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News & Events for the Smith College Community
Campus Life March 15, 2019

People News, March 2019

Five Smith seniors presented research at the Eastern Economic Association Conference held March 1-3 in New York City: Sarah Albert ’19, Anuska Jain ’19. Gray Li ’19, Hannah Mathews (eds note:this spelling is correct) ’19 and Natalia Perkins ’19. The students presented research from their honors theses, special studies and seminar papers in collaboration with faculty from Smith’s Economics Department. 

Economics and neuroscience major Grace Irungu ’20 was awarded a travel grant to attend the February Computational and Systems Neuroscience conference in Lisbon, Portugal. The annual meeting is a forum for the exchange of experimental and theoretical/computational approaches to problems in systems neuroscience.

Katherine Keenan ’19 is the author of a Daily Hampshire Gazette story profiling Meg Sullivan, owner of the iconic Joe's Pizza and Spaghetti House in Northampton. The article was originally written for "Writing Women," a Smith course taught by author Susan Faludi.

“Always,” a play by Ada Comstock Scholar Marty Bongfeldt ’19J, was performed in February at the Radius Playwrights Festival in the Berkshires. Bongfeldt, who majored in English language and literature at Smith, was awarded a Denis Johnston Playwriting Award for “Always” in 2018.

The Winter 2018 issue of Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research featured a paper about the success of Smith’s Summer Research Fellowship program. Authors of “Pivoting Toward the Future: Fifty Years of Summer Research Fellowship Success Catalyzes Institutional Change” are Patricia Marten DiBartolo ‘89 , associate dean of the faculty, dean for academic development and Caroline L. Wall ’27 Professor of Psychology; Cate Rowen, assistant vice president for institutional research and analytics; Minh Ly, associate director for assessment; Kathryn Aloisio, assistant director of institutional research; and Margaret Lamb, assistant director of fellowships.

“Continuous Thread,” a new video/textile installation by Professor of Dance Rodger Blum, was presented in February at the Five College Dance Concert at Amherst College. The work combines light, fabric and human movement.

Kristen Dorsey, assistant professor of engineering, has been awarded a $500,404 multi-year CAREER National Science Foundation grant for “Rigidity tuned elastomer origami tessellations for fast, reconfigurable, and soft mechanoreceptors.”

Adam Hall, professor of biological sciences, was the recipient of the Mary S. Erskine Award for Scholarship and Mentoring, presented at the 2019 NEURON conference held in February at Quinnipiac University. The award is given to faculty members who make significant scholarly contributions through mentoring trainees.

Niveen Ismail, assistant professor of engineering, has been awarded a $248,201 grant from the United States Geological Survey for “Fate and Impacts of Silver Nanoparticles in Treatment Wetlands.”

Denise McKahn, associate professor of engineering, has been awarded a $30,000 grant from Constellation, an Exelon company, for “Campus as Classroom: Ground Source Geothermal Heat Exchange System,” a pilot project to create and install a geothermal system to heat and cool Smith’s Field House. “The project incorporates significant faculty research, coursework and co-curricular initiatives that will demonstrate our campus progress toward carbon neutrality,” McKahn says.

Rob O’Connell, director for discovery and access for Smith Libraries, is the author of “Beyond the Bento: A New Discovery Experience at Smith College” published in the March 2019 issue of Information Today.

Miles Ott, assistant professor of statistical and data sciences, has been awarded a multi-year, $127,534 grant from the National Institutes of Health for a project in collaboration with Brown University, “Reducing hazardous alcohol use in social networks using targets intervention.”

A study by assistant professors of economics Vis Taraz and Susan Stratton Sayre, “Groundwater depletion in India: Social losses from costly well deepening,” was published in January in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.

Caitlyn Shea Butler ’04 is the 2019 Marshal for the Northampton St. Patrick’s Day Association and led the association’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Holyoke. Butler—who was in the first class of engineering graduates at Smith—earned a doctorate in engineering from Notre Dame University.

Vanessa Otero ’03, chief operating officer at Partners for Community, has been appointed to the board of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Otero, who also serves on the  MGM Springfield Community Advisory Committee, majored in women’s studies at Smith and earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Michelle Elligott ’93, chief of archives, library and research collections at the Museum of Modern Art, is the author of “René d’Harnoncourt and the Art of Installation,” the first major volume on the life and work of d’Harnoncourt, who was MOMA’s director from 1949 to 1968. Elligott majored in art history at Smith and earned a master of arts degree in art history from Hunter College.

Ann Sheffer ’70 received a Visionary Award from the Palm Springs, California, Chamber of Commerce for her contributions to the board of trustees of the Palm Springs Art Museum and as chair of the city’s Public Arts Commission. Sheffer, who majored in theatre at Smith, earned a master’s degree in theater from Tufts University and an M.B.A. from the University of Washington, Seattle.

Neuroscientist Jean Merrill ’69 is one of 13 photographers who will exhibit their work in April at the annual Artexpo [FOTO SOLO] New York at New York City’s Pier 90. Merrill, who has been a professor, a laboratory researcher and a senior drug company executive, majored in biological sciences at Smith, and earned an M.B.A. in marketing and a Ph.D. in immunology from the University of California Los Angeles.