTACK. This parasitic wasp is about to lay eggs in fruit-fly larva. A movie you don't want to watch.

Prof. Todd Schlenke [biology 2013-] has won a $373,000 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, division of the National Institutes of Health, to study one of nature's most unforgiving arms races-- the struggle between fruit flies and venomous parasitic wasps.

Prof. Schlenke's project is titled “A Model System for Host-Pathogen Interactions: Drosophila and Its Parasitic Wasps” and will explore how parasites suppress host immune responses, using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and its natural parasitic wasps as a model host-parasite pair. The work will identify and characterize the venom (virulence) proteins that wasps use to suppress conserved aspects of host innate immunity. By characterizing venom repertoires across a phylogeny of wasps, patterns of parasite virulence strategy evolution will be uncovered.

Drosophila melanogaster is a model system for the molecular genetics of innate immunity, but little is known about the life history and virulence strategies of its natural parasites. Parasitic wasps can infect fruit-fly larvae at frequencies greater than 50% in natural populations, and are highly amenable to laboratory and field study.

Math Prof Wins Grant to Study Infinite Loop Spaces

Prof. Angelica Osorno [math 2013-] has won a Collaboration Grant for Mathematicians in the amount of $35,000 from the Simons Foundation to study infinite loop spaces.

An infinite loop space is a topological space that has a multiplication that is associative, commutative, and unital up to all higher homotopies. Infinite loop spaces are closely related to generalized cohomology theories, and are thus of great importance in algebraic topology.

Prof. Osorno is the principal coordinator on the project, “Categorical inputs for infinite loop machine spaces,” which centers on two aspects of infinite loop space theory: infinite loop space machines for 2-categories and equivariant infinite loop space machines.

Anthro Prof Wins Fulbright for Moroccan Diaspora

VIRTUOUS CYCLE. Prof. Paul Silverstein will investigate the Moroccan diaspora in Belgium.

Prof. Paul Silverstein [anthropology 2000-] has won a Fulbright fellowship to investigate historical genealogy, lived experience, and political engagements of Belgian citizens of Moroccan Berber heritage.

His teaching and research fellowship will take him to Belgium to the Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Centre of the Anthropology Department of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven from September 2015 to June 2016 on a project entitled, "Moroccan Miners, Berber Activists, and the Future of Belgian Cosmopolitanism."

Since the 1980s, Western European media and governmental reports have consistently represented ethno-racial and religious diversity as an existential challenge to national coherence. The prevailing narrative is that when immigrant groups are integrated into social and cultural norms they will assimilate the identifications and loyalties of the state. When groups resist assimilation it creates anxieties. Since September 11th, these anxieties have centered largely on those Muslim citizens of North Africa, South Asian, and Turkish descent.

Chemistry prof wins grant to work on heavy metal

Prof. LaLonde will investigate the potential of bismuth as a catalyst.

Prof. Rebecca LaLonde ’01 [chemistry 2013-] has won a $40,000 grant from the Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement to investigate the element bismuth.

One of the most urgent challenges facing organic chemists today is the need to synthesize enantioenriched bioactive molecules to treat diseases such as malaria, HIV, and cancer. Unfortunately, these chemical reactions typically require the use of rare, expensive, and potentially toxic heavy metals as catalysts.

But one heavy metal is cheap, readily available, recyclable, and non-toxic—yes, we’re talking about bismuth, the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol.

Bio prof wins NSF grant to study maternal behavior

Prof. Renn will investigate the neural circuitry of mouth-brooding fish.

Prof. Suzy Renn [bio] has won a $618,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate a striking example of maternal behavior—voluntary starvation among African cichlid fish.

This species of fish exhibits a bizarre form of child-care known as mouth-brooding, in which females raise their eggs in their mouths for two weeks until the embryos are big enough to swim. During this time, the mothers undergo voluntary starvation rather than open their mouths and allow their fry to come to harm.

Prof. Renn will examine the neural circuitry involved in regulating this behavior, which could shed light on the evolution of maternal instincts and deepen our understanding of metabolic and feeding disorders.

 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Next >