ASA Culture Show
The Asian Students Association (ASA) 2001 Culture Show, called "Isang Mahal" (Tagalog for "one love") was held April 21 in Thomas Great Hall. ASA President Jennifer Chang '02, explained that the performances "showcased many different aspects of Asian-American identity and explored how we, as Asian Americans and Asians living in America, constantly walk a fine line between Asian culture and American culture. How do we define ourselves? How do others define us?."

The show opened with its standard piece, a Lion dance performed by Giao Le 03, Monica Huang '02, Yen-Wen Shaw '03,and Jane Woo '01, that never fails to delight for the dancing and for the candies thrown from the lions' mouths. "Reflections," from the movie Mulan, was sung in English (Christina Kim '04), Mandarin Chinese (Ying Wang '02), Vietnamese (Giao Le 03) and Korean (Jean Park '03).

Other highlights were "Spoken Word" performances by Chang and Shaw, readings of what it was like being an Asian girl growing up in America--ignored, exoticized, and belittled, but who evolved, through anger, into someone more assertive.

Haverford students Joe Kim '03 and Mark Lee '02 sang a rendition of "Tonight," originally sung by Turbo, a Korean musical duo, flanked by BMC backup dancers. The UPenn Aikido Club demonstrated martial arts moves. Freaks of the Beat, a breakdancing crew of Penn students and Philly's Phally Chroy, threw themselves off the stage and twirled on their heads into the audience. Students from Villanova's ASA performed the Filipino traditional "Tininkling Dance, " stepping between moving bamboo poles in rendering the graceful movements of the mythical tininkling birds.

Murals for city communities
Neighborhood children play among giant artichokes and flying bean pods in a Philadelphia urban landscape; it's a mural in a grocery store parking lot at 27th and Girard streets created through The Philadelphia Mural Arts Project (MAP). Many of the more than 2000 MAP murals in the city celebrate community values and history, such as the "Peace Wall," at 29th and Wharton. Painted in the wake of a local racial incident, it shows the hands of people of many ages and races overlapping in a gesture of team unit y.

In "An Evening of Creativity, an Evening of Hope," MAP Director Jane Golden, this year's Roberta Holder Gellert Lecturer, told an audience of Bryn Mawr community members how mural painting works as an agent of social change. Co-sponsored by the Center for Visual Culture and the Center for Ethnicities, Communities and Social Policy, Golden's April 12 lecture and slide presentation in Thomas Great Hall was the first of a three-day symposium at the College.

Golden began her career after finishing college in Los Angeles, when she received a grant though the Public Art Foundation to work on public murals. She returned to the east coast in the early 1980s and in 1984 became director of MAP, instituted by then-mayor Wilson Goode as part of the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network. For her first mural, Golden was assigned a group of probationary graffiti writers and "20 shades of beige paint." The program now includes art classes, internship possibilities for young artists, and an artist-in-residence program.

Golden thinks the program's success lies in the level of neighborhood involvement in each project so that the murals are considered community art, not public art. Rather than having the city and an outside artist decide what will go in a certain space, MAP artists and administrators hold meetings within the community to decide on the image and subject. In return, neighborhoods are expected to take responsibility for protecting and maintaining their murals. "Sometimes I feel like I work for the UN," said Go lden about the issues surrounding mural negotiations; but only six of those currently in the city have been defaced. In fact, many communities use the murals as a catalyst for improvement, starting parks and gardens in the adjoining lots. "People just want beauty in their lives," says Golden.

Activities in the series included Golden's lecture, a faculty and student panel discussion on public art, and a guided trolley tour of selected murals throughout Philadelphia.

View more Philadelphia murals.

Science in Society lectures
Spring events sponsored by the Center for Science in Society focused on topics ranging from dinosaurs to reporting on the sciences and medicine.

Author of The Population Bomb and most recently, Human Natures:Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect, Paul Ehrlich spoke informally in Thomas Great Hall and was as electrifying in person as in his writing.

Bing Professor of Population Studies and president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford, Erhlich said that a study of evolution explains why we should limit our intake of cheese burgers, stop judging people by their skin color, concern ourselves about global warming, and elect administrations who understand the adaptive consequences of overusing antibiotics and pesticides. But while biological evolution has helped shape human behaviors in many ways, Ehrlich argues that genes can't be credited with everything individuals do that is right or wrong. We simply don't have enough genes to specify behavior at the level that is often asserted.

Humans share a common genetic code that has hardly changed since the last dispersal of Homo sapiens from Africa some 100,00-200,000 years ago. If all but native Africans disappeared from the planet, Ehrlich noted, "humanity would still retain somewhat more than 90 percent of its genetic variability." Ehrlich argues for the use of the plural "human natures" to emphasize that we differ individually more often than not as a result of cultural evolution, a progress far more complex and rapid than the mutation and adaptation of a few genes.

In a lecture co-sponsored with the Center for Visual Culture, Paul Grobstein, Eleanor A. Bliss Professor of Biology, argued that artists are scientists and vice versa because the human brain is organized to create abstractions at an unconscious level rather than to take visual input at face value. Grobstein had audience members do an exercise demonstrating the "blind spot." Optical illusions provide insight into the way the brain is organized actively to "make sense" of the information it gets from the eye s, discarding much in the process. Our ability to make pictures emerged only recently in terms of human evolution, enabling us to present the eyes with visual patterns that systematically depart from those we and our ancestors experienced in nature.

Co-sponsored by the Bryn Mawr College Chapter of Sigma Xi, Kevin Padian, Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and curator of the Museum of Paleontology discussed "Insights into the Dinosaur World: New Ideas on How Dinosaurs Lived and Died."

One of Padian's research interests is the origin of birds and the origin of flight. Different factors may have led to the extinction of dinosaurs, but not all of them died out. Birds are avian dinosaurs and are technically considered reptiles.

Padian is president of the National Center for Science Education, Inc., a nonprofit membership organization that works to defend the teaching of biological evolution against sectarian religious attack and to keep "scientific creationism" out of the classroom.

Women in Science: Opportunity in a Changing Landscape: October 26-27, 2001
How do we best use new learning technologies and practices to bring more girls and women into science, math, and technical disciplines? How can colleges best prepare women math and science majors to succeed in graduate school and science/technology careers? How can women and men achieve additional institutional changes in science and technology fields to expand opportunities for underrepresented groups? Do technological changes create new opportunities for risk-taking and leadership for women working in sc ience and other technical fields?

These and other issues will be the subject of a symposium, "Women in Science: Opportunity in a Changing Landscape," hosted by Bryn Mawr College on October 26-27, 2001. New opportunities for women in science and technology are of particular interest to Bryn Mawr because of the College's longstanding commitment to and success in educating women scientists and mathematicians. The symposium will examine new possibilities and challenges for women in science and technology, specifically in the context of technol ogical and structural changes that are transforming science education, workplaces, and careers.

Dr. William A. Wulf, President of the National Academy of Engineering and Professor and former Dean of Engineering at the University of Virginia, will give a keynote speech on the impact of technological advances on opportunities for girls and women in science. Dr. Wulf is a strong supporter of efforts to increase the number of women in science and technology at all stages of the education and career pipeline.

The symposium will open with a panel of commentators who will address the "state of the union" for women in varied science and technology workplaces. Catherine Didion, Executive Director of the Association of Women in Science, will chair this discussion. Attendees will then participate in breakout sessions that examine specific policy and practice issues that have emerged from recent changes in scientific investigation, education and workplaces. Each work group will develop proposals to advance opportuniti es for women, and identify corresponding strategies for changes in their home institutions. Two distinguished scientists will convene these working groups: Dr. Maxine L. Savitz '58, General Manager for Technology Partnerships at the Honeywell Corporation and member of the National Academy of Engineering and of the National Science Board; and Dr. Maria Pellegrini, Program Director at the W.M. Keck Foundation and former Professor of Biology and Dean of Research in the College of Arts and Letters at the Unive rsity of Southern California.

The invited audience will include scientists, science educators, representatives from varied science and technology companies, and others interested in practices and policies concerning women in science.

For more information, please contact symposium coordinator Ruth Lindeborg '80 at 610-526-5122 or

Science writing and policy making
Finding an Interesting Story Among the Mundane" in science and medicine is more likely when a journalist is able to follow a topic or issue over time, according to New York Times science writer Gina Kolata.

In an April 10 lecture supported by the Rothenberg Lecture Series and co-sponsored by The Center for Science in Society and the Biology Department, Kolata gave as an example her interest in the technology and ethics of fetal cloning. She had been following a federal study in which Parkinson's patients were assigned randomly either to have human embryonic dopamine neurons injected into their brains or to have sham surgery.(After a year, patients were told whether they had had the fetal cell surgery and if n ot, offered it.) The patients' own assessments of their conditions were the study's primary measures of success, and although some improvement was seen in younger patients, the outcomes were mostly negative.

Kolata had been concerned that other doctors were offering the same surgery to private patients for $40,000, so she understood the significance of a March 8 report in The New England Journal of Medicine that 15 percent of the patients in the federal study who had undergone the fetal cell surgery suffered tragic side effects about a year after the operations. The transplanted cells, which cannot be deactivated, overproduced dopamine, resulting in resumed and more severe uncontrollable movement. (Under press ure from anti-abortion groups, the Bush administration in late June was considering withdrawing federal support for the still very promising biomedical research use of embryonic stem cells, which have the capacity to develop into different cell types such as blood, brain, heart tissue, nerve cells, and bones.)

Asked how having the ability to influence public policy affects her, Kolata said, "It's really terrifying, and you almost can't write if you think about it too much." She tries to stay focused and objective by writing for herself as the reader.

Kolata also discussed an April 8, 2001 article in which she took a close look at the numbers and statistics involved in a controversy over arsenic levels in drinking water. In March, EPA administrator Christy Whitman had announced the cancellation of a regulation set by the Clinton administration that would have reduced allowable levels of arsenic in U.S. drinking water from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb, the standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1993 and adopted by the European Uni on (EU) in 1998.

Kolata examined the issue in the context of the dozens of other contaminants in drinking water and the additional costs of reducing risks. She reported that a toxicologist familiar with the dilemmas faced by policymakers said the 37-56 fewer cases of bladder and lung cancer annually and 21-30 fewer deaths estimated by the EPA were so minimal as to be "not statistically different from zero." Kolata also noted that most European countries have set maximum arsenic levels in water at 20 ppb, which can be reach ed at less than half the cost of the 10 ppb standard.

Environmentalists who criticized her report said that the cost of reducing contamination to 10 ppb ($181 million annually)would match the benefits from reducing bladder and lung cancers ($140 to $198 million), let alone other illnesses associated with arsenic exposure, and that any of the European countries who apply for EU membership will be bound by its 10 ppb standard. The Bush administration announced on April 19 that it will delay setting a new standard until February 2002.

Kolata became a science reporter for the Times in 1987, her "life-long dream," and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for investigative reporting last year. She studied molecular biology at the graduate level for two years at M.I.T. and received a master's in applied mathematics from the University of Maryland before realizing that she wanted to write instead. "I discovered that I was impatient with the slow pace of research," she said. "What I loved most about science was learning what had just been discovered and writing papers." Kolata began her career as a copy editor at Science magazine and became a senior writer there. She is the author of Clone: The Road to Dolly and the Path Ahead, The Baby Doctor: Probing the Limits of Fetal Medicine, and Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It.

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