Page 1



the Brown

vol. cxxii, no. 36

Friday, March 16, 2012

Since 1891

In final State of U., Simmons holds open dialogue DPS When President Ruth Simmons chose to major in French, her former colleagues expressed anger and disbelief that she was not concentrating in something dealing with pressing issues of race. “I don’t know why I had the stubbornness to pursue what I did,” Simmons told an audience of more than 600 at her final State of Brown address Thursday. Simmons displayed the tenacity that has often surfaced during her 11-year tenure, adopting a different format for her yearly address by taking questions from the audience for most of its duration. Imparting tales of her personal, professional and academic life, Simmons struck an intimate tone in speaking about the University’s relationship with the city, the interaction between disciplines in a university setting and her experience as an ad-

Lecture explores animal emotions By jordan hendricks Assistant Features Editor

“If you want to understand animals, you need to get away from verbal language,” Temple Grandin, professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University and renowned autism advocate, told a crowd of about 500 in Andrews Dining Hall last night. Her lecture, “Understanding Animal Behavior and Emotions,” discussed topics such as the similarities between the neurological expression of human and animal emotions as well as Grandin’s personal struggles with autism and how they have helped her understand animal behavior. “Animals don’t think in words,” Grandin said. But animals “definitely have emotions” that influence their behavior, she added. “What separates us from animals is computing power,” she said. Known for her work in designing more efficient and humane livestock handling systems and for the invention of the “squeeze machine” — a device that gives individuals with autism spectrum disorders calming physical contact — Grandin, a Boston native,


continued on page 4

news.....................2-3 arts...........................4 SPORTS.....................5 D&C............................6 Opinions.............7 science....................8

arrests bookstore shoplifter

ministrator and intellectual. After several questions by Ralanda Nelson ’12, president of the Undergraduate Council of Students, and David Rattner ’13, vice president of UCS, the discussion was opened up to questions from the audience. Addressing one student’s concern that the University is losing a high-profile advocate for making admission need-blind for all applicants, Simmons said she believes full financial aid availability will be a top priority for the incoming administration. Students also addressed Providence’s financial woes and the future of the relationship between the city and the University. Simmons said she and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras have agreed to keep discussions about the issue confidential, but that she supports the “strong recognition that we will not thrive if Providence continued on page 2

By david rosen Staff Writer

The study revealed that many of the participants suffered long-lasting psychological trauma from the storm, including sustained higher levels of psychological distress and post-traumatic stress symptoms. But Paxson’s team also found that many victims were remarkably resilient in piecing their lives back together. The study’s findings, publicly released last November in the journal Social Science and Medicine, showed

Department of Public Safety officers arrested Dennis Wong, a Providence resident, after he was caught stealing medical textbooks and trade books from the Brown Bookstore Feb. 28. Wong was apprehended in the bookstore cafe as he was removing price tags from $430.25 worth of books in his possession, said Paul Shanley, deputy chief of police of DPS. Wong was responsible for at least two or three other thefts at the bookstore this semester, Shanley said. The exact amount he stole is still under investigation. “He was knocking us dead. He was really hitting us,” said Steven Souza, director of the Brown Bookstore. “We had seen a real spike (of thefts) in the past weeks, and having that individual arrested reduced that.” Wong was reselling the stolen books at Cellar Stories Book Store downtown, Souza said. He will be prosecuted for felony shoplifting by the Department of the Attorney General, since this arrest marks

continued on page 3

continued on page 3

Emily Gilbert / Herald

President Ruth Simmons adopted a Q&A format for her final State of Brown.

Paxson research analyzes Katrina’s impact By Mathias Heller Senior Staff Writer

President-elect Christina Paxson, dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, has expressed her intention to make expanding research at the University a top priority when she takes over next year. Paxson, a researcher herself in her pre-administrator days, has conducted studies examining the intersection between economics and public health.

Paxson and a team of researchers set out to examine the risks facing low-income mothers attending community college in 2003. But, in 2005,

science after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, where two of the participating community colleges were located, the researchers shifted their focus and decided to examine the effects of a large-scale natural disaster on mental health.

Occupy takes its message from the park to the gallery By adam toobin and katherine long Senior Staff Writers

Courtesy of James Sawyer

Occupy Providence members are displaying the movement’s goals through art.


Festival showcases persecuted writers



Sc i 87


Science, 8

Occupy Providence may have left Burnside Park more than a month ago, but members of the group gathered in Olneyville Thursday night for an art exhibit in the Yellow Peril Gallery featuring political artwork of Occupy artists. Most of the artists had been active members of the Burnside Park Occupation and said they wanted to represent the Occupy movement’s goals through art. Occupier Mel St. Laurent contributed a series of photographs featuring different Occupy movements from around the country. One photograph features a pregnant woman holding a sign that reads “doing it for him” with an arrow directed at her stomach. “I feel the world is rising up,” St. Laurent said. “It’s not about a little Occupy movement, it’s about a revolution,” she added. St. Laurent said she became in-

Hit the slopes Mosenthal ’13 goes head to head with U.S. skiers

sports, 5


By Alexandra Macfarlane Senior Staff Writer

volved in the Occupy movement when she saw a video of three women at Occupy Wall Street in New York City getting pepper-sprayed by the now-infamous NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna. “I went expecting to photograph images of police brutality, but I became a participant instead,” she said. St. Laurent listed her concern about the disappearing middle class in the United States, the difficulties of obtaining access to health care and the loss of union power as motivations for her art. “This is a strong political movement that many people have mistaken for very far left, but it’s for everyone — poor, rich, anyone,” she said. St. Laurent’s photography is a particularly poignant illustration of life inside the Occupy movement. Her black-and-white prints, especially her portraits, are often gritty and always touching. Four of her continued on page 4

t o d ay


49 / 42

58 / 37

2 Campus News

Simmons delivers final State of Brown

calendar Today


5:30 P.m.


The Brown Daily Herald Friday, March 16, 2012


continued from page 1

7 p.m.

3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy

Junoon: SASA Culture Show

Wilson 102

Salomon 101

8 p.m.

9 p.m.

Jazz Band Concert

Get Lucky Archsing

Grant Recital Hall

Wayland Arch



Hot Ham Sandwich, Vegan Roasted Vegetable Burrito, Vegan California Veggie

Breaded Chicken Fingers, Vegan Nuggets, Corn Cobettes, Vegetarian Baked Beans

DINNER Stuffed Shells Florentine, Shrimp Creole, Italian Chicken Parmesan, Lemon Buttered Broccoli Spears

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie, Baked Fish St. Peter, Mashed Potatoes, Assorted Frosted Cupcakes


does not thrive.” She cautioned against assertions that Brown is not doing anything to help the larger community. When a student expressed concern that the University has drifted from its commitment to serve the community, she asked him for a direct answer about his stance on the University’s tax status. “Criticism is terrific,” she said after a question related to concerns that Brown has lost its focus on undergraduate education, adding that there must be a balance between protecting “ideals of liberal learning” and focusing on attracting the highest caliber students interested in research and technology related to contemporary societal needs. One classics concentrator asked Simmons to address tensions between students who focus on humanities and students in the hard sciences and engineering. Simmons responded with her own defense of her academic focus in French. Students must always be able to defend

their choices to pursue particular academic interests, Simmons said. “Sometimes I listen to ‘The Iliad’ in the car,” she said to laughter from the room. Simmons also said that when people poke fun at her academic focus, she sometimes just starts speaking French, much to their astonishment. “You can mystify with your skills,” she said, adding that students must work together to elevate each other, despite academic differences. The question and answer period revealed a more intimate side to the historically popular president. Simmons was moved to tears when Nelson asked how a president deals with tragedies like the 9/11 terrorist attacks and student deaths. “The hardest thing in the world is to lose a student,” she said. “I am a compulsive doer,” Simmons said, when Nelson asked what keeps her up at night. But “there is nothing that keeps me up at night,” she responded, adding that she believes worrying about problems is unproductive. Simmons said when she became

president, her family was shocked. “I don’t act the same around them,” Simmons said, noting that her vocabulary and manner change when she is with her family. Maintaining family ties without making them feel inferior is the toughest thing for firstgeneration college students, she said. “You are no more worthy than any other human life,” Simmons said in response to a question about the best advice she had ever received. Simmons spoke about the influence of her mother, who taught her not to think she was superior or inferior to any other person. Nelson said this departure from the format of past State of Brown addresses was a conscious decision to have an exchange rather than an address. Nelson said Simmons “really lived here, and she was present in the space,” adding that she wanted students to see the woman behind the administrator. The intimacy was present from the start of the afternoon. When asked by Nelson what the proudest moment of her time at Brown has been, Simmons replied, “surviving.”

Sex week goes cross-cultural By Caroline Flanagan Senior Staff Writer


From the U.S. to Japan, the fourth annual Sex Week examined sexual issues throughout the world. Sex Week, which started with a sex trivia event last Saturday night and included lectures, free HIV testing, a BodyTalk Wellness Fair, discussions and movie screenings, is sponsored by the Sexual Health Education and Empowerment Council and will end Saturday. “We usually try to pick a theme that’s specific, but broad so that it’s easier for us to do programming around it,” said Council Co-Chair Aida Manduley ’11. “We try to balance things that we know are going to draw larger crowds with things that we know are going to draw smaller crowds, so we don’t sacrifice quantity over quality and vice versa.” This year the council focused on collaborating with other groups, Manduley said. Students for Choice, Sexual Health Awareness Group, the Japanese Cultural Association and the Multiracial Identity Series all helped organize different events. “One of the founding principles was that we wanted to be a group that opened up discussion and didn’t close doors on people,” Manduley said. “The first time that Sex Week


the Brown

happened, the majority of the events were coordinated by (the council), and it was a much smaller, more insular type of programming.” The council worked with the Japanese Cultural Association to bring Midori, a sex educator with a Japan-specific focus on kink, to campus Wednesday. Midori took her audience on a verbal and visual tour through Japanese love hotels, sex stores and clubs. “Every entry into a sex club, every drink I order is research,” she said. “It’s sociology and anthropology in the trenches.” Midori aimed to show her audience that what they assume is natural is actually culturally formed. “My objective for tonight is to entertain, to give a grounded perspective and to get people to think about cultural perspective,” she told The Herald. Her event was followed by the always popular “Sex and Chocolate in the Dark,” a discussion about sex conducted in the dark for anonymity purposes. It provides students with a safe and cozy place to discuss sex and eat chocolate, according to the council’s website. Megan Andelloux, a traveling sex educator who has presented at Sex Week in the past, dominated Thursday’s events. Andelloux started off the

Herald 195 Angell St., Providence, R.I.

Claire Peracchio, President Rebecca Ballhaus, Vice President

Danielle Marshak, Treasurer Siena DeLisser, Secretary

The Brown Daily Herald (USPS 067.740) is an independent newspaper serving the Brown University community daily since 1891. It is published Monday through Friday during the academic year, excluding vacations, once during Commencement and once during Orientation by The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. Single copy free for each member of the community. POSTMASTER please send corrections to P.O. Box 2538, Providence, RI 02906. Periodicals postage paid at Providence, R.I. Subscription prices: $280 one year daily, $140 one semester daily. Copyright 2011 by The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. All rights reserved. editorial

(401) 351-3372


(401) 351-3260

morning with an intimate talk called “Tales of a Traveling Sex Educator,” in which she described her experiences working with Planned Parenthood and other organizations. She presented an “Orchestrating Orgasms” workshop, which she told The Herald has caused students to pass out in the past from “informational overload,” to a packed Petteruti Lounge Thursday evening. Andelloux provided her audience with comprehensive information about orgasms and sexual pleasure. She discussed different masturbation techniques, displayed different vibrators, lubes and toys and even acted out different positions. Andelloux has been working on issues related to female sexual pleasure with the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center for six years and said she firmly believes in the value of Sex Week. “I think any conversation about sexuality is helpful,” she told The Herald. Sex Week is sponsored by a number of companies that provide products for the organizers to raffle off at their events. Manduley emphasized that the companies they chose are ones that are aligned with the council’s mission. “A lot of them try to do work with education or at the very least are very committed to producing items that are safe for the body,” Manduley said. Some of the sponsors include Sexy Period, OhMiBod and Crystal Delights, which sells sex toys and donates some of its proceeds to charities. Ariana Calderon ’13 said the event was smaller than it has been in past years, which she speculated might have been a result of poor advertising. “I hope that it stays a thing at Brown,” she said. Today’s Sex Week events include PrideProm — a dance meant to provide an open and accepting space for LGBTQ and allied students, according to the council’s website — and a screening of a number of pornographic films from different countries.

Campus News 3

The Brown Daily Herald Friday, March 16, 2012

Paxson study explores victims’ mental health continued from page 1 that 11 months after Katrina hit New Orleans, almost half of participants suffered from post-traumatic stress symptoms and more than a third suffered from psychological distress. A second follow-up nearly five years after the storm revealed that 32.7 percent of the participants still suffered from post-traumatic stress symptoms and 29.7 percent still experienced psychological distress. “I was surprised at the persistence of mental health problems,” Paxson said, adding that those who experienced the highest levels of psychological problems were also more likely to have lost a relative or suffered the destruction of their home. “Hurricane Katrina was, in some sense, a longterm disaster,” she said. All 942 of the study’s participants were women, with most being black mothers from low-income backgrounds. At the beginning of the study, Paxson and her co-researchers distributed a survey to the participants about their mental health, which included an assessment of signs of psychological distress. After the storm, the researchers conducted two follow-ups with the survey’s respondents, but numerous participants had been displaced from New Orleans by Katrina. The final sample size was 532. The study’s findings show that people who share race, gender and income identities can experience remarkably different mental health effects in the wake of natural disasters, said Elizabeth Fussell, an associate professor of sociology at Washington State University and one of the study’s co-authors. “It was very interesting to see the heterogeneity of the trajectories of mental health after the disaster,” Fussell said. Before and after

“Nobody usually has data on how health is affected by disaster,” said Mary Waters, one of the study’s co-authors and a professor of sociology at Harvard. She said the study’s pre-storm mental health data enabled the researchers to do a before- and after-the-storm analysis. “It’s really quite rare that (there are) studies that have both before and after outcomes,” said Narayan Sastry, associate director of the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan’s Population Studies Center, who was not involved in the study. One difficulty the researchers faced was compiling the data when so many of the participants were dispersed across the country. “We had to work on a very compressed time scale,” said Jean Rhodes, another coauthor of the study and professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Despite these challenges, the re-

searchers succeeded in producing a thorough and well-done analysis, Sastry said. But Sastry added he felt one weakness of the study was its narrow focus on black, low-income mothers. “It’s not representative of the whole population before Hurricane Katrina,” Sastry said. “That’s a limitation, but for that particular group, it tells us a lot.” Mark VanLandingham, an associate professor of international health and development at Tulane University who also served on a National Institutes of Health review panel of the study in 2007, wrote in an email to The Herald that he believed the demographic makeup of the participants was an asset to the research. “It provides a window into how a group of potentially upwardly mobile disadvantaged young mothers fare after such setbacks,” he wrote. Lingering effects

The study found that many of the participants viewed the storm as an opportunity for personal growth and recovery. Since other studies revealed a higher level of psychological distress among the general population than among the study’s participants, this resilience was striking, VanLandingham wrote. Paxson said she was also surprised by this finding, adding that she hoped her study would lead to future research into the consequences of mass migration out of impoverished areas like the New Orleans neighborhoods hit by Katrina. According to Paxson, one key finding of the research was the discovery that disaster victims continued to experience high levels of mental health problems many years after the storm, showing the need to look beyond the storm’s immediate aftermath. “The lesson here is it’s not really over,” Paxson said. “People are scattered all over the place and that poses challenges of providing social support to victims.” ‘Focused on the task’

VanLandingham described the study as evidence that Paxson is a strong leader “with a long term perspective.” Paxson’s co-authors unanimously pointed to her as responsible for securing a majority of the study’s funding from the National Institutes of Health. The study was also funded by the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and the Princeton Center for Economic Policy Studies. Paxson also kept the team of scholars unified. “We work wonderfully together,” Waters said, adding that Paxson was an unusual economist because she did not believe economics had “all the answers” to their research. “She’s really very intellectually curious

across different disciplines.” “A lot of people would have thrown up their hands after the hurricane hit,” Fussell said, describing Paxson as the key to turning what could have been a failed project into a success. “Chris always takes the bull by the horns, and she keeps us all focused on the task.” Rhodes said she hopes Paxson would remain connected to the study’s ongoing research even after becoming the Brown’s president. “I do think there’s some level of loss because of her intellectual engagement,” Rhodes said. Paxson said she does not believe she will have time to maintain her status as a researcher, adding that she is in the process of requesting that the study’s funding be transferred from Princeton to Harvard, where Waters continues to work. Paxson has already received invitations to attend research conferences at Brown and said she looked forward to seeing future research on the relationship between mental health and natural disasters. “Research is what keeps me connected to economics and the world of public policy,” Paxson said. “It’s really helped me to appreciate what a lot of my colleagues are doing.” Paxson said conducting research projects like the Katrina study helps her to better understand the material she teaches in the classroom. “Teaching and research can go hand in hand,” she said.

Corrine Szczesny / Herald

The bookstore acquired additional security cameras following several thefts.

Book thief targets campus bookstore continued from page 1 his second shoplifting offense, and he stole more than $100 worth of merchandise, Shanley said. The books Wong stole are located on the second floor of the bookstore, the most difficult floor for staff to monitor, Souza said. Because the first floor is heavily staffed and the basement has only one entrance point, they are easier to watch. In response to the thefts, bookstore staff ramped up security by increasing the number of cameras and adjusting existing camera angles, Souza said. Bookstore employees monitored Wong on camera and in person while they waited for DPS to arrive on the scene.

Souza said the bookstore does not have a history of excessive thefts. In the past, the bookstore has lost less than 1 percent of its total sales to theft, a level most retailers strive for, he said. “But we do millions of dollars worth of business, so when you take 1 percent of that, it’s still a substantial number,” he said. “When you lose thousands, which we do, it hurts.” The bookstore will maintain its heightened level of security, Souza said. Theft cannot be completely eliminated, but it can be minimized, he said. “You’d like to just do business. You’d like to just worry about having the right books and the right apparel,” he said. “But (theft) is a reality of doing business.”

4 Arts & Culture

The Brown Daily Herald Friday, March 16, 2012

Occupy activists sell art, chairs Festival features continued from page 1

shots are reproduced on vinyl and stuck to the gallery’s windows. During the day, the sun shines through the semi-transparent vinyl and illuminates the images. People and cars on the street pass by hazily in the background, and the static images literally come alive in the light. But when the sun goes down, the images vanish, a statement about the day-to-day travails of living in a tent — with the sun as the principle source of light — and the out-ofsight-out-of-mind fears of being forgotten that accompanied the end of the Burnside Park occupation. One of the most popular exhibits Thursday night was a collection of homemade chairs produced by the Chair People Collective. The collective consists of four anonymous women who called the chair “a symbol of activism, a symbol of hope.” The chairs are practical and

sometimes eerily beautiful, with high, arching backs made of woven twigs and string. One member of the collective said she wanted to make chairs because “when you have a chair, you have a home.” She added that she wanted “to build place from which to think, from which to speak out, from which to be creative.” The collective sells the chairs and donates the proceeds to the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. Each chair costs $99 — a reference to the Occupy movement’s support of the 99 percent — but tacks on an additional price for members of the 1 percent. One chair costs $7 million for members of the 1 percent. The chair’s price tag, a black carton base with twigs latched together on one side, explained that the price was chosen because Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, received a $7 million bonus in 2011.

Veteran of the U.S. Navy Tom West created a number of pieces for the exhibition. West said he became interested in political art after returning from service in Operation Desert Shield “thoroughly disgusted with the military and the (government).” Despite his disenchantment with the political system, West said he likes to keep his art light because he still feels “lucky to live in the U.S.” Compared to the places he has traveled to overseas, he said he thinks Americans are generally happier but added that the non-representation of poor people in society is still an issue that has to be addressed. Not every piece in the show is a home run. But that is not the point. Gallery director Vanphouthon Souvannasane said that when he and his partner moved to Providence from New York City, they hoped to create a space where they could connect with the community.

Speaker relates autism to animal behavior continued from page 1 has authored more than seven books about animal behavior and her experiences with autism. In 2010, she was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. The same year, HBO Films released a movie adaptation of her life entitled “Temple Grandin” that won seven Emmy Awards. A self-identified “visual thinker,” Grandin presented slides that consisted of minimal text and vibrant photographs to illustrate her main points. “Sometimes, at night, I can’t sleep,” Grandin said. “So I look up things on the Internet,” where there are a number of visually stimulating educational sites, she said. “One of the main emotions in autism is fear,” Grandin told the audi-

ence, commenting on panic attacks she has suffered throughout her life. Similarly, the most basic emotion in animals is fear, she said, which forms very specific, visual memories. Grandin cited an example of a horse that had alcohol splashed into its eye by an individual wearing a black cowboy hat. After this, the horse had a fear of people wearing cowboy hats — specifically black ones. These overly visual memories are similar to the way Grandin thinks, she said, which helps her to more easily understand them. “If you force an animal to do something, you’re going to get a much higher stress response” than if the animal cooperates on its own, Grandin said. In order to cater to members of

the audience who asked to hear more about autism, Grandin commented on the importance of pushing children with autism beyond the subjects they “fixate on.” Grandin also said that she “can’t emphasize enough” the necessity of teachers who help children engage in hands-on learning to help these “nerdy, quirky kids” who have autism to “go out and do great stuff in the world.” “A lot of severely autistic kids in the ’50s didn’t get educated — they got sent to institutions,” she told The Herald before the event. Grandin, who was diagnosed with autism at an early age and did not begin speaking until the age of 4, added that she “was very lucky” to be taken into Boston’s Children’s Hospital and to receive specialized education from an early age. Huiying Yang ’14 attended Grandin’s lecture with more than 10 classmates from CLPS 0110: “Mechanisms of Animal Behavior.” Yang said she was unfamiliar with Grandin’s work prior to the lecture but found her discussion of animal emotions complemented what she had learned in the course. “I think she’s awesome,” Yang added.

persecuted writers By katherine long Senior Staff Writer

Art as Sin, the International Writers Project’s annual cultural festival, is packed with big names from Iranian cinema, literature and poetry in honor of the Iranian heritage of 2011-12 project fellow poet Pegah Ahmadi. The festival began Monday and culminates today with a screening of Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s “This is Not a Film” and a performance by singer and setar player Mohsen Namjoo. In 2007, the New York Times called Namjoo “Iran’s (Bob) Dylan.” “This is Not a Film,” Panahi’s account of life under house arrest after the government labeled him a subversive influence on the state, has gained acclaim mainly for the being filmed partially on an iPhone and then smuggled out of the country in a cake. Robert Coover, the founder of the International Writers Project and visiting professor of literary arts, said the festival, which usually only runs three or four days, was extended to five days this year in order to accommodate the large number of authors, filmmakers, journalists and translators who agreed to participate. The project, which offers refuge to writers who face persecution in their home countries, officially began in 1989 with a grant from thenPresident of the University Vartan Gregorian. Even before the project began, Coover said Brown was developing a reputation as a safe haven for Iranian authors targeted by the government in their own country. This reputation was one reason why so many Iranian nationals and other Middle Eastern literary figures participated in this year’s festival, he said. Ahmadi, the current fellow, left Iran after facing opposition from the government because of her poetic work and involvement with the Green Movement, a series of actions by protesters demanding the removal of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office. Ahmadi is the project’s fourth fellow from

Iran. The festival kicked off Monday night with readings of selected works by Iranian modernist poet Forough Farrokhzad and a showing of Farrokhzad’s 1962 documentary “The House is Black,” a film about life inside a leper colony. Farrokhzad, known simply as “Forough” to her many fans in and outside of Iran, died in an automobile accident in 1967. But it is clear she continues to influence the new generation of Iranian writers. “The next time I have permission to go to Tehran, I will visit Forough’s (grave) so that I truly feel what it is like to be in the wrong place, wrong time,” said Shahriar Mondanipour, visiting professor of literary arts and award-winning Iranian novelist. But Art as Sin was not without its disappointments. Acclaimed director Shirin Neshat declined at the last minute to appear at the showing of her film “Women Without Men,” based on a book of the same name by former project fellow Shahrnush Parsipur. Technical difficulties during the showing of “Bashu, the Little Stranger” left no time for a conversation with director Bahram Beyzaie. And on the whole, attendance fell from last year’s festival, according to organizers’ estimates. Coover said he believed the decrease in attendance was due to “midterms, warm sunny weather, schedule conflicts, a faculty search within my own department.” The low attendance was “a bit disappointing, but we are ending with a bang,” he said, adding that today’s film should be very good. But the small number of undergraduates, handful of graduate students and many dozens of professors and community members who attended regarded the festival as a success. Many pointed to a Wednesday lecture by Abbas Milani, director of Iranian Studies at Stanford, and the showing of “Bashu, the Little Stranger” as the festival’s highlights. “The shots of the countryside were so lush, so vibrant, and the story was so compelling,” said Hector Ramirez ’12 after “Bashu,” adding, “I definitely want to learn more about this genre.”

Arts & Culture 5

The Brown Daily Herald Friday, March 16, 2012

Mosenthal ’12 takes on U.S. Ski Team By madeleine wenstrup Sports Staff Writer

While most Brown students prepare for spring break next weekend, Kia Mosenthal ’12 will head to Winter Park, Colo., to compete against members of the U.S. Ski Team in the Nature Valley National Standard Race Championships. This past weekend, Mosenthal took home the gold in the slalom at the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association National Championships and earned herself the title of USCSA representative to compete at the NASTAR championships next week.

Sports Mosenthal has been leading the ski team in its undefeated season this year, taking home the USCSA Eastern Regional title and the regular season individual championship earlier this year. For these awards and her consistently dominant performance in her past four seasons as a Bear, The Herald has named Mosenthal Athlete of the Week. Herald: What was the best part of the weekend at the USCSA National Championships? Mosenthal: Oh gosh, there are so many highlights. Definitely coming down after my second run on Friday of the slalom and seeing total smiles from everyone and knowing that we had won overall. It was a really awesome feeling. So you were in Maine skiing this weekend — what’s the best place you have ever been skiing? I would say probably down in Argentina skiing. There were some really amazing back walls and stuff. Bariloche — it’s down in southern Patagonia. I did a summer abroad in Argentina after my freshman year and then took time to just ski afterward, after my program ended. It was a lot of fun. How long have you been skiing? Skiing competitively? Skiing since I was two, racing since I was six. It was another excuse to spend more time on snow. I loved skiing, even when I was younger and my parents signed me up for a race program probably around five, and it was just another chance to get out and ski more. I have three younger sisters, and they all race. My sister Nika (Mosenthal ’15) is actually a freshman on the team this year, which has been awesome.

Thanks for reading!

So how is being on the skiing team different from being on other varsity sports at Brown? Probably that we just have no home, there is no home event. We are always traveling on the weekends to compete. I mean, we are essentially going to another world, up in the mountains skiing in the snow and then coming back to Brown. I don’t think anyone knows what we do. We travel so far — no one can really come to our events. So the team travels a lot. What do you guys do to entertain yourself on the road? We started recently doing books on tape. We are on the second “Hunger Games” book. We just have a van. There are only eight of us. This year, it’s been awesome, everyone has just been super cohesive. It’s been a really fun time. So you are going to compete in the NASTAR championshipsas the representative from USCSA — what is that going to be like? It’s going to be the best people in the country, everyone on the U.S. Ski Team. It’s going to be great to just compete in it. I don’t expect to do anything amazing, but just being able to race in it is huge. What are your plans for next year? At least this summer I know I am going to be leading a language program in Barcelona with a company called Overland for the summer. And after that, I want to go into graphic design with some publishing company. Hopefully somewhere in the mountains east or west. But at this point I think I’ll go wherever there is a job, whether or not there’s good skiing.

Professionals feature student artwork By marshall katheder Contributing Writer

The hand-selected work of 30 student artists is on display at the David Winton Bell Gallery for its 32nd annual Student Exhibition, a joint effort between the gallery and the Department of Visual Art. Entering the show, it is easy to overlook a small piece drawn in graphite by Sheila Sitaram ’15. But the quiet work bursts with energy — its curvy forms swirl together, evoking movement through their metallic shimmer. “It was my first time using graphite powder — you can just buy a jar of it,” Sitaram said. “I just wanted to explore what I could do in the medium.” Sitaram is one of 63 students who submitted work to the exhibition. This year, Deborah Bright, acting dean of fine arts at the Rhode Island School of Design, and Ellen Driscoll, the head of sculpture at RISD, both acted as juries, said Ian Alden Russell, the Bell Gallery’s curator. They evaluated all submissions anonymously, basing their judgments on each piece’s individual aesthetic and technical precision. Russell said the show often gives visual art students their first experience of public success. While the

Sydney Mondry / Herald

Thirty students were chosen out of 63 applicants to present art at the exhibit.

works were chosen and hung by professionals, undergraduates undertook the rest of the process. “Students really were in charge of everything,” Russell said. He added that the exhibition “gives them an opportunity to show their work in a competitive environment that is still supportive.” Another work, called “Flowers and Laces: Infinity,” weaves thread into canvas to shape exquisite floral patterns. The piece was one of two by Jae Eun Lee ’13 accepted to the

exhibition. “It’s very satisfying to see my work in a professional setting,” Lee said. The Bell Gallery is open to the public, showcasing Providence’s cultural assets and allowing more exposure for the show’s artists. “We try to be one of the doors out of the ivory tower,” Russell said. “We see ourselves as the place where students, faculty and the outside world can interface.” The exhibition will be on display in the gallery until March 18.

comic Fraternity of Evil | Esha Mitra, Brendan Hainline and Hector Ramirez

6 Diamonds & Coal Diamonds & Coal

Editorial cartoon

The Brown Daily Herald Friday, March 16, 2012

by j u s t i n a l e e a n d c h r i s t i n a m e taxa

Coal to Seth Meyers, the Saturday Night Live head writer who mocked Brown students’ idea that they are “a bunch of John Krasinskis.” Meyers said, “The weirdest kid in my high school went to Brown.” That kid called, and he said he hated “New Year’s Eve” just like everybody else. A diamond to the junior who said of Brown’s attempts to compete with peer institutions, “Rather than try to compete with other schools at their own game, Brown should redefine the game and excel in the direction it really wants to go.” Thanks — we’ll pass that advice along to the athletics department. Coal to Paul Guyer, the Penn professor of philosophy named the first Jonathan Nelson Professor last Friday, who said, “It’s important to study human beings the way we study other objects in nature.” We put your advice to practice, but our roommates didn’t take too kindly to our hourly monitoring of their pH levels. A diamond to the junior who said of what he sees as the University’s unnecessary emphasis on sex that in his “dream world you could really take everything back (to) pre-sexual revolution and bring back the gravity there used to be to sex.” Couple that gravity with excessive alcohol, and you’ll have trouble keeping anything up. Cubic zirconia to the president of Hillel, who said of a recently approved University calendar that schedules the beginning of shopping period to coincide with Rosh Hashanah, “We are making students decide between spiritual life and academic life.” This seems slightly more important than our favorite age-old Brown dilemma: choosing between Spiritus life and academic life. A diamond to the sex educator who said during a Sex Week event, “Every entry into a sex club, every drink I order is research.” That’s how we justified our study abroad experience, too. Coal to the Chair People Collective, who called the chair “a symbol of hope.” Even after hours of sitting in SciLi chairs, we still don’t feel hopeful about our upcoming chemistry midterm. A diamond to the junior who said of being inspired by a female student posing nude on Steinert Concert Hall pianos on BrownBares, “I’m really into music, so that was really beautiful for me.” Others who saw the photo added, “I’m really into naked women, so that was really beautiful for me.” Coal to the Providence resident who allegedly tried to steal more than $400 worth of medical textbooks and trade books from the second floor of the Brown Bookstore last month. You know they also have laptops and iPods, right?

letter to the editor U. needs to accommodate Jewish observance To the Editor: In Thursday’s story about dates on Brown’s calendar conflicting with Jewish holidays (“Rosh Hashanah, shopping period to overlap,” March 15), Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron was quoted expressing the University’s willingness to accommodate students for whom these conflicts cause issues, such as holding a separate Commencement ceremony for those affected by the event’s overlap with Shavuot. While not a high holiday, Shavuot is one of the three core Jewish holidays, and while observant students may have not written in requesting to graduate solo, the overlap does not leave observant students or students with observant families without complications. My grandmother does not drive on Shabbat or Jewish holidays and is going to have to walk a mile to attend events both on Saturday and Sunday of Commencement weekend — we luckily found a place for her to stay where she won’t have to walk up the hill from a hotel downtown — and though it will not ruin my milestone, my dad will not be taking photographs of me graduating from college, since he does not use cameras on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. I imagine finding my parents at Campus Dance without

cell phones will be difficult, too. Throughout my time at Brown, I have found the University to be accommodating of my religious observance. My first year, I moved in a day early because I couldn’t move in on Saturday due to my Shabbat observance. Professors have let me take exams on different days when they have overlapped with Shabbat and holidays, and somebody from the registrar’s office registered for me last year when my pre-registration date overlapped with Passover. While I understand the complications of calendars and that it is unrealistic to change major events for a very small percentage of students, I would like to emphasize the need I have had to seek accommodation so many times. There are very few religiously observant Jews on this campus, and I am not surprised that more do not gravitate to a school that does not make being observant easy. I would like to thank the administration and the Office of the Chaplains for the conversations that I know they are already having and encourage them to continue so as to best address these issues for future students. Leor Shtull-Leber ’12 Former Herald design editor

quote of the day

“Sometimes I listen to ‘The Iliad’ in the car.” — President Ruth Simmons See Simmons on page 1.

t h e b r ow n da i ly h e r a l d Editor-in-Chief

Managing Editors

Senior Editors

Claire Peracchio

Rebecca Ballhaus Nicole Boucher

Tony Bakshi Natalie Villacorta



Arts & Culture Editor Sarah Mancone Arts & Culture Editor Emma Wohl City & State Editor Elizabeth Carr City & State Editor Kat Thornton Features Editor Aparna Bansal Assistant Features Editor Jordan Hendricks News Editor David Chung News Editor Lucy Feldman News Editor Greg Jordan-Detamore News Editor Shefali Luthra Science Editor Sahil Luthra Sports Editor Ethan McCoy Sports Editor Ashley McDonnell Assistant Sports Editor Sam Rubinroit Editorial Page Editor Jonathan Topaz Opinions Editor Charles Lebovitz Opinions Editor Jared Moffat Graphics & Photos Eva Chen Emily Gilbert Rachel Kaplan Jesse Schwimmer

Graphics Editor Photo Editor Photo Editor Sports Photo Editor

Copy Desk Chief Design Editor Design Editor Web Producer

Office Manager Shawn Reilly

Directors Julia Kuwahara Samuel Plotner Nikita Khadloya Angel Lee

Sales Finance Alumni Relations Business Development Managers

Justin Lee Kaivan Shroff Gregory Chatzinoff Mahima Chawla Luka Ursic Alison Pruzan Elizabeth Gordon David Winer

Human Resources Research & Development Collections Collections Finance Operations Alumni Engagement Fundraising Marketing

Post- magazine Sam Knowles

Production Olivia Conetta Kyle McNamara Julia Shube Neal Poole

General Managers Siena DeLisser Danielle Marshak


BLOG DAILY HERALD Jennifer Bloom Matt Klimerman

Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor

Clarification An article in Thursday’s Herald, (“UCS eliminates media services fee,” March 15) stated that the Undergraduate Finance Board signs a contract with Media Technology Services each year. In fact, the Undergraduate Council of Students signs this contract to determine the fixed cost UFB will pay to Media Services.

Correction A photo caption in Wednesday’s Herald (“Sex Week prompts contraception debate,” March 14) incorrectly stated that the photo was a scene from this year’s Condom Carnival. In fact, the photo was taken on Consent Day. The Herald regrets the error. C O R R E C T I O N S P olicy The Brown Daily Herald is committed to providing the Brown University community with the most accurate information possible. Corrections may be submitted up to seven calendar days after publication. C ommentary P O L I C Y The editorial is the majority opinion of the editorial page board of The Brown Daily Herald. The editorial viewpoint does not necessarily reflect the views of The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. Columns, letters and comics reflect the opinions of their authors only. L etters to the E ditor P olicy Send letters to Include a telephone number with all letters. The Herald reserves the right to edit all letters for length and clarity and cannot assure the publication of any letter. Please limit letters to 250 words. Under special circumstances writers may request anonymity, but no letter will be printed if the author’s identity is unknown to the editors. Announcements of events will not be printed. advertising P olicy The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. reserves the right to accept or decline any advertisement at its discretion.

Opinions 7

The Brown Daily Herald Friday, March 16, 2012

The engineering program allows flexibility By Lawrence Larson Guest Columnist Matt Brundage ’15 asked a very good question in Thursday’s column (“Why aren’t there more engineers?” March 15). I’ve been an engineer for over 30 years, and I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else. “Engineers create the future” is a well-known saying, and what could be more fun and fulfilling than that? I wonder: Why isn’t everyone an engineer? But Matt is voicing a real concern that almost every student in engineering faces at some point. Engineering has a lot of challenging required courses that leave less room than is desirable for the wideranging intellectual exploration that students come to college for. How is a young person supposed to figure out areas of interest and, yes, passion if there is limited freedom to explore? Many students get discouraged by all the requirements. It’s true. Engineering has a lot of requirements for a good reason: to have the ability to

create something genuinely new demands a deep understanding of the natural world, and this deep knowledge requires lots of math and science. There’s no other way. This is the opportunity offered through higher education. A future engineer’s time at college, devoted to this intensity of learning the requisite depth and breadth of material, is the only period when there actually is this availability of time, as well as the freedom from distrac-

that the engineering curriculum here is more flexible than that at most other universities. In fact, the opportunity to explore a wide range of subjects is built into our curriculum. We have plans in place for students who might not start engineering until sophomore year, allowing for wider exploration as a first-year. It’s true that it is helpful to take three courses (ENGN 0030: “Introduction to Engineering,” math and chemistry) in your first semester, but it’s not required. By se-

How is a young person supposed to figure out areas of interest and, yes, passion if there is limited freedom to explore? Many students get discouraged by all the requirements. It’s true. tions needed to master the fundamentals of these subjects. So if engineering is a chosen concentration, students can expect to work very hard and be required to make tough choices about forgoing other activities that may inspire equal joy. The good news for Brown students is

nior year, most of our students are able to take two electives per semester. Finally, if there’s an interest to explore even further outside of the traditional engineering curriculum, a bachelor of arts in engineering is an option for all of our students.

There are many possible paths through the engineering program here at Brown, and our engineering faculty advisors would be happy to discuss these wide ranging options with you. The actual practice of engineering can be utterly thrilling. In my own field of electrical and computer engineering, there are many beautiful intellectual constructs — like Maxwell’s Equations, Shannon’s Coding Theorems and modern solid-state physics — that are so simple and elegant, and yet have a profound impact on our everyday lives. Every branch of engineering has similar fundamental results, whose creative application touches the lives of every person in the modern world. Engineering is not just for the math or science genius. It is a field most open to intensely curious learners who strive to work hard, create new innovations and make a difference in the world. Brown is the perfect place for the engineer who wants to explore the broader intellectual feast that our curriculum provides. Lawrence Larson is the dean of the School of Engineering.

The dual soul of Brown By Suzanne Enzerink Opinions Columnist Brown has traditionally been an institution that values both undergraduate and graduate education, specifically the way in which the two can complement and enhance each other. The College and the Graduate School are the perfect Hegelian synthesis, together adding up to more than the sum of their respective parts. This complementary relationship is key to safeguarding what opinions columnist Garret Johnson ’14 called “the soul of the University” (“An open letter to Christina Paxson,” March 12). The University has a long tradition of navigating a balanced course between scholarship and education. As one of the first institutions of higher learning in the then-British colonies, Brown became one of the earliest doctoral-granting institutions in the United States. After a short-lived master’s option in the 1850s, the first master’s degrees were granted in 1888, and the first doctorates the year after that. President-elect Paxson indicated that part of her attraction to Brown stems from this long-standing dual commitment to supporting both “the best educational program for undergraduates” and “worldclass research.” The entire University community today reaps the benefits from this investment in scholarship and teaching. This dialectic between the two constituencies is most clearly visible on the level of teaching. All undergraduates will have at least one experience

with a teaching assistant running a class session — usually a graduate student. This enables more students to enroll in the courses of their choice and also increases the amount of options and diversity in the curriculum. This system allows for more personal feedback, especially on written assignments, and thus enables students to practice and improve their skills. The presence of a TA also unburdens the professor’s workload and allows for more personal guidance than if just one professor were responsible for hundreds of students. The benefits are reciprocal. Graduate students, many of whom aspire to a career

as a global intellectual powerhouse, as stateof-the-art research facilities and the presence of excelling graduate students are major draws for renowned faculty. They will in turn assume teaching responsibilities in the undergraduate segment, further fortifying the University’s reputation for top-notch undergraduate offerings, and the circle is complete. It is truly a win-win-win situation. There is an increasing number of initiatives to ensure that the academic fusion of the communities also carries over into the extracurricular realm. Organizations more actively seek to incorporate graduate students

The College and the Graduate School are the perfect Hegelian synthesis, together adding up to more than the sum of their respective parts.

in academia, can hone their teaching skills through the guidance of senior staff and the feedback from the undergraduates that enroll in their courses. There is no better way to learn the craft of being a university professor than to witness and participate in one of the finest undergraduate instruction environments in the country. As such, both groups — and, by extension, the University — benefit from this dual focus. The cooperation also secures Brown’s status

into their ranks, and conversely, more graduate students themselves are eager to join the wealth of cultural, athletic and social groups active on campus. For example, a special night for master’s students on March 22 in Petteruti Lounge, organized by the Graduate Student Council’s master’s advocate Alissa Haddaji, a Herald contributing writer, will tie together the useful and the pleasant. Many campus resources, such as the Center for Careers and Life Af-

ter Brown, are currently utilized predominantly by the undergraduate demographic. The night will inform master’s students about such resources as well as opportunities to join social organizations like the Brown Culinary Palette or The Herald. Visibility promotes a shared identity and mission. And, to use Jacob Riis’ famous phrase, what better way to see “how the other half lives” than by encountering them in the kitchen while baking apple pie. It is by becoming more visible to one another that the two groups can imagine themselves as one community with a shared mission, even though they play different roles in the University. Therefore, I would suggest that what Johnson identified as “the soul of the university” is in fact only half of it. A focus on graduate students cannot be equated with “betraying” school spirit, as he seems to suggest, since a distinct blend of undergraduate and graduate educational goals are at the heart of the University’s mission. Attention to graduate scholarship is not in a mutually exclusive relationship with a continued commitment to Brown’s unique undergraduate curriculum. The University’s academic prosperity is then not an either-or situation, a matter of valuing either undergraduates or graduate students. Each group propels the other to a higher level, and together they make Brown soar. Suzanne Enzerink GS is an American studies master’s student and speaks only on her own behalf. Different interpretations as to what constitutes the soul of the University are welcomed at

Daily Herald Science Friday the Brown

Friday, March 16, 2012

Assistant prof wins Department of Defense grant By Alyssa Self Contributing Writer

Mark Zervas, assistant professor of molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry, won a $716,769 Department of Defense grant to study tuberous sclerosis, a developmental genetic disorder. Tuberous sclerosis occurs in approximately one in 6,000 live births and causes epilepsy, autism and cognitive impairment in a large percentage of affected people. The grant will go towards determining the stage of brain development during which treatment will be the most effective. Zervas and Elizabeth Normand, a graduate student in the neuroscience program, have been studying tuberous sclerosis since January 2008. The Department of Defense is interested in researching this disease because it can provide insight on other neurological disorders, Zervas said. This is the second grant the department has awarded Zervas to study the disease. Tuberous sclerosis is a genetic disorder caused by mutations in the genes TSC1 and TSC2, which code for proteins that bind together to form a complex and act as tumor growth suppressors. Affected individuals often are born with one mutated copy of the gene and

Neurons in Control

Courtesy of Mark Zervas The Department of Defense hopes Zervas’ research on tuberous sclerosis will shed light on other neurological diseases. In mice with mutated TSC1, expression of phosphorylated S6 protein is increased due to dysregulation of the mTOR pathway.

acquire the second dysfunctional copy through random mutation. The TSC1 and TSC2 genes regulate a pathway that is implicated in a variety of human diseases. Zervas uses a novel mouse model with a modified TSC1 gene to study the disease. By turning off the TSC1 gene in specific regions of the brain, Zervas and Normand seek to link specific brain regions with neurological manifestations of the disease. The Department of Defense project specifically studies the effects of turning off the TSC1

gene in the thalamus, an important area of the brain for sensory integration. By turning off the TSC1 gene at various points in the developmental pathway, Zervas and Normand also examine the point at which the disease most affects the brain during development. Zervas’ research will ideally yield important information about when and where administration of rapamycin — ­ an immunosuppressant and anti-proliferative drug — is most effective in preventing and reducing the symptoms of the disease.

‘Spliceman’ app catches disruptive mutations By Alyssa Bianca Velasco Contributing Writer

Spliceman is not a superhero, but it does have the power to accomplish superhuman feats. Developed by a team of University researchers, the web-based application to identify mutations in gene processing was described in the journal Bioinformatics last week. In order for a gene to be expressed correctly, segments of RNA that do not code for protein must be removed from the RNA transcript, which provides the set of directions from DNA used to build proteins. This process of cutting out superfluous sequences, called splicing, must be carried out at precise locations as dictated by DNA. “Many mutations and variations disrupt this process and, by disrupting the process, they disrupt the gene,” wrote William Fairbrother, assistant professor of biology and lead author of the study, in an email to The Herald. Fairbrother and his team developed Spliceman as part of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year. The research showed that about one-third of the diseasecausing mutations in the Human Genome Mutation Database are caused by errors in RNA splicing. “Spliceman calculates how likely these mutations are to disrupt splicing through a statistical model,” said graduate student Kian Huat Lim GS, who played a large role in designing the Spliceman software. In the study, mutations that disrupted splicing were identified based on their locations in relation

Neurons in Mutant

to important known splice sites in the genome sequence. Splicing signals are position-dependent, so mutations that occur close to splice sites are more likely to affect the gene’s function. The one-third of mutations identified in the study may underestimate the actual number of mutations caused by splicing errors, Lim said. These mutations are easier to remedy than other errors, he said. “A processing defect, RNA processing in this case, is easier to be detected and fixed with safer and cheaper options than, for instance, a protein coding defect,” Lim said. Spliceman — which was nearly named Splicegirl, “after the popular and completely dreadful all-girls 90’s pop band, Spice Girls,” Fairbrother wrote ­— has superhuman computing abilities. It can analyze the vast number of possible variances, a task that would be impossible to accomplish manually through genetic assays. “There are many tools to evaluate the effect of mutations on protein,” Fairbrother wrote. “This new tool to look at processing effects (complements) the existing software nicely.” The software is already being used to understand the unexplained genetic conditions of clinical patients in this year’s CLARITY challenge, hosted by Children’s Hospital Boston. In this challenge, teams attempt to find the genetic basis of conditions in three pediatric patients by studying their entire genome sequences. Spliceman will be used to identify potentially interesting genomic variance that may have an effect on splicing. Then, in addition

to the location of the mutation, researchers will consider factors such as mode of inheritance and gene function to determine the most likely cause of the disorder. Developing computational tools, such as Spliceman, for genetic analyses will be increasingly important for the field in upcoming years, said Shamil Sunyaev, head of the Harvard-based multidisciplinary genetics group participating in the challenge. “Because sequencing itself is becoming less and less expensive, the interpretation is where the focus of the field is going to be for years to come,” Sunyaev said. Advances in gene sequencing technology will eventually make it possible for each person to access their entire genome sequence, Sunyaev said. Computational software programs like Spliceman will be key in assessing human variance and determining which differences lead to significant changes in the physical manifestation of the genes. Fairbrother and his team are continuing to elucidate the mechanisms of splicing and are developing new splicing therapies with a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. For Fairbrother, the greatest payoff of this project is seeing how Spliceman can be used to help children with genetic disorders understand more about their disease. “The most sobering part of the project was queries from parents with sick children who are trying to find out more about their disease,” Fairbrother wrote. “It really underscores how lucky we are and how important it is to put your best work out there.”

This could be an important finding since continuous administration of the drug can have negative consequences due to its involvement in a number of biological processes. Rapamycin is used during organ transplants and cancer therapy, and Zervas said it is currently being tested for treatment of children with tuberous sclerosis. Mustafa Sahin, assistant in neurology at Children’s Hospital Boston, said the project is unique since Zervas is one of the only people in the field studying the thalamus.

The tuberous sclerosis project also has broader significance for the understanding of related syndromes. Normand became involved with the project due to her interest in neurological disease. The lessons learned about tuberous sclerosis can be applied to other disorders such as epilepsy, autism and cognitive deficits because they share a similar genetic cause. Zervas describes tuberous sclerosis as “not a niche disorder, but something that can apply more broadly to the study of complex brain disorders.”

Tufts prof weighs in on DNA vs. free will debate By Alissa Haddaji Contributing Writer

Sheldon Krimsky, professor of urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts University, discussed the different ways natural scientists and social scientists think about genetic causation during a lecture yesterday in Hunter Auditorium. The lecture, entitled “My Genes, My Politics: How Scientists Across Disciplines Think About Genetic Causation,” was part of a science and technology studies series called “How Scientists Think.” Genetic causation refers to the idea that there are underlying genetic causes for most behaviors. Krimsky’s recent research has focused on situations in which DNA data have been improperly used to support popular theories spread among the general public. Krimsky said he was shocked by the number of times the general media use DNA to explain different behaviors. “I read that

there were genetic causes for breakfast eating patterns, loneliness, religiousness, credit card debt, social networking, shyness … and criminal behaviors,” he said. Krimsky provided examples of different studies, such as a 2008 finding that suggested that people with certain alleles of MAOA and 5HTT genes — two genes linked to depression — were more likely to vote. “But we know that we have free will on where and for whom we vote,” Krimsky said. The different way in which social scientists and natural scientists approach this information reflects distinctions between the two disciplines, he said. “Scientists try hypotheses — they know they have to do controlled studies. Social scientists are using statistics to generate causes,” Krimsky said. “There are an endless number of correlations they can make. Natural scientists are more cautious about it.”

Follow Science Friday on Twitter

Friday, March 16, 2012  

The March 16, 2012 issue of the Brown Daily Herald