Sallyportal: Madly Blogging Reed

Econ Major Wins Meier Award for Work on Preference

Sarah Brauner ’16 Won a Meier Award for Distinction in Economics for her thesis on preference theory.

“My thesis was a bit unorthodox for a math-econ thesis in that it was more 'mathy' than 'econ-y'—usually it's the opposite,” shares Sarah Brauner ’16, one of two winners of The Gerald M. Meier Award for Distinction in Economics. After receiving this distinction for her exceptional senior thesis, Sarah is now headed to Smith College's Center for Women in Mathematics for a yearlong post-baccalaureate program.

In her thesis, Sarah used sophisticated mathematical modeling to analyze preference theory, the decision-making rationale that is the backbone of microeconomics. Preference theory evaluates how individuals “make decisions based upon an underlying set of preferences for certain goods,” explains Sarah.

“Suppose that you are trying to learn how I would rank apples, bananas and oranges. You know that I prefer apples and oranges to bananas, but you don't know if I favor oranges over apples or vice-versa,” Sarah demonstrates. Imagine you want to find out her 1st, 2nd, and 3rd favorite of the three; then imagine trying to decipher her ranked preferences with even more types of fruit. Only allowing two fruits to be compared at once, Sarah considered the question-asking process as a sorting algorithm using a “partially ordered set, or poset.” Ultimately, Sarah examined the question-asking processes required to learn an individual’s complete preferences.

Alumni Talk Elementary Education

The Alumni College focused on the subject of elementary education at Reunions ’16. Photo by Leah Nash

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer,” said Albert Camus.

For many alumni, Reunions week is a time to rediscover that invincibility as they gather to reminisce, recall their comrades in the quest, and take part in stimulating programs and activities.

Jim Kahan ’64 has long organized the Alumni College, which focuses on one topic in depth during the course of the reunion. This year’s focus was elementary education, attracting an array of professors, teachers, students, and parents.

Economics Grad Pursues Doctorate at Yale

THE WAYS OF FINANCE: Ahyan Panjwani ’16 won the Gerald M. Meier Award for Distinction in Economics

“Indeed, the Bard knew his macroeconomics well!” declares Ayhan Panjwani ’16, an economist with a predilection for Shakespeare and a winner of the Gerald M. Meier Award for Distinction in Economics. Ahyan will begin his doctoral studies in Economics at Yale this fall after receiving recognition for an exceptional senior thesis.

Referring to The Merchant of Venice while describing his research pursuits, Ahyan muses on the deal between Shylock and Antonio for “a pound of flesh and no blood,” highlighting that the character's concern lies within the collateral rather than the interest rate. Similarly, Ayhan will examine collateral and leverage as sources of systemic risk within the economy, moving beyond simply lowering interest rates during a financial crisis.

“Generally, my research interests lie in Macroeconomics with a bend towards finance,” he says. While at Reed, the mathematics-economics grad focused on finance in Brazil for his thesis. “The idea was to determine whether Brazil's current monetary policy is a feasible one given all their troubles in the past few years,” Ayhan details. Citing their failed efforts to maintain inflation, he proposed alternative policies for their economy. At Yale, Ayhan will continue to explore the ways of finance.

Physics Grad Focuses Energy at Cambridge

RELATIVITY AND QUBITS. Zuben Scott ’16 won a Sperling Studentship to study at Cambridge.

Upon hearing there is all sorts of “crazy research happening” at Cambridge from Prof. Joel Franklin ’97 [physics 2005–], Zuben Scott ’16 knew exactly where he wanted to head after graduating from Reed. Thanks to a Sperling Studentship, which is funded by Reed and Cambridge alumnus John Sperling ’48, he'll have the opportunity.

Zuben is now preparing for a year-long Masters of Advanced Study (MASt) in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. This is Part III of the Mathematical Tripos of Cambridge University, a world-renowned mathematics degree program focused on intense, independent coursework rather than research.

With 100 classes to choose from, Zuben will concentrate on “general relativity, quantum computation, and particle physics,” gradually zeroing in on a field as the year progresses. A lover of all aspects of physics, Zuben hopes that with “so many theoretical physicists crammed into one place” he will have enough exposure to confidently select a focused PhD program by the end.

Reed Champions Step Up to the Plate

HERE COMES THE SUN. Reed lovers gave more than $20 million to support the college during FY 2015/16.

Reed alumni, parents, and friends made a series of generous gifts totalling more than $20 million during the fiscal year ending June 30 to meet some of the college’s longstanding—and pressing—needs.

Thanks to their leadership, the college has been able to make progress on several big projects: launching a fully fledged computer science program; completing a long-held goal of a comprehensive program in environmental studies; and renovating the chemistry labs, the sports center, and the cross-canyon residence halls. Support for student research and for preparing for careers beyond college received significant contributions from alumni and parents who believe in Reed students’ talents. Donors also provided funding for Reed’s longest term aspirations: strong financial aid and general support for the endowment and the college’s operations.  

“Without philanthropy, Reed could not educate the wide range of students coming to the college nor provide them with the same rigorous academics, opportunities for research, small classes, and overall campus experience that it does today,” said President John R. Kroger. “I thank all of those who contributed. Their support enables Reed to create and recreate one of the finest and most distinctive educational programs in the country.”

A Rising Star Puts New Fellowship to Good Work

FORWARD LOOKING. Ashlee Fox ’19 won an Evan Rose Fellowship to study the efforts of Milwaukie, Oregon, to revitalize its downtown.

If you ask around campus about rising sophomore Ashlee Fox ’19, it is clear that in a short amount of time she has thoroughly impressed a lot of people. Recently, she was awarded the Evan Rose Fellowship for a 2016 summer research internship to study the efforts of Milwaukie, Oregon, to revitalize its downtown.  

“It's pretty unusual for a freshman to apply and win an award such as this,” says Jolie Griffin, faculty administrative coordinator for the undergraduate research committee. “Ashlee is going to be a student to watch. She's a rising star and everyone who has worked with her has been really impressed—including her sponsor with the city of Milwaukie.”

The fellowship, sponsored in part by Kevan Shokat ’86 and Deborah Kamali ’85, is named in honor of outstanding Reed alumnus Evan Rose ’86, and is one of many opportunities that Reed has for student learning beyond the classroom.

Adventure Begins for the Class of 2020

HAIL, HAIL, THE GANG'S ALL HERE. Class of ’20 converges on the Great Lawn at Convocation. Photo by Leah Nash

The trumpeting fanfare of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks marked the beginning of convocation on Wednesday, as Reed welcomed the Class of 2020 to campus. In addition to the robes and the regalia, there was both wordplay and swordplay, courtesy of Prof. Darius Rejali [political science 1989–], who delivered the year’s inaugural Hum 110 lecture on the question of friends and enemies in the Iliad, punctuated by the cut and thrust of a saber (Prof. Rejali is a fencing enthusiast).

Some 357 strong, the Class of ’20 boasts some formidable statistics: 10% were valedictorians of their high school classes and another 2% were salutatorians. 32% ranked in the top 5% of their class. The median scores on their SAT tests were 680 math, 710 verbal, and 680 writing, which puts them at the 96th percentile.

The class was drawn from the largest pool ever—5,705 applicants—and is the most selective in Reed’s history, with an admittance rate of 31%. Another 42 students entered as transfers.

Farewell, Prof. Thomas Gillcrist

We are sad to announce that Professor Emeritus Thomas Gillcrist [English and humanities 1962–2002] passed away this weekend.

Prof. Gillcrist taught at Reed for 40 years, arriving in 1962 after earning his B.A. from Duke University and an M.A. from Harvard University. Over the course of his career, he garnered many national honors and earned the admiration of his students and colleagues for his potent intellect and good nature.  

Drawn to Reed largely because of the humanities program, Gillcrist was known for his brilliant Hum 110 lectures, like this one on the Oresteia. He taught courses on William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, colonial and postcolonial novels, and on the Bloomsbury group. He is remembered for his infectious enthusiasm for his subjects, abiding influence on his students' lives, and love of fast cars. 

Sperling Studentship Winner off to Cambridge

Mimi Howard ’15 won a Sperling Studentship to get a Master of Philosophy at Cambridge University

“I’m most looking forward to re-inhabiting rainy environs, avoiding Trump, and studying conservatism in post-referendum Britain,” says recent grad Mimi Howard ‘15 who is headed to Cambridge University on a Sperling Studentship award.

The grant provides for a year-long Master of Philosophy program in Political Thought and Intellectual History at the institution and is funded by Reed and Cambridge alumnus John Sperling '48.

Studying reactionary thought in late 19th and early 20th century German aesthetic theory, Mimi is focusing on “the historical shift from the use of Greek words as organizing concepts to the introduction of distinctly German ones towards the end of the Weimar era.” Works by Nietzsche, Spengler, and more minor thinkers will provide the source material for the researched-based degree, in which all graduates are expected to make at least a “contribution” to learning through a written dissertation. By and large, Mimi is curious about when these works’ “engagement with the Classics” moves beyond the philosophy borderline and “produces a politics.”

Physics Grad Wins Wilson Fellowship

Woodrow Wilson Fellow Mike Sommer will teach STEM subjects in high-need schools

Working in the mailroom during his senior year, physics major Mike Sommer ’16 turned to his coworker and declared "Well, my life just changed forever."

Mike had just read an email with the news he had won the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship, which helps pay for a master’s degree in return for a three-year commitment to teaching in a high-need public school.

Now, a mere two months after graduation, Mike agrees that his life has definitely changed—“for the better,” he chimes.

Seniors grasp philosophy prize

Elise Woodard ’16 won the Garlan Prize for her thesis on a pair of puzzles in moral philosophy.

Two seniors have won the Edwin N. Garlan Memorial Prize, which recognizes outstanding scholarship in the field of philosophy.

Philosophy major Elise Woodard ’16 won the prize for her thesis on a pair of philosophical puzzles. Here’s how she explains her work:

In my thesis, I investigated two puzzles about moral knowledge. The first, a puzzle about moral forgetting, is to explain why it seems absurd to assert, “I used to know the difference between right and wrong, but I’ve forgotten it,” whereas claims to have forgotten facts and skills seem ordinary and unproblematic.

General Lit Major Wins Unrue Award

Carol Iglesias Otero ’16 won the Unrue Award for her thesis on Paul Valéry.

General literature major Carol Iglesias Otero ’16 has won the John Gregory Unrue ’84 Memorial Award for an outstanding thesis in the division of literature and languages.

The award committee cited Carol’s “exceptionally original and accomplished scholarship on a famously complex and challenging text by Paul Valéry.”

Her adviser, Prof. Jan Mieszkowski [German and Comparative Literature], noted: “The argument moves seamlessly between reflections on individual lines, words, or punctuation marks and larger observations about poetry, science, and literary history. The result is an elegant constellation of theoretical and practical interventions, something that one encounters all too rarely in our field.”

English Major Wins Unrue Award

English major Hannah Fung-Wiener wins the Unrue Award for her thesis, titled "Sounding Lines."

English major Hannah Fung-Wiener ’16 has won the John Gregory Unrue ’84 Memorial Award for an outstanding thesis in the division of literature and languages.

The award committee hailed Hannah’s “exceptional” thesis, which is titled Sounding Lines.

Her advisor, Prof. Lisa Steinman [English], said: “Hannah is a young writer whose work I expect to see in print in the years to come, since the thesis demonstrates the talent, work ethic, and seriousness of someone who will continue to write and grow as a poet.”

Annual Fund Raises $4.5M for World Change

The Annual Fund raised a record-breaking $4.5 million in FY 2016. No fewer than 4,446 alumni stepped up to make a gift to Reed. Photo by Leah Nash

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap,” author Robert Louis Stevenson admonished, “but by the seed you plant.”

Alumni, parents, and friends of Reed seeded future generations of Reedies when they came together to give a record-breaking $4.545 million in the Annual Fund drive for fiscal year 2016, which ended in June. And no fewer than 4,446 alumni stepped up to make a gift to Reed.

Reasons for giving were as varied as the givers. Scott Beutel ’06 exemplified the motivation of many alumni who made a gift. “Reed taught me how to think and how to live,” he said. “Even if I can’t give a lot, I want to give something because Reed still influences me every day.”

Tackle Climate Change—Go Birdwatching

Esther Forbyn ’16 has vision (and a keen eye for birds). Katie Pelletier

Bald eagles. Great Blue Herons. Mallard ducklings.

Anyone who has taken a study break to walk the forested Reed Canyon trails looking for birds and wildlife knows that connecting with the natural environment creates a sense of belonging and stewardship. Getting city-dwellers into green spaces and urban forests is an effective way to create a culture of conservation. But environmental studies–history major Esther Forbyn ’16 found that some Portlanders, especially traditionally marginalized groups like low-income residents and recent immigrants, can feel excluded from these spaces. Not only are these members of the community missing out on the benefits of communing with nature, the conversation about solutions to environmental problems is lacking important voices.

Religion major wins Class of ’21 Award

Photo by Foster Seybert

What is religion, exactly? A sacred book? A belief in an invisible force? A system of morality? A way of life?

Religion major Pema McLaughlin ’16 spent many hours wrestling with this question—so simple yet so deep— in a senior thesis on American Buddhism, which won the Class of ’21 award.

While many religions are preoccupied with eternal truths and revolve around unchanging scriptures, they are fundamentally social activities, Pema says, evolving over time and place. Over the last 30 years, for example, a form of Buddhism has gained currency among middle-class, educated, white Americans, often as part of the self-help movement—which has led some scholars to dismiss it as a “night-stand religion.”

The Taste of Reed

HOLY CRÊPE. Jehnee Rains ’93 of Suzette Crêperie whips up a culinary delight at Marketplace during Reunions 2016.

A bevy of Reedie entrepreneurs crowded the stately atrium of the Performing Arts Building on Saturday afternoon for Marketplace, the annual festival held at Reunions where alumni sample classmates' creativity in the culinary, mixological, and intellectual realms. 

Carol Fredrick ’83, co-owner of Stone Griffon Vineyard in Carlton, offered tastes of four wines, from a refreshingly dry pinot noir blush to an estate-grown tempranillo. “People think of tempranillo as a warm-weather grape,” Fredrick explained, “but it’s actually grown in coastal regions of Spain, so it can do well in the Willamette Valley.”

Across the room, Minott Kerr ’80 of Clear Creek Distillery had set up shop. Dating to 1985, the Reedie-founded craft distillery is the second-oldest in the country, and that experience shines through in their huge lineup of award-winning, mostly fruit-based spirits. On Saturday, Kerr poured samples of their signature pear brandy—unaged, dry, but exploding with Bartlett pear flavor—as well as an oak-aged apple brandy and an intensely fruity loganberry liqueur. And then there’s the abiding mystery—however do they fit the pears into the bottles?

Orcas, Under Pressure, Adopt Killer Survival Strategy

New research by Reed bio major shows that killer whales are using novel forms of social organization to form hunting parties. Photo by Monika Wieland ’07

In the wine-dark waters of the San Juan Islands, a band of killer whales is fighting for survival.

Loss of habitat, human meddling, and intense competition for chinook salmon, its main source of food, have put severe pressure on these creatures. This band, known as the Southern Residents, is now smaller than any other group of resident killer whales, which live in communities scattered along the cold coastal waters of the North Pacific.

There are, in fact, just 81 whales left.

Read Past the Headlines on Sexual Assault Statistics

The recent sentencing of a Stanford University student convicted of rape reignited a conversation in the national press about the incidence of sexual assault on American college campuses. In an article last week, “These colleges have the most reports of rape,” The Washington Post compiled federal data into a sortable chart to show which schools had the highest reports. Reed College, with 12.9 per capita reports, ranked at the top of the list along with other small liberal arts schools such as Wesleyan, Swarthmore, Williams, and Pomona when sorted by reports per 1,000 students.

Experts say that Reed’s high reporting rate doesn’t mean a higher incidence of rape than on other campuses, but rather an atmosphere in which survivors feel comfortable coming forward. Many news media outlets however, seized the opportunity for alarming headlines about universities and colleges that, like Reed, occupy top positions on the chart.

Victim advocate and founder of ServJustice, Laura Dunn, told Inside Higher Ed “It is really misguided to use sexual assault reports as rankings because schools with higher rates are actually doing a better job of encouraging reporting and addressing the issue.” The Washington Post, reporting on the data, similarly found that “the data reflect what victim advocates say is a positive trend: Growing numbers of students who may have experienced a sexual assault are stepping forward to tell authorities about incidents that in years past might have gone unreported.”

Outstanding Alumni Hailed by Foster-Scholz Club

SERVICE WITH A SMILE. Foster-Scholz chair Jim Kahan ’64 bestows the coveted Distinguished Service Award upon Diane Rosenbaum ’71 and her husband Jas Adams ’71.

The Foster-Scholz Club recognized Martha A. Darling ’66, James "Jas" Adams ’71, and Oregon State Sen. Diane Rosenbaum ’71 with the Distinguished Service Award for their continued commitment to communities within Reed and beyond.

Jim Kahan ’64, chair of the club’s steering committee, delivered the awards during the Reunions 2016 Foster-Scholz lunch. Dazzling the audience with a selection of Brahms, the Musicum Collegium performed in honor of keynote speaker Prof. Virginia Oglesby Hancock ’62 [music], who retired this spring and earned the same award in 2011.  

A career-long environmental advocate, Jas recently retired as attorney-in-charge of the Natural Resources Section of the Oregon Department of Justice and remains an adjunct professor of wildlife and administrative law at Willamette University. In 2011, Jas was hailed by the Oregon Invasive Species Council for his contributions to invasive species control. Jas sings with the Reed chorus and was nominated jointly for this award along with Diane, his wife.

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