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LAUREN BACALL TO RECEIVE HEPBURN MEDAL
The first Katharine Hepburn Medal will be awarded to screen legend Lauren Bacall at a gala celebration of the opening of the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center. The medal, to be awarded annually, recognizes women whose outstanding lifework and achievements embody the intelligence, independence and drive of Katharine Hepburn.
The Center’s launch on September 8 and 9 will include two panel discussions in Thomas Great Hall: “Crafting Policy to Improve Women’s Health” and “Reproduction and the Law.” Folk-pop singer-songwriter Dar Williams will give two concerts on Friday evening. Cynthia McFadden, co-anchor of Nightline and Primetime at ABC News, will be mistress of ceremonies at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center program on Saturday evening.
Friday’s panel discussion on women’s health policy will include Denise Grady, health and science reporter for the New York Times; and alumnae Susan Band Horwitz ’58, Falkenstein Professor of Cancer Research and co-chair of the department of molecular pharmacology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York; Ana Maria Lopez ’82, associate professor of clinical medicine and pathology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson; and Barbara Viventi Howard ’63, president of MedStar Research Institute, Washington, D.C.
Fellows for the Center are being recruited and interviewed this summer, according to Professor of Chemistry Michelle Francl, director of planning and development for the Center. The Fellows Program will bring to campus at least three women who bridge academics and practice in nontraditional or unconventional ways in any of the three broad areas the Hepburn Center supports: film and theater, women’s health, and civic engagement. Carol Magil Yoskowitz ’71 has generously provided the funding for the Fellows Program for the next two years.
To reserve tickets for the launch events or for more information, please visit the Web site at www.brynmawr. edu/hepburn, email hepburnlaunch @brynmawr.edu or call toll-free 1.866.HEPBURN (1.866.437.2876).
OLD MONEY: ANCIENT COINS ON DISPLAY IN THOMAS
A permanent exhibition of ancient coins has opened in the Ella Riegel Memorial Museum on the third floor of Thomas Hall. Titled A Treasury of Knowledge: An Exhibition of the Bryn Mawr College Collection of Ancient Coins, the display was curated by Sarah Hafner, a graduate student in Greek, Latin and Classical Studies and a National Endowment for the Humanities Curatorial and Exhibitions Fellow. The fellowship was supported by an NEH Challenge Grant and matching funds from individuals and foundations.
“Coins are more than just an esoteric interest for collectors,” Hafner says. “They can give us insight into a whole range of subjects—architecture, religion, politics, society, art and history, to name a few. Bryn Mawr has a wonderful collection, and I’m hoping the exhibition will make it more accessible and arouse interest in its use.”
Hafner began her work with the coins as a summer project, but it became a longer-term effort. “Nobody had done intensive work on this collection for years,” she says, “so there was a lot to do. I’ve now looked at every coin in the collection. My goal was to organize them so that they could be a useful resource.”
About 75 coins will be included in the display. “The collection contains examples of some of the oldest known coins,” Hafner says; the oldest coin on exhibit dates from 600-550 B.C.E. Most of the coins in the exhibition are Greek or Roman.
The supporting materials will include texts that illustrate the coins’ value as sources of information about the classical past. Two examples are pictured on this page. Of the first, representing a Greek god, Hafner says, “it is a good example of a coin with historical and political significance, since the striding Poseidon, god of the sea, adorns a coin that celebrates the naval victory of King Demetrios (his name is the Greek inscription visible under and beside Poseidon) over Ptolemy at Salamis in 306 B.C.E., at which he gained control of the valuable port of Cyprus, the crossroads of the Eastern Mediterranean.”
The second coin, depicting a Roman building, “is a good example of a coin whose iconography has archaeological and socio-religious significance, because this temple of Jupiter Capitolinus no longer stands, but it was the most important temple in the Roman religious system.”
The exhibition is open to the general public by appointment. For more information, call 610.526.5022. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
DEGREES AND AWARDS
Judith Resnik ’72, Arthur Liman Professor of Law at Yale Law School, spoke out in her May 13 Convocation address against the position of the United States government on torture.
Conferred at Commencement on May 14 were 136 graduate degrees and 275 undergraduate degrees, including two Katharine McBride Scholars.
The Gertrude Slaughter Fellowship was awarded to Sara Chloe Di Rienzi, who graduated summa cum laude with a major in biology and who will enter a Ph.D. program at the University of Washington. The European Traveling Fellowship was presented to Emily Louise Hammer, who graduated summa cum laude with a major in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology and who will enter a Ph.D. program at Harvard University.
The Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching was presented to Professor of Chemistry Sharon Burgmayer. The Rosalyn R. Schwartz Teaching Award was presented to Lecturer in Education Jody Cohen. The Mary Patterson McPherson Award for faculty was presented to Professor of Psychology Kim Cassidy.
Two Bryn Mawr seniors were awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships for 2006-07. Jodi Eisenberg, a comparative literature major, will teach in Spain; Katherine Klenn, an English major with a minor in anthropology, will teach in South Korea. Chemistry major Chadia Bel Hamdounia ’06 received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study birthing practices in Denmark, India and South Africa. Sarah Johnson ’06, a political-science major won a coveted Fulbright Fellowship to study in England. Laura Sockol ’07, a double major in English and psychology, won a coveted Beinecke Scholarship to fund graduate study in psychology.
Graduating to emeritus status were Marjorie Walter Goodhart Professor of European History Jane Caplan; Professor of Science, Environmental Studies, and Geology Maria Luisa Crawford; Eugenia Chase Guild Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Latin Julia Gaisser; Professor of Social Work Carolyn Needleman, and Professor of Sociology Judith Porter. Roseline Cousin retired after 20 years as a lecturer in French.
Sophomores (the Class of 2008) circle their May Pole on May Day.
THE BROCCOLI EFFECT
Several years ago, research showed that brassinin, a chemical found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, has a mild anticancer effect. Later, researchers at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research proposed that brassinin and similar molecules work by inhibiting an enzyme that weakens immune response to tumors. The effect of the naturally occurring chemical, however, is too weak to make it useful as a drug, so the Lankenau scientists turned to Bryn Mawr Assistant Professor of Chemistry William Malachowski to help them create a more potent version of the compound.
Funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, the team has analyzed the brassinin molecule, making some important discoveries that will likely be critical as they synthesize the next generation of cancer immunotherapy drugs. Their findings were recently published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
According to Malachowski, the idea for the potential new therapy has an origin: a hypothesis about fetal development.
“One of the oldest paradoxes in immunology,” he explains, “is that a fetus, which has different DNA and a different antigenic profile than the mother, isn’t attacked by the mother's immune system. In 1998, medical researchers in Georgia proposed the most convincing explanation to date of this phenomenon. They said that fetal tissue isn’t rejected because the cells surrounding it produce an enzyme called indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO). IDO degrades the amino acid tryptophan, an essential ingredient in the immune system’s T-cells. With the T-cells out of the picture, the fetus can develop undisturbed.”
There is a parallel paradox for cancer cells, Malachowski says: “Why doesn't the immune system attack cancer cells?” For some kinds of tumors, the answer seems to be the same: cancer genes control the expression of IDO, which destroys T-cells.
The Lankenau researchers found that a combination of chemotherapy with an IDO suppressor significantly shrank tumors in mice.
“But the best IDO inhibitor that’s currently in use is weak,” Malachowski says. “You’d have to take a pill the size of a golf ball, and no one knows what kinds of side effects that much medication might have.”
“We need an IDO inhibitor that is both potent and selective,” he says. “This drug isn’t like a hunting dog that sniffs its way to the target by finding molecules of scent dropped along the way. It has to have an affinity for the target so that it latches onto it when it finds it, but the drug will be distributed throughout the body, so it can’t destroy everything it runs into along the way.”
Malachowski and his colleagues have already synthesized an IDO inhibitor that is three times as powerful as the one currently in use, and they will continue the quest for still-more-powerful compounds.
CREATING LEARNING COMMUNITIES IN MATH AND SCIENCE
A program to improve mathematics and science education in grades 6-12 is also introducing college and university professors to innovative ways of teaching.
Bryn Mawr and Haverford are Core Partners in the Mathematics and Science Partnership of Greater Philadelphia (MSPGP), which has a $12.5 million dollar, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation. Forty-six school districts and 13 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey participate.
“Over the past two years,” said MSPGP Co-Principal Investigator Victor Donnay, professor of mathematics at Bryn Mawr, “the partnership has brought together faculty from colleges and universities, including Bryn Mawr and Haverford, and school districts for seminars and conferences to get them started looking at new teaching approaches. Then they can take what they learn back to their colleagues.”
Meeting state standards is on everyone’s mind at the secondary level, Donnay said. There is tension between focusing on rote, computational skills, because the state has removed some of the problem-solving questions from exams, and finding a way to teach the higher-level skills that the business sector needs for a competitive economy.
“Students who have done well in math in high school often can’t transfer what they’ve learned to use in a science course because they don’t have a deep enough understanding of the material,” Donnay noted.
At an event Bryn Mawr hosted on March 30, representatives of all 13 higher education institutions and 15 of the 46 school districts in the partnership made poster presentations and spoke on panels about the new initiatives they have undertaken with the support of the MSPGP.Several Bryn Mawr and Haverford faculty spoke on their experiences growing out of a year-long seminar on math and science pedagogy that began in 2004.
College science faculty have started to use formative assessment, gathering information from students about what they have understood—or not. “This can be done in a number of ways,” Donnay said. “At the end of a class, students might write on index cards one thing they understood and one thing they have a question about. That gives them an opportunity to reflect on their own understanding and tailor their studying; it also gives the instructor useful feedback for preparing the next class.
“We’re constantly amazed at what students might not understand or know that we took for granted!”
Secondary school teachers have learned from college/ university peers about remote-control voting devices that allow a professor to pose a question to the whole class,gauge individual understanding and engage everyone in discussion about the responses. A low-tech version of this voting scheme can be done using index cards with A, B, C, and D on them.
Both groups have also learned about national research findings on the key principles of how people learn: metacognition, or thinking about one’s thinking, and learning the key ideas of a discipline along with basic knowledge.
“Having the facts will help you consolidate the conceptual framework and the conceptual framework will help you understand your facts better,” said Donnay.
ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES NAMED
On April 29, the College held a forum and gala dinner to honor Johanna Alderfer Harris ’51 and her husband, Bill, for their leadership support, totaling $5 million, over the past 15 years of Bryn Mawr’s Environmental Studies Program, now named the Johanna A. and William H. Harris Program in Environmental Studies.
A professorship in science and environmental studies, established by the Harrises during Bryn Mawr’s last campaign and first held by Maria L. Crawford ’60, has been renamed the Johanna A. and William H. Harris Professorship in Science and Environmental Studies. For the Challenging Women Campaign, the Harrises have created a second endowed chair, the Harold Alderfer Professorship in Environmental Studies.
The keynote address was delivered by Joanna DeHaven Underwood ’62, founder and director of INFORM, an independent nonprofit organization that researches practical solutions to complex environmental and health-related problems. The event included fieldwork excursions with faculty and students, and a panel discussion.
THE CLASS OF 2010
After reading a record-breaking number of applications (2,133, an increase of 40 percent in the last five years), the College admitted 938 (44 percent) and enrolled 358 young women in the Class of 2010. The enrollees hail from 34 states plus the District of Columbia and 27 foreign countries. International students come from Australia, China, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Nigeria, to name just a few.
The median SAT score was 1320 (up 10 points from last year); 25 percent are students of color and 6 percent are international students (foreign citizens). Thirteen percent of the entering students are the first in their families to attend college. “The focused messages incorporated into our new admissions materials in the past four years,” said President of the College Nancy J. Vickers, “and the program initiatives of the Plan for a New Century are creating enthusiasm and strong interest in the College among the cohort of students we most want to attract, and we are very, very pleased about that.”
Janet Moore, president of Distant Horizons, which organized the Jordan trip for the colleges, at Wadi Rum.
IN THE LANTERN LIGHT: MISSION TO JORDAN
A delegation of women from Bryn Mawr, Smith, Wellesley and Vassar spent March 26-April 4 in Jordan on an international mission. Open to alumnae from each school, the trip was intended to start a dialogue about local and global women’s issues with Jordanian women in leadership positions in government, education, business, media and the arts who are trying to transform their country.
The Bryn Mawr alumnae in the group were Marjorie Bride ’61, Rhoda Flaxman ’61, Gretchen Kingsley ’61, Barbara Schieffelin Powell ’62, Jane Unkefer ’55, and Elizabeth Warren ’49. Look for more coverage in our November issue.
ALUMNAE ASSOCIATION OFFICERS
The following candidates for office were presented by the Nominating Committee to the Annual Meeting of the Alumnae Association during Reunion Weekend on May 29, 2006, and elected to three-year terms.
- Secretary: Mary Kopczynski Winkler ’90, Falls Church, VA
- Vice President: Susan A. Messina ’86, M.S.S. ’91, M.L.S.P ’92., Washington, D.C.
- Board Representative for Regions and Clubs: Barbara Schieffelin Powell ’62, Cambridge, MA
- Board Representative for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences: Mary Elizabeth Ertel, M.A. ’02, Ph.D. ’05, Rosemont, PA
- Trustee Nomination (the Alumnae Association’s nominee to the Board of Trustees
- for a five-year term commencing in October 2006): Karen E. Kerr ’89, New York, NY
Return to August 2006 Highlights