Our Taste of Tufts Series: A Full Re-cap

The Taste of Tufts series initiated in 2012 aims to bring together faculty, staff, and students through the sharing of the amazing and ground-breaking research being done at Tufts. This fall, the ExCollege welcomed 4 faculty members to speak about their research and to initiate dialogue with a diverse audience. We’ve compiled a detailed listing of all Taste of Tufts lectures from this past fall so you can get a glimpse into the awesome things happening on our campus!

Ben Hescott, Computer Science

Professor Ben Hescott from Computer Science spoke as the opener of our Fall 2013 Taste of Tufts series. Professor Hescott dove into describing how the protein-protein interaction network is a collection of thousands and thousands of pairs of genes in some relationship. He compared this network to a social network like Facebook, where the ‘relationships’ can be represented as a graph. Professor Hescott informed the audience that in leveraging that information, we can actually devise new algorithms for biological discovery. According to Professor Hescott, his research presents algorithms using the protein-protein interaction network to discover compensatory pathways in yeast. These pathways are life’s “back-up” system and can be found using only high throughput data modeled like a social network.

Cathy Stanton, Anthropology

Earlier today, Cathy Stanton of the Anthropology Department spoke at our second Taste of Tufts lecture of the semester. She described her work studying traditional communities that have made their home on land now owned and managed by the National Park Service. Stanton has studied groups as diverse as the factory-worker Polish immigrant community in Salem, MA, engaging in what she calls “salvage ethnography,” to looking at how a traditionally run farm operates in the context of contemporary agricultural practices in Columbia County, NY. Most recently, the National Park Service asked Stanton to study the community of seasonal residents on Peddocks Island in Boston Harbor. Stanton said that although the traditional residents of the island were from three separate communities — Portuguese fishermen, summer residents who came to the island when cottages and hotels were built, and the officers and soldiers who were stationed at Fort Andrews on the island’s East Head — after five generations and years of intermarriage, the islanders now share a cohesive identity and sense of community that Stanton says is very much bound up in the unique place in which they’ve come together.

Read the full Tufts Daily article here.

Kelly McLaughlin, Biology

Earlier today, Professor Kelly McLaughlin of the Biology Department spoke at our Taste of Tufts lecture, discussing her work in developmental biology. McLaughlin works with South African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) as a model organism to study organ development and regeneration, specifically that of hearts and kidneys. According to McLaughlin, these frogs are ideal model organisms because they can be easily manipulated as embryos, their tissues can be explanted and transplanted, and because they’re transparent while developing, researchers can see their hearts beating and fluids pumping in their kidneys through their skin. McLaughlin’s lab looks at what effects turning on and off various genes within these frogs’ genomes have on their organ development. Some of the most fascinating work she’s done recently, though, arose after some of her colleagues asked her why so many frogs are disappearing. The answer? An herbicide called atrazine interferes with the frogs’ genetic pathways responsible for development, causing them to metamorphose into frogs before their bodies are physically capable of doing so.

Read the full Tufts Daily article here

Stephen Bailey, Anthropology

Dr. Stephen Bailey of the Anthropology Department joined us today for the final Taste of Tufts presentation of the academic year. Dr. Bailey spoke on his research looking at the growth and development of people living in high altitude climates. The majority of Dr. Bailey’s latest research focused on children living in Tibet. He and his colleagues looked at how elementary school children of different nationalities faired under the same environmental stressors. Going into the study, he stated that he and his team thought that adaptation to high elevations fell under the idea of “one size fits all” in that every human would adapt similarly to being at a high elevation. However, after diving further into his research, Dr. Bailey uncovered this to be untrue. Based on an individual’s genetic background, there are actually multiple ways of adapting to the high elevations both physically and physiologically!

Read the full Tufts Daily article here.

The Express!

Friday, February 1

Join the ExCollege: Become a Board Member or a Peer Leader!

Dive into the inner-workings of the ExCollege by joining the ExCollege Board or becoming an Explorations or Perspectives Peer Leader.

The ExCollege Board consists of 5 faculty members and 5 students and meets once per month. The Board tackles policy, discusses ExCollege initiatives and programs, and ultimately decides what courses will be offered to all Tufts students each semester. Each Board meeting allows both student and faculty members to plan ahead for the ExCollege while offering a welcoming atmosphere where everyone’s voice is heard. Download an application now and submit it to the ExCollege by February 22nd.

Have you ever wanted to teach at Tufts? Consider becoming a Peer Leader through the Explorations or Perspectives programs. Teams of two upperclassmen lead a first-year seminar in addition to acting as orientation leaders and mentors for their group of first-year students. Design your own course, earn 1.5 credits, and have a great teaching experience! Check out the FAQs for both programs, download an application, and submit your course proposal by March 13th. You can even head over to our blog to read about the experience of a Fall 2012 Explorations leader, John Dame. An Information Meeting for both Explorations and Perspectives will be held on Tuesday, February 5th at 9:30pm in Room 220 of the Campus Center.

A Taste of Tufts Review: Sam Sommers

Written by Lenea Sims, A15 & ExCollege student worker

With the new semester comes a new lineup of A Taste of Tufts! Sponsored by your very own Experimental College and supported by the SPIRIT Fund, A Taste of Tufts is a lecture series dedicated to bringing some of Tufts finest professors in front of a crowd that may not normally get to see them speak. This semester’s series began today with Associate Professor Sam Sommers from the Psychology department. Professor Sommers opened up his talk—titled “Examining Racial Diversity: A Behavioral Science Approach”—by acknowledging the differing views often surrounding his topic. “There’s a lot of discussion and debate about diversity,” he said. “It’s a particularly controversial and polarizing concept.”

After briefly acknowledging the ethical and legal side of the debate, he quickly turned to what he knows best, saying, “What are the effects of diversity? How can we study the question of diversity empirically that tells us something about the societal effects?” He then dove into some of the more recent studies done in his lab at Tufts; each one completed with the aid of undergraduate and graduate students whose names he happily credits in his findings. In one, for example, he found that when white students interact with someone of a different race, they often experience more anxiety and show signs of cognitive depletion—symptoms that they don’t nearly as often display when working with another white student. In other words, when faced with dealing with someone of a different race, students became so concerned about making that person like them, that they became mentally exhausted.

Professor Sommers closed his talk and took a few questions, ending by reminding students to always go into situations looking to have a genuine connection rather than worrying about if the person they were dealing with would like them in the end. It’s a concept he admits is a bit “Mr. Rogers-sounding,” but we can all agree that it’s certainly a nice outlook to have.

Updated Taste of Tufts Schedule

After some minor shuffling around, the ExCollege has updated its schedule for this semester’s Taste of Tufts presentations. Be sure to reserve every Friday from 12pm—1pm on your calendar to catch up on the latest faculty research.

  • February 8: Ken Garden, Religion
  • February 15: Nina Gerassi-Navarro, Romance Languages
  • February 22: Anthony Monaco, President
  • March 1: Mary Davis, Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
  • March 8: TBA
  • March 29: Ayanna Thomas, Psychology
  • April 5: Benjamin Hescott, Computer Science
  • April 12: Noe Montez, Drama and Dance
  • April 19: David Harris, Provost and Senior Vice President

Sneak Peek into the Annual Newsletter

Each year, the ExCollege produces a massive newsletter, the E-News, to update current students, faculty members, staffers, and alumni on the most important ExCollege news. A range of articles are written by various authors for a wide range of perspectives! You can look forward to reading articles by:

  • Sara Harari, A12 and creator of “A Taste of Tufts”
  • John Harrison, A12 and former ExCollege student worker
  • Sarah Moser, returning Visiting Lecturer of “Asian Cities in the 21st Century”
  • Mimi Arbeit, Visiting Lecturer of “Sexual Wellness on College Campuses”
  • Kumar Ramanthan, A15 and student ExCollege Board member
  • Phil Starks, ExCollege Board chair
  • Madeline Hall, A13 and former Explorations Leader
  • Samantha Tye, A13 and former Perspectives Leader
  • Robyn Gittleman, Director of the ExCollege
  • Howard Woolf, Associate Director of the ExCollege
  • Beky Stiles, A12 and ExCollege Program Assistant

Be on the lookout for the latest edition of the E-News in late February! In the meantime, glance over archived newsletters to learn about previous ExCollege endeavors.

Still searching for the perfect study group?

Worried about that upcoming test or confused by your homework? Don’t know anyone in your class yet? JumboStudy, a new mobile peer-to-peer study service, can help! Log on at http://jumbostudy.tufts.edu to view available study groups for your classes or propose new study groups. Where and what you study is up to you! For more information, check out http://sites.tufts.edu/atfellows/projects/jumbostudy/.

Did you know…

Every year the ExCollege receives over 140 course proposals from professionals, grad students, educators, and more in the greater-Boston area wanting to teach. The process to whittle that number down to 22/23 takes an entire semester of sending out solicitation materials, processing each application, interviewing each candidate, and holding the full-day Board meeting in order to finalize the upcoming semester’s course list.

Around Campus

New semesters always bring about a lot of ‘firsts’: first semester trip to the Rez, first day of classes, first Sunday Sundae (& Thursday), and (of course) first special event of the semester. If you haven’t yet attended an event, make your first event outing one to remember! Check out these upcoming programs, and be sure to scroll through TuftsLife and Tufts Events for even more insight into happenings on the Hill.

  • Get your art on by heading over to a Tomasso Lecture!

The Department of Art and Art History presents “Michelangelo, Bandinelli, and Bernini: The Long Goodbye.” This Tomasso Lecture will be given by Dr. Maria Loh of University College London. Head over to Granoff 155 at 5:30pm on Monday, February 4th to dive into the world of art history. See the full event flyer here.

  • Want to take your business idea to the next level?

The Tufts $100K Business Plan Competition is gearing up for 2013! An Information Session will be held on Wednesday, February 6th from 12pm to 1pm in Anderson’s Burden Lounge. Be a part of one of the country’s biggest university-sponsored competitions, and earn money to transform your idea into a business. Submissions are due February 22nd.

Our “Researcher in Chief”

Anthony MonacoTufts President Anthony Monaco just presented the latest talk in the A Taste of Tufts series. He discussed two of his most important discoveries, the gene responsible for X-linked Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies and a gene specifically involved in human speech and language. Though many in the crowded classroom were transported back to their biology days, it became clear why Dr. Monaco is a pre-eminent researcher in his field. See Monday’s issue of the Tufts Daily for an article about the presentation, and check our website soon for the video!

Conception of the Taste of Tufts Lecture Series

I was in the bookstore last fall, dodging freshman who don’t know enough to check Amazon first to see how much textbooks are elsewhere, looking for a programming book. On my way towards the engineering section, I stopped to eavesdrop on a pair of students who were talking about the books. I quickly realized that they were not speaking about the authors with an undeserved familiarity, but that their professor had written the book on conflict due to climate change in Sudan that one of them was wildly gesticulating with. Of course, as an engineering student, it’s not unheard of for a professor to write a textbook. But I’d never really stopped to consider the vast amount of what I was missing at Tufts. I haven’t taken a history course since high school. Not because I particularly dislike history, but because I just never had time.
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Drumming, clapping, and singing with Prof. Locke

Over twenty people attended A Taste of Tufts this past Friday and heard about Prof. David Locke’s research. As an ethnomusicologist, Prof. Locke has learned with and from the Dagombe people of Ghana, in particular regarding their culture of drumming. Check out the Tufts Daily article at http://www.tuftsdaily.com/a-taste-of-tufts-david-locke-1.2699611 for more information.

Join us this Friday, February 17th for Prof. Hugh Gallagher’s talk about neutrinos!