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  • Earth's influence on the moon

    Geology professor Geoffrey Collins has co-authored a paper that reveals how ridges on the moon’s surface form a pattern matching Earth’s gravitational pull on the young satellite planet.

    Though scientists have known since 2010 that the moon is shrinking over time, and forming surface ridges as it does, new research conducted by Wheaton Professor of Geology Geoffrey Collins and six others suggests that these ridges are actually affected by Earth’s gravitational pull.

    Using images produced by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Collins and his colleagues have evaluated more than 3,000 ridges, known as “lobate scarps,” on the moon’s surface. Though these scarps form naturally when the molten core of the moon cools and contracts, their placement would be random without the influence of outside forces. But extensive study of the scarps reveals a distinct pattern that fits with Earth’s tidal force on the moon—a discovery outlined in the paper “Global thrust faulting on the Moon and the influence of tidal stresses,” published in the October 2015 issue of Geology.

    These findings were highlighted recently in an article published by The Washington Post and in a press release on the NASA website.

    Collins, a planetary scientist who has been involved with several NASA projects, has investigated geological features on the planets and moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Pluto as well as his recent study of the Earth’s moon.

    “My role in this project was to run some of the tidal stress models and compare them to the observed patterns on the moon,” Collins said.

    Tom Watters, Smithsonian senior scientist in the National Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, was lead author on the paper. Co-authors included Collins; Maria Banks, Katie Daud and Michelle Selvans, Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the National Air and Space Museum; and Mark Robinson and Nathan Williams, School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University.

  • Reshaping the conversation

    Hannah Zack ’18 asks people to reconsider how they think about individuals with disabilities in an essay featured on the Huffington Post college page.

    Wheaton sophomore Hannah Zack ’18 has been sharing her written thoughts in a public forum since she was in high school, and her latest piece was featured recently on the Huffington Post college page.

    The blog post, titled “Why We Need to Reshape What It Means to Be a Person With a Disability,” explores Zack’s personal experiences and questions the way people with disabilities are judged by others. She shares two instances in particular where she was made to feel uncomfortable by others because of her disability—one in which a parking official thought she might be committing “parking fraud” by using a handicap placard.

    As a young person who continuously struggles with my identity, I find it tough to be fed different narratives of who I am supposed to be based on the way I look—visibly healthy and able-bodied—or who I am based on my body's physical composition,” writes Zack, a sociology major from Brookline, Mass.

    She argues that individuals who disclose a disability should not be viewed or judged merely on that characteristic.

    “I identify myself as a person with a physical disability; I may be partially paralyzed, but it is a physical abnormality that affects the way I move my body,” Zack writes. “This trait does not discredit me or make me less of a human. It hasn't stopped me from driving a car, binge-watching Netflix, succeeding in my first year of college or even jumping out of an airplane.”

    Zack wrote about that last experience—skydiving—in her first article for the Huffington Post, “Be Your Own Rule Breaker,” in August 2014.

    “A ton of people asked me to describe my experience, but I didn't have the words to encompass how I felt. Instead, I wrote my thoughts down and it turned into a published article,” she said. “I e-mailed a few people and eventually got a blogger log-in to HuffPost. I submitted it, and a few days later I was featured on the HuffPost teen page.”

    Zack had begun sharing her writing publicly a few years prior when during her junior year of high school her English teacher assigned a narrative essay that students would submit “to the world.” Hack posted her essay to TeenInk.com, a national website devoted to teenage writing.

    “I used the essay to shine a light on cyberbullying—an issue that personally affected me,” she said. “I began getting messages from strangers telling me how much my story resonated with them. I know this is cliché, but that article set me free; I found peace with my situation.”

    Zack’s most recent post was inspired by a Ted Talk delivered by Paralympic athlete Aimee Mullins and by the two negative encounters Zack mentions in the piece.

    “Societal misconceptions of people with disabilities are so common, and I hadn't seen an article that explored the topic,” she said.

    The blog post, published on September 4, has been shared by others on Facebook and Twitter and garnered a positive response overall.

    “I got a flurry of text messages from friends congratulating me,” Zack said. “I was truly moved when I received a Facebook message from a man whose partner has a disability. He told me how it touched both of them, and a correspondence began.”

    Zack said she plans to continue writing for the Huffington Post, as topics inspire her.

    “My writing process has been an organic process, and I intend to keep it that way,” she said.

  • From White House to State House

    Gabe Amo ’10 was profiled in WPRO News’ “630 Under 30” series, which highlights young professionals in Rhode Island. Amo is director of public engagement for Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo.

    Wheaton alum Gabe Amo ’10 was profiled recently in WPRO News’ “630 Under 30” series, which highlights young professionals in Rhode Island.

    Amo, 27, of Pawtucket, R.I., is director of public engagement for Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo.

    “Politics and government have always been the most interesting things to me,” Amo told WPRO News. “My path here is a product of being singularly focused on trying to contribute to public service.”

    Gabe Amo '10

    Gabe Amo '10

    As a political science major at Wheaton, Amo served on the Student Government Association and the College Hearing Board and was president of Wheaton’s chapter of The Roosevelt Institution. He received numerous scholarships and awards while at Wheaton, including the Davis International Fellowship, which enabled him to teach at a Liberian refugee camp in Ghana the summer after his sophomore year.

    His junior year, Amo was one of just 60 college students in the United States to win a Truman Scholarship for graduate study. And his senior year, he received a Marshall Scholarship, which supported his graduate studies in comparative social policy at Oxford University.

    Before coming to the Rhode Island State House, Amo worked on President Obama’s re-election campaign in Chicago and in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs under the Obama administration. He began working for Raimondo in January, shortly after her election.

    Amo told WPRO News he is glad to be back in his home state.

    “The biggest thing for me is the connection to the people’s lives we are affecting,” he said in the interview. “At the federal level you’re a little further removed; the issues are much bigger.”

    Read the profile and listen to an interview with Amo and his colleague, Raimondo’s press secretary Marie Aberger, at 630wpro.com.

  • All eyes on Pluto

    Professor of Geology Geoffrey Collins, a planetary scientist whose article about tectonic activity on Pluto was published in January, told Science magazine he was amazed by the images.

    A photograph from New Horizons' July 2015 flyby of Pluto shows ice mountains on the planet's surface. (NASA image)

    A photograph from New Horizons' July 2015 flyby of Pluto shows ice mountains on the planet's surface. (NASA image)


    Early images from the New Horizons flyby of Pluto are causing quite a stir among scientists, as photographs released by NASA reveal new characteristics of the dwarf planet and its moon, Charon.

    Wheaton Professor of Geology Geoffrey Collins, a planetary scientist whose article about tectonic activity on Pluto was published in January, told Science magazine he was amazed by the images.

    “Clearly we’re seeing internal activity on the surface of Pluto and Charon,” he told the magazine this week after NASA released images showing mountains of water ice on the planet’s surface. “Something is pulling apart their ice crusts.”

    Also surprising was the lack of craters on much of the surface of both Pluto and Charon—signs that they have been shaped more recently than previously thought.

    “I'm very excited about the Pluto flyby. I've been waiting for this for years,” Collins said. “The first data is tantalizing, but it's the tip of the iceberg of what we're going to be getting over the next weeks and months. I'm trying very hard not to do ‘instant science’ on the first images.”

    NASA plans to release more images at press conferences on July 17 and July 24, according to the Science article.

    “Tectonic activity on Pluto after the Charon-forming impact,” which Collins co-wrote with Amy C. Barr of Brown University, was published in January 2015 in Icarus, a scientific journal focused on the field of solar system studies.

  • Linda Eisenmann Women, science and the STEM of a problem

    Provost Linda Eisenmann sheds light on the history of science education among women during a recent Web chat hosted by the Google Cultural Institute/Google Art Project.

    Women today are vastly underrepresented in the “STEM” fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and a national movement is underway to change that. Television shows such as PBS Kids’ “SciGirls” and educational projects like Black Girls CODE and Techbridge work to develop in young girls an inquiring mind, a passion for the sciences and the skills needed for successful STEM careers.

    But women weren’t always left out.

    Wheaton Provost Linda Eisenmann, a historian of women’s education, was one of three guest speakers on a recent Web chat hosted by the Google Cultural Institute/Google Art Project titled “Women and STEM Education: A Conduit to Opportunity.” During the chat, Eisenmann talked about how in the 19th century women played an important role in teaching science and advancing scientific knowledge at various higher learning institutions in the United States. Well before the rise of the research university, scientific learning was occurring in small colleges and academies that focused on advanced training, such as Wheaton Female Seminary, the precursor to Wheaton College.

    “It hasn’t always been this way,” Eisenmann said, referring to the low number of women involved in STEM fields. “… Girls and young women in the 1800s were very comfortable with science. It was very much hands on.”

    Science programs at that time helped students—boys and girls alike—develop an understanding of the natural world around them, with a particular focus on botany. Classes also helped girls gain practical knowledge that could help them as wives and mothers: understanding how to make a safe home, what to eat and how to prepare nutritious foods.

    As private women’s colleges such as Wellesley and Vassar began to open in the 1860s and 1870s, women gained the opportunity not only to study science but also to teach it, Eisenmann said.

    “Women did have academic careers in the sciences. They did study the sciences, all throughout the 19th century. But late in the 19th century and up until about the early 1900s the research universities began to grow … and those were the very places where women were least represented,” she said.

    The Web chat aired live on June 10 as a Google+ Hangout and was part of a Google Art Project series called Art Talks, which features art professionals from around the world discussing various topics and issues. This chat was co-sponsored by the National Women’s History Museum and featured Sydnee Winston, project coordinator for the museum, as well as guest speakers Eisenmann, Mimi Lufkin, CEO of the National Alliance for Partnership and Equity, and Wendy Hancock, manager of professional development services at the Association of Science Technology Centers.

    The “Women and STEM Education” Art Talk can be viewed in the Art Talk archives on YouTube.

  • Yes or no? How about maybe?

    Prof. Walsh traces a Facebook phenomenon to 18th-century French literature.

    Digital technology possesses the power to amplify quirks of human nature.

    Consider the R.S.V.P. In the age of Facebook and paperless invitations, it is easy for hosts to issue a call to attend a birthday party, a Friday night cocktail gathering or a weekend hike in the Appalachians. And for the intended guests, it is just as easy and quick to respond, regardless of the actual intention to attend.

    "Let’s call it the aspirational R.S.V.P.," writes journalist Henry Alford, who authors the Circa Now column for the New York Times, "when someone replies yes to an invitation, even though he knows, or is fairly certain, that he can’t or won’t attend."

    While social media has made the non-committal commitment ubiquitous, Alford says it's not a new dodge.

    But as it turns out, aspirational reservations-making is not a new phenomenon. Jonathan Walsh, a professor of French studies at Wheaton College, said he is translating “Les Malheurs de l’amour,” a novel written by Madame de Tencin in 1747 but set in the early 1600s.

    Professor Walsh explains that the book's heroine, a member of bourgeois class, is courted by an aristocrat who manages his discomfort about pursuing a woman below his station by adding his name to a list of the young woman's visitors and then not showing up.

    The example came readily to mind when Alford asked for pre-Facebook examples of the behavior. The 18th century novel is one of two books by Claudine de Tencin that Walsh is working on translating. He expects that they will be published, probably next winter, by the University of Toronto Press.

    "Although I don't teach the novels in my course on French Enlightenment literature (there are so many authors to cover!),  I do talk about Tencin's role as host of an important salon and one of the few female novelists of her time. So the translation project has been helpful for that course."

  • A gem of a place

    Wheaton College has once again been named a “hidden gem” by a college search website—College Raptor labeled Wheaton among its top five hidden gems in the northeastern United States.

    For the second time in a month, Wheaton College has been named a “hidden gem” among colleges and universities—this time by CollegeRaptor.com.

    Wheaton is one of 44 colleges and universities nationwide to be recognized in this way and was ranked No. 5 out of 24 Hidden Gems in the Northeast.

    According to College Raptor, which provides online tools and resources to aid students in their college search: “Regional gems are defined as high-caliber colleges and universities in each geographic region which receive fewer than 5,000 applicants per year but have a total enrollment of greater than 1,000.” The rankings were based on enrollment and application data.

    The Hidden Gem announcement is designed to call attention to schools which may be overlooked by students but which "stand out in terms of academic rigor and student success," according to a press release from College Raptor.

    Grant Gosselin, Wheaton's vice president of enrollment and dean of admission and student aid, called the distinction "a wonderful recognition of the exceptional things happening at Wheaton."

    "From the national recognition students receive acknowledging their academic prowess to the fact that 98 percent of graduates were employed, in graduate school or in national service or fellowships, Wheaton is an exceptional value," Gosselin said. "It's a value that was recently enhanced when President Hanno announced the Wheaton Edgeour guarantee of funding for an internship, research experience or other experiential learning opportunity to every Wheaton student."

    Overall, College Raptor ranks Wheaton in the top 200 out of more than 1,600 institutions nationwide. Joining Wheaton in their list of the Northeast’s top 5 schools are Ursinus College, Stevens Institute of Technology, St. Lawrence College and Allegheny College.

    Earlier this spring, another college search site, CollegeRecruiter.com, listed Wheaton as its No. 1 Hidden Gem College for Employers Hiring Business Majors.

    Wheaton is no stranger to making lists. The college appears on the U.S. News and World Report's list of best liberal arts colleges and institutions recommended by top high school counselors and on The Princeton Review's lists of Best 379 Colleges in 2015 and best schools in the Northeast, among other accolades.

    For 10 consecutive years, Wheaton has been named one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges for preparing students to win U.S. Fulbright awards.


  • All that jazz

    Following the release of her second album, Lauren Henderson ’09 performed her first ever headlining show in the Boston area last week.

    Following the release of her second album, Lauren Henderson ’09 performed her first ever headlining show in the Boston area last week.

    Henderson, a Marblehead, Mass. native, graduated from Wheaton in 2009 with a double major in music and Hispanic studies, switching her major from psychology after discovering a passion for performing, according to an article published in The Patriot Ledger. While at Wheaton, she took master classes from Cuban jazz master Paquito D’Rivera and the vocal group Take 6.

    “The more performing I had done on campus, the more I realized music was what I really wanted to do with my life,” Henderson told the Ledger. “There had always been jazz and Latin jazz in my home growing up and my parents and grandparents were big music fans. When I was at Wheaton I ended up directing a singing group, singing with the jazz band, doing theater—every chance I got to perform.”

    After graduation, Henderson moved to New York City to pursue her singing career. She released her first album, a mix of classic jazz covers, in 2011. Her second album, “A La Madrugada”—Spanish for “the dawn”—was released March 20 and features seven original songs, plus five covers.

    “I wrote ‘A La Madrugada’ about unrequited love,” she told the Ledger. “I drew upon my own experiences and others and how it developed musically was very organic.”

    Henderson performed May 20 at The RegattaBar in Harvard Square.

  • Decoding the emoji

    An article in Wired quotes English Professor Lisa Lebduska on the subject of emojis.

    Have you been mixing up your smiley and frowny faces?

    A May 21 article in Wired magazine, which quotes English Professor Lisa Lebduska, suggests that users may be misinterpreting the meaning of emoji characters—using a “sleepy face” to denote sadness or a “look of triumph” to signal anger, for example. And these mix-ups are leading the Unicode Consortium, which sets emoji standards, to rethink some of their designs.

    But, as author Megan Logan writes, the non-precise nature of emoji and emoticons is exactly what makes them such a fascinating means of communicating, a reflection of the times and of the different people who use them.

    “Through our misuse, misinterpretation, and subsequent re-imagining of these emoji, we subvert the apparently universal glyph system and push the development of this pictorial language forward, stretching its bounds and testing its limitations,” Logan writes.

    She includes in her article a quote from Lebduska’s essay, “Emoji, Emoji, What for Art Thou?,” published in the October 2014 issue of the digital magazine Harlot, in which Lebduska outlines the history of emojis and their use in modern conversation.

    While some scholars have suggested that emoticons and emojis pose a threat to the written language, Lebduska argues that they are a separate form of communication, a means of “creative graphic expression.”

    “Emojis expand expression and in doing so open themselves to re-appropriation, interpretation and even misinterpretation, along with the affirming possibilities of artistic creation,” Lebduska writes in the introduction to her essay.

    Lebduska is also director of college writing at Wheaton.

  • Tale of two heroes

    Adar Cohen ’04 co-authors book on civil rights movement

    A new book co-authored by Adar Cohen ’04 explores a pivotal event in American civil rights history.

    Jimmie Lee and James: Two Lives, Two Deaths, and the Movement that Changed America, written by Cohen and Steve Fiffer and published by Regan Arts in New York City, looks at the killings of civil rights activists Jimmie Lee Jackson and the Rev. James Reeb and how they inspired the march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. and led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    Jimmie Lee and James is the first book to give readers a deeper understanding of the events that galvanized an already-strong civil rights movement to one of its greatest successes, along with the herculean efforts to bring the killers of these two men to justice—a quest that would last more than four decades,” according to a description of the book posted by Regan Arts.

    To research the book, Cohen and Fiffer traveled to Alabama to talk with many of the individuals who participated in the civil rights movement in the ’60s—conducting interviews with witnesses to the two murders as well as dozens of others and reviewing hundreds of pages of FBI documents, private papers and diaries, memoirs, oral histories and newspaper and magazine articles.

    The result is “a well-written, well-reported page-turner about our collective struggle for equality and justice . . . hopefully the last chapter in the American Revolution,” according to a review by Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    At Wheaton, Cohen designed an independent major in conflict resolution, drawing from courses in anthropology, political science, religion and history.

    In addition to receiving a George J. Mitchell Scholarship in 2006 to study at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, Cohen won a 2004 Watson Fellowship, a 2003 Truman Scholarship in public service and several other fellowships and college honors. He was also known on campus for founding the Wheaton chapter of Backpack to Mexico, a group that collects school supplies for children in Mexican border communities.

    Cohen received both a master’s and a Ph.D. in international peace studies from Trinity College and currently works as director of programs at the Civic Leadership Foundation, an organization that aims to empower young people to be effective and responsible leaders. He also is an adjunct professor in the Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies Department at DePaul University.

    In their author’s note, Cohen and Fiffer acknowledge the book’s relevance 50 years after the deaths of Jackson and Reeb, particularly in light of recent protests over police officers’ excessive use of force in the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and other black men.

    As the authors write in their introduction: “It is our hope that this book can help us remember the great promise of American democracy—that everyone has a voice, that everyone can participate—and in honoring two of its heroes, recommit us to its promise.”

    Read an excerpt from the book at reganarts.com.