Alumnae Bulletin May 2008

Archways



New tenure-track faculty
Gregory K. Davis
Gregory K. Davis, PhD

Gregory K. Davis received his master's degree in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Pittsburg in 1995, and his Ph.D. in developmental biology from the University of Chicago in 2002. From 2002 to 2008, he was a research fellow in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, where he studied the genetic basis of small evolutionary changes between closely-related species of fruit flies.With long-held interests in issues that lie at the interface of developmental and evolutionary biology, Davis is currently interested in how some organisms can quickly adapt to their environments by altering their development. To address this topic, Davis uses the emerging model system—the pea aphid, which exhibits remarkable developmental plasticity in response to environmental cues, including the ability to switch to sexual reproduction in response to the shortening days of fall. Davis is excited about what he sees as interdisciplinary opportunities at Bryn Mawr College and the Tri-College community. "I've got some eclectic interests and the College has been very supportive in this regard," he said. He is also looking forward to conveying to students his excitement over the opportunities presented by the pea aphid: "The biology of these critters, what they can do in the face of changing circumstances, is just amazing and enough to captivate just about anyone, even rose lovers."

Astrid Lindenlauf
Astrid Lindenlauf, PhD
Astrid Lindenlauf studied classical archaeology, ancient history, and sociology in Frankfurt, Berlin, and Athens. She received her Ph.D. from University College London in 2001. Lindenlauf works for the German Archaeological Institute in Athens and in 2007–08 was a scholar at the Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University. Her interests include the perception and management of waste and dirt across time within the field of Greek archaeology, fortifications and warfare, and biographies of votive offerings. In her current research, she studies Athens' urban development through its successive city walls, from the Mycenaean period to modern times. She is teaching Greek vase painting this semester and in the spring will offer a new course on the archaeology, anthropology and sociology of rubbish.

Elly Truitt
Elly Truitt, PhD
Elly Truitt specializes in medieval history and science and medicine. She received her A.B. from Wellesley, and her Ph.D. in the history of science from Harvard University in 2007. Her research interests include medieval technology, the occult sciences, courtly culture, imaginary lands and faraway places, and all aspects of the strange and weird ofthe medieval world. She is currently working on a book about medieval robots. This semester, she is teaching a course on the high Middle Ages and a seminar, Dark Arts: Medieval Magic, that will investigate the definitions and practices of magic and examine what they can reveal about the traditional divides between high and low culture, as well as between licit and illicit knowledge.

Bharath Vallabha
Bharath Vallabha, PhD
Bharath Vallabha received his B.A. from Cornell, and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2008. His main research interests are in the philosophy of mind and action, especially embodied theories of the mind that seek to explain consciousness and thought in terms of the organism's physical activity within the world. He is also interested in related issues in ethics and moral philosophy, in particular whether moral norms can be explained in terms of agency and practical reasoning. His teaching interests include phenomenology and existentialism, ordinary language philosophy and the philosophy of religion. Vallabha's teaching goals are for students to gain knowledge of classical and contemporary philosophical texts as well as the confidence to pursue their own philosophical voices.

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Thomas P. Vartanian
Food stamps and health

Professor of Social Work and Social Research Thomas P. Vartanian hypothesizes that food stamps may be less beneficial to people who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods because of limited access to nutritional foods, or higher food expenses, and fewer safe opportunities for children to exercise because of high crime rates.

Vartanian has created a research model that compares several types of statistical analyses to present a more accurate picture of the effects of food stamps in the long term. The Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the food stamp program, has awarded Vartanian a grant of $110,000 to put that model to use.

Last year, Vartanian received a $40,000 grant from the USDA to examine the long-term economic effects of food-stamp participation on young parents.

A major focus of the study will be the interplay between food stamp recipients' immediate environments and how well the food-stamp program works. Vartanian will compare siblings who have differing neighborhood conditions during their nonoverlapping years during childhood. In this way, he is better able to control for family background differences better than previous studies have.

Over the next two years, Vartanian, with the assistance of GSSWSR doctoral student Linda Houser and economics major Marie Guldin '10, will use the grant to analyze data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), a nationwide longitudinal study of income dynamics conducted between 1968 and 2005. They will merge the PSID data with that from the 1970–2000 U.S. Censuses, and from a number of other sources. The data will allow Vartanian to follow children from early childhood into adulthood.

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Slovak Wedding, Brooklyn 1984
by Katrina Thomas '49.
Ethnic weddings documented

A Rare Book Room exhibition through
December 29, Documenting Ethnic Wedding Traditions in America: Photographs by Katrina Thomas, culminates a year-long project to create an online publication of more than 800 of Thomas's photographs of weddings from more than 70 ethnic and religious groups in the United States. A freelance photographer for most of her career, Thomas spent 40 years documenting the ways immigrant groups have both preserved and adapted their traditional wedding practices. The exhibition and digital collection were curated by postdoctoral fellow Tracie Wilson, assisted by Jenny Castle '09.

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Class of 2012
Class of 2012

The most common first name of the 370 students enrolled in the Class of 2012 is 'Sarah,' as it often is, and their most common middle name is 'Elizabeth,' as it always is, according to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jenny Rickard. They come from 49 states and 43 countries. Sixty-five percent are from the top 10 percent of their high school classes; 62 percent attended public schools, 36 percent private and two percent parochial; 15 percent are first-generation college students.

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Islamic mosaics from the 13th
through 17th centuriesIslamic mosaics from the 13th
through 17th centuriesIslamic mosaics from the 13th
through 17th centuriesIslamic mosaics from the 13th
through 17th centuries
Islamic mosaics from the 13th through 17th centuries
Beyond Conflicts
Tri-College Middle Eastern Studies Initiative delves into a region of vast cultural and historical richness

By Thomas W. Durso

Ask many Americans what the Middle East means to them, and they are likely to talk of such unsavory topics as war, religious clashes, and terrorism. United States media outlets, after all, emphasize these facets almost exclusively when reporting on the region. Yet such a narrow focus casts aside the rich and diverse cultural legacies its many peoples have fashioned over thousands of years.

And so when a group of scholars at Bryn Mawr, teaching in such disparate disciplines as archaeology, history, peace and conflict studies, anthropology, and German, came to realize a few years ago that some of their research interests were concentrated in the Middle East, they concluded that an amazing opportunity was upon them.

They formed the Middle Eastern Studies Initiative, which seeks to leverage the expertise of the Tri-College consortium (Bryn Mawr,Haverford and Swarthmore) to capitalize on a growing recognition that a variety of research areas, including ancient world studies,medieval world studies, Arab studies, cultural studies, anthropology, and more, can and should be applied in examining the region. Viewing it through the prism of geopolitics, and especially through the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is simply too limiting, they say.

"The Middle East is a diverse group of cultures and religions and languages which has existed to some extent peacefully in coexistence for a long time," says Bryn Mawr Associate Professor of Archaeology Peter Magee, who is director of the Initiative. "Other times they haven't. The region cannot be seen through the lens of conflict. That's the critical issue. You cannot see cultural dynamics as the outcome or the cause of the wars that grab our attention. Everywhere in the world has cultures that stretch out to millennia, but there is a cultural narrative, a cultural discourse, within those regions, which we have to access to understand those contries more fully.We have to understand the history, something of the languages, and something of the Western engagement. We can't just see it in terms of conflict."

The initiative is Bryn Mawr's way of raising awareness of those needs. It presents public lectures by renowned scholars in the field to bring more people to campus to experience the fascinating diversity of Middle Eastern studies. Last year, for example, the initiative welcomed to the students are bright enough to know that the region itself is of interest to both global history and current global dynamics—economic and political." As a Classical and Near Eastern archeology and independent Arabic studies major, junior Annette Hansen has taken courses within the initiative covering such topics as archeology, Arabic, literature, and social history. She also has assisted Magee at an Iron Age College Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies, a professor of history, and director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, as the Mary Flexner Lecturer.He delivered a series of well-attended talks on the United States, the Middle East, and the Cold War. The initiative also is beginning to make very effective use of its scholarly resources—the faculty members who teach and research across disciplines—as it seeks to inculcate understanding among Bryn Mawr students.

Bryn Mawr Associate Professor of Archaeology Peter Magee
Bryn Mawr Associate Professor of Archaeology Peter Magee
"We've gotten to the point where we have a presence on campus," Magee says, "but we want to make sure that presence becomes part of the regular curriculum."

Greatly assisting that desire is the prominence of Arabic and Hebrew among undergraduate programs at Bryn Mawr. Magee calls study of the languages "incredibly popular" and says organizers of the initiative hope to use it within a curriculum that in the next year or two could be elevated to a concentration.He is well aware that given the realities a small institution such as Bryn Mawr faces, fashioning such a collection of courses is no mean feat, which makes progress up to now all the more impressive.

"I think it would be fair to say that the ability of the College to contribute new positions to an initiative like this is obviously limited, so we're trying to draw upon existing strengths," he says."And by coincidence, in fact, those strengths are geographically and chronologically quite spread, which is unusual." The Middle Eastern Studies Initiative never would have gotten off the ground without keen student interest. Magee credits Bryn Mawr students with approaching their faculty members and requesting a more coherent approach to the topic, one that would draw together the various disciplines in the service of greater knowledge.

"I suspect that if the concentration kicks off next academic year, hopefully, it will be very popular," he says."Certainly Arabic has been overwhelmingly popular with the students, and I think that's just symptomatic of increasing and eventual interest in the region. Bryn Mawr students are bright enough to know that the region itself is of interest to both global history and current global dynamics—economic and political."

As a Classical and Near Eastern archeology and independent Arabic studies major, junior Annette Hansen has taken courses within the initiative covering such topics as archeology, Arabic, literature, and social history. She also has assisted Magee at an Iron Age archaeological dig in the United Arab Emirates and spent time in Morocco. Her self-identified takeaway lesson has fulfilled the initiative's goal of a deeper understanding of the region.

"I've had a number of great experiences with professors who really are passionate about their topics," Hansen says."That includes getting into the nitty-gritty of the Islamic scholars or examining the Qur'an and trying to understand it and how that translates into the societies and how that affects the social part of the culture we're studying, and also the architecture and art and the products that come from this culture."

Hansen cites her studies, along with her travel to the Middle East, with opening her eyes "to new philosophies of thinking" and encouraging her to "enjoy the historical greatness of what I'm studying."

"There is a very complex culture that is rich, just like any other in the world, and that in its own right has every right to be studied and explored and to experience the beauty of that particular culture," she says.

That may not be headline news, but it's no less true, or necessary.

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Shirley Tilghman
Shirley Tilghman
Women, science, and leadership

An "absolute inability to recognize reality" is one of the traits that enable women scientists to become academic leaders, argued Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman in an October 29 lecture sponsored by the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center and the Center for Science in Society.

Drawing on her experience as a molecular geneticist turned university president as well as that of other women scientists in a similar position, Tilghman was the first of four lecturers in the series who, over the course of the academic year, will discuss the challenges and opportunities women face as scientists and academic leaders.

"It is not that we deny there are forces working against the progress of women in our field," she said. "Rather we refuse to acknowledge that those forces apply to us." She recalled her high school counselor's recommendation that she would make a great executive secretary.

Other qualities are "a passion for their work, optimism and patience, a collaborative leadership style, an appetite for problem solving and complexity, and a preexistent sense of fulfillment," Tilghman said.

"Now I am not suggesting that humanists or social scientists are any less well equipped to exchange the life of a scholar for that of a chief executive. It's true that more than half of the women female presidents and chancellors in the Association of American Universities are scientists. This, I think, is a reflection of the fact that science is absolutely central to the mission of research universities."

She suggested one other quality that might seem counterintuitive. "Female scientists who accept leading roles in our nation's colleges and universities may well be less risk averse than the average college president," she said.

"Scientists learn to think outside of the box, for we explore what is possible and not just probable, and we imagine that there are always better ways of doing things and understanding things. It's been my observation that women scientists are inclined to seek out less well-trod ground, sometimes in sheer self-defense, and as a consequence they bring completely fresh eyes to old problems that have been studied by their male colleagues for decades.Women scientists enjoy the freedom and the responsibility that come from being 'outsiders on the inside'."

Tilghman said the one adjustment she had to make was to change radically her puzzle-solving strategy of gathering and absorbing all pertinent data. "Scientists sacrifice breadth for depth," she said. "Presidents have to do exactly the opposite" and allow others to summarize issues for them.

The "Science and Leadership" series will continue next semester. The speakers on the roster: Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor, a psychologist, will speak on Feb. 24; McGill University Principal and Vice Chancellor Heather Monroe-Blum, an epidemiologist, will speak on March 3; University of Iowa President Sally Mason, a biologist, will speak on April 2.

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Paula Block
Paula Block '84
Sumaya Abdurrezak
Sumaya Abdurrezak '05
Judith Weinstein
Judith Weinstein '85
Alice Diamond
Alice Diamond, M.A. '77

CDRs
These volunteers can assist you as you seek career information and advice in your city.
Boston: Alice Diamond, M.A. '77
Chicago (temporary): Judith Weinstein '85
Los Angeles: Raulee Marcus '69
New Haven: Allison Tait '92
New York: Paula Block '84
Philadelphia: Catharine (Cate) Hancock '91
San Francisco: Katharine (Kate) Patterson '75; Heidi Winkel '07
Washington, DC: Mike Niccolls '39; Sumaya Abdurrezak '05; Kirin Kalia '97

Alumnae career network

"A Bryn Mawr girl [sic] is like a very beautiful waterfall whose flow is the result of some natural elevation of the mind and heart. She spends a large part of each day making money and then comes home and rises above it, allowing it to fall gently through the cracks and chinks of an imperfect world."
E.B.White, "Call Me Ishmael, or, how I feel about being married to a Bryn Mawr Graduate." Alumnae Bulletin: Summer 1956.

E.B.White's musings still ring true about the remarkable graduates of Bryn Mawr College.Whether they are making money or primarily volunteering their time and skills, job seeking or job creating, all are part of a community of achievers. The BMC Career Development Network is there to assist them in making important connections along the way. Eleven Career Development Representatives (CDRs) based in eight cities work closely with the bi-college Career Development Office (CDO). Five representatives were on campus September 26–28 for the annual Alumnae Volunteer Training weekend. In workshops facilitated by Alumnae Career Counselor Debbie Becker and Judith Weinstein '85, national coordinator and representative for careers to the Alumnae Association's Executive Board, the group reviewed their responsibilities, shared experiences, discussed upcoming programming and set goals for the year. Stories of how CDRs are helping other alumnae are testaments to the Network's success. Boston CDR Alice Diamond,M.A. '77, described how Elisabeth Robart '93 was motivated to help other alumnae interested in her field. Diamond and Robart had met at the Boston Club's spring 2007 meeting. With her recent M.A. in international education development from Teacher's College, Columbia University, Robart had many questions about her job search for Diamond, who in her professional life is an associate dean at Lesley University. "Because of her background in higher education, Alice became a valuable networking contact herself and gave me excellent advice not only about my first position after graduate school, but also related to the job I now hold," says Robart. Robart is assistant director of programs, international student services and activities, at the University of Notre Dame, a position that is both challenging and a perfect fit for her interests. She remains grateful to Diamond for the advice she provided about her job search, and is enthusiastic about helping other alumnae. She recently served as a networking contact for a new BMC grad, and introduced a young alumna from Haverford to helpful colleagues during a conference of NAFSA, her professional organization.
Judith Weinstein '85

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Hepburn logo
2008-09 Hepburn fellows named,
medal to be awarded

The Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center welcomes three Hepburn Fellows to campus this year: Amy Murphy, managing director of Philadelphia's Arden Theatre Company; Maya Ajmera '89, founder and president of the Global Fund for Children; and Ana María López '82, associate dean for outreach and multicultural affairs, associate professor of clinical medicine and pathology, and medical director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program at the University of Arizona.

Center events this fall focused on the Arden's production of Gee's Bend, a play about a group of African-American women who turned to quilting as a way to cope with poverty, segregation, and family problems. The College will award the Hepburn Medal to Jane Golden on February 7 in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to civic life in Philadelphia and in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Mural Arts Program. Golden's tireless efforts to use public art to foster social change, build community, engage at-risk youth, and beautify the city set an inspirational example for young women everywhere.

The Hepburn Medal was established in 2007 to honor exceptional women whose lives, work, and contributions embody the intelligence, drive, and independence of the Hepburn women. The first two recipients were Lauren Bacall and Blythe Danner. The Center was established at Bryn Mawr to commemorate the lives and work of two distinguished graduates of the College, Miss Hepburn and her mother, an activist on behalf of women's suffrage and reproductive rights. Drawing its focus from the life work of its namesakes—film and theater, women's health, and civic engagement—the Center strives to inspire women to lead publicly engaged lives, tackle important and timely issues affecting women, and make a meaningful impact on the world.

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Judy Loomis Gould '64
Judy Loomis Gould '64
A Legacy that Inspires

Judy Loomis Gould '64 devoted 18 years of her career to Bryn Mawr College, rst in the Alumnae Association, then in Resources, both as director of major gis and director of donor relations. While at Bryn Mawr, Judy formed lasting connections with individuals in the College community, from students to alumnae/i. Over the years, she saw rst-hand the important role that nancial assistance plays in enabling smart, young women to attend Bryn Mawr. is inspired Judy to transform a portion of her mother's estate into e Marion S. Loomis Scholarship Fund.

Making this thoughtful gi through a charitable remainder trust made sense for Judy. She enjoyed immediate tax savings and increased her retirement income for life. Ultimately, she makes a charitable gi to Bryn Mawr in honor and memory of her mother, Marion.

Marion's admiration for Bryn Mawr faculty and alumnae/i was also a motivating factor in the gi. Her connection to Bryn Mawr crystallized during an expedition to Antarctica in 1994, which was organized by Judy. Marion remained smitten by penguins and a devoted friend of the College, joining other trips and attending Bryn Mawr events.

Th e College is grateful to Judy for her generosity and her careful planning, which will leave a legacy of opportunity for future Bryn Mawr women and a lasting tribute to her mother.

For more information on how you can make this type of gift, please contact:

Dianne C. Johnson
Director of Gift Planning
610-526-6589

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volunteer awards
Volunteers Awarded

At Alumnae Volunteers Weekend on September 6, Lifetime of Service Awards were presented to Sue Savage Speers '51 (left) and to Lovina (Lovey) Brendlinger Carroll '46 (right). The Young Alumnae Service Award was presented to Meera Ratnesar '01, and the Distinguished Service Award was presented to Nancy Fogelson Kirk '59. Photo by Paola Nogueras '84.

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