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As she stretched out on a bed of very sharp nails, Emma Curry-Stodder '13 (left) discovered just how comfortable she can be with with the principals of physics. Meanwhile, Christine Beaubrun '12 experienced angular momentum with a spinning wheel. Photos by Judith Roberge.

Third Annual Physics Fest

Lie across a bed of nails. Examine a model of the human eye. Analyze the properties of sound waves. It was all part of the third annual Physics Fest, an event hosted by the Smith physics department that aims to demonstrate the subject's practical concepts while showing students that physics is not necessarily as intimidating as they might imagine it to be. "Physics is about understanding the world around us. It's important for students to realize that physics is fun and that it's applicable," says Nalini Easwar, professor of physics and a coordinator of the event.

View a photo gallery of the 2009 Physics Fest >

Bachelor's Degree in Engineering Arts

Smith's pioneering engineering program has a new academic option: a bachelor's degree in engineering arts. The latest offering coincides with the Picker Engineering Program's celebration of two other milestones. This year, the program will mark its 10th anniversary and the completion of Ford Hall, a state-of-the-art building that will be the new home for engineering as well as the molecular sciences. The new degree expands upon the idea that engineering concepts add value to many other fields. Knowledge of engineering can enhance the pursuit of such varied interests as architecture, landscape studies, education, public policy, economics, energy policy and ethics.

Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching

Three faculty members were named recently as winners of the Kathleen Compton Sherrerd '54 and John J. F. Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching. Kimberly Kono, associate professor of East Asian languages and literatures; Beth Powell, lecturer in psychology; and Kate Queeney, associate professor of chemistry, will be honored during a presentation of the awards on October 22. The Sherrerd Prize is given annually to Smith faculty members in recognition of their distinguished teaching records and demonstrated enthusiasm and excellence. The award was established in 2002 with a generous contribution to Smith by the late Kathleen Sherrerd and John Sherrerd.

Pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff

Rachmaninoff in 1908.

On the centennial of famed Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff's North American debut at Smith College, the college will commemorate the occasion with several events, including a concert. Rachmaninoff's performance, which took place at Smith in November 1909, was the first public solo recital ever given by the distinguished musician, composer and conductor. It forged a connection with Smith that brought him back to campus three times for additional concerts. In commemoration, Vladimir Tropp, Gnessin Russian Academy of Music and Moscow Conservatory musician, will perform at Sweeney Concert Hall at 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 7,, in a piano concert that is free and open to the public. The events celebrate both Rachmaninoff and Sophie Satin, his cousin and sister-in-law, who played an important role in Smith's Genetics Experiment Station as research associate to Albert Blakeslee beginning in 1942 and served as visiting associate professor of botany from 1945 to 1955. Visit for more information.

Alfred P. Sloan Award

Smith has received a 2009 Alfred P. Sloan Award and will use the $25,000 grant to support the efforts of faculty members caring for aging parents. Smith's Center for Work and Life, which focuses on the challenges of negotiating career, family responsibilities and personal well-being, plans to develop a model for eldercare support, including a comprehensive Web site with referral information, local support groups and information on new research findings. The Sloan award recognizes baccalaureate colleges for their leadership and accomplishments in implementing groundbreaking policies and practices supporting career flexibility for tenured and tenure-track faculty.

Neilson Library Reading Room Project

The college's Neilson Library recently closed the book on a successful fundraising campaign to cover the cost of renovating one of the century-old library's early reading rooms to its original use. Overall, $735,000 was raised for the project, including $175,000 garnered through the efforts of Lucy Wilson Benson '49, trustee emeritus and longtime library supporter, who challenged a number of her classmates to raise that amount in honor of their 60th reunion. Once renovated, the reading room will offer soft seating and a quiet environment.

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