Colgate University News Items of interest about the Colgate community Fri, 05 Feb 2016 21:31:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ilyasah Al Shabazz gives MLK Week Keynote Fri, 05 Feb 2016 21:28:15 +0000 Portrait of Ilyasah Al Shabazz

Ilyasah Al Shabazz

Ilyasah Al Shabazz, daughter of civil rights leader Malcolm X, spoke to a packed Love Auditorium in Olin Hall last Wednesday, wrapping up this year’s MLK Week celebration.

Shabazz is a community organizer, educator, social activist, motivational speaker, and author. Her most well-known book, Growing Up X, is both a personal memoir and a tribute to her parents.

The keynote address was focused on the Black Lives Matter social movement. Shabazz spoke to the importance of compassion and the idea that hatred is a learned behavior.

“We cannot point fingers at others without first pointing fingers at ourselves,” Shabazz said. “Each of us have an obligation to stand up and right the wrongs of society. Young people, this is your time to invest in yourselves by any means necessary — with a quality education, with significant purpose to your lives, with utilizing power to be your absolute best.”

Shabazz’s address served as a call to action for young people, as well as a discussion of the history of social activism in America. Her goal is to encourage a new generation to recognize their power to enact positive change.

“My father was just in his 20s, not much older than most of you here today, when the world would learn of him,” Shabazz said. “Brother Malcolm stood up against the injustices around him. He came along and said, ‘We demand our human rights as your brothers.’ He did not compromise; he lived his entire life serving his country.”

Shabazz’s address was followed by a brief question and answer period, which included discussion of the presidential candidates, personal identity, Malcolm X, and structural violence.

Other events that took place during MLK Week included MLK Day of Service, an address by student speaker Alexandria Davis ’16, a screening of The New Black at the Hamilton Theater, and a variety of workshops designed to spark important conversations.

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From the Colgate Scene: Machine Project and the Hamiltonians Thu, 04 Feb 2016 21:42:42 +0000 Chris Kallmyer adjusts sound levels on his computer while students rake leaves

Regional Raking with Chris Kallmyer from the Colgate Scene (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Last fall, 11 artists conducted experiments with the Colgate and Hamilton communities, posing philosophical questions that included: What is art?

Machine Project is a Los Angeles–based organization “that works with artists to develop new projects often involving performance or participation with the public,” explained founder Mark Allen. Its troupe has traveled the world, performing in various combinations and sites, but this was the first time they collaborated with a whole town.

Events ranged from interpretive dance, to protest songs, to intuition workshops. “Machine Project is part of a larger genre, which is sometimes called social practice,” said art and art history professor DeWitt Godfrey, who invited the group to Colgate. “Artists use the relationships between people or within communities as a kind of material — not just a setting, but actually how people interact with each other and what that says about who we are.”

As Colgate prepares to celebrate the performing arts during a weekend-long event this March, the Scene features the story of the Machine Project, its artistic interactions with Colgate and the Village of Hamilton. Keep reading to define the undefinable, discover an original duplicate, protest the protest song, and much more.

Related Links
Department of Arts and Art History 

The Arts on Campus

About Hamilton, N.Y. 

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Provost announces faculty promotions and appointments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 13:00:39 +0000 Flowers in front of the Colgate seal wall by James B. Colgate Hall

Photo by Andrew Daddio

Warm congratulations are making their way across campus in the wake of Interim Dean of the Faculty and Provost Constance Harsh’s January 28 announcement of appointments for promotion and tenure. The appointments were approved by the Board of Trustees during their winter meeting and take effect on July 1 of this year. They include:

Continuous tenure and promotion to associate professor
Ahmet Ay, Departments of Biology and Mathematics
Daniel Bouk, Department of History
Engda Hagos, Department of Biology
Jonathan Levine, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Navine Murshid, Department of Political Science
Illan Nam, Department of Political Science
Heather Roller, Department of History

Promotion to full professor
Barbara Regenspan, Department of Educational Studies

The board also approved additional appointments, made by Harsh and Interim President Jill Harsin in consultation with the Dean’s Advisory Council. Harsh’s announcement to campus read:

Faye Dudden, professor of history, named Charles A. Dana Professor of history
Faye Dudden came to Colgate from Union College in 1982. She holds a PhD in history from the University of Rochester. Her research focuses on a variety of aspects of women’s history in 19th-century America. Faye is the recipient of numerous prestigious fellowships and awards (including ACLS and NEH) and regularly acts as a museum and public history consultant. While she has published seminal articles, she has also recently published a highly-regarded third book, Fighting Chance: The Struggle over Woman Suffrage and Black Suffrage in Reconstruction America. At Colgate, her history department colleagues admire the breadth of her teaching, which includes not only a variety of women’s and local history courses, but also the history of the Civil War. In addition to the courses she teaches, Faye has supervised a number of remarkable honors and high honors theses — including those written when she directed the London History Study Group. Professor Dudden is not only a renowned scholar; as member of the Colgate University, she has contributed to the intellectual depth and sense of community on campus, including serving on the promotion and tenure committee and as chair of the history department.

Nancy Ries, professor of anthropology and peace and conflict studies, named the Christian A. Johnson Chair in liberal arts studies
Nancy Ries, who joined the faculty in 1994, is a widely cited scholar of political culture in Russia from the 1980s to the present, and has been instrumental in developing post-Soviet studies. She was co-founder of Soyuz: The Post-Communist Cultural Studies Interest Group, and co-editor of Cornell University Press’s prize-winning Culture and Society after Socialism series. Nancy has been a tireless university citizen as well: her leadership roles have included terms as chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, as director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, and as chair of the Off-Campus Study Committee, in addition to service on other elected and appointed committees in many areas of institutional life. She is a regular contributor to the Communities and Identities and Global Engagements components of the Core, as well as to the First Year Seminar program. She will begin a three-year appointment as Director of the Division of University Studies on July 1, 2016.

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Queen of Soul will headline a celebration of the performing arts at Colgate Fri, 29 Jan 2016 21:37:38 +0000 aretha2

Legendary vocalist Aretha Franklin will perform on campus as part of the Kerschner Family Series Global Leaders at Colgate at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, in Sanford Field House. A limited number of tickets remain for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents.

Known around the world by her first name, and as the reigning “Queen of Soul,” Franklin’s repertoire spans pop, soul, jazz, rock, blues, and gospel. Her appearance will serve as a highpoint of a weekend-long celebration of the performing arts at Colgate.

Other events will include:

  • a stage production of A Map of Virtue by Erin Courtney, directed by April Sweeney, associate professor of English in the University Theater
  • “Jazz and the Creative Process,” a behind-the-scenes look at how performers acquire the jazz language and the inside game, led by Glenn Cashman, associate professor of music and director of jazz
  • a student dance performance, coordinated by Tanya Calamoneri, visiting assistant professor of English
  • a screening of Round Midnight, the Academy Award-winning film on the life of jazz artist Dexter Gordon
  • a performance by the Colgate Chamber Players, directed by Laura Klugherz, professor of music, professor of Africana & Latin American studies, and director of chamber music

For schedule details, including location and ticketing information, visit

Franklin was named the #1 Vocalist of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2009. The first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she is the recipient of numerous awards, including 18 Grammys, five American Music Awards, and four NAACP Image Awards. To date, she has received 12 honorary doctorate degrees.

The Kerschner Family Series Global Leaders at Colgate, sponsored by Colgate’s Parents’ and Grandparents’ Fund, allows the university to invite inspirational leaders like Franklin to campus. Other guests have included Shimon Peres, former prime minister of Israel; Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder; Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state; President Bill Clinton; Russian political activist Gary Kasparov; Tony Blair, former prime minister of Great Britain; Felipe Calderón, former president of Mexico; and the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.

Related Links:
Whoopi Goldberg at Colgate
Shimon Peres delivers lecture
Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers Global Leaders lecture
All-Star Entrepreneur Weekend Panel

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Thumbs up for NUTS! Thu, 28 Jan 2016 21:33:10 +0000

It’s too early to suggest that NUTS! will be a seminal work in the career of documentary filmmaker Penny Lane, assistant professor of art and art history. But reviews pouring in from the Sundance Film Festival, where Lane recently premiered the story of goat testicle transplant pioneer Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, have roundly praised the movie.

“When I found Brinkley’s story,” Lane told Sundance, “I thought it was readymade for a film. His biography is a tragedy — it’s a classic American story of someone who was born with nothing and, through his own hard work and genius, works his way to the top, then falls in this very spectacular way.”

Claiming that he could cure male impotence by transplanting goat testicles into his many hopeful patients, Brinkley used his quackery to erect a media empire and nearly rose to the governor’s office in Kansas.

But delve any further into the biography of John Brinkley and you’ll find that fact and fiction fuse. Lane has used a creative combination of archival material and animation to tell that unreliable yet entertaining story, and the critics have responded. Here’s a sample.

Lane, whose last success was the inside-the-White-House found-footage collage Our Nixon, is offering catnip for audiences of a certain type. For those who listen to They Might Be Giants, play along with NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! and subscribe to Mental Floss, Nuts! is their Star Wars. But you don’t need to be a bookish dweeb with your hands up at Barnes and Noble readings to enjoy it.
The Guardian

Lane employs a squadron of animators to tell Brinkley’s story, using his authorized biography as her template — up until the moment she stops, artfully turning the story on its head. The results are a glorious look at the American dream running head-first into innocent gullibility.
Salt Lake Tribune

As illuminating as it is immensely entertaining, Penny Lane’s doc uses charming hand-crafted animation to trace how Brinkley ballooned a wacko epiphany into a vast media empire built on nothing but hot air. It’s a chronicle of the American dream in action, and the fact that it’s all true didn’t stop Lane’s film from ending with the best twist of this year’s fest.
Rolling Stone

Lane primarily relies on various styles of animation to tell Brinkley’s story, but more importantly, she frames that story on Clement Wood’s biography The Life of a Man: A Biography of John R. Brinkley. Using this as the narrative framework almost makes you feel like you’ve stumbled into a museum dedicated to Brinkley’s greatness, but if you’re patient with NUTS!, you’ll get a reveal worthy of a true swindler.

Watch Lane discuss the film on the Sundance Film Festival Youtube Channel, and keep an eye out for your chance to see NUTS! later this year.

Related Links:
Department of Arts and Art History
Nuts! to premier at the Sundance Film Festival
Penny Lane’s “Our Nixon” premiers

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Meg Sadera ’18: On SophoMORE Connections Wed, 27 Jan 2016 21:48:37 +0000 Students receive alumni career advice at SophoMORE Connections, January 15-16. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Students receive alumni career advice at SophoMORE Connections, January 15-16. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

From January 15 to 16, the sophomore class got to experience one of the many amazing opportunities Colgate has to offer students when it comes to figuring out what the heck all of us are going to do when we graduate. This weekend to remember was called SophoMORE Connections, during which tons of alumni traveled back to campus completely devoted to helping each and every one of us find our true passion and to bring us closer to figuring out a career path.

My classmates and I were unsure what to really expect from the weekend. We anxiously talked about the pantsuits that our moms made us buy and if we actually had to wear them — as well as how nervous we were to finally confront what everyone has been talking about these days: “networking.” I think I can speak for most of my classmates when I say that this new and uncharted territory was daunting, and the expectation was that it was going to continue to be daunting until it was finally over. However, much to our pleasant surprise, the weekend turned out to be one of the most positive and helpful experiences of our college careers thus far.  Not only did we realize that we could forgo that dreadful pantsuit, but also that the entire weekend was going to be much more comfortable than we had imagined.

The alumni present were approachable and excited to assist us through this intimidating process, and they helped make what we had to attend something that we wanted to attend and truly enjoyed. Instead of asking us what we wanted to do when we graduate, they asked if we knew what we wanted to do when we graduate and assured us that it was okay if we didn’t. Topics ranging from business and consulting all the way to art and sustainability were talked about in various panels, allowing students to explore lots of interests to help us find the right fit. The alumni at these panels were there to give the most honest answers to any questions students could think of, allowing us all to really understand what they did on a daily basis in their industries and what kinds of qualities would be helpful to succeed in any particular industry.

The keynote speaker of the weekend, Sian-Pierre Regis ’06, had an inspiring message that really hit home for me and I’m sure for many others. He talked about his unconventional path to success and the trials he faced in order to figure out what he really wanted to do with his life. He talked about a gut feeling that he encouraged us all to look for in the career we decide to choose, motivating us to follow what we truly want to be doing, not what we think we should be doing.  This message might seem somewhat cliché; however, it opened up our eyes to the endless possibilities that life has to offer and personally inspired me to look for that feeling. What I took away from this weekend was to do what you love to do and make it into a career. Find that “gut feeling” and run with it until it finally gets you to where you want to be. I learned that failure is not only OK, but also necessary in order to finally succeed. It taught me to not just look for a job, but instead a career in something that I am excited about and will truly enjoy for life. If all goes well, hopefully I will be the one talking to the students at Colgate University in the future, motivating them to find their passion just as alumni did for me.

This essay first appeared on and is used here with permission. Dates have been added for clarity. 

Related Links:
Career Services – Sophomore Connections
Sophomore Connections Returns
Sophomore Connections Wrap-Up


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Fair Harbor sails to KickStarter victory Mon, 25 Jan 2016 14:01:27 +0000

A pop-up Fair Harbor shop in 2015

When siblings Caroline ’19 and Jake Danehy ’16 set out to make the eco-friendly clothing line that would eventually become Fair Harbor, Caroline was still in high school, and the idea was firmly rooted in soil, not the sea.

“We had an initial idea called Three R Clothing. It stood for reuse, refresh, and revitalize. We were going to plant a tree with every boardshort sold,” said Jake Danehy, a geography major and Division I athlete from Larchmont, N.Y.

As they started looking for suppliers to manufacture their clothing line, they found a specific fabric directly made from recycled plastic bottles. With that, they decided to go in a different direction. Instead of planting trees, they would turn 11 plastic bottles into a single swimsuit, and would donate a portion of their profits from every sale toward cleaning up beach towns along the east coast.

“For me, I’ve always been incredibly interested in fashion and the environment so this was a perfect combination – a clothing company focused on sustainability and preserving the beach environment,” said Caroline Danehy, who is still considering majors. “For me, starting Fair Harbor has showed me at a young age that, if I have an idea, I can make it happen.”

Jake and Caroline pitched this idea, Shark Tank style, at Entrepreneur Weekend in April 2015, as one of Colgate’s Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute Student Incubator (TIA) participants. As a result, they received $5,000 in funding. They were then selected as one of six Colgate eFund winners, earning an additional $15,000 and summer work space in Colgate’s dedicated entrepreneur incubator in downtown Hamilton. This funding was used for a down payment on their first order of boardshorts.

It was in that space, and at regular TIA workshops during the semester, that Jake and Caroline Danehy were able to tap into the Colgate network, taking in expert volunteer mentorship from Tim O’Neill ’78, managing partner of Golden Seeds Fund 2 LP, and Andrew Parietti ’10 president of Outdoor Voices.

By July 2015, the first order of 500 boardshorts was in hand, and by the end of the summer they had sold 95 percent of their inventory. Soon after, the Fair Harbor team started working on their second line, consisting of seven new boardshorts and five new t-shirts, and launched their first KickStarter campaign in December 2015. They hit their initial goal of $11,000 worth of pre-orders within the first 72 hours of launching on KickStarter.

“We wanted to make $11,000. We ended up making just under $25,000,” Jake said.

Fair Harbor’s next shipment will arrive in March. Jake and Caroline will be managing sales, working on PR and social media, hiring college campus ambassadors, and organizing pop-up shops in local beach towns along the east coast.

“Fair Harbor’s KickStarter victory is not a case of luck or overnight success,” said Wills Hapworth, TIA alumni executive director. “Since we began working with Jake and Caroline in TIA, they have matured into truly first class entrepreneurs. They’ve learned their customers and product inside and out, and they’ve skillfully managed their team and production.”

“We are incredibly fortunate to have Colgate University and the TIA program and all the support we’ve received,” said Jake Danehy. “It’s been one of the best experiences I’ve had at Colgate.”

Colgate’s 2016 Entrepreneur Weekend is slated for April 8. Additional information, including a full schedule and details about this year’s all-star panelists, will be announced at in February.

Related links:
Entrepreneurship at Colgate
Eweekend 2015 in video
Colgate’s Entrepreneur Professional Network
TIA Mentors


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Students capture life in new exhibition Fri, 22 Jan 2016 16:29:10 +0000 Photo by Madeline Bailey '18 as part of the Captured by the Lens exhibition, currently on display

A photograph by Madison Bailey ’18 — with the working title Flathands — which is part of the Captured by the Lens exhibition, currently on display.

From family moments, to campus life and selfies, student photography filled a new exhibition, called Captured by the Lens, at Colgate’s Longyear Museum of Anthropology and two other locations.

The exhibition is the culminating work of 12 students in a fall course titled Photography: Anthropology and Archaeology, taught by Nick Shepherd, the A. Lindsay O’Connor Professor of American Institutions in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Shepherd based the idea on his book, The Mirror in the Ground: archaeology, photography and the making of a disciplinary archive, which dealt with “archival photographs of archaeologists at work in Africa, from the 1920s to the 1950s,” he explained.

“I saw this as a great opportunity to pick up on some of the themes and ideas from the book, in a classroom setting,” Shepherd said. “The idea for the student exhibition came about because I wanted students not only to be reading and thinking about these issues, but also practicing and thinking about what it means to take photographs and curate them in a public exhibition.”

Addressing themes of objectification, humanization, self-stylization, and even selfie culture, the exhibition as a whole explores “how people capture one another through the medium of photography,” said Sarah Horowitz, curatorial assistant at the Picker Art Gallery and Longyear Museum of Anthropology. “In many ways the work is a social commentary on the students’ reactions to their everyday world, and how that relates to their lives as students.”

“I particularly liked those projects that picked up on current events in and around Colgate and Hamilton, like the protests last year against sexual violence on campus,” Shepherd said. “A number of students looked at ‘selfies’ as an emergent genre of images, and at the role that social media and selfie culture play in student life. Other students worked in quite an inward way from the basis of their own experiences, or experiences of people close to them.”

Madison Bailey ’18 explained that one of her photographs — with the working title Flathands (pictured) — focused on showcasing her dad’s hands and an injury that he sustained while working in a aerospace machinery factory when he was younger. “I owe everything to my Dad for allowing me to show the world an imperfection that he deals with and transforming it into a celebration of the unique,” Bailey said.

Although the fall course has ended, the exhibition will be on display through March 13 at the Longyear Museum of Anthropology, and will run through April 29 at the Creative Arts House and the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute.

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Colgate joins Beckman Scholars Program Thu, 21 Jan 2016 19:11:01 +0000 Student stands at a lab table, reading notes in Wynn Hall

Photo by Andrew Daddio

Colgate University has been named as a Beckman Scholars Program institutional award recipient for 2016.

The grant, totaling $104,000, will provide multi-year research funding for students majoring in biology or chemistry. Colgate joins a distinguished list of universities that received the award from the Irvine, Calif.–based Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation in 2016 — it includes Emory, Vanderbilt, and the University of Chicago among others.

“We are delighted to have been selected,” said Damhnait McHugh, Raab Family Chair and Professor of biology; director of the division of natural sciences and mathematics. “It offers our top students unparalleled opportunities to engage in extended scholarship.”

To be considered for the Beckman Scholars Program at Colgate, biology and chemistry students will be required to undergo a rigorous application process in consultation with one of 13 faculty mentors, who have collectively published 48 articles alongside 96 undergraduate co-authors during the past five years.

A steering committee, chaired by McHugh and including Tim McCay (chair and professor of biology), Ephraim Woods (chair and associate professor of chemistry), and Roger Rowlett (Gordon and Dorothy Kline Professor of chemistry), will name one or two Beckman Scholars each year from the applicant pool.

Beckman Scholars will receive stipend support for research, travel, and supplies during 18 months of independent research, and will present findings from their research both on campus and at national and international conferences. They will submit articles for publication by peer-reviewed journals and use their explorations as a springboard to graduate programs in biology, chemistry, or medical sciences.

“This award will provide Beckman Scholars at Colgate with great rewards in terms of their research outcomes, and in their development as excellent scientists as they work alongside their faculty mentors,” said McHugh.

Related Links:
Department of Chemistry
Department of Biology
Undergraduate Research at Colgate
Center for Learning, Teaching and Research

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Denise Larson ’19: A Letter To My Fellow Second Semester Classmates Sat, 16 Jan 2016 13:00:53 +0000 Photo by Denise Larsen '19

Photo by Denise Larson ’19

Dear Class of 2019,

I had an experience the other day that forced me to think deeply about something that is of immediate importance to us all. I attended a holiday brunch, and my neighbor asked me: “Can you believe you finished your first semester of college?” My answer: “Not at all…I mean kinda yes?” My neighbor probably expected that as a college student I’d be a little more articulate, but as I spoke, that question struck me as surprisingly complex.

It’s a question that we all must consider. Whether or not we’ve realized it, we’re in an odd place. As winter break comes to a close, it’s notable that the last time we were away from campus for this long, many of us had only ever been there on a college visit. Yet, as we flock back to campus with the same magnitude of peers that we encountered on move-in day, we’ve got a full semester under our belt, and that’s significant.

In terms of what this means in regards to second semester, let me break down my disjointed answer to the not-so-simple question.

“Not at all”- This is my way of being in denial that I’m no longer totally new, because being new is great! Being new means we have an excuse when we mess up. I’m guilty of doing worse than I’d like on a paper and chalking it up to the fact that I’m a freshman and just adjusting. I’ve put off a reading or two until a little too late at night, and I absolved myself from any guilt due to the fact that I’m a freshman and just adjusting. We’re rookies, and we’re entitled to our rookie mistakes, right? Of course we are. My excuses, despite the fact that they were excuses, were perfectly valid in first semester. In fact, if we’d expected ourselves to be perfect, we almost certainly would’ve failed. Thus, it was incredibly convenient to hide behind the veil of being new.

“I mean kinda yes” – A few things uprooted me from my identity of still being very new. Most strikingly, I’ve made friends whom I feel like I’ve known for a lifetime. I’ve only known them for four months, but we have inside jokes and secrets and routine dinner times. Whereas most of us came to college not knowing many people, or with the goal of meeting new people, now we have surrounded ourselves with people we can trust and have lost that trademark characteristic of being new. Furthermore, we all know our way around campus, know what’s edible in the dining hall, have learned to live with roommates, have adjusted to showering in public, and have managed to do our own laundry without ruining our clothes. We can and should take pride in the fact that we have adapted to live semi-independent, highly social lifestyles.

First semester we learned a lot and gained a lot of new experiences. Second semester is when we get the chance to apply what we learned and gained. Therefore, we must set our standards higher, both in the classroom and outside of it. Yes, you heard me, both academically AND socially. We may feel like we know it all, primarily due to our newfound social prowess, but then we must admit that we are no longer the wide-eyed freshman staring at our first-ever professors. We’d do ourselves a disservice to remain rookies in the classroom, so as to retain the ability to make valid excuses, but consider ourselves pros at navigating our social scene. We cannot be selectively experienced. We’ve got lots of work to do, as well as tons of fun to have second semester. We’re prepared to handle it, and we must hold ourselves to that ever-rising standard.

Best of luck.

Note: this post originally appeared on Odyssey, and is reposted here with the author’s consent.

Related Links:
First-years to offer reflections about Campus Life
First-year Students

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Professor Hay earns $500,000 data security contract Fri, 15 Jan 2016 20:06:00 +0000 m_hay_1

Professor Michael Hay (Photo by Susan Kahn)

Mining massive amounts of personal data can provide crucial insights into important questions asked by scientists, sociologists, and public policy makers. But behind each data point, there’s a real human, demanding privacy.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Assistant Professor of Computer Science Michael Hay nearly $500,000 to participate in Project Brandeis, a new program that challenges researchers from across the country to develop systems that facilitate data analysis while preserving privacy.

“In the era of big data, there are many examples where data mining technologies have yielded useful insights into messy, complex data,” Hay said. “However, there are also instances where these same technologies are misapplied and even abused.”

Hay’s research is part of a $2.8 million team effort led by scientists at UMASS Amherst. In the months ahead, the team will attempt to build systems that achieve what cryptographers have defined as differential privacy: query results that are statistically true but not precise enough to allows hackers to link real people with otherwise anonymous data points.

Hay and his Colgate undergraduate research assistants will help in designing the system architecture, coding a prototype, and collaborating with other Brandeis Project teams to integrate that prototype into a larger demonstration system.

“The DARPA program is not simply funding research,” Hay said. “Instead, each research group that receives funding is expected to work collaboratively with other research groups and develop experimental systems that bring our technologies together.”

The Brandeis Project taps Hay’s strengths. Using his advanced understanding of computer science, he has already built systems that make it possible for researchers to analyze data while protecting individual privacy.

“We are at a point where there are now many algorithms for doing privacy-preserving data analysis,” Hay said. “However, these algorithms are complex and often require specialized knowledge to apply them correctly — our goal is to simplify this process, providing users with simpler tools that are still effective, both in protecting privacy and yielding useful insights from the data.”

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Good Morning, Dolphins! Wed, 13 Jan 2016 21:47:40 +0000 Tori Hymel stands on a platform looking down at a dolphin

Tori Hymel ’16 works with dolphins during an extended study trip to the Florida Keys (Photo by Krista Ingram)

(Editor’s note: Fourteen students accompanied Associate Professor of Biology Krista Ingram on an extended study trip to the Florida Keys during winter break to study marine mammal cognition, behavior, and conservation at the Dolphin Research Center. They chronicled their full experience on the off-campus learning blog — here’s a sample, written by Elly Hilton ’17, Madeleine Tsao ’17, and Lacey Williams ’16 on day two of their trip.)

We began the day as usual with a walk around the docks to each lagoon, waving and saying hello to each dolphin. We were still amazed to see the eagerness with which each dolphin approached us, seeming to recognize us from the day before. From the far side of every lagoon the dolphins would swim over to us as soon as they spied us walking down the docks, swimming the length of the dock and eyeing us with a curious sense of recognition and interest. After the rounds we headed over to the front lagoon to prepare for our second dolphin encounter.

Our group worked again with dolphins Merina and her daughter Windley. We all gave backrubs and handshakes, feeling the slippery skin of the dolphins slough off as our fingers ran down their charcoal hides. FUN FACT: dolphins regenerate their skin about every two hours, so feeling dolphin skin on our fingers after each touch was actually a normal phenomenon.

During our individual encounters we each got to help train the dolphins by practicing various imitation skills. Elly was instructed to practice bobbing with Merina, but Windley wanted to join in and practiced her bobbing, too. After imitation, we had the opportunity to actually swim with the dolphins! We hung onto the dorsal fins of both girls and were towed around the lagoon. It was a hilarious and wonderful experience with a combination of amazement that we were swimming with real dolphins while trying not to laugh from the constant belly bumps from their tails. Being a terrestrial species, however, we were always eager to sluice ourselves in freshwater showers following marine interactions.

After lunch we had three seminars about dolphin acoustics, DRC training methodology, and general marine mammal conservation. We even got to participate in a workshop to try and train each other. It was hilarious to watch our peers figure out that we were being instructed to whip and nay-nay or do the Macarena.

Here are Madeleine’s three favorite facts from the seminars:

Acoustics: Underwater, it’s easy for sounds to get mixed up. From a hydrophone, it’s often hard to distinguish clicks and whistles between the various dolphins within range. Therefore, in order for researchers to identify the source of a specific sound, underwater acoustics are recorded from at least three different positions underwater in order to triangulate the acoustics reception and identify the sound source by matching location of the hydrophone with strength of the target sound.

Training: There are many ways to teach (and discourage) behaviors in animals. At DRC, only one method is used for most all behavioral teaching: positive reinforcement, or the addition of a stimulus as a reward signal. The dolphins here have been conditioned to associate the sound of your basic whistle with praise. The dolphins therefore know when they’ve done a behavior correctly when the whistle is blown, and they know alterations are necessary in its absence. This is also cool since, unlike most household pets, these dolphins are not food motivated. Many of the individuals here won’t even accept food as adequate praise and will get bored without the occasional hugs and verbal applause. In addition to positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, or the removal of a stimulus as a reward signal, is used sparingly and most often in the context of medical assistance.

Conservation: Everyone knows that pollution is a major contributor to dwindling populations of dolphins (and others) in the wild. However, did you know that noise is a form of pollution as well? (Neither did most of us.) In fact, noise pollution is a huge concern for conservationists of marine mammals. Everyday man-made noises from sonar, off-shore drilling, cargo ships, and modern super tankers that seem relatively benign above water are amplified to underwater ears and may cause permanent damage to delicate auditory organs. Additionally, dolphins rely primarily on their sense of hearing for navigation and communication purposes. Therefore, sound pollution obstructs important signaling and creates directional confusion between and within pods.

After the seminars, we attended a training demo with Merina and Windley.

Above is a video of Merina showing her belly and below is another snippet of her beaching herself, both from our training demonstration, where the trainer was practicing certain behaviors for medical examinations.

This helps familiarize the dolphins with the equipment and behaviors in a fun, low-stress environment in order to prepare for any future serious illnesses and/or procedures.

Overall, it’s been an exciting start to the week, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip has in store.

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Hannah Robinson ’11, lawyer without borders Wed, 13 Jan 2016 20:34:06 +0000 Hannah Robinson ’11 stands outside a Mayan steam bath in Guatemala.

Hannah Robinson ’11 outside a Mayan steam bath in Guatemala

From the autumn Colgate Scene:

While investigating human rights cases in Guatemala for the past year, attorney Hannah Robinson ’11 felt somewhat safe as an American citizen — but she did “get nervous every time a motorcycle pulled up next to [her].” With good reason: 26 legal professionals have been murdered there since 2013; the most recent was in June by gunmen on motorbikes.

The Colgate Scene first Skyped with Robinson in January 2015, the midpoint of her year in Guatemala, where she was building cases involving genocide crimes. Robinson is supported by a fellowship through Loyola Law School, from which she graduated last spring. She was the first from Loyola to pursue this work — it was her idea and design.

From the summer of 2014 until this summer, Robinson worked under the Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala, writing genocide indictments against the former government. More than 200,000 Guatemalans were murdered and disappeared during the 1960 to 1996 civil war, which peaked in the early ’80s under former dictator Ríos Montt. He has been in the headlines recently because he and other senior officials were found guilty in 2013, but the verdict was overturned based on a technicality.

Robinson’s team has been working with other human rights groups to bring cases against additional former government officials. “Because I was the person in the office with the most training in international law and the only one whose mother tongue is English, that put me in the position where, as a first-year attorney, I wrote the indictments,” she said.

In addition to those criminal cases, Robinson has been building another case independently. She’s creating an alien tort statute case, “which is basically getting civil damages for victims of human rights abuses in U.S. courts,” Robinson explained. “It’s called the alien tort statute because noncitizens are the petitioners seeking relief.”

This case is on behalf of the Ixil Mayans, to get compensation for them because they “were promised reconciliation from the government when the peace accords were signed in 1996, but it just hasn’t happened,” Robinson said.

Whom she’s attempting to sue, Robinson can’t fully disclose. She is willing to say that the party is a well-known American public figure who donated money to support the genocide cause in the ’80s.

Part of her research included interviewing Guatemalan citizens, which was tricky because she couldn’t be forthright with her sources, either. In addition to not wanting to tip her hand, Robinson must be mindful of her personal safety. “You have to be aware that you’re suing for genocide, which is such a drastic thing that they’re probably going to take whatever measures they can to protect themselves or destroy evidence,” Robinson said. “So I have to be guarded.”

When she’s finished her research, Robinson hopes to find support from a law firm willing to back the alien tort case.

Robinson left Guatemala at the end of the summer, amidst a tumultuous political landscape. She’s now safely in Los Angeles, working with Loyola’s Center for the Study of Law and Genocide for the second year of her fellowship. With the help of students there, she’ll continue writing the genocide indictments for the Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala.

In addition, Robinson will be conducting genocide research for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia with law students in Loyola’s International Human Rights Clinic.

“These people deserve justice,” she said in answer to why she’s motivated to pursue this weighty work. “They deserve their story to be told, and it’s not being told very extensively on the international scale. If we don’t do something, there’s a good chance nobody will.”

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SophoMORE Connections returns Wed, 13 Jan 2016 15:24:40 +0000 Portrait of Sian-Pierre Regis ’06

Sian-Pierre Regis ’06

This weekend, January 15–16, SophoMORE Connections returns to Colgate. Keynote speaker Sian-Pierre Regis ’06, Swagger founder and pop-culture/social contributor to CNN/HLN, heads a long list of alumni arriving on campus. They’ll talk with students about life after commencement — and how to take advantage of the full suite of Colgate resources between now and then to prepare for a successful career launch.

Sian-Pierre will be joined at the signature Center for Career Services event by fellow grads like Amy Dudley ’06Jon Sendach ’98, Jamil Jude ’09, and many others.

Visit to find out more about the program and to watch the keynote speech live at noon this Friday, January 15.

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Dunne ’13 and Smith ’13 make Forbes 30 Under 30 Tue, 05 Jan 2016 15:31:16 +0000 Maggie Dunne at Entrepreneur Weekend 2013

Maggie Dunne (Photo by Erica Hasenjager)

Congratulations to Maggie Dunne ’13 and Ryan Smith ’13, each of whom has made an appearance on one of Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 lists.

Dunne, who double majored in Native American studies and religion, founded Lakota Children’s Enrichment, Inc., (LCE) while still in high school. As a Colgate sophomore, she joined the university’s Thought Into Action Institute (TIA) working with alumni mentors to expand her venture and further LCE’s mission to “empower Lakota youth and amplify their voices by providing opportunities in the arts, education, sports, leadership, and mentorship.”

Ryan Smith, founder of EcoCampus LLC, unloading paper at Case Library

Ryan Smith during his days leading EcoCampus, LLC. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

In 2012, Dunne was named one of Glamour magazine’s Top 10 College Women, eventually being awarded the grand prize of $20,000 for her accomplishments. Before investing the funds in LCE, she was able to triple the amount by asking Sir Richard Branson to match it – which he did while challenging an anonymous alumnus to do the same.

Dunne was also awarded the prestigious 1819 award during graduation weekend, an award given to one senior whose character, scholarship, sportsmanship, and service to others best exemplify the spirit that is Colgate and the value of a liberal arts education. Dunne was named in the education segment of the Forbes 30 Under 30.

Smith, who majored in international relations at Colgate, also joined TIA during his sophomore year. He co-founded the environmentally friendly paper supplier EcoCampus, LLC, with partner Brendan Karson, ’13 and then sold it during his senior year to four juniors — TIA classmates.

As a senior at Colgate, Smith started Trupoly, a crowdfunded real estate investment platform. He incorporated Truoply while in TIA and sold it to RCS Capital Corporation in July 2014. Smith makes the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the enterprise tech category for his company LeafLink.

Thought into Action
Maggie Dunne ’13 triples support for nonprofit with CEO help
Colgate ‘paperboys’ grow green business

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