Archives for Research + Scholarship

Cheryl Greenberg Explores History of Black and Jewish Relations in 20th Century at annual Wassong Lecture

Hartford, Connecticut, May 23, 2018—Excellence in faculty research and scholarship was on display at the 21st annual Shirley G. Wassong Memorial Lecture in European and American Art, Culture, and History at Trinity College on April 23. This year’s presenter, Cheryl Greenberg, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of History, traced the political collaborations between black American and Jewish American organizations during the 20th century on issues of civil rights and civil liberties, as well as their tensions and struggles. Her research works to draw lessons from this narrative, determining what worked and what did not in this powerful coalition.

Johannes Evelein, professor of language and culture studies, chair of German studies, and co-director of the Trinity Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (TIIS), introduced Greenberg by expressing her commitment to Trinity, her long-standing scholarship, and her capacity to enlighten even her fellow faculty members through her contributions to her field. Greenberg brought her unique perspective to what was both a historical exploration of engagement with the civil rights movement and a political primer for coalition building today. Greenberg’s work underscores the richness of an interdisciplinary approach to complex historical topics and the breadth of study that is happening on Trinity’s campus.

​Cheryl Greenberg, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of History, delivers the 21st annual Shirley G. Wassong Memorial Lecture in European and American Art, Culture, and History at Trinity College on April 23.

Greenberg began with the pronouncement that she would be “violating every rule in the historical profession by using the past in service of the present.” Throughout her presentation, she gave insight into the methods employed in black and Jewish communities as they sought to improve their circumstances in American society.

At key times in the 20th century, Greenberg explained, black and Jewish people moved forward together, spurred by a mutual self-interest that benefited from collaboration. While there was nothing special about both being minority groups, Greenberg argued, they did have some shared experiences to draw from while working together. At the turn of the 20th century, the coincidence of the Great Migration of African Americans to the North and the arrival of millions of Jews from Europe meant that American cities had new populations to consider. Both black and Jewish groups formed organizations to help meet their own needs in this landscape. Later, they would seek the support of one another, with the Jewish community reaching out for support during the crises in Europe, and black Americans seeking to make strides in civil rights following decades of oppression. For both groups, it was about “rearticulating their agenda in a more universalist way” to ensure they reached a broader audience in their organizing.

Greenberg emphasized the historical relevance of this activism in our current time—and the lessons to be learned from the obstacles along the way. In postwar America, “coalition building between blacks and Jews was spurred and shaped by new liberalism.” While this liberalism fueled a generation of organizing, by the mid-’60s, liberalism seemed to fail civil rights. In spite of greater desegregation, black Americans were still relegated to lower social and economic status than their white counterparts. As Jewish Americans could operate in America as white, they did not take these economic and class disparities into account. As a result, “Jews fundamentally misunderstood the frustration of black activists,” leading to a widening fissure between the communities. As Greenberg explained, “Theoretical liberal race blindness was not enough,” and they failed to recognize the structural limitations faced by black Americans. As these factors came to a head, Greenberg reminded the audience that when advocating for change, “Positionality matters … positionality really matters.”

Greenberg asserted that contemporary activists can look to the past to understand how to collaborate to support mutual interests. “We must work to dismantle those invisible barriers—changing individual hearts and minds is not enough … discussion is not enough,” she said. This resounds in an age of new protests, causes, and challenges to connect seemingly disparate communities.

The lecture was preceded by the annual dinner and reception, attended by students, staff, faculty, alumni, and members of the public. The Shirley G. Wassong Memorial Lecture was established in 1996 in loving memory of Mrs. Wassong with the support of friends, family, and her husband, Joseph Wassong ’59. Since 2010, the Trinity Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies has been honored to organize this annual event.

Written by Tess Dudek-Rolon

In Annual Smith Lecture, Hilary E. Wyss Brings Indigenous Connecticut Life to the Forefront Two Centuries Later

Hartford, Connecticut, May 1, 2018—The tradition of the Allan K. Smith and Gwendolyn Miles Smith Lecture continued on April 17 with a presentation to a nearly full McCook Auditorium from Hilary E. Wyss, Allan K. Smith and Gwendolyn Miles Smith Professor of English. Her lecture, “This Native Place: Joseph Johnson and the Writerly World of 18th-Century Indigenous Connecticut,” focused on Johnson’s life and his connection to writing and literature as a Native American.

Hilary E. Wyss, Allan K. Smith and Gwendolyn Miles Smith Professor of English, delivers a lecture at Trinity College. Photo by John Marinelli.

Wyss suggested that New England’s past is commonly seen as a history of English settlements established and expanded, colonial wars fought and won, and indigenous people tragically displaced. However, she said, there’s a different story, one written by Native people and bound by indigenous ways of seeing and knowing the world.

From the beginning of her discussion, Wyss reminded the audience that “this is a Connecticut story,” showing the intimate connection between Joseph Johnson’s life and New England history. With settings including Farmington, New London, Stonington, and Hartford, Wyss underscored how the Connecticut landscape fit into Johnson’s early American life and how our own modern lives are “immersed in Native spaces.” She argued that indigenous people, now and in Johnson’s time, “are not tragic people left behind by modernity,” but instead a community that deftly navigated the complexities of white hegemony in their native land.

Wyss showed how Johnson maintained his indigenous identity in spite of the formal, Calvinist education that he received at Moor’s Charity School under Eleazar Wheelock, for whom discipline, order, and obedience shaped education. According to Wyss, Johnson used his mastery of writing and rhetoric to reconcile seemingly disparate parts of himself—the educated Christian and the Native Mohegan community leader. His writing became a vehicle for self-acceptance in a Native community of Christians, who came to interpret Christianity from Native leaders instead of through people like Wheelock. As Johnson grew in his mastery of writing, “He acquires his authority and confidence through his own work in relation to his own Indian brethren,” Wyss said. She argued that Johnson used Christianity to maintain connection to the indigenous community.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Wyss’s study is rooted in her consideration of handwriting as an aspect of Johnson’s identity. Many in the eighteenth-century believed that “character could be formed and shaped, like handwriting, into a neatly ordered identity.” While there are no portraits of Johnson to tell us what he looked like, Wyss used several examples of his handwriting to help the audience develop an image of him. In one draft, his writing is that of the straight-lined, controlled, conforming citizen. In another composition, not intended for public view, his sprawling hand bounced with another rhythm, taking new shapes and rendering Johnson as uninhibited, rejoicing in his own accomplishments through his mastery of language.

Although just 25 years old at his death, Johnson was instrumental in working with his father-in-law, Samuel Occom, to create Brothertown, a community of Christian Indians. He would use his rhetorical skills to solicit support of Brothertown with “writing-supplemented oratory” that supported the tradition of the spoken word and used Christianity as a radical political stance to help bind an indigenous community together.

As Wyss unpacked the consequences of Johnson’s work, she implored the audience to reconsider the very definition of early American literature. “English departments at colleges like Trinity are invested in the written word and challenged: What is it that we consider literature?” Wyss suggested that if we challenge our assumptions and reevaluate texts from writers such as Johnson, we can enrich our perspective of indigenous life and early American life as a whole.

Hilary E. Wyss teaches courses in early American literature, American studies, and Native American studies at Trinity. She is the author or editor of more than a dozen articles and three books: English Letters and Indian Literacies: Reading, Writing, and New England Missionary Schools, 1750–1830 (2012); Writing Indians: Literacy, Christianity, and Native Community in Early America (2000); and with Kristina Bross, Early Native Literacies in New England: A Documentary and Critical Anthology (2008). She served as president of the Society of Early Americanists from 2011 to 2013 and has been on the editorial board of the journals Early American Literature and Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture.

The Allan K. Smith and Gwendolyn Miles Smith Professorship of English was endowed by a generous bequest of Allan K. Smith, a member of the Class of 1911 and a 1968 honorary degree recipient, of West Hartford, Connecticut. The fund also supports added faculty positions, salaries, and other materials to improve the curriculum. Devoted benefactors to the college, the Smiths established five endowed funds at Trinity to support academics, including the Allan K. Smith Center for Writing and Rhetoric and the work of the English Department. In 1990, the Smith House located on Trinity’s campus was named in honor of the Smiths, and Mrs. Smith received an honorary degree from the college that same year.

Written by Tess Dudek-Rolon

Emily Mitchell-Eaton Explores Complex Legacy of U.S. Imperial Policy in McGill Lecture

Hartford, Connecticut, April 25, 2018—The Marshall Islands may be a remote destination in the Pacific, thousands of miles away from Trinity College, but Emily Mitchell-Eaton, Patricia C. and Charles H. McGill III ’63 Visiting Assistant Professor of International Studies, reframed the story of Marshallese immigration to the United States and brought the experience much closer through her March 28 lecture, “We Are Here Because You Were There: Imperial Migration from the Marshall Islands to Arkansas.”

Emily Mitchell-Eaton, Patricia C. and Charles H. McGill III ’63 Visiting Assistant Professor of International Studies, delivers her lecture. Photo by John Marinelli.

The Marshall Islands, a series of atolls and islands in Micronesia, was occupied by the United States after World War II and used for extensive nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War. This testing, combined with the U.S. military presence there, displaced many Marshallese and drastically impacted the health of multiple generations exposed to radiation.

Marshall Islander migration to the United States soared in the mid-1980s in response to an international agreement between the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, a former U.S. territory. While the agreement marked the formal end of the colonization over the islands, the U.S. military remained. The 1986 Compact of Free Association (COFA) allowed Marshallese to come to the United States—without a visa—to live, work, and receive education. This created a Marshallese migration whose largest resettlement site is now Springdale, Arkansas.

Once a nearly all-white town and remote unto itself, Springdale became a “destination of empire” not only for Marshallese but also for Latinx immigrants, changing the demographic landscape of this small Southern town.

Mitchell-Eaton’s exploration of the Marshallese community came from 55 interviews between 2011 and 2014 and archival research, talking to Marshallese residents, Springdale’s law enforcement and policy officials, social service providers, and immigrant rights activists.

For the groups that interact with the Marshallese, their relationships to them are “compared and framed by their understandings of other migrants” and informed by how they understand, or misunderstand, COFA status. As one attorney Mitchell-Eaton interviewed described, “They’re technically here ‘legally’—whatever that means.”

Mitchell-Eaton explored the effects that living in this “precarious and exceptional” space can have on the resources Marshallese can access, particularly housing, employment, education, and health care. She affirmed that there is “lack of awareness of the U.S. global role as an empire and lack of understanding of COFA status” that “… has dramatic and sometimes violent effects for COFA holders.” Their position in Arkansas, in what itself is considered a remote area of the United States, continues to alter the idea of what it means to be transnational—and relates to the similar precarious legal statuses of other imperial relationships, such as those with Puerto Rico, Guam, and parts of the Caribbean.

In describing the visiting professor’s work, Associate Professor of History and International Studies Zayde Antrim noted that Mitchell-Eaton “challenges us to think of ‘here’ and ‘there’ ” and to rethink “ ‘out there’ as ‘here.’ ” Bringing us closer to “here,” Mitchell-Eaton closed her talk by relating the story of the Marshall Islands with an issue that is geographically much closer to Trinity—the circumstances of Puerto Ricans displaced to Hartford because of Hurricane Maria.

Zsofia Veer, a Hungarian exchange student doing post baccalaureate work at Trinity, takes a global feminism class with Mitchell-Eaton. She noted, “[Professor Mitchell-Eaton] takes this approach with our class, and it was really interesting. Before this, I had no idea about this region or that they had a specific classification. We talk about this with Puerto Rico, too.”

Mitchell-Eaton argues that we “must resolve and pay attention to the state of these groups” and in doing so address the imperial legacy of the United States. As climate change looms, the possibility remains that one day the Marshall Islands will no longer be inhabitable. With this, Mitchell-Eaton asked with a note of irony, “Will Springdale, Arkansas, become the new capital of the Marshall Islands?” Her question highlights the reality that the Marshallese are at risk in multiple ways—not only precarious in their presence in the United States but also in their position as citizens of their own country.

Mitchell-Eaton’s lecture was followed by the annual reception and dinner, which was attended by members of Trinity’s faculty, staff, and students as well as guests from outside of the college community.

The McGill International Studies Fund was established in 1996 with a gift from Patricia C. and Charles H. McGill III ’63. The gift helped secure a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The income from the fund is to be used to support the appointment of visiting humanities scholars, primarily international scholars, in the academic areas of international studies that include African studies, Asian studies, Caribbean and Latin American studies, Middle East studies, global studies, and Russian and Eurasian studies.

Charles H. McGill III ’63 is a nationally recognized expert in mergers and acquisitions, as well as corporate strategic planning and restructuring, with significant experience in consumer products, restaurant and food service, and information services. McGill is the founding partner of Sagamore Partners, an acquisitions adviser. Previously, he was a senior executive of Fortune Brands, Dun & Bradstreet, and the Pillsbury Company. McGill is a former member of the Trinity College Board of Trustees and its Board of Fellows. He received the college’s Alumni Medal for Excellence in 1993. The McGills are the parents of a 1994 Trinity graduate.

Written by Tess Dudek-Rolon

Four Trinity College Professors Co-Edit Book Examining American and European Immigration

A book co-edited by four Trinity College professors called The Politics of New Immigrant Destinations was published this month by Temple University Press. Stefanie Chambers, Diana Evans, Anthony M. Messina, and Abigail Fisher Williamson, who all teach in Trinity’s Political Science Department, worked together on compiling the volume, which examines the challenges posed by the proliferation of cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity in new destinations for immigrants in Europe and the United States. The book looks at political responses and successes of integrating immigrants, offering perspectives from both immigrants and natives.

The book’s introduction defines “traditional immigration” as happening in late 19th or early 20th century America, or in post-WWII Europe. Any locales today that were involved during those times would still be considered traditional. “New immigration,” as explained in the book, makes reference to other locations such as Ireland, and to immigrants favoring rural and suburban areas over cities.

Chambers

Evans

Messina

Williamson

The Trinity professors all had some previous experience studying immigrants and decided to organize an event discussing the emerging topic of new immigrant destinations. When Trinity hosted theChallenges and Opportunities of Diversity in New Immigrant Destinations” conference in October 2013, Messina, who is a John R. Reitemeyer Professor of Political Science and a leading scholar in European migration, saw it as a true learning opportunity.

Messina said, “Instead of being an expert on a subject, and then convening a conference of scholars who do work on that subject, I approach it from the opposite end. I am interested in a subject and I’ve historically convened conferences to become more knowledgeable on a particular topic.”

The conference drew scholars from the U.S. and Europe who discussed findings from their respective areas of expertise. The professors brought some of their students along to help mediate and lead the discussions.

After the conference, the professors felt that there was enough material to edit together a volume. The professors helped some of the scholars who presented at the conference in refining their work and also accepted new submissions for the book. The final product includes research subjects ranging from relationships between Hispanics and African-Americans in the South, to Latvian resistance to immigration.

In reviewing material for the book, Chambers, a professor of political science and chair of the department, said that being in the position of an editor – as opposed to a writer – was a new and valuable experience. “Our colleague, Tony Messina, had experience editing several volumes, and that was really valuable for the rest of us, who haven’t done this before. He was able to guide us through the process of how we put a book like this together,” she said. Chambers recently released a book about studying Somali Americans living in Minnesota’s Twin Cities and in Columbus, Ohio.

Evans, a professor of political science and an award-winning author and Latino politics specialist, said that she enjoyed the teamwork aspect of working on the project with three colleagues. “It was a great experience. Everybody sort of took on their share. Different people made strong efforts at different times, but we were all paying attention to it,” she said.

Messina added that the faculty collaboration that went into The Politics of New Immigrant Destinations is one of the things he’s proudest of. “Political scientists do collaborate with each other, but it’s not that common at Trinity for so many faculty members to collaborate on a scholarly project, and it’s probably that much rarer that when they do collaborate, they do it in a way that has some value for their students,” he said.

Williamson, an assistant professor of political science and public policy and law and scholar of domestic migration, is hopeful about the book’s potential impact. “An edited volume can be useful for charting a research agenda in a new area,” said Williamson, who recently signed a new book contract with the University of Chicago Press. “I think this could really start a discussion and hopefully provide an opportunity for learning across the United States and Europe,” she said.

The Politics of New Immigrant Destinations is available in both print and digital copies from Temple University Press.

Written by Matt Grahn

New Book by Stefanie Chambers Offers Timely Policy Suggestions on Somali Immigrant Incorporation

A new book by Trinity College Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of Political Science Stefanie Chambers, Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus: Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations (Temple University Press, 2017), studies the assimilation of Somali Americans in Minnesota’s Twin Cities and in Columbus, Ohio. Since 2012, Chambers has conducted research into the history of Somalis in the United States to learn more about their path to the Twin Cities and Columbus and their subsequent political, economic, and social incorporation.

Trinity College - Stefanie Chambers Common Hour Lecture - February 23, 2017

Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of Political Science Stefanie Chambers presents her research during a lecture at Trinity College. Photos by John Atashian.

For her book, Chambers argues that despite the comparable characteristics of Columbus and the Twin Cities – such as both being state capitals and having big universities, many low-skilled jobs, and relatively affordable housing – they differ in how their Somali communities have been incorporated. She measured 14 indicators of incorporation in her book. Beyond a range of quantitative measures of incorporation, Chambers also conducted 135 interviews to understand the cultural fabric of the communities. The indicators were categorized into three groups: political, economic, and social. Participation in electoral and governing coalitions and unions were some of the ways Chambers evaluated Somalis’ political incorporation. Household income, employment, and home ownership were a few ways used to measure economic incorporation, while social indicators included Somalis in the media and police force. Chambers’s goal was to provide recommendations for policymakers so that they can improve the incorporation of Somalis and other immigrants in Columbus, the Twin Cities, and beyond.

While interviewing Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus, Chambers felt she was immediately welcomed into the community. “The reception I received initially in Columbus by Somalis was quite remarkable. People shared so much with me and I believe we established clear lines of trust. They believed me when I said I wanted to help make recommendations to improve policies for Somalis,” said Chambers. Even though Chambers did not know any Somalis prior to her research, she developed friendships and relationships through her work. “My research has always focused on how marginalized populations gain a voice, but I have always done research on minority groups that I’ve considered myself a part of. This was a very different community for me to study and one of which I was not part. I learned a great deal, especially about Islam and the cultural traditional of Somalis,” she said. Chambers’s experience with the Somali communities fueled her desire to follow through on her promise of forming policy recommendations.

Following the release of her book, Chambers has been interviewed by WOSU Public Media and The Columbus Dispatch interviewed Chambers about her recommendation that, like the Twin Cities, Columbus needs Somali police officers to improve their assimilation in the city. Chambers believes the addition of Somali police officers would increase the level of trust between the Somali community and police force and help others better understand Somali culture.

Building upon her research of Somali immigrants in the U.S., Chambers has begun to research the incorporation of the recently increasing population of Somali immigrants in Sweden. Chambers said, “Professors at Trinity are able to do research that we’re passionate about and teach what we’re passionate about.” On February 23, Chambers presented research from her book during a Common Hour lecture that was attended by Trinity alumnus Ahmed Yusuf IDP ’97, who helped introduce Chambers to the Somali community in Minneapolis, where he lives. Both Chambers and Yusuf will take part in a discussion of immigration and politics on April 18 in Minneapolis.

Chambers has been supported by Trinity research assistants including Julianna Maisano ’17, who collected and organized relevant articles, assessed the content of the articles, and edited drafts of chapters. “Professor Chambers’s research is an integral part of highlighting the obstacles refugees face when entering a new country, and she works to ensure that groups are able to effectively merge with society and are treated fairly,” said Maisano.

Caroline Lee ’17, who is supporting Chambers in her research of Somali immigrants in Sweden, said, “As the political climate is becoming less and less inclusive of immigrants and other cultures, especially through the rise of Islamophobia, I have seen Professor Chambers become even more determined to make a change for Somalis everywhere. It is truly inspirational to be able to work with such an esteemed professor who is so focused and concerned about improving the lives of this community of people.”

The Trinity College Faculty Research Committee, the Charles A. Dana Research Professorship, and the American Political Science Association funded Chambers’s research. In the future, her research and book will inform at least three of her courses at Trinity: “Urban Politics,” “American National Government,” and “Gender Politics and Policy.”

Written by Annelise Gilbert ’17

Per Sebastian Skardal and Summer Research Students Co-Author Paper

A research paper co-authored by Trinity College Assistant Professor of Mathematics Per Sebastian Skardal and summer research students Mariam Avagyan ’18 and Shufan Wang ’18 was published recently in the online journal Applied Network Science. Avagyan, who is from Yerevan, Armenia, is pursuing a double major in mathematics and engineering, with a concentration in electrical. Wang, from Zheng Zhou City, He Nan Province, China, is majoring in mathematics.

Trinity College - Summer Science Research Program - July 19, 2016

Mariam Avagyan ’18 and Shufan Wang ’18 present their summer science research in July 2016. Photo by John Atashian.

The research paper, titled “Evolving network structure of academic institutions,” explores and illustrates the complex structures that dictate interactions between the administration, faculty, and student body at Trinity. Skardal, Avagyan, and Wang used the majors and minors of graduating students to track the changing relationships between different academic departments over time. The results, the researchers said in their paper, provide practical insights and applications for Trinity, and also serves as a general framework for colleges and universities to better understand their own structural makeup in order to better inform academic and administrative policy.

The students lived on campus during the summer as they worked with Skardal throughout the research process as part of the Summer Science Research Program, offered through Trinity’s Interdisciplinary Science Center. (Click here for a video about the Summer Science Research Program.) Skardal said, “It really gives the students a chance to use what they have learned in the classroom in a practical setting and learn about some cutting-edge mathematics and science.” Skardal, who came to Trinity in 2015, added that he valued the knowledge of Trinity that Avagyan and Wang brought to the project.

Avagyan first became interested in Skardal’s work with fractals, dynamical systems, synchronization, and networks during one of the Math Department’s colloquiums, where professors talk about their areas of research. An independent study with Skardal for Avagyan and Wang in the spring 2016 semester led to their summer research.

Throughout the summer the group worked together on brand new applied mathematics and techniques. Skardal said one of the best aspects of working with Avagyan and Wang was their drive. “They were incredibly motivated the whole way,” he said. When he was an undergraduate student at Boston College, Skardal had the opportunity to do some research in computer science and described it as a “wonderful experience” that encouraged him to offer the same opportunities to students at Trinity. “It sounds cliché, but teachers learn just as much from their students as students learn from teachers, and this is equally true in the context of research,” said Skardal.

Avagyan and Wang described Skardal as supportive and encouraging. Avagyan’s time working with Skardal has even shaped her future aspirations. “He made me love applied math to the point that I want to continue my post-graduate studies in this area,” she said. “Being credited as an author on a published study with a brilliant person and professor like him is an honor.”

Both Avagyan and Wang expressed appreciation for their experience and excitement for gaining authorship of the published paper. Wang, who is studying this semester at Dartmouth College to do more work in math modeling and machine intelligence as a part of the Twelve-College Exchange Program, said, “It showed me what it is like to work in academia and led me into thinking about becoming a researcher.”

The students recommend summer research work to others at Trinity. Avagyan said, “Working with professors over the past two summers was the best thing I’ve done at Trinity. It gave me a jump start in academic research as a first-year and helped me develop essential skills such as working in a team, solving a problem even though it seems to be impossible, working with established professors in the same lab, and more.”

Skardal also encourages Trinity professors to offer more research opportunities to students. “It is always fun to see our students ‘graduate’ to the point of taking on some really new, interesting problems outside of the typical classroom,” he said.

Written by Annelise Gilbert ’17

Sarah Raskin and Trinity Alumna Publish Paper in ‘Neuropsychology’

Trinity College alumna Marta Zamroziewicz ’13 and Sarah Raskin, Charles A. Dana Research Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, have co-authored a paper titled “Effects of Drinking Patterns on Prospective Memory Performance in College Students,” which was recently published in Neuropsychology, the journal of the American Psychological Association.

Zamroziewicz

L-R: Priscilla Kehoe, Marta Zamroziewicz ’13, and Sarah Raskin after Zamroziewicz was recognized at Honors Day in May 2013 with the Priscilla Kehoe Neuroscience Prize, named in honor of Kehoe, former Trinity psychology professor.

As summarized in an abstract of the paper, “Traditional college students are at a critical juncture in the development of prospective memory. Their brains are vulnerable to the effects of alcohol.” The paper details research involving 123 third and fourth year college students who self-reported alcohol effects. The conclusion drawn from the research was that heavy alcohol use in college students may be related to impairments in prospective memory, which essentially means remembering to remember.

Raskin led Trinity’s participation in the five-year study (2009-2013), the Brain and Alcohol Research with College Students (BARCS) project, which was sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The project involved a collaboration of researchers at Trinity, the Institute of Living in Hartford, Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, and Yale University in New Haven. The study’s principal investigator was Godfrey Pearlson, professor of psychiatry and of neuroscience at the Yale School of Medicine and a staff member at the Institute of Living’s Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center. The NIAAA provided more than $3 million in funding for the research, which was designed to answer questions of concern to scientists, legislators, college leaders, and students about the effects of heavy drinking by young people during their college years. Read more about the findings of the BARCS study here and here.

“The research experience in Dr. Raskin’s lab was undeniably one of the most valuable opportunities offered to me at Trinity,” said Zamroziewicz. “This work was a major highlight of my graduate applications, and a fantastic kick-start to my graduate career.” Zamroziewicz, a neuroscience major and an Illinois Scholar at Trinity, is pursuing M.D./Ph.D. degrees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is completing her graduate work in the Decision Neuroscience Lab, where her research interests are in the field of cognitive neuroscience, with an emphasis on the neural and neuropsychological effects of nutrition.

“Starting in my first year [at Trinity], I began to develop the skills that most scientists don’t acquire until their graduate careers – reading scientific literature, interacting with research subjects, analyzing data, attending scientific conferences, presenting my work, and so much more,” said Zamroziewicz.

Offering her advice to students interested in studying science, Zamroziewicz said, “If you’re willing to accept the challenge, Trinity will prepare you for a career in science. The opportunities inside and outside the classroom at Trinity for budding scientists are unmatched elsewhere – dedicated faculty, challenging and transformative courses, and invaluable research and internship opportunities. My advice is to make the most of this precious time, and immerse yourself in these experiences!”

For more information about the Neuroscience Program at Trinity, please click here. Information about additional science majors and minors is available here.

Written by Kathy Andrews

Assistant Professor of Psychology Michael A. Grubb Has Research Published in ‘Nature Communications’

Trinity College Assistant Professor of Psychology Michael A. Grubb is the first author of a paper titled “Neuroanatomy Accounts for Age-Related Changes in Risk Preferences,” which was recently published in the journal Nature Communications. The senior author on the paper is Ifat Levy of Yale School of Medicine.

Michael GrubbWeb700The research presented in the paper indicates that the preference for the known and familiar, which increases with aging, may be better explained by changes in grey matter in a certain brain area rather than by age. When people make decisions that involve risk, or uncertain outcomes, an area of the brain called the right posterior parietal cortex is active. The amount of grey matter in this area has been shown to correlate with risk preference in young adults. As people age, they tend to make fewer risky decisions, but whether this is due to the wisdom that comes with age or brain structure was unknown.

Grubb and his colleagues asked 52 adults, spanning the ages of 18 to 88 years, to make a choice between a certain option (gain of $5) or an uncertain option (gain ranging from $5-$120 with random probabilities). As expected, they found that older participants preferred the certain option compared to younger participants, and that this preference for the certain option increased with age. When they put these data into a model to determine which variable best predicted this change in preference, they found that it was primarily driven by the amount of grey matter in the brain region, rather than by age. These results suggest that changes in the brain that occur in healthy aging may be responsible for more of our decision-making patterns and preferences than previously thought. The findings have been reported in The Washington Post and other news publications.

The full paper can be read online here. The research was completed by Grubb as part of his postdoctoral work at New York University’s Center for Neural Science. Grubb received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from NYU. In his Trinity College lab, Grubb utilizes psychophysical and computational approaches to study human perception, from the visual system to the value domain, with a particular focus on attention and spatiotemporal context as critical mediating factors.

Written by Bhumika Choudhary ’18

Barry Kosmin Presents Findings of European Jewish Leaders Survey at Summit in Barcelona

Barry Kosmin, Trinity College research professor and director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture, recently participated in “Building Resilient Communities,” the second European Jewish Communities Summit, in Barcelona, Spain. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJJDC), in association with the European Council of Jewish Communities (ECJC) and the European Jewish Congress (EJC), hosted the summit November 13-14, 2016.

1113162019a_HDRWeb700Based on the success of the first conference in 2015, the second summit built upon the subject of “Community Resilience,” making it the central topic of the 2016 event. The goal of this conference, according to the ECJC, “is to further explore different aspects pertaining to community resilience, offering a space where community leaders and executives can discuss, exchange, and learn about critical issues affecting our organizations nowadays.”

Kosmin spoke alongside other scholars on the topic of “Social Research and Jewish Communities.” He presented his Findings of the Third Survey of European Jewish Leaders and spoke to the survey’s ability to help build community resilience. The survey asked Jewish leaders and opinion formers a variety of questions, collecting their views on the major challenges and issues that they believe are concerning European Jewish communities in 2015, as well as their expectations for how their communities would evolve over the next five to 10 years.

“Europe is going through political, economic, and security strains and Jewish communities are concerned about their impact,” Kosmin said. “So it was very illuminating to participate with community leaders from 30 European countries from Ireland to Latvia and Norway to Greece and to listen to high ranking official representatives from diverse official bodies including the EU Commission, the Czech Ministry of the Interior, and the Catalan National Police.”

Written by Eleanor Worsley ’17

Professor of Fine Arts Kathleen Curran Publishes New Book

Hartford’s own Wadsworth Atheneum factored into the 13 years of research, writing, and editing that went into a new book by Trinity College Professor of Fine Arts Kathleen Curran. The Invention of the American Art Museum: From Craft to Kulturgeschichte was published recently by Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.

Curran_MG_3436Web700The book examines the origins of the American art museum in the 19th century. Curran, who is the director of Trinity’s art history program, found that writing the book in Hartford gave her a great advantage. “Any book on the American art museum would have to include Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum,” she said. “It plays an important role in the history of American art museums at a few key moments in time.”

Curran argues that museums in this country have their own trajectory that is different from European art museums. European museums have origins in their aristocratic collections, she said, while American museums are rooted in the 1870s craft museum. At the turn of the 20th century, American planners grew enthusiastic about a new type of museum that was developed in Northern Europe. These Kulturgeschichte (German for “cultural history”) museums offered a variety of transformational options in planning museums, classifying and displaying objects, and broadening collecting categories, including American art and the decorative arts. Curran’s book looks at the development of the American art museum, from the beginning of craft style to the eventual development of Kulturgeschichte museums.

In her book, Curran addresses the 1910 addition to the Wadsworth Atheneum that was paid for by J.P. Morgan, who was born in Hartford. The addition to the Wadsworth Atheneum was later used to test the size of the Morgan wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Curran began the process of writing her book by researching a completely different topic. However, through research and constant museum visits, the topic evolved to a consideration of the American art museum, resulting in the publication by a scholarly press. Curran said, “Eighty percent of the research is archival – that is, I had to visit museum archives and look at original documents to write the book. When you start a book project, you never know what you are going to find, and that was the case here.”

Curran is bringing her museum expertise to the classroom during the next academic year, when she will once again teach a seminar dealing with the history of art museums.

The Invention of the American Art Museum: From Craft to Kulturgeschichte is Curran’s second published book. Her first book, The Romanesque Revival: Religion, Politics, and Transnational Exchange (Penn State Press, 2003), won the Henry-Russell Hitchcock Award given by The Victorian Society in America.

Written by Catie Currie ’17

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