Jumbos Stampede Back

Last weekend alumni from the classes of 2003 to 2012 came back to the hill to catch up and reconnect with old friends and enjoy festivities coordinated by Tufts Alumni Association.

Events included drinks in Davis Square; a BBQ and wine tasting on the President’s Lawn (though rain broke tradition and caused a relocation to Gantcher); Hall Snacks for the classes of 2003, 2008 and 2012; a classy Jumbo Soiree attended by President Monaco; and last but not least, a relaxing brunch in Carmichael where alumni were able to indulge in their dining center favorite, Belgian waffles.

Apart from all these great activities, the classes of 2008 and 2012 were able to congratulate themselves on successfully securing $10,000 scholarships for future Jumbos. By having at least 50 class members become new donors, an anonymous alumnus generously funded a scholarship under both classes’ names.

Check out some pictures of the weekend’s events below

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Jumbo Soiree

Jumbo Soiree

 

Brunch at Carm

Brunch at Carm

 

Brunch in Carmichael

Brunch in Carmichael

 

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Murrow Forum: Christiane Amanpour


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President Monaco at Local Science Fair

Tufts is supporting young local scientists and President Anthony Monaco is leading the way.

President Anthony Monaco speaks at the Region IV Science Fair. 
(Emily Zilm for Tufts University)

On March 9, 2013, President Monaco attended the 37th annual Region IV Science Fair at Somerville High School . The Region IV Fair covers much of northeastern Massachusetts, including Tufts University’s host communities of Medford and Somerville. The fair brings together more than 200 high school science students who have already won their local competitions in Medford, Somerville, Cambridge, Lexington, Belmont and other nearby communities.

Tufts has been a sponsor for several years, helping to defray Somerville’s costs for hosting the fair and sending our faculty and graduate students to serve as judges. President Monaco has enjoyed attending the fair, talking with high school students and their parents and sharing his journey to becoming a distinguished geneticist.

This year, Chemistry Senior Lecturer Sergiy Kryatov and Physics and Astronomy Professor/Interim Chair William Oliver served as judges along with graduate students from the education, biomedical engineering and biology departments.

In 2012, Tufts first offered a $250 prize to the highest scoring Somerville or Medford scientist. President Monaco was on hand to present this year’s award to Nicole Gouveia of Somerville High School for her research on Kefir Fermentation. Last year’s winner of the Tufts prize, Erica Budina from Medford High School, was the top winner in this year’s fair.

President Anthony Monaco presents the Tufts Prize to Nicole Gouveia, of Somerville. (Emily Zilm for Tufts University)

President Anthony Monaco presents the Tufts Prize to Nicole Gouveia of Somerville.
(Emily Zilm for Tufts University)

 

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Alan Shapiro Entrepreneurial Lecture

The Alan Shapiro Entrepreneurial Lecture was created as an opportunity for distinguished speakers to share their experiences as entrepreneurial leaders and inspire students and alumni to push the boundaries of what is possible and take risks in business. This main speaker for the lecture this year was Eric Giler, CEO of WiTricityIMG_4078

Giler started a telecommunications company in the 1980s. After retiring in 2005, his former mentor contacted him about becoming involved with a group of scientists who had discovered how to transfer electricity without wires. Giler jumped at the chance and became the CEO of WiTricity.

Giler explained that if a business or product can get through three critiques – “That’s impossible,” “Anybody can do that” and “Nobody will buy that” – then it can have success. WiTricity seems to be there –  it can be done, not anyone can do it and it definitely appears the market of people interested in this technology is strong.

Wireless transfer of electricity was something that had eluded scientists for years, to the point that many thought it was impossible. Professor Marin Soljacic from MIT figured it out when his wife’s phone would beep as it was about to die and he postulated about how there must be electricity near it, and it should be able to tap into that electricity. His lab’s first success was the powering of a 60 watt light bulb safely and efficiently from a distance of two meters.

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Giler explained that WiTricity technology is completely safe – safer to use than a cell phone or an x-ray. It does not affect other things because it creates something to give off a very specific frequency and something to pick up that frequency.

WiTricity technology has a number of benefits over traditional wired electricity. Multiple devices can be powered by a single source and devices can have an incredibly extended wireless range with resonant repeaters, objects which increase the length that the source can power.

Furthermore, “new applications are limited only by one’s imagination.” The company is aiming to go broad, and make things almost everyone could use. Additionally, it has defense applications to aid soldiers who currently carry many batteries on their helmets; this technology could significantly lower the weight of what they carry. It would even be possible, hypothetically, to put the sources under roads in order to charge cars.

The lecture concluded with Giler taking a few questions from the audience. Asked when this technology would be available to the average citizen, Giler responded that it will likely only be two years until their developments with electric cars are released, and some commercial products, like wireless phone chargers, may even be released by the end of 2013. Another question inquired if WiTricity had the potential to make a truly wireless car and how quick the technology works. Giler explained that there are physical limitations, however the largest system they are working on could run a bus.

Thanks to the Shapiro family for bringing such an inspirational and successful business leader to Tufts.

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Read by the River 2013

Sunday, March 10 was the annual Read by the River event. This kid’s carnival focusing on literacy is sponsored by Tufts Hillel.

In order to enter the carnival, which was held at the Gantcher Center, children presented a book report. The theme of this year’s fair, “Reading Around Boston,” included booths with games and arts and crafts – many with a literary focus – as well as a scavenger hunt and bean bag toss. This year, New England Patriot’s Ryan Wendell attended to talk about his own experiences with reading. He also read a story and signed autographs.

With nearly 850 children at the carnival, it was a huge literary success!

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Author Talk: Sarah Sobieraj

On February 28, Professor Sarah Sobieraj gave a talk at Tufts about her book, Soundbitten, which focuses on the relationship between news and activist organizations.

In 2000, Sobieraj started collecting information for the book.  She interviewed more than 120 individuals and highlighted 50 diverse activist groups who focused on a range of issues from war opposition to the environment. When she started interviewing the groups around election time, she assumed that most would want to influence a candidate. She found out that only a few did but what all the groups were really trying to get was mainstream media attention.

Soundbitten dives into not only the tactics various groups used to get media coverage, but also how the media deals with these cries for attention as well as what movements have and have not been successful. Some of the tactics used by various groups include protests, drama, comedy, irony, wit,  recruiting political celebrities, dancing and singing. Most of these groups rarely get any attention for these actions and often the coverage they do get is not about their goals or message. These groups practice media literacy with talking points to give to reporters, however the problem is that journalists prefer unscripted sounding individuals. Some of the groups spend hours practicing for the reporters, when it truth this is what makes the reporters uninterested.

An example of a movement that got a lot of media coverage was the Occupy movement. As Occupy was unorganized and was not as actively seeking media coverage, this made the protests come off as extremely authentic. That authenticity was what attracted media attention. They avoided the trap of seeing media as the goal but were able to see it for what it should be: a strategy.

Professor Sobieraj has been an associate professor at Tufts since 2005. In 2010 she received the Tufts Undergraduate Teaching Award for displaying compassion to her students and passion about her work.

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Tufts University Beelzebubs 50th Anniversary: The Welcome Home Concert

On Thursday, February 7, Tufts University welcomed back to the hill some of its most musically talented alumni: The Beelzebubs. ‘Bubs from every graduating class, from 1963 to 2003, flocked to the hill to honor  nine of their fellow ‘Bubs who pursued their passion for music and the performing arts and have excelled in their field.

Honorees ranged from opera singers to Guster (yes, one of their members was a ‘Bub!) and everything in between. They were presented by ‘Bubs who knew them best and wowed the audience with their performances. Throughout the night, both presenters and honorees fondly looked back on their time singing on the hill and expressed that the Beelzebubs will always have a special place in their hearts and lives.

If you missed it or want to relive the nostalgia, check out some performance footage below!

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Responses to Newtown: Violence Prevention, Mental Health Access, and the Role of Health Professionals as Active Citizens

On Feb. 5, Tufts Medical School hosted a panel discussion on the role of public health professionals and mental health providers on preventing tragedies like the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. The panel was moderated by John Schreiber, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the medical school, and featured Janice Levine, Ph.D., a clinical and developmental psychologist who responded to the Newtown, CT shootings; Jon Sargent, M.D., director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center and social & behavioral medicine lecturer; Laurel Leslie, M.D., MPH, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and public health researcher with the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute; and Sigalit Hoffman, M.D., a psychiatrist and medical director of the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project at Tufts Medical Center. Each panelist focused on a different piece of the tragedy and the problems behind it. Throughout the discussion, two themes emerged: violence and the role of violent media in society, and weapons and the second amendment.

Janice Levine, Ph.D., opened the discussion with her experiences as one of the first mental health professionals to respond on-site to the tragedy. Mentioning the Sandy Hook Promise, a community-based initiative to “support common sense solutions that make my community and our country safer from similar acts of violence,” Levine highlighted the similarities between their mission and that of medical practitioners. However, she also stressed that doctors have a responsibility to be the first to respond to the warning signs that arise before tragedy strikes.

“You are in a field where you alone can be a diagnostician and first responder; where you are singular privy to the health and lifestyle of your patients,” she said.  Levine urged students to begin dialogues and become pioneers within the AMA and AAP “to protect and enhance the sanctity of speech between doctor and patient, and that they use this privilege wisely to advance protection, safety, and the prevention of harm to our children.”

Sigalit Hoffman, M.D., continued the discussion outlining the red flags associated with trauma, especially in children. She highlighted the importance of adults dealing with the tragedy while still being emotionally available for their children. Hoffman also stressed that some children would be more affected by the tragedy than others, and identifying those children is one of the most important pieces of recovery for the Newtown community. In dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy, she spoke of schools preparing plans in the event that such things were to occur and so they are ready to act on it if disasters strike.

Jon Sargent, M.D., re-directed the conversation to focus on the larger societal issues at hand. He reminded the audience of data surrounding gun violence and concluded that it’s “community-based and selective.”

“Violence tends to occur at the intersection between race and poverty; adversity builds on adversity,” he explained. Sargent’s call to action for those in attendance was to honor the tragedy and get involved as civilians through community watches, mentorships, picking up trash–anything that would strengthen communities where these crimes are more probable.

Laurel Leslie, M.D., MPH, concluded the discussion by bringing everything back to the individual level: “What can I do as one person? What can I do outside and beyond myself?” she asked. As citizens, Leslie explained, we can all change public discourse and thought around gun violence by challenging the existing norms about them. We can also push for change by signing petitions. As healthcare professionals, Leslie urged the students in the room to ask the difficult questions: to ask patients about suicide.

After the panel discussion, the audience asked questions that led to many revealing facts about violence, children and metal health access:

  • 20% of kids are at high risk for being affected from watching violent video games
  • According to Sargent, some kids are “adult magnets:” they’re attractive, intelligent, athletic and overall successful. These kids receive the most attention, yet it’s the non-adult magnets that need the most help. If people want to help stop inner city violence, they must make a difference one-on-one with the non-adult magnets.
  • The availability of mental health access for children is alarmingly low. There are 75 million children in America and only 8,000 child psychiatrists. These mental health practitioners live in very concentrated urban areas and are not accessible to children throughout the country. Also, the insurance reimbursement for psychologists is not sufficient, so most child psychiatrists chose to open private practices. The panel agreed the system is flawed and Sargent spoke to the aspiring medical practitioners in the room, the future of American health and medicine, “We don’t do this well and we are giving it to you.”

John Schreiber, M.D., MPH, ended the discussion with news that the NRA is currently attempting to block H.R. 321, a bill that allows research on firearm safety and gun violence, and urged attendees to call their congressmen and support the bill.

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President Monaco Visits Jumpstart

On Nov. 29, Tufts President Anthony Monaco took a break from on-campus meetings to read a picture book, learn about the alphabet and sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” in an afternoon he called “the best hour he spent all week.” As a special guest during a Jumpstart session at The Open Center for Children in Somerville, President Monaco observed first-hand the passionate, hands-on work that a group of ambitious Tufts students take part in.

Jumpstart at Tufts is hosted by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, and the program recruits and trains Tufts students to lead early childhood education programs at local preschools. As the website explains, Tufts students are trained to help young students with their “language, literacy, social and initiative skills,” while also receiving comprehensive training in child development and educational practices. On a national level, Jumpstart has succeeded in placing volunteers in preschools in low-income neighborhoods, and the organization has trained more than 20,000 volunteers since 1993.

President Monaco thoroughly enjoyed his time in the classroom, participating in some of the educational activities and observing the bright, engaging and friendly Tufts students as they commanded the classroom with poise. Check out some photos from the afternoon below:

 

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The Right to Food: A Weapon Against Global Hunger


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