Archives for In the News

Pablo Delano’s Hartford Seen Exhibit Puts Capital City on Display

After teaching at Trinity for a decade, Pablo Delano, professor of fine arts, decided to focus seriously on a project he began tentatively much earlier: photographing the built environment of Connecticut’s capital city. The result is an exhibit called Hartford Seen, on display at the Connecticut Historical Society through mid-March.

Additionally, the Connecticut Historical Society featured Delano in a video series called “Conversations with Pablo Delano.” In the series, Delano discusses the challenges and surprises of photographing an urban environment, as well as the opportunities stemming from Hartford’s diversity and history.

Hartford Seen opened earlier in October and runs through March 14, 2015, at the Connecticut Historical Society, located at 1 Elizabeth Street in Hartford. Trinity students are admitted for free with their student IDs.

The Nature Conservancy Features Scott Smedley’s Citizen Science Initiative

Three crows and a turkey vulture are photographed near a compost pile as part of Scott Smedley's Wildlife CSI project.

Three crows and a turkey vulture are photographed near
a compost pile as part of Scott Smedley’s Wildlife CSI project.

Analyzing hundreds of thousands of photos takes a lot of work, but Scott Smedley, associate professor of biology, isn’t doing it alone. With the help of citizen scientists from Trinity and around the world, Smedley and his team of colleagues and students have been identifying the patterns of local wildlife interacting with residential compost piles through their Wildlife CSI project. In August, the project was covered by WNPR. Today, Cool Green Science, the science blog of The Nature Conservancy, featured the initiative and invited readers to join the effort. Read more on Cool Green Science here.

Media Highlights 7/14/2014: Greenberg, Fulco, and Kirkpatrick

greenberg-cherylWhen Freedom Summer Came To Town
Moment Magazine – July/August 2014
Cheryl Greenberg, a historian at Trinity College…says there are two schools of thought about those small clusters of Jews who survived and even thrived in towns where the Klan hated blacks most of all but targeted Jews, too.

Fulco.1Samuel Alito’s moment
Politico – July 1, 2014
“I thought it would be broader,” Trinity College’s Adrienne Fulco said of Alito’s contraception ruling. “I think you have a thoughtful and careful opinion, even if you don’t agree with it.”                                                                                 .

_MG_0973South Carolina Episcopalians take fight to court
Associated Press – July 9, 2014
The secession by South Carolina Episcopalians is ironic, said Frank Kirkpatrick, a professor of religion at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut

Sarah Raskin speaks in favor of gun control measures

Room 2C at the Legislative Office Building was packed Thursday as nearly 200 people from all corners of Connecticut made their views known – with passion and fervor – regarding a package of 11 bills that would tighten state laws regarding the ability to own and use guns.

The public hearing before the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee was held three months after the deadly massacre in Newtown, where Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother before brutally mowing down six adults and 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Since that time, gun-control advocates, both at the state and federal levels, have introduced legislation that would, among other things, make it harder to purchase firearms, ban assault weapons, establish gun offender registries, prohibit the possession of ammunition magazines capable of holding 10 bullets or more, require universal background checks, require the annual registration of handguns and set new rules on the storage of guns.

Many advocates in Connecticut, including those affiliated with the group, Connecticut Against Gun Violence, would also like to see new laws enacted dealing with mental health and school security. And a Quinnipiac University poll recently showed that there is strong support for stricter gun controls in Connecticut.

Although gun-control supporters – among them Sarah Raskin, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Trinity – swarmed the Capitol Wednesday, buttonholing legislators, Thursday’s public hearing brought out scores of NRA members, gun industry representatives and Second Amendment defenders. Indeed, buses carrying workers from Colt Defense LLC and Colt’s Manufacturing Co. arrived with signs reading, “Save Our Jobs.”

On Thursday, Raskin was clearly swimming against the tide.

“My work involves research to improve the lives of people with brain injury,” she told the panel of legislators. “I see every day the interplay of guns and mental illness. I would like to submit testimony in favor of greater safety regulations on gun ownership and use.”

Although the gun owners argued that it is the criminals and not law-abiding citizens whom society needs to crack down on and that firearms are necessary for self-defense and permitted by the Second Amendment, Raskin took a different tack.

“Our children are falling through the cracks and ending up with no help, killing themselves, or killing innocent people. Instead of treatment, we make it easy for them to access guns and then incarcerate them when they use them.”

Continuing, she noted, “20,000 people die every year from gunshot wounds to the brain. Unlike other brain injuries, only 5 percent of those who sustain a gunshot wound to the brain will survive. And when a gun is in the home, it is 65 percent more likely to be used on a family member or someone known to the family than in a home invasion.”

That statistic seemed to rebut the argument that guns are successfully used in cases of self-defense against armed robbers and burglars.

Perhaps surprisingly, violence-related deaths have now, for the first time, surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of brain injury-related death. “Firearm-related incidents now account for 40 percent of brain injury-related deaths,” said Raskin, “while motor vehicle crashes accounted for 34 percent of fatalities….20,000 people die every year from gunshot wounds to the brain.”

Why is that? Raskin had an answer. “We require a license to drive a car, a safety test, insurance and registration for all cars. [Vehicles] must pass safety tests, too. And [a motorist’s] license and registration must be regularly renewed. So, let’s require registration of handguns with an annual renewal, require a permit or license to purchase or carry a gun, require liability insurance and require universal background checks on all guns.”

Moreover, Raskin said there is no need for citizens to own guns designed for the military. She encouraged lawmakers to adopt a ban on the sale and possession of all high capacity ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

Read the full story here

Music Department faculty member releases debut album

​Kris Allen, jazz saxophonist and visiting professor of music at Trinity, recently released his first full-length jazz album, “Circle House.” The work, released by Truth Revolution Records, has received positive reviews in the jazz world.

Along with Allen on alto saxophone, the members of his regular quartet, each internationally recognized jazz musicians, are Zaccai Curtis on piano, Luques Curtis on bass, and Eric McPherson on drums. The quartet will be touring in support of the release in 2013.

Allen became interested in jazz at the age of 14, studying and practicing at Hall High School in West Hartford and the Artists Collective in Hartford. He ended up studying with American jazz saxophone great, Jackie McLean, at the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, before going on to earn a master’s degree in jazz performance from Purchase Conservatory (SUNY), while living and performing in New York City with some of the top jazz artists in the world.

Allen says his performance and recording experience translates well to his teaching at Trinity, where he has been an adjunct professor since the fall of 1999. Allen directs the jazz ensemble at Trinity and teaches a jazz history lecture course. As a jazz historian and musician, he’s performed with many of the names that show up in texts for his courses.

“It’s rewarding,” Allen says about teaching his “interesting, bright, fun, and motivated students” at Trinity. “Every year the quality improves. Jazz education has grown so much and more and more kids are coming into school interested in jazz.”

Allen lived on Trinity’s campus as a Faculty-In-Residence from the fall of 2003 to the spring of 2006, with his wife, Jen, a pianist and composer, who guest lectures at Trinity from time to time.

“Trinity’s always been a really cool place,” he said. “It continues to be a great community for my family and I. Many of my friends are teachers at Trinity.”

For more information on Allen and on his album, visit allenjazz.com or truthrevolutionrecords.com.

Listen to Allen’s appearance on WNPR’s The Colin McEnroe Show.

Craig Schneider kicks off spring FRC Lecture Series

The Faculty Research Committee spring lecture series began Thursday, January 31, with a presentation by Charles A. Dana Professor of Biology Craig Schneider, who discussed the evolution of DNA sequencing and species recognition of marine macroalgae. Schneider’s game-changing work in this field has resulted in breakthroughs in the approach of molecular research on the taxonomy of algae, which came to the international forefront in November 2012 when major media outlets–including The Boston Globe, Reuters, and Maine Public Broadcasting Network–ran stories on a Asian red seaweed species that had invaded the New England coast. The seaweed was first discovered by Schneider in Atlantic North America back in 2009.

Listen to the full lecture.

In the 1990s, Schneider and some other taxonomists discovered that, while certain algal species resemble one another in overall appearance, they are not necessarily DNA relatives, and vice versa. These “cryptic species” were a crucial discovery that opened doors to new research, while simultaneously revealing that many research mistakes had been made over the years in the study of algal placement on the tree of life.  “Mine included,” said Schneider, adding that “eyes alone” can’t always help distinguish organisms; rather we need to look at their genes.

DNA sequencing was especially useful for the identification of Heterosiphonia japonica, the red seaweed that Schneider found on a Rhode Island beach coast in 2009.  Schneider was able to identify the species, originally described in Japan, through molecular research of the algae.  The invasive species, which reproduces a-sexually, grows quickly and aggressively and can survive in warm or cold waters. Only a few creatures, such as sea urchins, eat enough of it to limit its spread, and there simply aren’t enough sea urchins in the northeastern United States to keep up with this rapidly growing alga.

Schneider’s research has been largely enhanced by international resource databases, primarily GenBank.  This resource allows Schneider to analyze and compare DNA from various species of algae all over the world, and has, in turn, made his research data available to scientists worldwide.

Schneider’s findings have resulted in a major grant from the National Science Foundation, which the professor is coordinating with a former student, Christopher E. Lane ‘99, assistant professor of biology at the University of Rhode Island, who also received an NSF Grant to study algae in Bermuda.  The two have co-authored multiple papers and continue to focus their research on algae from Bermuda, research essential to the long-term environmental health of the islands.

 

Joan Hedrick to appear in PBS documentary

In 1982, a Trinity student wrote a senior research paper chock-full of quotes by Harriet Beecher Stowe, an abolitionist who fought to end slavery through her most famous novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The professor who read that paper was Joan Hedrick, Charles A. Dana Professor of History, and the paper would turn out to have more of a significant impact on her life than she realized at the time.

“I read the quotes and I thought, Who is this person? I need to read more,” Hedrick said about Stowe.

Hedrick did just that, and she was so struck by Stowe’s writing and bravery that she went on to dedicate the next several years of her life to researching one of the most influential figures in American history. Hedrick’s curiosity and research culminated in a biography of Stowe, appropriately titled Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life. Hedrick was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for the book in 1995, roughly 13 years after she first read Stowe’s work.

Hedrick said that one must be very fond of someone to spend as much time as she has with Stowe, and the latest outcome of her interest is an appearance on a new PBS “American Experience” film, “The Abolitionists.” The three-part docudrama—part documentary and part historical re-enactment that began airing on January 8—includes the story of the influence of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the resulting spotlight placed on the author, a Hartford native. Three Connecticut professors, including Hedrick, Yale Professor David W. Blight, and Wesleyan Professor Lois Brown, are among approximately a dozen historians and writers from around the country interviewed for the series.

In addition to the documentary, Hedrick participated in a panel discussion on January 7 that was sponsored by the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, where Hedrick, now the world’s foremost authority on Stowe, has been a trustee for nearly 20 years. The panel discussion followed an advance screening of episode two of “The Abolitionists,” which airs on Tuesday, January 15 at 9:00 p.m. EST, and is the episode in which Hedrick is interviewed.

“I was very excited that they would be featuring Stowe in a PBS documentary,” Hedrick said when she was first approached by PBS, adding that Stowe deserves the recognition for “her writing and her passion for social justice.”

Hedrick  recently appeared in an article about “The Abolitionists” in The Hartford Courant, which you can read here

Read Hedrick’s blog post on The Huffington Post.

Learn more about PBS documentary here.

Joan Morrison leads Initiative to improve Hartford Parks

During the fall planting season, the City of Hartford took advantage of a $70,000 challenge grant that they received earlier this year from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Program’s Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds. The grant, acquired under the stewardship of Professor of Biology Joan Morrison, is being used to improve the habitat in Hartford parks for native and migratory birds and to develop educational guidelines that describe the characteristics of urban bird habitats and identify hazards to birds living in cities.

“Most people who live in urban areas have this idea that wildlife lives somewhere else, in a rural refuge or a protected area,” said Morrison. “We are trying to find ways to educate people in the city who are very removed from nature about wildlife and about the importance of urban habitats.”

With over 50 percent of the globe’s population living in urban areas, the Urban Conservation Treaty was created to raise awareness among city residents about the value of wildlife, especially migratory birds. In particular, the Connecticut River is an important pathway for birds in the Atlantic Flyway that stretches along the Atlantic coast of North America.

Green spaces in parks located in Hartford serve as feeding and resting spots for thousands of birds during their seasonal migrations along the Connecticut River corridor. Many more species of birds native to the region reside in Hartford’s urban green spaces, such as Keney and Pope parks, year round.

Morrison pursued the grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with Mary Pelletier, director of Park Watershed, Inc., a Hartford-based citizens group whose mission is to cultivate clean water and healthy urban environments in the Park River watershed region.

Morrison’s work takes several forms, the first of which is improving the habitat directly by creating a plant palette. “The palette will identify and contain descriptions of a suite of plants that are appropriate for this region’s soil and climate and are also useful for birds as food and shelter,” she said.

The plant palette is under development by Morrison, who is working with Trinity students to inventory what birds use Keney Park and Pope Park during different seasons. Once Morrison and her research team record the types of birds that are using the park, they will next determine what each species requires for food and nesting. They also will identify and address hazards to birds in Hartford, including light pollution, feral cats, and windows on city buildings. Birds can become disoriented by city lights and often strike windows, sometimes fatally, when they see trees reflected in the glass.

Trinity students plant trees at Pope Park during Do It Day 2012. (photo by Nick Lacy)

In addition to collecting data for the plant palette, Morrison and her team at Trinity, along with Pelletier and other members of Park Watershed, Inc., the Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission, Friends of Keney Park, and Friends of Pope Park, are working with Hartford residents to provide hands-on education through planting and other park improvement efforts.

One example of this hands-on approach occurred in September during Do It Day, when Trinity students worked with Morrison, Pelletier, and the Knox Park Foundation to plant trees and shrubs around the pond in Pope Park.

Morrison is also working with three different middle schools—Mary Hooker Magnet School in Hartford, Two Rivers Middle Magnet School in East Hartford, and Illing Middle School in Manchester, CT. Students have taken field trips to wooded areas where they are able to interact with birds in the field. “The kids learn how to catch birds and how to band them, take wing measurements, and record data. Plus, we get to talk about why scientists band birds and why wildlife preservation is important,” said Morrison.

Morrison and Pelletier will have a year to monitor the updated park habitats to see how plants grew and were used by birds. After adjustments are made, the resulting plant palette will provide standards and best practices for public park maintenance going forward, as well as for businesses and residents in the region looking to their improve their campuses, industrial parks, or backyards. The palette will ultimately be available in digital and print forms and made available to the public.

“Similar projects have had success in Philadelphia, Chicago, Phoenix, Portland, and other cities across the country,” Morrison said. “When we finish the project at the end of 2013, we hope that our parks will be rejuvenated and provide improved resources for Hartford’s wildlife and its residents.”

Lean more about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Migratory Bird Program and the Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds. 

Read the full story here

On December 2, 2012, the Hartford Courant published a related feature story titled “Bird Lovers Create Safe Habitat in Urban Hartford Setting.” Click here to read the article. 

Trinity/UConn collaborative mapping project featured in Atlantic Cities

The Atlantic Cities recently profiled Associate Professor of Educational Studies Jack Dougherty and his colleagues at the University of Connecticut, who have created a series of unique interactive historical maps of the state of Connecticut. The maps were stitched together from thousands of photographs taken in 1934 of the state, which was the first in the country to complete a comprehensive aerial survey of its territory.

As the article points out, these interactive maps allow users to study not only the economic development of the state, but also changes in resident demographics as well as schooling and housing boundaries from the depression era to present day.

The project is the result of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities that supports collaborative work between individual scholars and digital humanities centers. The fellowship was awarded in 2010 to Trinity College and the Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC) at the UConn campus for the purpose of collaboratively creating historical research and developing web-based interactive maps.

The maps are an integral part of another of Dougherty’s projects: a continuously updated, Web-based book titled On the Line: How Schooling, Housing and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs. The project builds on historical and contemporary research that Dougherty has completed with students, faculty, and community partners through the Cities, Suburbs, and Schools Project at Trinity.

An example of this on-going research is a study that was conducted in 2011 by Dougherty, Candace Simpson ’12, and Katie Campbell ’11 who, in partnership with MAGIC, created interactive maps of changes in racial demographics and housing prices in the Hartford region between 1900 and 2010. Students in the seminar conducted qualitative surveys of city and suburban Hartford residents, first showing participants the maps and then asking questions like: “Some people look at these maps and see a story of racial or economic barriers that still persist, while others see a story of civil rights progress that our society has made over time. What do you see?” After collecting and analyzing the responses, results indicated that Hartford city residents perceived more barriers to progress while suburban residents perceived greater civil rights progress. The full study can be viewed at http://ontheline.trincoll.edu/preview-chapter/part-5/.

In addition to garnering media attention, Dougherty says that the publically available maps are being noticed and utilized in other, more unexpected ways. Individuals have contacted him about using the maps to track their family history, and the maps have even been adopted as by area high school teachers. “As the maps were being created we put drafts up on the Web, and a couple of teachers heard about what we were doing,” Dougherty says. “One ended up making an activity for his Hartford 9th grade social studies class about neighborhood changes in the city, and my student and I came to watch, learn, and speak with them about improving our interactive maps .”

Once the lesson plan was completed, Dougherty added it to On the Line. The teaching resources can be found at http://ontheline.trincoll.edu/teaching-and-learning/

Barry Schaller discusses new book on public radio

Barry Schaller, visiting lecturer in public policy and law at Trinity College, clinical visiting lecturer in law at Yale Law School, and retired associate justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court,  recently made several radio appearances where he discussed topics closely related to his new book, Veterans on Trial: The Coming Court Battles over PTSD (June 2012, Potomac Books, Inc.).

During appearances on Public Radio International’s The Takeaway on August 1, WNPR’s Where We Live on August 2, and a segment for New England Public Radio on August 17, Schaller detailed the legal consequences of veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) returning from current wars. “In Iraq and Afghanistan, you have prolonged wars with multiple deployments, with everybody being exposed to combat,” Schaller said on The Takeaway. “It brings its own set of factors that produce mental stress at the level when it becomes a disorder.”

In some cases when veterans return state-side, Schaller says that individuals react to everyday scenarios as though they
are still in a war  zone and have trouble readjusting to domestic lives that have changed in their absence. This sometimes leads to strained relationships with friends and family, and, sometimes, domestic violence, which is legally considered criminal behavior.

Schaller expects that soon the United States will face conditions much like the late 1970s, when the number of veterans who entered the court system increased significantly in the few years following the Vietnam War. He also anticipates that the number of military veterans using PTSD as a criminal defense will increase, particularly if they do not receive adequate support from the military, medical community, government, and social services.

Learn more about Barry Schaller at his Web site.

On March 6, 2013, Schaller gave a Common Hour talk about Veterans on Trial. Read about it here

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